Recently the reviewer was given as an example of dangerous ideas infiltrating the laity a proposition which, unknown to the clerical speaker, can he found almost verbatim in the decrees of the Council of Trent.
Things which seem startlingly new are often as old as Scotus or Nicea, and the root of much present disquiet is not so much the fear of change as such as the fear of the unknown and the half-explained. Before he can fruitfully present new insights or the latest speculation the educator has first to undertake the lengthier and more difficult task of communicating the breadth of the magisterium, the Fathers and the Doctors to an audience often schooled in the narrower disciplines of the manual and the Catechism.
This series on "What a Modern Catholic Believes" attempts to "articulate truly contemporary Catholic thought," and while saying much of value neglects that primary task. Many of Fr. Malone's and Fr. McNaspy's statements are true but only half-explained and I therefore fear that they will be rejected.
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur and the truth or falsehood of a gratuitous statement has little de facto effect on whether it is accepted or denied.
updating Theology and Worship show a curious uncertainty about their intended readers. A reader who needs to have spelt out who Pelagius was and what he taught is hardly likely, two
paragraphs later, to understand without explanation the scholastic doctrine of accidents or efficient and instrumental causality. Some of Malone's statements seem slick and untrue; for example, the implication (Part II, p.I 4) that until the New Hermeneutics, Christians had not met Christ as a living person but only as an icon. If that seems unjust to Aquinas and Augustine it is also a misunderstanding of icons.
Anyone who has followed the public debate on abortion and euthanasia with mounting despair at the sterility of so much that passes for argument will welcome Mr. Westley's little book. The main arguments of both sides are analysed and found mostly inadequate.
Christ's compassion, not reason, will uphold the unmarried mother. As Newman remarked, it is dogma, not logic, which will call a man to sacrificial love.
Fr. T. Cooper
COMPASSION 'S LOGIC
What a Modern Catholic Believes About:
Updating Theology (parts I and II) by George Malone Worship by C. J. McNaspy The Right to Life by Richard Westley
(Thomas More Press, Chicago. $2.75 each)