Friday, October 28, 2005

A Pair of Catch-22's

Today, during the broadcast of Morning Air on Relevant Radio, I treated the subject of Anne Rice's conversion and the upcoming book from her about our Lord's childhood. I mentioned in a previous post as well as on the air about having a certain degree of hestitation about this new book as it covers a time period which, for better or for worse, the canonical Gospels don't whisper a word concerning. Ms. Rice's book covers the time period of Jesus's youth, about 7 or 8 years old, if I understood the reviews and reports correctly. Specifically, my concern was that Rice makes use of non-canonical sources like Mailer's The Gospel According to the Son and the Gnostic Gospels. To be truthful, it was the Gnostic sources which worried me the most. As I reflected on this, though, I realized it was a touch hypocritical of me to be upset about this when I will happily celebrate the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Our Lady. The source for these names is a Gnostic gospel, the Proto-Evangelium of St. James, if memory serves. So it seems to me, that if Rice uses the faux miracles merely to introduce the idea of the boy Jesus finding the way in his human nature to comprehend and to explain His divinity, and doesn't beat this point into the ground, it shouldn't adversely affect the book.

Now, some of you are saying, "Wait, Father, I thought that use of the Gnostic Gospels was bad, given what you said about The DaVinci Code. Why is it okay now?" The difference between Rice and Dan Brown is a vast gulf of intention. D. Brown wants the Catholic Church to become the hippest home for goddess worship this side of the Greenwich mean. Therefore, his use of the Gnostic Gospels is an effort to SUPPLANT the canonical Gospels. In Rice's case, and again, I haven't seen the book, the effort here is to have source material from which to work so that people will EMBRACE the canonical Gospels. In short, it would be akin to either the use of pious legends or other spurious materials. As long as Ms. Rice makes it clear that she isn't trying to dissent from the Church's teaching and practice, I think she is on better ground. And again, it's good to have you home, Anne.

(If you aren't satisfied with my response, don't worry; I'll probably change my mind tomorrow.)

For our second catch-22, I refer you to Leonard DiCaprio's effort at relevance. Global Warming is a topic that has generally left me very cold. On the one hand, I am skeptical of theories of everything which claim to be able to predict outcomes from vastly interconnected and brain-numbingly complex systems. On the other hand, if global warming is a real phenomenon, I don't want to wake up one morning to stone-faced scientists saying, "You know, Venus, that planet next door where the atmosphere exerts twenty times the pressure of our own and it rains sulfuric acid? The first thunderstorm is next week." If such a thing as global warming actually exists, we don't want to wake up and say "Ooooops" and then have to live (or die) with the consequences. So, it seems prudentially, we might want to pay attention to something for which we don't have slam dunk evidence.

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