|The above photo depicts a royal court as enacted by members of the Society of Creative Anachronism. There are no clerical ranks in the Society. May I suggest some real bishops and cardinals in the USCCB could fill those roles.|
Just finished reading NCR's article "Bishops reaffirm: "Quest for Living God" not adequate theology" and can't say I was surprised by the outcome. I think my understanding of the nature of Sr Johnson's book and the USCCB is not remotely on the same page. I thought it was a book of theology which discusses the nature of God which happened to be written by a Catholic religious woman/theologian. I see I was wrong. For the USCCB nothing about Sr Johnson and her writing is relevant other than the fact she is a Catholic religious. Catholic trumps any other attribute about Sr Johnson. By this definition she can not write any theology which is not Catholic through and through. In their eyes she is nothing more than an intellectually indentured serf in their Catholic kingdom and it's apparently very sinful to write as if she is free and unfettered.
I've excerpted the section of the article which I found most telling:
In its “Response,” the Committee reviews the arguments presented by Sister Johnson in defense of her book and answers by going into greater detail in its analysis of the central issues, with further documentation in terms of citations from the book.
At the conclusion of its study of the “Observations,” the Committee concludes that “they have not in fact demonstrated that the Committee has misunderstood or misrepresented the book. Rather, the Committee finds itself confirmed in its judgments about the book.” (There's a shocking conclusion: we said it there for we are right.)
The Committee notes that one of Sister Johnson's central arguments was that she was attempting to express the faith of the Church in new and creative ways that would be appropriate to the contemporary situation, whereas the Committee was operating out of a narrow theological framework and would only accept the repetition of traditional formulas. (That's an honest statement and precisely why Roman Catholicism is mostly becoming the "Society of Catholic Anachronism" .)
The Committee concurs that “the task of theological reflection is never accomplished by the mere repetition of formulas,” but goes on to assert that the “real issue is whether or not new attempts at theological understanding are faithful to the deposit of faith as contained in the Scriptures and the Church's doctrinal tradition.” (Which utterly ignores that Jesus Himself, was not faithful to the Jewish deposit of faith in the sense the USCCB is demanding from Sr. Johnson. If He had been there would have been no Pentecost and no need for any Holy Spirit.)
The Committee comes to the conclusion that “the language used in the book does not adequately express the faith of the Church.”
The Committee commends Sister Johnson “for her stated intention to help the Church progress in her understanding of divine realities,” but says that the book fails to fulfill this task, “because it does not sufficiently ground itself in the Catholic theological tradition as its starting point.” (Are they saying Catholic theological tradition defines divine realities? I wonder if God is aware of that.)
The Committee points out that the book is "a particular pastoral concern" for the bishops "because it is written for a ‘broad audience’ rather than a more narrow scholarly audience.” (Horrors, too many 'simple people' might read it.)
“Furthermore,” it adds, “whether or not the book was originally designed specifically to be a textbook, the book is in fact being used as a textbook for the study of the doctrine of God.”
“Having examined both the book and the Observations in detail, the Committee on Doctrine believes that it is its duty to state publicly that on several critical points the book is seriously inadequate as a presentation of the Catholic understanding of God.”
Really, the Church is acting like a 'Society of Catholic Anachronism' that demands the laity take seriously the notion it knows all there is to know about reality--divine or otherwise. Notice I left out the word 'creative' because as the Committee on Doctrine states of Sr Johnson: "she was attempting to express the faith of the Church in new and creative ways that would be appropriate to the contemporary situation, where as the Committee was operating out of a narrow theological framework and would only accept the repetition of traditional formulas." Hence no creativity in this particular anachronistic society. No silly notions of "the Middle Ages 'as they ought to have been' as the real Society of Creative Anachronism defines it's notions of recreating the 'living history' of the culture of the Middle Ages. Maybe that's why the real SCA has no official clerical ranks. Clericalism is antithetical and hostile to creativity.
The SCA may be quite good at recreating the pagentry of the Middle Ages, but nothing they do can ever equal what Rome is capable of:
I could appreciate this kind of thing a whole lot more if I wasn't expected to take it seriously in the twenty first century---or the kind of magisterial rule and theology supporting that rule that all that pageantry implies. There is no hint of any 'search for the living God' in this picture. The Catholic God represented in this picture was found back in the late Middle Ages. According the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, that's the only God Catholics are officially allowed to find. This is one of those times when something is so sad it really is funny. I hope Sr Johnson has a good sense of humor because it's the only healthy response to these clerical delusions.