​By Any Other Name

From Web Exclusives

“And the knowledge of names,” Socrates explains to Hermogenes in the Cratylus, “is a great part of knowledge.” An important concomitant of Cratylus’s naturalist account of naming that goes unnoticed in Plato’s dialogue but upon which Scripture fixes attention is that a change in nature seems to suggest, even demand, a change in name. Continue Reading »

Newman’s Bones

From Web Exclusives

This coming October marks the sixth anniversary of the exhumation of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s corpse. From an austere burial site in a small cemetery near Rednal, Newman’s remains were to be moved—translated, as the term of art has it—to a marble sarcophagus standing opposite All Soul’s Altar in the Birmingham Oratory, the fraternal congregation established by Newman (with Paul IX’s endorsement) shortly following his 1845 reception into the Catholic Church. That the Church should take a keen interest in his corpse was no surprise. No, that interest was and is threaded deeply within a rather ancient pattern of thought that entails, inter alia, the disinterment, dismemberment, and distribution of the traces of the canonized or beatified dead for veneration among the faithful. This is how the Church came by the designator Cultus sanctorum, by performing a curious form of sacramental necrophilism by which Christians give honor to their saints by clinging to their material vestiges: bone, hair, bits of cloth, scapulars, and their like. Or so it goes, ideally. Continue Reading »