- In Search of the Whole: Twelve Essays on Faith and Academic Life
In Search of the Whole contains twelve diverse essays, by authors from a variety of academic disciplines. Yet the collection has greater coherency than anticipated. This is true both because the authors were encouraged to take an explicitly autobiographical approach to explaining the evolution of their respective understanding of faith and academic life, and because the majority of the authors trace their intellectual lineage to Bernard Lonergan, SJ. Given Lonergan's status as one of the great Catholic minds of the twentieth century, it is not surprising that collectively, the articles are insightful, profound, and innovative. However, many of them rely more on Lonergan's life of interiority and self-appropriation and less on the truth of the Catholic Church as passed down and available for interior contemplation. Thus, the insights provided sometimes give pause to those seeking to maintain or reestablish the orthodoxy of higher education in a profession set adrift by a tsunami of moral relativism. In a brief postscript, the editor explains, "Rather than settling for being 'true to the faith,' all of these chapters forage beyond the initial faith their authors learned. Reason pushed them out in twelve directions. Their forays could have had them evolve into being post-Christian or postmodern or just plain post wherever they were before they started. But they made synthetic wholes of what would otherwise have been just an additional story built onto their original habitats" (201). Some may find it disconcerting that the editor considers it "settling" to accept the Church's teaching unchanged.
After Haughey's summary preface, the first essay is Patrick Byrne's discussion of how he discovered his wholeness through science, justice and love. Cynthia Crysdale then presents a fascinating story of self discovery.
Yet, troubling are statements like "[T]he more I researched both contemporary women's lives and the history of the Christian tradition, the more the distortion of a cult of suffering became apparent" (24). Subsequently she argues that "The imperialistic and triumphalist use of the cross as a symbol of tyranny, conquest and hence oppression makes Christianity a system of abuse" (24). Robert J. Deahl, a Dean of Professional Studies, uses insights from Lonergan to incorporate Catholic themes into his curriculum and to develop programs for corporations. His goal is not so much continuing conversion, "but personal liberation and transformation" (49). While the difference may be subtle, it is significant. His personal journey has led him to [End Page 323] question the Church's "mandate of a life of celibacy, a charism that is to be cherished—and one that perhaps should be freely chosen" (49). Less controversial is William P. George's essay, which utilizes theological insights to better comprehend the law of the sea. Applying Lonergan's methods to faculty seminars, Richard M. Liddy stresses that the Catholic intellectual tradition is not closed, but still developing (82). While the stress on the modern and the new may be appropriate for faculty seminars, it is less so for undergraduate students, who have little grounding in either scripture or Church teaching. Part one closes with J. Michael Stebbins' laudable discussion of the development of business ethics based on Christian teaching, particularly Lonergan's.
The final six chapters are explicitly autographical. But the emphasis on personal experience and self appropriation leads many of the authors to skirt the bounds of orthodoxy. While applauding Amaladoss for, "Starting with a positive approach to other religions as participants in God's plan of salvation," his claim that he has "a new theology of history focused on the Kingdom of God, which embraces other religions . . ." remains suspect and unjustified (105). He concludes that when judging what is true and proper "the real criterion is not orthodoxy but orthopraxis (see Matt. 25:31-45)" (106). Following Lonergan and Teilhard, Ilia Delio argues that "Christianity will not be able to adequately...