Vol 5, No 1, 2005

AeJT Vol 5

From the Editor

Thanks to multitude of contributors, here is the Australian Ejournal of Theology, August 2005. The communications revolution and episodic terrorist attacks make one pause, perhaps to consider questions deeper than the content of the contributions and the format in which they are offered. This E-Journal is one small instance of the communications revolution while being, it is hoped, far removed from the communication of terror or hate. Many philosophers speak both of the need for the "deconstruction" of past systems of thought, and of new appreciation of the "given-ness" of the phenomena of human experience. Theologians celebrate the eschatological unity of the human race, and the transformation of all creation. It is odd,therefore, that so few attend to what is most obviously taking place.

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EDITORIAL: THE WORLD WIDE WEB EXPERIENCE

Anthony Kelly, CssR 

Thanks to multitude of contributors, here is the Australian Ejournal of Theology, August 2005. The communications revolution and episodic terrorist attacks make one pause, perhaps to consider questions deeper than the content of the contributions and the format in which they are offered. This E-Journal is one small instance of the communications revolution while being, it is hoped, far removed from the communication of terror or hate. Many philosophers speak both of the need for the "deconstruction" of past systems of thought, and of new appreciation of the "given-ness" of the phenomena of human experience. Theologians celebrate the eschatological unity of the human race, and the transformation of all creation. It is odd,therefore, that so few attend to what is most obviously taking place.

Electronic communication has wired the world into a vast system of connections. Human beings now "co-exist" in ways beyond the imagination of our ancestors. Former limits of space and time are dissolved, to allow for new forms of meeting, contacting, learning and teaching. The range of our senses has been electronically extended, so as to give us a new dimension of embodiment in the world. Each one of us is a ripple in an incoming and outgoing tide of communication. Through micro-chip, satellite, wave and cable, our space pulses with a million messages and radiates the possibilities of global history.

Yet hard questions remain. There is promise and threat. The new communication systems allow the modern army to fight, governments to keep every citizen under surveillance, terrorists to coordinate their attacks, and economic manipulators to have an immediate and global effect as billions of dollars change hands in an instant. And the larger question still. Is the cataract of information drowning our capacities for reflective thought? Is the human imagination becoming atrophied under the stress of unremitting artificial images? Where do the meaning and value of what is taking place lie concealed? How are whole cultures changed when human experience is being so radically affected? More seriously still, who owns the paths of communication with all their possibilities of manipulation and surveillance? Is our new situation leading to what is fondly referred to as the "global village," or is it leading toward a global slum, with all cultures reduced to a drab consumerist uniformity?

These are pressing questions and, as I say, it is strange how seldom theologians and philosophers address them. There are issues, of course, for education, what is appropriate training for those working with this enormous new power? How can publics be educated to avail themselves of what is accessible with discrimination? Philosophers can raise deeper questions still. In a world teeming with images, signals, sensory extensions, what is real? Where is wisdom to be found? Obviously, hitherto inaudible voices can be heard. The EJournal's gesture in this regard is to allow for the contributions of artists, pastoral practitioners and graduate students, along with its professionally academic offerings. That is as it should be. But in the wider arena, questions stir as to how inclusive this new world of communication really is.

Here, I think, theology must be more creative. After all, its business is to explore a limitless mystery of communication, as the Gospel is preached to all nations and cultures. Theology is familiar with great metaphors of mediation, and lives in a rich world of words, symbols, gestures, icons, and sacraments. It speaks of the Word made flesh, and the Spirit poured out on all creation. How, then, is the field of electronic communication related to the incarnation of the Word? How does it promise a deeper unity in the Holy Spirit? How is it open into the infinite expanse of the mystery of the Father, "all in all" (1 Cor 15:28)?

The more it reflects on this new situation, the more theology can contribute a hopeful, yet critical, dimension to it perhaps to see this new world as an intimation of our ultimate communion in God. A final question: Is the emerging situation the first time in human history that the Gospel has a technology worthy of it?

Anthony Kelly, CssR

 

EDITOR'S NOTES

CONTRIBUTIONS

I write these notes from Papua New Guinea where I am keenly aware of the Church's "catholicity" and the very different kinds of challenges which theology faces in its attempt to be worthy of the missionary call of the Gospel in diverse cultural situations. Consequently, in this full and rich source of articles, I am pleased to highlight Stephen Bevans' "Wisdom from the Margins" in which he challenges the need to develop a "missionary imagination" for an appropriate systematic theology today.

The question of how to evaluate the Christian religion and intellectual tradition in the post-Enlightenment, Postmodern world is reviewed from various angles in articles by Wayne Hudson, BrianJohnstone, Tony Kelly, Anne Tuohy and Vincent Battaglia. The growing importance of "being religious interreligiously" is taken up by Gerard Hall, Gideon Goosen, Abe Ata and Glenn Morrison in their interfaith reflections. Historical essays are contributed by Frank Sobiech and Dennis McLaughlin. Bio-medical and sexual ethics are investigated by Jack Martin and Matthew Ogilvie.

This issue of AEJT shows the increasing interest in the "poetic and aesthetic religious imagination" in presentations' some more academic, some more artistic, some both, by Noel Rowe, Graham English, Sophie McGrath, Farid de la Ossa Arrieta, Greg Smith and Fatima Carvalho.

The Journal's "Special Features" raises issues for Practical Theology in the Polynesian and Melanesian Islands of the Pacific including Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. These are outlines of papers by Mikaele Paunga, Kafoa Solomone, Phil Gibbs and Mary Eastham at the recent meeting of the International Academy of Practical Theology at the Brisbane campus of AustralianCatholic University, 24th-29th June.

"Special Features" also includes an outline of a January 2005 Seminar at ACU Brisbane, entitled "The Christological Truth About History," by well-known Girardian scholar, Gil Bailie. Other Special Feature articles by Michael Furtado and Peter Blakey deal respectively with State Aid to Religious Schools and Prejudice.

Brian Gleeson's analysis of the "Church as Communio" is complemented by "Student Contributions" dealing with biblical-patristic (Oy Tai Wong, Geoffrey Madden and Cullan Woods-Joyce) and modern-contemporary (Patricia Crockett, Adrian Jones, Peter Marendy and Peter Devenish-Meares) theological and pastoral concerns.

BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTICES

This issue contains no fewer than thirteen Book Reviews and a further thirteen Book Notices. Special thanks to consistent and multiple Book Reviewers John O'Gorman, Tom Ryan and David Pascoe. Other reviewers in this issue are Editor (Gerard Hall), Deputy Editor (Tony Kelly) and Technical Editor (Yuri Koszarycz), plus Tom Boland and Bronwen Neil.

EDITORIAL BOARD AND THEOLOGICAL CONSULTANTS

Changes to the Structure and Membership of the Executive of The Australian E-Journal of Theology are promulgated in this issue.  Instead of a single Editorial Board, there is now a "Management Board" consisting of the Editor, Deputy Editor, Theology and Arts Editor, ACU Head of Sub-Faculty of Philosophy and Theology plus Heads of the various Schools of the Sub-Faculty. Consequently, the Management Board now consists of Gerard Hall, Tony Kelly, Anne Hunt, Neil Ormerod, John Ozolins and new-comers to the executive Richard Wade, Terry Veling and Patrick McArdle.

Theological Consultants for the E-Journal are former executive members Peter Phan, Dennis Rochford, Mark Wynn, Orm Rush, Kerrie Hide, Robyn Horner and newly-appointed members John O'Gorman, Elaine Wainwright, Terry Lovat and Matthew Ogilvie. The Journal's appreciation to busy scholars and international professors for their positive acceptance of this roles is duly noted.

We are confident that these structural changes and membership additions will act as a catalyst for the future development and increasing quality of the Journal. Please direct all correspondence to the Editor: g.hall@mcauley.acu.edu.au

I express my appreciation for the imagination and technical expertise of Yuri Koszarycz, the ongoing, professional contribution of the Deputy Editor, Tony Kelly, and the generous work of other members of the Journal's executive, article referees and theological, academic and designer consultants. Finally, I thank the contributors for entrusting their work to us and, through us, to the wider theological community. Our aim is to make our work as accessible as possible to as many as possible. For this, too, the support of the Australian Catholic University is duly acknowledged.

Gerard Hall SM

8th August 2005

(Feast of St Dominic)