Article: The Clash of Transcendence and History: The Conversion of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Part II, by David B. Perrin

The second part of David’s article on Oscar Romero has been published in Vinayasādhana: Dharmaram Journal of Psycho-Spiritual Formation (July, 2016: Dharmaram College, Bangalore, India, 60-76). Here is the article’s abstract:

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917-1980), a Salvadoran bishop, lived during a time of great political and civil turbulence.  The local Roman Catholic Church, regrettably, did little to quell the suffering of its people.  Romero, in the earliest part of his episcopacy and similar to the bishops around him, fell into this space of complacency.  Quite remarkably all of this was to change for Romero in a radical way with the turn of events in 1977.  At this time Romero changed from an introverted conservative to an outspoken champion of his people.  This article is an analysis of how such a change, such a conversion, can be framed and understood within the traditions of Christian spirituality: in the clash of transcendence and history, that is, an understanding that God meets God’s people in the events of their lives – even tragic ones as is witnessed in the people of El Salvador – is conversion wrought.  What is special about Romero’s conversion in the clash of transcendence and history is the similarity of it with the lives of those whom the Church has come to know as “mystics.”  Romero, in the end, gave his all to become the very Face of God, for his own people but as importantly for those of Latin America and now for the whole world.  The sign of a mystic, martyr and saint indeed.

SSCS members wanting a copy of both parts of the article can contact the author.

Essay: Gazing at the Wounds: The Blood of the Lamb Imagery in the Hymns John Cennick, by Tom Schwanda

Appearing in the volume Heart Religion: The Reshaping of Protestant Piety, The Sources and Nature of British Pietism, 1690–1860 (edited by John Coffey, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 113­–137), Tom’s essay explores a theme found in many hymns by John Cennick, (1718 –  1755) an early Methodist and Moravian evangelist. Here’s Tom’s summary:

Eighteenth–century evangelical hymnody reveals a fascination for the blood and wounds of Jesus Christ.  This chapter explores this development by comparing the hymns of two Moravians, John Cennick and Count Zinzendorf.  Cennick is little known today but was the author of some of the most popular hymns of the eighteenth century.  Zinzendorf was the leader of the Moravians and known for his extravagant language of devotion to the side wound of Jesus.  Hymns were one of the primary texts of evangelical spirituality and tended to focus on the heart for the stimulation of affections and deeper formation.  This essay traces the historical roots for the blood of the lamb imagery.   While neither author was aware of the medieval sources that Caroline Walker Bynum analyzes in her book, Wonderful Blood, Cennick traced his inspiration to an Ignatian text and Zinzendorf to early German Lutheran pietistic sources.  “Gazing at the Wounds” provides a contemplative approach to studying these hymns and suggests ways that the metaphor was intended to shape its readers.  The chapter concludes that while there were numerous similarities between Cennick and Zinzendorf, that Cennick’s more moderate poetic imagery has continued to inspire contemporary evangelical hymnody.

Article: Authority in Spiritual Direction Conversations: Dialogic Perspectives, by David Crawley

David Crawley’s article (Journal for the Study of Spirituality 6:1 (2016): 6-19) offers a way of understanding what happens during spiritual direction by focusing the role of authority. Here is the article’s abstract:

The dynamics of authority within spiritual direction relationships are more complex than is often acknowledged. This is especially so in relation to the ways in which meaning is co-authored by directors and directees in their conversations. This paper proposes that authority in such contexts be thought of as ‘authority’, comprising three main elements: presence, ownership and play. The literary theory of Mikhail Bakhtin is used to highlight the dialogic character of all meaning-making, and to illuminate the ways in which these three facets of authority function in conversation. These insights are applied to specific aspects of spiritual direction practice, showing how these may support or subvert directees’ own authority as they seek to make meaning of their lives in partnership with their directors and with God.

 

Essay: Spiritual Capital and Authentic Subjectivity, by Michael O’Sullivan, SJ

Michael O’Sullivan’s essay appeared in Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections, pp. 49-57. Drawing on the research of Alex Liu and others, Michael argues for the importance of  the fourth of the four capitals (material, intellectual, social, spiritual) within the context of modern society.

In an article in The Tablet (25 May 2013), (Cardinal Kurt) Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, is quoted as saying that Europe needs a “spiritual currency besides the euro.” Koch in this quote is recognizing, it seems to me, that there can be such a thing as spiritual capital, and that there can and indeed needs to be resources rich in spiritual value we can draw from and for the sake of meeting the needs of our world and enhancing  its wellbeing. He is calling for the people of Europe to work out the meaning and value of this currency so that they can dialogue, relate, and cooperate on a shared spiritual basis and with a common spiritual way of proceeding.

Essay: Theorizing Christian Spirituality: The Sacred, Identity & Everyday Practices, by Philip Sheldrake

Philip Sheldrake’s essay appears in Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections (2016, pp. 27-40). Here is Philip’s opening paragraph:

My fundamental contention is that Christian spirituality cannot transcend the realm of materiality or escape the limitations of historical context. However, the way “spirituality” has sometimes been presented masks certain anti-material theological positions represented by a number of polarities. These express a hierarchy of values. Examples are interiority versus social existence, the experiential versus action (encouraging the separation of spirituality and ethics), and an elevated spiritual realm versus the mundane. I wish to begin by mentioning briefly two core issues – the nature of the sacred and the question of inwardness. I then want to suggest that an important corrective is the theological notion of “sacramentality.” Finally, the main part of this essay will concentrate on the multidisciplinary thought of the French Jesuit scholar, Michel de Certeau. De Certeau was a major figure in the development of the modern study of Christian spirituality and of mysticism. However, my focus will be on how his later social scientific work on The Practice of Everyday Life, including essays on the city, was influenced by spiritual values.

Book: Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections, edited by Rebecca Giselbrecht and Ralph Kunz

This book, co-edited by SSCS member Rebecca Giselbrecht and published this year by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, contains essays by other SSCS members. Here’s a summary from the publisher’s website:

Christian theology traditionally regards the sacramental as the polar opposite of the profane. The polarity is a memorial of contemporary desacralization, profanization, and sacralization that stands as a portal to the story of modern reality. In our liminal space, we neither de-sacralize our environs nor re-sacralize the world. The lines are blurred and our perception of spirituality is neither immanent nor transcendent.
This conference volume seeks to reply to the questions: Where does the sacred intersect with the material? What happens when they meet?

Rebecca is the Director of the Center for the Study of Christian Spirituality, a research network for scholars located at the Theological Faculty of the University of Zurich.

Book: Thinking Prayer: Theology and Spirituality amid the Crises of Modernity, by Andrew Prevot

Published in 2015 by the University of Notre Dame Press, Andrew Prevot’s book argues for prayer having a crucial role to play in theology today. He grounds his argument in the work of a number of recent thinkers in philosophy and theology. Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

In Thinking Prayer, Andrew Prevot presents a new, integrated approach to Christian theology and spirituality, focusing on the centrality of prayer to theology in the modern age. Prevot’s clear and in-depth analysis of notable philosophical and theological thinkers’ responses to modernity through the theme of prayer charts a new spiritual path through the crises of modernity.

Prevot offers critical interpretations of Martin Heidegger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Johann Baptist Metz, Ignacio Ellacuría, and James Cone, among others, integrating their insights into a constructive synthesis. He explains how doxological and contemplative forms of prayer help one avoid dangers associated with metaphysics, including nihilism, conceptual idolatry, and the concealment of difference. He considers the powerful impact that the prayers of oppressed peoples have on their efforts to resist socioeconomic and racialized violence. The book upholds modern aspirations to critical freedom, while arguing that such freedom can best be preserved and deepened through prayerful interactions with the infinite freedom of God. Throughout, the book uncovers the contemplative dimensions of postmodern phenomenology and liberation theology and suggests how prayer shapes liberative ways of thinking (theology) and living (spirituality) that are crucial for the future of this crisis-ridden world.

More information about the book can be found on the publisher’s website.

Media: Retrieving Women’s Voices in the Christian Theological Tradition: Four Doctors of the Church, by Elizabeth A. Dreyer

Because of a new publication by SSCS member Elizabeth Dreyer, a new category has been added to this blog: Media. Available in DVD, CD, and MP3 formats, Dreyer’s Retrieving Women’s Voices in the Christian Theological Tradition uses video and audio recordings to communicate information about the spiritual experiences and teachings of Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen. For more information about this publication, visit the publisher’s website.

Book: Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones, by Elizabeth Drescher

For those of us still following a religious tradition, the growing number of people who are religiously unaffiliated raises many questions. Perhaps Elizabeth Drescher’s new book, Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Oxford University Press, 2016), can help start a dialogue between believers and “nones” that will enrich our understanding of what it means to be a spiritual being.

To the dismay of religious leaders, study after study has shown a steady decline in affiliation and identification with traditional religions in America. By 2014, more than twenty percent of adults identified as unaffiliated–up more than seven percent just since 2007. Even more startling, more than thirty percent of those under the age of thirty now identify as “Nones”–answering “none” when queried about their religious affiliation. Is America losing its religion? Or, as more and more Americans choose different spiritual paths, are they changing what it means to be religious in the United States today?
In Choosing Our Religion, Elizabeth Drescher explores the diverse, complex spiritual lives of Nones across generations and across categories of self-identification as “Spiritual-But-Not-Religious,” “Atheist,” “Agnostic,” “Humanist,” “just Spiritual,” and more. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews conducted across the United States, Drescher opens a window into the lives of a broad cross-section of Nones, diverse with respect to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and prior religious background. She allows Nones to speak eloquently for themselves, illuminating the processes by which they became None, the sources of information and inspiration that enrich their spiritual lives, the practices they find spiritually meaningful, how prayer functions in spiritual lives not centered on doctrinal belief, how morals and values are shaped outside of institutional religions, and how Nones approach the spiritual development of their own children.
These compelling stories are deeply revealing about how religion is changing in America–both for Nones and for the religiously affiliated family, friends, and neighbors with whom their lives remain intertwined.

Article: The Clash of Transcendence and History: The Conversion of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Part I, by David B. Perrin

David’s article appeared within a year after Archbishop Romero was beatified, the final stage before sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s the article’s abstract:

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (1917-1980), a Salvadoran bishop, lived during a time of great political and civil turbulence. The local Roman Catholic Church, regrettably, did little to quell the suffering of its people. Romero, in the earliest part of his episcopacy and similar to the bishops around him, fell into this space of complacency. Quite remarkably all of this was to change for Romero in a radical way with the turn of events in 1977. At this time Romero changed from an introverted conservative to an outspoken champion of his people. This article is an analysis of how such a change, such a conversion, can be framed and understood within the traditions of Christian spirituality: in the clash of transcendence and history, that is, an understanding that God meets God’s people in the events of their lives – even tragic ones as is witnessed in the people of El Salvador – is conversion wrought. What is special about Romero’s conversion in the clash of transcendence and history is the similarity of it with the lives of those whom the Church has come to know as “mystics.” Romero, in the end, gave his all to become the very Face of God, for his own people but as importantly for those of Latin America and now for the whole world. The sign of a mystic, martyr and saint indeed.

Here’s the complete citation information:
David B. Perrin, “The Clash of Transcendence and History:  The Conversion of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Part I,” Vol. VII, No. 1, January 2016, Vinayasādhana: Dharmaram Journal of Psycho-Spiritual Formation, Dharmaram College, Bangalore, India, 53-62.

Part II will appear in the July 2016 edition of Vinayasādhana.

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