Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Devil and Pope Francis, and the problem with comboxes

A good article here from Dr William Oddie on Pope Francis' habit of talking about the Devil -  not an optional extra for Christians nor a form of theological dualism: 
"....People who write at all regularly about the Church keep one eye on the website of Sandro Magister, who is not only well-informed about events in Vatican City, but is also a regular source of perceptive comment on what’s going on.
Quite a few writers have spotted and quoted from his recent piece “Francis and the Devil”, in which he begins with the stand first “He refers to him continually. He combats him without respite. He does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person, the most insidious enemy of the Church”, and he goes on to point out how rarely we hear of the subject, despite its centrality to the biblical witness: “In the preaching of Pope Francis”, begins Magister, “there is one subject that returns with surprising frequency: the devil. It is a frequency on a par with that with which the same subject recurs in the New Testament (My emphasis). But in spite of this, the surprise remains. If for no other reason than that with his continual references to the devil, pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio parts ways with the current preaching in the Church, which is silent about the devil or reduces him to a metaphor.”
But why, why, why? The existence of Satan and all his angels, ever since I became a Christian, has seemed to me self-evident; that prayer we all say after Mass in the Usus Antiquior (in other words that practising Catholics without exception once said regularly) for me has a particular and vivid credibility: “Holy Michael Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust down to hell Satan and all wicked spirits, who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.”
This is no Catholic invention: it is fundamental to the New Testament vision of the world and therefore to the Christian faith...."

From time to time I make the mistake of looking into the comment boxes of other, more popular, blogs; with certain honourable exceptions they seem dominated by a mixture of single-issue obsessives and the positively deranged. (These people have the vote?  ¡Viva la democracia! )  
At the moment there's a particular tendency among the God-haters out there, when they are not making silly references to "sky fairies" and the like, to gloat over the alleged fact that those with left-wing views are "more intelligent" than conservatives. 
A reasonable definition of intelligence (probably rather better than the ability to pass IQ tests) is both a certain openness to the consideration of differing opinions and other people's expression of them and the ability to argue one's own corner coherently. Why, then, is the contemporary liberal-left (across the spectrum - political, ecclesial, academic, cultural) so afraid of the views of those who disagree with them that they try, by means of the fashionable demonising descriptions they love to hurl at their opponents - misogynist, homophobe, islamophobe et al -  to restrict and close down debate rather than encourage it? Until recently 'progressives' loved to decry censorship in all its forms; now it is de rigeur.
The modern left, with its ever expanding rights agenda and concomitant affirmation of a culture of self-defined victimhood, must not be allowed to continue its well-nigh total control over the legitimacy of public discourse; that way lies the extinction of creative expression - in other words,  the triumph of totalitarianism. A civilised, open and tolerant 'public square' comes about as a result of the courteous but resolute clash of ideas...

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