A Dialogue of Hope, Critical Thinking for Critical Times

We live in an Ireland, and a world, where conventional economic models have failed, politics is fractured, what it means to be human is contested, and there is a Punch and Judy show of opposition between secularists and believers. The dominant narrative supporting the current status quo is spent: what might replace it?
A group of individuals, with some expertise in different fields of Irish life, have come together to make a case for constructive engagement and dialogue between secularists and religious believers, in order to imagine an alternative narrative.
They do so in a new book, A Dialogue of Hope, Critical Thinking for Critical Times, Messenger Publications, 2017, with contributions from  David Begg, Michael Cronin, Iseult Honohan, Dermot A. Lane, Dermot McCarthy, Fergus O’Ferrall and Gerry O’Hanlon.
The book is available at bookshops and Messenger Publications web-site www.messenger.ie
This alternative narrative, involving a more participatory democracy, would be in service of social and ecological justice and human flourishing. It is a narrative that the contributors believe should have input from secular sources and religious voices, from poor and rich people, from atheists and believers, from scientists and philosophers, from poets and theologians.
The group wishes to be part of a ‘Coalition of Hope’ that can champion a vision of society where all can flourish and feel at home.

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  1. The terms secular and sacred seem binary and almost cartesian. Is immanence of God not a sacralisation of the secular. Incarnation surely is gods presence in all things or divinisation of culture. Ecology is a theology. Much attested to as divine law emerges from human thought. I think we need to examine these terms to bless and divinise culture and allow for inscaped creativity of nature.A fusion of these terms might join the division between god and culture.Jesus was so fully human he was divine.

  2. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Good luck with this. Participating in activities between theists and atheists has one ready to jump on the agnostic bandwagon. Not religious enough is the feeling from one group and with atheists thinking no solution is going to come from religiosity because they are the problem. It is witnessed everyday from within on-line meeting places.
    Constructive conversation will only flow from those who care not to create a narrative that detracts from either party, believers and non.
    Here is an alternative narrative already in full swing by a fellow country man : http://www.freeworldcharter.org/en

  3. Martin Murray says:

    I might be straying from the main thrust of the article, but Bernard @1’s comment highlights for me the pressing theological need of our time for a ‘human Christology’. Not that Jesus was ‘just human’, but that Jesus was human and divine. And that the good news he came to reveal was that, so are we – so are we all, both secular and religious. And not that Jesus was different from us, but rather that he was the fullness of what are; what we can be and what we will be. “There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. . . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time.” (Thomas Merton).
    So necessary for the times we live in, Bernard correctly take it further, seeing the divine in all things – or rather I would say, seeing all things in the divine. In other words, nothing exists outside of or separate from God. For it is within God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
    I’m no expert – just a Christian in the Catholic tradition trying to make sense of life and faith. But I don’t think there is anything new in the above. I think it is both scripturally and dogmatically sound (others can correct me). However the God Jesus I hear about most of the time in Christian circles and in the sacramental life of the church is far from this way of understanding our faith.
    I would just add that I don’t consider this to mean we have to let go of the uniqueness of Jesus. Its just, as Christian’s, we don’t own him. Nor do I need everyone to see in him what we as Christians see. But he is still for me the one to whom I look to understand what God is like. A spiritual authority and the flesh and blood image of the Divine. He is still the one whom I follow and through whom I pray. Staying close to Jesus is for me the best rule of life.

  4. I’ve ordered the book and look forward to it.
    The false antithesis of ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ is just another product of Christendom, the association of the Churches with an elitist state. That allowed George Holyoake, the very first to use the term ‘secularism’ (1851), to define it in terms of a concern for the betterment of ‘this life’ as opposed to a primary concern for the next.
    By that definition a spirituality aiming at improvement of ‘this life’ is ‘secularist’ also. Meanwhile there is no consensual academic definition of ‘religion’, with even football qualifying for some, while the Dawkins atheists include Nazism and Maoism.
    It is great to hear of Irish Catholic clergy in vibrant and fearless dialogue with ‘secularists’.
    Will they next engage in the same vibrant, fearless dialogue with their own Irish Catholic people? This 73-year-old just can’t wait!

  5. As it is no longer possible to add a comment to the previous debate on Pope Francis’ Magnum Principium, I thought I could share this piece, below, from today’s Tablet here. Cardinal Sarah is definitely not a man capable of “critical thinking for critical times”
    16 October 2017 | by Christopher Lamb
    Sarah has said Francis’ recent reforms on translating the Mass does not mean the Vatican’s approval of them is a “formality”
    The Vatican’s divine worship prefect has stressed the Holy See retains the power to “impose” certain liturgical translations to ensure they are in keeping with the Latin original. 
    Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, says that Pope Francis’ recent reforms giving more power to bishops’ conferences on translating the Mass does not mean the Vatican’s approval of them is simply a “formality.” A new law issued last month by the Pope now gives bishops responsibility to “faithfully” prepare and “approve” translations but requires confirmation from Rome.
    But in an article published in the French Catholic publication ‘L’Homme Nouveau’ the cardinal stresses his department still has the ability to insist that certain words or phrases are used in translations.
    “So, for example, if, in the Creed of the Order of Mass, the expression: ‘consubstantialem Patri’ is translated in English by: “one in Being with the Father”, the Holy See may impose – and even must impose – the translation: ‘consubstantial with the Father’, as a condition sine qua non of its ‘confirmatio’ of the entirety of the Roman Missal in English,” the cardinal stressed. 
    He went on to liken the relationship between the Holy See and bishops on the liturgy to that of a parent towards a child’s homework or an academic supervisor to a student. 
    “We naturally turn to another person to “evaluate” the work that we have done to the best of our abilities; in this way we can improve our work using his observations, or even his corrections, should they prove to be necessary,” he writes. “Such is the responsibility of a professor towards a student preparing his thesis, or, more simply, of parents towards their children’s homework, and also, more generally, of academic authorities and supervisors 
    The Pope’s new legislation, ‘Magnum Principium’ was designed to insure that the process of translating the Mass into vernacular languages is in keeping with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which handed this task to local hierarchies. 
    Since the council there have been a series of attempts to centralise the translation process, which saw Vatican officials editing, and re-writing the work of bishops’ conferences.
    The liturgy prefect’s article shows that liturgical reform will remain a finely balanced process between the Vatican and local churches, although Francis’ reforms have already emboldened some bishops.
    Following the Pope’s changes, the German hierarchy appears to have abandoned a new German version of the missal which had been produced using older guidelines and had yet to be approved.
    This had been produced following the guidelines established by ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’, the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 2001 document which called for more literal translations of the Latin into the vernacular. It sought to correct the earlier approach known as “dynamic equivalence” where a translation took place according to the sense of words and phrases. 
    Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, has described “Liturgiam Authenticam” as a “dead end” and said it took “too narrow a view”. 
    Cardinal Sarah, however, stressed that “Liturgiam Authenticam” still stands and there is “no noticeable change regarding the imposed standards” set out by that text.
    The cardinal’s number two, Archbishop Arthur Roche, has also pointed out in an article explaining the Pope’s reforms that the principles of this 2001 document remain in place. 
    Cardinal Sarah has appeared to be at odds with the Pope on the liturgy, with Francis issuing him with a rare rebuke last year after the cardinal suggested priests should turn east and celebrate Mass “ad orientem”. 
    The Pope is also increasingly turning to Archbishop Roche as his point man on the liturgy: this morning the Pope met with the former Bishop of Leeds at the papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta.  
    It was the archbishop who Francis asked to lead a low-key commission examining ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’, and Archbishop Roche who wrote an official explanatory article on ‘Magnum Principium.’n has final authority over liturgical translations

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