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During the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, when the oils of the sick and of the catechumens are blessed and the chrism is consecrated, the whole church assembles to celebrate these symbols of the human journey to God. That the oils and balsam used in the rite are derived from creation signifies the role of creation (specifically nonhuman creatures) in salvation. Indeed, the holy oils, fashioned from creation and blessed and consecrated before the whole church, are destined to mark and enable the journey of human beings toward union with God through the church. The consecration of the chrism is considered the foundation of all other blessings in the church, making it an appropriate lens to consider the relationship among creation, the church, and salvation. These prayers of blessing and consecration during the Chrism Mass indicate the movement of the Holy Spirit in creation, drawing human beings into heaven.
The fields of comparative theology and interreligious dialogue have largely presupposed the possibility of interreligious learning, but there have been few attempts to provide a philosophical framework for such learning. Utilizing the philosophical hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur, I argue that evaluations of religious truth should be understood holistically and contextually. In interreligious engagements, tensions are created in and questions are raised for one's own worldview. If one proceeds to imaginatively enter into another's worldview and finds resources there that enable one to alleviate those tensions and answer those questions, as well as make sense of one's reality in a broad way, then one may properly deem such beliefs to be true. Interreligious learning is thus construed as the recognition of truth that enables one to productively orient oneself to reality. The result is a provisional philosophical framework for understanding religious truth and interreligious learning.
The Catholic Worker Movement, widely known for its critique of violence and capitalism in American culture, has largely neglected racism. This seems surprising because its urban houses of hospitality, staffed mostly by middle-class whites, provide material resources disproportionately to impoverished African Americans. The movement's embodiment as a white movement and the failure of its founders (Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin) to prioritize racial justice has impeded its ability to adequately confront racism. This article contrasts the ways in which racism was addressed by the founders with the way it was addressed by two prominent African American Catholic Workers. The article includes a new Catholic Worker narrative to explain the movement's relationship with racial justice and offer suggestions for ways the movement can mine its own rich resources to become an authentically anti-racist movement.
Throughout history there have been theological tensions between official church teachers and church theologians, creating at times a divide between both the magisterium and theologians and also between theologians of different methodological approaches. We offer as examples of tension the declarations by the USCCB's Committee on Doctrine (CD) on the “inadequacies in the theological methodology and conclusions” of our book and of the books of three other contemporary theologians. These examples afford us the opportunity both to consider the theological tensions in general and to propose a solution to them. We establish some ecclesial context for dialogue with the CD, calling attention to four factors in this context: first, recent patterns of discourse between theologians and the magisterium in statements issued against particular theologians; second, an important change in the Catholic concept of church; third, an equally important change in how Catholic theologians set about doing theological ethics; and fourth, the reaffirmation of the importance of conscience by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s and, more recently, by Pope Francis.
This roundtable grew out of the 2017 meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), for which Karen Enriquez organized a panel on the topic of contemplative pedagogy for the Buddhist-Christian Studies Group. As part of that session, Maureen Walsh and Anita Houck presented early versions of two of the essays that follow. That session inspired some members of the College Theology Society to organize a pedagogical lunch on the topic of contemplative pedagogies for the 2018 CTS convention. Given the significant interest shown by CTS members, and the longstanding commitment to pedagogy in the CTS and Horizons, further conversation led to the idea of publishing a roundtable focused on contemplative approaches in Catholic institutions. The authors are grateful to Elena Procario-Foley for her support and guidance.
Shortly after receiving tenure in 2009, I hit a brick wall. Having poured so much energy into the tenure process, which included a large-scale book project, I found myself intellectually and emotionally spent. Uninspired and unable to gain traction with another major research project during my post-tenure sabbatical, I felt I was wandering through a desert. I had heard rumors about the “post-tenure blues,” but I somehow imagined myself immune.
When I was asked about contributing to this roundtable on contemplative pedagogy, I was honored to be included in the mix. Yes, I have experimented in my teaching with contemplative practices for about five years now, and so I fit the group's focus in that way. And yes, my postdoctoral work focused on university pedagogy, and so it would seem like I would be a natural for this sort of roundtable. But before I go any further, I feel as though I need to out myself for who I truly am—instead of being a contemplative professor, I am a contemplative coward. No doubt, I have been impressed reading about and witnessing other professors’ thoughtful uses of contemplative practices in the classroom. And I even dabble in having my world religions students “go through the motions” of religious practices from Buddhism and Islam. But as I spent time thinking through my approach in anticipation of this roundtable, it became clear that my efforts have been nothing short of cowardly, due to the fact that, first, I have questioned my own ability to lead students in contemplative exercises, and second, I have been wary of asking students to engage in the practices of religious others in a serious way.
I am grateful to be given the opportunity to read and to respond to these rich reflections on the practice of contemplative pedagogy. Like Maureen Walsh, and possibly Brian Robinette before his sabbatical transformation, I have usually identified myself as a member of the “loyal opposition” of this particular teaching tool. I have tried to remain grudgingly attentive to its strongest advocates in the comparative theology circles in which I travel, while at the same time shaking my head and sighing a bit to myself at what I perceive as a wild-eyed enthusiasm bordering on evangelism. It probably does not help that I am not personally prone to contemplative experience, nor that the Hindu paraṃparā with which I have associated for several decades has, at least in part, constructed its distinctive teaching tradition as a critique of meditative experience (anubhava) as means or end of liberation.