Theology Update for the Week of August 24

Dear friends in Christ

Purgatorio is in many ways the most important of the three volumes of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante constructs Purgatory as a seven-story mountain whose organizing principle is the seven deadly sins. On each level a particular sin is overcome by the penitents working to instill in themselves the opposing habits. Purgatorio is, thus, particularly applicable to us as we live our lives today and try, with grace, to sin less and grow in virtue. Cantos 1-17 will be discussed in seminar on Monday, September 15, and the remainder will be discussed on Monday, October 6. Anyone who reads the assigned text is welcome to the conversations, which begin at 6:15pm and last for 90 minutes.

Please note that you don’t have to have read the Inferno or to have attended the earlier seminars to be welcome at these on the Purgatorio.

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s: This Bible study will continue through September, meeting on Sundays at 10 a.m. and repeated on Thursdays at 12:10pm (but no class on Thursday, September 4). The book is a collection of love poems, which teach us about God’s relationship to the individual soul, the church, and Israel, while also providing wisdom in the field of sexual ethics. Newcomers are welcome every week: Sundays on the 5th floor, Thursdays on the 2nd.

In early September, I will be at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics—the conference theme this year is “Sin” but, may I hasten to add, it is not billed as a practicum? While I am away, on Sunday, September 7, we will have a special class: the love sonnets of John Donne. Like the Song of Songs, the great dean of Saint Paul’s wrote of the relationship of human and divine love. Dr. Robert Duvall will lead this discussion on the 5th floor at 10am.

What is faith? I will lead a reading group through Aquinas’s treatise on faith (Summa theologiae II-II.1-7) starting on Tuesday, September 16, at 6:30pm. No preparation expected.

How does the church shape our moral discernment? This was the topic of the last round of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in the U.S. You can read and discuss their report, “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment,” on selected Wednesdays, beginning September 17 at 6:30pm

Elsewhere in New York City:

Rowan Williams lecture: The former archbishop of Canterbury will receive an honorary doctorate at Fordham University on September 30, and will then give the annual Orthodoxy in America lecture. Father Williams’s talk is called “Liturgical Humanism: Orthodoxy and the Transformation of Culture.” See more here.