February 1980 talk, Serial No. 00903

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This is based on a course that I'm giving this semester at Holy Family College. It's part of their religious formation program. So all their religious go and there are other religious things. And I'll try to make it more specific, specifically for the monastic and hermetical. But the basic substance would be that. And so we've got sort of three elements here. We've got the monk and we've got the religious dimension of the human family. And then we've got the modern world sort of as the context for all this. So I tried to indicate this graphically. All these little models are always a little reductive, but graphically. As the monk, as a kind of particular and especially intense expression of this religious dimension of all humanity. I think we are tied in to this dimension of humanity, a particularly strong expression


of it and sort of witness to it. And this always occurs in a particular context of history. And for us, it's the modern world, which I put there as a kind of a cauldron or something in which we're being boiled or something. Or a chalice, if you want to be more positive. So these are the three elements. We're not just there without any relation to the religious dimension of all of humanity. People come up here. They're interested in what we're doing, etc. Not necessarily because they feel they have a monastic vocation, but because they do have faith or even just a religious aspiration. They see here as a kind of a special focus and sign of what they're seeking for. But this does occur in this century, in this time. If at any time there are questions or things aren't clear, just intervene and then I'll


talk a bit and then we can have a break and then any questions or discussion or debate. So why these series of conversations, reflections? Our particular century, as you probably know, challenges the religious dimension and challenges the monastic life in a way that earlier centuries have not. It's a little less easy to be religious today. It's a little less easy to be a monk. And we want to look into that why and how, etc., and what our response is to that challenge. Then I hope we'll see that it's not just all negative. That is, our modern world doesn't propose just to us difficulties and obstacles, etc., but there are resources there and new possibilities which might permit us to live our own monastic


eremitic life with a particular contemporary dimension that's the richer because we've gone through this, this sort of thing. Why should we have to come to terms with this modern world? One could say there's a kind of timeless perennial aspect to the monastic life. We can just sort of make ourselves, I don't know, contemporaries with the Desert Fathers who were the early medieval hermits or monks or something. We can just sort of bypass this whole bottom thing and so the whole issue could just not exist for us if we do this with a particular effort. This might be one approach, and we might want to discuss that. That would be an interesting approach. Now my own position, and we'll be discussing here things that are, as the theologians say, opinionable. You can discuss. There's different positions you can take. Not everything I'll be saying is necessarily the dogmatic truth, but just to stimulate


a reflection and a position. Others here might quite legitimately have different positions. My own position would be that we are called as Christians, as Catholics, as monks to be aware of this age in which we live and not just to try to ignore it. One could cite here, I was going to rush over and get the documents of Vatican II, but I thought it wasn't necessary, but those first chapters of Gaudium et Spes, the church in the modern world, this explicit endeavor of the council fathers to situate our ecclesial situation in today, that context, and that rather eloquent beginning sentence that the joys and the sorrows of the modern world are our joys and sorrows, and especially those of the poor, etc., etc. So this tie-in, this rendering sort of incarnate in our historical moment, our ecclesial experience.


So this would be with the monk, and this would be with the hermit. Every Christian is called to do that, and maybe even in a special way, the monk and the hermit, in a special intensity and in also a very special modality. It doesn't mean keeping up with all the latest headlines in the newspapers. It would have to be done in a different way, but maybe it's something to be done. One thinks here of the example of Thomas Merton, who was not unaware of what was happening in the America of the 50s and 60s, the racial problems, the Vietnam problem, all these issues, and sort of this part of his life, and not just at one level, but perhaps getting into his poetry and also into his prayer. I think you can do it so you can give examples of it inside the Council.


I think you could offer also a kind of a theological motive for this, coming to terms with our age, and that is that, in fact, I have been born in this period and in this continent and not in another, and so each one here, and I think one would have to argue that there's something providential in this. The providentialist argument is sometimes a little dangerous. There's an energy crisis. Well, God must will it, so we'll just accept the energy crisis, or so-and-so is very, very sick. Well, God wills it. So God doesn't will everything that happens. We know that. Some things that happen are also the result of human responsibility, human weakness and sin, et cetera. The energy crisis, maybe we've wasted too much energy in our consumer society, et cetera. A sickness, perhaps we're called, if someone's sick in a particular way, to consult a doctor,


et cetera. That is to... But something like I am born in this age and not in another, I wasn't born in the Middle Ages or in the first three centuries, or I won't be born in the year 2001, but precisely in this area of time, I think one has to argue that this is something that God does will directly. This is a very special thing that we can apply not to the sin of mankind or to the negligence or to... But this God is here. I can't even say, well, my parents willed. They willed to have a child, but they didn't know whether it'd be masculine or feminine. And they didn't will this precise, unique person that am I, if we're getting across. Jacques Martin has some reflection on here. There's a very unique person here that am here that I'm quite as much a surprise to


my parents as to myself and to everyone else. This is God's doing. Now, why did he put me here rather than the time of St. Thomas Aquinas or rather than the time of St. Augustine or rather than the time of several centuries from now? And why did he put me here in the American continent rather than in China or Russia or southern Africa or whatever? This is a great mystery, and each one has to work through this, but I think we are called to work through it. Now, we have resources. One of the beautiful things about our century is that through books, through research, etc., we do have accessible to us quite other cultures, quite other times. I can get into China of the third century B.C., for instance, and if I do enough research, etc., I can really get in there and almost be there. In my college, we had a medieval scholar who almost lived more in the Middle Ages than


he did in our century, and he said it was just quite a mistake of God that he was born today and not in the time. He said this rather jokingly, and so one can do that. But I think it's interesting to remember this is—it's precisely our age with the printing press and scientific historical research and all this that permits this. So, it wouldn't have been this possible, say, just two centuries ago, this sort of thing. Had I been born in the 1700s in the United States, it's quite dubious how much I could know about China of the third century B.C. or even the Middle Ages in any sort of serious way. I would have probably been too taken up with work on the frontier or whatever it be, handling the general store or whatever it would have been. But our own capacity to get into these different ages and different spiritualities quite deeply is a particular gift of our own time.


So here already, we've got a resource, a positive resource of our time, and we can think through what does this mean. The fruits of this, the dangers of this, one can get quite eclectical and confused. If you go into any good college bookstore, there'll be a religion section and Buddhism and Hinduism and the whole bit. You've got the whole rainbow there or the whole—and one can get quite confused. And there's lots of people walking around who are a little confused in their head because there's just too many proposals. So how to use this resource but not get lost sort of in the jungle of various proposals. So this is one thing. So I think the point is we are here, and it's providential that we're here. It's God's will that we be here in this age and this time, and we hope in this place. So in some sense, to work through this time and place that God has willed—he hasn't


willed every aspect of this time and place, obviously, but he's willed that we be in this time and place with all these complications, etc., and we do know through St. Paul that everything for those who love God, everything cooperates with the good. So, in some way, this is a constant theme of salvation history, even the sin of mankind, etc. Christians, put in that context, are not just lost, are not just victims of circumstance, but precisely through their faith, working through also a situation of a twisted, tortured situation can come out serving God, witnessing God, etc. So this working through our own time and place, maybe even to get elsewhere, maybe saying, having worked through it, then I want to put it aside, so to speak, and focus on another era or another dimension or a kind of interior silence that has not much time for modern world challenges sort of thing.


That is, it can well happen, and I think it probably would, that having worked through this material, it would then not remain a constant focus. But I do think it's very fruitful for the contemporary Christian and for the contemporary monk and Kamau, at least, to at least work through it. Are there comments, questions, perplexities? Are we all prepared to work through it? Okay, so we'll be talking first about the religious dimension of man to work up to the theme of the monk. I think they're profoundly, again, bound up. How they're bound up, that's interesting to reflect upon. But my thesis is going to be that in every human person there is a religious dimension there. That that person, in some way or another, has to come to terms with, and that the monk,


again, is a very special expression and sign and witness to that. And so I think there is a very profound relationship, there should be a reciprocal thing here. The monk is for all of humanity, this religious dimension of all of humanity. Now what do we mean by the religious dimension? Then we'll have to ask, what do we mean by the monk, that's a long one. But what do we mean by the religious dimension of humanity? The phrase, which is one of those easy glib ones, but when you start to reflect on it, it isn't that easy to see what we might mean or what we might not mean. For instance, there's an encyclopedic dictionary of religion published by the Sisters of St. Joseph. It's some three huge volumes, some 12,000 pages on the religious dimension of humanity, basically, from every sort of angle. So this is an immense argument.


So in this series of conversations we'll have, we're not going to get to the bottom of this or exhaust. We're just going to be touching a few little aspects of it. But I think it's good to have a sense, also as monks, of the immensity of this area. And you can approach it in all sorts of ways. You can do a kind of, well, the religious dimension. So find the expressions of this in the history of humanity, do a kind of a comparative religions thing. So look into Buddhism, look into Hinduism, Judaism, the Muslim religion, and all these things, as various expressions and hints and sort of symptoms of what this religious dimension is all about. That's one way of doing it. Or one can do a philosophy of religions. Almost any serious philosopher has to do this because this religious phenomenon is so central to human history that you've got to say something about it. It's all the great philosophers have in one way or another. A Plato or an Aristotle or a St. Thomas or a Spinoza, Hegel or Kant, they all have something


to say about this religious dimension. What are we going to do with it? Or you can do a theology of this. And here, there's quite interesting debates going on today in contemporary Catholic theology. What do you do with this religious dimension of humanity? Because one of the first things that appears is that we Roman Catholics do not have a monopoly on this. It's not as if the only religious people in the world are the Roman Catholics and the others are not religious. This we cannot pretend to. And it's interesting that we Roman Catholics also do not have a monopoly on the monastic life or on the aramidical life. This is something to be thought about. And it enriches, I think, our own vocation of Buddhist monks might come up here or Hindu monks or this sort of challenge fascinated Merton and fascinates others in the monastic life. And as that is the case on the monastic level, so it's the case on the religious level.


We have to think about this. So a Catholic who goes in pilgrimage to Lord, this is certainly an expression of the religious dimension of humanity. But can we say that a Hindu who goes to bathe in the Ganges, that somehow that is not an expression of this dimension? What do we want to say about that? Or a Buddhist monk who meditates for hours every day, a Gandhi, or what do we want to say about these expressions of the religious dimension that are not Catholic? Also the whole range of Christian, I don't know, Taizé monks there, what do we want to say about that? Other monks, other religious dimensions, Monte Athos, et cetera. So this theme, I think, immediately broadens our horizon where there's nothing about it


immediately that can permit us to limit ourselves to Roman Catholics. And this might be healthy in a certain way, then we'll want to focus it eventually. But I think we want to acknowledge, quite frankly, at the beginning that we are called here to this broader horizon. Is that clear? So what is an expression of the religious dimension, or what isn't? Presumably then, a Hindu bathing in the Ganges, that would be when you get into all sorts of interesting proposals. Is that then for him his way of getting to God? How do you avoid here a kind of a religious relativism of all sorts of many ways to get to the top of the same mountain sort of thing? Is the only way to avoid that saying his bathing in the Ganges is just a superstitious thing, it's an idolatrous thing, it has nothing to do with the true God? This is a very interesting problem of the challenge of other religions, of people profoundly


religious in other religions. Are they saved or not? Are they saved perhaps precisely through their fidelity to their traditions? This is what many contemporary theologians are saying, Roman Catholic, and you can find some bases in St. Thomas for this. But in any way, this sort of thing, I think we want to think about. Comments, questions? Later we can debate this. Now, what do we mean by the religious dimensions of humanity? I might go through a series of answers to this just to give you— No heresy. Pardon me? No heresy. No heresy. That's just a pure Bible. Okay. What do we mean by the religious dimension of humanity?


We might consider a series of answers to this. They go from the very negative to the very positive, and all in the area of Christian theology, starting from certain Protestant theologians and going towards certain Catholic theologians. For instance, Karl Barth—you've all heard of Karl Barth—you've all heard of Karl Barth, quite a towering Protestant theologian who's had a tremendous influence on Protestant theology, though it's now being worked through, etc. He says that religion is precisely man's effort to assert himself against God. And this can surprise us. This is about as negative approach to religion as you can get, is Karl Barth. So religion is man against God.


What could he possibly mean by this? Does anyone have any idea? He opposes religion quite directly with Christian faith. And his sort of archetype of the religious man is the Pharisee. And maybe now it's sort of getting clear what he's trying to get at. He's saying, what have you got when you've got a religious man? You've got a man who, through his own practices, his own ways of doing things, etc., wants to save himself, wants to indicate quite clearly to God and to man that he is as he should be, before God and before men. So he goes to the temple and he washes his hands and all these cultic things and the tithing and all the things that the Pharisees did. He does just to put himself in a just position with God and a just position in the eyes of


all others as a profoundly religious man. And Barth says this is absolute contrary of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is not that we put ourselves in a just position with God and our fellowmen through all that we do, but that God has saved us through Jesus Christ as a pure gift. We are saved by faith, not by works. And here Barth quotes Paul to the Romans. Faith, not works. The whole bit of religion is works. I've got to go to the temple three times a day, I've got to wash my hands, I've got to tithe, I have to do all these things. And if I do these things, I become very religious. And if I don't, I'm not religious. And there are various grades of people. Very, very religious, slightly religious, not at all religious, irreligious, etc. And you measure according to your works.


Now the monk on this scale would be someone very, very religious. He's put everything aside and he's poor and he's at it all day long. He's a full-time professional religious. And Barth says this is all very nice, but it has nothing to do with the Christian gospel. So this is quite a radical, you see, challenge to us that comes right from within the Christian experience. This is one Barth. Barth goes through all sorts of phases and then he modifies it. The later Barth is quite in love, for instance, with St. Anselm, who was a good monk and a very religious monk. But this is a classical Barth who does, I think, at least get us thinking and challenge some of our maybe temptations because there might be a little grain of truth there. Or Chesterton said the problem with all heresy is there's a seed of truth there. It's someone who's gone crazy about one aspect of truth. But in denying heresy, you don't want to deny that little speck of truth there.


This is the problem. So, you've got this direct sort of opposition and contradiction between authentic faith, which is a gift from on high. I don't make my faith through all these pious practices. If I say the rosary 10 times a day and do this and do this, I'll build up my faith and sort of get it bigger and bigger as you inflate it. No, it's pure gift from on high, just as grace is, just as salvation is. What am I called to do? I'm called to open myself to this gift of grace, open myself to the good news, and it's Jesus Christ. And it's this faith which is essentially opening myself up to the gospel. It's that which saves me. And not religious practices or religious good works or anything like that. Indeed, faith is quite the opposite. Faith is recognizing, I'm a sinner. I cannot save myself. My works do not save me. My works do not make me into a great saint, et cetera, et cetera.


It is Jesus Christ, the only holy one, who has saved me through the gospel and who now is the good shepherd leading me to the Father. So, Barb builds up this direct contradiction between the religious dimension of humanity and Christian faith. So, it's very interesting. He's very, very hard on all the other religions. He's not at all interested in the profundities of Buddhism or Hindu meditations or any of these things, because that's not the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is only the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves. So, he's a little bit more rigorous. So, if you want to talk about gospel and Christ, fine. But if you want to talk about Hindu methods of meditation and yoga and all this thing, Barth is not at all interested, because this enters into the area of religion. And if you want to talk also about monastic forms of life and monastic forms of prayer, et cetera, et cetera, he wouldn't be interested in this.


At least this Karl Barth, a more mature, mellowed might be. But this early, rigorous Karl Barth of the letter to the Romans, he says, no, that is simply self-justification through works, which is the precise enemy of St. Paul in the letter to the Romans and the precise enemy of our Lord, who's always battered the Pharisee. Are there questions? Is this position clear? How would faith for him then take form? I mean, it seems like religion is a natural expression of faith itself and religious practices. This is a problem. Now, he would say in his rigorous Protestant, it takes form in accepting the gospel, hearing the Word of God. You do have, thus, churches, you have liturgies, et cetera, but not understood as what we do to be more and more holy, but as our gatherings of people to hear the Word of God.


It's the Word of God that saves. So, the center of the liturgy for him would be the Word of God. And given there that Christ says, do this and remember this, it would also be the Eucharist, et cetera. But again, never understood as a good work, but as entering into the gospel. And there would also be love and commitment, social commitment, a whole range of things, but never understood as good works, justification, merit, all this, but is understood as my, as St. Paul says, my spontaneous reaction to the gospel. But it's always faith that saves, not words. But faith sort of fructifies, as St. Paul says, in love and all the works of love, and in prayer. But it's always the prayer of the sinner at the rear of the temple who doesn't even want to raise his eyes. It's not the prayer of the man of the Pharisee in front who says, Lord, I'm thankful for who I am and for my tithing and all. So that's how he would respond.


Yes, we would respond to this. Now, he would say, be careful here, because even that, even that is grace. And here he would cite St. Paul again. Even our opening ourselves to faith is grace. We couldn't even say Jesus is Lord if not in the Holy Spirit. It's the doing and the willing to do that comes from grace. But we would respond, yes, but we are called to collaborate and yearn. That's right. And perniciously human, in a sense. If they were merely human, like building a house or something, that would be all right. But they're more pernicious in the sense that I'm convincing myself now that I'm getting up there. The basic model for him is the Tower of Babel.


The men said, let's be very religious. Let's build this tower that goes right up to heaven, and we'll get up into heaven. And then God intervenes and confounds their languages. And this is the whole phenomenon of world religions, according to Barth. This confusion of methods and ways and things. So it's merely human in the worst sense. A man wanting to justify himself before God, which is the basic temptation of Satan in the Garden. If you eat this, you'll become as gods. And then grace, for him, I think, does not work outside of his Christian life. That's right. Now, he does... There's a whole problem. What about all these other religions? I don't know how he answers. I know that early Barth is not at all interested in all these other religions, all these other hundreds of millions of souls. He does go along with God's will of universal salvation.


God wills to save all of mankind. Now, God saves them only through Christ. He insists that there can be, as we say, a kind of implicit will to baptism, etc. I don't know if he eventually gets there. I'd have to research that. But it's a real problem for him. Hmm? Yeah? Not saved. He says all these have their conscience and they're aware of the Creator through creation, he says, in the famous passage of Romans. And he says thus they're all condemned. St. Paul uses the universality of religions as a sign that, you know, the whole theology,


that the law does not save. So, they know... All mankind knows that there is a God and knows that by itself it cannot be saved. This is Paul's theology. And here I think it gets close to, at least, to Barth. It's not Barth. But Paul there in Romans is arguing we should all be aware of our need of grace. Paul's basic thesis is the law isn't sufficient. And circumcision isn't sufficient in the whole bit. Indeed, the law, in the end, condemns me because I simply realize I can't observe the law. You know, to fully love God and fully love my neighbor and do this and that. The more I can't do it. So, the law kills. Who will save me from this death? It's grace that saves me. And I open myself to this. I don't know Blake, but that sounds very much like this.


So, here you see religion is the enemy. The enemy of Christ. And this is quite surprising to us. And I think it's interesting to sort of work through this kind of challenge and to keep it in mind. Other comments, questions? We might deal with one other challenge from within the Christian camp. It's a little less radical. This is quite radical, you see. This is saying that, this is, in a sense, even more radical than Freud or Boxer. Because he's saying not only that it's an illusion or a drug or something, but it's against the will of God and Christ. Now, Bonhoeffer, another great... You all remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer? No? Has anyone read any of his stuff here? No?


Ah! In jail under... Yeah? Now, he died quite a heroic death. And this has had its own influence. He lived in the period of the rise of Nazism. And he immediately, immediately perceived Nazism as a tremendous enemy of the Gospel. And not all did. There were many Protestants, and unfortunately many Catholics, who plugged into Hitler and Mussolini as sort of providential movements. But Bonhoeffer immediately perceived it as a kind of anti-Christian movement. And he went all over Western Europe and all over the United States sort of trying to whip up an awareness of the danger of this Nazism. And he taught in Theological New York, etc. And when Nazis really got into power, he decided to go back to Germany.


He didn't want to have the sort of advantage of being a privileged theologian outside. So he went back to Germany, knowing that it could be the end. And he participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler. And this is also very challenging on the level of Christian ethics. You get into the whole question of pacifism or not here. He felt at a certain point the only way he could fully live his Christian Gospel was not just passively resisting Hitler, who was killing millions of Jews, etc., but to attempt to eliminate this man. And the plot didn't work, and he was jailed. And just a few months before liberation, it's really tragic, but he lived in jail of extremely heroic life, very serene and joyous. And he was a great comfort to the other prisoners around him. And so there's a whole literature about Mannhofer in jail and his death, a very heroic death. And his letters written from prison, he's rethinking in quite a radical way Christian theology.


And they've had another tremendous influence on Protestant theology. And not just lots of Catholics. So if you've got Barth and Bonhoeffer, these are two quite strong influences on contemporary Protestant theology. Again, there's not just the Barth I talked about. There's other quite richer Barths. The ultimate Barth defends St. Anselm, as I mentioned, his meditations on God. So what does Bonhoeffer say? Barth is sort of on theological, biblical grounds, as he understands it, wanting to eliminate the religious dimension, and also thus the monastic life, etc. Bonhoeffer says it's not so much the gospel and theology, but it's our modern world that makes us have to reject the religious dimension. He says, if we had lived in the Middle Ages or the early period, fine. Man was essentially religious.


And if St. Paul wanted to preach the gospel to the Romans or to the Greeks, he would have to work through their religious categories. So St. Paul, in his famous sermon, says, when I came, I saw that altar dedicated to an unknown God. I see that you are profoundly religious people, and that you worship without knowing I announce to you this earth. So Paul was working through religious categories. Fine. Now Bonhoeffer says, in fact, the modern world is no longer a religious age. It's radically secular. And this challenges us. If we want to be really men of our time, we have to work out what he calls a non-religious Christianity. Just as Paul worked out a religious Christianity, this is where Bonhoeffer is a little different from Barth. But here he is in accord with Barth, but for different reasons.


We today, if we really want to announce the gospel to contemporary humanity in a way that will be accessible to them, it won't just be announced in nonsense terms. We've got to announce it in non-religious, secular terms. And so here, from Bonhoeffer, springs out a whole so-called secular theologies. The attempt to rethink the gospel, not in religious categories, but in pure charisma, pure secular categories that will mean something to modern man. Is this clear, this project? So again, he's not saying, as Barth was, that it's intrinsic contradiction, the religious was all wrong. He's saying that it's just a fact of history. We're no longer in a religious world.


We live in a non-religious world. What does he mean by this? He means if you go into the medieval city, for instance, right at the heart of it, there's a huge cathedral. And that's sort of spatially and temporally also, but the life of the whole community is built around the liturgical prayer and processions and religious acts. And there's religious pageantry in place. It's sort of the center of even free time, even that sort of entertainment to the people, so to speak. And the church is everywhere. Religious practices are everywhere. Now, if you go into Chicago today, at the heart of Chicago is not a towering cathedral. And at the heart of the rhythm of the city is not, oh, it's time for matins, or oh, they're sounding the angelus. It's a whole different rhythm. It's the secular urban culture. At the heart of the city might be some skyscraper or some piazza


or who knows. But it won't be the one big cathedral and the bishop who guides the United People in a religious rhythm. Now, if we live in a secular urban society, we can't go down in the middle of L.A. and just repeat religious categories to announce the saving message that Jesus Christ died and risen for us. We've got to have a new way of expressing it to be able to reach the heart of people. So he feels this very, there he is in this Nazi cell, you see, and he feels the urgency, sort of the tragic weight of the modern age and the urgency of announcing in a way that's convincing and moving the gospel to save and transform and convert the modern world. And he says, we can't have all this religious baggage that holds us down. So we've got to have the courage to strip ourselves of this


and announce a gospel. Now, he, Bonhoeffer, sketches this program in just a few lines of a few letters to another theologian. So precisely how he intends to do this, precisely what he means, is not that clear. And theologians have been arguing about it ever since. And Barth, for instance, would not permit his theological students, for instance, to write a doctorate on this later Bonhoeffer. Because he says, we just don't know enough about later Bonhoeffer. Had Bonhoeffer been able to come out of prison and then develop whole volumes on what he means by all this, then we could reflect on it, analyze it in depth. We have just a few brief sentences in the last letters of Bonhoeffer from prison. So we just can't do it. Others feel that those few lines are sufficiently clear and incisive and dramatic and convincing that they feel we do have to come to terms with this.


And so what do you think of this? Would it be a book or something like St. Peter Clever, who met slave folks and the slaves were alerted. He would care for them. He would speak to their food and give them special medicine. So we saw thousands of slaves. And then somehow in the course of it, would also share Christ with them and hope and salvation. Would it be something I had working through a very, very severe role in? And then incorporate Christ. That's doing it in a way that's acceptable to us. And many Catholic theologians who are also influenced by Bonhoeffer do this. So it's getting into the real world and working through it. That's the way you do it. Obviously, in those terms, it becomes in a certain way acceptable, except this. This is a little radical for us. And it's also very dubious, as a matter of fact.


One of the big problems with Bonhoeffer now is it appears that modern man is just not that all non-religious. There's a tremendous interest in religion and religions and prayer and meditation, et cetera, in the young people, et cetera. So he's in trouble as Barth is in trouble. So working through this, you can come out even a bit strengthened. But this is very much called into question today. Other theologians in the Protestant world followed on with this. Harvey Cox, have you heard his name? The secular city. He tried to work through this city. He said this whole process of secularizing, desacralizing, begins in the scriptures itself. The basic message of the scriptures is let's get out of the religious mindset. And here, Cox is rather like Barth.


All he says is what Bonhoeffer is saying is fine. It's just that it didn't begin two years ago or 20 years ago in the modern age. It began with the word of God. It wants to get man out of this religiosity and into a new thing. He has an interesting analysis. For him, there's three levels of dereligionizing. One is dereligionized creation. And Genesis does this. For the primitive religions, the trees are gods and the moon is a god and the sun is a god. And it's all a whole religious experience. We're getting back to that in some weird expressions of modern cults, et cetera. But there's nothing more religious than a forest. It's full of gods and demons and little fairies and things. Now what does Genesis say? No, God created all this. It's things.


Created all this under the dominion of man. Man is not to worship anything but only God. So this wipes out the whole of nature religion. Nature religion, the socrality, is wiped out through this Genesis proclamation of creation. It's God who created these things. They're not gods and divinities and sub-divinities, et cetera. But it's creation for you. Then there was another kind of religion, political religion. For instance, the emperor was considered an incarnation of the divinity, et cetera. And this was a whole encounter with Christianity. Christians were supposed to go out there and sacrifice to this God who was the emperor, et cetera, and the pharaoh and all the rest of it. So what does the Book of Exodus say?


No, the pharaoh is not some sort of incarnation of the will of God. You can say no to established authority. There's nothing magical or automatic there. And you say no to the pharaoh, you cut out. So that wipes that out. That secularizes the whole political realm. And then the whole death-resurrection thing means that Christ is victorious even over these ultimate powers of death on man. No death was his power, and so on, and sister worship and all this sort of thing. So this is an interesting analysis. So if you read your scriptures, and if you're aware of the modern world, you realize you can just set the whole religious dimension aside. It might have had a time, but it doesn't now. And so we work out a secular theology. This develops into liberation theology, for instance.


Christ is calling us to social justice, social liberty, social equality, et cetera, et cetera. Now, as I say, it's not that everything is wrong here at all, but this is a whole current of thinking, et cetera. Other questions, comments? Now, these are very towering Christian thinkers, thus, who, the title of our course, Religious Dimensions of Humanity, they would say, OK, you can talk about it, and you should talk about it. But primarily, it's something to be overcome, something to move. Soon, we'll actually get in tune to. So religion, we need Brother Anthony here. Religion is a virtue. There are virtues and vices, patterns of behavior. Religion is a virtue.


It has to do with, so to speak, giving God his due. There's, if you remember, four major cardinal virtues, under which other subordinate virtues are tied in. Now, justice is the cardinal virtue of giving to another his due. His due. And Thomas says, religion is a sub-virtue under the cardinal virtue of justice. This is where he puts it and how he understands it. So justice, give another his due. Someone hires a worker to go out in his garden and pick apples, and they agree on a price of $3 an hour.


At the end of the day, that boss is bound by justice to give that amount. He has to give the due to that other. And if he gives less, he's not measuring up to the virtue of justice. And if he's a Catholic, he should confess the sin against the virtue of justice. So justice is giving that amount that I should to another. Now, God is another. And I owe things to God. So what is religion? It's giving God his due. And what is this giving his due? It's worship and service. Worship, particularly in prayer and liturgy, et cetera. Service and personal prayer in social commitment, et cetera. So for St. Thomas, religion is a radically positive thing. And interestingly enough, here he fits into our analysis


and also the others. It has to do with all of humanity. There are the theological virtues that have to do just with Christians, faith, hope, and charity. And these are gifts from on high. Now, interestingly enough, Thomas also clearly distinguishes between religion and faith. All men are called to practice the virtue of religion simply because they're men or women, even if they haven't received the gift of faith, you see. So they're quite distinct. And this should make us think. This is where something like the analysis of Barth, something like this. You can at least dialogue a bit with Barth and say, yes, also we acknowledge that religion is not faith, that religion in and of itself is even not salvific. I can very sincerely do all sorts of religious practices,


and I will not be saved if I don't have faith. This is St. Paul, and this is the gospel, and this is Thomas Aquinas. But religion, Thomas against Barth, is a positive thing. What Barth is doing is sort of hitting over the head what Thomas would call the sins against religion. Every virtue has its vices against it. The vices against social justice would be not giving another, it's just pain, et cetera. The vices against religion, according to St. Thomas, are, for instance, idolatry and superstition. So when the Jews out in the desert worship the golden calf, that isn't religion. That is a sin against true religion, because they are not giving the one God his due. So often when you discuss with young people, this is very important to keep in mind.


They'll bring up the Spanish Inquisition and the Reverend Jim Jones and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and say, look what religion means. It means fanaticism, it means hatred, it means bitterness, and all these things. The thing you must always say is the abuse of something does not argue against it. The abuse of a virtue does not mean eliminate the virtue, but eliminate the abuses against the virtue. And this is pure St. Thomas. Is this clear? Now, if we have time, just sketch very briefly how this is updated in contemporary Catholic theologians, such as Rahner. Rahner says that in every human being, precisely insofar


as he's a human being, there is this thirst for the transcendent and the absolute. There is this need for transcendence. And this is the religious dimension of humanity. This is what we're talking about. So we're talking about something in every human being, man, woman, three years old, 40 years old, black skin, white, red, born in that century, and this. It doesn't matter. Every human being, just by virtue of being a human being, has this religious dimension of a need for an openness to the transcendent, the absolute. So you can picture a human being as this kind of open chalice, seeking. Now, the human being can, in his freedom, do all sorts of things with that need. He can sort of turn it around and frustrated and say, well, I'm too afraid of transcendence.


I'm going to put all my marbles in, having a beautiful house and a beautiful car, et cetera. I'm going to try to quench my deep thirst for something quite transcendent with things. This is quite a common solution for a contemporary of the consumer society. Or one can turn it all around and give it to the party, the Nazi party or the Communist Party or something. I'll give myself to the people. I'll give myself to this political movement, this moving forward that's going to establish a new kingdom of right or truth or what. But de per se, the human person wants to give himself, offer himself to something that is greater than himself, transcendent, and fulfills himself. And this is this religious dimension. When the human person, in fact, positively sort of ratifies this and confirms this and gives him the expression in prayer and service, these are religious acts,


if they're done well, again. So the Hindu descends to the Ganges, et cetera. He's doing the only way he knows how. He's giving expression to this openness deep within his depths of his need for his going towards the absolute and the transcendent, as is the Christian. It's just that the religious we feel, theologically, this only gets you so far. It gets you in the direction of God. But you need another level, so to speak, another dimension of faith to get you there. That is, I can do all, again, all the religious things all day long, et cetera. That will not save me. It'll get me at least aware that I need God. And if I do them with a great profundity, it will make me aware that I can't get there just on my own.


There'll be that profundity of intuition. And then faith takes over, and I go the whole distance, and I'm carried out. To the trident of God. But this is sort of the starting point, the foundation point. If I don't open myself up to this religious dimension in me, to this need for transcendence, it's very difficult for faith to come in. Indeed, by opening myself up might already be the first movements of faith. Is this clear? So here we've got sort of where we're at theologically. We can stop now and think about this. Let's just take a break for about 10 minutes, seven minutes, and then come back up. There's a good discussion. Good.