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: firstname.lastname@example.org