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  Vol 46 no 4


SPIRITUALITY AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION

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Contents

Jos Moons

The exuberance of Roman Catholicism after Vatican II has subsided. Instead, we seem beset by conflicts between different strategies and emphases for maintaining and spreading the Christian faith. What does the future hold, and what does the faith of the future look like?

John Sullivan

The Christian believer in a modern democratic society should be a good citizen of that society, and this is important for the nature of the believer’s spirituality and religious life. John Sullivan explores how the Christian as citizen mystic can find God in all things.

Christine Valters Paintner

All too often spirituality is treated as primarily a personal, individualistic matter. But spiritual practices such as contemplation can also be acts of resistance, witness and liberation which can help us to transform the society around us.

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Sarah Apetrei

A number of women writers in late seventeenth-century England provocatively linked mysticism with an incipient feminism. Their spirituality challenged contemporary social roles, and the links that they made between sexual equality, human dignity and the divine nature lead us to examine the limits we ourselves set upon both human potential and the justice of God.

Thomas G. Casey

Tradition has an ambivalent value in James Joyce’s fiction. His work often looks forward to a modern Ireland in which tradition, and in particular the traditions of the Church, play a diminishing role. What challenges does the society portrayed and foreseen by Joyce hold for Ireland in the twenty-first century?

Anthony Egan

How does spirituality express itself in the struggle against the effects of economic globalisation? Focusing on new social movements in today’s South Africa and the changing religious landscape, Anthony Egan asks what Christian spirituality has to offer diverse communities that are trying to maintain their solidarity as they fight for social justice.

Beth Crisp

Recent television programmes in a number of countries have followed members of the public with different religious backgrounds as they experience something of life in an enclosed order. Beth Crisp explores what these programmes can tell us about changing attitudes within religious houses and about how they are viewed in the mass media..

Terry Biddington

The Manchester Mind-Body-Spirit festival exemplifies the modern so-called ‘spiritual market-place’, with a wide variety of beliefs and practices competing for the attention of spiritual seekers. How should the Churches respond to the needs and demands that this market-place serves, and how far have they failed both traditional and New Age believers?

Ama Samy

Recent Jesuit General Congregations have emphasized social justice as being at the heart of the Society's mission. But the Jesuits' developing commitments to their tasks in the world should not lead them to neglect the individual experience of God.

From the Foreword

In a remarkable article entitled ‘Food for the Soul’ the Abbot of Worth, Christopher Jamison, remarks:

Those who suffer eating disorders often deny that they have a problem; so too those who don’t eat enough spiritual food. ‘I’m fine’, they say, ‘I’m spiritual and I don’t need religion’. Christians carry a heavy responsibility for our failure to offer our traditions in ways that hungry people can swallow.

In this issue The Way attempts once more to face up to this responsibility and to provide a fare that is both genuine and credible. To do this several contributors acknowledge the difficulties that many people feel today when religious topics are mentioned. So often the faith is just not attractive (Jos Moons), or belongs to an area outside the normal life of a citizen (John Sullivan). If only we could convince people that contemplation is itself the affirmation of true personal worth, true witness and resistance (Christine Painter)! So frequently it is the women who have had the courage to follow the inner impulses of the Spirit (as Sarah Apetrei shows for seventeenth-century England), or the artists who sense where society is moving (Thomas Casey on James Joyce). However, the guiding criterion for this issue was the conviction that spirituality must be seen as a force for social transformation. Despite appearances-and widespread misapprehensions-the practice of prayer is never confined to a private room, convent or hermitage. The effects are felt, and emerge in our television programmes (Beth Crisp), in such phenomena as the Manchester ‘Mind-Body-Spirit’ Festival (Terry Biddington), and in the social movements of today’s South Africa, where traditional Churches are in danger of losing their élan (Anthony Egan). In addition, this issue invites Jesuit readers-but others may profit from this exercise-to undertake an in-depth reflection on the delicate balance needed to be genuine ‘contemplatives in action (Ama Samy). It is in the depths of the human heart that Christ is to be found, but his presence is never confined to the individual. Not for nothing is he called the sol iustitiae, the sun of justice!

Joseph A. Munitiz SJ

 

 

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