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Some concerned Catholic theologians and popular writers have addressed the ubiquity of body hatred in the United States in their prescriptive considerations of liturgical fasting. This essay brings a feminist theological lens to their writings to argue that this Catholic fasting literature presents dualistic and decontextualized accounts of embodiment and of sacramental practice that reify the discursive structures of body hatred in the US context. In response, the author advocates for a shift in Catholic theological discourse about fasting as one attempt to resist body hatred and support more liberative possibilities for embodiment in this context.*
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis links environmental degradation and the poor, writing that “the poor and the earth are crying out.” Appalachia complicates the pope's claim, however, because it is an area that suffers from environmental degradation but also supports the Trump administration's dismantling of environmental regulations. Thus, Pope Francis’ understanding of the poor in Laudato Si’ needs development in three ways. First, he needs to explore how environmental degradation causes spiritual harm in addition to physical harm. Second, the pope needs to note that spiritual harm often causes the poor to cry out in ways that are sexist, racist, homophobic, and hostile toward the environment. Finally, the pope should note that the voices to be heeded in responding to environmental degradation are those voices marginalized within poor communities because they are most likely to address the spiritual harm and avoid scapegoating others.
This article examines John Haught's proposal for a “metaphysics of the future” within his program for an evolutionary theology. After offering an overview of Haught's metaphysics and its roots in process thought, it argues that Haught's account undermines his larger goal of dialogue between science and religion by making all knowledge of reality dependent on a prior and explicitly religious experience. This critique is brought into greater relief through a comparison with the thought of Bernard Lonergan, whose epistemology and metaphysics Haught has engaged numerous times throughout his career. The final section suggests one way of reframing Haught's project that avoids these serious issues without jettisoning his important core insights.
This essay highlights the dynamic theology of nature and grace expressed within The Divine Narcissus by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–95). Inspired by thinkers such as Augustine and Bernard of Clairvaux and, later in her life, an emphasis on the Immaculate Conception, she details an aesthetic relationship between grace and nature: human nature is created to reflect, in grace, the perfect beauty of the incarnate Son of God. Moreover, by securing positive roles for the contributions of women and for indigenous Mexican religious devotion, she highlights the way in which this dynamic between nature and grace recovers the authentic voice of the least in society—those whose voices have been unjustly suppressed by violent domination.
Many pressing issues facing the church today require a deeper appreciation of Vatican I, marking its one hundred and fiftieth year. We can now return it to its context and accept its “incompleteness” rather than insist upon its “wrongness.” The distance provided by time shows that its teachings are not as rigid or extreme as they are often perceived to be, but rather stand open to significantly broader interpretations. Pastor Aeternus has faced Vatican II, the social leveling brought about by democracy and the mass media, and an erosion of confidence in hierarchical institutions. Yet the council cannot be left behind. This essay's goal is to contextualize Vatican I's voice so that we can hear what it intended to say in its own day and see how it might contribute to some of our own most urgent conversations today.
At the outset of Ethics at the Edges of Law: Christian Moralists and American Legal Thought, Cathleen Kaveny explains that the purpose of her book is to impart new energy to the interdisciplinary conversation between Christian ethicists and legal scholars. Kaveny observes that the tête-à-tête has tended to be one directional, with legal scholars drawing on theological principles in order to offer critiques of public policy, law, and case precedent. As significant as the theological critique may be, Kaveny proposes that the dialogue would be enriched if it were to be expanded beyond the unilateral direction. On the one hand, she writes to invite theologians and ethicists to turn to the law. On the other hand, she affirms the role played by religious ethics in contributing to debates about controversial public issues. Pointing to the promise of interdisciplinary work between religious ethics and law, Kaveny comments:
The extensive normative reflections on the overarching nature and purpose of human society can provide vantage points from which to critique the quotidian decision of the legislatures and courts. Conversely, the manner in which the legal system settles specific cases offers rich material with which to test and to hone more abstract theological and philosophical reflections about personal and social obligations. (90)
“Theology is Taught by God, Teaches of God and Leads to God.”
(Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit)
In 1972, I was twenty-two years old and had recently made my first vows with the Sisters of St. Francis. The sisters gave me a New American Bible; I had never before owned a Bible, and I promptly put it in my storage trunk for the move to my new mission to teach fifth grade in Minneapolis. Once I arrived, the Bible remained in the trunk.