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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dinner with Michele Renouf


One of the most painful evenings of my life was spent in the company of Michele Renouf. We had invited an elderly Count, now sadly passed away, around for dinner, who told us that he would be probably be bringing Raine Spencer, who we had met before from time to time. But we were not due for a quiet social evening. He brought with him instead Michele Renouf clothed Indian style, a memory of a previous romance.

A priest was also present. We all were amazed when she regaled us with theories about the superfluousness of the Old Testament. She also declared that Jesus was not in the slightest way Jewish echoing, ironically, the views of the 19th century liberal Catholic theologian, Ernest Renan who wrote The Life of Christ.

More recently, according to Wikepedia, she has gone further

She has been working during 2007-8 on Pious Piracy, a new DVD about the New Testament that questions whether Jesus ever existed and that features interviews with Prof. Dr. Christian Lindtner (author of Gematria and the Gospels), Kenneth Humphreys ("Jesus never Existed"), and Dr Zacharias Thundy ("Buddha and Christ"').

Adding irony to irony, Ernest Renan wrote a work called "Anti-Christ", which is the fourth volume of his "Magnum Opus", the origins of Christianity whose tone is less than sympathetic to Judaism. The only time that I have heard Bishop Williamson preach, he opened his sermon with the words, "The Anti-Christ is approaching", a sermon completely lacking in the pious hope, intrinsic to Christianity, that the Church can be restored prior to the dread day of judgement. He held out as little hope for Catholicism as Renan did for the Jews.

Return to our dinner party. How can there be a Christianity without the magnificent prayers of the Psalms, how can the Old Testament be read except as a providential foretelling of the great Redemption that was at hand? Michele Renouf is not alone in thinking that there are no archetypes in the Old Testament- there are liberal Catholic professors in Rome who think that they are merely poetic contrivances.

Michele Renouf was at the time studying at the Jesuit Heythrop College who were clearly so liberal as to tolerate such gross error. The priest at the dinner party did all he could to correct her views, but she was obstinate.

Bishop Williamson should be careful about the company he keeps. Does he not know that David Irving's best friend is the playwright, Hochhuth, whose play The Representative can be seen as the ultimate source of every myth about the wartime role of Pope Pius XII? See Articles of Faith.

The Bishop would be the first to say that "error has no rights" but then goes and gives voice to such a grave error. The final irony is that his erstwhile pursuers would be, at least in theory, the last people to maintain that "error has no rights."

All this just stresses the importance of a high view of truth. As the great Anglican theologian, E L Mascall put it (whose sadly didn't in the end convert),

For there is really nothing academic, in the pejorative sense, about the notion of Truth at all. It lies at the base of all sane human intercourse, civilized and uncivilized alike. It is what children are taught to teil and what even liars hope they will be thought to be telling. It is what every witness in a court of law is placed under oath to respect and for disregard of which he may be sentenced for perjury. The capacity to recognize it differentiates man from the brutes. It is the ground of what I have described as the Intellectual Principle. And that, as I said at the beginning, is so obvious that hardly anyone but philosophers and theologians would think of questioning it.

and Pope Benedict is firm that truth cannot ever be relativised, as the modern world, to the left and the right and the centre of politics is so fond of doing.

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