21 thoughts on “Advice

  1. I mean, seriously, who the fuck decided that 1984 — i.e., the fucking peak of the death squad era — was an opportune time to slap down liberation theology tout court? (And don’t tell me he hedges, because he starts out by hedging and then shifts toward using “theology of liberation” only to refer to the bad Marxist kind that basically existed only in his own precious and balanced mind.)

  2. Getting in to comparisons to unattractive mythical creatures is not a stone I’m willing to cast lest it be thrown back at me.

    BTW, I found the comparisons to Emperor Palpatine more compelling.

  3. It’s a common liberal strategy to have a brief prefatory rhetorical statement, typically three to four words, followed by an en dash, followed by a declaration of some statement to which the author relates sarcastically.

  4. Hill, You’ve shamed me. I intend for those to be em-dashes, but I’m led astray by the typewriter font in the composition window and for some reason put spaces before and after–a mistake I will never repeat henceforward.

  5. Or wait: did I just decide to put spaces because WordPress never produces true em-dashes and I wanted to emphasize them and make it clear that I wasn’t just using a hyphen? That must be it. Okay, I’m back to what I was doing before.

  6. Oh, so it all is predicated on a misunderstanding of the incarnation and anthropology. L. understands that man’s primary ontological condition is “as poor” and C. sides with Ratzinger’s nihilistic “there is no man”.

  7. I’m referring to Clodovis Boff’s article publish in 2007 – http://www.adital.com.br/site/noticia.asp?lang=ES&cod=33508 (this translation is in Spanish).

    In it Boff seeks to critique Liberation Theology
    “as it really exists”, rather than the ‘ideal’ version of LT as exemplified by the ‘founding fathers’ such as Gutierrez.

    He thus criticises the ambiguity he sees in LT’s affirmation of the poor as the ‘first principle’ of Theology, as opposed to God.

    “Ahora, cuando el pobre adquiere el estatuto de primum epistemológico, ¿qué sucede con la fe y su doctrina en el nivel de la teología y la pastoral? Lo que sucede es la instrumentalización de la fe en función del pobre. Se cae en el utilitarismo o el funcionalismo en relación a la Palabra de Dios y a la teología en general.”

    (Rough translation: Now, when the poor acquire the status of an epistemological ‘primum’, what happens to faith and its doctrine at the theological and pastoral levels? What occurs is the instrumentalization of the faith for the benefit of the poor. It falls into a utilitarianism or functionalism in relation to the Word of God and theology in general.)

    He goes on to complain about the “politicization of the faith” and argues that LT needs to see itself as a ‘second-order’ theology, i.e. as one perspective (through the ‘lens’ of the poor).

    The consequences of this fundamental error are that Theology loses its profundity, Churches become mere ‘NGOs’, faith loses its substantive content and what remains is a “Christian hermeneutic of human existence”.

    He goes on to criticise the ‘anthropomorphic turn’ in theology (seems to be alluding to Rahner and the influence he had on LT). Again, this is remeniscent of the sort of critiques Ratzinger has levelled at LT from the perspective of the ‘nouvelle theologie’ (mirrored in part also by Milbank’s critique in Theology and Social Theory).

    Leonardo Boff wrote a response to this article: http://www.adital.com.br/site/noticia.asp?lang=ES&cod=33512 (again, in Spanish – can’t find an English version).

    In it he criticises his brother. e.g. (Rough translation): “In the part in which he attacks modernity, he displays a cultural pessimism also present in many groups in the Church, especially in certain important sectors of the Vatican”.

    He laments the fact that LT’s critics will be able to renew their condemnation of LT and will have perceived ‘back up’ from such an article by one of its major proponents and so forth.

    In short, for good or ill, Clodovis appears to have taken up the sort of critique that characterised the original 1984 instruction.

  8. I intend for those to be em-dashes, but I’m led astray by the typewriter font in the composition window and for some reason put spaces before and after–a mistake I will never repeat henceforward.

    Spaces before and after don’t, or shouldn’t, make the difference between an en and an em dash; if you’re using software that does make such changes on space-bases, that software is kooky.

    Anyway, if you want to use an em dash and you’re in WordPress’s HTML editor, write thus: “—” and your heart’s desire will be satisfied.

  9. I’m no expert in liberation theology, but it seems to me the major proponents have spent their entire careers answering the charge that they have instrumentalised faith for political ends, this response being the ur-response of their critics, from Ratzinger down. Clodovis logic follows Ratzinger’s – for R, among other things, liberation theology does not include all the neccessary theological dimensions of liberation, for Clodovis, identifying the poor as the hermenuetic of Christ misses some other theological elements of his being.

    Leonardo Boff’s response, explaining why precisely they privilege the poor seems to be part of this answer, and it seems that they have to carry on explaining this quite simple point until they are wiped of the face of South America.

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