Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Australian eJournal of Theology 23, 1 (2016)

I always find something of interest in the Australian eJournal of Theology, which is produced under the auspices of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University. The latest edition is now online (available from here), containing the following essays:


John Kinder
Dante 750 anniversary
Last year marked the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the Florentine poet. As our culture becomes more distant from the coherent, religiously informed world view that produced it, interest in Dante’s Divine Comedy continues to grow, especially in the English-speaking world. This essay argues that the source of this interest is not just awe at Dante’s remarkable summa of medieval culture, but the fact that his Comedy touches something peculiar to the modern condition. The adjective “Divina”, added after Dante’s death, might suggest an unearthly meditation on the other world. In fact, Dante is most interested in the human condition. The essay explores the notion of “religious sense”, coined by Pope Paul VI, developed by Luigi Giussani and a leitmotiv in papal writing up to the present, as the key to the relevance of this medieval masterpiece to our modern search for meaning.

Darren Cronshaw, Rowan Lewis and Stacey Wilson
Hemorrhaging Faith
Australia recently had the opportunity to consider the results of a Canadian research project Hemorrhaging Faith through a series of conferences in capital cities. The conferences sponsored a conversation between those who played an active role initiating the Hemorrhaging Faith research and a number of Australian researchers and practitioners who considered the research findings in the light of our context. This article offers an Australian critical review of the Hemorrhaging Faith report. It will consider whether Australian churches are also hemorrhaging young people in much the same way as Canadian research would suggest, or whether the situation may be conceived more accurately as one of exodus or exile. The article plots a course for the ongoing discussion we believe we need in Australia concerning the interpretation and implications of this story.

Neil Ormerod
Secularisation and Resacralisation
In his work, Theology and Social Theory John Milbank proffers the alternatives of naturalising the supernatural, which he identifies with the theology of Karl Rahner and claims promotes secularisation, and supernaturalising the natural which he identifies with the theology of Henri de Lubac with a political goal of a restored Christendom; these two options of a secularism which excludes the divine from the social order and a resacralisation which seeks to restore the sacred alliance between Church and state present false alternatives. This paper considers the alternatives of sacralisation and secularisation through the lens of the grace-nature debate and what Pope Francis calls the “missionary option.” The distinct ecclesial styles of Popes Benedict XVI and Francis will be drawn upon to illustrate the position developed.

Gwayaweng Kiki and Ed Parker
Education that Enables and Satisfies
Education (including theological education), by its very nature is deeply theoretically based. This is as it should be, but there are some real problems for non-first-world learners. Not only are they confronted with ideological issues, and theoretical problems, there is the issue of cultural diversity including communal and individualistic ways of being and doing. This article argues that the assessment task is where the two ways (Western and non-Western) can meet. Facilitating students via a pathway of compassion, care and concern becomes crucial. The educational insights of Terry Lovat have been used to open doorways that enable students to discover, understand and use effectively the knowledge and understanding that they have gained. The article arrives at a practical conclusion by opening avenues for non-first-world learners that traditional first-world-lecturers have tended to ignore. Human kindness should always be part of the tool bag of effective teaching and lecturing.

Christopher Friel
Lonergan on Pride
This article explores the relative lack of attention to the sin of pride in Bernard Lonergan, a lack he shares with Aquinas, in contrast to the Augustinian tradition. In order to explain this lack the article considers the dialectical nature of pride leading in turns to suggest a slightly surprising detour into the origins of social structures which Lonergan explains in terms of “challenge and response.” Most significant is the redemptive response to the challenge of sin, and it is here that we can discover Lonergan’s delicate transposition of traditional teaching in his deployment of the concept of general bias.

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