Saturday, September 22, 2007

NCR Review of Pillars of Flame

National Catholic Reporter 2/17/89 by Aaron Godfrey

No matter how far we seem to develop politically and intellectually, the prejudices of our childhood lurk around the corners of our consciousness to surprise us when we feel most secure. I was brought up in the old, somewhat enlightened church before Vatican II, chomping at the bit, but conforming to the letter of the law, and engaging in not a little secret and subtle triumphalism.

Among the beliefs inculcated in parochial school was a sense of innate spiritual and moral superiority over those Christian churches that were products of the reformation—or, as I was taught, "the Protestant revolt." I also believed (though it may not have been specifically taught) that, because there was "no salvation outside the church," Protestant spirituality and mysticism were moot points and probably could not exist,

Pillars of Flame, a stunning book by Maggie Ross, An Anglican Solitary, has taken me by surprise and caused me to reevaluate completely a whole set of values I had taken for granted most of my life, and I am grateful for it.

It is also a good thing that Ross is not in the Roman church, because she undoubtedly would be the subject of investigation and condemnation by the Holy Office.....

...many of us deep down have accepted the silly notion that sexuality and spirituality are exclusive and that a real spiritual life can be led only by a person who has suppressed the sexual appetite that supposedly stands in the way of one's relationship with God.

Ross disputes and disproves the notion with great clarity. She points out that sexuality is in everything we do....[quote from book]...

Ross points out that 'lifelong celibacy cannot be imposed by law. It is a gift....(and) is significant in terms of personal meaning, not in terms of value or an absolute scale of holiness.'

The suppression of sex is power, and power is what the church has been about since the time of Constantine....

Ross indicates that the life and death of Jesus, and his humility, represent the model he intended for his church.... Perhaps more attention should be given to human needs than to the cold, iron magisterium that brings much pain to so many people.

Pillars of Flame is a thoughtful challenge to the dominance of male power in the church. It is a challenge that comes from the spirit and heart and one the reader must take seriously because the questions the author raises come from scriptural and patristic thought.

[Pillars of Flame: Power, Priesthood and Spiritual Maturity with a new preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu is being re-publishedat the end of September by Seabury Books, a division of Church Publishing—see link.]


Post a Comment

<< Home