November 25, 2006

Requiem's Latest

I've always liked the emphasis given on praying for the dead by Jim Curley and his Requiem Press. It's (unfortunately) a bit idiosyncratic but I always think that's the sign of a true calling. Not only does he include a prayer book for the suffering souls with every book purchased, but printed on the back left corner of the back cover is: "Eternal rest grant to them O Lord. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen". Especially appropriate during this month of November.

Standing with Peter by William E. May is the latest from Requiem, a slim book about one CUA professor's experiences on the front lines of the war between dissident and orthodox theologians around the time Humane Vitae came out.

One longs for the old school education May got, when you could get an education worthy of the name. Professors like William Donovan S.J. taught courses on Plato and Plotinus, and the students were required to read them in the original Greek. You get an understanding that there is a flora and fauna of the opinions even among pro-Humane Vitae side. You'd think, for example, that May and Ralph McInerny would see eye-to-eye but May writes, "Ralph is still my friend, although we disagree vigorously on some issues, especially the proper way of understanding natural law."

If sometimes Aquinas can come through as sort of heartless and legalistic, Dr. May argues that many read St. Thomas through the lens of Jesuit scholar Francis Suarez "whose understanding of natural law is indeed legalistic and rationalistic."

I often wished May would go into more detail about just how, for example, he disagreed with McInerny or others, and I'd hoped for something more dramatic with respect to his change on Humane vitae, but the book held my attention such that I finished it in two sittings.

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