Friday, July 31, 2015

Update from Schuyler - Caxton NLT

Schuyler Caxton NLT Dark Green Goatskin (PRE-ORDER)
Schuyler's Caxton NLT in Dark Green Goatskin - the pre-orders are strong with this one!

Word from Schuyler is that the pre-orders for the Caxton NLT (due September 2015) are quite strong. 

The Dark Green Goatskin (pictured above) and the Dark Purple Goatskin are leading the pack. The Dark Green was a quick sellout for Schuyler's Quentel ESV, and it seems the Dark Green is doing it again with the Caxton NLT. The Dark Purple is a new edition to Schuyler's portfolio and I think many of their customer's want to see how it turns out.

The NLT is currently the third most popular English translation in the world. Schuyler appears to be providing it with the best possible publication.

Walking Along the Fragile Bridge Towards Unity

I recently extended an invitation to view this blog to a person who was formally very active in the online world. It was declined because his person added that his interest is in "cooperation, not polemics." That I will openly critique Roman ecclesiology was a cause of some concern for him.

Fair enough. But I also don't tie myself in knots over any "one true church" argument. So, if one happens to be Roman Catholic, I am not rejecting your religion, or your tradition. The premise I reject is that which concerns the position of the Roman Church in relation to other churches, including the ancient Patriarchates. Conversely, the Orthodox Church's own "true church" claims seem, from a scholar's perspective, a little off base as well.

Back to the point, this exchange reminds me that the current construction of the bridge towards eventual unity is fragile and could easily give way if the current trajectory continues. Amid all of the doctrinal and ecclesiological discussion, it becomes readily apparent that a frame work of doctrinal unity requires that someone ultimately gives up something - and it is not a fair exchange. Orthodoxy demands Rome renounce its doctrine of the papacy and reintegrate itself into the system of Patriarchates. Rome demands Orthodoxy adopt the doctrine of the papacy and make the system of the Patriarchates subservient to the papacy.

The papacy is the sticking point. Yes, there are other issues; the Immaculate Conception, Augustine's doctrine of original sin, the Filioque, etc. The papacy, however, is THE issue; it is a point upon which a religion's identity hangs. Does Roman Catholicism exist without the papacy? Can Orthodoxy exist with the Roman doctrine of the papacy? Clearly the answer is "no." Yet it is also clear that Orthodoxy and Catholicism derive from the same source. This said, you can't ask for a radical change which amounts to a disavowal of their past. Rome tried tinkering with the religion in recent history and the end result demonstrated that one ought to be cautious before toying with the faith. Much as the corpus of Patristic appears to me to be weighted more towards Orthodox ecclesiology than Rome's, it seems to me to be any "victory" in talks around doctrinal unity carry with them the potential to destroy much of what is left of the Western tradition. So ingrained is the papacy in the consciousness of Roman Catholicism that it is impossible to imagine how the Roman Church can function if the bishop of Rome is one among many Patriarchs.

To illustrate the point, consider the number of liberal or progressive Catholics prone to ecumenical discussion who have demonstrated clearly identifiable ultramontanism under the current pontiff. His word has become de facto law and his speeches, writings, gestures, etc., have taken on a force of influence unthinkable in Orthodoxy. The bishop of Rome is constant reference in Roman Catholicism. This reference appears in the pulpit, theological discussion, and in three particular dogmas that the Church of Rome holds uniquely to itself. The force of the pontiff has defined dogma, convoked a council designed to shift the Roman Church's intellectual paradigm, and set out a program of religious re engineering. Orthodoxy cannot assimilate itself to such a system, nor should it.

Christian Unity, in the form of doctrinal unity, is a win-lose game. To have unity of doctrine across Roman Catholic and Orthodox lines eventually brings you to the point at which one side must effectively surrender to the other. For its part, Orthodoxy is at least honest about the end point of doctrinal talks. The more liberal strands of the Roman Church may offer lip service to "live and let live," but they make it very clear that a condition for unity is for Orthodoxy to accept Vatican II and the subsequent developments in the Roman Church. In other words, even the more liberal sectors of the Roman Church find anything other than assimilation to the Roman model intolerable. Although Constantinople has demonstrated some degree of amicability with the Council and its aftermath (mainly in an attempt regain lost influence and ward off the clout of Moscow), Orthodoxy by and large is skeptical of Vatican II and, more importantly, its interpretation and implementation. Even when led by more liberal compartments, doctrinal unity eventually hits a dead end - there are propositions neither side wishes to concede or adopt.

So what solution is there?

Christian unity, if it ever comes, will likely not be doctrinal nor doctrinally inspired. Socio-political conditions (even in the West) are forcing a re-examination of both dividing lines and inherited animosity and creating a very visceral understanding of commonality. In the midst of these conditions while ecumenical dialogue as currently practiced stalls, two movements will likely gain traction.

The first option will be increased calls for simply restoring communion without reaching any doctrinal unity. There will be appeal to some common understanding of the Eucharist among Catholics and Orthodox as sufficient for intercommunion, with an additional appeal to necessity born out of current circumstances.

The second option will involve a development of the concept of mystical communion between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. I see this as being the option most amicable to Orthodoxy, and one that will involve a lot of "ground up" development. There will likely appeal to its tradition of prayer and the modes and effectiveness of prayer thereby a model of mysticism by which communion through prayer is given pride of place in lieu of doctrinal solutions.  It will be acknowledged that it is impossible to undue the historical developments in both Orthodoxy and Catholicism. As such, appeal will be made that communion must happen in the realm of the supernatural through prayer.

I anticipate there will be a number who disagree with my analysis. By all means, share your thoughts. It goes without saying that I could be wrong, and if I am the future will aptly demonstrate this.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Excellent Sarum Source

Thanks to Michael Demers for this one.


The Sarum Rite as a Dangerous Memory

I am woefully, woefully, WOEFULLY ignorant of the Sarum Rite. I plainly do not know much about its particulars

Fr. Chadwick has a concise page on the Sarum Rite, which can introduce one to the Rite and the contemporary discussion around it.

I am somewhat versed in discussion itself. Bernard Brandt has a recent entry in the conversation well worth reading. The article comes as the discussion from a Roman Catholic perspective, or, at the very least, the perspective of liturgical law in the Roman Church.

My own reflection on the discussion around the Sarum Rite - ill informed as it is since I have little chance to study the rite - is that the Sarum liturgy is an unfortunate victim of the Reformation-Counter Reformation cycle. Too condemnatory of the liturgical reforms undertaken in England amid the Reformation, and too flagrantly independent of the "Roman identity" that developed as a response.

In both instances, it successfully reminds contemporary ecclesiastical interests that Catholicism existed before the Reformation-Counter Reformation dialectic, unfettered by either Anglican or Roman identity crisis.

Hopefully the discussion around the Sarum Rite/Use continuous. It will aid in the rediscovery of the Latin liturgical tradition and, perhaps, help identify the hallmarks of pre-Reformation Catholicism and the subsequent discontinuities.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Give and Take of Translating the Sacred Text

There is a fine post on the Bible Exchange touching upon the necessity of multiple translations when approaching the sacred text.

The necessity to not anchor oneself to anyone one translation often seems obscured in the polemics of dynamic versus formal equivalence, let alone inclusive language. 

Anyone with a background in the ancient languages will readily admit that translation is always a matter of give and take. An "optimal" translation is often more a matter of aesthetic or at times psychological preference than a concrete text. There is always a matter of putting oneself at the mercy of the translator and his or her judgment calls.

A dynamic translation will often sacrifice literal translations of specific terms or paraphrase sections for the sake of linguistic clarity. Literal translations will conversely be forced to either supplement the translation or simply ignore the subtle connotations of the text that cannot be rendered clear by one-to-one translation.

So, does this make the case for everyone learning the original languages? To some degree. Having a working knowledge of the original text frees one from dependency on another translator. This said, one will find oneself making the same judgments between an otherwise dynamic or otherwise literal translation of the text.

Traditionalist Ecclesiology (Practically speaking).

If there is one problem with Roman ecclesiology, and it is a rather large problem, it is the papacy, specially the insistance on universal jurisdiction and infallibility. It leads to statements like this,
There can be no doubt that St. Pius X's revision of the Roman Breviary, beginning in 1911, was quite drastic, taking steps that changed the very structure and format of the breviary after centuries of unbroken use. At the same time, as Fr. Cekada explains in this very accessible introduction, Pius X was addressing a truly grave situation, where the weekly recitation of the entire Psalter had become more or less impossible, both because of the proliferation of feasts over ferial days, and because of a huge burden of psalmody well-suited for monastics but not for seculars. In other words, Pius X was taking the steps he did in order to restore to full honor a fundamental and traditional principle and to balance it properly with, on the one hand, the veneration due to the saints, and, on the other, the exigencies of pastoral life. The 1962 edition of the Breviary has some weaknesses but is still following the same approach. The 1970 Liturgy of the Hours, in contrast, is a radical departure from the Roman tradition in almost every respect.
We plainly have evidence that a "traditional" pontiff took a wrecking ball to the Latin liturgical tradition. However, being that he was "traditional" and must be infallible, we must attempt intellectual acrobatics to find some type of hermeneutical lens with which to codify his actions as Tradition.

Roman ecclesiology leads to a point of cognitive dissonance. It insists upon the affirmation of a human authority with the singular power to arbitrate and legislate and subject to no active correcting mechanism. We find ourselves left with the ultramontanism that provided and continues to the provide the living cultus of recent pontiffs. Otherwise, we're left observing the particular position of Roman traditionalists.

Traditionalists keep bumping up against the same wall, demonstrating that, practically speaking, the history of the papacy since the definition of a particular dogma has demonstrated that such pretensions are untenable. To avoid blatantly rejecting the dogma, the conditions of the dogma, in traditionalist circles, are limited to such precise motions so as to render the whole thing about as credible as magic. They are left then explaining how a number of things they resolutely resist carry no force and are, plainly wrong. Fair enough. But this has practical consequences for ecclesiology. If you can reject a council and the papal interpretation and enforcement of that council, you have stated, practically, that there are limits to jurisdiction and infallibility, that the Roman pontiff is not law unto itself and is indeed subject to criteria to which he can be measured by persons outside of his office. In sum, traditionalists, especially the larger bodies like the SSPX, insist upon a theoretical ecclesiology while practically having developed a Latin ecclesiology more closely related to Orthodox ecclesiology. No sane Orthodox denies the Pope is the Patriarch of Rome (or the West). It is a matter, rather, of this particularly patriarch having assumed powers unto himself that he does not properly have and as a result become dissident. In so far as whatever he says or does or legislates is contrary to the Tradition, he is to be ignored, including his proclamations of juridical and doctrinal power. In so far as what he does, says, or legislates corresponds to the Tradition, he is accorded respect. In all cases, his position as the patriarch of Rome is never denied.

Traditionalists, whether they like it or not, have introduced Orthodox ecclesiology into the Latin Church out of historical necessity. Such ecclesiology is the only way they can justify their existence. They can keep playing a game of cognitive dissonance, but eventually this will no longer be feasible. At some point they have to admit what their ecclesiology really is, drop the ultramontanism, and grow from there.

The Roman Church existed before the Pope. Just ask Paul.

ΨΑΛΜΟΙ ΣΟΛΟΜΩΝΤΟΣ 6

The Psalms of Solomon appear to have been used in early Christianity. The exact function, like many of the non-canonical psalms that have come into focus since the mid twentieth century is somewhat obscure. For now, we can find allusions to them in early Christian writings and we can hypothesis that they may have been applied in some form of primitive liturgy. This is to say nothing of the still disputed origin of this "second psalter."

Every so often, it is tempting to think of how one could apply one of the 18 psalms today. Number six could find a suitable place in a revised breviary. Yes, the proposition makes sense - the Western office has been revised so thoroughly in the course of the last century there are no longer any anchors left holding it to the ancient tradition.


ΨΑΛΜΟΙ ΣΟΛΟΜΩΝΤΟΣ 6

1᾿Εν ἐλπίδι· τῷ Σαλωμων.

Μακάριος ἀνήρ, οὗ ἡ καρδία αὐτοῦ ἑτοίμη ἐπικαλέσασθαι τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου·
ἐν τῷ μνημονεύειν αὐτὸν τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.

2 αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ κατευθύνονται ὑπὸ κυρίου,
καὶ πεφυλαγμένα ἔργα χειρῶν αὐτοῦ ὑπὸ κυρίου θεοῦ αὐτοῦ.

3 ἀπὸ ὁράσεως πονηρῶν ἐνυπνίων αὐτοῦ οὐ ταραχθήσεται ἡ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ,
ἐν διαβάσει ποταμῶν καὶ σάλῳ θαλασσῶν οὐ πτοηθήσεται.

4 ἐξανέστη ἐξ ὕπνου αὐτοῦ καὶ ηὐλόγησεν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου,
ἐπ᾽ εὐσταθείᾳ καρδίας αὐτοῦ ἐξύμνησεν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ·

5 καὶ ἐδεήθη τοῦ προσώπου κυρίου περὶ παντὸς τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ,
καὶ κύριος εἰσήκουσεν προσευχὴν παντὸς ἐν φόβῳ θεοῦ.

6 καὶ πᾶν αἴτημα ψυχῆς ἐλπιζούσης πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐπιτελεῖ ὁ κύριος·
εὐλογητὸς κύριος ὁ ποιῶν ἔλεος τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν αὐτὸν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ.

Intuitively, the psalm seems proper for a nocturne or lauds. The invocation of the name of God and imagery alluding to the combat myth make this a perfect psalm for invoking divine help. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pre-publication notices

Some additional noteworthy news on the publication front.

Schuyler has begun production on the second edition of its extremely popular Quentel ESV. This was the second entry in the Quentel series and is arguably the most popular in the series. The books are at the printers now.


Schuyler has increased the color options, adding dark purple and British Tan to the mix.

The ESV has become something of an iconic translation since its initial release. Schuyler's editions do justice to what many consider to the best all around contemporary translation.

+++

As a reminder, Schuyler's Caxton NLT is due in September. The pre-order sales figures seem to ensure this will have an ample audience out of the gate.

+++

Crossway, originators of the ESV, has a new project about to see release. This volume will consist of the four gospels with no additional editorial or reference additions in the body of the text. I am interested to see how this is pulled off. You can find a sample here

Single column formatting is always a wise decision. Anyone familar with the text critical editions of the BHS and LXX is already well adjusted to a lack of editorial headings. The lack of cross references and chapter-verse numbering may or may not make much of an impact. Crossway is opting for a format closer to the manner in which the literate members of the ancient audience would have encountered the text. It will be interesting to see how readers interact with the text formatted in this fashion. 

Western Rite Orthodoxy and the Roman Liturgy - a Tale of Two Rites

Western Rite Orthodoxy retains (for the most part) the old Roman liturgy, applying to it the honorific title of the Rite of St. Gregory the Great.

Fair enough. Lets call a spade a spade - we're dealing with the pre-Vatican II liturgy, although some Western rite jurisdictions take some egregious liberties with it. More on that later.

The Roman liturgy as currently authorized for use in Antiochian Dioceses can be found here.

The "Rite of St. Gregory" in ROCOR can be found here.

Antioch appears relatively conservative in its adaptations of the Roman Rite. A proper epiclesis was added - a move that has little historical justification behind it, so far as the use of Rome is concerned. Otherwise, the Filioque was dropped, a move that would have made number of admirable Roman Pontiffs quite proud.

Otherwise, a quick reading leaves one with the impression that Antioch to the pre-Vatican II Missale Romanum when codifying its English translation. Allegedly, there is historical precedence of some Roman Catholic groups simply transferring the pre-Vatican II books over. Antioch seems to have run with the usage current at that time. The directory for the Western Rite specifically decrees that the rubrics governing the rite are the Latin rubrics of 1950. Comparing the the text of the Canon with the text found in the Missale Romanum, one finds no major alterations, save for the epiclesis. The prefaces are lifted straight from the Missale Romanum, including the "newer" ones introduced post Reformation, extending to the Preface of Christ the King introduced by Pius XI.

Without having seen the actual propers, I would argue that Antioch appears to have demonstrated some respect of the historic liturgy of the West. If indeed it is true that former or historically Roman Catholic groups have found a place within the "Western Rite" by merely importing the Roman books and continuing with the Traditional liturgy in Latin, all the better. Based upon the information provided in the directory, the propers appear to be taken from the English Missal when the celebration of the liturgy is in the English language. I would be interested to know what Latin text has currency.

By comparison, ROCOR's Rite of St. Gregory is, if I may be so bold, a monstrosity and an affront to anyone who has respect and reverence for the Western liturgical tradition. This is a Frankenstein's monster, garbling together bits of Byzantium, Rome, and even the unchecked fixation with antiquity that led to some questionable modifications of the Roman liturgy in 1970. I want to be very clear here - ROCOR's Rite of St. Gregory is positively offensive. Antioch's insertion of an epiclesis is questionable and perhaps not absolutely necessary for an authorized liturgy. ROCOR's changes plainly disparage the integrity of the Latin tradition for reasons we cannot begin to fathom. Tell me where you will find "I believe and I confess..." among a substantial example of the Western liturgical tradition. This is one example of an infusion of Byzantine elements that have no place in the Latin liturgy.

We should "shoot straight and speak the truth" here: ROCOR's Rite of Saint Gregory has no historical precedence - one is about as likely to encounter a liturgy like this in antiquity as one would the Novus Ordo. It is entirely something new, although I suspect there is a possibility it could sky rocket in popular given the current exchange of ideas were it marketed effectively.

It is difficult to say what the future holds for the traditional Latin liturgy. It plainly needs as many outposts of conservation as possible. Antioch's approved English text is agreeable, with some reservations as noted above. The crucial quality is adequate respect and implementation of the historic liturgy of the West, specifically, that of the Patriarchate of Rome.




Monday, July 27, 2015

Western Rite Orthodoxy and Legitimacy.

The Antiochene Orthodox Diocese has a few pages of note concerning the Western Rite.

Of interest is the following:
More precisely, the Western Rite, as approved by the Antiochian Archdiocese is a theologically corrected form of worship used by the Latin Church (Roman) or the Anglican Communion. In some Western Rite congregations, the Liturgy may be a Latin or English form of pre-Vatican-II Roman Catholic worship.


And on another page:
One of the myths presently circulating about the Rite of St. Gregory the Great is that it is "Tridentine"—i.e., it is no older than the Council of Trent [1545-1563]. This criticism is made by those who know nothing about either this Rite or the Council of Trent or the Missal of Pius V [1570]. In fact, all that was done at Trent, liturgically speaking, was to standardize the worship of the West. This was done principally in two ways:  

First, the Council (together with Pope Pius V) suppressed all Western Rites that did not have a continuous history of at least two hundred years. This effectively eliminated all but the Ambrosian Rite of Milan, the Mozarabic Rite of Toledo, Spain, and the Gregorian Rite of the City of Rome itself, sometimes therefore called the Roman Rite. [* Simple variations within the Roman Rite, such as existed among the Benedictines, Dominicans, etc., were permitted to remain, but have lapsed since the liturgical reforms of the 1960s.] In the 16th century the Gregorian or Roman Rite already had a continuous documented history of more than 1000 years. It therefore became the standard Rite of most of post-Schism Western Christendom. Session XXII [17 Sept. 1562] of the Council issued a series of definitions on the sacrificial doctrine of the Mass, but no change in the actual text of the Rite. 

Secondly, the Council of Trent standardized the rubrics of the Gregorian Rite. This meant that when and how the celebrant and other ministers bowed, genuflected, turned to the faithful, etc., was no longer left to the whim or personal style of the individual clergyman. For the sake of propriety, detailed instructions about how to actually celebrate the liturgy were drawn up and imposed upon the whole of the Western Church. Most of these rubrics were not new inventions, however. They were mostly adopted from the customary rubrics of the cathedrals and parish churches of the City of Rome and its surrounding countryside towns and villages. This was logical because Rome was the de jure center of Western Christendom. Thus, by the 16th century even the rubrics already had a long and venerable history and were hardly an innovation of the Counter Reformation.

And finally:
The Liturgy of St. Peter (commonly known as the Liturgy of St. Gregory), is found, substantially as it has been used in the Latin Church until Vatican II (1969)1, in the Sacramentaries of St. Gregory [590], Gelasius [491] and St. Leo [483]. The Roman Liturgy is attributed to St. Peter by ancient liturgical commentators, who founded their opinion chiefly upon a passage in an Epistle of Innocent [fifth century], to Decentius, Bishop of Eugubium. St. Gregory revised the variable parts of the liturgy, the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels; but the only change which he made in the Ordinary was by the addition of a few words which is noticed by the Venerable Bede [Hist. Eccl. Lib.2, c.I.].2Since the time of St. Gregory the Roman Liturgy has been used over a large part of the Western Church, and, until 1969, was practically the only one allowed by Rome.
The Western Rite is in a confused state in the Orthodox Church. I've realized, of course, that this is often the preferred way of things in Orthodoxy - clearly defined precepts are only deferred to when absolutely necessary.

My criticism of the so-called Western Rite centers on the unstable historical perspective. As I've noted elsewhere, the liturgical observance seems to be all over the map, involving revised editions of Common Prayer, hypothetical reconstructions of an earlier Roman liturgy, and, finally, if I understand the information cited above and the information provided to me from those involved with the Western Rite, the pre-Vatican II Roman liturgy, either in Latin or the vernacular.

The liturgical climate on the one hand speaks of liturgical plurality. On the other hand, it indicates the delicate state the Western liturgy finds itself in the context of the Orthodox Church.

The Western Rite Vicariate seems to have some members with the appropriate appreciation of the old Roman liturgy. Although, it seems there is not enough historical perspective to reject the instance upon a descending epiclesis.

Dom Denis Chambault provides some guidance and a hopeful point of historical perspective and a path forward. By all accounts, Dom Denis retained the Roman liturgy without modification aside from translating it into French. I welcome correction to the contrary if substantiated.

The instance on Byzantine customs or tradition, or the attempt at "restoring" the Western liturgy based upon vague intimations as opposed to hard evidence robs the Western Rite of any legitimacy.
The way forward to legitimacy is rather plain: use the old Roman books. For the Western Rite to have legitimacy, it must use the historically demonstrable liturgy of the majority of the West.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Baying of Hounds

I am, as mentioned elsewhere, despite my current ecclesiastical affiliation, heavily biased towards the Order of Preachers. The Dominican Order has, for a multitude of reasons, ensconced itself in my mind as something admirable, as an exemplar, in spite of Timorthy Radcliff's tenure as Master General, of a corner of the Roman Church that retained sight of its charism and corresponding tradition.

There is a fair bit of romanticism in this sentiment. The Dominican liturgical tradition is in a delicate state. The order has its own proper hymns, antiphonal and occasional offices built onto the modern Roman Rite. For the most part, its venerable liturgy has fallen into obscurity, given occasional use by the Western province and largely unknown to the majority of the order. One can also hardly ignore that a Dominican paved the way for much of the post-modern deconstruction in the Roman Church and the order is not without some questionable interpretations of its charism and tradition today. Yet, all things considered, my interaction with the order was always healthy.

Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle holds a very special place in my heart, if only because the lure of nostalgia is always most powerful in its pull after one has had the sobering encounter with hindsight. While in the Pacific Northwest, there was only the most vague interest in Biblical Studies and my languages were limited to Italian and extremely elementary Latin. There was an increasing interest in early Christian origins and the desire to comprehend the religion of my baptism, particularly the discrepancy between the pre-modern and post modern expressions of it.

Reconciling the discrepancy between pre and post-Vatican II Catholicism proved then as it does now - utterly elusive. At that time, however, Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle provided an oasis. The theology was sound, the spirituality was redolent with the Dominican tradition, and the liturgy was typically the better interpretation of the new rites. It was bitter sweet; there was little to no inclination to labor for the full restoration of the pre-Vatican II liturgy and there was no denial that we found ourselves in the modern age. The Dominicans adapted  as much as they could, although one still wonders is it a matter of adapting modernity to Catholicism or Catholicism to modernity, or a combination of both. Whatever it was, it succeeded in cultivate a coherent point of spiritual reference and religious praxis.

There are those who would argue that revisiting Latin Christianity after having migrated to Orthodoxy is useless. Hence, waxing nostalgic over the portion of my life in the Roman Church is a waste of time. I would argue that such a position is uninformed and may or may not be demonstrative of something that may be loosely termed spiritual schizophrenia, or perhaps psychic disintegration.

It is advisable to be suspicious of anyone who has a marked vituperation for his or her previous religious affiliation. True, hagiography more often than not celebrates such violent disavowal of one's past. In this respect, vintage hagiography closely resembles the high grid identity and exclusive community found in cults and extreme sectarian groups. In such cases, we would readily identify the psychological abnormalities present in group a's control of its adherents and the adherents' willingness to suspend normal behavior and judgment in favor of maintaining the group identity.

There is occasionally a similar phenomenon among persons who migrate between the mainline branches of Christianity. We can theorize that this phenomenon stems from Christianity's exclusivist claims and is compounded by the traditional exclusivist ecclesiology in most Christian bodies. It is not merely sufficient to affirm one's belief in Jesus as "the way, the truth and the life." One is forced to go a step further and then identify which particular way, truth and life as represented in various ecclesiastical bodies, most of whom put themselves out there as "the one true church," and bolster their claims with a spotty reading of early Christian history and sources.

One cannot dissever oneself from one's past religious affiliation without developing a neurosis which will play itself out in the context of one's new religious affiliation. The latent Manicheism in some of Augustine's major works is a prime example of this point.

The challenge is not to disavow one's prior religious affiliation. Rather, the challenge is to accept that one's prior religious identification played a formative part in one's being, provided crucial experience and perspective, and, oddly enough, facilitated your development into your current affiliation. There are of course outliers to this. Persons who typically have no religious experience to speak of in their prior religion are often more prone to vituperation towards it when they leave. Additionally, there are times when the development of a one's former religion necessarily forces a reevaluation of one's affiliation and possibly a migration to another religious body. Finally, there are those who leave a religion solely for reactionary reasons - those persons typically find themselves in a terrible disposition when the quality or precept they previously believed was only in their previous church or religion manifests itself in the church or religion they sought shelter in.

Anyone with a healthy psyche should be expected to recollect positive experience from his or her previous religious affiliation. It is natural, it is healthy. Conversely, he or she must also be fully connected with his or her present context and the reasons for making the change and persisting with it.

Until about six years ago, I used to own and heavily use a copy of the Dominican Breviary. Those books are long gone, lost in a move and likely never to be replaced. Simply put, family obligations and responsible budgeting excludes any possibility of investing in those books. But for a number of years (after a member of the order kindly gave me the set that is now God-knows-where-across-the- USA) I devotedly recited that office. As I recall,the Dominican office was superior  to the Roman in most respects and I found its structure highly intuitive - it just made the most sense of any breviary I had used. Six years on from discovering the volumes had vanished and that I was in no position to acquire them again, I cannot help but think fondly of that office and the exquisite rhythm of prayer therein, to the point that, whatever my corporate affiliation, I have determined I would immediately take up the practice of reciting that office again should the opportunity ever present itself. Why? Plainly, it was the desire to find a corporate affiliation that best reflected the perception of reality in those venerable volumes that contributed to my later decisions. Herein, there will always be, however faintly, the baying of the hounds of Lord echoing up from the valleys left behind amid the journey.

....And for this, no matter what my affiliation is or will be, I am grateful and boisterously proud

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Hounds of the Lord

An easy and enjoyable read from First Things on the increase of vocations within the Eastern Province of Dominicans in the United States.

Comforting to know that despite the chaos coming directly out of Rome, one corner of the Roman Church still has its act together.

I am more than a bit biased towards the Dominicans (and their liturgy). Truth be told, for reasons I won't go into, the Eastern Province has a special place in my heart and readily swells up waves of nostalgia. It was, in all truth, a very good time of my life. The Eastern Province succeeds where so many other religious orders and whole dioceses fail - it makes sense out of the chaos in post-Vatican II Catholicism without pivoting to romantic notions of what the Roman Church must have been like in the fifties.

The Western Province isn't to be outdone. The only solid and substantial parish experience I had during my time in the Roman Church was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle. I recommend anyone in the area to make a point of attending liturgy there. They were and are a solid community and a hive of activity in the midst of one of the most "un-churched" cities in the country. One would be hard pressed to find a more substantial parish life.

Schuyler Quentel NASB - 2.0

The month of July has been pretty quiet thus far. Simply put, Summer is for the outdoors. As such, only brief updates and only updates that complement a long day in the hot summer sun.

Case in point: Schuyler's Quentel NASB 2.0

Schuyler's Quentel NASB - possibly the best Bible I've ever handled - is getting an upgrade. The second edition drops in October 2015. You can find details on the specs of both the current edition and its successor here.

My initial thoughts: Schuyler is undoubtedly responding to some of the minor criticism that was raised with regards to the Quentel NASB. There were a few voices that felt the bible was too big and somewhat difficult to travel with.

After having handled the Quentel NASB, I am left unconvinced that such criticisms merit any change to the Quentel NASB's design. The change to the volume's design is accompanied by some corresponding changes in construction. The most apparent of which will be the change from 45 GSM paper to 36 GSM paper. The opacity of 45 GSM is the best you will get in contemporary publishing. 36 GSM is, I believe, standard for Cambridge Bibles.

Practically speaking, there normally isn't that noticeable of a difference between 45 GSM and 36 GSM, so far as the reading experience is concerned. The Bible should be lighter and slightly more portable. This said, does one really want to trade opacity for portability? Time will tell. I suspect Schuyler will put together a volume that satisfactorily addresses some of rather minor criticisms one may have with the first edition of the Quentel NASB. I'm not entirely sure it was necessary, but time will tell.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity

When it comes to the Bible, and religion as whole, context is everything. Sadly, the context of the Bible, the background lying beneath the initial encounter of the written word, rarely comes to the fore in the contemporary Christian landscape.

One can lay the responsibility for this situation at the feet of many offenders. Bad preaching, poorly formed clergy, infotainment television shows, etc. The truth is that concise resources for peering into the world behind the text are scarce.

Hendrickson Publishers' Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post Biblical Antiquity provides a much needed remedy for this most unfortunate situation.

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, Volume 2

Volume II is ready for your reading list.

It is easy enough to disembody Scripture from the very concrete reality of the ancient writers and the communities that received the texts. We can do well and begin to engage the Bible on its own terms if we take the time to situate ourselves in the context of the original author and his audience. This series, ambitious in scope, seeks to provide the reader with a window into the world of the ancient text, a world that a various points differs and confirms with our own. 

For everyone active on social media, Hendrickson is having a contest to win a free copy of volume II. You can find all of the details here.

Schuyler Caxton NLT

The curtain is about to be pulled back on Schuyler's latest offering, the Caxton NLT. The top-line Bible publisher has started taking pre-orders for this edition of the NLT.

The Caxton line is a new series in Schuyler's collection. The announced specs aptly demonstrate that the publisher shows no signs of skimping on quality. Make no mistake, this is another impressive entry in Schuyler's formidable catalog.

The Caxton NLT is in single column format and I cannot complement the publisher enough for having made that editorial decision. Single column makes the text imminently more engaging and eliminates the risk of a laborious reading experience - that is, the "Bible fatigue" often induced by the traditional two column format.

You can find a sample of the interior here.

Again, this is an optimal layout for the Biblical text. Crisp font and a clearly organized the page; slap a critical apparatus on there and you'll have a Bible that goes toe-to-toe with Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft's Novum Testamentum Graece.

I've written about Schuyler's Quentel NASB elsewhere. Thus far, my experience of Schuyler is that one would do well to "believe the hype" as it were. Schuyler developed a rock solid reputation in a relatively short period of time. The Caxton NLT looks more than prepared to keep said reputation in place.