Saturday, April 21, 2007

O'Donovan on revising tradition

No element formed by tradition can claim absolute allegiance. But the right to revise traditions is not everybody's right; it has to be won by learning their moral truths as deeply as they can be learned. Those who have difficult vocations to explore need the tradition to help the exploration. The tradition may not have the final word; but it is certain they will never find the final word if they have failed to profit from the words the tradition offers. And if it should really be the case that they are summoned to witness on some terra incognita of "new" experience, it will be all the more important that their new discernments should have been reached on the basis of a deep appropriation of old ones, searching for and exploiting the analogies they offer. No one who has not learned to be traditional can dare to innovate.

- Oliver O'Donovan, Good News for Gay Christians: Sermons on the Subjects of the Day (7), §7.


Anonymous said...

I remember John Cage writing some very similar stuff on music and dance. Which was surprising given how 'out there' he was in both those fields. basically that innovation (or grace in his words) comes from knowing tradition (clarity) so well that you see more in it, and that without clarity, the masterful grace is absolutely meaningless