|A Quarter Century Ago
||[Apr. 2nd, 2005|10:33 am]
I take down my journal for 1981 to find out what I was saying about the Pope 24 years ago. I know there's a sentence in there somewhere which calls him the "the greatest man of the age", but I forget the context.
Ah, here it is. An entry dated 15/8/81.
If Anglicanism is legitimate it derives its legitimacy from its Roman roots, and I cannot pretend that the schism between Rome and Canterbury is anything but a tragedy. I long for reunion, but also for the kind of central authority that Rome posseses in the papacy. What movement, I wonder, is possible at present? Is there any chance of Rome recognising Anglican orders? I caught myself, the other day, wishing that the present Pope (who is, is he not, the greatest man of the age?) might not live long- a thing of which I am deeply ashamed. I do not see him changing the church's mind on "the separated bretheren."
Yes. That was me a quarter century ago.
I was 30. I was illogical. I was a prig.
Actually, PJP2 is a contestant for greatest man of the age among a lot of journalists it seems. As for reunion of Rome and Canterbury, in America, we get taught that the entire row was over divorces and nascent English nationalism (you had to be astute to get the latter), so I never have seen that concept as illogical, nor have I really seen Anglicanism as "Protestant," especially since I live in a nation where Protestantism largely follows the Puritan aesthetic. Though I do find it telling that I think of churches in their aesthetic capacity--churches as an art form, art within the churches, sermons as art, the rituals as mass performance art, and so on--and that may have something to do with my perception of Anglicanism generally. I see Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy as being similar formally and therefore mostly the same.
Of course, at the time you wrote this, the Pope had been shot only 3 months earlier by Mehmet Ali Agca, I don't know anything about how his condition progressed after the shooting and you mentioned that you don't remember the context, but it's possible that he had been in the news at the time. It's worth noting, however, that he is a good contestant for greatest religious figure of the age because of his work in fixing millenia old poor relations with Judaism and Islam. Of course, in my media-addled mind ages are fairly short, the vastness of things like the "Age of Rome" is nearly incomprehensible. Geologic time is easier because it's just a quick gloss of information. An ice age can last a million years and produce only a paragraph of material that I'm likely to encounter. It seems a modern year cannot go by without justifying a complete encyclopedia.
I think he will probably be reckoned the greatest Pope of modern times- by which I mean since the Renaissance. As with most "great" men the legacy will be mixed. Perhaps, as you note, his greatest single achievement is the forging of a new, brotherly relationship between Catholics and Jews.
I think the context of the diary entry may have been his visit to England. He met the archbishop of Canterbury- Robert Runcie- and they prayed side by side in Canterbury cathedral and in the wake of this event a rapprochement of some sort between the two churches really did seen like a possibility.
...nor have I really seen Anglicanism as "Protestant," especially since I live in a nation where Protestantism largely follows the Puritan aesthetic. Though I do find it telling that I think of churches in their aesthetic capacity--churches as an art form, art within the churches, sermons as art, the rituals as mass performance art, and so on--and that may have something to do with my perception of Anglicanism generally. I see Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy as being similar formally and therefore mostly the same.
As an American and an Anglican myself, I'd like to say that I have no problem with your perception. :)
2005-04-02 09:28 am (UTC)
When reading my old diaries I sometimes wince at things I wrote which are now completely foreign to who and what I am.
But do you know what's worse? Finding a record of a powerful realization or awakening and realizing that I have written about having that realization more than once, and that I am still struggling to fully integrate the insight.
Ha- yes. I've had that experience too.
My journals of the 1980s are a disconcerting mixture of me and not-me. I don't much like the person I once was, but I can't pretend he's a stranger.