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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Return (2)

Yesterday, I discussed my revisit of Christian Theology and discussed three kinds of theology. My encounter of the first kind (beyond grade school catechism class) was at the top of Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Sun near Mexico City. At the summit I fell into a group of black-cassocked gringo seminarians from some Opus Dei associated seminary in the US midwest who I discovered in conversation thought that Karl Rahner, Hans Kung (theologians of the third kind), and of course me were flaming heretics. For them it all stopped with the Fathers of the Church.

I started this return to Christian Theology with the question of the need of a theology for the new political-economy. I read O'Meara's Vast Universe and find that, like those seminarians, he has the truth (i.e. Revelation) but uses the new science to further understand it. The question he asks about how that Revelation might deal with the probability of extraterrestrial life doesn't really interest me.

I read O'Murcho who positions himself in his Christian tradition, but in this context is pushing his understanding of what the new science might mean for further understanding of the world and humanity. He seems to be open to newness beyond what has been given and so I find him much more interesting. Perhaps this is why the Spanish Bishops condemned him. And so he follows in a great tradition of Christian thinkers.

But my question is: to face the challenges of the present and future towards a new sustainable economy and world, do we need a new theology or do we need to go beyond theology, to a post theological world, a world without supernatural beings that give us the agenda for salvation or that rescue us from our follies.

I would very much like to think that "there is a vast Reality that we have no way to perceive and that is actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything." Well, okay. Call that Reality God or Necessity or Meaning or Being or some other capitalized Word. My question is do you start with the attitude that you have the truth because it has been give to you or that you do not have the truth but are in search. Do you think that meaning is given from outside or that we have responsibility for creating it? Fides quarens intellectum or simply querens intellectum querentem. 

This is a not a trivial scholastic distinction. It's a big deal. A real crisis in our human development that most people don't see. I'm not an ardent atheist and really don't care if people believe or not in supernatural entities in their private lives. But I see what gives such verve to the new skeptics and atheists. I do care whether we abdicate responsibility believing we have some pipeline to the truth without testing it with experience and each other.

Nor do I care about preserving the Christian tradition except as an historical phenomenon among others. I really do appreciate the Catholic thing and how it contributed to my own development. But at the same time I am so glad I am not there anymore. But then again I hope that tomorrow I am past where I am today. I think that the best way to be faithful to and appreciate one's tradition is to let it go

Belief seeking understanding is a worthwhile pursuit and provides understanding of human history and nature if the beliefs are truly under question. Humanity progresses through problem-solving that criticizes and transforms the undergirding belief-systems. There are many Christian scholars who excelled at this discipline. Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade were masters of this pursuit in relation to non-Christian religions. Mind seeking faith by transcending beliefs or, better, human existence discovering and creating meaning is the post-theological enterprise of human knowledge and action.

As I read O'Murcho, Chardin, and Merton, I think they are trying to get to the post-theological moment, and certainly helping those of us in their tradition. And the same for great minds of the other religious traditions. We are all trapped in, but freeing ourselves from and within, our history and situation. And so I think I now disagree with Korten and my friend Bob. It is not a new theology we seek, but a post-theology--a world without gods.

Is a world without gods even possible? Might such a world be a ruse of hidden malefactors that are still operating their hold on our minds without us knowing? Isn't it better to peg the tricksters that are exerting power than pretend they are not present?

A more important question to me: Is a post-theological world, a world without gods, also a bleak world without marvels and magic and miracles?

No, I answer, not at all. In fact such a world could be more magical and miraculous because we have abandoned a transcendent or supernatural realm in wonder of the natural universe including us now in transcendence. But that will depend on us and our collective willingness to dump our beliefs to keep the faith--our willingness to discover and create, find and make meaning in us.