I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tradition, Traditionism and Traditionalism: A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

Richard Harvey a Messianic Jewish scholar from Israel writes and speaks about the concepts of Traditionism and Traditionalism in Israeli society and how it would apply in a Messianic Jewish context. In the Israeli context Traditionism is a term that is applied to those Israelis who are neither totally secular or religious but observe certain aspects of Judaism that they feel are relevant, adapted to their lives as modern people. Traditionalism is seen in this context to be the strict adherents to Rabbinic laws and customs. 

In a Catholic context the first group sound like the so-called Cafeteria Catholics and the others are the strict Traditionalists of a certain triumphalist mentality. Harvey quotes from the sociologist Edward Shils a definition of traditionalism as: "Traditionalism, which is a form of heightened sensitivity to the sacred, demands exclusiveness. It is content with nothing less than totality ... It is satisfied only if the traditionalist outlook permeates all spheres political, economic, cultural and religious and unifies them in a common subordination to the sacred as it is received from the past. " I am, like Levinas, very wary of any kind of claims of totality especially in light of the horrors of the 20th century that led to the Shoah and the Gulags. 

 Richard Harvey a Messianic Jewish Scholar
However there is a third way that values Tradition and lives Tradition as part of the fullness (rather than the totality) of the Faith. Tradition must go hand in hand with the Living Word of God and thus Tradition is a dynamic and developing process as taught by Cardinal Newman. Many fail to see the difference between Tradition and traditions. The place of traditions or customs can be linked to Tradition but they do not have the same authority. The traditions or customs may be good or bad or they may have been appropriate in one time and place but not another.  One also needs to be careful not to confuse infallible teaching on faith and morals with strands of theological thought that no matter how traditional are not part of that infallible teaching. Also we must be careful that we don't confuse fallible interpretations and pastoral applications of infallible teachings and theologians fallible ideas and speculations connected to those infallible teachings with the aspect which is infallible.

Levinas himself despised totalities in all forms as they are closed and dominating systems while himself being a practicing Orthodox Jew. One can be a devout and orthodox Catholic or indeed Orthodox Jew who believes that one's Faith is the fullness of truth but not the totality of truth. This allows us to learn and dialogue with others, rather than a triumphalist monologue with which we seek to bash and condemn the other. This also allows us not to despise or condemn Cafeteria Catholics or traditionist Jews but rather rejoice that they still have an attraction to some of the spiritual riches and traditions of the Church and Synagogue that may be a pathway to embracing the fullness of Truth, who is the Messiah himself, the Living Word, Living Torah and Living Tradition. 

Today in the Catholic Church we have Pope Francis who is guiding us to not be either one extreme or the other but true and radical disciples of the Messiah who are truly open to dialogue with others. No matter if it is religion or state that seeks to impose totalities of all kinds on others by force, legal decisions or legislation, the true disciple must stand up for the freedoms and dignity of others. 

Matthew 13:5 states "He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old. " Our model is the Jewish family life of the House of Nazareth in which the full richness of traditional Jewish devotional life was lived in the context of the new thing God was doing on earth through the Holy Family's mission to restore the reign of the Divine Will on earth as it is in Heaven by doing every act in Divine Will. "Blessed art Thou, O Lord my God, who sanctifies us with His commandments (mitzvot)....".

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Oh, I so agree with you, Brother!