BY MICHAEL MULLINS
Bloggers tend to be creatures of conviction. Sometimes their contest of ideas spills into open warfare. Such is the case between the two Australian Catholic bloggers – Kate Edwards of Australia Incognita and David Timbs of v2catholic.com. The past week has seen some fiery posts from both.
Incognita blogs on the “progressive creative reinterpretation of Scripture and Church teaching” that comes from “the tired old commentaries of 'spirit of Vatican II' bloviators in assorted places which I won't bother linking to on the grounds that they are a danger to the faith!”. She’s referring to Timbs.
There may be no links, but there is copious analysis of the writing of Timbs, which reflects Incognita’s emphasis on the divinity of Christ and Timbs’ on his humanity. Incognita says:
I thought all that 70s nonsense was dead and dusted. Apparently not though, since Mr David Timbs, for example, writes in his latest 'v2catholic blog' post that:
Jesus the bearer of God’s revelation [rather more than just the 'bearer of God's revelation I would have thought! Rather he is actually God] received a stunning revelation himself...
Mr Timbs interprets Jesus' ministry as being all about 'liberation from those particular forms of servitude that afflicted the mind, heart and spirit of human beings', which he sees as 'the forces of spiritual and psychological oppression'. He argues that the problem was excessively rigid interpretation of the Mosaic Law ... The real slavery of the law, as St Paul points out, was grounded in the absence of grace, for with grace we can do anything, without it, we are doomed to fail.
As is clear, Incognita’s emphasis is on the divinity of Jesus Christ, while that of Timbs is on his humanity.
Timbs writes about “self-styled Traditionalists [who] are now rejoicing in Benedict’s Reform of the Reform in Continuity and wishing in effect that Vatican II would be confined to the status of ‘a good idea at the time’”. He writes:
The driving force behind the ecclesiology proposed in Australia Incognita is a theology of Christ which is a hybrid of Gnostic Christianity, OT symbolic imagery and, to some extent, the Greco-Roman cult of Mithras. Jesus, the Church, its life and sacraments are interpreted through the lens of OT symbolism and often bizarre allegory found in the commentaries of the Fathers of the Church.
Edwards acknowledges little or nothing of the Incarnation and what it means for Salvation or for the Church. A disembodied Christ is far easier to control and domesticate than the Word made flesh ...
While consistently calling for popular biblical literacy, [she] is actually terrified of it and the kind of rigorous discipline and honesty it demands. A naive fundamentalism wrapped in imaginative allegory and promoted as lectio divina is clearly the preferred option. Australia Incognita has difficulty with the concept of Church as the People of God.
There has also been commentary on the wars themselves from other Catholic bloggers, including Country Priest, who laments the “pedantic and unwanted attention” that bloggers can attract, and takes his cue from the Curé of Ars, who
was frequently confronted by parishioners demanding he reform his ways. His typical response included a gracious apology and a plea for prayers for his conversion. But bystanders who knew Vianney well noticed that at such times, he often wrung his hands until his knuckles were white – a sign, they said, that his patience was tested, and he was making every effort not to reply with a reasoned explanation and a curt dismissal.
I’ve received the odd comment which misrepresents me, or personally attacks me, but I have found in every case that if I send a personal email with a conciliatory tone, differences are quickly resolved.
Country Priest links to a satirical blog from America’s Father James Martin, who writes that “the idea of trying to understand a person by reading carefully what they're actually saying, or giving them the benefit of the doubt, is fading quickly from Catholic discourse”.
The most common responses are these five: 1.) Your soul is in mortal danger. 2.) You’re uneducated and need to be schooled. 3.) I hate the church and so I hate you. 4.) You’re an unthinking tool of the Vatican. 5.) You’re disobedient and must be reported. I saw a link to this appalling comment on www.WeAloneAreTheTrueChurch.com. Are you saying that you’re not obedient to the Supreme Pontiff? How can you even still considered a priest (sacerdos) in good standing?
But it is not all destructive. In the past week Australia Incognita seeks to practise what she preaches in her blog on “the problem of CathNews”. She ends by offering her services to the cause of its reform.
Just what is Cath News, an organisation supported and supposedly supervised by our bishops, supposed to be trying to achieve
But of course if its purpose is to prop up the mindset of those ageing liberals then I guess the head in the sand approach works just fine!
Personally I don't want to see Cath News abolished, I want to see it reformed (my management consultancy services are available!).
The Tablet’s guest blogger Professor Margaret Susan Thompson comments on the Vatican’s admonition of religious sisters in the United States, suggesting that the Vatican may even have a domestic US political agenda.
Today's sisters are both more educated and more socially engaged than either their counterparts in the past or the bulk of the clergy who claim authority over them. And they are not alone. The Catholic laity in the US are also more alert and astute than their forebears were. At a time when the Vatican's demand that sisters spend less time on "social justice" and more on opposing abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage, the congruence of this investigation with the current presidential campaign (not to mention the US Supreme Court's current review of President Obama's healthcare programme, which most bishops opposed and most LCWR sisters supported) is impossible to ignore.
Finally the Liturgical Commission’s Liturgy Lines comments on the tendency for Catholics to focus on peripheral aspects of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
I often receive calls asking why children no longer take a Confirmation name. It surprises people to learn that the Church has never required a person to take on the name of a saint at Confirmation and that it is not mentioned in either the current or former Rite. The practice is not “banned”; it is just not mentioned. ...
Putting too much emphasis on peripheral matters like a confirmation name, or on dress, photos, certificates, and so on can detract from the focus of the celebration which is the laying on of hands and anointing with chrism before sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.