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NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 98 BOOK REVIEWS Newman and Truth. Edited byTerrence Merrigan and Ian Ker. LouvainTheological and Pastoral Monographs, 39. Leuven-Paris-Walpole, MA: Peeters and Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008. Pages: V + 289. Paper, $50.00, ISBN 978–0–8264– 8407–9. This volume is a collection of eight papers given at the Fourth Oxford International Conference held at Somerville College,Oxford University,14–18August, 2004; the conference’s purpose, according to the editors, was twofold: “to examine Newman’s own thought on . . . the nature of religious truth” and “to investigate whether Newman’s thought has any relevance to contemporary debates about this matter and, more importantly, any contribution to make to these debates.” The conference papers in this volume are multidisciplinary in nature,because the editors deemed “that only such an approach does justice to the breadth and depth of Newman’s thought.” Papers by both editors frame the six papers in-between, Terrence Merrigan’s entitled ‘”Myself and My Creator”: Newman and the (Post-)modern Subject’ and Ian Ker’s entitled “Newman and the Charismatic Dimension of the Church.” Merrigan lays out how he estimates what both modernity and post-modernity understand by “subject”—followed by Newman’s understanding of the subject or self-hood, and closes the paper with a comparison of Newman and post-modernism on this matter. In addition to being an informative and clarifying exposition of the topic, Merrigan’s conclusion about Newman’s view of the individual subject—a view grounded in Newman’s understanding of the human conscience, particularly as compared with the view of post-modernism—puts Newman’s idea of personal self-hood in a way that seriously questions an individualist and mystical interpretation. Merrigan proposes that self-hood, for Newman, is socialized and, therefore, our experience of God in the conscience as well as in any other form is an experience that involves the whole person and, consequently, self-hood cannot be reduced to the individualist and mystical. Furthermore,each human subject is ethically responsible to every other and is continuously journeying with the other toward union with God. The other bookend of this volume,Ian Ker’s paper on Newman’s view of the role of the charismatic in the Church, claims convincingly that, while Newman firmly believed in the need for the hierarchical Church to judge what is authentic or inauthentic charisma, he was very strong on the charismatic dimension of the Church, exemplified primarily by the laity. The charismatic is very much enacted by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church. According to Ker, the Church, by Newman’s calculation, needs both the hierarchical and the charismatic dimensions, with the latter being the more prominent, and the former treading more lightly. John Milbank’s paper, “What is Living and What is Dead in Newman’s Grammar of Assent” and Keith Hanley’s paper, “Newman’s Paths to Rome: The Cultural Geography of Liberal Assent” can be evaluated together, since their papers cover some of the same territory,even though differently. Hanley’s paper starts out all over 99 the board,but then begins to settle down and describes Newman’s journey to assent, liberal or otherwise,in a helpful and fascinating way up through Idea of a University. Once Hanley reaches the Grammar of Assent, however, he engages in the same mistake that Erik Erikson did with Luther1 and FrankTurner did in a book on Newman and the Evangelicals.2 Hanley begins to psychologize by reading a Freudian agenda into Newman’s personality—as it supposedly appears in Newman’s writings, particularly the Grammar of Assent. Vivid memories of where Newman lived or visited are not accepted as remembrances of the beautiful by a person whose experiences of the real had pricked his imagination so powerfully, but as a manifestation of something deeply troubling Newman in his psyche. Consequently, Hanley is reading a different Grammar than the one Newman wrote. This is precisely what Milbank has done in his paper. Milbank is one of the pioneers of the movement known as Radical Orthodoxy, who have a tendency to write so obscurely that what they do write is virtually unintelligible. Consequently, Milbank...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 98-100
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-22
Open Access
No
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