God's Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century

God's Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century

God's Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century

God's Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Gathering in one place a cohesive selection of articles that deepen our sense of the vitality and controversy within the Catholic renewal of the mid-twentieth century, God's Mirror offers historical analysis of French Catholic intellectuals. This volume highlights the work of writers, thinkers and creative artists who have not always drawn the attention given to such luminaries as Maritain, Mounier, and Marcel.

Organized around the typologies of renewal and engagement, editors Katherine Davies and Toby Garfitt provide a revisionist and interdisciplinary reading of the narrative of twentieth-century French Catholicism. Renewal and engagement are both manifestations of how the Catholic intellectual reflects and takes position on the relationship between the Church, personal faith and the world, and on the increasingly problematic relationship between intellectuals and the Magisterium. A majority of the writings are based on extensive research into published texts, with some occasional archival references, and they give critical insights into the tensions that characterized the theological and political concerns of their subjects.

Excerpt

As body, man is a being whose condition it is always to be communi
cated; indeed, he regains himself only on account of having been com
municated. For this reason, man as a whole is not an archetype of Being
and of Spirit, rather their image; he is not the primal word, but a re
sponse; he is not a speaker, but an expression governed by the laws of
beauty, laws which man cannot impose on himself. As a totality of spirit
and body, man must make himself into God’s mirror and seek to attain
to that transcendence and radiance that must be found in the world’s
substance if it is indeed God’s image and likeness— his word and ges
ture, action and drama.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord

We understand that there is a dialectic of realism… such a realism con
sists not as a doctrine, but rather as an effort; and it purports less to re
solve problems than to first see them clearly. It is the presence of this
notion of a dialectic that explains… “toward the concrete.” The concrete
will never be the given for the philosopher. It will be the pursued. It is
only in the absence of thought that the concrete can reveal itself to us.

Jean Wahl, Vers le concret (Toward the Concrete)

The “existential” register unites what might only be seen as irreconcilable: the theological aesthetics of Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar and the “philosophy of the concrete” espoused by the Jewish- born agnostic philosopher Jean Wahl. Writing nearly thirty . . .

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