One of the interesting figures in the ninettenth century Oxford Movement was John Henry Newman, late4r Cardinal Newman. Newman was an excellent preacher and writer and is always a pleasure to read. He started his career as an Anglican clergyman involved in the movement to return the Anglican Church to more conservative and more Catholic principles. He converted to Catholicism in 1845 and was made a Cardinal in 1879. Despite a brilliant mind and an engaging personality, he was cruelly conservative and hardly rigid in his beliefs as this quotation shows:

Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and the first act of the divinely accredited messenger must be to proclaim it. The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if she would be true to her Master, she must ban and anathematize it. This is the meaning of a statement, which has matter for one of those special accusations to which I am at present replying; I have, however, no fault at all to confess in regard to it; I have nothing to withdraw, and in consequence I here deliberately repeat it. I said, "The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse."

from his book, Apologia Pro Vita Sua  [my emjphasis]

In the eyes of the church rebellion from its commandments is the greatest sin and obedience to its prescriptions the supreme virtue.

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Since quitting Catholicism in college, I've enjoyed decades of agnostic atheism. I find a normal curve helpful in describing the distribution of a lot of human traits and behaviors.

To describe one feature of Catholicism, I use a skewed normal curve. It has a distinct bulge on the left, a shrunken middle, and a narrow right end.

The bulge represents a large number of "bottoms", Catholics who want to be dominated. They usually obey those to the right

The middle represents Catholics who choose which rules to obey and which to ignore.

The narrow end represents a few "tops", people who want to dominate.

The Cardinal wants to dominate.

A very interesting analysis.

Newman by all accounts was a very sweet and gentle man in his personal relationships. He was so devoted to his fellow convert and priest, Ambrose St. John, that slept with his body the night he died. He compared his bereavement to the loss of a husband or a wife. They were buried in the same grave when Newman died, with a common headstone.

What I quoted above is nothing but the insanity of religious fanaticism. The Church is preparing to make Newman a saint.

Newman ... [slept with the body of] his fellow convert and priest, Ambrose St. John, ... the night he died?

Newman did necrophilia?

Most want to believe and still dominate, or just believe and take the stance that makes the least waves. My question is "why" do we all have to believe in the first place? A proper reading of the writings shows they are all terribly flawed, so the writings do NOT prove god or his authority and they cannot be "taken as god's word." With this much said, why do people still want to believe and make shit up?

It's interesting to note that some books did not make the bible. The Gospel of Peter was one of these as we would have a Jesus who was simply a man that god entered into, and he would therefore appear however he wanted to. No one wanted shapeshifting or docetism.

The Apocalypse of Adam didn't make it either. In this book we find that Adam and Eve did end up with enough knowledge to destroy their evil creator god, but the sub-god prevented this and they were expelled from the garden.

Lastly, I might add that in choosing books for the bible, the early church world decided that christianity would only survive if it included suffering. Everybody "suffers" or at least has ups and downs, so now we have set the stage for this mighty religion to conquer all.

Oh, where is Thor when you need him?

Power corrupts institutions as well as individuals. In view of the pedophile scandals of the Catholic Church the corruption is now fully apparent and everyone can see it, but the insanity of Newman's statement came long before. The willingness for millions to suffer rather than one sin be committed is an indefensible and perverted moral attitude. 

So the catholic church would prefer that the laws of physics all be effectively undone in Cardinal Newman's eyes than for one person to violate one commandment, eh?  And how many times have either Newman or his fellows lied in the service of their church.  That they are convinced of the truth of their mendacities, I have no doubt, but that doesn't change the fact of their lies.

As for "without excuse" ... they always have an excuse.  What a bunch of meaningless drivel.

That paragraph of Newman is indeed an extraordinary and extravagant statement and not entirely in character with other things he wrote. The book from which it is taken, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, was written in great haste in response to criticisms of Charles Kingsley.

The Catholic Church seems to have been dubious of Newman's orthodoxy and supposedly Cardinal Manning opposed his elevation to cardinal. The reason seems to have been his unreliable originality in thought and writing. Newman's religion was at once intellectual and emotional in tone, but he always praised reserve as a virtue.

There has always been a suspicion that Newman was a homosexual who sublimated his sexual desires in religious fervor. He was strongly attached to Hurrell Froude, who died young, and his later attachment to Ambrose St. John aroused suspicions. Naturally those who favor him have made strenuous efforts to deny it and put it in the less inflammatory category of romantic friendship.

Answering my own question above, it sounds like Newman did do necrophilia.

He sent his friend into the next life in the most loving way he knew.

The story may or may not be true. More recent authors do not repeat it, suggesting that it is at least unconfirmed.

I don't see why you are interested in what a cardinal said sometime in the 1800's.  It doesn't even sound like the official church position, just a quote from his book, and probably not even an influential book.  There are surely many statements about the church from that time.  But so what? 

Several reasons. I collect rare books related to the intellectual history of Britain in the nineteenth century, a period of great interest in the history of literature, philosophy, science, and religion.

One facet of that history is the Oxford or Tractarian Movement of 1833-1845. The rarest book there is The Literary Remains of Richard Hurrell Froude, anonymously edited by Keble and Newman, which caused a scandal in 1838. It consists of four volumes. When I started to look for it twenty-five years ago only two copies existed in the US. On a trip to London, I found a copy, rebound in full leather in Jarndyce, across from the British Museum. Reading it, I became fascinated by Froude and the others who led the movement and wrote the ninety tracts that caused such a fierce controversy in England. The movement was widely condemned, even in Parliament. In the early 1860's Kingsley attacked Newman and the Catholic Church and stirred up a storm against Newman.

In the midst of this intense battle, Newman wrote, at lightning speed, his book. Apologia Pro Vita Sua, defending and explaining his religious beliefs and their evolution over the years. It became an instant hit and turned the tide of public opinion in his favor.

The book is now a classic and has never been out of print. It is well known to Catholics, but not so much to Protestants or non-believers. The book is a sterling model of English prose and direct straightforward argument and reveals Newman as a first class mind, yet a mind thoroughly saturated with religion. That the book contains sentiments such as the one I have quoted is a conundrum. Even though I usually disagree with him, I always find it worthwhile to read what Newman has to say and enjoy his way of saying it. Here is another quote to chew on:

 …deductions have no power of persuasion. The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion.

And yet Newman himself, fervently committed to the Church dogma had doubts and expressed them:

We have reason to believe that God, our Maker and Governor, has spoken to us by Revelation; yet why has He not spoken more distinctly? He has given us doctrines which are but obscurely gathered from Scripture, and a Scripture which is but obscurely gathered from history.

How to resolve this puzzle of an intelligent and talented individual mired in dogma? That is a very interesting question to me and one that is at the center of the disagreement between believers and non-believers today. Set aside those who are lukewarm and unintelligent believers and those who are careless and insensitive non-believers and there still remains a central core of disagreement to be resolved.

OK, it is a big temptation for people in general to use a scapegoat to avoid seeing things they don't want to see (bash away at some outsider).  So I was wondering if Cardinal Newman is in the scapegoat role in this discussion. 

There have been lots of brilliant Catholic intellectuals.

no man will be a martyr for a conclusion.

Galileo, Giordano Bruno ?




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