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83 dvd rEviEw John Henry Newman: One Step Enough for Me. By Braambos. Kessell-Lo, Belgium: braambos@kerknet.be, 2010. $US 25.00 (includes postage to US). This 35-minute DVD advertises itself as a “documentary” that provides a “biographical portrait” of Newman’s life. It is an unusual documentary in that it depicts a pensive older priest,presumably representing Newman,whose reading and writing, whose meditation and prayer, are presented vicariously as those of Newman while the proficient voice-over of the narrator proceeds with outlining the main events of Newman’s life. Providing special interest to the narrative are the substantive interventions about Newman’s life and thought by Professor Terrence Merrigan, a theologian from the Catholic University of Leuven. The professionally produced recording presents the actor-priest with attractive backdrops of library and chapel settings, scenes of fields and streams along which he is walking, sketches and photographs of locales and buildings of significance in Newman’s life, together with a few of the time-honored portraits of Newman. Also interspersed throughout are fresh as well as familiar quotations read almost reverently in a voice different from that of the narrator. The overall audiovisual effect is a harmonious and engaging setting for serious reflection on the central issues of Newman’s thought and religious faith. The story begins with a brief sketch of the broad historical background of England at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It proceeds to speak of Newman’s boyhood and his relationship with his parents, especially with his father. Terrence Merrigan presents Newman’s “first conversion” at the age of fifteen as an occurrence that“likely lasted about six months”and was the fruit of a gradual process encompassing his illness, his father’s bank failure, contact with his early teachers, his prayer life and so forth. “Not some kind of intense religious experience,” says Merrigan, this was more like a profound insight, a personal realization about his particular relation to God and his individual responsibility as a man before God to seek truth and to live in accordance with it. Insight grows slowly for Newman. Foundational for the pervasive personalism of Newman’s thought, this early realization was deepened when he became aware of his excessively rationalist interests as a young Oriel fellow,a crisis again occasioned by illness and this time also by death, that of his beloved sister, Mary. Yet another such critical time in Newman’s life was precipitated by his grave illness in Sicily when he experienced through suffering the “feeling of God’s elective love” for himself personally as he recovered and set out on a new pathway in his life. The upshot of these times of personal crisis was to make Newman again and again aware of the importance of integrating humility, prayer and devotion with intellectual acumen and theological reflection— all in their necessary tension and right balance,which he saw as applicable as well to the Church in making the doctrinal truths of Christianity existentially real and living in practice. Newman became a Catholic after historical examination of the doctrines of the primitive church and their developments on the large field of time. Merrigan DVD REVIEW NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 84 emphasizes Newman’s sensitivity to the movement of history and,accordingly,to the central place of the doctrine of the Incarnation. God’s presence in space and time requires continual reinterpretation of Christianity, as the shape of Christian doctrine changes over time and different aspects of its message are highlighted. Human history is a developmental process;so then is human consciousness in its midst. Like insight, understanding develops slowly within the gradual unfolding of history. Oscot, Rome, and Dublin successively became Newman’s provisional homes as a new Catholic,an Oratorian priest and the champion of an educated laity prepared for the world. Back at Birmingham, Newman’s settled life was interrupted in 1864 by Charles Kingsley’s charges of dishonesty, then by his own widely applauded selfdefense , Apologia pro Vita Sua. Because Newman’s life was characterized by opposition and conflict, including that with ecclesiastical authorities, it was a surprise, and a capstone on his life, when Pope Leo XIII elevated him...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 83-84
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-22
Open Access
No
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