Posts filed under 'Essays'
A number of writers have been posting about atonement recently and Crystal challenged me to post something on the topic. It made me think of a paper I wrote a good few years ago on the relationship between creation and redemption–in particular exploring some of the implications of a theological aesthetics. Along the way it winds back and forth among some of the issues of a theology of atonement–perhaps denying such a thing is possible. For any who are interested here it is as a pdf file. Beware though if you are in a Holy Week mood as it focuses on Easter.
April 4th, 2007
The following talk was given to a weekend retreat group. I begin by referring to a session the previous evening where I’d shown a couple of clips from the film American Beauty in which the central character, at the point of death, reflects on his life and finds himself moved by gratitude and beauty. I asked the group to do their own reflection:
- What would you like to flash before your eyes in that last second, that ocean of time?
- What are you grateful for–really, spontaneously grateful for?
- Where is the beauty in your life and where is it leading you?
December 2nd, 2006
The “October” issue of The Way has just been published including my article on the Spiritual Exercises, “Id Quod Volo: The Erotic Grace of the Second Week”. I wrote briefly about the core idea a little while ago and if you are interested you can access the full version free, gratis, and for nothing at The Way online.
November 29th, 2006
I used the following reflection on story and discernment a few weeks ago with a group trying to reflect on their own life and ministry together and discern a possible way forward. I’m posting a slightly edited version here…
A little while ago I was given the DVDs of a science fiction show I’d wanted to see but missed called ‘Firefly’ — think Cowboys and Indians in spaceships — and it’s a lot of fun, and very well written, with 8 or 9 well-drawn characters that over the short series grow and take shape and show their stories and change each other in all sorts of ways and hint at secrets and stories yet to be told. Because it was a series that was cancelled part way through. A story with no ending. With loose ends. A dozen stories still waiting to be told. And my intense curiosity about each character and what they still had left to tell, and about the group, the whole, and their collective story which seemed to be going … somewhere, having some significance. I hate not knowing what happens to Inara. I really want to know who Shepherd Book really is and where Simon and his sister are headed. And I never will. Unless I make it up myself. And that doesn’t really work. Because half the pleasure is not in making up, but in appreciating the reality of the characters and the sense that behind them there is an author with a hope.
Continue Reading June 21st, 2006
Just published in the January 2006 edition of The Way is an article of mine “Receiving and Rejecting: On Finding a Way in Spiritual Direction”. Thanks to the publisher it is available for download at no charge. Have a look if you are interested.
It is a reflection on how we, as spiritual directors, navigate: what we look for, what we pay attention to, what we receive and what we reject. And on what lies at the heart of the art of spiritual direction.
December 9th, 2005
I’ve just been wrapping up an article for the British Jesuit’s spirituality journal The Way. The paper is about spiritual direction and the choices a director makes to follow one thread and set aside others. It should appear in January 2006.
Some time back (October 2004) I published another paper in The Way, this time on a relatively neglected suggestion found in The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola. The suggestion in question is this:
A step or two in front of the place where I am to contemplate or meditate, I will stand for the length of an Our Father, raising my mind above and considering how God our Lord is looking at me, etc., and make an act of reverence or humility.
I try to show that buried in this rather dry injunction is a rich spirituality of personal relationship with God. You can download a PDF version or read on…
Continue Reading November 6th, 2005
Some time ago I began to be interested in the interface between theology and spirituality and, in particular, the place they meet in cosmology. Theological cosmology, as i think of it, is not in the mainstream of theological study but I believe it deserves to be as it holds the clues to a fresh approach to some common theological impasses.
The paper which follows was written out of a striking experience of ‘spirit of place’. Everyone I’ve asked has their own experiences when a place and time become unexpectedly sacred for them. This is the phenomenon that provoked me to begin to explore what kind of ‘spirit’ makes sense of such experience. I rapidly found it is a conception of spirit that sends roots in two directions: into our theories of the world and into our theories of God. Hence theological cosmology.
Theology is often ridiculed by invoking the mythical question ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ but i believe there’s an unintended profundity here. It asks how spirit and place are related. That’s a question of intense ecological significance.
If you are interested read on…
Continue Reading August 23rd, 2005
This end-of the-day slot and its title, ‘Talk on Theology and Experience’, poses a bit of a problem: isn’t there something contradictory or at least a bit disjointed about ‘talk’ and ‘experience. We talk before an experience and we talk after it but when our experience is underway we are somehow too busy to be talking about it–we are doing it, being it, living it. If we keep stopping to analyze our experience we never get to have any. But if we never talk about our experience we never really understand it, we never grasp its significance, or let its significance shape our lives.
Anyway, it’s my task to introduce the sessions that will follow on the other afternoons this week by saying something today to get you thinking and talking about theology and experience and the relationship between the two…
Continue Reading July 25th, 2005