Thursday, June 16, 2011

Descent of the Dove - VII, VIII, IX


OK, so I didn't get to blog on a chapter per day of Charles Williams' Descent of the Dove for each day of the Great Novena. The best laid plans and all that.


But not deterred by my utter failure (my utter failure has never stopped me before), I am posting an epilogue of sorts that wraps everything up.


In general, this was an engaging and fun book to read. Williams view on Church history is similar to Belloc's, in that both take a sweeping view of things without losing the reader in details.


But there is something nagging at me.


There is something not legit about this book. There is something that smells a tad bit funny. Maybe it's Williams' complacent Anglicanism in the face of the Holy Spirit, Whose actions he clearly sees in bold outline at least. Maybe it's his continuing theme of frustrated Eros, which rings just a tiny bit hollow and strikes a discordant note. Maybe it's his refusal to be anything but vague on the things in this book that are most typically original to Williams. Maybe it's his weird fixation on "co-inherence", which is really nothing more than the Incarnation playing itself out over time and in the life of individuals and their societies. Why a new word for such an old and familiar thing?


But I think there's an extra element here, a hint of New Age spirituality that underlies the otherwise orthodox views of the book. It's a kind of gauze that is woven throughout the fabric. It's hard to be specific about it, as it shows up when Williams is least specific himself: his vagueness is an alarm for it. There's a quasi-philosophy that enters. "Co-inherence" sounds legit enough ... but; "The Liberation of Eros" sounds like a plan ... however; there are in both those spots something not Catholic, something that tends to spoil the writings of an otherwise Catholic Anglican.


Thus my alternate title for this book would be Belloc Compromised.


Still, it was worth reading and it's worth praying for Williams and the other Inklings, whose work and lives were all pointed toward Christ - even if imperfectly so (kind of like ours).

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