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Thomas Sheehan has made the “atheological” charge that “Christianity's original sin is to think it is about God,” but there is a different lesson to take if attention is paid to the metaphoric dimension of the ways Aquinas, Rahner, Heidegger and even Sheehan himself think and speak about God. If there is an original fault from which Christianity must be saved, it has as much to do with the conception of what is happening when Christianity thinks and speaks, as it does with the conception of what this speaking and thinking is about.
Because of how often Dorothy Day (1897–1980) was away, helping to co-found the Catholic Worker movement, her daughter Tamar nicknamed her, “Be-going.” Others have called Dorothy a neglectful parent. This article provides an overview of Tamar's life, and for each period of Tamar's life it examines what Dorothy wrote during that time about motherhood and her relationship with her daughter. It seeks to clarify to what extent Dorothy's efforts to serve the poor led to a neglect of her daughter, and if there was any change in how she balanced these different relationships over the years. It also explores whether or not Dorothy understood and experienced motherhood as a holy and sanctifying vocation.
This essay uses the lens of the “preferential option for the poor” to examine the unprecedented turn to poverty by religious movements in late twelfth and early thirteenth-century Western Europe. Three movements are selected from the many and various movements espousing poverty: the Humiliati, the Waldensians, and the Franciscans. The Humiliati developed a communal lifestyle that, in key ways, reflected the emerging urban working class. The Waldensians embraced a radical poverty that rejected all forms of property, but they were progressively marginalized from Catholicism and eventually became targets of the Inquisition. The Franciscans adopted a very similar sort of radical poverty, but their communities ultimately would be assimilated into mainstream Catholicism. The essay places these movements into a dialogue with the contemporary notion of the “preferential option for the poor” in order to discover the ways they might inform and illuminate one another.
Recent efforts to write the global history of Christianity respond to demographic changes in Christianity and use “global” in three ways. First, “global” suggests efforts at more comprehensive historical retrieval, especially to place the beginnings of Christian communities not within mission history but within the church history in those areas. Second, “global” can refer to the broader comparative perspectives on Christianity's history, especially the history of religions. Finally, “global” can indicate attempts to retell the entire Christian story from a self-consciously worldwide perspective. Recent works also raise new theological and pragmatic challenges to the discipline of church history.
This essay argues that undergraduate theological education at Christian colleges and universities ought to concern itself with the spiritual and moral formation of undergraduate students, and suggests ways that the use of edifying stories can be especially conducive to that end. The meaning of the term “edification” is unpacked by reference to its use in Christian scripture, and especially by reference to a delightful story told by Palladius about two Desert Fathers, Pachomius of Tabennisi and Macarius the Alexandrian. Then two crucial qualities of spiritually edifying story-telling are delineated: (1) the story chosen must invite students to engage in candid self-examination. (2) the teacher must embody the virtues that her story illustrates, but at the same time tell the story in a way that does not draw attention to herself. One who seeks to edify others must avoid all self-promotion, even while exemplifying one's lessons in one's conduct.
This essay presents an argument for the inherently ascetic nature of education in theology when considered in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Using a specific undergraduate theology course on Christian and Muslim responses to war and violence as a test case, the essay describes ascetic education as creating an epistemological “space” in which the capacity to engage complexity is intentionally enlarged and transformed. This enlargement, in the course under discussion, occurred principally through the students' encounter with diverse historical Christian responses to the question of participation in war, along with the comparison of Western and Muslim notions of “just war” as differentiated by historical, political and cultural factors. After presenting some highlights of how course themes and methods engaged the central ascetic tensions in the post-9/11 situation, three dimensions of asceticism vis-à-vis education are presented: ascetic disposition, conversation and action.
In 1987 the College Theology Society held its annual meeting at Loyola College in Maryland. The cicadas were then at the end of their appearance and crunched underfoot as we walked from the dorms to the sessions. That was the first annual meeting I had attended and the cicadas made a lasting impression on me. As the College Theology Society celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its annual meetings, the cicadas have come and gone again. Since the planning for the Society began, they have come four times, just four times out of their thousands of years of life. As they return to their burrows to begin a new cycle of life, CTS celebrates fifty years of life completed and looks forward another cycle of its theological life already on the horizon. When the cicadas emerge again, seventeen years from now, what will they notice about CTS that is different from today? In other words, will the trajectories of growth present in CTS in 2004 flourish and, if so, what might the returning cicadas see?
Several persons who have described the beginning of the College Theology Society have pointed out that until the middle of the nineteen fifties, theology in the liberal arts colleges consisted largely of apologetics taught by persons of intelligence and good will, often priests, who seldom possessed an earned doctorate in the field. Professors with doctorates were usually assigned to the seminaries. A group of liberal arts college professors in theology became aware that they did not enjoy the same credibility in their institutions as professors in other disciplines, in part because the criteria for teaching theology were different and lower than for other departments.
Yves Congar, O.P. (1904–1995) is widely considered the most important Roman Catholic ecclesiologist of the twentieth century and one of the most influential theologians at the Second Vatican Council. His personal diaries Journal d'un théologien 1946–1956 and Mon journal du Concile, recently published posthumously in France, enhance our appreciation for the character and spirituality of this extraordinary theologian. These journals testify to the passion for truth that inspired and sustained Congar's theological vocation through both his difficult years of censure and the exhilarating conciliar period. The witness and example Congar offers can be instructive to our own continuing practice of the theological discipline.