Theology Update for the Week of August 9

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Dear friends in Christ,

This Sunday a special summer class awaits you. In Andrew Hall on the 3rd floor, a panel will offer Reflections on “Othello.” Our panelists this week are David Daniel, Robert Duvall, and Kari Jenson Gold. You do not need to have read the play to attend the class. There will be time for questions and discussion.

There will be no Monday class on August 10. The following Sunday, August 16, another panel discussion: Reflections on “Hamlet” with Heather Cross, David Daniel, and Kari Jenson Gold. I am grateful to the panelists for both of these weeks and hope you will be able to enjoy their insights.

On Sunday, August 23, I will resume the class on the 39 Articles of Religion, with Articles VI and VII on the use and extent of the Bible, and the continuing importance of the Old Testament. This 10 o’clock Sunday class will then be repeated on Monday, August 24, at 12:40pm.

“Macbeth” is next: a seminar discussion of this play by Shakespeare will be on Monday, September 14 (Holy Cross Day), at 6:15 p.m. Anyone who reads the play is welcome to the conversation.

Starting September 15, a Tuesday evening course on Faith Within Reason. The book (by Herbert McCabe) is in the bookstore; for the first class, the reading is chapter one, “Is Belief Wishful Thinking?” Here’s an excerpt:

Some people think that religious belief is wishful thinking. They mean that we persuade ourselves that religious doctrines are true because we find it comforting to believe them. We would like it to be the case that the good are ultimately rewarded and the wicked punished, and so we persuade ourselves that this will really happen. We would like it to be the case that there is a wise God in charge of the world, and we cannot stand the psychological strain of doubting this, so we take up religious faith. . . .

[T]his discussion does not seem to me to be a very important one. The fact that some people get married for money is not a very important fact about marriage; it only becomes interesting if someone maintains that nobody ever gets married for love – that everybody really marries for money even when they don’t admit it or even realize it. similarly, the fact that for some people religious belief or unbelief is a matter of wishful thinking does not become interesting until someone maintains that religious belief always has to be a matter of wishful thinking – that it cannot be anything else. This stronger proposition is, I think, interesting and false. The weaker one is perhaps true but tedious. . . .

Father Austin