Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Partial on Marriage and Family

I noticed that the BC Catholic is carrying a story on the COLF Conference of last weekend. Gyapong writes about it here. This spurs me on to give a first sketch of my reaction to the Conference.

The first talk was by Pavel Reid of the Vancouver Diocese - a real gentleman. It was very good. As an Augustinian scholar, however, I take exception to his dichotomization between Augustine's 'theology of the mind' (my expression) and John Paul II's theology of the body. Augustine did not think the body was not an image of God, he just did not think it was the best one, the one that revealed the most about God. And so Augustine was right.

The thing we need to remember - and Pavel was right to define it in this way - is that TOB is about how the body and our sexuality have meaning in God. Yet people treat of it as if TOB is the same thing as Catholic sexual ethics. It is one meditation on it. It is one particularly good meditation. It is one that seems to speak quite effectively to contemporary people. But TOB is not the same thing as Catholic sexual ethics. The Church has not canonized it to the degree that it admits of no other approaches as valid. People who think of it that way must think that the Church had no healthy and holy manner of contemplating his sexual life in Christ before the mid 20th century! So what this comes down to is the identification of all modern Catholic thought with TOB as if there is nothing else going on, nothing else valuable. John Paul II begins to receive credit for the entirety of the Christian Faith.

That TOB has become - perhaps - the first popular theological movement in history is less a sign of the singularity of its genius than of the great need of contemporary society which is fills. Why modernity needs a theology of the body rather than of the soul is something I need to think about.

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