From the Editor's Desk

By Schultenover, David G. | Theological Studies, September 2014 | Go to article overview

From the Editor's Desk


Schultenover, David G., Theological Studies


The popular media of my youth told us that we were awaiting the messianic Age of Aquarius, the New Age movement described by Neville Drury in The New Age: Searching for the Spiritual Self (2004) as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational psychology." The time, it seemed, longed for some kind of togetherness, unity despite all the differences, a wholeness that might engender shared joy. Certain drugs, it was hoped--then and now--would enable the process. That longing, 1 suspect, is as old as the human race. By our differentiating power of self-reflection, we human voyagers recognize our differences and long to be affirmed in them as unique. But overindulgence in that direction quickly throws us into existential loneliness and a longing to swing back toward communion.

Anthony Godzieba, in his plenary address opening this year's meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America, presented a creative and stimulating treatment of the meeting's theme, "Identity and Difference, Unity and Fragmentation." Drawing on Vatican II's Unitatis redintegratio and its call to restore "unity among all Christians" and so to avoid the kind of divisions that make it appear "as if Christ himself were divided," Godzieba (together with the other CTSA presenters) argued that the Church's integrity is a both/and reality and vocation, not either/or. This should be obvious, since the human race itself requires, for integrity, the both/and of unique persons recognized as simultaneously one in their humanity. But this imperative has seldom carried the day, and for many still does not. Hence the seeming intractability of racism, among other consequences of fragmentation.

But achieving the kind of unity called for and represented by Christ himself (Jn 17:21 et passim) is not a simple matter, given our concupiscent tendency toward egocentrism, a proclivity of self-defining groups as well as individuals. Holding identity and difference together is a matter of grace; the many forces driving them apart are what we call sin. Yet Godzieba illustrated the successful achievement of such a graced integration by a magisterial analysis of J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. It was not lost on me that for an audience of mostly Catholic scholars he had (presumably deliberately) chosen a committed Lutheran artist to illustrate the graced integration of identity and difference.

I do not want to slight any of the fine articles in this issue of Theological Studies, but space allows me to highlight only two that especially bear on the discussions at the CTSA meeting.

Alberto Melloni points out that Giuseppe Dossetti's mostly behind-the-scenes contribution to Vatican II was as Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro's peritus. …

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