What made Christianity so dangerous [to imperial Rome] was its uncompromising, radical de-divinization of the world.
—Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics
Early Christian thinking, like the biblical thinking of the Jewish culture which informed it, was a sedition against the entire pagan world of the sacred. It abolished nature gods: the moon goddess, the gods of thunder, of the hunt, of fertility, the harvest, the waters, all the deities of pagan cosmology. It denied Flora and Faunus sacred status. Continue Reading
What has happened to Ash Wednesday? Is the wearing of ashes in decline everywhere? Or only in New York City, a sanctuary city for people of every faith or unfaith? Or was I just in the wrong part of town at the wrong hour?
I took an early commuter train into the city this morning, and was on the subway to Columbus Circle between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Coming up out of the station, I passed a young woman with ashes—the first I had seen since I left the house. Continue Reading
A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental; they necessarily are reflected in his theology.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Of all the modern substitutes for religion, it is the aesthetic sense which is the most esteemed.
Edward Norman, Entering the Darkness
That quote above by then-Cardinal Ratzinger leaves me fidgety. I would rather hear about the potential effect on theology of his pilot’s license—he does have one—than appeals to art, music, nature, the expected perfumes. Continue Reading
Your friends are not religious; they are only pew-renters. They are not moral; they are only conventional.
Don Juan to the Devil in Shaw’s Man and Superman
A sense of the holy brings with it a sense of taboo. We tread cautiously in the tenting place of the ineffable. A Presence abides. We dare not profane.
The Vatican’s recently announced Art for Charity initiative directed toward high profile corporations raises a question: Is the Sistine Chapel still the sacred space it was built to be? Continue Reading