Friday, February 24, 2006

Papers, precious, what's papers???

If anybody who sees this knows of a good, solid, simple, free personal file hosting service, let me know. I would like to put a kind of a "writ" here so that others and myself have easy access to all of my college papers in PDF format. Now, I know I've made fun of my old buddy Greg for having something as pretentious as an online writ (and all the more for calling it a "writ" instead of a normal human title like "paper archive"), but I've grown in pretentiousness since then and I want to share some of my more 'scholarly' thoughts with random and uncaring passerby.

I've just recently put the cherry on top of my last major paper--so far, IMO, the height of my post-graduate work. It is titled, "Balthasar's Liturgical Aesthetic: Beauty and Glory in the Liturgy." It is the first 20-page paper I've written since my Louvain bachelor's paper (which I know makes other post-graduate students roll their eyes, with their 30, 50, and 70+ page papers--fine--but let me have my little slice of glory too). Here are some juicy lines from the paper before I can upload the whole thing.

  • "the beauty of the liturgy is contingent upon its taking place within the wider, self-manifesting beauty—the Glory—of God in the Word; it conforms to the form bestowed by the analogy of faith, without which it has no reason for being. This form is given in the person of Jesus Christ in the concreteness of his self-emptying and obedience and love of the Father. Precisely because of the Incarnation, liturgical beauty holds together as a hypostatic union (with all of its Chalcedonian connotations) 'the transcendent event impinging from above and that of an immanent object bound up with a certain structure.'"
  • "Without the inherence in being of the attraction of the beautiful, the self-evidence that the good or the true have supreme value has washed away. Without beauty as transcendental, the 'Copernican Revolution' inward to the subject makes the subject the limiting factor of experience, resulting in the truncation of the transcendentals to mere preference: from the true to the pragmatic; from the good to the personally satisfying. This totalization of the subject not only leaves its imprint in isolated social interactions, but it pervades civilization, infecting and wearing down the modern Christian’s ability to pray to an ever-vanishing God. 'In the cities, however, only man’s handwriting is everywhere visible… Concrete and glass do not speak of God; they only point to man who is practically glorified in them. The cities do not transcend man, hence they do not guide to transcendence.'"
  • "worldly aesthetics 'cannot exclude the element of the ugly, of the tragically fragmented, of the demonic, but must come to terms with these.' As Rilke writes, 'For the beautiful is nothing else than the onset of the terrible, which we only just endure, and we admire it, because it calmly disdains to destroy us.' Such must not be ideologically omitted from art, for 'Every aesthetic which simply seeks to ignore these nocturnal sides of existence can itself be ignored from the outset as a sort of aestheticism.'"
  • "the dangers of being open to beauty as an access to revelation can be, and have been overstated—traditionally by Protestant theology. Gerhard Nebel agrees: 'Luther destroyed the rich treasury of myth, and replaced it with an arid, official Institute. Anyone enamored of beauty will shiver in the barn of the Reformation, just as Winckelmann did, and feel the pull of Rome.'"
  • "Thus the ambivalence and frustration of beauty becomes clear. Worldly aesthetics cannot be our starting point, because if we make it the standard of our encounter with God, we attempt to set the agenda for God and thereby break from the One Lord in favor of a petty idol. We must in some sense attack this idol within ourselves and lay waste to our own hubristic aesthetisizing. However, we cannot make iconoclasm the central rule, for in doing so we smash the very instrument God gave us to perceive and receive himself. The iconoclast is like the obsessive-compulsive washer, rubbing away at the germs so vigorously that the skin itself peels away, and with it his capacity to touch and be touched."
  • "In summary, the form of the liturgy is at once Christological—the Son’s love and obedience of the Father—and Marian—'the wholly incalculable synthesis of an interior Marian-Petrine attitude of sheer service.' However, even if the form is given from above, 'liturgy is not simply revelation, the word of the Bridegroom, but the work and the word of the bride who responds in the Spirit… she remains aware that she is giving structure to her own work.' Revelation places a claim on the Church; a law, a covenant, but one which not imposed but infused: 'The lex orandi [is] the law that her spirit of faith must impose on itself, in order to be able to express and portray itself correctly.' This lex is thus not identified with books of rubrics, but has its penultimate source in the Church’s 'incorruptible ear for what is fitting, for what is appropriate for herself' (the ultimate source being the work of the Spirit)."
  • Some quotes from von Balthasar's "The Worthiness of the Liturgy" in New Elucidations:
    • “The worthiness of the liturgy increases in proportion to the participants’ awareness of their own unworthiness.”
    • “[One’s contribution to the liturgy] will have been best made when everyone senses that the subject is totally at the service of the mystery."
    • "there are some who think that to let themselves be sustained by these [worthy liturgical forms], to entrust themselves to centuries of other men’s prayers, would guarantee them in advance the correct subjective attitude. But they deceive themselves in this regard."
    • "If a generation is not able to provide any authentic religious images for the Church, it should not claim that bare walls more effectively concentrate the spirit on what is essential. If we have become small people, we should not try to reduce the mystery we are celebrating to our own size. And if we have to a great extent lost our sense of dignity, our profession of faith should nevertheless have helped us to retain enough sense of God’s majesty that, on encountering it, we will still feel our distance from it—greater eras may have felt it more strongly—and behave properly toward God."
    • "[A new sacral language] will be found not so much in services with loudspeakers and in Masses broadcast on television and not at all in what can be “made” with technological means but at the place of encounter between the wilderness of a secularized culture that lacks words and reverence, stripped of its disguises, and the “wilderness” and the silence of the Trinitarian and Eucharistic God, for example, in the poor chapel of Charles de Foucauld in his worldless, liturgyless adoration, out of which, in a long period of incubation, something like a valid utterance, bearing in itself in a credible manner the testimony of reverence, can give birth to itself anew."
  • "Externalism and minimalism, as species of aestheticism, both produce a certain inauthenticity on the level of the congregation’s self-representation before God—a longtime concern of Balthasar’s. There is always in aestheticism some degree of ego-preserving role-play—the embarrassed modern philistine pretending to be the pioneer of noble simplicity, the embarrassed spiritual struggler pretending to be a connoisseur of gothic beauty. Both embarrassments betray an unwillingness to stand before God in the liturgy “stripped of… disguises.” This is not to say that gothic beauty and noble simplicity do not have their place, but rather that they must rest upon a deeper foundation of interior conversion."
  • "To be sure, the directives of the Magisterium should be obeyed within good pastoral time, for they themselves serve the liturgical aesthetic in their own way (and our obedience manifests the humility of the handmaiden). However, most critically for Balthasar, a slow conversion, beginning with the holiness of the priest’s own soul, and extending gradually throughout the congregation through moments of silence in the liturgy where previously there was only noise, could begin to reawaken in human hearts the Glory whence comes the most authentic and effective and traditional beauty the world has ever known: the love of Christ."

1 comment:

Br. Thomas said...

Cool post, Jeff!

I needed a short word to fit in the navigation buttons, hence 'Writ' and not 'Paper Archive'; plus, I tend to be more pretentious when I'm alone.

My only worry with posting academic papers is supplying lazy college kids with material to plagiarize. So, the best format might be a secure PDF that locks out printing and copying.

I don't know any free file-hosting services, but I offer you my webspace as a temporary solution (temporary only because I might not renew the site in June). E-mail me a file and I'll send back the URL, or even better, I can give you FTP clearance! Just let me know.