Sunday, 4 September 2011

Lincoln a new Mass and our German Pope Heads for the Land of Luther

A German pope heads for the Land of Luther

An interesting article on Pope Benedict's approach to Vatican II and Martin Luther (above) prompted by his visit this week to Luther's home ground comes on the day my little family and I experienced the new Mass for the first time. Its also a week when I have completed an article on the Festival of Islam here in Lincolnshire (which I attended) and made initial contact with the newly launched Bridge Community Church in my City Council Ward.

There is an obvious and less obvious common theme in all of this. The obvious theme is the world of faith, the question posed by secularists will be "not so much faith as fiction" of course. While on the subject of secularists I see some rewriting of history by the elegant but occasionally inaccurate Jeremy Paxman. In his otherwise excellent series "The Victorians" he describes the end of Christianity occurring. While in the 19th Century  there was all sorts of fascinating things taking place, not least the rise of the Methodist Movement as a serious social force (unmentioned by Jeremy) and Ouija boards (which he does mention) the majority of Victorians went to Church. Its easy Jeremy, get over it. I digress, but in a good cause, despite my irritation go and watch the series or read his excellently illustrated book, more here.  

The less obvious theme is about how we deal with change, do we oppose it, just express cynicism (the easiest, best fun but ultimately lazy approach) or embrace it. Dr Joe Nason writing in "Thinking About Management" says "the broader our knowledge base, the more eclectic our reading, the greater the exposure to ideas that allow the generation of alternative insights into how we make sense of our experiences".
(Golding et al 2000: 40)
I know Joe, he is at the heart of the MBA course and business school here in Lincoln at our University and likes to challenge the gray matter, to wake people up from the stupor that sometimes passes for that thing called opinion (informed or otherwise). The clue to understanding the new Mass is contained in the opening responses to Vatican II. The translation from the Latin was strongly criticized by traditionalists as inaccurate. Causing particular ire was the translation from the common prayer and response: Dominus Vobiscum (The Lord Be With You) which was Et cum spiritu tuo (and also with you). More accurately this should read "and with your Spirit". Surprise, surprise, the new Mass corrects the inaccuracy. More seriously, the prayer common to all Christians as stating our most basic beliefs is the Creed. It began Credo in unum Deum, that is "I Believe in one God". The new Mass has replaced the erroneous "We Believe" with "I Believe". This theme operates throughout, its not difficult but its not a big thing either I think.  

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

So, as Joe has indicated, wide and eclectic reading and knowledge, understanding the history and context is key to managing this change. Who raised issues regarding Vatican II? Vatican II "breathes the air of Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit, but not enough of Martin Luther". Who was this? Yes, the man who became Pope Benedict, Servant of the servants of Christ, speaking back then. Now then, this goes a little beyond some name changes does it not. Is the Pope going to place within the Church a deeper recognition of Martin Luther? Will that conflict with his predecessors view that Luther was “heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears and seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth”. Clearly Pope Leo had a different approach. Which brings us to my contact with the Bridge Church, impressively evangelical and a child of Martin Luther's revolution (also they look like being great fun). I look forward to talking to them.  The Living Islam Festival represents the other challenges Pope Benedict faces. Early in this Papacy Pope Benedict unintentionally gave some offence to Muslims which he has tried hard to correct. It was small beer however against the widespread prejudice and baseless assumptions of terrorism that 9/11 and the London Tube Bombings understandably evoked. Over 1000 practicing Muslims live in or around Lincoln. That's a substantial part of my community. Understanding these people of the Book and the message of peace I encountered at the Festival is important if we are to continue to progress as a civilized community. Welcoming Muslim involvement, ensuring freedom of worship and increasing public consciousness of this positive faith that is entirely compatible with all of our other communities has to be an important set of activities in our common journey to a better City.  While we think about that my spiritual leader is visiting sites of Lutheran significance and will be speaking on this hitherto fairly unexplored topic in modern Catholic circles. Where will it all lead? 

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