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Female bodies as sexual and reproductive are subject to much scrutiny in Western societies and the church. Mysteriously missing from discourses related to such scrutiny is the reality of menstruation and its place in theology and females’ lives. From within a feminist theological perspective, this article aims to recover menstruation and menstrual awareness, and to advocate for the positive possibilities of widespread recognition and acceptance of, and engagement with, these realities to advance female presence in sexual theology and related discourses. In engaging contemporary social discussions, Jewish and Christian histories of menstruation, contemporary sexual theologies, and varied feminist theologies, this article proposes a robust view of menstruation in the sexual lives of faithful females.
Thanks to the explosion of methods and hermeneutical frameworks that have surfaced in biblical studies since the 1970s, the discipline looks very different today than when Catholic scholars were first openly permitted to engage it. Among these approaches are those that foreground the complex role the real flesh-and-blood reader plays in interpretation. Recent discussion on what makes biblical interpretation “Catholic” reveals it to be a contested topic. Through an analysis of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church and Frank M. Yamada's article “What Does Manzanar Have to Do with Eden? A Japanese American Interpretation of Genesis 2–3,” the present article enters the discussion over what constitutes Catholic biblical interpretation to argue that it must integrate hermeneutical approaches that foreground real readers within the context of lived realities.
Theological and evolutionary anthropological analysis of the role of song in human and (some) animal communication can help to expand our understanding of the ways that language functions as mediator of the divine-human relationship. This article considers the role of a musical protolanguage in the evolution of human language, demonstrating the connections between contemporary human language and the songs or calls of other animals. Consideration of the broader category of communication in the place traditionally held by a more narrow understanding of language can help to highlight the role that emotion, instinct, and relationality play in the relationship that humans have with God. Such a realization opens the doors to further theological questions about the role of humanity in a suffering creation, the relationship between God and nonhuman creatures, and the role of song in liturgical celebration.
This article discusses the pro-environmental theology of two contemporary Christian leaders. The first is the current ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. The second is Roman Catholicism's Pope Francis. Both leaders seek to support members of their respective churches who are working to protect the environment, and also to speak globally across cultural and religious lines. Both Bartholomew and Francis believe the crisis of climate change has deep roots in modern culture's anthropocentric ethos, and hence there must be an “apocalypse” or an unveiling of this ethos as a betrayal not only of nature but also of God the Creator. Contrary to some religious environmentalists, therefore, both Bartholomew and Francis are careful to distinguish cosmocentric theology (pantheism and animism) and theocentric cosmology (monotheism centered on the Incarnation of the Trinity in creation). Francis in particular aims for a retrieval of Saint Francis of Assisi's relationship to the natural world as it was expressed by Saint Bonaventure, and later developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola into a discipline (ascesis) of learning to see all created things as expressions of God's glory. In rivalry with the ascesis of modern capitalism, which could be described as “disciplined avarice in action,” Bartholomew and Francis advocate the classical monastic-Franciscan-Ignatian spiritual ethos of “disciplined contemplation in action.”
In his work Poverty of Spirit, Johann Metz depicts Jesus Christ as embodying three aspects of poverty of spirit required to become fully human: (1) an affirmation of interdependence on God and others, (2) self-love (accepting human finitude and one's unique calling), and (3) love of neighbor as self. Drawing on a qualitative analysis of 150 students’ reflections on poverty of spirit within the context of party and hookup culture, this article explores the challenges US undergraduates face in following Christ's path of full humanity. Undergraduates’ own insights issue an urgent call to Catholic universities to respond proactively to the dehumanization, injustices, and forms of violence present in party and hookup culture. At stake is the integrity of Catholic higher education's mission to care for the whole person and form students into men and women “for others” who are committed to justice, solidarity, and the common good.
I once quipped in a class that I wondered if the Martin Luther portrayed in some books would even be able to recognize the Martin Luthers of other works. Would Erik Erikson's sexually repressed, rebellious Luther recognize the confident and assertive Luther of the recent popularly aimed biography How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World? The five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation seems an apt moment to reflect a bit on the place and significance of Martin Luther in the Reformation and the church. The anniversary year will see at least a half-dozen new biographies, numerous conferences, and nearly ubiquitous commemorations. As we mark this year, what portraits are now being drawn? What conclusions? Is there any hope of synthesis and common representation, or shall we each have our own Luther, few of whom recognize the other? Since the last centennial of the Reformation, scholarship on the Reformation generally and Luther specifically has emerged from the tight quarters of confessionalized history. In 1917, there were no commemorations. Luther was celebrated by Protestants and lamented by Roman Catholics. There was little in the way of neutral ground between those two poles. In 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican issued a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. In 2016, Pope Francis traveled to Sweden to participate in a joint commemoration of the Reformation with a Lutheran (and female) bishop. Such would have been unthinkable in 1917, or 1817, or 1617. As Luther has been released from the confessionalized walls that held him so long, what image do we see now? In what follows, I would like to reflect on three aspects of the “new” or “newer” Luther that has emerged.