Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Sacred Spaces

Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000).

In York:

"...St. Oswald's on Oglethorpe Street...lay almost in the shadow of the Minster. That most glorious of churches rose above roofs like God's personal benediction." (p. 197)

(For York Minster above roofs, see image.)

Sometimes I comment on a passage. At other times I follow a line of thought suggested by the passage. Page viewers are invited to do the same.

When in York, I meditate in a side chapel of the Minster. I have mentioned other churches where I meditate here. When Sheila and I attended Evensong in the Minster, the Anglican clergyman thanked God for the lives of the founders of the Salvation Army and of the Missionaries of Charity. That same summer, I attended devotions to Krishna at a summer camp. At a conference in London, I meditate in a prayer room mainly used by Muslims. In a nearby village, the Anglican church had closed down, the Catholic church was locked and the Methodist church had a woman putting up posters so I helped her put them up before joining my family in a Temple of Bacchus, i.e., an English pub.

"Ginny and I weren't churchgoers. With all due respect, we'd never figured out which of the world's countless sets of rites and dogmas lead to the best relationship with God." (p. 123)

Which, if any, helps you most? A couple I know agreed, when getting married, that they would go to church, that they would do it together and that he would change to hers so Kevin has been a practicing Anglican ever since. He knows that I believe differently but is not the sort of chap who gets into discussions about religion. Poul Anderson's fiction invites discussion of theology as of everything else.

9 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    As a Catholic, I would answer Steven Matuchek's question by arguing the Catholic Church is the one "...whose sets of rites and dogmas lead to the best relationship with God." And I would also stress that does NOT mean all Catholics live up to what our Lord and the Church teaches.

    I would argue for the antiquity and divine foundation of the Church from Scripture, the Fathers, and the history of Christianity. Seeing that you are English and writing in the UK, examples like Fr. John Chapman's BISHOP GORE AND THE CATHOLIC CLAIMS and STUDIES ON THE EARLY PAPACY comes to mind. A later writer would be Fr. Philip Hughes massive three volume THE REFORMATION IN ENGLAND.

    I know reasoned theological and historical arguments will not move all, so I would point out places like Lourdes where miracles have been reported and documented as having no known scientific/natural causes. Since such miracles happens only at CATHOLIC shrines, I suggest that is at least an indication of SOMETHING happening.

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      I would need to be convinced of theism, then of Christianity, before I started considering arguments that Catholicism is the right form of Christianity. I have considered these issues but reached different conclusions. I agree that unexplained cures indicate that something is happening.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      What kind of arguments or proofs would convince you that a Supreme Being exists? Not the Aristotelian/Scholastic arguments for an Unmoved Mover or First Cause?

      Or would it take a miracle for you to be convinced a God exists? Such as, perhaps, the miracle we see in Poul Anderson's "A Chapter of Revelation"? I would argue that one reason God gives us miracles (or, if you prefer, alleged miracles) at shrines like Lourdes is that they give us proofs that God is real.

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      But, if it were proved, then it would not be a matter of faith. We would establish diplomatic relations with the ruler of the universe as with the ruler of another country. I am not sure what could count as proof for all the claims of Christian theology but I would continue to consider every new argument, piece of evidence etc. The question from the other side is what would count as disproof?
      Paul.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      That's an interesting way of putting it, that to worship God is to enter into diplomatic relations with the ruler of the universe! Or wouldn't it be better to say we would be acknowledging our rightful sovereign by worshiping God?

      I would argue, as St. Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15, that the supreme proof of Christianity was the Resurrection of Christ from the dead. As St. Paul so starkly put it, if Christ was not raised from the dead then vain is our faith--but if He was indeed raised from the dead, then everything else follows from it, including miracles at Lourdes.

      Your last comment was interesting. It seems to mean you think atheists will never be able to prove God does not exist.

      Sean

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    5. Sean,
      It is never necessary to prove a negative. The onus of proof is on those who make a positive statement. Proof of great power would not be proof of infinite power. For a statement to be testable, there must be theoretical circumstances in which it could be disproved. A statement that is compatible with any state of affairs does not make any difference to the real world.
      Paul.

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    6. Kaor, Paul!

      Hmmm, I don't have to prove two plus two is NOT four? I'm not sure I can agree. If 2 + 2 is not 4 then how would we be able to do mathematics at all? I would think the onus of proof IS sometimes on those who argue for the negative.

      I do not think it is possible for a man to be restored to life, as with Lazarus and Our Lord, unless that was done by a Being possessing infinite power.

      Sean

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    7. Sean,
      No, we demonstrate that 2+2 does equal 4. I think that resuscitation would demonstrate great but not necessarily infinite but also I do not accept that account in the Fourth Gospel as historical.
      Paul.

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    8. Kaor, Paul!

      I had in the back of my mind how some people deny some opinions or beliefs can be objectively shown to be false. They deny that a man who believes 2 + 2 is 5 is in error.

      And I do believe John's Gospel contains more real history than many commentator today believe. Including, yes, Our Lord raising Lazarus from the dead. If He is God as well as Man, then Christ could certainly do that!

      And that brings me back to my belief that one reason we see miracles (or, if you like, "alleged" miracles) at shrines like Lourdes is that God uses them as signs reassuring people that He truly exists.

      Sean

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