Dominicans: Term 2, Week 4

Radcliffe: Part One, 10-12

In these chapters, Radcliffe looks at a number of topics, but with a focus on “relationship” and “community”.  We too all live in a variety of relationships and communities.  Identify one or two of those and (a)  identify a specific idea or experience that relates to one of your relationships or communities, and (b) suggest how that relationship or community may contribute to your own Dominican vocation.

The communities that I saw in these writings are the Anglican Communion and the Church in Pandemic, both of which provide points of celebration and challenge.

When questioned about a new Council, Radcliffe declares, “We are too afraid of debate!” (p.111)  We recently witnessed the postponement of the Lambeth Conference due to pandemic, but it would seem that the pandemic’s timing was advantageous, because just prior, the Conference had been postponed because of a desire to overcome the issues and fractures prior to meeting.  In other words, they were afraid.  Such fear must be overcome and Radcliffe points to a way: creating the space where the other can be and “both sides can talk to each other, in the pursuit of truth. (p.112)

The second source of community (or lack there of) is the Church in Pandemic.  With churches being closed due to the pandemic, our liturgical church has found ways to communicate the Gospel through means we may have considered, but never really planned on implementing.  In the nave of my church, we now have cameras, cables, computers, etc. (and my congregation lovingly refers to me as Scorsese!)  We reach further with the Gospel than we ever dreamed, hearing from individuals in Pakistan, Indonesia, India, England, and others.  The challenge is that such technology “does not always help us to escape the solitude of modern life.” (p.117)  It is wonderful that we can reach our congregation and others, but so many are still sitting in front of a monitor alone in their homes.  The Christian faith is one of “touch” and we must continue to find ways to do so.

While in seminary, I had many of my classmates almost demand that I abandon TEC for whatever fractured group that was popular at the time, but I have never seen that as an option.  It does no one any good pick up their marbles and go home, instead we must the radical message of the Gospel to heal our divisions.  As Dominicans, we are called to identify the common thread and provide a space for dialogue and “touch.”  That is how I feel I can contribute.


Verboven: Ch. 10-12

These three Dominicans have all been engaged in study which is not directly related to Dominican study.  How did these fields of study contribute to their Dominican life and spirituality?  How can you approach one of your own “outside” interests as part of your own Dominican life and spirituality?

Last week I began leading a book study on Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.  In the opening pages, he discusses the fact that his approach to the topic is multidisciplinary, saying, “While we talk, and talk freely, about ours being a very specialized era where people go more narrowly and deeply into questions than once they did, it is perhaps also the case that the biggest issues that confront us as a human race are issues that require a certain amount of multidisciplinary skill if we’re to tackle them effectively.” (p.2)  All three of this week’s Dominicans would give Williams a hearty, “Amen!”

Helen Alford studied engineering and through those studies she became interested in how people interact with the modern world, which led her even more deeply into the study these systems and how to best care and support the workers.  Her later work with British Aerospace allowed her to put some of this thought into practice and witness the outcomes.

Katarina Pajchel helps us to understand that “science and theology point towards one and the same reality.” (p.129)  The Psalmist declares that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and scientist like Pajchel only confirm the depth and magnificence of all creation.

Finally, I learned more about Islam in the chapter on Emilio Platti than I have ever know, which shows why his work and study of Islam are so vital in helping us find points in common instead of points that divide.

I’m not all that great at it, but I enjoy writing and have self-published two novels.  Where they are fiction, I also hope to draw people to a deeper curiosity / understanding of faith.  As one who came to faith through reading a novel (a story for another day) I feel that we can reach many through the art of story and I hope to continue to this work.

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