|Bryan Cross and his one-time mini-me|
wannabe, Jason Stellman
In truth, I don't see any of these folks as "settled" in Rome. Life is too unsettled, and Rome just simply has too many discrepancies for a genuinely tender conscience to come to grips with it. Maybe some of these converts will be happy being Roman Catholics for a while; many others have ended up merely visiting Rome as a weigh station on the road to something else, however.
Jason’s “something else” is turning out to involve heavy doses of postmodernism. What follows is from recent blog article:
I just returned from a Caribbean cruise (my life is hard), and I brought two books with me [one of which was]: John D. Caputo’s Hoping against Hope: Confessions of a Postmodern Pilgrim … as it turned out, I read almost all of Hoping.Now, Stellman is clever enough to write plausible deniability into what he writes, and so he doesn’t clearly embrace the concept of “our job is to bring God’s existence into reality…” He just says that’s an “intriguing idea” and so he talks about other vague, loose connections with things that may or may not have any legitimacy.
Caputo is one of the leading figures in the world of so-called “Radical Theology,” and this book explores his own spiritual journey from a young boy in his pre-Vatican 2 Philadelphia parish, through his time in a religious order as a young man, to his adulthood as a philosopher and theologian.
The basic gist of Caputo’s argument stems from a line from a German mystic (those “disturbers of the ecclesiastical peace”) who wrote,
The rose is without ”why”;From this idea Caputo suggests that in order for something to truly be a gift of grace, it must be given unconditionally and “without why.” He sets this against what he calls the “economy of salvation,” according to which God’s gifts come with strings attached and something up the Giver’s sleeve. No, Caputo says, there is no need to “repay” God for the gracious gift of life or for anything else, since if we did, it would not truly be a gift at all, but a bribe.
It blooms simply because it blooms.
It pays no attention to itself,
Nor does it ask whether anyone sees it.
How, then, do we respond to the graces we receive if not by rendering service to a divine Piper who demands to be paid?
It is here that another of Caputo’s more intriguing points comes into play. God, Caputo says, does not “exist” properly speaking, but rather he “insists.” In other words, God doesn’t stand outside of us as some external entity, but rather makes himself known more subtly and unconditionally (like the rose). Our job is to bring God’s existence into reality by acts of love for others, which is where God is ultimately known. This, Caputo says, is “risky business” on God’s part, for he is “emptying himself into the world” and depending on us to turn his insistence into concrete and loving existence.
To illustrate: We don’t see light, but it’s light that enables us to see everything else. We don’t experience life, but it’s life that provides the context for us to experience everything else. And likewise, we don’t “love God” as some extrinsic Being “out there,” but God is love, and it is by loving and wholeheartedly embracing the world that God not only is loved, but is brought into existence in tangible and sacrificial ways.
Now the connections to a more orthodox, straight-up Catholicism are not difficult to detect — the idea that God pours himself out riskily into the world is incredibly kenotic and incarnational (and I may explore these themes in subsequent posts). I am also curious to delve into the relationship between Caputo’s idea of unconditionality and Chesterton’s notion of “conditional joy” (which I really like).
And just so you know, Jason, I’ve posted this article merely to be click-bait. You’ll hear about it, and not hesitate to make fun of it, and in doing so, you’ll enable some of the godless listeners you attract to click over to Triablogue, encounter the Word of God, and Lord willing to bring them back to the right side of the ledger.