Monday, 3 June 2019

New Event: 18 June 2019

The Albertus Institute is beginning a series of discussion evenings on virtuous political discourse, with the aim of encouraging a renaissance of mature and informed political thinking and debate among those who draw on the Catholic political tradition. Given the public’s loss of confidence in politics, possible ways of rebuilding an understanding of a common political good will be explored. 

The first session will be on Tuesday 18th June at 6 -7.15pm in the Garden Room at St Albert's Catholic Chaplaincy, 23 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD. Entrance via George Square Lane.
The first session will be led by Bill Moyes, who has extensive civil service experience in Whitehall and Scotland, and currently chairs the General Dental Council and the Gambling Commission (bio here). Coffee and cake will be provided. If you would like to attend sign up with Eventbrite.


Monday, 24 December 2018

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Reading list Catholic Social Teaching course

Welcome to the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year!

While waiting for the finalisation of details of our activities this year, I came across this proposed syllabus for course on Catholic Social Teaching for a Pontifical Baccalaureate in Theology taught by Father Edmund Waldstein (who blogs here and tweets under the handle of @sancruncensis). Father Waldstein is closely associated with the integralist movement and the website The Josias.

Most of these documents -and certainly the papal teaching (the Vatican website is here)- will be available online and would provide an interesting course of reading in their own right. (Many appear to be available throught the Josias online library here.) Happy reading!

[Image details: Louis IX from St Louis Bible (c.1220-1230). More details here.]

Monday, 21 May 2018

Albertus Institute talk 13 June

Slavery in the Classical Age.

18:00, Wed 13th Jun, 2018
The Garden Room of St Albert's Catholic Chaplaincy, 23 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD. Entrance via George Square Lane.

The Speaker, Dr Ulrike Roth (university homepage here), is Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.

The talk will be chaired by Dr Gordon Wyllie.

The talk is free but any voluntary contributions will be gratefully received and can be gift-aided.

For further details and online registration see here.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Albertus Institute Talk: Friday 18 May

What have the early Christians ever done for us? Sex, slavery and social order.

The speaker, Dr Sara Parvis, Senior Lecturer in Patristics at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh (university profile here).

The talk will be chaired by Dr Elizabeth Drummond Young, Open Studies Tutor, University of Edinburgh.

The talk is free but any voluntary contributions will be gratefully received and can be gift-aided.
Please note: Access to the Garden Room is through the garden via the gateway in George Square Lane. The Lane is behind 23 and 24 George Square and runs parallel with Middle Meadow Walk. There is one disabled parking space in the Lane reserved for people coming to St Albert’s.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Catholic Social Teaching at St Albert's: session 3

Final session tonight (Tuesday 24 April 2018) on the individual and God!

Last week I talked about the importance of human nature and especially our social nature: that we naturally lived in a variety of relationships among which the family as the primary vehicle of projecting our earthly lives beyond death into a next generation was of key importance. I also talked of the way that a revival of Aristotelian thought in modern, Anglophone ethics was generally supportive of the basis of Catholic, particularly Thomist thought, in Aristotle.

(For further reading on this you could try Elizabeth Anscombe's classic paper, 'Modern Moral Philosophy' here. This is often regarded as the foundation stone of modern virtue ethics, an article about which can be found here.)

I've also occasionally talked about the slogan 'Don't immanentize the eschaton!', popularized by the American conservative Catholic, William F. Buckley (Wikipedia explanation here.) The broad meaning of this phrase is that much that is wrong in modernity is caused by the desire to make heaven on earth.

This evening, the main emphasis of my talk will be on the correct orientation of society towards heaven in heaven: the supernatural end of human beings. In Catholic piety, part of this is reflected in the sense of earthly life being an exile which pervades the Salve Regina:

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.
But this sense of the profound incompleteness of earthly life is also found in pre-Christian, classical philosophy, most obviously in Aristotle's emphasis on the importance of contemplation of divine things in the flourishing human life, and in Plato's emphasis on philosophy as a preparation for death (see here for a relevant excerpt from the Phaedo).

Further reading:

The previous Albertus blog course on Anthony Esolen's book, Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, reflects his strong emphasis on religion practice as the centre of social life. The course can be followed online beginning with the introduction here and clicking on the 'Esolen' label at the bottom of the page to find the remaining posts.

[Image details: Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean by Gustave Doré. Details here.]

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Catholic Social Teaching at St Albert's: session 2

Tonight's session (17 April) will focus primarily on those units lower than the State: this is roughly the sphere of the individual, the family and civil society. (The individual will be left mostly until the final session.)

Perhaps the key to this session is the view that human beings naturally form relationships for a variety of purposes. In Aristotle's analysis, which is broadly taken over by Aquinas, the key levels of this community building are the family, the village and the polis (the city state). (It's notworthy that Aristotle, like Plato, does not pay much attention to an international order.) In modernity, there is a tendency for the State to take all authority for itself and to diminish the status of these communities. The disruption of this natural pattern of community forming (whether by the State or businesses) is harmful to the natural pattern of human life and thus to our flourishing.

Recommended sources:

Although I wouldn't claim that Edmund Burke's political philosophy is entirely compatible with Catholic social teaching, it does provide an interesting Anglophone comparison with obvious echoes. An article on his thought may be found here. A previous blogcourse (!) on the thought of Russell Kirk -an American Catholic conservative thinker much influenced by Burke- can be found here.

Aristotle's (Nicomachean) Ethics can be found online here. (The most relevant discussion for this session is found in Book VIII on philia (friendship/relationships). Aquinas' commentary on it can be found here.

[Picture credit: The Blind Fiddler (after Sir David Wilkie). From Wikigallery here]