Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Louis Dupré on Metanoia

Louis Dupré, a Catholic phenomenologist philosopher, who is currently T. Lawrason Riggs Professor Emeritus in Religious Studies at Yale University, gave the Erasmus Lectures at Notre Dame University in 2005. Subsequently, these lectures were published under the name Religion and the Rise of Modern Culture (Notredame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008).

The lectures and the book are a good synopsis of the critical analysis contained in his earlier books on the pre-Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment developments in Western Thought that have contributed to modernity, specifically, his Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture and his The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture.

He observes that a subjective theology alone--along the Kierkegaardian lines of turning from the aesthetic to ethical life--is insufficient to overcome the problems confronting modernity. What is needed is both a philosophical and theological conversion, one that encompasses visions of both the body and the soul, and not the soul or mind alone.

No program of theological renewal can by itself achieve a religious restoration. To be effective a theological vision requires a recognition of the sacred. Is the modern mind still capable of such a recognition? Its fundamental attitude directly conflicts with the conditions necessary for it. First, some kind of moral conversion has become indispensable. The immediate question is not whether we can confess a religious faith, or whether we live in conformity with certain religious norms, but whether we are of a disposition to accept any kind of theoretical or practical direction coming from a source other than the mind itself. Such a disposition demands that we be prepared to abandon the conquering, self-sufficient state of mind characteristic of late modernity. I still believe in the necessity of what I wrote an an earlier occasion [Transcendent Selfhood]: "What is needed is a conversion to an attitude in which existing is more than taking, acting more than making, meaning more than function--an attitude in which there is enough leisure for wonder and enough detachment for transcendence. What is needed most of all is an attitude in which transcendence can be recognized again."

Conversion (in the Biblical sense of Metanoia), Leisure (in Josef Pieper's sense), Detachment (in the best traditions of Catholic asceticism, perhaps St. John of the Cross). Sounds like a good plan.

Now how to bell the cat?

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