Culture: February 2011 Archives

Syria should be on your radar screen if you have an interest in the life of the Church. It's openness to Christianity today is startling bad. Freedom of religion and human rights lack; political oppression and basic needs are always in question. The current regime very likely nervous given the recent wave of political take-back. John Juliet Buck's Vogue magazine article on the Syrian First Lady, Asma al-Assad, "A Rose in the Desert" speaks to many issues in Syria, not least is religion. Thoughts of St John the Baptist's tomb hearken back to when in 2001 Pope John Paul II visited Syria and prayed at the tomb of the Baptist.

At first thought Ms al-Assad's deference to the importance of the Baptist is impressive but there's something that strikes me as false given recent history of her husband's family's rule of Syria viz. religious freedom. Plus, her interest in Christianity in Syria is not because the gospel is true, good and beautiful; her interest in the Church is cultural. The gospel in this context has been reduced to a system of culture and ethics --exactly what it's not. Syria is  Indeed, many religions have passed through those lands and one seems fairly certain that the current regime wants religions like Christianity to leave Syria and not turn back. Historically, Christianity has been in Syria since St Paul visited the country. It is the place, as we know, where the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians." Christians in Syria comprise 10% of the population with the largest group being the Greek Orthodox Church.

For me here's the relevant paragraph in the article:

Back in the car, Buck was answered about his investigation "what religion the orphans are?" "It's not relevant," says Asma al-Assad. "Let me try to explain it to you. That church is a part of my heritage because it's a Syrian church. The Umayyad Mosque is the third-most-important holy Muslim site, but within the mosque is the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. We all kneel in the mosque in front of the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. That's how religions live together in Syria--a way that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have historically. All the religions and cultures that have passed through these lands--the Armenians, Islam, Christianity, the Umayyads, the Ottomans--make up who I am."
Three Faith NYPL.jpg

I recommend visiting the NY Public Library before February 27 to take-in the exhibit "Three Faiths."

It is interesting and well done. I think the exhibit is done more for the cultural point of view but it does give a good sense of the major themes in specific theologies and worldviews.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household, having been informed of the existence of unauthorised offers by some Tour Operators, especially on internet, of assistance in procuring tickets, with a service charge, for General Audiences and Papal ceremonies, particularly for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II on Sunday, May 1, wishes to make it clear that:

1) For the Beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II, as made clear from the outset, no tickets are required.

2) The tickets provided by the Prefecture of the Papal Household for General Audiences and Papal ceremonies are always issued FREE of charge and no person or organization can request any kind of payment.

The Thought of Henri Bremond

| | Comments (0)
henri bremond.jpg

In the current issue of La Civiltà Cattolica, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro wrote an interesting essay, "The Thought of Henri Bremond." Matters pertaining to faith and reason, faith and culture interest me perhaps you. At least that's what I hope if you are a frequent reader of the Communio blog. Henri Bremond (1865-1933) is a former a Jesuit priest, literary scholar and was in the middle of the Modernist crisis. His literary output was terrific. Bremond was a member of the illustrious Académie Française succeedingm(elected in 1923 holding seat number 36). France also awarded the Lé d'honneur. The summary:

An attempt to overcome the gap between faith and culture - In the years that saw the rise of surrealism, of Freudian thought and of the modernist crisis, Henri Bremond captured the separation that was growing between theology and culture sanctioned by the Enlightenment. Bremond suffered in trying to find a compromise in terms of language, seeking to show to a cultured audience the best results of a religious sensibility and sought to show to his Catholic readers the religious value of «profane» literature. Seeing the similarities between a mystical and a poetic inspiration, he concluded that "it is up to the mystic to explain the poet," reversing a common axiom. The article, on the occasion of the reissue of his Prayer and poetry, absent from Italian bookstores for three decades, presents the main insights of the priest, academician of France.

Pius XI & G. Marconi 1931.jpgFebruary 12, 1931, Vatican Radio began its social networking capabilities for Pope Pius XI who had a particular interest in evangelization, especially in the foreign lands. Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), the physics Nobel Prize laureate became the father of wireless communication. Quoting Marconi, the Vatican Press Director Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi recalled, "My inventions are to save humanity, not to destroy it."

Read a few ideas on the founding of Vatican Radio.

Pope Pius XI exhorted his first listeners said, "Listen and hear, O Peoples of distant lands."
Romanian witches are soon to be licensed. Why, you ask. So when their spells fail to provide the desired results, the government can jail them. There's a bill on parliament's desk. On January 1, Romania changed its laws witchcraft requiring receipts and prohibiting them from exercising their craft near churches and schools.
RR Reno.jpgThe Chairman of the Board of First Things, Robert Louis Wilken, announced that Russell R. Reno is the new editor of First Things.

RR Reno is the sometime professor of theological ethics at Creighton University. He earned a doctorate from Yale University.

Reno recently published Fighting the Noonday Devil and Other Essays Personal and Theological (Eerdmans, 2011).

The appointment is effective April 1. 

RR Reno's the second successor to Father Richard John Neuhaus. Jody Bottum left the editorship a few months ago.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Four Chaplains Day

| | Comments (0)
Four Chaplains.jpg

Besides being Saint Blase Day, today is also known as "Four Chaplains Day." The US Congress designated today to honor the 4 US Army chaplains who were serving on the USAT Dorchester during World War II. 

Father John P. Washington (Roman Catholic priest), Rev. Clark V. Poling (Dutch reformed), Rev. George L. Fox (Methodist), and Rabbi Alexander D. Goode sacrificed their lives as their ship went down. 672 of 902 men died.

All of the chaplains held the rank of lieutenant.

The Episcopal Church has designated February 3 a liturgical memorial for these chaplains.

St Matthew's Passion.jpg

The St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, NY) will present a setting of the St. Matthew Passion.

The musical setting of Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Saint Matthew is an exquisite interplay of soloists, choir, and orchestra. This concert will be the U.S. English-language premiere of the piece by Russian Orthodox Christian composer and churchman Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev.

Performers will include The Salomé Chamber Orchestra, famed soloists soprano Mary Mackenzie, mezzo-soprano Ana Mihanovic, tenor Blake Friedman, and bass Aaron Theno, and the New York Virtuoso Singers prepared by Harold Rosenbaum.

The concert will take place at 7:30 pm in the Church of the Saint Paul the Apostle (at the corner of Columbus Avenue & West 60th Street, NY 10019).

Please click HERE for more information and to purchase tickets.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, 46, is the Russian born Oxford and Paris educated theologian and musician. He's wonderfully talented in many areas. Last May it was a pleasure of mine to see him and hear his work in Rome at a concert he organized for Pope Benedict XVI.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Snow and Ice

| | Comments (1)
bird feeder February 1 2011.jpg"The Snow-Storm" comes to mind today. There's a certain end-times (should we say a 19th century apocalypticism?) quality to Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem that life and death are confronted, forward motion is reduced-if-not-halted the boundaries are indistinct. Looking out my window I see the barrenness of the landscape with only the evergreens providing color save for the woodpecker, the bluejay and the cardinals collecting their food at the feeder. The property lines aren't present and movement is difficult either by foot, car, or train, and forget the airplane. The vivid white of the snow and ice is blinding. 

So, I think it's time for a change in weather. Don't you?
Enhanced by Zemanta

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from February 2011.

Culture: January 2011 is the previous archive.

Culture: March 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.