27 May 2010

On the early attitude of the Roman Catholic church towards existing cultures

Saint Augustine of Canterbury (- 605?)

...The evangelization of the country (England) was planned in close agreement with Pope Gregory, and took care to respect existing traditions. Pagan temples and holy places were not to be destroyed, but to be converted to Christian use; and pagan feasts were to be superseded by Christian ones. This is consistent with the pattern of evangelization throughout the first millennium, which saw Christianity as a fulfilment of what went before, rather than a contradiction of it. Even in Rome itself, temples of Juno had a tendency to become churches dedicated to Our Lady. (It is only with the Spanish colonial evangelizations of the mid-second millennium that the policy of making a clean break with the past began: a policy that works faster but whose effects are not always permanent).
In the far west of Britain, where British bishops had survived the pagan invasions – or where they had fled to escape them – Augustine was less successful in establishing his authority. The traditions of the Celtic church were different from the Roman ones, and bishops who had guided their people for generations were not about to submit to a jumped-up missionary from overseas. It took several generations for the whole of Great Britain to become Christian and for the English and British liturgical traditions to be reconciled.
Augustine died at Canterbury on 26 May 604 or 605.

03 May 2010

On smoking and the Soul

"The soul, of course, is a complex thing. Long ago Plato suggested that we consider it as divided into three parts -- the appetitive, spirited, and rational -- that correspond to the three basic kinds of human desires: the desire to satisfy physical appetites, the desire for recognition, and the desire for truth. Once his tripartite division is recalled, tobacco's relation to the soul becomes clear: The three prevalent types of smoking tobacco -- cigarettes, cigars, and pipes -- correspond to the three parts of the soul."

-- Michael P. Foley