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Catholics and Millennialism

A Theo-Linguistic Guide


Warren A. Kappeler III

Philosophers of religion such as Mark Kingwell regard millenarian dreams as humanity’s most powerful hopes for transformation, transcendence, apocalypse, and utopia. In Catholics and Millennialism: A Theo-Linguistic Guide, Warren A. Kappeler III explores the insights of critical discourse theory to examine the impact of millenarian groups upon Catholics. He examines theo-linguistic practices among present-day Catholics through allegorical interpretation, fundamentalism, and neo-literalism. Utilizing surveys of pre-millennial movements as revealed in academic research by Michael Cuneo, William Dinges, and Sandra Zimdars-Swartz, as well as post-millennial collaboration by progressive Catholics such as Hans Küng, Matthew Fox, and Karen Armstrong; Kappeler argues that apocalyptic stories and media images in today’s popular culture promote a self-dramatization that encourages sympathetic Catholics to interpret their life experience within the grammar of the millennium myth.

While some commentators argue that the new age audience is driven by populist reasoning inside church history and culture, a critical discourse analysis perspective reveals that millenarian movements have provided a language resource for a great number of social, cultural, and political conflicts in the history of Western civilization. Consequently, the mainstream history of the Catholic Church has been dedicated to the a-millennial viewpoint of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Considering these platforms, Kappeler sketches a mediating position between the church’s millennial factions called Proleptic Adventism based upon a dialectical approach to both eschatology and incarnational spirituality. Ultimately Kappeler’s findings offer hope to a postmodern world by looking to the future instead of the past, by analyzing popular culture in its dynamism and its contradictions, stressing the spiritual elements of liberation and participation, and by expressing itself in sacramental action and analogical reasoning.

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Communication Habits for the Pilgrim Church

Vatican Teaching on Media and Society

Warren A. Kappeler III

Communication has become an important theme and heuristic concept in practical theology for Roman Catholics during the ecumenical age. Communication Habits for the Pilgrim Church explains why the moral order is given priority in Vatican teaching about communication and the reasons for Catholic social teaching to make moral judgments about these new realities. Attention is given in the book to the historical context of Vatican Councils I and II. The first chapter shows that behind the pilgrim Church lies an emerging vision of the threefold ecclesial offices of priest, prophet, and king. Chapter two examines the text and context of the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral decree «Inter Mirifica». Chapter three provides a documented history of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication and its teachings. In chapter four we return to the threefold office and examine the contribution of Pope John Paul II. It includes an analysis of how the politics of the Magisterium shapes Catholic social teaching. Chapter five develops major tenets of a critical analysis of the communication of the post-Vatican II Church: attention is given to the discursive aspects of religious authority, argumentation, bureaucratization, and market culture. Chapter six takes a step toward examining the pragmatics of contemporary Vatican teaching. For Roman Catholic moral theology, religious ethics is now deeply concerned with providing moral teaching and guidance on ethical questions raised by the social conditions of globalization and media communication. Communication Habits for the Pilgrim Church concludes that there are three basic sociological and theological aspects of the pilgrim Church. These include a ritual approach to religious communication, the generational experience of Catholics and their respective attitudes toward Church teaching, and the important link in the faith’s praxis between reflexivity and forming habits of communication.