Thursday 29 August 2013

Last Day at the Workshop

Fred Lawrence

Bill Russell (L), from a photo earlier this year
Fred Lawrence began the morning with his talk on Jerusalem and Athens in Leo Strauss and Lonergan. Bill Russell's paper on Scotus and Lonergan, "Why not take another Look?", did not arrive in time, so we read out a sketch of it from one of his emails, and then had a discussion on what it means to have an insight, and whether or not that can be called a look. The last part of the morning was dedicated to practical matters such as the possibility of another Jerusalem Workshop, publication and sharing of the papers, organizational and financial matters, etc. 

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Fourth and Fifth Days at the ILW4 Jerusalem

Day 4: The Baptismal Site, Wadi Qumran, and Ein Gedi on the Dead Sea in the morning. Tom McAuley on The eco-climate crisis and contributions from Lonergan. Tom McPartland on Voegelin and Lonergan on religious consciousness.

Day 5: Mt of Olives in the morning: Nob (where the Augusta Victoria Hospital now is), the Ascension, Eleona (The Our Father), Dominus Flevit, the Orthodox Monastery of Mary Magdalene, Gethsemane, the grottos, and the Tomb of Mary. In the afternoon, Cloe Taddei Ferretti presented her own talk on theologies as mediating between religions and cultures in Judaism and Islam, and also a paper sent by Fr Saturnino Muratore on the Development of Doctrine. I myself presented a paper on Person and Relation in conversation with Ratzinger, De Smet and Lonergan.

Monday 26 August 2013

Weekend in Galilee: ILW4 Jerusalem

The weekend break. Through the Jordan Valley to the Lake of Galilee, to Capernaum, Tabgha, a boat ride on the lake from Genosar, the Mt of the Beatitudes, and overnight at the Betharram Fathers at Nazareth. Then to Mt Tabor in the morning with the Eucharist in the Moses chapel, back to Nazareth to the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of St Joseph, lunch, Cana, and back to Jerusalem.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Second and third day at the ILW4

Extraordinary second and third days at the ILW4 Jerusalem. Perhaps the highlights were the interventions of David Neuhaus and Stephanie Saldana, but all the talks were extremely interesting and thought-provoking - Pat Bryne on discernment, Rocco Sacconaghi on the political dimension of self-appropriation through a reflection on Vaclav Havel, Maurice Schepers on interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, Mustafa Abu Sway on the Common Word document that was the response of Muslim intellectuals to Benedict XVI's Regensburg address.

A point to be pondered about: David pointed out that Rossi de Gasperis is one of the prime proponents of the anti-supercessionist attitude, but that in his own opinion, he was missing the context. What I liked was David's caution about a neo-colonial theological attitude: imposition of extraneous and irrelevant contexts on to theology, leading to significant dis-ease for local communities. What therefore might be very relevant in a particular geographical and historical situation like that of Europe of some years ago, might not be relevant in another, quite different historical, geographical and demographic situation.

My question stems from the admiration I have for the work of Rossi de Gasperis: how is it possible that a genuinely holy person can be quite wrong on such a basic point? At any rate, the niggling doubt I had about Rossi's socio-political stance is definitely growing. Strangely, today we will be back on the Mount of the Beatitudes, the place where I met, by chance or providentially, Rossi de Gasperis.

On a lighter note, I was saying to Sue the other day: traditional Palestinian dress is black and red for the women, so where did we get the blue and white for Our Lady? So I was quite surprised but also delighted to be proved wrong: yesterday, at Beth Sahur, we saw a rather elderly Palestinian lady in a beautifully embroidered blue dress with a white hijab.

And, more seriously, Stephanie Saldana's sharing was really powerful. 

Thursday 22 August 2013

The Fourth International Lonergan Workshop in session

The Fourth ILW Jerusalem began yesterday, with Fred Lawrence's classical introductions and papers from Robert Pen, SDB (Mutual Self-Mediation and Mass Communication) and Carla Mae Streeter, OP (Religious Love in Lonergan as Hermeneutical and Transcultural).

In the afternoon, Joan-Maria Vernet, SDB led the group to a visit of the Biblical Pools ("the conduit of the Upper Pool" of the Emmanuel Prophecy of Isaiah 7, and the lower pool just inside Jaffa Gate), and of the Holy Sepulchre (Calvary, the Tomb, the St Helena Chapel, the typical tombs near the Coptic Chapel).

This morning Fr Vernet took us instead to the Esplanade of the Temple and the Western Wall. 

Sunday 18 August 2013

Why I love dogs

From my notes of Michael McCarthy's lecture at the recent Lonergan Workshop in Boston: Most people are messed up. “That’s why I love dogs. They are not f-d up.” John Logan. (M. McCarthy, “To See Things Whole: Three Perspectives on a Catholic Modernity”)

Rossi de Gasperis on Christians and socio-political involvement

Rossi de Gasperis has a rather different take on Christian political involvement, which I am still trying to get clear about. He says things like:
“The mission that Jesus has received from the Father, his messianism, is not one recipe among others for directly ordering human affairs in the present world: economics, constitutions, the sentences of tribunals or international justice, political controversies or cultural revolutions. He, as he says explicitly in his prayer to the Father, has come to reveal to human beings the Name of the Father: that he exists and that he is a God who is Father; that he exists, and that he is the Trinitarian horizon of our human existence (as sons in the Son); and to sow the seed of divine life and to see that it takes root on the earth and in our humanity.” [Francesco Rossi de Gasperis, Sentieri di Vita: La dinamica degli Esercizi ignaziani nell’itinerario delle Scritture. 2.2: Seconda Settimana, Seconda Parte (Milano: Paoline, 2007) 398-399.]
What Jesus brings to us, then, is not a recipe for social or political or global transformation. Before I ask, what then of efforts like those of Lonergan to think out an economics that is in profound harmony with Christianity, let me put down Rossi de Gasperis’ note on Gerd Theissen:
“I find interesting the way in which Gerd Theissen formulates and proposes a solution about the necessary presence of the gospel in the heart of human society. Writing to an imaginary ‘Mr Kratzinger,’ he points out that we cannot arrive at political decisions on the basis of the Sermon on the Mount. ‘No Defence Minister can ever give an assurance to an aggressor that he will not be attacked in return. No Finance Minister can follow the example of the lilies and the birds. No Minister of Justice can do away with penal procedures. Do then the demands of the Sermon on the Mount touch only our personal and private lives? In front of its radical demands, are we to merely recognize our imperfection? I have arrived at the conviction that the Sermon on the Mount must determine our political commitment in an indirect way: a society must be organized in such a way as to make space within itself the experiment of a radical following of Jesus. A society is truly human only if one who decides to withdraw his accusations and to follow the procedures is not lost. A society is truly human only if it allows, as [un atto dimostrativo], love for one’s enemies. It is truly human if it welcomes, without difficulty, the differences that exist within it. Direct political action cannot take the Sermon on the Mount directly as its measure of judgment, but it can crate the conditions in which individuals and groups can orient themselves towards that standard. To prevent any misunderstanding: I am not trying to say that society must reserve a special niche for the Sermon on the Mount, so that it becomes something like an Ethical Nature Reserve. On the contrary, the structure of the whole of society must be organized in such a way as to make possible the experiment of a radical discipleship. Only then will the groups of disciples be able to exercise an influence on the whole of society and be ‘light of the world’ and ‘salt of the earth.’ (L’ombra del Galileo. Romanzo storico [Turin: Claudiana, 1990] 243-244).” [Rossi de Gasperis 399n13. See The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form (1987), Fortress Press; updated edition (2007), ISBN 0-8006-3900-6.]
This, more or less, is Rossi de Gasperis’ suggestion about Christians and politics. It is a different kind of approach from that of political theology, liberation theology in its various forms, including subaltern theology in India. It would be interesting to compare it with the approach advocated by Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est and with that of Lonergan.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Lonergan's apport

Mini-Lonergan Workshop at breakfast this morning. Vernet asked, what is Lonergan's apport? I tried to say: to bring 'history' into Catholic theology. Or perhaps: to find a new language for theology. (Which, I think, was also the basic or initial question for Heidegger.) The dogmatic and systematic theologian faced with the challenges of the Geisteswissenschaften, of the historical revolution, concretely manifest in the mountains of material produced by exegetes and historians.

In the light of this, some basic convictions:

1. No science is carried by a single individual. So also theology: the carrier of theology is the community. Theology today has to be done in team. It is a collaborative effort. So we need a way of collaborating, a method. Lonergan wants to work out this method

2. Lonergan dislikes asking, What is theology? or What is theological method? Instead, he likes to ask: What is happening when we are doing theology?

3. His initial aim was to write a book on theological method. When he was transferred to Rome, he wound up what he had written and published it as Insight: A Study of Human Understanding.

4. Lonergan is not a born Thomist. He liked to say that he was a convert to Thomism. During his initial philosophy years, the philosophy that was taught was Suarezian in orientation, something he did not much care for. He spent his time reading Newman's Grammar of Assent, 6 times, he said. It was from Newman that he picked up the sharp distinction between understanding and judgment. And it was thanks to Newman's reading of Aristotle that, when he began studying Thomas for his doctoral dissertation, he found a similar distinction in Aquinas.

5. Theological specializations exist. There are field specializations, and subject specializations. Lonergan proposes functional specializations: sub-divisions of the process of doing theology. He suggests that this process falls into two parts, listening to the past, and speaking to the present and future. Theology in oratione obliqua, and in oratione recta. What Isaiah, Luke, Paul said, and what we are saying, I am saying. Each of these parts divide into four. Thus we have Research, Interpretation, History, Dialectic; and Foundations, Doctrines, Systematics, Communications.

6. The core of the method lies in Dialectic and Foundations. The fact is that there are conflicting researches, interpretations, histories, for example. How to handle conflicts? Lonergan suggests that we distinguish first between different types of conflicts: those based in data; those that are perspectival or genetic; and those that are radical or dialectical. Dialectic deals with the third type of conflict.

How does it deal with this kind of conflict? By tracing conflicts to their roots in intellectual / philosophical, moral, religious, and perhaps emotional / psychic issues.  Radical conflicts are rooted in basic options in these areas, whether or not these options are made with high deliberation or simply by drifting into some contemporary horizon.

Very likely we will be able to presume moral and religious authenticity. The core problem seems to be intellectual and emotional.

The seminars and workshops of the future will presuppose time spent in getting to know one another, praying together, becoming friends. Friendship is the condition for doing theology. Within an atmosphere of friendship, we will be able to gently point out what we think are inconsistencies in the other, and s/he in us. and perhaps someone might be led to change. Or else to deliberate options, high options, which is all the authenticity that we are often capable of.

What we are doing really is bringing our often hidden horizons to the light that we can. This Lonergan calls the crucial experiment: objectification of subjectivity, objectification of our controlling preunderstandings.

Foundations follows: on the basis of the horizons that we have hopefully now deliberately opted for, a certain language follows, a certain set of categories. These will then provide the criteria for selection from among the range of possible choices of doctrines, and also the language or categories in which to couch these doctrines, what we believe.

And so on to Systematics, and Communications.

Machiavelli Mandela Manmohan Modifications

Just been going through some newspaper cuttings I picked up in the holidays. Interestingly - on the eve of Fred Lawrence's arrival - two of them deal with the business of politics. One is a review, by Harvey C. Mansfield, of Corrado Vivanti's Niccolo' Machiavelli (Princeton) (The Wall Street Journal, 1 July 2013, p. 29). The other is a rather extraordinary piece on the differing styles of Mandela and Obama. Fred, I remember, has written incisively on Machiavelli - perhaps the first truly sensible thing I read on the topic, and also the last. But it was one of those things that remained with me, inhabiting some back room of the mind.

Mansfield calls The Prince "the most famous book on politics ever written," a book in which he "openly denounced both Christianity and the church," while also somehow professing admiration for Savonarola. My sense is that no one would argue with this judgment, though I would certainly be curious to compare Machiavelli with the Indian Chanakya. Anticipating Nietzsche by several centuries, Machiavelli "attacked morality by declaring it unaffordable": a good man, he said, will come to ruin among so many others who aren't good.

Mansfield goes on to note that since the 19th century, almost all Machavelli scholars have been trying to make excuses for him, blaming the corruption of his time rather than him. Vivanti, it would seem, gently delivers "some hurtful blows," as when he delcares the widespread republican reading of Machiavelli, holding that republics can avoid the faults of princes, to be a 'somewhat forced reading.'

Vivanti regards Machiavelli as a founder of modernity: 'from the mind of Machiavelli flows the modern world of the state.' Fred Lawrence said this years ago. Mansfield deplores any attempt to explain a great thinker through his sources: this is simply trying to explain greatness by non-greatness, and Vivanti, he says, is aware of this pitfall.  Machiavelli's own political experience was not glorious, but his writing refuses to be conditioned by this. In this he exemplifies his own recommendation: the prince must act according to the times, but in such a way as to change those times. The prince, in other words, does not follow a trend; he sets the trend. So in The Prince we have the germ of our modern politics, our business, our intellectuals, our arts, our morals.

Mansfield ends on this note. He does not have much more to say. Perhaps we have to turn to others like Lonergan and Lawrence to find people who set a trend rather than merely follow the now ubiquitous trend originating in Machiavelli. That requires courage.

The Mandela and Obama piece (Bill Keller, "Mandela and Obama," International Herald Tribune, Monday, 1 July 2103, p. 6) does not enter into this grand issue. It is content to remain on the level of effective leadership. Mandela had a sense of political theatre; Obama does not, or at least his sense of it peaked at his first inaugural. Obama seems to be doing his best to make the fact that he's black a nonissue. Mandela "understood how to deploy his moral authority in grand theatrical gestures." As a newly elected president of a deeply divided country, he turned the Rugby World Cup - the whitest sporting even in South Africa - into a festival of interracial harmony. He understood instinctively that political is not a mainly cerebral sport, but a business of charm and flattery and symbolic gestures and eager listening and little favours. He understood that it is above all a matter of empathy, as when he learned the Dutch dialect of the Afrikaners, and allowed them to keep their national anthem. "You don't address their brains," he would tell his colleagues. "You address their hearts." I cannot help thinking of what I am convinced is a good team, despite a five-year long effort to blacken their names: Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. What they lack is precisely Mandela's sense of political theatre, and his understanding that politics is a matter of empathy and of charm. John Paul II, instead, and, it would see now, Pope Francis, understood these things. As did Gandhi. You cannot reach out to a billion-strong, largely uneducated people through their minds. You get at them through their feelings.

And then, Bill Keller points out, Mandela was a consummate negotiator. He was an expert at deducing how far each side could go. He was patient. He was opportunistic, using every crisis to good effect. (wow!) "He understood that half the battle was convincing your own side that a concession could be a victory." And he was willing to take a risk.

And he loved what he was doing. He gave the impression that he was having the time of his life - and he probably was, because the movement was his life. Obama instead, Keller says, often seems to regard the job as an ordeal.

Above all, Mandela had a clear sense of his core principles: freedom, equality, the rule of law. So he could change tactics and alliances while never losing sight of his ultimate goal. The question is what moral purpose drives Obama. Here perhaps Manmohan is a step better. My doubt is whether either he or Sonia have an idea of what it is that India needs to do to move from where we are to where we want to be. The grand strategy is what is missing in India, besides a mastery of the feeling dynamics and symbolic dimensions of politics.

Mandela and Manmohan: can they be classified into the Machiavelli brand of politics? I would think not. Modi is a more likely candidate. I have always had the impression that he had either read The Prince, or else that he had instinctively learned to act that way. When a prince conquers a country, Machiavelli writes, he should avoid trying to change things in dribbles. Let him cut off the heads of any and every rival, and then let him settle down into benevolence. The people will forget in time. If instead he tries to cut off one head at a time, the people will never forgive him. Be bold. Strike hard. Once. Then settle down to good governance.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Fourth International Lonergan Workshop, Jerusalem

Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne
Dates: 21-28 August 2013
Venue: Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne, 26 Rehov Shmuel Hanagid, Jerusalem
Convener: Fred Lawrence (Boston College),

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8
In the light of faith … human concern reaches beyond man’s world to God and God’s world. Men meet not only to be together and to settle human affairs but also to worship. Human development is not only in skills and virtues but also in holiness.Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology (New York: Herder & Herder, 1972), 116.

Fred Lawrence (Boston)
Sue Lawrence (Boston)
Mustafa Abu Sway (Integral Chair for the Study of Imam Al-Ghazali's Work at the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Quds University, Jerusalem). 
Patrick H. Byrne (Boston)
Joan Byrne (Boston)
Thomas McPartland
Robert Pen, SDB (Nashik, India)
Donna Perry
Rocco Sacconaghi
Maurice Schepers, OP
Carla Mae Streeter, OP
Cloe Taddei-Ferretti (Naples, Italy)
Tom McAuley
William Russell, MAfr (Jerusalem). "Why Not Take Another Look?" [Lonergan and Scotus, Lonergan on Scotus]
Leopold Vonck, MAfr (Jerusalem)
Warren and Elizabeth Harrington
Dick Ross
Ivo Coelho, SDB (Jerusalem)

Schedule of Probabilities

Wednesday, 21 August
9-10 am: Robert Pen, SDB: “Communication as a Process of Mutual Self-Mediation”
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Carla Mae Streeter, OP, “Religious Love in Bernard Lonergan as Hermeneutical and Transcultural”

Thursday, 22 August
9-10 am: Patrick H. Byrne, “Discernment and Self-Appropriation”
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Rocco Sacconaghi, “The Political Dimension of Self-Appropriation”

Friday, 23 August
Mustafa Abu Sway, “Insight into A Common Word”
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Maurice Schepers, OP, “Philosophy in the Service of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Dialogue”

Saturday, 24 August and Sunday, 25 August—FREE DAYS

Monday, 26 August
9-10 am: Tom McAuley, “The Unfolding Eco-climate Crisis: Paths for Applying the Work of Bernard Lonergan”
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Thomas McPartland, “Lonergan, Voegelin, and the Phenomenology of Religious Consciousness”

Tuesday, 27 August
9-10 am: Cloe Taddei-Ferretti, "A Theology, a Cultural Matrix, a Religion"
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Ivo Coelho. “Person and Relation: Ratzinger, De Smet and Lonergan in Conversation.”

Wednesday, 28 August
9-10 am: Fred Lawrence, “A Jewish and a Christian Approach to the Problematic of Jerusalem and Athens”
Break 10-10:30 am
10:30-11:30 am: Discussion: Possibilities for a Future Jerusalem Workshop

Possible visits (to be planned):
1. The Holy Sepulchre and the Old City (half day)
2. The Esplanade of the Temple (this will need a morning visit)
3. The Western Wall and the Tunnel (special permission needed for the Tunnel under the wall)
4. The Mount of Olives (half day)
5. Bethlehem (half day)
6. Galilee (the Lake, Cana, Nazareth, Tabor) (one day, preferably two)

Fly to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv. Just outside Arrivals, you will find share taxis (NESHER) that will drop you at our gate (26 Shmuel Hanagid, Jerusalem) for something like NIS 60 (about $ 15).
The same service is available for getting back to the airport, with pickup at the doorstep.

$ 40.00 per head, bed and breakfast.
$ 10.00 for every meal.
Workshop charges
Visit costs
Payments preferably in cash, or by cheque.No credit cards, please!

Local contact person and address:
Ivo Coelho
Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne
26 Rehov Shmuel Hanagid,
91072 Jerusalem - Israel.
Tel: +972-2-6259171
Cell: +972-543115841

Participation is still open and papers are welcome.

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary