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This article focuses on what the pandemic reveals about theological work in the academy and imagines a way forward. Too often, theologians are ground down, isolated workers, overworked, and strapped for time. They constantly must choose between progress in the guild and their familial and communal relationships. This false choice starves theologians of meaning and purpose, and, in such scarcity, inflames pursuit of status. However, a communal conception of theological academic work could mitigate some of these frictions. To imagine this possibility, we draw upon our collective experiences of working in Benedictine institutions that also argue for communal approaches to living, learning, and experiencing God. We draw ideas from the Rule of Benedict as a model for life-giving community that we think can be resituated in academic life.
This article explores the limitations of theological reasoning that have attempted to reconcile the claim of faith that the church is holy with the experience of a broken and sinful church. A recent case study from an Easter Vigil celebration shows how attention to liturgical practice can challenge assumptions that scholars have made about the church's liturgies and reframe the fundamental theological question at stake in this conversation in such a way that the declaration that the church is sinful does not necessarily negate or preclude the declaration that the church is also holy.
In the past two decades, official entities of the Eastern Orthodox Church have released two documents with implications for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the life and educational pursuits of the church. In 2008, the Russian Orthodox Church released a statement whose ambiguous treatment of the doctrine of the imago Dei runs the risk of having an alienating effect upon people with disabilities. In 2009, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America released a document that honors those with disabilities. This article examines how each document views the image of God and its ramifications for people with disabilities within the church. I argue that the theology of imago Dei in these documents differs, resulting in conflicting views of people with disabilities. To resolve these discrepancies, the Orthodox Church should continue to develop and express its theological arguments regarding the imago Dei and its significance for all people.
Adolescents and young adults are generally missing from Catholic theological reflection on what it means to be a human person. However, Pope Francis's 2019 Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit, reveals an operative theological anthropology of young people as inherently good and of adolescence and young adulthood as a life stage that is good in its own right. This, then, can serve as a foundation for a more robust theological consideration of adolescents and young adults in Catholic theological anthropology, in general, and in our understandings of the doctrines of the imago Dei, sin, and grace, in particular.
A Retrospective and Prospective Roundtable on the 50th Anniversary of Horizons
The College Theology Society was founded in 1954 and launched Horizons as its journal twenty years later. What journal of Catholic theology grounded in the spirit of aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council, dedicated to cutting-edge scholarship, and passionate about pedagogy would not want its first issue to feature a contribution from someone whose work seamlessly embodies all three of these commitments? Horizons's inaugural issue did just this when it published Raymond E. Brown's June 1974 keynote address delivered for the annual convention of the CTS.
Fifty years ago, Raymond Brown had already established his position as one of the world's leading Catholic New Testament scholars. His magisterial two-volume commentary on John's gospel remains an invaluable reference for scholars. At a time when American Catholics were still “minor leaguers” in contrast to British, German, and French exegetes, biblical theologians, Fr. Brown along with Joseph A. Fitzmyer, SJ, and Roland E. Murphy, OCarm. had produced the Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) to provide a solid foothold for students in the best of historical-critical research into the books of the Bible, their history, religion, and theological concepts. Like his coeditors, Brown remained convinced that careful historical-critical study was our surest way of understanding what the Bible's authors sought to communicate. Where that analysis unseated naïve or literalist dogmatic “proof-texting,” it requires a correction in theological argument but will not require rejection of the foundational dogmas of the church.
Following 2020, which has been called “the Year of Karen,” 2021 saw several highly anticipated, book-length indictments of white womanhood. Among them was sociologist Jessie Daniels's Nice White Ladies: The Truth about White Supremacy, Our Role in It, and How We Can Help Dismantle It. There, Daniels weaves stories from her life as a white queer woman and academic with multi-disciplinary research and current events to sketch white women's unique complicity in white supremacy in the United States. Some of her harshest critiques are pointed at progressive white women, who—being “nice white ladies”—are quick to exonerate themselves from responsibility for any number of intersecting structures of oppression. In turn, Daniels calls white women readers to interrogate their own lives and do better, especially through the hard work of sustained collective action.
A significant literature presents the Catholic social thought tradition (CST) as a resource for combating racism and white supremacy, and an equally important body of work critiques the documentary tradition for the ways it fails to adequately address these pernicious social sins. This essay will combine elements of both approaches to address a topic relatively modest in scope: showing how attention to the historical and contemporary operation of white womanhood, exposed by sociologist Jessie Daniels in her book Nice White Ladies, informs, critiques, and presents opportunities for Catholic social thought on gender and family, both in the ecclesial documents and in their appropriations by white US Catholic scholars. I will address three themes: images of women; the nexus of families and the welfare state; and whiteness as property.
In 1960, Valerie Saiving published a groundbreaking essay, “The Human Situation: a Feminine View,” in which she pointed to the failures of classical sin-talk to account for the ways that women sin. As an early work of feminist theology, the article pointed to the androcentrism of theology: classical notions of sin were rooted in the failures and temptations of men. It also set the stage for feminist treatment of sin going forward. For Saiving, it was theologically inaccurate to identify women's experience of sinfulness with pride and will-to-power. Instead, she argues, the “feminine forms of sin … are better suggested by such items as triviality, distractibility, and diffuseness … in short, underdevelopment or negation of the self.”