Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kind on Earth.
I must admit that the more I hear about these efforts of source research, the less confidence I feel in the plethora of hypotheses it has thrown up. And which are then endlessly repeated and refuted.
The whole business of constructing a purely historical Jesus, in contrast to the Jesus of faith, which began with the Enlightenment, was already subjected to severe criticism by Albert Schweitzer. He said: We thought we really had him at last, and now he has passed by our age and gone back to being himself.
I think all these attempts are reconstructions in which we can always see the face of the architect. Whether you take Adolf Harnack’s Christ – who reflects the typical liberal – or whether you take Bultmann’s Christ, who betrays his kind of existential philosophy. All these constructions have been undertaken with one guiding idea: There can be no such thing as God made man. Those events that presuppose his existence cannot therefore have happened. That means that here you are already starting with a presupposition that will, basically, rob the event of its inner force – and thereby, precisely that which lends it both tension and fullness.
I would think it much more appropriate if just for once we asked: Does the portrayal of this person in the New Testament make sense? And my answer would be: Only as shown there has he the greatness to be the originator of such events. I am therefore persuaded that – despite all source criticism, from which we still have much to learn – our trust in the Gospels is fully justified. Even if the details of many traditions have been expanded in later periods, we can trust the Gospels for the essentials and can find in them the real figure of Jesus. It is much more real than the apparently reliable reconstructions.
|—||Joseph Ratzinger, interviewed by Peter Seewald, God and the World, 202-203.|
From the crisis of today, the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so will she lose many of her social privileges.
In contrast to an earlier age, she will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, she will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly she will discover new forms of minisitry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many many smaller congregations or in self-contained groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly.
But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her centre: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize her true centre and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.
The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed.
One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism of the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain – to the renewal of the nineteenth century.
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
|—||Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, 46-47.|
The real peril that followed on the victory he had won for Aristotle was vividly presented in the curious case of Siger of Brabant; and it is well worth study, for anyone who would begin to comprehend the strange history of Christendom. It is marked by one rather queer quality; though it is not noticed by its modern enemies, and rarely by its modern friends. It is the fact symbolised in the legend of Antichrist, who was the double of Christ; in the profound proverb that the Devil is the ape of God.
It is the fact that falsehood is never so false as when it is very nearly true.
|—||G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, 91.|
I am concerned only with the historical fact, more and more admitted by historians, that very early in its history this thing became visible to the civilization of antiquity; and that already the Church appeared as a Church; with everything that is implied in a Church and much that is disliked in a Church. […] It had a doctrine; it had a discipline; it had sacraments; it had degrees of initiation; it admitted people and expelled people; it affirmed one dogma with authority and repudiated another with anathema. If all these things be the mark of Antichrist, the reign of Antichrist followed very rapidly upon Christ.
Those who maintain that Christianity was not a Church but a moral movement of idealists have been forced to push the period of its perversion or disappearance further and further back. A bishop of Rome writes claiming authority in the very lifetime of St John the Evangelist; and it is described as the first papal aggression. A friend of the Apostles writes of them as men he knew and says they taught him the doctrine of the Sacrament; and Mr Wells can only murmur that the reaction towards barbaric blood-rites may have happened rather earlier than might be expected.
|—||Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, 217-218.|
The Church contains what the world does not contain. Life itself does not provide as she does for all sides of life. That every other single system is narrow and insufficient compared to this one; that is not a rhetorical boast; it is a real fact and a real dilemma.
Where is the Holy Child amid the Stoics and the ancestor-worshippers? Where is Our Lady of the Moslems, a woman made for no man and set above all angels? Where is St. Michael of the monks of Buddha, rider and master of the trumpets, guarding for every soldier the honour of the sword? What could St. Thomas Aquinas do with the mythology of Brahmanism, he who set forth all the science and rationality and even rationalism of Christianity?
Yet even if we compare Aquinas with Aristotle, at the other extreme of reason, we shall find the same sense of something added. Aquinas could understand the most logical parts of Aristotle; it is doubtful if Aristotle could have understood the most mystical parts of Aquinas.
Even where we can hardly call the Christian greater, we are forced to call him larger. But it is so to whatever philosophy or heresy or modern movement we may turn. How would Francis the Troubadour have fared among the Calvinists, or for that matter among the Utilitarians of the Manchester School? Yet men like Bossuet and Pascal could be as stern and logical as any Calvinist or Utilitarian. How would St. Joan of Arc, a woman waving on men to war with the sword, have fared among the Quakers or the Doukhabors or the Tolstoyan sect of pacifists? Yet any number of Catholic saints have spent their lives in preaching peace and preventing wars.
It is the same with all the modern attempts at Syncretism. They are never able to make something larger than the Creed without leaving something out. I do not mean leaving out something divine but something human; the flag or the inn or the boy’s tale of battle or the hedge at the end of the field. The Theosophists build a pantheon; but it is only a pantheon for pantheists. They call a Parliament of Religions as a reunion of all the peoples; but it is only a reunion of all the prigs.
Yet exactly such a pantheon had been set up two thousand years before by the shores of the Mediterranean; and Christians were invited to set up the image of Jesus side by side with the image of Jupiter, of Mithras, of Osiris, of Atys, or of Ammon. It was the refusal of the Christians that was the turning point of history. If the Christians had accepted, they and the whole world would have certainly, in a grotesque but exact metaphor, gone to pot. They would all have been boiled down to one lukewarm liquid in that great pot of cosmopolitan corruption in which all the other myths and mysteries were already melting. It was an awful and an appalling escape.
Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once very nearly died of broad-mindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.
|—||G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, 177-178.|
|—||Chesterton, Orthodoxy, in Collected Works: Volume I, 217.|
Frequently I am asked whether it is better to attack or to defend. My reply is always the same: it depends for the most part on each individual’s temperament; he ought to play that type of game which suits him best.
However, as a matter of general theory there is only one proper reply, to wit: The initiative is an advantage and he who secures it must try to maintain it. He should abandon it only when forced to do so, or if he can exchange it for a material advantage which will suffice to decide the fate of the game in the ending.
I also consider it good practice for those who want to improve their game or adopt a risky style occasionally, playing or trying to play daring combinations and sacrificing a piece for a Pawn or two with the object of obtaining an attack. This should be done deliberately, even if it leads to loss of the game. The idea is to obtain practice in combinative play. In this way you will obtain the necessary experience to qualify you to appraise problems of attack and defence. Such experience, and the resulting knowledge and poise that it will give you, can be of the utmost value.
You must accustom yourself to lose with equanimity. You will get more pleasure out of the game that way. And as I have already stressed, you can learn much more from the games you lose than from the ones you win.
|—||José Raoul Capablanca, Capablanca’s Last Chess Lectures, 55.|