Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was one of the most significant scientific and religious thinkers of the twentieth century. In his masterful work, The Human Phenomenon, he developed a unified vision of matter and spirit evolving over time toward great complexity and consciousness. This evolutionary framework provides a comprehensive and integrated perspective to view the interdependence of all life forms and the important role of humans as co-creators in the evolutionary process.
If prayer is, among other things, being present to the Presence within us, it may require a response to divine initiative. Two classic texts—one from Teresa of Avila, the other from The Wind in the Willows—imagine a call from God as a whistle. Both suggest that mystery is a vital part of life and hint that our response to divine overtures will change us. They also suggest that God is where we are, eager to draw us toward the innermost depths of ourselves so that we can return to where we are with courage and good cheer.
Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn proclaimed that beauty will save the world and this essay explores how Blake's prophetic writings (especially "Jerusalem") reveal how beauty transforms individuals and societies. Beauty need not be a commodity, a thing to be craved. Beauty can be about perceiving the divine in every thing, and such spiritual materialism can engender social justice. As beauty can transfigure individuals, forgiveness can structure societies. Blake's heroine (Jerusalem) embodies an aesthetic theology which changes assumptions about territory, inclusion, and wealth. The beauty of peace can reveal the interconnectedness of all things.
Gregory of Nyssa's Homilies on the Song of Songs is still among the lesser known works. These homilies provide us the most comprehensive exploration of how Gregory understands union with God. This essay examines Gregory's scriptural grounding of divine union and argues that union with God is dynamically oriented to apostolic mission and service. Moreover, Gregory makes an important claim about religious experience: as deeply immersed in God as the soul is, the soul has no sense of having arrived definitively or acquired God as possession. The bride remains ever a beginner.
The components of a "Catholic imagination" have been the subject of commentary both scholarly and popular since the publication of Fr, Andrew Greeley's Catholic Imagination in 2000. In framing the analogical mode as distinctly Catholic, Greeley identified familiar and consoling elements of ordinary Catholic practice. But other metaphors, less consoling, form a Catholic imagination too, to challenge an imagination that emphasizes the presence of God in all things.
This essay proposes that what makes spirituality a distinct academic discipline is the methodological principle of „critical interiority.‰ Interiority is the foundation of consciousness, reflectivity, and agency, which in turn are the moving forces of the human person‚s innate directionality toward the fullness of life. Critical appropriation of interiority is essential to discernment of one‚s own and others‚ spiritual choices. The author finds grounds for this methodological principle in contemplative traditions, Lonergan‚s work on method, and postmodern philosophy.
The New Age spirituality has been criticized as individualistic and narcissistic, but it presents challenges for Christian scholars to redefine spirituality for the globalized world. This essay argues that theology and spirituality have been much connected in the works of Augustine, the mystics, the Anglican divines, and modern theologians, such as Schleiermacher and Tillich. Theologians will be left on the sidelines of our current spiritual reformation if they read these texts simply as "theology" and not as resources for spiritual insights and practical living.
This essay argues against misusing spirituality as a way of holding up one side of any number of pernicious dichotomies—associating spirituality with the "heart" rather than the "head," for example or with "practice" instead of "theory," or setting it up in opposition to "religion" itself. Rather than reinforcing such divisions, the field of spirituality ought to be able to resist them and offer an alternatives based on the deep intersection of feeling and thought, theory and practice and on the resources within the field for understanding the spiritual dimension of intellectual work itself.
"Spirituality," as a modern religious category, is in large part an artifact of nineteenth-century religious liberalism. That tradition first gave the notion of "spirituality" currency and bequeathed it, in turn, to contemporary American culture as all that was best and most desirable about religion. Six characteristics came to define spirituality within the matrices of religious liberalism: 1) aspiration after mystical experience; 2) practices of solitude, retreat, and meditation; 3) the transcendent as immanent within individuals and nature rather than institutions, liturgies, or creeds; 4) cosmopolitan piety; 5) seeker as ideal religious type; and 6) progressive social measures of mysticism.
How spirituality is defined depends on prior theological assumptions and conversely reinforces or subverts certain understandings of theology. Spirituality often prioritises inwardness over outward engagement. This underscores a contrast between the sacred conceived as "wholly other" and the everyday world. However, spirituality also questions what theology conventionally understands by "knowledge". For example, classic themes in spirituality, "contemplation" and "discernment", need to be recovered specifically as ways of knowing rather than simply devotional practices. These call into question a reductionist understanding of theology as the quest for detached knowledge rather than practical wisdom, a way of life, or, properly understood, itself a form of spiritual practice.