Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rewriting history: this week's special!

If "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it," what is the doom of those who rewrite history?

This week,  among progressively inclined Christians, there have been many knowing winks and nods surrounding the iconographic evidence, and indeed a ceremonial itself, that prove that the Church's current teaching on marriage is inconsistent with her own history. Most of the time, the basis for these headlines and talking-points is a book published some years ago by Yale historian John Boswell.

Boswell's highly interpretive work refers to a practice that goes by the Greek name "adelphopoiesis" (literally"brother-making" or "kinship-making"). Clearly we Westerners don't have much experience or memory of a ritual like that;  an ancient image of two men being "joined" by Christ sure looks like matrimony to us. Obviously, then, the Church should return to its earlier, more tolerant practice.

Unfortunately for those who would like to point to adelphopoiesis as a prototype for the direction of marriage in our day, however, is that we are obliged to understand adelphopoiesis on its own terms, not those of sex-obsessed culture.  Here are two very interesting approaches:

Finally, here is early debunking review of Boswell's oft-cited book by the late John Richard Neuhaus.

1 comment:

Rebecca Hamilton said...

Thank you for blogging! And thank you also for your faithfulness to the Church.