All posts tagged: Romanticism

Friedrich Schleiermacher: A Theological Precursor of Postmodernity?

The religious landscape throughout history has been a forum for both conventional and innovative ideas about faith and spirituality. Many theological battles have been waged in the effort to define truth, orthodoxy, and dogma. As Farley writes, “Now, as in Schleiermacher’s time, the religious landscape is divided deeply between conservative ‘orthodoxy’ and those who despise religion itself.”[1] In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Germany found itself in the middle of such a predicament. Owing much to the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment, many theologians began to question the traditional view of God and Christianity, and instead offered new, divergent theories that made their religious faith more pragmatically relevant to themselves and to other like-minded believers. One particular German theologian, Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher (1768–1834), proposed Enlightenment views in theology so consistently that he is usually called “The father of liberal German theology.” His innovative interpretations and theories were quite culturally influential and began a push toward a more relaxed, more creative understanding of Christianity, whose influence can still be seen in contemporary theology and …

The Polish Romantic Messianism of Saint John Paul II

On 18 May 2000 the front page of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza featured a surprising poem by Nobelist poet Czesław Miłosz entitled,“Ode for the Eightieth Birthday of Pope John Paul II.” The most outstanding Polish poet of the 20th century paid an extraordinary tribute to the great Polish pope on the pages of the country’s most widely-circulated liberal daily: We come to you, men of weak faith, So that you might fortify us with the example of your life And liberate us from anxiety About tomorrow and next year. Your twentieth century Was made famous by the names of powerful tyrants And by the annihilation of their rapacious states. You knew it must happen. You taught hope: For only Christ is the lord and master of history. This was probably the first such unambiguously positive statement by Miłosz about John Paul II. Earlier Miłosz could not overcome his distance towards the pope’s work, even though he met him in private and attended discussions with him at Castel Gandolfo. He saw dangerous nationalist and theocratic threads in the …

Reason’s Shadow: Romanticism’s Impact on Catholic Thought

Bl. John Henry Newman, one of the greatest modern intellectuals for both Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions alike, had little patience with Romanticism. Although a contemporary of the British Romantics—Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats—Newman was by and large dismissive of Romantic efforts to turn the world away from an overdependence on reason, which had seeped into modern minds with Kantian ideas and the emergence of German idealist philosophy. Instead, Newman offered a robust recalibration of reason in his Grammar of Assent, The Idea of a University, and various of his Oxford Sermons. Reframing the first question of Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Newman enjoined, “Admit a God, and you introduce among the subjects of your knowledge, a fact encompassing, closing in upon, absorbing, every other fact conceivable. How can we investigate any part of any order of Knowledge, and stop short of that which enters into every order?”[1] Newman’s preoccupation with reason and knowing emerged in response to modern philosophy’s downgrade and dismissal of faith as a matter of personal and non-rational belief. What mattered in …