Sunday, December 2, 2007

Lit from the Papa

So I've been writing about children's literature lately, and just came across a very well-done introduction to Pope Benedict's latest encyclical (Spe Salvi), on The Distributist Review blog. It's titled The Postmodernist Pope, but I hope you won't be scared off by either the name of the blog or the title of the posting. I figured it sort of fits in with my recent theme, because the Papa (Pope) is writing to his children...

John Medaille (the guy who does the DR blog) starts by explaining that postmodernism recognizes relationships as the key to humanity. Indeed! In contrast, Modernism tends towards individualism and independence. Postmodernism tends to recognize the importance of interdependence and community. That's one of the things I really like about it.

However, one of the problems with secular postmodernism is that it tends to "secretly accept back that which it purports to reject," according to Medaille. But he goes on to say that "Christian thinkers can, and have, appropriated elements of the postmodernism into their thought because they have a more secure and older notion of truth, one that is not vulnerable to either the modernist or postmodernist attack."

That reminds me of the "deeper magic" C.S. Lewis writes about in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. As a postmodern kind of guy myself, I was pretty sure this was the case, but I hadn't managed to put it into words quite that way.

But back to the Pope. In the new encyclical, "the Pope rejects the notion of the “‘salvation of the soul’ as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and …[a] project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others.” Or, as my pastor in NY used to say, "It's not about us." That's something I can definitely get behind.

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