Page 6, 27th February 1970

27th February 1970
Page 6
Page 6, 27th February 1970 — LENTEN READING
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Organisations: Harvard
Locations: Austin, Cambridge, READING

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LENTEN READING

Keywords: G, Religion / Belief

by THOMAS CORBISHLEY, S.J

Intelligent Theology Vol III by Piet Fransen, S.J. (Darton Longman & Todd 21s.) Father Fransen has long been known, both in this country and eslewhere as a competent and persuasive theologian and this third volume of his series entitled Intelligent Theology needs no recommendation beyond that of its author'sreputation. But some account of its contents will be of service. As one might expect his chief preoccupation is with the doctrine of Grace. More than half the book is taken up by two chapters, one on the Psychology of Grace and the other made up of a long dialogue between Fr. Fransen and Professor Torrance of th Edinburgh on the Roman Catholic doctrine of Grace and the Sacraments. an excellent example of high level discussion between theologians of very different traditions, such as the present ecumenical climate both requires and fosters. A chapter on Christian Humanism has little to add to a question which has been much debated over recent years, but his exposition of the new Catholic attitude to Freedom of Conscience is perhaps the best thing in the book, even if, at times. Fr. Fransen does not seem to carry right through to the end the logic of his argument Philosophy Today No. I edited by Jerry Gill (Macmillan 18s.) This is a useful collection of papers by contemporary philosophers which may provide some idea of the topics which get discussed in modern universities. The subjects are divided under three main headings — Linguistic Analysis, Existential Analysis and Ethics and Responsibility. The first section contains two chapters on Wittgenstein's thought. One these contains a brief report of a lecture given at Cambridge on the subject of Ethics, together with notes on a en conversation between Wit tgenstein, himself a nd Friedrich Waissmann, whilst a paper by J. L. Austin -characteristically entitled Three Ways of Spilling Ink — is matched by a critical assessment of Austin's intentions and achievement, by Stanley Cavell of Harvard. It impossible even to mention all the topics covered, but an essay on Kierkegaarci, en titled Christinatiy a n d Nonsense and one on Marxist call for special mention. It would be idle to pretend that this is anything but a specialist's book, though the non-specialist may well find it interesting.

Loving on Principle by E. W. Trueman Dixon (Darton Longman & Todd 21s.) Sub-titled "A realistic approach to morals", this corn petent little book is a study of some contemporary "situation ethics" ideas in the light of the Christian tradition.

Recognising that the existentialist approach to moral situations has been of value in emphasising the truth that we need a ex very "much greater attention to the real situations of life as they are experienced by men of flesh and blood", he yet has no difficulty in pointing out that the veamples alleged by a man like Joseph Fletcher to support his teaching show that you cannot, in effect, have a morality which rules out rules. or The problem f the Christian is how to "act lovingly without being bogged down in rules and overwhelmed with complacency or despair according to his success or failure . in keeping them". It can, of course, be argued that "to act lovingly" is not a peculiarly Christian obligation. When, for example, Our Lord taught the parable of the Good Samaritan, he was surely appealing to a deep human compassionate instinct. However, this particular aspect of the whole question, important as it is, does not invalidate Dr. Trueman Dixon's line of argumentation. Although, as so often happens, he is less effective in establishing his own case than in demolishing that of his opponents, the book represents a serious and valuable attempt to come to grips with an urgent and topical issue Hope and History; Death and Inunortslity horh by Josef Pieper (Burns & Oates 22s. and 18s.) Doctor Pieper has long been known as an able exponent of what we used to call neoThomism until that term took on a somewhat pejorative sense, as implying a static, undeveloping outlook. Certainly no one could accuse him of being anything but conscious of the modern situation, even if he looks at it with the mentality of the philosophia perennis. This is by no means a handicap. Inthese two books he studies two complementary, if apparently antithetical topics — Death and Hope. Are man's hopes and aspirations doomed to frustration, since, after all, men die and, so often much of their achievement seems to die with them? The answer is to be found, of course, in the Christian doctrine of personal immortality. His message may be summed up in these words: If the soul were not by nature indestructible there would he simply nothing and no one able to receive the immortality which truly conquers death, that gift for which the sacred tradition of mankind has devised countless names: Perfect Joy, Eternal Life, Great Banquet, Crown, Wreath, Peace, Light, Salvation . .




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