This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 29 October 2015

How to train as a theologian

Ross Douhat, a New York Times columnist, has rightly been condemned by lots of very clever and saintly Catholics for daring to write about "The Plot to change Catholicism" despite having "no professional qualifications for writing about the subject". For those who missed the attack on Mr Douhat, here is a copy of the humble and modest letter produced by Fr John O' Malley SJ, Professor Massimo Faggioli and a few others. It is also backed by Fr James Martin SJ, so you know it must be good.

Letter to NYT

They have a point of course. The reason that so few Catholics take the words of Jesus Christ seriously is that - to His shame - He never managed to get any theological qualifications. Come to think of it, He worked with his father as a carpenter without even getting a B.A. in hammering-nails-into-pieces-of-wood, so it's no wonder that none of His tables and chairs survive to this day.

But then a shocking thought struck me. As you all know, I write a spiritually nourishing religious blog, but some of my readers may have been misled into thinking it has the same authority as the writings of Professor Maximal Bean and his Jesuit friends. So I decided to remedy this.

scammer

How could I resist?

Luckily there are Nigerian websites where you can get a Ph.D. in theology (specialising in Ignatian Discernment, Human Flourishing, and Liturgical Dancing) just by giving them your bank account details. So I did this, and now I can call myself Dr Massimo Eccles SJ, and be sure that my words are authoritative. I suspect that this is also how Richard Dawkins (who of course already had a Ph.D. on chicken-behaviour, which allowed him to write authoritative letters to the New York Times about chickens) suddenly became a renowned theologian.

According to Cardinal Vincent Nichols (yes, really), the key words used by the recent Synod were "accompaniment”, “walking with”, “reverential listening” and “discernment”. Plus, of course "mercy". I'm so glad they got away from things like sin, forgiveness, redemption and salvation, which (I'm sorry to say) are mentioned by people like St Paul and St John whose academic qualifications were distinctly dodgy.

Gladys Mills

Vincent Nichols and friends celebrate "accompaniment" and "reverential listening".

P.S. If you leave comments on this blog, please also tell us what academic qualifications you have. Comments from the uneducated, like those from the unsaved, may not be published.

31 comments:

  1. My phd stands for 'Piled Higher and Deeper.'

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  2. To a bishop who once asked what qualifications I possess for teaching Catholic catechism, I responded "a Catholic education, from age 4 through 21." Oh, what a laugh we had over that!

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  3. Reminds me of the Curé d'Ars who was dismissed from the Grand Seminary in Lyon for his complete inability to master Latin. The Vicar-General asked his teachers, "Is the Abbé Vianney pious? Is he devoted to Our Lady? Does he know how to say his Rosary?" Upon receiving answers in the affirmative, he simply declared, "Very well! He can be ordained. The grace of God will do the rest."

    Thank goodness such unscientific and academically unproven conditions have largely been eliminated from the seminaries of our time.

    My own academic qualifications? Howzabout graduated - cum laud cheers from my teachers who couldn't wait to see the back of me - from the School of Hard Knocks with an N.V.Q. (Not Very Qualified) Level 2 in Bobbing and Weaving.

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  4. Unfortunately the professions I used to belong to (I am a qualified teacher, librarian and nurse (I have a very short attention span)) all require to be paid large sums of money before they will allow you to use their letters after your name, so I'm plain CD.

    However a lady of my acquaintance once assured me that I am also a certified bastard. Will that do?

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    Replies
    1. I trust there were no gentlemen present during that discourse, and that you didn't knee her in the, well come to think of it, you couldn't could you?

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  5. I think your Blog is t'riffic, Lord Eccles.

    I have a Scout Badge for collecting stamps and insects.

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  6. "St Paul and St John whose academic qualifications were distinctly dodgy."

    LOL.

    Lisa Graas, TTP, JXP (Teeny Tiny Passionist, Passion of Jesus)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I seem to have lost my academic qualifications when I left Seminary 52 years ago but I had no problem being allowed to teach religion in Catholic schools for some 40 odd years.

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  8. I have a BS in Mercyology and a BO in Attitude Studies. I also have an NVQ (Nichols, Vincent, Queerstudies) in Catholic Masqueradery. But I suppose my proudest academic achievement is my B-TECH (Bulsh*tting - 'Till Everyone Cries Heresy). I was in the same class as James Martin SJ.

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  9. I have a 100 metres front crawl certificate.

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  10. I won 'most unique camper' at fat camp. True story.

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  11. I once had a trial for Sheffield Wednesday. (Well, my trial was in Sheffield on a Wednesday).
    Pope Francis didn't finish his Ph.D perhaps the Nigerians might assist so that he can issue proclamations on matters theological. Africans do tend to know more than he does about such things.

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  12. "The ostentatious humility of Pope Francis..." comment of Ross Douthat perfectly describes the pope!!! Also, from raising three children, my degree is in "discernment" - even though that might place me with the above mentioned liberal qualifications - because I was always suspiciously trying to figure out (discern) whether what they were telling me was true or false.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely true, that. We've had to become much better discerners due to the prevailing evil among the hierarchy.

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  13. I got my Theology degree from the Institute of the Seriously Un Qualified!
    Karl Cardinal Marx+

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  14. Today we are under the reign of "professional" Catholics - those who are not of this "profession" may not know the Catholic Faith, for it is a gnostic evolving knowledge that has moved beyond such infantile beliefs as Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour whose redemptive Sacrifice and teaching of all truth is the only means of salvation.

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  15. The BBC report, today, with great glee, that "40% of people in Britain, nowadays, didn't know that Jesus was a real person Who lived in Palestine in the 1st-Century A.D.

    Tip: Don't believe anything the BBC tells you.

    They have an Agenda and it isn't a Religious one.

    Therefore, the question arises: "Does the BBC have the correct qualifications to comment on Things Religious ?"

    Answers on the back of a Fag-Packet, please.

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    Replies
    1. The other 60% thought Saint Jeremy Corbyn was God

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  16. Since I have been studying theology here at the OU I have qualified as a theodolite. I was lucky to get this course as my tutor here is Professor ecclemeritus of Cafelicks.

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    Replies
    1. FOOTNOTE As a theodolite, I an uniquely qualified to judge the value of other people's degrees.

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    2. No offence but I've found that holding even the simplest of conversations with a theodolite can be an extremely frustrating experience as they always go off on a tangent.

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    3. That's an angle I hadn't thought of cos it's a sin

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    4. Who d'ye think you're kiddin'? If you're a true theodolite, your whole life is one of sin(e) and cosine.

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    5. The commenters are nearly as witty as yourself, Eccles - you'd better watch out!!

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    6. Oh much wittier, Lynda. It's because they have such impressive qualifications.

      Delete

  17. Ross Douthat at First Thing's 28th Annual Erasmus Lecture, Oct 30th

    http://us3.forward-to-friend.com/forward/show?u=9ca7199d6d6a67f631349060e&id=8137e9ad37

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  18. Ross Douthat's reply to the NYT editorial - his last line is great.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/opinion/sunday/letter-to-the-catholic-academy.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fross-douthat&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

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  19. I have won prizes in shooting if that helps. At the age of ten I won a rubber snake and a small plaster dog with 'ruby' eyes. I also have a higher degree when I suffer from the flu.

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  20. Many a novus ordo bishop and presbyter has had a third degree for non-theological behaviours by civil authorities.

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  21. Politics has higher standards and demands at least two Es at A level and a first year at a Poly studying Trades Union Studies.

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