Our Spring 2009 issue begins with a brief statement regarding the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to receive an honorary law degree and give the commencement address at the university’s graduation in May. In his editorial, “President Obama, Notre Dame, and a Dialogue That Witnesses: A Question for Father Jenkins,” David L. Schindler uses the occasion to raise more general questions about a truly Catholic engagement with the culture. Noting Fr. Jenkins’ desire to open a “dialogue” with the president about abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, Schindler asks whether the conventional understanding of “dialogue” is in fact able to avoid proportionalism, and whether there might exist some issue whose weight exceeds the capacity of the proportionalist dialogue suggested by Notre Dame’s action, calling rather for an embodied witness to the issue’s gravity. This embodied witness, he argues, is not opposed to reason; rather, it represents reason’s fullest realization.
The question of the relationship between the political and the religious, raised in Schindler’s editorial, receives illumination from a different angle in the event of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, which is the next installment of our Spring series on the “Mysteries of the Life of Jesus.” This event, which comes at the end of Jesus’ public ministry and which we commemorate liturgically on Palm Sunday, is filled with paradoxes: Jesus allows himself for the first time to be called “king,” and yet he approaches the holy city on the back
José Granados begins our treatment of this event with “The New Hosanna in the New Temple: Jesus’ Entry Into Jerusalem,” which gives an account of the Old Testament background to the event of the entrance into the holy city, and then goes on to show that “it is not so much Jerusalem Jesus enters, as the Temple.” The destruction and rebuilding of the Temple of his body entails a new conception of the body and of reason: as the incarnate logos, Jesus is “reason made flesh.” Granados shows that this notion of embodied reason, in fact, allows a true, Christian separation of the political and religious spheres, and helps to illuminate the presence of Christians within society.
Gary A. Anderson, in “To See Where God Dwells: The Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition,” examines the role of the Temple and its furniture in the Second Temple Period (520 BC to 70 AD), in order to show how, from the beginning, the house of God was not clearly separable from the being of God. In this respect, the Tabernacle in the Temple of Jerusalem foreshadows the “appearance of God in the flesh” of the man, Jesus, and becomes a central topos of early Christian mystical contemplation.
Peter M. Candler, Jr.’s article “The Logic of Christian Humanism,” expands the discussion of the Temple in a study of, first, Christianity’s aesthetic and architectural “transformative preservation” of paganism, in which Christianity both preserves the “greatness of humanity” contained in antiquity and paganism, and adds to the deposit of humanity in a way no other religious, philosophical, or political culture is able to do. Candler then holds up modernity’s self-conscious “liberation from tradition,” next to Christianity’s approval of cultural “borrowings”: the approval springs from seeing that providence has left a community among all natures through the fact of their being created by God. An “intimation of the glory of God still subsists in the stones” of pagan cultures as a preparation for the Incarnation, and the ability of a true Christian humanism to keep, rather than destroy, the “spoils of Egypt” is an index, too, of the Incarnation, since “whatever is not assumed is not healed.”
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