Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Test Everything; Hold Fast to What Is Good

Christ is in our midst!

I was recently asked in the comments of a post to explain why I post the things I do on my blog.

1. Very simply, if I find something of personal interest on the WWW I post it. It's not always something purely "theological," even though everything goes back to that (Something Within Something) eventually anyway. This is not a website, but a blog, a web-log. Different folk have different styles for their blogs which is fine, but this is my style. I respect your freedom in choosing to participate in it if something provokes you.

2. The most important posts on this site are the ones in the Classic Posts. The articles/interviews they refer you to are consistent with what I consider to be the very best available from what I have been able to find on the WWW.

3. La Nouvelle Theologie or Ressourcement is a "living tradition." That's why I have the folks in the title picture that I do. They represent both the past and the present. My views are very consistent with those whom I consider to be the leading thinkers today in this school or movement, including Pope B16, David L. Schinder, Tracey Rowland, Julián Carrón, etc. This includes looking at and evaluating a variety of topics from modernity to liberalism, from capitalism to the War in Iraq, etc. All of these things I find a great personal interest in exploring. Why? Because this is reality. This is the world we live in, the good with the bad.

4. The disposition that I desire to hold to the best of my fallen human abilities is that of embracing all of reality. This includes judging everything including current events in politics, economics, international relations/foreign affairs, etc. Together with my friends I verify what is true, beautiful and good. This is the method that Christ taught us. Everyday I beg Our Lady for the ability to live life as she did.

5. I reject the ideologies of the left and right. I desire to have the mindset of the Church on all matters. I take the teachings of the Magisterium seriously and accept them. If I do not understand them, I study them begging for insight from Sacred Scripture and from the writings of the Saints. I approach all the teachings of the Magisterium with great humility. I recognize that I am a sinner, the chief among sinners. I am saved only through the grace and mercy of God.


Fred said...


1. this is a blog, a personal journal, and thus has certain idiosyncracies.

2. The "ressourcement" was never a coherent school of thought, but a number of folks who fought and disagreed (see, for example, Henri de Lubac's Theology in History).

A. Along these lines, I find the comments questioning Dorothy Day strange. Are you considering Dorothy Day in her self or are you also including Peter Maurin, the cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, as well? Maurin introduced a great vein of the French Catholicism that nourished Charles Peguy to American soil. Take away Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin (as well as Fr. John Hugo, Virgil Michel, and the Maritains) and ressourcement had no impact on the US except for liturgical novelty.

B. The volume you criticize is also introduced by Mark and Louise Zwick, who are certainly not academic theologians (I may not agree with every word, but I look to the center of their work), but are deeply immersed in Balthasar and other thinkers in the ressourcement tradition. See for example, their roots of the Catholic Worker movement.

3. Why is it that so many of the ressourcement thinkers loved Peguy, but that few of those who promote the whole abstract academic theology thing have read Peguy and if they have, why is it that they so rarely think about Peguy or quote him?

Unknown said...


I agree with Fred.

Consider another school of theologians in which there is no small amount of disagreement: Thomism. And those disagreements extend/ed into the "practical" realms of politics, economics, etc.

I *think* David sees his political, economic, and cultural perspectives as flowing from the theological tradition in which he has aligned himself, and as such, he has rightly titled his blog.

Christopher Blosser said...

David's entitled to think and do as he ought with his blog.

Nevertheless, I think some clarification is necessary. For a blog that specifically announces an intent to "explore both historical and current events guided by the thought of the leading thinkers, past and present, of this school or movement of theology", it does not follow that all the positions on various political issues adopted therein are part and parcel of ressourcement theology.

For example, to be a Balthasar scholar doesn't necessarily entail this or that position with respect to the foreign policy of the Bush administration, for instance (ask Dr. Schindler and you'll get one answer, ask Edward T. Oakes and you'll get another -- plumbing through an old issue of First Things I was mildly suprised to see Oakes take a position which David Jones or Stephen Hand might be tempted to label neocon).

It was pointed out to me off-blog that Dorothy Day could be considered ressourcement in the sense that the Catholic Worker movement was seen as a revival of the Franciscan position.

Personally, rather than a blog be simply a kind of information-aggregator, posting one link after another (see Instapundit, one of the most famous bloggers, for an example) I would offer the humble suggestion that David might offer his own thoughts on the pieces he links to. Sometimes the mere posting of a link w/o commentary can be taken as a personal endorsement where none is actually intended, and a reader might come to erroneous conclusions as to where David stands on the issues.

Commenting on and working through the material might then serve as an incentive for others to dialogue on these matters.

Fred said...

Christopher makes an excellent point about quantity of links vs. quality of posts. Perhaps some other of us 'members' could assist David will presenting some more substantial content.

A blog is literally a web-log. It is a return to the personal dimension of publishing that has been mostly lost in book publishing (I have heard some in the publishing business lament this loss dearly). Nevertheless, the personal tradition of publishing continues in Bill Eerdmans's press, a Calvinist house and in the Ressourcement Series edited by David Schindler. I would respectfully suggest that the publication of the Zwick's introduction to Day's book has much more to do with friendship than with ideology, but I can offer little that would dissuade the cynical.


ben said...

This is the most interesting post and collection of comments. Perhaps my thoughts will be useful, perhaps not.

I really enjoy this blog, and I have been reading it regularly for several months now. I am probably not as familiar with ressourcement theology as most of the other commenters here. My academic work focused primarily on modern and post modern philosophy, not theology, so I am most familiar with Husserl, Scheler, Stein, Heiddeger, Jaspers, Satre and Merleau-Ponty. What I know specifically of Ressourcement Theology I have learned in conversations with my friend from graduate school Dr. Greg Sadler of Ball State, who is an expert on Blondel.

Now that I have been away from the academic world for so many years and have the responsibilities of family life (number 7 is due in Jan.) I do not have the time to digest a whole new field of academic inquiry. I have time to read articles (I love my First Things subscription) and not many books. As such, I really appreciate the service David provides. He links to a lot of shorter pieces that are both informative and thought provoking (and free). This is what I have time for in my busy life, and it has done me some good. I don’t have a chance to read the books he links to.

Perhaps it is because I have been away from the academy for so long, but I don’t expect this site to be academic and give a thorough presentation of la nouvelle theologie. Again, perhaps this is owing to my present state in life, but I really appreciate the practical elements of this blog. I enjoying getting different perspectives informed by ressourcement thought as to how to pray, live, work, vote, and consume in our modern America.

Praxis is important, as Christians we believe that faith without works is dead, and that we are all called to carry our crosses. Hopefully I’m not being too presumptuous when I say that I think that the Christian call to work is what motivates David to post so much on politics and economics that seem to have a less direct connection to ressourcement traditionally understood.

It is nice to be reminded that we are to test everything and hold fast to what is good. I had let go of some good things, and this blog has helped me to grasp them once again. For example, the recent entries on McCarraher, especially the one on “Marxists for Christ,” got me thinking about the old Communist again. I had forgotten what a pleasure the young Marx is to read, especially the stuff he wrote between 1844-46. It was Marx who said “the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it,” which may be a reason to stretch the theological speculations of those long dead to see if they might inform our behavior at the office, in the supermarket and at the voting booth.

Fred said...


I want to thank you for this comment in particular:
"As for me, I am personally more interested at the moment in continuing to dive through the rest of the corpus of just von Balthasar, de Lubac, Daniélou, Bouyer, Congar, Ratzinger and a dozen other theologians. Someday I hope to get more active in a study of their “sources”, but I have not the time right now, and can only do so much."

I hadn't thought of this much, but at certain point, I became much less interested in Balthasar and the others and much more interested in their sources. It has struck me that Balthasar's method, in particular, of looking to the Church Fathers, drama, poetry, and literature for insights on human questions was brilliant, striking a blow against the fragmentation of knowledge. I also wonder about a Christianity that does not embrace or especially generate culture.

And here's Peter Maurin's Easy Essay on the same topic:
Catholic scholars
have taken dynamite
of the Church,
have wrapped it up
in nice phraseology,
placed it in an hermetic container
and sat on the lid.

As a long-time student, I am most concerned about sitting on the lid. When the Bridegroom returns, I do not wish to be found without my lamps and oil at the ready.


Eric Lee said...

I think I understand Justin's concern (I'm from San Diego by the way), but I don't think you have to worry about me too much. I'm too well-versed in blogdom (having had a silly one since 2001 that has become more and more serious, but not totally ;) to acknowledge that not everything that one links to in one's blog posts is a full or even partial endorsement of that subject matter.

I think the occasional comment might be helpful with how a link may or may not intersect with Ressourcement, but I don't always expect it.

What draws me to this blog (as well as nouvelletheologie.blogspot.com and religionandliberty.blogspot.com), aside for my deep appreciation and curiosity to Ressourcement, is the level of dialogue that takes place. For the most part (although there are the occasional unfortunate exceptions), it is ridiculously respectful, and that comes as a breath of fresh air to what I'm used to reading, or to what I'm used to being leveled at me in the past.

As far as me personally as someone who is not a Roman Catholic (but still catholic! ;), and for those who wonder if I will mistake Ressourcement with domestic and foreign policy ideas, I don't think anybody has anything to worry about. I'm not really interested in the policy of nation states (as long as they're not engaged in killing God's gifts!). I don't have any utilitarian suggestions for foreign or domestic policy anymore. I do have suggestions about how the Church can be Church, though (which may occasion an intersect with the state where possible, but I don't particularly have a good taste for it as I'm rather convinced the state tries to be a parody of the Church soteriologically and otherwise).

What I am interested in concerning Ressourcement, is how it will better help me to understand God (if at all possible through the retrieval of our rich traditions), but mainly to see and experience through tradition how I can better love God and neighbor through the works of mercy. That's all, really.

It's not particularly important I guess, but I also used to be a fundamentalist protestant who was very anti-Catholic not too long ago (of the Jack T. Chick, trying-to-be-so-anti-modern-based-on-modern-criteria- *breath* -that-it-ends-up-steeped-in-modernism variety, if that rings any bells), and so I feel like I've kind of found an "in" through Ressourcement towards a kind of penance for my sins of hatred of brother and sister in my past. I'm finding that many of the discussions are similar to what goes on in Protestant circles, but framed in slightly different ways and using different people as sources (for instance, the "Augustinian Thomas" vs. "Whig Thomist" debate isn't too dissimilar from the Radical_Orthodoxy/Hauerwas vs. Jeffrey_Stout/Chris_Insole debate as far as the Church's involvement (or not) in modern liberal democracies).

I understand Justin's suggestion, but as far as me personally, I don't think I'll be confusing Ressourcement with policy initiatives any time soon -- something I'm not particularly interested in anyway (although that doesn't mean I'm completely disinterested ;).



Fred said...

I confess that I am one of several folks that sends lots of links to David without much comment. For my penance, I suppose I should tag each one with a sentence or two that he could pass along . . .

But Eric is dead on when he calls attention to the quality of the dialogue around here. As Martha would say, "it's a good thing."


Fred said...

PS. I just saw Eric's post below, which inspired me to figure out how to post. I'll have one up soon!