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Medieval Byzantine debates regarding icons included fine distinctions between image, prototype, and symbol as these terms related to personhood. Iconodules and iconoclasts differed regarding the ability of art to represent the person. Must artistic representations of a person, to be justified, be consubstantial with the person represented and thus circumscribed, as iconoclasts believed? Or is it sufficient to refer to artistic representations as being symbolic of their human subjects? Embracing the victorious iconodule distinction between a person and artistic representations of the person raises questions regarding the manner in which an image can reveal a human being. Post-structuralist philosophers Maurice Blanchot and Kevin Hart have inverted this problematic. They begin the interpretation of icons and personhood not from the traditional understanding of the honor or worship paid to Christian icons. Instead, they examine the icon's deconstruction of the viewer. What results is an iconodule defense of a post-Cartesian “anthropological iconoclasm.”
Archbishop Bernardin recommended that, in the relationship between magisterium and theologians, two extremes are to be avoided. On the one hand, there should be no imperialism on the part of the magisterium, co-opting theologians merely as mouthpieces for magisterial teachings. On the part of theologians, on the other hand, there should be no secession from the magisterium that would give theologians absolute autonomy and freedom from accountability. This essay analyzes the diverse charisms of magisterium and theologians and argues that they are complementary and that both parties should relate in the dialogue of charity recommended for ecumenical discussions in Pope John Paul II's Ut Unum Sint. This dialogue of charity, the essay further argues, should not be restricted to only magisterium and theologians but should embrace also, for upbuilding the Church, the entire People of God journeying together to the Holy Mystery.
This essay challenges the various considerations of people with disabilities that have long excluded them from interpersonal relationships beyond those they enjoy among themselves and their families. The Gospel calls for a different stance especially in light of Jesus' outreach to those with disabling conditions of many kinds, as well as in light of the crucifixion which marks Jesus forever with the disabling and disfiguring scars of a scandalous execution. The essay exposes a history of stigma and oppressions from which people with disabilities have suffered and asks where justice and mercy must serve people who have been set apart.
After decades of optimism, interreligious dialogue is now confronted with a considerable amount of skepticism. In theology, this skepticism is primarily being fed by the cultural-linguistic theory of religion. This theory seems to be in keeping with what the Babel narrative has always said: people belonging to different “language” communities can do no more than babble at one another. The author asks, first of all, whether the story of Babel indeed affirms the cultural-linguistic argument for the end of interreligious dialogue. After showing that there are theological and exegetical reasons to doubt the classical interpretation of the Babel narrative, the author demonstrates how a renewed hermeneutic of this story actually challenges the cultural-linguistic discourse concerning the incommensurability of religions. Indeed, she argues, ultimately, the Babel story is not a narrative about the end of communication, but about its beginning.
In the wake of Karl Rahner, a range of theologians have made a compelling case that theology cannot afford to dismiss popular fascination with “the End-times,” nor downplay the apocalyptic tenor of the New Testament itself. Nevertheless in Catholic theology apocalypticism remains something of an oddity, a message in search of a credible form. This essay explores the apocalyptic tenor of Thomas Merton's mature period (1957–68) in order to propose some crucial distinctions between apocalyptic in an authentically “Catholic,” “analogical,” or “ironic” mode, and other, more dialectical forms of apocalyptic that have long dominated American religious and popular consciousness. Bringing Merton into dialogue with Russian sophiology, William Lynch, Johannes Baptist Metz, and others, the author highlights Merton's contribution to the difficult question of form: that is, how apocalypticism might be communicated in a way that seizes on the historical urgency of the gospel but also refuses to cede to a mythological, dialectical, or dangerously idolatrous imagination.
A significant point of contention in contemporary construals of continuity and discontinuity centers on the veiled logics of power/interest at work in human constructions of knowledge. In this paper I explore how the insights of anthropologist Mary Douglas might contribute towards a rethinking of memory and tradition within the ecclesial community. I argue that Douglas' perspective on the covert processes that create the social goods of both community and knowledge offer an important heuristic guide towards a more transparent analysis of tradition and how it functions in a globalized world. If continuity is both a claim and a practice that peoples make from shared histories for shared futures, the ecclesial claim and practice of continuity must enact a gospel reflexivity that is both critical and counter-intuitive in its hermeneutical retrieval of the memoria Christi. I conclude this paper with a detailed exploration of two dimensions such a critical, counter-intuitive hermeneutic might include.
This article provides a critical interpretation of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry and vision of reality by comparing some of his focal ideas with those of Alfred North Whitehead. There is a fairly explicit theological cosmology in Hopkins' poetry, just as there is poetic expression in the cosmology of Whitehead. The creative and idiosyncratic terms and phrases of Hopkins are explained as they are correlated with technical terms in Whitehead's cosmology. Some of the comparisons or tentative equations worked out in this article include creativity in Whitehead with instress in Hopkins, concrescence in Whitehead with inscape in Hopkins, style in Whitehead with selving in Hopkins, selftaste with satisfaction, and transmutation in Whitehead with rhyming in Hopkins.
In recent years, concern for “modesty” has become more prominent in American religious circles. Recent advocates of modest clothing for women voice important concerns, but also perpetuate problematic attitudes toward women, especially poor women and women of color. Thomas Aquinas' description of modesty corrects this error, because it includes modesty of the mind. Contemporary developments in moral theology then enable us to relate both mental and physical modesty to the cardinal virtue of justice, where modesty decenters the self and makes room for other people to flourish. Findings from social psychologists illuminate the dynamics of social power, and clarify specific ways that mental and physical modesty work under the rubric of justice. These findings suggest that men and women may face different challenges in the practice of modesty, and so Christians must attend to all types of modesty in order to adequately address the question of appropriate clothing.