Friday, May 13, 2022

Matthias (Re-Post)

 This is a revised post from 2020, for the Feast of St. Matthias tomorrow.


Today is the feast of St. Matthias, Apostle. The story about him in Acts 1 is interesting in a number of ways. It occurs between the Ascension and Pentecost; Jesus has given his disciples their mission but they have not yet received the full measure of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, it often gets skipped over. But we learn a number of things from it. The disciples are meeting regularly in fairly large groups. The eleven Apostles left are explicitly mentioned, as are Mary the Mother of Jesus, the women, and the brothers of the Lord. (The women are mentioned not as if they were just a generic bunch of women but as if they were a well-defined and perhaps even formally defined group; they seem clearly to be part of the leadership. This fits with a number of things said in the Gospel of Luke, e.g., Luke 8:1-3, Luke 23:54-56; cp. Mark 15:40-41.) The gathering that chooses Matthias has about 120 disciples all told (which number may have only included the men, since Peter may have only addressed the men).

Peter is quite clearly the leader here; he tells them that Scripture says that Judas needs to be replaced (the word he uses is dei, i.e., 'It is required') and they do it. In fact, while it is never explicitly said, the whole thing is structured as if Peter had called the meeting specifically in order to do what they end up doing. Peter's reason is based on Scripture; he quotes Psalm 69 and Psalm 109. The latter is straightforward in its application ("May another take his place of leadership"), although the word for 'place of leadership' is actually 'supervision', episkopen. The other one reads a bit oddly in English: "May his place be deserted; let there be no one dwelling in it." It seems a little odd to quote that no one should dwell in his place in an argument that you should fill his place. But read in context, the verses both come from very similar passages: they are from the psalms that tend to embarrass people today, the ones in which the enemies of the psalmist are cursed. The verses in Acts 1:18-19, about what happened to Judas, are often read as parenthetical, but the thought of Peter's argument follows directly from them, not from Acts 1:17. The line of thought is: The Scripture had to be fulfilled which spoke of Judas (v. 16); Judas was one of their ministry (diakonias) (v. 17); with the payment for his injustice (adikias), he bought a field and died (v. 18); everybody in Jerusalem heard about it so called it the Field of Blood (v. 19); because Scripture says, "May his place be deserted...." and "May another take his place...." Thus Peter is reading the cursing passages of the Psalms as being about Judas. What it says about Judas in Psalm 69 is fulfilled by his death; so what it says about him in Psalm 109 must be fulfilled as well. 

I find it interesting that they don't replace him until he is dead; the word for 'dwell' here (katoikon) suggests permanent settlement, so the curse on Judas is for his apostleship not to be permanent. This at least suggests very strongly, I think, why the Twelve did not keep replacing themselves as they died; they seem to have regarded the position as something distinctly attaching to each, each permanently dwelling it. (And this would fit with Jesus' comments about the twelve thrones of judgment, for instance.) Thus Judas cannot be replaced except under divine authority. The quotations are not rhetorical decorations, in other words; they are divine warrant for an action that Peter thinks would normally not be allowable. Acts shows us other people with apostolic ministry; but none of them, not even Paul or Barnabas, ever becomes one of the Twelve.

In any case, what Peter says is necessary is to make "one of these", i.e., the Twelve, from the men who accompanied the Lord Jesus the whole time from his Baptism to his Ascension. (This is interesting for indicating what Peter thinks of the Twelve, namely, that one of their major functions is specifically to be familiar with Christ's ministry so as to witness properly to the Resurrection. It also indicates why Luke begins by retelling the Ascension; it establishes the link to what immediately follows.) This in fact ends up being the entire backstory we know about Matthias: he was with Jesus the whole time from the Baptism to the Ascension. We know nothing else about who he was. The men in the assembly pick two -- Joseph Barsabbas, also called Justus, and Matthias. Later in Acts there is a figure named Judas Barsabbas, who is probably Joseph's brother; later tradition suggests Joseph was one of the Seventy in Luke 10 and afterward became bishop of Eleutheropolis, but as with Matthias, all we certainly know is that he was with Jesus the whole time from the Baptism to the Ascension.

But two is not "one of these". So what they do then is pray to God, knower of the hearts of all, that He will point out which one of the these two that He has chosen to take the place for this service (diakonias) and apostleship (aposteles) from which Judas traveled (the word could also mean 'die') "to his own place" (which obviously is an allusion to the 'place' mentioned in the Psalms). Then they cast lots. Casting lots was, of course, common for making decisions, as it is even now. Perhaps more likely on general grounds, lots were the standard way in which Temple duties were assigned. It is also possible, given the comment about Judas going to his own place, that they had Leviticus 16:8 in the background. In the atonement offering, the high priest makes an atonement before the Lord with the sacrifice of a bull and two goats. The goats are split, one for the Lord and one "for azazel" (in the Hebrew; we don't know for sure what the word meant) or "sent away" (in the Septuagint), by lot, and the one "for azazel" is then sent into the wilderness.  Regardless, when the lots were cast, Matthias became one of the Twelve Apostles.

And that's the last we hear about him in Scripture. According to the most popular tradition, after preaching in Jerusalem a while he went down into "Ethiopia" (by which is likely not meant Ethiopia but Colchis in the Caucasus, in modern-day Georgia; Herodotus claimed that the Colchians were descended from the Ethiopians). For his death, the traditions are all over the place; he was martyred by crucifixion in Sebastopolis (in modern-day Turkey) or by stoning and beheading in Jerusalem or by stoning in Colchis, or he simply died of old age in Jerusalem. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

True Friends

 Arina Pismenny & Berit Brogaard have a paper, Vices of Friendship (PDF), in which they argue against what they call a "Neo-Aristotelian" account of "true friendship". I think that what they call the 'Neo-Aristotelian' account is actually a mish-mash of different accounts that don't fit together very well, but it's worth noting why a genuinely Aristotelian account of friendship would not have the problem that they identify.

One important issue from the beginning is this notion of "true friendship". This is an ambiguous phrase. It could mean, "real friendship" as contrasted with "false friendship". It sometimes seems that Pismenny and Brogaard assume this. But it can also mean, and usually does in colloquial contexts, "friendship of the highest sort" or "friendship which most completely involves what is appropriate to friendship". Pismenny and Brogaard identify one kind of 'true friendship'. But in the former sense, Aristotle thinks there are three kinds of friendship:

(1) friendship of pleasure

(2) friendship of use

(3) friendship of excellence (also known as friendship of virtue or, as Pismenny and Brogaard usually call it, friendship of character)

All of these are really and truly friendships, in which two people are in mutually friendly relationship to each other. All of them are important for Aristotle. In Aristotle's own account, societies are primarily constituted by these friendships. The reason for this is that the best of these (what counts as 'true friendship' in the second sense) is friendship of excellence, but this kind of friendship is necessarily rare. Thus most of the friendships that constitute society are friendships of pleasure and friendships of use. We can't do without them, and an account of friendship that ignores them completely is necessarily defective. Pismenny and Brogaard do in passing acknowledge that Aristotle recognizes these by takes their labels to be pejorative. This doesn't make any sense at all. Not only are most friendships either friendships of pleasure or friendships of use, Aristotle thinks we naturally tend to develop both. (He does hold that young people tend to favor friendships of pleasure, because they overemphasize the importance of pleasure and old people tend to favor friendships of use because they overemphasize the importance of security. But this is a matter of different balances; it is not a claim that having friendships of pleasure or friendships of use is any kind of failure.) In an Aristotelian account, it doesn't make sense to read these as pejorative labels. This is going to be important for assessing the argument put forward by Pismenny and Brogaard.

In the 'Neo-Aristotelian' account Brogaard and Pismenny are considering, friendships of character have the following features:

(a) They involve mutual admiration and respect for each other's character, i.e., excellences.

(b) They involve disinterested mutual love, involving love of the other for their own sake.

(c) They involve shared life, each taking the other's joys and sorrows as their own.

(d) They involve mutual encouragement to virtue.

(e) They are each able to be role models for each other in virtuous life.

(f) They involve mutual moral criticism, each holding a mirror to the other by which the other is able to better understand themselves.

Pismenny and Brogaard argue that (b) and (d) -- and perhaps, with the former, (c) as well, and with the latter, (e) and (f) as well -- are defects in this account. The Neo-Aristotelian friendship is too disinterested and too moralistic to be true friendship. 

First, they argue that, realistically, friendship love involves a desire for intimacy and reciprocity. This means that it cannot be disinterested and selfless. 

This is not a problem in a genuinely Aristotelian account, because the disinterestedness that one can attribute to friendship of excellence does not exclude desires like the desire for intimacy and reciprocity. As is well known, Aristotle doesn't think you should squash desires, but that you should instead find a proper balance in how they inform your decisions. In a friendship of excellence, the friendship wouldn't exclude desire for intimacy and reciprocity; it would involve mutual moderation, finding the right proportion of it in choices to have a flourishing friendship. The sense in which one can take friendship of excellence to be disinterested is precisely the sense in which it is not, as such, a friendship of pleasure or friendship of use. The friend is not loved merely for the enjoyment they bring, nor merely for their usefulness. This does not, of course, mean that people united by friendship of excellence do not enjoy each other's company or find each other useful; rather the fundamental parameters of the friendship itself are set by good character (nobility, honestum) and not by values like the pleasant and the useful.

Given this, the second objection is perhaps more significant. Pismenny and Brogaard argue that promoting virtuous character is not necessarily a feature of 'true friendship'. The first reason is that "it is clearly unrealistic to expect that true friendships must begin with mutual admiration of each other’s virtuous character"; friendship could arise in other ways. Second, the attempt of one friend to improve the other might be resented. Third, since no one is perfect, friends are nearly as likely to lead each other in the wrong direction as not.

Again, on a genuinely Aristotelian account of friendship, none of these are serious problems. Aristotle doesn't think that friendships of excellence are the only genuine friendships; he would think it blatantly obvious that most of our friendships arise on considerations other than virtue. It is even possible that a friendship of excellence might begin as a friendship of pleasure or friendship of use. It's just that it can't be a friendship of excellence if you don't recognize each other's excellences, and recognize them as excellences. Further, while it is entirely true that the attempt to improve someone else might be resented, a fundamental element of excellence in Aristotle is finding a proper balance, one that can be determined by the virtue of prudence. People united by friendship of excellence won't be constantly nagging each other about morality; they will instead do things like offer advice, exhortation, and caution, share their own experience, and attempt to be honest, compassionate, friendly, merciful (and in other ways be virtuous) with each other. Pismenny and Brogaard seem to have the notion that mutual improvement involves beating each other constantly with morality sticks; this is simply untrue. The most serious is the third one, and I think it is a case in which Aristotle would flatly deny the argument. While no one is perfect, and being virtuous is certainly not the same as being perfect in Aristotle's account, and even virtuous people can accidentally lead each other astray, this is all necessarily accidental with respect to virtue itself. The natural tendency of virtue is to model virtue and to encourage virtue, and therefore it will do both for the most part. Friendship of virtue will no more make you perfect than virtue will (although here, as often the case, two heads will often be better than one); but it's absurd to say that it would not tend to encourage and support virtue. By its very nature, it is part of virtue's ideal habitat.

Instead of the 'Neo-Aristotelian' account, Pismenny and Brogaard give an account of 'true friendship' that emphasizes the following characteristics.

(a) It involves mutual desire to promote each other's interests insofar as they spring from core values. (Pismenny and Brogaard call this 'closeness', as in 'close friends', but they don't actually have a good argument that this is what closeness of friendship actually involves.)

(b) They involve mutual self-disclosure of emotionally intimate information.

(c) They involve being "open to a friend's direction and interpretation" (p. 245), which they call trust.

(d) They involve partially shared identity, without loss of individual identities.

They then argue that such friendships, while they may be virtuous, can also be vicious.

The obvious problem with this account is that, if we are talking about 'true friendship' in the first sense, this is obviously far too narrow. We can have good friendships that are missing any and all of these. Yes, it's probably the case that all friendships involve some kind of mutuality, trust, and sharing, but very often these will be in forms that are not specified by the descriptions given by Pismenny and Brogaard. But, on the other side, if we are talking about 'true friendship' in the second sense, it is simply wrong that these are the fully constituent features of friendship at its truest; nothing about this description would characterize either person in the friendship as most truly a friend. In fact, there is something obvious that is missing here that absolutely guarantees that meeting these criteria would not suffice to make you most truly a friend. There is no mention of friendliness. One of Aristotle's major virtues is the virtue of friendliness, and obviously the person most truly a friend will have the excellence of friendliness, to a high degree of excellence. Aristotle's friendship of excellence necessarily involves this virtue; friends by virtue are friendly to each other, where friendliness is not merely a temperamental feeling but a cultivated excellence. The (genuine) Aristotelian has a diagnosis for the problem: Pismenny and Brogaard have given us a description that, taken simply as it stands, is a description of one kind of friendship of pleasure. It is indeed truly a friendship (although far from being the only kind); it is pleasant from the perspective of our desire for intimacy and reciprocity, as well as from the perspective of our desire for shared life and our related desire to be with those who share our values, and insofar as we get involved in a friendship like this because it satisfies those desires, it is a friendship of pleasure. And they are right that it is consistent with vice, indeed quite extensive vice. Where they go wrong, the Aristotelian would say, is in thinking that this friendship that is truly a friendship is friendship in its truest form. The truest form of friendship involves friends being excellent to and with and for each other.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Links of Note

* I haven't said anything about the hysteria du jour because nothing has actually changed. Roe v. Wade has not yet been overturned, and while it seems likely that it will be at least qualified, we don't know what the actual decision will be; all that anyone has is a leaked draft from months ago, and drafts are known to be subject sometimes to extremely heavy revision before actually being issued. But on the derivative issue of protesting at the homes of judges, I do have to note that, while you are free to protest any actual decision by any court by peaceable public assembly, to protest a judicial decision while it is still in the process of being deliberated is almost always illegal when done where it might influence the outcome.

* Cardinal Zen, the famously outspoken Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, was arrested under China's security laws for association with a (no longer existing) fund supporting protesters; he seems to be currently out on bail.

* Scheel, Tiokhin, Isager, et al., Why Hypothesis Testers Should Spend Less Time Testing Hypotheses 

* Ann Schneibel, Motherhood Matters, but Do Catholic Maternity Leave Policies Reflect That?

* Andrew Chignell, Kant's Panentheism: The Possibility Proof of 1763 and Its Fate in the Critical Period (PDF)

* Samuel Kimpton-Nye, Laws of Nature: Necessary and Contingent (PDF)

* Marlo Slayback, Nestled in Maternal Bliss

* Fiorella Tomassini, Three Models of Natural Right: Baumgarten, Achenwall, and Kant (PDF)

* Noah Greenstein, Wittgenstein's Wager: On [Absolute] Certainty (PDF)

* Richard Yetter-Chappell is on Substack: Good Thoughts

* One of the peculiarities of Substack, incidentally, is that it has created a modified return to an older form of 'social media' that was partly built on email. A good example is that one of the more recent fashions on Tumblr has been signing up for DraculaDaily, which sends a portion of the novel everyday from May 3 to November 7 (the timespan of the novel -- since everything in the novel is dated, you get part of the novel on the day it takes place) just like similar services did twenty years ago, and live-commenting the story, which, of course, many people are actually reading for the first time.

* Andreas Blank, Wolff on Duties of Esteem in the Law of Peoples (PDF)

* Robert E. Allinson, Plato's Forgotten Four Pages of the Seventh Epistle (PDF)

* Andreas Hutteman, Laws and Dispositions (PDF)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Apostle of Andalusia

 Today is the feast of St. Juan de Avila, Doctor of the Church. From a letter on charity:

The best way to possess true charity and understand what it is, is to consider how the Blessed in heaven practise it, because the more closely we imitate them, the more perfect shall we be in that virtue. The love which the saints bear towards God transforms their will, so that it becomes one with His : that is, they can wish, or not wish, only what He does ; because, as St. Denis says, one effect of love is to make the will of those that love one, and God's whole love and will are centred upon His own glory and essence, which is supremely perfect. It therefore follows that the love of the saints is that single-minded affection and will, with which they long, with all their strength, that God may be in Himself as good, and glorious, and adorable as He is. Seeing Him to possess all these perfections, they feel an ineffable joy, which is the fruit of the Holy Ghost. It will give us some idea of what this happiness is, if we consider how a good son rejoices in seeing his father rich, powerful, wise, beloved and respected by all, and honoured by the king. Indeed, some children are so dutiful, that no troubles or misfortunes of their own can destroy the pleasure they feel in their parents' prosperity, which they consider of the first importance. Now if this human joy for a parent be so great, what must be the jubilation of the saints, transformed as they are by heavenly love, at beholding that God is so holy, perfect, and rich in excellence. They see that, as Creator of the universe, He, by one single act of His will, gave all things their beauty and being, and upholds them in existence, so that not a single leaf can rustle in the wind but by His consent. Behold the joy “such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man.” (1. Cor. II. 9.) This, then, as far as it is possible for us to understand it, is the “charity” of the just in heaven. From this overflowing river which gladdens the city of God, comes, as a streamlet, their love for their neighbour.

[St. John of Avila, from Letters of Blessed Juan de Avila, pp. 126-127.]

Monday, May 09, 2022

Renaissance Popes XIII: Paulus III

 Birth Name: Alessandro Farnese

Lived: 1468-1549

Regnal Name: Paul III

Regnal Life: 1534-1549

Born in Latium, Alessandro Farnese was educated at the University of Pisa and in Florence, where he spent some time in the household of Lorenzo de'Medici. He became a close associate of Rodrigo Cardinal Borgia; in fact, his sister, Giulia Farnese, was Cardinal Borgia's mistress. When Borgia became Alexander VI, the pope made Farnese a cardinal. His sister introduced him to Silvia Ruffini, who became Farnese's mistress. They would eventually have four children: Costanza, Pier Luigi, Paolo and Ranuccio. When Alexander died and, shortly afterward, Pius III died as well, Giuliano della Rovere became Julius II. Julius hated Alexander, and he began almost immediately to make an extensive house-cleaning to remove supporters of Alexander. Farnese, however, somehow managed to maintain good relations with the new pope, despite being very obviously associated with Alexander. This is an important aspect of Farnese's talents and career; he was emollient, the sort of man who is difficult to treat as enemy. Under Julius he was made administrator of Parma. This marks a significant change in his life; in Parma he began associating with reform-minded priests and bishops. He ended the relationship with Silvia (although he will always support their children) and threw himself into the work of ecclesiastical reform. He was very active with the Fifth Lateran Council and began energetically implementing its reforms in Parma almost immediately. When Giovanni di Lorenzo de'Medici became Leo X, Cardinal Farnese's position improved even further, because, of course, Leo was an old friend, Farnese having spent time in the Medici household. He continued to do well under Adrian VI and, despite having been a potential rival in the papal election, even better under Clement VII (who was, of course, a Medici as well). 

However, they were troubled times for everyone, and one problem that Cardinal Farnese had -- and would always have -- was his son Pier Luigi. Pier Luigi was a wild young man. He supported Colonna and the Imperial faction, to the great irritation of Clement VII; Farnese, always smooth, managed to get an amnesty for Pier Luigi, but the ungrateful boy signed up for the Imperial army anyway, and perhaps also is the one who convinced his brother Ranuccio to join. So Pier Luigi Farnese fought against the Papal States. He in fact participated in the Sack of Rome while his father was fleeing with the pope to Castel Sant'Angelo. (Ranuccio, on the other hand, at some point joined a small group to serve as a guard protecting the pope.)  In any even, Cardinal Farnese became one of Clement's closest associates, a major support during Clement's imprisonment and Clement's foremost diplomat after.

When Clement died, the situation in which the conclave was very peculiar. Given the hostilities in Europe, the conclave needed a candidate who was neither pro-Imperial nor pro-French; this narrowed the field considerably, and of all the possibilities, Farnese had been Clement's own preference for a successor. So he was elected quite quickly and easily, and took the name Paul III. The Romans were enthusiastic about him, and the celebrations over his election were extensive. However, given his age, he was not expected to live long.

Almost immediately after his election, Paul began shoring up his family, and if there's any criticism of Paul's tenure as pope that approaches being universal among observers and historians, it is nepotism. He made Pier Luigi's son, who was also named Alessandro Farnese, a cardinal, and would make another son of Pier Luigi, also known as Ranuccio, first the prior of the Venetian property of the Knights of Malta (he was twelve years old), then cardinal at the age of fifteen. Paul attempted to negotiate titles over the city of Novara for Pier Luigi himself, this took considerable negotiation, because Charles V was not particularly enthused over it, but he was eventually successful. He also made Pier Luigi Captain General of the Church and created the Duchy of Castro within the Papal States for his son. Later, he would make him Duke of Parma and Piacenza. Perhaps Paul hoped that Pier Luigi would be stabilized by the added responsibilities, but the man always remained wild and cruel; in 1537, for instance, there was a big scandal when he was accused of raping a twenty-four-year-old bishop, who died shortly afterward. Pier Luigi himself was murdered in 1547 by conspiracy led by the governor of Milan, probably with Charles's support, as Charles wanted to add the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza to Milanese territory. But the problems that Pier Luigi caused for Paul are generally seen as the primary blot on his papacy.

When he became Pope, Paul had to engage in a very delicate balancing act over the relations between the States of the Church and both France and the Empire. He tried to resolve this problem by a policy of very strict neutrality on all matters involving both. It is a sign of the times that this was very difficult to do, and took all of his diplomatic ingenuity. Nonetheless he was successful for a while, and in this way contributed as best he could to one of the main planks of Renaissance reform: peace among the Christian princes. The most important plank of Renaissance reform, however, was the summoning of a general council, and Paul was absolutely resolved to achieve this. The situation with France and the Empire, however, would continually derail his attempts.  He began working toward a general council almost as soon as he was in office, but quickly found that the real issue was less the council itself and more where the council would be. The Emperor Charles was, after Pope Paul, the biggest supporter of council, but Charles wanted the council to take place in Germany, where he could keep an eye on it, and Paul did not want a council in Germany because there was so much disruption over Protestantism, and as events would unfold, this would clearly be seen to be a wise worry. Charles's brother Ferdinand was taking a bigger role in Imperial affairs, and he pushed for Trent. Trent was convenient as to location -- it was within the Empire but was also in a broad sense an Italian city. It was also a small place which at the time had no significant universities or libraries or housing, all things you would need for a general council. Charles was willing to compromise a bit more, and offered Mantua, a little farther south but still under Imperial control, and burgeoning under the governance of the Gonzaga family. Charles and Ferdinand were not the real obstacles, though. The Schmalkaldic League, France, and England actively opposed holding a general council. The League refused to recognize any council called by a pope, as well as any council that occurred outside of Germany. This was, despite what you might think, not representative of Protestants at the time, who by and large shared the general Renaissance that a general council was good thing for reform, but they were the major Protestant power on the continent, and their view was spreading. Francis I of France was afraid that a general council would give the advantage in the France-Empire power struggle to Charles, and was adamant that a council should not be called in Germany. And Henry VIII of England broke with Rome in 1534 with the Act of Supremacy and the Treasons Act, and did not want the problem of a general council perhaps unifying the continent against him. One might say, 'Well, why does it matter what the great powers wanted?' But a key problem with councils is that they are expensive. (This was always one of conciliarism's weak points, that implementing it thoroughly would be so expensive that no one had the revenue for it.) You have to pay for bishops to go; you have to pay for them be housed and fed; you have to pay for resources (like books); you have to pay for the communications between the council and the rest of the world. Eugene had gone nearly bankrupt maintaining the Council of Florence, which was only be completed because (due to some excellent persuasion by Eugene) Florence recognized that establishing Byzantine connnections and having the prestige of the council could be good for its bottom line and therefore was willing to foot the rest of the bill. Constance and Fifth Lateran basically worked by the great powers paying for their own bishops, thus dividing the costs. If France, or England, or the Empire did not like a location, they obviously wouldn't pay for bishops to go there, and would probably actively discourage most bishops from going. If their bishops were represented, though, the claim of the council to be a general council would become more contestable. It's all well and good to say, 'Let's have a council.' But then you have to organize and pay for it.

In any case, Paul issued a Bull of Convocation in 1536, summoning bishops to a council in Mantua, which was resource-wise a great city for it, and a very reasonable compromise between the emperor and the pope. He immediately created a Commission of Reform to prepare for it. However, they had not thought beforehand to sound out the Duke of Mantua, Federigo II Gonzaga. Gonzaga was willing to host the council -- but only if certain requirements were met, and the demands kept expanding. The result was the Paul had to prorogue the council before it had even opened. So where to go now? Paul's preferences were for Bologna or Piacenza, but Charles refused to accept a city within the Papal States, because, he argued, any attempt to get the German Protestants on board, even if only in principle, was dead if the council was seen to be too much in the control of the pope. So Paul went to Venice. After some persuasion, he got the Venetians to consent to holding the council in Vicenza. So he issue a new bull convoking the council in Vicenza, and turned to the next problem, which was creating some sort of reconciliation between France and the Empire that would at least be enough to get France to send its delegates. However, when his legates reached Vicenza, they discovered that, despite the opening day for the council being very close, nobody had arrived. And tensions between France and the Empire had suddenly surged (more of which below), so it was clear that neither would be sending delegates any time soon. So Paul postponed the council, indefinitely.

The difficulty of actual reform was quite pervasive. In 1534 he had created a commission for the moral reform of the clergy and another for auditing the offices of the Papal States, and in 1535, he began enforcing prior reform decrees, particularly those of the Fifth Lateran Council, more strictly. As perhaps was inevitable, the cardinals were not very pleased to have all of this meddling all at once, and he found that he was repeatedly resisted and undercut. So he did what popes had previously done to deal with this problem: he made more cardinals. These included his nephews, for which he was at the time and ever after sharply criticized, but he also gave the red hat to a number of exemplary people, like John Fisher. This made it easier to get stricter enforcement of reform policies already in place, although resistance was always there.

It was additionally very difficult to get anything done because the political situation was deteriorating badly. Suleiman the Magnificent had been building his fleet and in 1533 started a series of raids in the Mediterranean, culminating in seizing the important naval port of Tunis from the Spanish. Holding Tunis meant that the Ottoman Empire could raid and even invade any part of the southern coast of Europe, and any of the Mediterranean islands. Charles pulled together a large fleet, the Holy League of 1535, at great expense -- indeed, an expense so great that it could have caused him immense difficulties if it weren't for the fact that Spanish trade and conquest in the New World was beginning to bring in very large sums of money: Francisco Pizarro had ransomed the Incan king Atahualpa for a sum of gold sufficient to pay for it all. A number of other powers contributed, but France refused to do so, stating that it was under a temporary truce with the Ottomans due to an embassy by the Ottomans to France in 1533. That is true, and is what the French said, but what the French did not say was that they were at that very moment engaging in negotiations with the Ottoman Empire for joint military action against the Holy Roman Empire. But the fact that the French were still in negotiation over this meant that they were willing accept Paul's proposal of a truce among the European powers during the Holy League's campaign to retake Tunis. The Siege of Tunis was brutal and bloody but successful; indeed, resoundingly so. And Suleiman, no fool at all, took the lesson: the Holy Roman Empire was a potentially fatal threat when it could exert its full power. So the sultan agreed to a full and formal alliance with France. The Franco-Ottoman Alliance had begun. The French would be allowed to trade freely with Ottoman ports, they would not be harassed or bothered about their religion while in the Ottoman Empire, various religious sites were turned over to the French to oversee, coordinated military campaigns would be undertaken against Italy, the Ottoman Empire would help France finance its army, permanent embassies were established. Suleiman even sent a letter to the Schmalkaldic League, promising them support if they would ally with France. In 1536, the Italian War of 1536-1538 began as the French invaded Italy. It's not surprising that Pope Paul found himself with a Europe that suddenly had no interest in a general council. France's assault on Italy was ground to a halt by Genoa, partly because the French had moved somewhat too early -- the sultan was not yet ready to assault Naples and draw away Imperial forces. He landed forces in Otranto in 1537, but that the French were unable to seize Lombardy, so he withdrew them and attacked Venice instead, beginning the Third Ottoman-Venetian War. In the face of all this, Paul, using his diplomatic skills to the utmost, managed to negotiate a truce between Francis and Charles again, and then called for another Holy League. The Ottoman navy had grown immensely, however, and after intensive fighting, the Ottomans won resoundingly, seizing a significant portion of Venetian territory.

In the meantime, Denmark was engaged in a massive civil war of succession, which culminated in the victory of Christian III of Sweden, who imposed Lutheranism on the Danes, and then was able to use Denmark as a platform for invading Norway in 1537, imposing Lutheranism on the Norwegians, as well.

In all this flurry, it is not surprising that people were not paying attention to the proliferating numbers of Catholic religious orders and societies. In 1534, a Spanish nobleman and soldier named Ignatius of Loyola formed a small religious society with a number of his college friends: Francisco Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, Nicolas Bobadilla, Pierre Favre, and Samao Rodrigues. They were from all over Europe, just having all ended up at the University of Paris for one reason or another around the same time. Ignatius had some unusual ideas for what the society should be. In 1537, the men traveled to Rome to get approval. After hearing them out, Pope Paul gave them his approval to be be ordained and become, as they wished to be, a society of priests. Their original intent was to travel to the Holy Land on missions, but all the wars prevented them. So they stayed in Europe, one domino in a chain of events that would change a great many other things. In 1540, Paul would give them full formal approval in the bull Regimini militantes ecclesiae to be a society of 'reformed priests' who were authorized to form schools and engage in missionary activities; since they were an experimental group, he limited their number to sixty (the limit was lifted in 1543). Thus began the Society of Jesus, a controversial group from the beginning; there were many people who thought that the Jesuits diverged too much from the standard models. But they were impressive from the beginning as well; they did extremely well in various preaching missions Paul set them. King John of Portugal would, not long after, request their assistance for Portuguese missions. Bobadilla and Rodrigues were the ones who were supposed to do that, but Bobadilla became ill at the last moment, and so St. Ignatius sent St. Francis Xavier instead, with Bobadilla going off to Germany when he grew better. St. Francis would go on to major missionary journeys in Mozambique, India, Sri Lanka, Malacca, and Japan. New things were moving, although the world hardly noticed.

In 1541, the Imperial Diet was held at Regensburg, also known as Ratisbon. Charles was very eagerto find a way to pacify the Protestant Germans so that they would stop negotiating with the French and the Ottomans. Martin Bucer had worked up a set of articles that attempted to outline the broadest ground that the Protestants were willing to concede to the Catholics, if the Catholics were also willing to concede ground to the Protestants. Unsurprisingly the Catholics had some objections, but with the exception of a small number of articles, the two parties were able to come to a mutually unhappy agreement. The Lutherans were not willing to give way on those points; the Catholics insisted that the Emperor had no authority to decide religious questions. But Charles went ahead anyway, and enforced the articles, in what is known as the Regensburg Interim. In fact, however, Charles was not in the position that he was pretending to be; with France on one side and the Ottoman Empire on the other, he very shortly neutered his own policy by giving the Lutherans extensive concessions, having accomplished nothing but convincing the Catholics that the emperor could not be trusted. St. Pierre Favre (also known as Peter Faber) had been sent to the Colloquy of Ratisbon, as it is often called, as a theologian. He was utterly astounded both at how far Protestantism had spread and at the reported corruption of the German hierarchy, and came away with the conviction that negotiations would never solve this problem at all. Instead, he began to work on recruiting, and he was very good at spotting exceptional promise; a number of truly extraordinary men, like St. Peter Canisius, would enter the Jesuits because of him.

The events at Regensburg and its aftermath convinced Paul that the general council had been too long delayed, so he published another bull in June 1542 convoking a council that November at Trent. Unfortunately, in July France declared war against the Holy Roman Empire. Nobody would be going to Trent in November. Paul repeatedly tried to get it started again, but finally gave up and officially suspended the never-having-met council in September of 1543. The possibility of any general council, it seemed, was dead. But in the next year, Charles scored a series of massive victories against France, forcing the Treaty of Crepy, and one of his conditions was that France would support a general council. So Paul again convoked a council at Trent in March of 1545, and he sent his legates, Pole, Cervini, and Del Monte to Trent, giving them discretion and authorization to move or dissolve the council if they saw fit. They arrived just before the council was supposed to open, and only one other bishop (Tommaso Sanfelice) had even arrived yet. Slowly bishops trickled in, but so slowly that the council didn't officially open until December 3, and even then with a paltry thirty-four delegates, with Cardinal Del Monte as the council president. Even then, once the council was started, everyone began realizing that they had no viable agenda or plan of procedure for the council, because they had had to change plans so many times. It didn't help that they didn't really have many resources to work with.  Paul, understandably impatient, sent a letter to the council, through his grandson Alessandro Cardinal Farnese, directing the council to begin with doctrinal issues (admonishing them, however, to stick to doctrine and not to condemnation of the Protestants themselves). The letter did not actually help, because there was an underlying argument already going on as to how independent the council should be. A heated debate began over whether they should begin with practical reform or doctrinal correction. Back and forth it went, until finally they came to a compromise. They would break things up into parts and do 'parallel decrees', one doctrinal decree paired with one reform decree. Nobody liked it, especially Paul, who was worried that the council was turning into a new Council of Basel, but the innovation is arguably one significant contributor to the Council of Trent's unusual effectiveness as a reform council -- every reform had to be tied specifically to doctrine, and the doctrinal affirmations had to be tied to specific reforms. The ties were often loose, but seem to have been enough to keep the council grounded on matters both of doctrine and reform. Things slowly began moving, and the pope and the emperor both sent theologians -- the pope's theologians being Laynez and Salmeron, from the new Society of Jesus.

Full discussion of Trent is impossible here, but it's worth looking at the first topic considered to get a sense of how Trent worked and also some peculiarities of the reform that would grow out of it. The first topic, of course, was Scripture. Delegates did not quite know what to do about this, but they eventually agreed on the simplest plan, which was just to reaffirm the canon that had been recognized by the Council of Florence. The problem was with the apocryphal or deuterocanonical books, which were rejected by the Protestants. And a lot of bishops were sympathetic with the Protestant criticisms, regarding them as extreme but also as making a genuine point. Therefore, the council decided to recognize the Florentine canon formally and officially, but to take no stand at all on the relative authority of the protocanonical and deuterocanonical books. This discussion was paired on the reform side with discussion of vernacular translations and publishing. The translation debate became very heated. One reason why is that in some places, like France, Spain, and England, vernacular translations were illegal because they were associated with seditious groups, whereas in others, like Germany, Poland, and Italy, they were allowed, and sometimes even encouraged, for reasons of scholarship and devotion. The result was that any specific decision would anger some of the major powers. Therefore the council decided to take no stand at all on the matter. They issued a decree recognizing the Vulgate as authoritative for teaching and preaching and authorizing an official edition for it. Anything about translations, like anything about relative authority in the canon, was deliberately avoided. But here's the thing. This silence over any matter on which the Council Fathers could not agree, which will be the recurring pattern in Trent, will be read as rejection. The Tridentine Fathers deliberately avoided saying that, say, the Book of Judith was equally authoritative with the Book of Esther; they could not agree on the question, so they just didn't talk about it. But it was afterward read by Protestants and Catholics alike as making them all on the same level. The Tridentine Fathers deliberately avoided saying that vernacular translations were forbidden; the only thing they could agree on was that the Vulgate was accepted by the Church for the purpose of teaching and preaching, so that's all they said on the subject. But afterward Protestants and Catholics alike would read the decree as restricting the Church to the Vulgate. So it would be for many other things; the texts would often be read with a different implicature than they were intended. This sort of problem is not uncommon, and is certainly not exclusive to Trent (it is yet another reason why conciliarism is immensely naive), but it would be a significant shaping force on reform in the centuries to come. One of the results is that people lost all sense of just how sympathetic to Protestant positions many of the Tridentine Fathers were. Not all to be sure, but many of the bishops thought that Lutheran criticisms were right if the Lutherans would just restrain themselves a bit; there's a reason why in the sessions on justification a fistfight broke out over whether Lutheran terminology admitted of a Catholic interpretation or not.

In 1546, the Schmalkaldic League attempted to take over the Catholic city of Fussen by force. Charles assaulted them and won a conclusive victory. As a result, Charles would feel enough certain of himself to promulgate the Augsburg Interim to begin reintegrating the Lutherans into the Church. Protestants were ordered to accept the sacraments, but the clergy were granted the right to marry and allowed communion in both kinds. The Lutherans, naturally, were vehemently opposed, but Bobadilla, who was still in Germany, also vehemently opposed it. Nonetheless, Charles was not to be deterred. Paul advised the Catholic bishops to honor the conditions of the Interim, but still insisted that Charles had no authority to decide religious questions. Some Lutherans, like Melanchthon, were willing to compromise, if only to hold out for the possiblity of negotiating a more favorable Interim, but others, like Bucer fled. In Germany itself, the Lutherans will split over Melanchthon's exhortations to patience. Charles's attempt to cut the Gordian knot will ultimately fail; indeed, it is one of the things responsible for the spread of Protestantism, as the fleeing Lutherans took their Protestantism with them wherever they went. 

In the meantime, problems were accumulating with the council. While the Schmalkaldic War was going on, Trent was hit by the plague. After heated debate, the council moved to Bologna, where it attempted to continue work. But some bishops refused to leave Trent, and the emperor and the pope got into a huge row over the move, because Bologna was in the Papal States, and the major thing that Charles had been insisting was that the council should not take place in the Papal States. The pope's son, Pier Luigi, was murdered about this time, and Paul suspected that Charles was behind it. Charles denied it, but Paul had been at the Sack of Rome, and Charles had denied responsibility for that, too, and he did not believe him. This derailed everything again, and finally in September 1549, Paul, attempting to do something that would end the argument, gave the bishops at Bologna permission to go home. Importantly, he did not declare the council at end or even adjourned; he was hoping to start it again at some point.

He never had a chance to do so. He died of heart attack in November 1549. Any pontificate after that of Clement VII necessarily would be one of transition, and as a pontificate of transition, Paul's tenure has a sometimes contradictory character, with older Renaissance approaches being overlaid, sometimes discordantly, with the first beginnings of something new. Paul was not as cunning as Alexander, not as much a forceful organizer as Julius, not as self-disciplined as Adrian, but he was a very good diplomat, and he was, despite his flaws, very serious about reform. Europe was breaking into fragments, and negotiating those fragments was not at all easy. But by combining his diplomatic skills with a focus on reform that at times approached singlemindedness, he accomplished a number of things that his predecessors had not been able to do. But he benefited as well from the fact that things were moving in new directions, and he was willing to move with them. Neither he nor anyone else could have imagined that the Jesuits would become the force that they eventually did; but Paul was willing to gamble on their rather radical ideas about how to approach reform. The Council of Trent began in the the most inauspicious way possible for a council, with endless false starts, an initial slow crawl due to the fact that everyone was caught off guard when it actually started, and then an apparent failure by the end of his papal administration. But Paul had never stopped trying, and this extremely unlucky council would take the Renaissance reform movement and change it in ways that neither he nor anyone else at the time could ever have imagined.

But at the end of Paul's reign, none of this was known yet. The council seemed in shambles and Europe seemed worse. The big question was now over how well his successor would handle the situation. The answer would be: Not particularly well.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Fortnightly Book, May 8

 "Has it got any sports in it?"

"Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

"Sounds okay," I said, and I kind of closed my eyes. (p. 9)

According to William Goldman, he started writing when he was taking creative writing in college, which he was able to attend due to the GI Bill; he did poorly in the classes, and when we worked for the college literary journal, he found that other editors would reject his anonymously submitted material as unpublishable. In 1956, though, he wrote out a novel in three weeks and managed to get it published, and from then on he had a career, turning out novels occasionally, then collaborating with his brother (a playwright and screenwright) on theater, which prepared him for screenwriting. He intended to get back into novels, but found himself with writer's block. Instead he wrote a screenplay, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which sold for a very high price and earned him an Academy Award. His career was made. He wrote a number of other screenplays and novels.

But perhaps his greatest work came in 1973 with a comic novel in the genre of Ruritanian romance. The title of the work was: The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The "Good Parts" Version Abridged by William Goldman. The work began when his daughters wanted (ages 7 and 4) a story; one daughter wanted a story about princesses, the other a story about brides -- thus the title. It started out well; he got through the first chapter without any difficulty and then ran into problems in the second one. Complete roadblock. Couldn't figure out how to write through it to get to where he wanted to go. And that was when he had the key idea. Instead of trying to write the novel, write the abridged version of the novel, with only the good parts. From this came the central conceit: S. Morgenstern, Florin's greatest author, wrote a 1000-page cantankerous, rambling, heavily satirical historical-fiction tale of "true love and high adventure", and 'William Goldman' is just the editor abridging it. Thus, for instance, in the final version of The Princess Bride, Chapter Two, "The Groom", where Goldman was having difficulty, we find, instead of the story, a note from the 'editor' explaining why he is skipping it (S. Morgenstern here inserted sixty-six pages of discussion of the history of the Florinese royal family) so as to get to the good parts. 

Goldman also wrote a screenplay for the work, but the stops and starts with productions meant that the film did not get produced until 1987. The move, The Princess Bride, is of course a classic in its own right, and I'll be watching it again to go with reading the novel. This should be interesting in its own right, because, while the adaptation is by the same person who wrote the novel, it is in many way squite different. One notable point is that the movie, while not a 'kid's movie' is clearly pitched for an audience with kids; the novel much less so. In the frame story of the novel, 'William Goldman', the supposed editor, is pretty clearly getting obsessed with Morgenstern as a form of midlife-crisis escapism from his repulsion to his passive-aggressive psychotherapist wife and his fat son, with whom he has nothing in common. (Both are entirely fictional, not autobiographical.) That is, the editor is retreating to S. Morgenstern's tale of "true love and high adventure" precisely because he doesn't have either. The screenplay makes some minor concession to some parts of the frame story, but keeps it simple (which is probably for the best as far as the movie goes).

The version I will be reading is the 30th Anniversary Edition. In 1987, the book was given some revision to include references to the movie (which is another reason to watch the movie with the book). Then in the 25th Anniversary Edition, an Introduction was added that is in reality an expansion of the frame story. It also mentioned, in the epilogue a sequel (or perhaps 'sequel'), Buttercup's Baby, that could not yet be published due to 'legal problems' from the estate of S. Morgenstern. In the 30th Anniversary Edition, an additional Introduction and a 'chapter' from the 'sequel' is added, but the 'legal problems' continue, and, outrageously, he learns that Morgenstern wants the sequel to be written by Stephen King (who in the frame story is of Florinese heritage). It gives a sketch of where the story might go, and promises a full sequel by the 50th Anniversary. We have no idea whether Goldman would have ever followed through with a sequel or not, or indeed whether he ever really intended to do, because he died in 2018, five years short of the 50th Anniversary, which would of course be next year.