Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977" (Ignatius Press), by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI

Following up on my April blog of a book list, I found the Memoirs to be a fine read, sort of an intellectual's Huck Finn adventure, not to diminsh Huck Finn who Mr. Twain wouldn't allow to be more self revealing, the young Ratzinger starts out on a community raft in an administratively Nazi river in a historically Catholic land. He arrives off the danger of the river to a threadbare but traditionally dynamic society which yet has it moral challenges, most prominently in the seduction of Marxism, which he has the most insightful thing to say about but also more self made challenges as in the Catholic Church's headlong rush out of traditional or a culturally accreted liturgy. Similar to but even more than John Roberts, he is remarkable for the bluster he doesn't have. He is inclusivem, or catholic, finding refreshment in his Lutheran colleagues and, in one of his intellectual facets, 'personalism' where Martin Buber, a Jew, is given as the best expositor. His acknowledgement of his dificullties getting his thesis authorizing an acadmeic life is frank, interesting in its recognition of being aware, I would say, of Freudian dynamics and his creative and near miss solution. The intellectual content of the medeival saints understanding of the Bible as 'witnessing revelation,' as opposed to what Bily Graham might say, has a later resonance in his career and is a comforting talisman of our tradition.

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