Saturday, February 14, 2004

After Writing: On The Liturgical Consummation of PhilosophyI received this book this morning. I must admit, it looks extremely interesting and thought-provoking. Within it Catherine Pickstock, one of the chief proponents of Radical Orthodoxy, works towards a conclusion in which she argues that transubstantiation is the 'condition of possibility for all meaning'. I look forward to studying it in depth; her description of the Eucharistic sign's ability to 'outwit the distinction between absence and presence, and death and life' appears to provide more promising directions for the support of such a controversial doctrine. A far more nuanced description of the relationship between 'sign' and 'thing' with the use of such categories as 'gift' and an increased awareness of the role of time and action in the sacrament might provide a way by which Protestants like myself could be reconciled with the doctrine of transubstantiation. Furthermore, Pickstock's assertion that 'the Eucharist situates us more inside language than ever' resonates with my own understanding in many respects. Whilst I can certainly not hold to the doctrine as it is held by many Catholics, I do feel that there are probably ways in which the doctrine, reframed in new categories, could be made acceptable to many Protestants without any need for compromise. I have a great confidence in the ability of new categories to cut the Gordion knots of old debates. Expressing our positions in new ways and learning to ask new questions can lead us beyond many of the impasses that have been reached in ecumenical discussions without necessitating putting the authoritative teaching of Scripture to one side.

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