Semper Quaerens

Review: Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium

Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the MagisteriumCreative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium by Francis A. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was first introduced this book some fifteen years ago while I was writing my Master’s thesis. I read it then, albeit it quickly and with a purpose, and saw the value of the approach of Francis Sullivan to understanding and interpreting doctrinal documents of the Catholic Church.

Having now acquired my own copy – my original read was via a copy from the College library – and having the chance to read it again at a more leisurely pace – and not for immediate use in a thesis – my appreciation of Sullivan’s approach has been greatly strengthened.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is actively engaged in the theological enterprise in any capacity.

From the back cover:

Two basic sources for Catholic theology are scripture and the documents of the magisterium. Just as Catholic theologians must know how to distinguish among the various literary genres in the bible and how to interpret scriptural texts, they must also know how to determine the relative degree of authority exercised in the various documents issued by popes or councils and how to apply the principles of hermeneutics in interpreting them.

This book offers guidelines that will help those interested in Catholic theology to make sound judgments about the authority and meaning of the documents in which the church has expressed its faith over the centuries. Making such judgments requires a knowledge of the correct level of response these documents call for from the faithful and the ability to offer to today’s faithful a contemporary understanding of their faith. The task of the interpreter is one of creative fidelity, requiring a delicate balance between being faithful to the original meaning of the text and creative in finding the concepts and terms that make it meaningful today.

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Let Us Go Up Together

From the Office of Readings for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord:

Come, come, let us go up together to the Mount of Olives. Together let us meet Christ, who is returning today from Bethany and going of his own accord to that holy and blessed passion to complete the mystery of our salvation.

And so he comes, willingly taking the road to Jerusalem, he who came down from the heights for us, to raise us who lie in the depths to exaltation with him, as the revealing word says, ‘above all authority and rule and power and above every name that is named’.

From the addresses of St Andrew of Crete.

In This We Will Share

From the Office of Readings for Saturday of the 5th Week of Lent:

We shall share in the pasch, for the present certainly in what is still a figure, though a plainer one than the ancient pasch. (This pasch of the old law was, I venture to say, a more obscure figure, a figure of a figure.) In a short time, however, our sharing will be more perfect and less obscure, when the Word will drink the pasch with us new in the kingdom of his Father, revealing and teaching what he has now shown in a limited way. For what is now being made known is ever new.

From the addresses of St Gregory Nazianzen.

It’s Just Not Okay

The recent nonsense surrounding Jeremy Clarkson – his assault of a producer and subsequent sacking by the BBC – has strained the levels of credulity in the way in which various people have responded to what, allegedly, is a criminal act.

Julia Baird, a self-declared fan of Clarkson, sums up the situation nicely: workplace bullying is simply not okay.

Lessons About Leadership

In her regular Grattan on Friday column for The Conversation website, Michelle Grattan takes a look at the nature of political leadership, and the art of persuasion that marks out the good political leader from the other. Grattan reports on a recent speech from former Prime Minister John Howard who, in speaking about the nature of good political leadership, proffers one fundamental piece of advice for anyone seeking to be a political leader:

“The most important thing about leadership is to believe in something,” Howard said, and then bring to the battle of ideas “the capacity to persuade. Persuasion is far more important in politics as a skill than anything else”.

In the light of the pending NSW State Election the comparison between Mike Baird and Campbell Newman is used to provide an example of this: the result of the recent Queensland State Election being seen as an example of a leader who failed primarily because he couldn’t engage the broader political constituency via persuasion to come to believe as the leader does about a particular policy.

Grattan’s article is well worth reading and reflecting upon.

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