Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rambling, Old School

Three Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Tennessee have seen their members leave the denomination en masse this year. The Bishop of Tennessee is John Bauerschmidt. From all accounts is personally amiable and theologically orthodox. His last name struck a chord with me and I started digging.

Back when I was in college (University of the South, 1982), I knew a Fritz Bauerschmidt. Fritz was two years behind me. He had a religious bent and was popular with the girls. He's very smart and at the time I knew him could have been a stand in for the platonic ideal of "laid back". Somehow I doubt that has changed, even though he is now married with children.

Some very quick Googling showed me that John and Fritz are in fact brothers. What I learned about Fritz has proven most intriguing. He apparently converted to Catholicism right after I graduated. He continued to be interested in religion, got his doctorate and is now an assistant professor of theology at Loyola in Baltimore.

Several of the people I knew in college have gone on to religious greatness, as it were. But of them Fritz is the only one I thought that would happen to. I never would have pegged Shannon Johnston nor Jim Mathes for being dog-collar bound. Mark Lewis, apparently, has changed little since college. I never thought of him as the priestly type, but when I heard he was, I wasn't surprised. The same holds true for David Dearman, but in a much less spectacular way.

Irregardless of my reminiscences, Fritz has apparently achieved great things in the world of Catholic theology. He has written an intro to Aquinas that is well thought of. And he has written a popular interest book entitled Why the Mystics Matter Now. As soon as I can scrape the appropriate number of shekels together, I intend to order it.

Now you might ask why am I not getting the Aquinas book? Bottom line, I already own the Summa Theologica, have read the Summa Theologica and am not convinced by the Summa Theologica. I became a nominalist in college and remain one, however lapsed and inert, to this very day.


Robert Easter said...

Your plug for Nominalism puzzles me. I have finished a year of systematics which used the ST at least for an outline (Oden's work was the principal text.), and to contrast Nominalism with his work seems to beg a kind of reflective skepticism. This doesn't seem fit with what I have seen as your defense of a "mere Christian" Anglicanism. What part of the puzzle am I overlooking?

Matthew said...

Because there is and was a God-shaped whole in my being. My life as a Christian is experentially based.

Part of being mildly skeptical, which I do plead guilty to, is that epistemological problems of the limits of knowledge become interesting. The systematic nature of Aquinian theology to me, as well as to others, is too neat and fits together too nicely.

The analogy I like to use is that the world is post-Einsteinian and Aquinas is Newtonian. I'm not saying his work is not useful, just that it's not as comprehensive as one might wish.

I think part of living in this world is that we never attain perfect knowledge of anything, much less certainty, as long as we are in it. Our hope for such matters lies afterwards.

Sorry. Very, long rambling reply.

Matthew said...

whole=hole. Sorry about that.