Monthly Archives: October 2016

Article: Authentic Subjectivity and Social Transformation, by Michael O’Sullivan

In his article appearing in the open access journal HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, vol. 72, no. 4 (2016), Michael O’Sullivan stresses the significance of the Second Vatican Council in establishing a deep connection between Christian spirituality and engagement in social justice. The article’s abstract follows:

Holiness in the Christian tradition has often been understood in a way that devalues embodiment and practical engagement with the world of one’s time. The latter understanding, for example, led to Marx’s critique and repudiation of Christianity. Both interpretations of holiness can be understood as mistaken efforts to express the dynamism for authenticity in contextualised human subjectivity. Vatican 2 opposed both views by addressing itself to all people of good will, declaring that everyone was called to holiness, and that authentic Christian identity involved solidarity with the world of one’s time, especially those who are poor. Vatican 2, therefore, provided an authoritative faith foundation for holiness expressed through social commitment and for viewing social commitment on the part of people of good will in whatever state of life as a form of holiness. This vision was also the conviction of leading spirituality writers of the period, like Thomas Merton, and inspired liberation theologians and the Latin American Catholic bishops at their conference in Medellín a few years after the Council. The argument of this article is that the emergence and development of a non-dualist Christian spirituality is grounded methodologically in the correct appropriation of the common innate dynamism for authenticity in concrete human persons and lived spiritual experiences consistent with and capable of enhancing this dynamism.

The full article is available here.

Essay:The Intersection of Sacramentality and Materiality: Testimony, by Rebecca A. Giselbrecht

Prof. Giselbrecht’s essay which appears in Sacramentality and Materialty: Locating Intersections (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016, pp. 183-190), a volume she co-edited with Ralph Kunz, begins with reference to the verbal exclamations of Mary and Hannah when they experienced God’s Spirit opening their wombs. She goes on to argue that their words were the result of the meeting of sacrality and materiality, a profound speech event, a testimony, that was at one with the experience of miraculous conception.

Not only was the theotokos [Mary] compelled by the light to speak of the light; all those who come into contact with the light are obliged to express what they have experienced, because at the intersection of materiality and sacrality the word became flesh. When men and women bear the light within, they must bear witness to it. . . . Testimony is an affirmation of the absolute as a matter of faith; it is a reflection of Trinitarian prayer. A look at the Reformer, Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) and his commentary on Romans 10 and a really short explanation of Paul Ricoeur’s hemeneutic of testimony will help to further clarify my point.

Essay: Interiority and Christian Spirituality: Why Our Inner Lives Are Not Quite as Inner as We Might Like to Think, by John Swinton

In this essay appearing in Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), John Swinton challenges readers to reconsider certain common terms used in the scholarship of spirituality. In an early paragraph, he writes:

The approach I want to take is slightly different from the standard theological and philosophical discussions of interiority and materiality. My central focus will be on two groups of people whose perspective is rarely engaged with discussion around interiority and materiality: people with profound intellectual disabilities and people with advanced dementia. I want to use the life experiences of these two groups of people to offer a challenge to accepted views about interiority and to open up conversations about spirituality, embodiment, inwardness and action.

Essay: Embodied Knowing and the Unspeakable Sacred: Practice in Christian Spirituality, by Claire E. Wolfteich

In an essay appearing in Sacrality and Materiality: Locating Intersections (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), Claire Wolfteich proposes to expand scholarship in spirituality beyond the more common approach of studying texts to exploring spiritual practices. She writes

I will address the theme of materiality and sacrality from the perspective of practical theology and spirituality studies. Spirituality scholarship has yet to address fully the important to turn to practice, lived religion, and material religion – as noted, for example, by Arthur Holder’s critique of the dominance of spiritual “classics” texts as focus of study within the field.* . . . Practical theology, on the other hand, clearly makes “practice” a central category of theological inquiry and embraces empirical research to unfold local, everyday, embodied religion. . . . I argue for the study of everyday, embodied practices such as work and mothering as important foci for the study of Christian spirituality while also advancing a conception of mystical practical theology that leaves space for the unspeakable sacred.

*Holder, Arthur, “The Problem with ‘Spiritual Classics’,” Spiritus 10, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 22-37.