The Gospel is not mutable, and Christ doesn’t change, but Paul VI correctly assesses that 1973-75 is a moment different from other moments of history. The point of examining evangelization anew is not to change the message but to alter old practices that no longer work. Let’s read:
3. We have stressed the importance of this theme of evangelization on many occasions, well before the Synod took place. On June 22, 1973, we said to the Sacred College of Cardinals: “The conditions of the society in which we live oblige all of us therefore to revise methods, to seek by every means to study how we can bring the Christian message to modern (people). For it is only in the Christian message that modern (people) can find the answer to (their) questions and the energy for (their) commitment of human solidarity.”[Paul VI, Address to the College of Cardinals (22 June 1973): AAS 65 (1973), p. 383] And we added that in order to give a valid answer to the demands of the Council which call for our attention, it is absolutely necessary for us to take into account a heritage of faith that the Church has the duty of preserving in its untouchable purity, and of presenting it to the people of our time, in a way that is as understandable and persuasive as possible.
The presentation of Christ must be understandable, not to mention persuasive. In order for that to happen, people must be prepared to study and consider the situation in which the seeds of first faith are sown. Perhaps the language must change. Perhaps emphases are altered.
What of Paul VI’s mention of “commitment of human solidarity”? What does that mean? My take is that we should be confident that the human longing for God is universal. If some people, even those who were once believers, are alienated from Christianity, we can and should consider how to touch their desire–what we believe is a basic human aspect–in such a way as to bring them to the message of Christ. Or rather, to bring that message to them: where they are in life.
When the “second” Foundation trilogy came out in the late 1990′s, I was looking forward to the reads with great enthusiasm. I enjoyed the original novels, certainly. And while the original author was now dead, the Asimov estate had engaged three fine writers to pick up the task.
Gregory Benford I respected for his fine novel Timescape as well as his six-novel series of a future humanity harassed to near-extinction by machine intelligence. Greg Bear‘s impressive first novel Eon had some enjoyable follow-ups. He also penned a great novel Moving Mars, which I thought held its own against the many Mars books published in the past twenty years. David Brin‘s uplift series was hugely enjoyable for me.
I’ve been reducing the contents of my basement bookshelves the past few weeks. A lot of books are bagged for donation, and I paused as I fingered these volumes of Foundation:
It’s off to the donation pile for the last hardcover science fiction books I ever purchased.
I started to reread them earlier this week, and I think my disappointment today is deeper than when I read them for the first time. Mr Benford introduces a lot of fluff to produce a story that lodges in between Asimov’s first (in sequence)/ last (to be written). Introducing simulated electronic intelligences, robots, and human immersion in the consciousness of chimpanzees (pans, as they are known) doesn’t do a lot to forward the story as an addition to the Foundation universe. It’s weird, and just not up to par for him.
Mr Bear’s efforts center on the robots working behind the scenes. Granted, Asimov himself brought robots into his Foundation novels with the last three books he wrote in the 80′s. But these “new” ideas don’t get handled very well by him or by Mr Brin.
Mr Brin is my favorite of these three authors, and as for the last book in the series, I wanted to like it. I tried hard. But no go.
If one is presumptuous enough to tread on what sf readers consider sacred ground, one should strive for the discipline to tell a story within the confines of the “universe.” Asimov treats well the idea of free will, a galaxy-wide civilization, and the overarching concept of the Foundation, a force to ameliorate the decline of an empire that, while corrupt and in deep decay, still is better than the barbarian alternative. American foreign policy in southwest Asia might take note.
Mr Benford throws in some interesting ideas that, one, he doesn’t handle with much interest to a reader, and two, seemed so foreign to the Foundation universe that his co-authors chose to mostly ignore it.
As for the other two authors, too many robots and robot intrigue. And too much Earth at the end.
David Brin is well able to handle the space opera subgenre. It would have been far more interesting to see him write a Foundation novel set in the era of the independent traders, before the Mule. Foundation explorers rediscovering the galaxy: that would be interesting. Until 1987, Asimov himself only wrote two short stories about Hari Seldon, the scholar who develops the science to predict human behavior via mathematics. Amazingly intriguing idea. But the idea might be better handled by seeing how it affects everyday people in the Foundation. Does predictability imprison people, taking away their free will? More importantly, if it’s all going to be decided by equations, where’s the human motivation to do one’s best, to strive for a dream, or even to search for a better future than the Foundation?
I don’t know about you, but I would want that in my life: a certain freedom to pursue a goal that might not, but just might, be a possibility long after I’m dead.
If you are a Foundation freak and have never read these books, go to mu local Goodwill to pick them up next week. There are interesting things in them. But if you have a lot of other good books, good science fiction to read, I have to suggest you look elsewhere for inspiring fiction.
Liturgical participation is the hallmark of the conciliar reform of Catholic worship. It’s not a surprise it figures so highly in BLS.
§ 31 § The church building fosters participation in the liturgy. Because liturgical actions by their nature are communal celebrations, they are celebrated with the presence and active participation of the Christian faithful whenever possible.(canon law 837 § 2) Such participation, both internal and external, is the faithful’s “right and duty by reason of their baptism.”(SC 14; also 1 Pt 2:9, cf. 2:4-5) The building itself can promote or hinder the “full, conscious, and active participation” of the faithful. Parishes making decisions about the design of a church must consider how the various aspects and choices they make will affect the ability of all the members to participate fully in liturgical celebrations.
Buildings indeed are aids or obstacles to participation. Acoustics are the primary consideration, probably even more important than overall design elements. If a church doesn’t sing and allow the people to easily sing, it remains gravely flawed, no matter how well it hews to the other four principles. Fortunately, there is good counsel awaiting those who are serious about acoustics.
Accessibility is also important, especially for communities with a number of older believers. It is also important to consider those whose movements or senses are impaired in some way. While ADA compliancy isn’t foisted on churches, ADA guidelines are still helpful for those genuinely concerned with all members.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.