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The Mariner’s Compass A person or a Church does not move easily form Santa Barbara, California, a small provincial town with a Catholic community to match, to Berkeley, the bustling cosmopolitan center of one of the world’s great public universities. Even the most experienced explorer would be challenged to make the journey in August, 1968, just three years after the Second Vatican Council and as the country exploded with the Vietnam riots and the California governor called out the national guard. All of us were embarked on an entirely new venture. The small Franciscan seminary which had been at the Old Mission since 1854 was now turning outwards towards the neighbor and northwards towards membership in the new ecumenical school, the Graduate Theological Union. These types of journeys are rarely made in history; they are never made successfully without leadership and vision. For the faith-questing young believer, they are not made at all without a teacher of courage, commitment, knowledge, and experience . We were and are blessed to have such a leader in our fellow friar, priest, brother, and teacher, Kenan Bernard Osborne. He came to Berkeley in the summer of 1968 as a newly minted, German-trained professor of systematic theology. God-given intellectual depth and curiosity, I think, would be the first characteristic of Kenan’s teaching and writing. He possesses that rare combination that would move a person both to learn Greek on his own and to sneak into the carcer (the locked cabinet where the professors kept the more advanced theologically “censored” works by Congar, Chenu, and de Lubac, before the Council) in search of answers both personal and institutional . Then Providence: a solid collegiate training through his own teacher, Father Geoffrey Bridges, himself a pupil of Philotheus Words Made Flesh: Essays Honoring Kenan Osborne 10 Boehner, in the philosophy of John Duns Scotus, the thirteenth century Franciscan master; exposure to some fine Scripture scholarship at the theologate in Santa Barbara; a licentiate in theology from The Catholic University of America; a trip to the Goethe Institute, and a three year sojourn in the land of Rahner, Ratzinger, Kung, and Metz, in the heady days during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council; lastly, a first generation exposure to the “global Church” in the decrees of the Council and a return to Santa Barbara in Spring 1968, precisely at that moment when the great migration to Berkeley was beginning. And when a new generation of believers would need a true compass . The issues were clearly posed, both to the person, but even more importantly to the Church: Faith seeking understanding in a secular and global world. (Or, was it not also a “sacred and redeemed world, alive with God’s presence?” Kenan would ask us.) It is a mark of a good teacher and a profound thinker to make complex ideas, simple; simple ideas, profound; profound ideas, guiding lights. Osborne’s rich training in classical, scholastic , and modern philosophy and theology had disposed him well for the educational task which history placed before him. But God’s gifts alone endowed him with remarkable skills in the classroom. Imagine in the early years, a diminutive lecturer, standing in front of his first class sticking out his large right hand, palm upwards. He places a book on it and suddenly moves his palm from underneath the tome. It drops, crashing to the floor. What do we mean, he poses, when we say that God is the ground of our being, or the ground of everything that is? Can we find this God in each thing? Or again, imagine him a few years later having returned from a trip to Greece. He narrates the story of his own search for a post card in a local shop as he asks the owner for directions. When the owner obliges, Kenan offers him a tip. The owner’s response: “thank you,” in the same koine Greek that is a form of eucharistein, “to give thanks.” What does it mean, Kenan asks us later in the classroom, when we say that the eucharist should permeate our life? Can we celebrate gratefulness everywhere ? Does our life outside match our life in the liturgy? Introduction 11 Or again, imagine the teacher tracing the elaborate history of the sacrament of penance in the classroom. The materials speak for themselves. How do we make room for history, for development , for God’s continuous leading of the Church, he asks? Or, another example, have...


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