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Life Arts

BOOK REVIEW: Why Garry Wills Does Not Understand Catholic Priests

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However, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle famously regarded the virtue of courage of the mean between the extremes of cowardice and brashness. In other words, we usually do not learn how to achieve the mean between these two extremes until after we have tried the two extremes and learned from our mistakes how to avoid being either cowardly or brash. In short, the warrior archetype involves our fight/flight/freeze reaction. We need to cultivate our warrior archetype and our courage, because an unregulated warrior archetype can be dangerous to ourselves and possibly also to others.

In any event, the Roman Catholic tradition of priests has failed to produce shamans as effective as shamans as the historical Jesus evidently was. For this reason, we might wonder if the time has come to jettison this failed tradition, as Wills suggests.

But wait a minute, Garry Wills! In my estimate, the Jesuit priest and spiritual director from India Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) was a shaman who was closely approaching being as effective as the historical Jesus as a shaman was, when he died in 1987. Fortunately for all of us, Tony de Mello's posthumously published book THE WAY TO LOVE: MEDITATIONS FOR LIFE (reissued Image, 2012) provides the perceptive insights that he had learned about cultivating the life of spirituality.

Within the Roman Catholic tradition, Tony de Mello was indeed truly a revolutionary thinker. For example, in THE WAY TO LOVE, he points out that we should hold all our conclusions "provisionally" (page 140). However, in recent centuries Catholic popes have denounced people who hold all their conclusions provisionally as relativists. Tony de Mello to the contrary notwithstanding, recent popes hold out for absolutes in faith and morals, and they want people to hold their supposed absolutes absolutely, even being willing to die as martyrs for their religious conceptual constructs and predications (rather than give up and renounce their religious conceptual constructs and predications).

In conclusion, I rest my cast against Wills' latest polemic about the supposedly failed tradition of the Catholic priesthood. Wills to the contrary notwithstanding, I say let the Catholic priesthood be. No Catholic priests, no Tony de Mello -- and no THE WAY TO LOVE: MEDITATIONS FOR LIFE.

P.S. Moore has published five books (co-authored with Douglas Gillette) about the four masculine archetypes of maturity in the male psyche. But he claims that there is a corresponding set of four feminine archetypes of maturity in the female psyche. As a matter of fact, he also claims that both sets of four archetypes of maturity can be found at the archetypal level of both male and female human beings. In any event, the revised and expanded edition of Moore and Gillette's book THE KING WITHIN: ACCESSING THE KING [ARCHETYPE] IN THE MALE PSYCHE (2007) contains certain new material that was not contained in the original 1992 edition. So it is probably the best place to start reading about the Magician/Shaman archetype and the Warrior archetype.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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The tradition of the American jeremiad is an honor... by Thomas Farrell on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 at 12:38:15 PM
than prophet, but there were also aspects of the p... by Richard Girard on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 at 4:13:17 PM
because they're there, because they're there. It's... by molly cruz on Saturday, Feb 16, 2013 at 5:05:27 PM