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Re: [liturgy-l] No E-Confession

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  • Chris McConnell
    At 03:08 PM 6/6/01 -0400, James O Regan wrote: Chris wrote and I snipped: Well, that s just impractical. When are they going to get more efficient
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 6, 2001
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      At 03:08 PM 6/6/01 -0400, James O'Regan wrote:
      >Chris wrote and I snipped:
      >
      > > Well, that's just impractical. When are they going to get more efficient
      > > with the sacraments? ;)
      > >
      > > Who decided this was newsworthy? :)
      >
      >At issue I think is what counts as incarnational?

      Sorry, James, I meant "Who *at Reuters* decided it was newsworthy?", since
      it would seem self-evident (to me) that sacraments need to be celebrated in
      person. The Vatican makes some controversial and problematic
      pronouncements sometimes, but this ain't one of them. :)

      Incarnation is exactly the issue. Cyberspace is great, but I'm
      old-fashioned enough to think that "incarnational" requires a body. :)

      I think there's another interesting question about what this whole story
      reveals. The very idea of doing "confessions" online seems to suggest
      that, in a popular mindset, the essence of the sacrament is the mere
      conveying of information about what one has done -- perhaps also the
      conveying of information that one is absolved. All of the other aspects of
      celebrating a sacrament are dispensible. A pretty impoverished sense of
      things!

      Chris McC


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    • Nathan Nettleton
      ... The dividing line between the virtual reality of cyberspace and the bodily reality of the sacraments may not be as easy to define as we think. I ve just
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 6, 2001
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        Chris McConnell wrote:
        >
        > Incarnation is exactly the issue. Cyberspace is great, but I'm
        > old-fashioned enough to think that "incarnational" requires a body. :)

        The dividing line between the 'virtual reality' of cyberspace and the
        bodily reality of the sacraments may not be as easy to define as we
        think. I've just been reading Paul Fiddes' excellent new book
        "Participating in God: A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity" (London:
        Darton Longman & Todd, 2000) and he uses some discussion of the 'bodily'
        dimension of email communication to introduce his chapter on "The
        Incarnate God and the Sacramental Life". I've pasted the section below.

        Peace and hope,

        Nathan

        _____________________________________
        Nathan Nettleton
        Pastor, South Yarra Community Baptist Church
        Melbourne, Australia
        mailto:nathan@...
        _____________________________________

        There have been several recent books on the dangers as well as the
        benefits of the internet, that electronic spider's web linking millions
        of computers throughout the world. In one book, the author interviews a
        number of people who have 'virtual relationships' with other net-users.
        These are people who meet, talk and even - it seems - find love in
        cyberspace. What fascinated the author was the way that these
        relationships were not just a matter of words (or rather duodecimal
        digits), but seem to have taken over the whole person, including the
        body. This was despite the fact that the internet was supposed to offer
        a reality that was purely mental, free from the limits of the body.
        Although one net-user gave the author permission to communicate with his
        'virtual partner', he became increasingly agitated, abruptly took the
        keyboard back, and could hardly type because his hands were shaking so
        much. He felt that this had been an intrusion on an intimate
        relationship. Other people the author talked to felt strongly that they
        were being unfaithful to their married partners by having such
        relationships, and that they had - virtually - committed adultery. His
        conclusion was that the cyberspace personality had taken on a
        'surprising substance'.

        This modern (postmodern?) phenomenon confirms that encounters between
        persons always involve the body. Words that are spoken are also embodied
        in looks, gestures and other bodily language. There is no such thing as
        a purely mental communication. Even between two net-users who only meet
        in virtual space there is bodily communication. Of course, there is the
        use of the fingers to type and eyes to monitor the screen, but beyond
        this there is a commitment of the whole body to the interchange in a way
        that cannot be entirely rationally analysed. Those who have a 'virtual'
        social life know, or feel, that it still happens in some way through the body.

        This raises a key issue for the way that we know God. Does it make any
        sense to speak of a 'personal encounter' with God, if God does not have
        a body? In this book I have been giving an account of an engagement with
        a personal God in various pastoral contexts. To be sure, I have not been
        writing about an 'I-Thou' encounter with either one personal being or
        three personal beings, but about participating in a flow of personal
        relationships in God which are like 'movements between' an I and a Thou.
        Nevertheless, this is a personal way of talking about encounter with
        God. Can we use such language at all if God is Spirit, without a body?
        John Macquarrie proposes that we cannot, and so urges that when it comes
        to God, talk about encounter with 'Being that lets-be' is more adequate
        than talk about personal relationships. I suggest we do not attempt to
        meet this challenge by arguing that there can be disembodied personal
        meetings; the limiting case of the internet adulterers would be against
        us. We should rather take a different path altogether, to assert that
        God indeed does have a body.

        Of course, all talk about God must be analogy, and so has an element of
        the 'unlike' as well as the 'like' about it. I am not suggesting that
        God has a body in the same way that we are embodied, but that God
        commits God's own self to body - or rather, to bodies - as a meeting
        place with us. The divine Word will not be spoken without physical
        mediation. God takes on bodies in order to draw us into the triune
        relationships in God.
      • Cody Unterseher
        ... story ... suggest ... mere ... the ... aspects of ... sense of ... I have to agree completely with Chris. As a Catholic, (and, yes, there are times when
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 6, 2001
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          Chris McConnell wrote:
          >
          > I think there's another interesting question about what this whole
          story
          > reveals. The very idea of doing "confessions" online seems to
          suggest
          > that, in a popular mindset, the essence of the sacrament is the
          mere
          > conveying of information about what one has done -- perhaps also
          the
          > conveying of information that one is absolved. All of the other
          aspects of
          > celebrating a sacrament are dispensible. A pretty impoverished
          sense of
          > things!
          >

          I have to agree completely with Chris. As a Catholic, (and, yes,
          there are times when ol' Rat-zinger has me wishing I wasn't,) I have
          come to appreciate the "matter and form" of the sacraments. I have a
          particularly wonderful confessor who has at times held my hands as I
          have confessed; at times held me in an embrace while imparting
          absolution. These things are not common courtesy, nor are they
          requisites for the celebration. But they were the right (rite?)
          things at the right time. They conveyed, more than my confessing or
          her absolving, the unconditional love God and the bond of covenant
          that I share with the Church in Christ.

          To confess via e-mail is indeed mere "conveying of information" but
          certainly not the communication and celebration integral to the
          incarnational celebration of a sacrament.

          Blessings,
          Cody Unterseher
          oblate21@...
        • Cody Unterseher
          ... Uh, that should have been _his_ absolving. . . I was in that whistful mode of eschatological thought wherein gender no longer is a barrier to the full
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 6, 2001
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            Cody Untersher wrote:

            > They conveyed, more than my confessing or
            > her absolving, the unconditional love God and the bond of covenant
            > that I share with the Church in Christ.

            Uh, that should have been _his_ absolving. . . I was in that whistful
            mode of eschatological thought wherein gender no longer is a barrier
            to the full sacramental life of the Church.

            To my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters who may have been
            scandalized, my most humble apologies. "Mea culpa. . . ."

            Cody
            oblate21@...
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