Apologia pro Vita Mea


A Brief Easter Week Reflection……..

For several years, I found it wise and expedient to express certain theological, religious, and political ideas under my pseudonym “John W. Greenleaf.” There is no need to go into details. At various times in a person’s life, one does what one considers most appropriate. Today it is water under the bridge. I am now over 70, mostly retired, and no longer fear the sanctions of ecclesiastical authority. In extreme situations, authorities can excommunicate and expel. I don’t think they can disconnect a person from the Living God. They can attempt; but years of historical study and life experience convince me that but God doesn’t work that way.

In any event….. Inspired by the humble transparency of Francis, the new Bishop of Rome, I have decided to come out of my theological closet. I am who I am and I guess it is time to just say so……..

A few years ago, I launched my blog “Another Voice” because I am deeply convinced we need a new theology for people living in advancing modernity. Who or what is God? A psycho-social creation to calm anxious and insecure people? A deeply personal and intimate Other who is closer to us than the air in our lungs? How and where does one really experience this Immanent Other? How do we interpret and speak about It? Him? Her?

Jesus of Nazareth was intimately connected with this Other. Jesus continues to animate and inspire me; but he too pushes me to ask more questions. Where do we see and experience the Jesus Spirit today? Who really speaks in his name? Who really acts in the name and spirit of Jesus. How do we distinguish genuine Christianity from the phony and deceptive…….and what symbols and rituals enable us to probe more deeply and celebrate more joyfully the Other who animated Jesus and his male and female disciples?

And what kind of behavior, what kind of moral action, what kind of ethic is genuine and appropriate for believers in this Intimate Other? It goes far, far beyond monotonous condemnations of birth control, abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. In the end we come down to one fundamental life reality: a life-giving spirituality for contemporary believers. The big questions get answered there. A healthy and wholesome spirituality. Not cheap nor magical nor manipulative institutional grace. We need institutions, but they are a means not a goal.

After a short Easter vacation, I plan to return to my blog: Another Voice. I hope in fact to speak stronger and more clearly: not to tear apart nor destroy but to collaborate in speaking with a new voice and in a new language: about the great energizing Spirit that sustains all of us. A new language for contemporary believers.

I hope Another Voce will also stimulate more conversation and more collaborative reflection. The community of faith must also be a community of believers, seekers and, of course, discoverers. Please join me on the journey. The Other is there, I do believe. We simply need to tune in, open our ears, and clear our vision.

Our theological language does change and must change. A nineteenth century theological vision with an equally archaic ecclesiastical structure can be colorfully nostalgic; but does not help a believing man or woman to experience and pass on the Faith today. It is like trying to send an email, using a piece of chalk and a little square blackboard. Nostalgic and quaint but not very satisfactory.

I invite you to journey with me and to join the conversation.

I am an American who grew up in Michigan. I was educated in Detroit, Louvain /Leuven, and Nijmegen. I have a doctorate in religious studies and a doctorate in historical theology from the Catholic University of Leuven.. Once I thought about ordained ministry; but my life took a different road and my ministry has been in education and theology. I have been happily married for forty-three years, and I am a proud father.

I am a retired Roman Catholic historical theologian: an historical critical thinker, anchored in the theological tradition of the Catholic University of Leuven and Leuven has been my home for thirty-three years.

My friends call me Jack. My official name is John Alonzo Dick. So there. I am out of the pseudonym theological closet. My blog email address is: jadanothervoice@gmail.com

26 thoughts on “Apologia pro Vita Mea

  1. It is sad that prophetic and passionate voices such as yours have felt the need for anonymity in order to speak freely. I am very glad that you created this blog because it has provided a glimmer of light and hope for me on many occasions, and I am delighted to know you under any name.

  2. Dear Jack:
    What a blessing you are brother! Thank you for your courage and insight to claim the moment and “come out” amidst all the challenges of this KAIROS time in the church with Pope Francis and all those who desire to live more simply and transparently as disciplies of the Nazarene. Your columns have been the light of resurrection for me and for many for a long time. Although I don’t always agree with you, I find you altogether delightful and an honest hope for true dialogue in the church, as we continue to unfold in the paschal mystery of God’s love.
    I am a pastor/priest active in AUSCP [the Association of US Catholic Priests] as a board member. I find this new moment exceedingly hopeful, that more and more of us can trust ourselves and our own voices as we learn to share them and hear another voice, the Holy Spirit speaking to us and through us in a new way. There are still toxic reactionaries in power in the church [and there always will be], but that should not stop us from learning to discern together what is truly life-giving for the body of Christ and learning what we need to let go of so as to proceed in haste to further the reign of God.
    Three cheers for you, Jack Alonso Dick!

    your brother in Jesus, Bob Cushing

    • Bob Many thanks for your note! It is not necessary that we always agree….but as you say that we move on together in respectful dialogue and mutual respect. Jack

      Another Voice John A. Dick, PhD-STD Leuven/Louvain

  3. Aw, I was hoping you’d be a woman. Or at least transgendered. (It may be worth noting that my husband and I watched the documentary “Kumare” last night – about an American of Indian (Hindu) descent who poses as a guru called “Kumare” and the conflicts he feels when people come to him for spiritual/ethical advice; he finally has to “come out” as Vikram Gandhi, a New Jersey-born film maker. Highly recommended.) Anyway though your thoughtful posts have been no less so under your previously assumed name, and I’m glad you will no longer have to struggle with the burden of maintaining your false identity. Well done, Prof. Dick!

  4. Oh what true joy and hope your post today gives me. Welcome to the world John Alonzo Dick. Closets are such claustrophobic places to be. There is much here to cheer me and to comment upon. For now I wish to say in answer to your question ” Who really acts in the name and spirit of Jesus today?” that you do and all who embrace openess, honesty and fearlessness and Truth above all the manipulations of institutions; these are they who speak for him and the Other. Yes I will join you in the great debates into which you invite us- if you’ll have me. This is such a good day. Joyfully. Mari Sutcliffe.

  5. My dear Jack,

    Your first message to me this week blew me away. Thanks for sharing this great news in confidence. I love “Another Voice” and always found it refreshing ands simply great as did others with whom I shared it..

    Now just the day after this first message arrived my dear classmate, Rob Boisvert (Manchester, 1958) was passing through. He is now retired and was my classmate in Leuven for six years that we were there. I was dying to tell him about you but did not, so help me God, even though it was killing me. Then today your second “outing” message arrived and he is still here.

    So we were able to share the good news with him. He is delighted for you., You know after Leuven Rob’s bishop sent him to Rome for a doctorate in theology. He wasted away in Rome for three years and said he learned nothing and learned to appreciate even more what he had learned in Leuven: In Rome, memorize the manuals and parrot it back. Lingua Latina. He was lucky however to be there during the Council and had a lot of insider experiences as a student priest working as a page.,

    I think I have seen Dolan up close in action twice. I was not impressed. I think he’s a phony. I would like to tell you about my experiences

    Only this week he gave himself away when he visited a prison, joking that he liked it because no one is late and no one leaves early. . Then the giveaway: at the end of the session he said to the inmates he was there because the pope had done it and it was a way to earn points in heaven. He felt he was meritorious and that it was means of storing up treasure in heaven. He didn’t give a shit about the inmates themselves.

    Keep up the good work and let Dolan work the crowd.

    Love,

    Dick and Kathleen and rob on his way back to New Hampshire.

    _____

      • Dear Jack, How positively refreshing to make your acquaintance
        while I am not sure that I possess the intellectual capacity to engage in any kind of a meaningful discourse look forward
        to your beyond enlightening insights. Gene.

  6. Dear Jack,
    Thank you for your “coming out”. We are especially drawn to your comments about trying to find the faithful purpose in the 21st century while being part of a structure led by the ancient. It is even more difficult to parent bright, inquisitive, loving female children and encourage them to be a part of a institution that does not allow someone of their gender to vote for its leader.

    But, we all move forward in hope. Count us in as part of the journey!

    Vinny and Mary

  7. Well done Jack.  I look forward to the growth of this online sharing.   Happy Easter,  Patrick

    >________________________________ > From: Another Voice >To: collinspw@yahoo.com >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2013 10:46 AM >Subject: [New post] Apologia pro Vita Mea > > > WordPress.com >JAD posted: “A Brief Easter Week Reflection…….. For several years, I found it wise and expedient to express certain theological, religious, and political ideas under my pseudonym “John W. Greenleaf.” There is no need to go into details. At various times in a pers” >

  8. Jack, dear friend, you are a life giving spring in a dry desert. Thank you for helping us recognize and hear the Spirit wherever we might be.

    Sue

  9. Welcome into the light of day in God’s created and loved world. I look forward to hearing from you on your blog. I am a 74 year old RC priest assigned recently to pastoral ministry in Emmitsburg, MD USA. God bless your efforts to articulate a Gospel-based theology relevant to contemporary practicing Catholics. Oremus pro invicem.

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