This would have escaped me if I hadn’t been looking at my statistics page and the sites that link here. There is a very “extreme left” forum based in Australia by the name of Catholica, which seems for the most part to argue from the point of view of the crisis caused by sex-abusing priests and the response of the Australian authorities. The line embraced by some on this forum is deconstructionist – reduce Christianity to a purely moral and ethical message without any sacramental or mystical content. It seems like something from the late nineteenth century (eg: Harnack and Bultmann closer to our own times) against which the Modernists like Tyrrell and Von Hügel sought to develop a new system of apologetics.
All the same, there are some interesting views and I remember how they commented on Archbishop Hepworth’s accusation of certain Roman Catholic priests for having sexually abused him many years ago.
There is someone called SMK, whom I suspect is a highly sympathetic person who comments on this blog. He writes in a thread concerning Cardinal Pell:
At a blogsite by a sincerely searching priest [ https://sarumuse.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/john-beeler-off-the-deep-end/#comment-11259 ] who has travelled and continues to travel the path of existential oneness before the mystery of God, he puts it this way:
“The search for the “true church” <>.
I have a lot of respect for the humanity and insightfulness through human experience, one not dissimilar – in at least some respects – to my own, of the author, Father Chadwick. I don’t want my encomium to embarrass him : he would no doubt have different beliefs in significant respects from me).
There is a brief reply by Ian Fraser:
Thank you, SMK, for giving us the reference to this blogsite. I, for one, was unaware of it, and your excerpt alone is sufficient indicator of the quality of content to be found there.
Thanks, Ian. Discovering Father Chadwick was a breath of fresh air. He seeks to preserve a sense of continuity with the religious symbolism that makes sense to him and has formed his life and values but sees the pitfalls of dogmatism and the horrors of the turf wars of religious zealotry and tries to encourage those who would just like to pray and worship in peace.
I am persuaded that at the heart of much religiosity is not so much intellectual conviction but aesthetics and instincts about harmony and balance. We import these notions through the media of sound and sense and colour. We can unlearn and re-learn but as we grow older it becomes harder as we become less plastic: this is why what happens to children and the young has such moral and psychological significance, for good or ill.
He goes on to describe his own experience with ideologies and fanaticisms. It is not difficult to understand someone going so far down a path that the end of the road is reached and the fallacies appear in the light of day. We can just burn ourselves out and discover that all that is left is what Evelyn Waugh called “a handful of dust”. All is vanity, as the Wisdom texts of the Old Testament say. Can innocence be regained when the apple has been bitten? I think it can be, but by untrodden paths. Perhaps charm and beauty have been our undoing, but they alone confer meaning to our pilgrimage.
Is there anything left? Any real cause to work for, for the future of mankind and the natural world? This is what we live for in preparation for the paradise that lies beyond our bodily death. That is the way of the artist, the composer, the lone traveller and those who work to conserve our planet and what little has not been destroyed or poisoned by man and his lust for money and power. Hope is whittled away, but there must remain something…