Florovsky Paper Abstract 21 - On the Blessed Impossibility of Reform: 4 Poetic Theses

Feast of St Kyriake the Great Martyr

THE REFORMATION has become a historical commonplace, a placeholder that signifies an array of events, movements, theologies, and assumptions. Calling these assumptions into question, I would like to present four ‘poetic’ theses that challenge the idea that: 1) the Church is capable of reformation; and 2) that it is desirable to reform even if we could. However, this is not an argument that the Church is pure, unchanging, or without turmoil. Nor is it the case that the teachings of the Church are dead letters, encased in amber, incapable of speaking to our age, or frozen in the past. Our ‘job’ is not simply to conserve the Faith, nor to attempt a return to a nostalgic prior unity that may or may not have existed. Nor are we called to an abstract ‘unity’ that may only exist in the Body of Christ among the bookish with time on their hands. Instead, using a profound, epoch-shifting quote from the writer Georges Bernanos as a jumping off point, I will hope to point to a higher calling than reformation, presented through the following theses: 1) Of Sacred Fountains: We are Naked Before Our Fathers; 2) Of Tradition and Deuteronomy: We are Holy Grave Robbers At Best; 3) Of Anti-Whigism: We are Sons of Joachimites, Jacobites, and Jacobins Against the ‘Borgies’; and 4) Of an Ecumenism of Defeat: We are Losers Overcoming the World at the End of the Age. Utilizing insights from The Life of St. Francis, Eugene Vodolazkin, Christopher Dawson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Simon Leys, I hope to call into question what is often viewed as the intractable loggerheads in which current ecumenical efforts find themselves.


Bo Bonner is the Director of the Zita Institute for Foundations and Ethics in Leadership, the Director of Mission and Ministry at Mercy College of Health Sciences where he teaches classes on Leadership, an instructor for the Faith Journey Catechetical Institute for the Diocese of Des Moines, and Co-Host of ‘The UnCommon Good’ on Iowa Catholic Radio. He converted to Catholicism in the midst of Protestant Seminary at Duke Divinity School in 2006, became a Benedictine Oblate at Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma in 2009, and has spoke on topics related to Philosophy, Theology, Literature, and Leadership from 2010 onward. He has been married over a decade and a half to his wife Robyn, and so far, has four children: Elias, Stella, Antonia, and Finnian. Bo was born on the feast of St. Blaise, the patron of throats, and has not stopped talking ever since.


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