Where Are We Now? - Philip McShane - 30 Jan 02

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Just a few reflections on where we are now.

I think that the *title* of the seminar, "Experience into Words" (the excellent title suggested last summer by Paul Murray) has had a big influence on our writing. We have, indeed, been writing from our experience. This, I think, is excellent. I do think it gives us an "edge". Out of our experience, we indeed come to struggle with topics that need to be explored for ourselves and--maybe--for others. I think it gives us a chance of opening up new areas and of finding original approaches to things. I also think that there is a possibility of us developing a kind of dialogue not only between ourselves, but between our experience and our attempts to express it, a dialogue that can enable us to get things more precisely in view, that can enable us to grasp things in a new way and to go forward.

I do wonder if the subtitle to the seminar has been a bit submerged by our approach up to the present. The subtitle was: "Writing The Theology We Need". Writing out of our experience may not be the same thing as writing the theology we need. Perhaps we need accounts of things that will open up new avenues for us...

Some of the sayings of Jesus are really puzzles, throwing us out of our expected frame of reference, shocking us, just so that we may open up to something else...

-- Anonymous, January 30, 2002


Philip, are you saying that scripture could inspire some of the theology we would write about? I think that's a good point.... funny that I don't fall back on scripture more! Perhaps I could do that in the next few weeks of Lent and all that.

I guess I've been a bit distracted over the last few weeks, and I haven't thought a hell of a lot...! But the discussion on freedom really lodged in me, and needs more pondering.

And also been thinking about the importance of community, in the faith context. I am in a small community (not living together) and we meet to share and pray and laugh. I think it must be frustrating for young people who are interested in faith, but don't have the support of others to build them up.... (And there are young people who believe!) I couldn't do it without community. And sometimes I get so frustrated at the lack of community in the church.

So long, will try to be there on Wednesday.

-- Anonymous, February 11, 2002

So, this evening -- the evening of our seminar which begins in half an hour -- I am still wondering where we are. Clearly the first approach we took of writing out of striking, immediate experience that seemed to be directly relevant to the title of our seminar, is drying up. And yet life goes on. And our reflecting goes on. Maybe we could try writing out of where we are right now--as your reply above, Roisin, does.

Wondering about myself: I find it difficult to write, and nevertheless I think it is very important for me to write -- I have been putting it off for years. Thinking about the kinds of things I could myself consider writing about here or elsewhere, I think of the following possible headings:

Personal, developmental stuff. This maybe doesn't belong here. I don't quite know where it is going--where I am going in some sense, though here hope is important.

Sermons: During the past week or so I found myself preaching again on the Gospel of Salome's dance before Herod and the subsequent bejeading of John the Baptist. I have preached on this several times, including in retreats, yet I have never written it down. I will also be giving two retreats in the near future, one a weekend affair in Switzerland in the English speaking parish in which I worked for a number of years, and the other to Dominican sisters in England around Pentecost. Now I will be doing a lot of talking -- particularly in the second of these -- and none of it is written down. However, I find that on the rare occasions when I do write things down, I am more articulate and more to the point and better organised in what I say. So I may well try writing, if not sermons (I will probably end up saying something different anyway), at least materials for sermons, indeed sometimes materials that have arisen in sermons, in the sense that some things emerge into definition in the actual situation of preaching. So, be warned! It might be good for me to put some of that on paper. I had, in fact, a request a couple of Sundays ago for the text of the sermon I had just preached -- there was no text. But maybe in the long run, we (the community in Limerick) might put up a homily site on the web!

More properly theology in the sense I have sketched before: an account of something that I need to get in focus. For example, I need to get in focus something about the theology of revelation (on which I am giving a course at the moment). It seems to me to be presupposed in any of the debates on the relationship of Christianity to the other religions.

Spiritual experience--which has been the topic of contributions by various people. Some of this has to be linked not just with recounting something that happened, but with reflection on an encouragement to develop the spiritual/practical life which fosters development in our very concrete spiritual life.

-- Anonymous, February 13, 2002

Thinking about the above I realise that this is the bit I'm not good at; the ongoing development.I'm more of a lets start this and then lets do this. So I need descipline and what better time than lent to practice..

Last week it seemed to me that I had written all I had to write; it was all said. Now I realise how little was said. So I will do as 'the master' says and think again ,ANd I will write again before the next meeting.


-- Anonymous, February 17, 2002

Roisin once asked is experience enough. Now it seems to me that experience, unless it is understood, brought into focus and acted upon, remains just that, an experience. It's potential or effect is never realised. Is this true?.

At the moment I am overwhelmed by my own inadequacy here. Is there anything as humbling as the giving nature of real love, which we really dont have. Rita.

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2002

Rita, I agree with what you say about experience but I don't understand what you mean by "the giving nature of real love, which we really don't have". Could you say something more about that? Anne Marie.

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2002

The above should read" which I really don't have". It was the lack of love in the referendom debate that prompted the "we". I would'nt dream of speaking for the Theology group.

I will write again about this , but it will be later on, probably some time after Easter. It is something I need to be more sure of before I write about it. Rita.

-- Anonymous, March 01, 2002

Philip, On writing our own theology. My sense, for myself, is that my theology might not be acceptable and might leave me out on a limb. Maybe I'm afraid of that. Even so,I do feel I must begin to write the theology that is mine even if it is not orthodox. If I'm sacked from the Church so be it! Anne Marie

-- Anonymous, March 01, 2002

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