Friday, October 5, 2007

Pub theology

So, tonight I'm going to The Pub at Ravenna Third Place to eat, drink, and discuss Pope Benedict XVI's understanding of Vatican II and modernity (it doesn't get much merrier than that!) with a group of young adults from my new church in Seattle, the Prince of Peace Catholic Newman Center at the University of Washington.

Our discussion will be based on our reading of an interview with theologian Tracey Rowland. All I can say is, there must be some smart young adults at this church. Either that, or Fr. Bernard, the priest who chose the topic for our discussion, has seriously overestimated us. Here's an excerpt from the interview:

"In the 19th century Lord Acton popularized the idea that Thomas Aquinas was the first Whig, that is, the first proponent of a modern, post-Enlightenment concept of politics. Thus 'Whig Thomism' refers to an intellectual project that seeks to locate the genesis of the liberal tradition in the thought of Thomas Aquinas and to synthesize elements of the Liberal tradition, particularly those provided by the Scottish Enlightenment, to classical Thomism.

"The project of reading Aquinas as the first Whig or first Liberal has been criticized by a number of scholars.

"For example, Robert Kraynak, in his work 'Christian Faith and Modern Democracy,' has written that 'though intriguing, Acton's interpretation is misleading because Thomas defends power sharing and political participation, not as a right of the people to parliamentary consent nor as a means for protecting personal rights and liberties, but as the prudent application of natural law whose ends are best realized in a stable constitutional order dedicated to peace, virtue and Christian piety. This is medieval corporatism applied within the [Augustinian] doctrine of the Two Cities, rather than the first stirring of modern liberty.'"

And that's one of the clearer passages. Maybe it will all make more sense after a couple beers.

UPDATE: Well, Fr. Bernard got sick and couldn't come, so we ended up just eating, drinking, and being merry. I guess I'll never know for sure whether or not Thomas Aquinas was the first Whig.

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