The Magical Magisterium: now you see it, now you don’t

The Magical Magisterium: now you see it, now you don’t (1)

Fr. John Hunwicke

Mine is a nation which has produced some magnificently Eminent Magicians. The great Tommy Cooper, and the recently deceased Paul Daniels, spring to mind. But neither of them was ever created a Cardinal Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, of the Holy Roman Church. Yet each of them was a masterly exponent of the the principle which, apparently, now animates some our most senior cardinals: Now you see it, now you don’t. The Magisterium pops up, and then as rapidly gets its head down again. One moment, the rabbit is in full view of the audience. The next, it is nowhere to be seen. “Magisterium? What Magisterium?” cries the Magician, carefully adjusting his zucchetto. “I think you must have been imagining it”.

Let me explain what I mean by giving two examples.
(1) In 2007, Benedict XVI restated (Sacramentum Caritatis para.29) the immemorial praxis of the Church, based upon the ipsissima verba Domini, articulated in successive magisterial documents, of declining to offer Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers, i.e. “remarried” divorcees. But in 2016, nine years later, Francis published Amoris laetitia, which has been interpreted by many, both friends and critics, as opening a door to modification of that praxis; or as “generating processes” which must inevitably lead to its replacement.
(2) In 2008, Benedict XVI introduced into the Extraordinary Form Liturgy a revised Prayer for the Jews (based upon Roman 11:25-26), doing so explicitly so as to resolve the controversies involving earlier forms of that Prayer. This is of significance because of the intimate connection between the Lex orandi and the Lex credendi. Indeed, both those who stand by Pope Benedict, and those who now collaborate to rubbish his pontificate, may be said to agree on the profound importance of this question (otherwise they wouldn’t keep on about it, would they?). Yet, in 2015, the English Bishops asked a Vatican sub-committee to “review” what a Roman Pontiff had enacted only seven years before. An accompanying document made clear that “review” meant “change”.

Any ecclesiology which can be adduced to give support to a situation in which, seven or even nine years after the act, a magisterial pronouncement or enactment of a Roman Pontiff, expressive of Scripture and of Apostolic Tradition, can be treated as so much disposable garbage, now you see it, now you don’t, is an ecclesiology which I, for one, repudiate from the bottom of my heart. And will continue to repudiate as widely and with as much energy as my advancing years allow me.

Some people tell me that the Graf von Schoenborn is a man of immense and winning personal charm. I can only say that when he gave that sweetly shifty smile and in effect told a questioner at the News Conference introducing Amoris laetitia “Well, dear, it’s all about development, don’tya know”, I found myself instantly convinced that I would not buy a second-hand can of baked beans from a man like that.

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30 comments on “The Magical Magisterium: now you see it, now you don’t

  1. The Magical Magisterium: now you see it, now you don’t (2)


    I would like to put the argument of my first piece with the above title a trifle more crudely, just to prove that I am as adept as the next man at smelling of the sheep. ‘Demotic’ is my middle name.

    As we have seen, we now have a situation in which a Pope, or an Episcopal Conference, can apparently disregard or treat with contempt what a Pope taught or enacted as little as seven (or nine) years previously. Let us explore the implications of this. Are you sitting comfortably?

    Suppose you have a Church which claims a Magisterium, a Teaching Authority which (it says) possesses a divine guarantee. Now … be realistic. Such a body might, if sufficiently dishonest, be able to get away with unobtrusively ditching some unwanted doctrine in a few centuries. Only dusty old pedants might notice. What I am suggesting is that such a Church will find it much, much less easy to get away unnoticed with ditching a dogma in less than a decade. People remember; people notice … people who accepted the earlier teaching and have a problem with the change will notice it; and so will the people who disagreed with the original formulation and are now cock-a-hoop about the fact that our wonderful new pope Francis IV has just dumped it. The change will be obvious to both sides.

    What is going on now is, in my view, gravely worrying, for the following reason: the whole plausibility of the Papal Magisterium, and of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium, is being severely undermined. Perhaps, already has been.

    Suppose this pope, or any pope hereafter, puts out some, any, piece of teaching. Any Catholic will have every right to ask a question somewhat along these lines:

    “Thank you very much indeed, Holy Father. Most interesting. Lovely stuff. Now … can you just clarify one detail … that teaching you’ve just given us … when is its use-by date? Is it one of the cut-price Seven Year Decrees favoured by the English bishops, or one of your own much more durable Nine Year Jobs?”

    So when … for example … will Laudato si get to the seven-year expiry date which the CBCEW has with such sophistication imposed on a magisterial enactment of Benedict XVI? By my calculation, on 24 May, 2022. Then we shall all be able to heave a great sigh of relief and happily get back to the agreeable occupation of trashing “the Common Home”. Yes?

    But stay: what’s so Magical about seven years? Surely the CBCEW will not want to be reported to Bergoglio as being Inflexible and lacking in Mercy? I’m sure its members all have salami slicers in their kitchens. Why not five years? Three? One? Or … yes … surely, “Six Months” has a rather lovely flavour to it?

    So perhaps Laudato si expired on November 24 2015? Or will you accuse me of irrationally fetichising the Sixness of that? “You idiot, three months is more than long enough”, I hear you all noisily cry. I “fess up”, as the young people say. I have not a leg to stand on. Perhaps, just for bureaucratic neatness, we should assume that a papal teaching enjoys validity between the date of its official promulgation, and the date when its text is released.

    To be, just for one moment, dead serious and to drop all that irony: I very much fear (1) lest this pontificate go down in history as the occasion when Pope Francis I cut off the magisterial branch he was sitting on; and
    (2) that it may be very much more difficult for a future pope to glue the branch back onto the tree.

    We did once see, in Ireland, a man demolishing a wall by standing on top of it and whacking it with a crowbar. Happy days. Happy country.

  2. The Magical Magisterium: Naught for your comfort (3)


    As readers will have surmised from my narrative and my rhetoric so far, it is my view that a dogma with an implicit “Use Before” note on the packaging is not really dogma at all, however much it blusters and flusters.

    This pontificate, whatever ever else it has done, has forced upon us a reconsideration of the question “What degree of obsequium religiosum is to be attached to the statements of Roman Pontiffs, or of Episcopal Conferences?” This is far from being a new question; but the eccentricities and unpredictabilities of the current Successor of S Peter pose it in a new and acute form. I have lived under six previous Roman Pontiffs and one Ecumenical Council, and, without attempting detailed and precise discrimination of the levels of authority involved in different types of document, I received everything they said in the simple hope and expectation of being fed and led by it. Benedict XVI was a fantastic Leader and Feeder!! But Francis has completely changed (what I believe North Americans for some peculiar reason call) the Ball Game.

    I assure you that I am not sitting here in front of my computer impatiently waiting to unload upon you my own instantaneous and brilliant solution to this most grave problem. Indeed, I feel that I have ‘naught for your comfort’ to say to you.

    For starters ~ I feel I have nothing much better than this to suggest: a piece of teaching makes a claim on our assent and respect directly in proportion to the extent to which it can be most plainly seen to be in unruptured continuity from, and compatible with, what has been taught before.

    Sadly, this puts the old, easy, comfortable, perhaps even lazy, receptivity and docilitas I describe above in my second paragraph out of court.

    Even more deplorably, it puts us to a degree into the hands of “Experts”; those with the technical expertise to help us to discern how ‘continuous’ and ‘compatible’ a particular papal or episcopal statement is. But is there any alternative? In any case, under the old system we did rather tend to need experts to analyse the magisterial level of a document.

    One example, indeed, of the technical expertise we’re going to be needing more of in the future is the judgements Cardinal Burke, a canonist, has expressed about the extent to which Evangelii gaudium and Amoris laetitia can attract the convenient old label of ‘Magisterial’. One might, indeed, fearfully wonder whether Papa Bergoglio has volens nolens rendered the entire concept of the ‘Magisterial’ potentially obsolete. I simply do not know. I hope not. The Church so badly needs it. Let us pray that damage already done will not prove irreparable. Deep waters.

    A second example has to be the Letter to the Cardinals which 45 writers from all over the Catholic World sent to Their Eminences, humbly asking them to beg the Sovereign Pontiff to resolve apparent ambiguities in his strange document Amoris laetitia. If you have not yet read that Letter, I urge you to do so, and to urge others to do likewise. Do not be put off by the hostility shown towards the Letter by some prominent cardinals and other prelates. After all, one of the practical difficulties in this present crisis is working out whether such Eminences and such Most Reverend Gentlemen are parts of the problem or parts of the solution. We had a similar problem a just few years ago during the Arian Crisis.

    Hard days. Hard graft.

  3. The Magical Magisterium: your rights and mine (4)


    Canon 212 (paragraph 3) informs us that Christifideles (i.e., vide Canonem 207, both clerics and laics) have the ius immo et aliquando officium conformably with their scientia, competentia, et praestantia, “ut sententiam suam de his quae ad bonum Ecclesiae pertinent sacris Pastoribus manifestent” [Anglice “the right, and, indeed, sometimes the duty, according to their knowledge, competence, and dignity, to manifest to Sacred Shepherds their judgement about those things which pertain to the good of the Church”]. The text goes on to add that they also have this right and (even) duty to make their judgement known to the rest of the Christifideles.

    Not long ago, as is well known, a group of 45 scholars, teachers, and pastors, wrote a Letter. (I emphasise that these people came from a wide variety of countries throughout the world: I emphasise this because I do not want what I am about to say to be narrowly construed as a criticism of any members of the English Church.) The Letter was addressed to each member of the Sacred College of Cardinals respectfully asking them to beg the Holy Father graciously to consider the clarification of certain parts of Amoris laetitia which have proved to be dangerously ambiguous. Cardinals, I think, count as Sacred Shepherds. This was a private letter (although its contents have unfortunately become public). Even if it had been a public letter, I do not see how it could have failed to enjoy the protection of Canon 212.

    Dr Javier Hervada, sometime Professor of Canon Law at Navarra, comments on Canon 212: “The right of free speech and public opinion within the Church is acknowledged. Science, skill, and prestige are required to exercise the right justly or to give the corresponding moral obligation greater or less force. The basis of this right does not reside in these prerequisites but in the condition of being one of the faithful”.

    In the fourth year of this current pontificate, it is appropriate also to mention the insistently repeated calls of the Holy Father Pope Francis himself for Parrhesia [bold and free speaking] in the Church.

    With regard to the paragraph which now follows below, I would like to make it very clear that I am not talking about myself or in any way describing or alluding to my own situation or any experience I have had.

    Intimidation and cruel pressures have, it appears, been applied to persuade some of the signatories to the Letter to rescind their signatures.

    Perhaps this may remind English readers of the occasion when, a couple of years ago, some 450 English clerics wrote an open letter with regard to the agenda of the Synod of Bishops, and it was reported in the public papers that intimidation had been applied to dissuade priests from signing. How those guilty of such worldly intimidation can think that their behaviour helps any cause in which they sincerely and Christianly believe, I simply do not even begin to understand. It all seems to me so much more like the actions of playground bullies than any conduct which could be appropriate between those whom the Lord called His Friends (philous; John 15:15).

    I have not always agreed with everything this Holy Father has said and done. But I very much doubt whether he is complicit in this. There is such a pettiness about it.

    I shall not entertain any comments or queries on this distressing subject, now or at any later time.

    Footnote: Canon 212 also talks convincingly and appropriately about the obedientia necessary when Shepherds, as fidei magistri, make doctrinal declarations, or, as rulers of the Church, legislate (statuunt). In view of the opening paragraphs of Amoris laetitia, I do not get the impression that the Sovereign Pontiff is, in this Exhortation, claiming either to define dogma or to legislate.

  4. The Magical Magisterium Tour
    Is coming to take you away
    … Dying to take you away

  5. Küng Fu: Modernism the Legend Continues

    Master Po: What is troubling you, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: Master, modernism is very confusing. How can Martin Luther have been right that we are saved by faith alone if the main focus of the Church is on the this-worldly works of integral human development?

    Master Po: Ah, Grasshopper, there are many mysteries on the magic carpet ride of the shape-shifting and evolving magisterium which flies on the Hegelian dialectic of modernism. The mansions of integral humanism have many windows to open to let in the fresh air of the modern world. But if faith did not require challenges how could we ever know if we truly believe?

    Kwai Chang: I cannot be certain, Master.

    Master Po: If the mysteries of life did not require a leap of faith, how could we ever know them?

    Kwai Chang: I cannot be certain of that either, Master.

    Master Po: What can we know for certain, Grasshopper? If a caterpillar does not see a Shelby Mustang convertible racing down the highway at 85 miles per hour, can he know whether to cross the road?

    Kwai Chang: I cannot be certain of that either.

    Master Po: Ontological certitude is something which must be earned, Grasshopper. Faith requires challenges. If a donkey could guess the cosmological significance of every hexagram of the I Ching why would he have to make his living pulling a cart?

    Kwai Chang: This is a trick question, is it not, Master? It is like one of those annoying and puzzling Zen kōans like ‘if a tree falls in forest, does it make a sound?’

    Master Po: Well, Grasshopper, if a mad man proclaims a new magisterium in the middle of the forest and no other modernist who has studied phenomenology is around, does it make a sound?

    Kwai Chang: Surely I do not know for certain, Master.

    Master Po: When do you think you might know, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: Perhaps when I see the magic carpet of Bergoglio’s evolving magisterium fly…

    Kwai Chang: I am curious. When will that happen, Master?

    Master Po: Very well, Grasshopper. Our Zen kōan questions are intended to provoke the “great doubt” and to test a student’s developing progress in Zen practice. Zen kōans point to an unmediated “Pure Consciousness” of Zen awareness. A central focus of many koans is the ‘identity of opposites’. “Two hands clap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one hand?” is clearly about two and one. The koan asks, you know what duality is, now what is nonduality? In “What is your original face before your mother and father were born?” the phrase “father and mother” alludes to duality. This is the part of Zen in the Chinese tradition, where so much philosophical thought is presented in the imagery of paired opposites. The phrase “your original face” alludes to the original nonduality. Modernism, you will find, is also puzzling and filled with contradictory opposites in the Hegelian dialectic.
    In time you will snatch the pebble from my hand.

    Master Po: Until then we will have much to study…

  6. Kwai Chang: How many carbon units are required to fuel the modernist magic carpet, Master?

  7. Captain Kirk: Mister Spock! A magic carpet ride of a shape-shifting and evolving magisterium which flies on the Hegelian dialectic of progressive modernism…. analyze using your usual superior Vulcan logic which we no longer call “superior” out of concerns not to be accused of excessive rigidity and neo-Pelagian triumphalism by sensitive modernists and secular progressive with self-esteem issues…

    Spock: Fascinating, Captain. Logically, if a mad man or lunatic proclaimed a new magisterium in the middle of the forest and no other modernist who had studied phenomenology, or anyone else, were around, the question of whether it would make a sound would fit with the logical structure of Zen hermeneutics. We should consider that in the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu the only motion is returning and the ontological focus of the Tao is union with the Primordial….

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Of course, in theory, God could have created magic carpets which would enable modernists to fly to World Youth Day without the use of carbon units. But there are probably valid reasons why he chose not to….

    Bob Hope: Think how much we could save on airline travel flying to golf tournaments and USO shows on magic carpets!

    Bing Crosby: Good point, junior!

    Kwai Chang: How fast did you say the Shelby Mustang convertible was traveling, Master?

    Hans Küng: I would like to address that…

    Reverend Neuhaus: This might be a good time to discuss the Naked Public Square in modernity…

  8. Master Po: Let us suppose that you are a Tortoise, Grasshopper….

    Kwai Chang: But I am not a Tortoise, Master.

    Master Po: But let us suppose that you are

    Kwai Chang: But why, Master?

    Master Po: For purpose of analogy…

    Kwai Chang: But why, Master?

    Master Po: Don’t talk back to me, Grasshopper. Just follow the analogy.

    Kwai Chang: Yes, Master.

    Master Po: You do know what an analogy is?

    Kwai Chang: I think so, Master.

    Master Po: Well, then, let us suppose, for the purposes of analogy, that you are a Tortoise….and you are racing a Hare in a foot race from St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare…

    Kwai Chang: Why would I do that, Master?

    Master Po: I thought I just explained that it was for purposes of analogy, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: But it would be much easier to take a bus or to drive in a Shelby Mustang convertible…

    Robin: He does have a point, Batman. It would be faster in a Shelby Mustang convertible.

    Batman: You will find, Robin, that certain analogies require some use of imagination.

    Master Po: We will have to start all over again, Grasshopper.

  9. Kwai Chang: Why can I not be the Hare, Master? That would also be faster and give me a better chance of arriving first.

    Master Po: That would change the analogy, but, very well, you can be the Hare, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: Why am I racing, Master?

    Master Po: You are carrying a very important book, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: What book am I carrying, Master?

    Master Po: You are carrying Professor Edmund Husserl’s The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: Why am I carrying The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology by Edmund Husserl, Master?

    Master Po: I will explain that later, Grasshopper. For now you are a March Hare carrying a very important book on European phenomenology in a race with a Tortoise between St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare…

    The Professor: Why, yes, Gilligan, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology by Professor Edmund Husserl is one of the most important books in the modern phenomenological movement in Continental European philosophy…

    Ginger: Gilligan has already taken the neo-Kantian Transcendental Turn!

    Mary Ann: It’s very exciting. I just hope he remembers the directions to Louvain!

    Batman: Yes, Robin, you can add that to your Cicero translation and the rest of your Latin and Greek homework. It is always useful to keep the mind active. You were going to ask something about Edmund Husserl and phenomenology?

    Robin: Yes, Batman.

    Kwai Chang: I assume you will explain why I am carrying this book, Master?

    Master Po: We are building up to that, Grasshopper. In time you will snatch the pebble from my hand.

  10. Kwai Chang: But why am I not carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, Master?

    Captain Kirk: Why isn’t he carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, Mister Spock?

    Spock: I cannot be certain of that, Captain.

    Captain Kirk: Why not?

    Spock: Master Po hasn’t told him yet, Captain.

    Kwai Chang: Why am I not carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, Master?

    Master Po: I have not told you that yet, Grasshopper.

    Bob Dylan: Master Po hasn’t told him yet, man.
    If Master Po hasn’t told him yet, man, Grasshopper doesn’t know yet.

  11. Bob Dylan: When Master Po does tell him I’m going to ask him why he’s not carrying the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas.

    Bob Dylan: Hey! Hello? Anybody home in there?

  12. Kwai Chang: But, Master, what if Mary Richards were driving her Ford Mustang down the highway at 85 miles per hour and the caterpillar did not see her car coming? Would he know whether to cross the road or not?

    Master Po: That is not likely to happen, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: Why not, Master? Has something happened to Mary Richards’ Ford Mustang?

    Master Po: Not that I am aware of, Grasshopper.

    Kwai Chang: Then why is that not likely to happen, Master?

    Master Po: Because Mary Richards is washing her Ford Mustang, Grasshopper.

    For Mary Richards, a childless single career woman in 1970s Minneapolis, washing her Ford Mustang while wearing a Fran Tarkenton Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt, as Glenn Frey and the Eagles crooned “Take It Easy” on her 8-track tape player, the mysteries of Zen and progressive modernism were far from her mind…

    Ted Baxter: Hey, Mary, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?

    Mary: I’m not really sure, Ted. But Dick is supporting Bernie Sanders, so why don’t you ask him.

    Rhoda: I don’t know about all this Zen stuff, but I’m trying yoga, Mary. My shrink said it’s good for the nerves.

    Lou: What’s wrong with voting for Bernie Sanders, Mary?

    Sally: Rob!

    Buddy: There goes my tax bill!

    Mel Cooley: Rob, you don’t look like you’re feeling well.
    Maybe you need to take a nap!

  13. Tom Wolfe: It might be more interesting if Jeff Spicoli were in the race as the Tortoise…
    for purposes of analogy. On the theoretical level, of course.

    Kwai Chang: Yes, Master, can Jeff Spicoli be in the race as the Tortoise?

    Master Po: I can think of no reason in Zen Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, why not, Grasshopper.

    Tom Wolfe: That way Kwai Chang and Spicoli can trade back and forth with insights on the counterculture from the ’60s through the ’80s and the modernist dialectic in the society of the spectacle will be open for greater deconstruction and exegesis. I’ll put a call through to Professor Marshall McLuhan just to keep us honest in case the hermeneutics and semiotics of the dialectic of modernity become too difficult to explain clearly.

    Master Po: Those were my thoughts exactly. Grasshopper shall be the Hare and Jeff Spicoli shall be the Tortoise. If Bob Dylan will agree to be the Time Keeper, let the race begin!

  14. Tom Wolfe: Professor McLuhan can pick it up as we get closer to starting time or whenever Spicoli decides to put his bong out long enough to describe the hermeneutic phenomenology of Southern California youth culture in the 1980s. We might have to put a call through to Venezuela…

    Woody: Fortunately, we have Professor Marshall McLuhan right here to offer an explanation on the hermeneutics and semiotics of modernity….

  15. Bob Dylan: I’m sorry…I seem to have left my stopwatch at home, man…

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: While we’re on the Hegelian dialectic of progressive modernism, as long as we cover the neo-Gnosticism and immanentization of the eschaton at Ridgemont High School in the 1980s, we should be fine….

    Tom Wolfe: Right. It’s a good opportunity to get a handle on the hermeneutics of late modernity from the point of view of adolescent orality in their own description and narrative. Spicoli speaks Southern Californian with a vivacious, gregraious, and ebullient joie de vivre like Huckleberry Finn on Hawaiian Sinsemilla.

  16. Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Of course, the Hegelian dialectic of progressive modernism can make the changing magisterium seem like a flying magic carpet on occasion. Leaving aside Maritain’s Integral Humanism, as it may relate to this….

    Tom Wolfe: To give the dialectic of this race between the Tortoise and the Hare a more authentic modernist feel, it might be useful to have Father Mulcahy ask Kwai Chang Caine and Jeff Spicoli what their Enneagram numbers are…

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Oh, yes. What a coincidence. There is a member of our Jesuit community on the faculty at Fordham who has done an extensive study of the Enneagram.

    Kwai Chang: But I do not know my Enneagram number yet, Master.

    Master Po: Ah, Grasshopper, we have yet to traverse and investigate the path of G. I. Gurdjieff and the esoteric mysteries of the Sarmoung Brotherhood.

    Bob Dylan: Grasshopper doesn’t know his Enneagram number yet because Master Po hasn’t traversed the path of G. I. Gurdjieff and the esoteric mysteries of the Sarmoung Brotherhood with Grasshopper yet. When Master Po traverses the esoteric path of G. I. Gurdjieff and the mysteries of the Sarmoung Brotherhood, he’ll probably tell Grasshopper his Enneagram number and it will all be cool, man, as they ascend the cycle of Samsāra, dharma, and enlightenment when their chakras get aligned correctly…

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: There is a weekend Enneagram seminar and workshop coming up this semester…

    Tom Wolfe: It was a decisive and poignant moment in the evolution of post-conciliar modernist subculture when the psychological work of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo on the Enneagram of Personality translated the neo-gnostic esoteric mysticism of G. I. Gurdjieff into a marketable weekend commodity for former nuns and modernist seminarians discerning the Spirit of Vatican II, having recently emerged from the fog of hippie Tibetan-style bazaars and counterculture flea markets of the Woodstock era…

    Captain Kirk: What about Spicoli? Does Spicoli know his Enneagram number, Mister Spock?

    Spock: I will ask Mister Spicoli if he knows his Enneagram number as soon as there is an opportunity, Captain.

  17. Captain Kirk: Mister Spock! I’m still not sure why Kwai Chang Caine doesn’t know why he’s not carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-Tzu instead of The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology by Professor Edmund Husserl in this Tortoise and Hare race between St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare.

    Spock: It is a problem of some complexity, Captain. But Master Po has not told him why yet.

    Captain Kirk: Well, why can’t Master Po just draw it out of him using the maieutic Socratic method that Socrates uses on the slave boy in Plato’s Meno?

    Spock: Fascinating, Captain. If only it were so simple. Some forms of knowledge require use of the senses, Jim. As a Vulcan Aristotelian I can tell you that the principle involved is as clear as the Peripatetic Axiom: Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains in his Quaestiones disputatae de veritate.

    Kwai Chang: So that is why I do not know why I am not carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-Tzu, Master. It is due to the Peripatetic Axiom.

    Hans Küng: I would like to address that…

  18. Pope Dylan I

    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone
    If your soul to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come triumphalist and rigid
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    You neo-pelagian,
    self-absorbed man
    Your Rosary beads
    are a-failin’
    Just turn down the AC
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

  19. Master Po: Strange are the ways of progressive modernism in the Hegelian dialectic, as the wheels of karma and Samsāra spin, are they not, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: I am wondering, Master…

    Master Po: Yes, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: If Spicoli does not know his Enneagram number, how can it be drawn out of him using the maieutic Socratic method that Socrates uses on the slave boy in Plato’s Meno?

    Master Po: Ah, Grasshopper, it cannot. Some things must be put in our minds. As the Vulcan philosopher and logician Mister Spock explained, the principle involved is as clear as the Peripatetic Axiom of Aristotelian philosophy: Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu, as St. Thomas Aquinas explains in his Quaestiones disputatae de veritate. Some things must be put into our minds through the senses. Even for Jeff Spicoli. Or, perhaps, especially for Jeff Spicoli, Grasshopper.

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Oh, yes, at Fordham in the old days, Father Gannon always insisted that the Jesuit scholastics in training memorize the Peripatetic Axiom. Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu. Come to think of it, there were quite a few axioms in Latin we had to memorize. Of course, that was quite a long time ago when Fordham and Georgetown were still Catholic colleges and every student learned who St. Thomas Aquinas was…

    Batman: How’s your Latin homework at Fordham Prep coming, Robin? Keeping up with all of that Cicero and Vergil translation, the Aquinas treatises, the De Civitate Dei of St. Augustine, and the ancient Greek aorist?

    : It’s coming, Batman. There sure is a lot of Latin homework when school starts again for the year. But I was hoping to get to the Jets game…

    Batman: Always remember that civilization begins or falls with whether we are learning the proper Latin case endings, Robin.

    Bob Dylan: Hey, man, somebody needs to work on the lyrics for “Subterranean Vatican II Blues”…

  20. Gilligan: Why isn’t Kwai Chang Caine carrying the Tao Te Ching of Lao-Tzu instead of The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology by Professor Edmund Husserl in this Tortoise and Hare race with Jeff Spicoli, Skipper?

    Skipper; Well, I don’t really know, Gilligan.

    Skipper: Why don’t you know that, Skipper? You were in the navy.

    Skipper: Well, because I’ve been spending most of my time collecting coconuts and trying to think of a way to get us off of this crazy island in the Pacific, Gilligan.

    Gilligan: I was wondering, Ginger….if maybe you know why Spicoli doesn’t know his Enneagram number?

    Ginger: Oh, that’s easy. I don’t think Master Po has told him yet.

    Gilligan: But I thought that was why Kwai Chang Caine doesn’t know what his Enneagram number is…

    Ginger: Well, maybe you better ask the Skipper.

    Gilligan: I just did and the Skipper said that he doesn’t know.

    Mary Ann: Maybe Gilligan should ask the Professor. He seems to know a lot about the dialectic of modernity and postmodern hermeneutics.

    Ginger: Mary Ann said that you should ask the Professor if he knows what Spicoli’s Enneagram number is.

    Gilligan: OK. Thanks, Ginger.

    Ginger: But it must be pretty important because Mary Ann said that it usually costs four hundred dollars over an entire weekend to find out what your Enneagram number is.

  21. Kwai Chang: Perhaps progressive modernism is more difficult than we had at first imagined, but I have wondered about that myself, Master.

    Master Po: Strange are the ways of the digital age, Grasshopper, when Gilligan changes into the Skipper and back again.

    Ginger: Oh, I guess I was so confused by the modernist dialectic that I didn’t even notice.
    You start so see a lot of mirages when you’re stuck on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific with men who seem almost not to notice you.

    Kwai Chang: But why does that happen, Master?

    Master Po: Perhaps due to lens glare, Grasshopper.

    Robin: Holy Gutenberg Galaxy, Batman!

    Batman: Exactly, Robin. But that is no excuse in falling behind in your Latin homework or Cicero translation. How are those third declension case endings coming, Robin?

    Robin: They’re coming, Batman. I guess I should practice reciting the case endings some more tonight….

    Batman: We should have a discussion about Aristotle, Aquinas, and Natural Law theory sometime, Robin.

    Robin: OK, Robin.

    Batman: Preferable sometime before you complete your sophomore year in high school.

  22. Batman: While we’re discussing Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, there is one more thing I would like to mention.

    Robin: What’s that?

    : The Aristotelian Law of Non-Contradiction. While some shape shifting might be going on in the modernist dialectic and the magical magisterium, try to remember that I am Batman and that you are Robin. If we get to a point in modernist neo-Kantian epistemology where we may not be certain who is Batman and who is Robin, the skepticism and ontological confusion will cause some major problems and ambiguity. So let’s get this musical chairs game of identities straightened out.

    Robin: Oh. Right, Batman.

    Kwai Chang: Can you tell me my Enneagram number now, Master?

    Master Po: If it were that easy Robin would have snatched the pebble from Batman’s hand by now, Grasshopper.

  23. Subterranean Vatican II Blues
    – draft: Synod stanza

    Kasper’s in the basement
    doctoring the document /
    Bergie’s in the window
    eyeing all the bishops /
    Reporters in trench coats
    got pens, got phones
    Burke’s gonna get pwned* /
    Marital bliss
    never looked like this /
    One man, two bands
    plunk It in his crossed hands /
    Do it Fr. Joe
    swallow those communion woes /
    You don’t need a weatherman
    to know which way the wind blows

    *rhymes with “phoned”

  24. Look out, kid
    they keep the tabernacle hid…

  25. Captain Kirk: It might be difficult keeping all of this straight in our minds. Just try not to rely on reason too much, Mister Spock. We wouldn’t want any progressive modernists accusing us of excessive rigidity or neo-Pelagian triumphalism for giving Aristotelian logic too much credit.

    Spock: The fear of Aristotelian logic does sometimes give rise to passive-aggressive microaggressions, Captain.

    Hans Küng: If that was a microaggression directed at me, I would like to respond…

    Captain Kirk: There aren’t any females in this Tortoise and Hare race between St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare. Wouldn’t it be better to allow, say, Marcia Brady to join in the race as badger or squirrel so that Kwai Chang Caine and Jeff Spicoli have additional competition?

    Kwai Chang: Can he do that, Master?

    Kierkegaard: I have no objections.

    Father Fitzgibbon: Can we bet on this race?

    Greg Brady: Why not Jan Brady?

    Mike Brady: That’s a great idea, Greg! Why not Jan Brady? This could be just the thing to help Jan’s self-esteem ever since that silly episode with the crazy wig she bought.

    Kwai Chang: Perhaps this could make the race more interesting to have a third runner, Master. Could Jan Brady join the Tortoise and Hare race between St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare?

    Master Po: I can think of no reason in Zen Buddhism, Taoism, or Confucianism, why not, Grasshopper. She will give fine competition for you and Jeff Spicoli. What book will Jan Brady be carrying in the race?

    Jan: Which book should I be carrying?

    Mike Brady: How about The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir?

    Carol: Mike! You know that Jan is still at a vulnerable age to be reading books like that.

    Professor Jürgen Habermas: What about my book?

    Professor Hegel: You must watch the modernist dialectic carefully.

    Robin: Simone de Beauvoir?

    Batman: The French feminist existentialist who was acquainted with Jean-Paul Sartre.

    Tom Wolfe: We already have European phenomenology represented in the Edmund Husserl book being carried by Kwai Chang Caine in the role of the Hare, but it will probably be OK, if Mrs. Brady will give her approval for Jan to carry The Second Sex book by Simone de Beauvoir.

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: That sounds fair. Should I ask Jan if she knows Simone de Beauvoir’s Enneagram number?

    Tom Wolfe: Right. That will give the race an authentic post-conciliar modernist feel. As if they are actually attending a weekend Enneagram seminar. But we haven’t settled the question of which book Spicoli will be carrying yet.

    Father Fitzgibbon: Who’s Spicoli?

    Spicoli: I get to be a Tortoise? Awesome!

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