Bernard Lonergan, Johann Metz

Wait, Lonergan and Metz Together?!

I’ve found my time at Marquette so far to be rather fruitful. Part of being at Marquette means that you run into people who like this guy named Bernard Longergan. On first glance, his system seem a bit daunting. So having help is… helpful.

Now, having found some conversation partners on the Lonergan side is a plus. Whats the upshot? So far it has been a year of positive conversation from two seemingly far-flung divergent views. This weekend will prove a synthesis of sorts, but certainly not a conclusion. In other words, I’m co-presenting a paper with a friend of mine that brings Lonergan and Metz together in a fruitful way — it shows how the work of a specific political theologian, Johann Metz, can be understood from within a Lonerganian perspective, and in so doing, it is an attempt to draw out in a relatively short space the links between the apparently abstract aspects of Lonergan studies and the emphases of political theology. But it also shows that Metz brings something to the table, something that, in fact, Lonergan needs more of: apocalyptic vigor.

So if anyone is around Milwaukee on Sunday, swing by the Marquette library.


17 thoughts on “Wait, Lonergan and Metz Together?!

  1. Billy Sunday says:

    What did Cavanaugh say? Lonergan is the Hotel California of catholic theologians. You can check out, but you can never leave.

  2. dave says:

    I know of Lonergan because one of the places I’m considering for grad school, Loyola Marymount, seems like it’s a kind of hub for Lonergan studies. I haven’t read much of his, but this paper sounds interesting.

  3. Ben says:

    Once you allow Metz to be understood within a Lonerganian perspective I’m afraid you’ve lost him. Come on David, you should know this. It’s interruptive apocalypse 101! Never sell your apocalyptic ray-gun to a system builder. Sheesh!

    • And this can’t be understood as bringing him into the fold? I believe the call to the divine life — redemption — is for all? I think I’ll trust in the apocalyptic to be true to itself and the divine work unbridled by human hands, always and forever: creatively interruptive in affirmation and negation. This reflects a recent turn that you’ve been privy too, and something Metz may have missed saying: an interruptive pneumatology that alters the course of the biggest ships.

      • Ben says:

        Are you going to use my smart ass comments as a platform for propounding a new Hughsonian inspired interruptive pneumatology?

        Because I think you should anyway. Preach it brother!
        (if only that interruptive pneumatology could’ve altered the course of the Titanic just a tad)

    • Jerms says:

      I’ve gone back and forth with myself for the last several hours over whether or not I should say this, but I think it is worth saying. Ben, I’m not sure how serious you were with this comment about “losing” Metz by understanding him through Lonergan, but if you are serious I think it betrays something. People in my position who tend to follow the thought of a systematic thinker like Lonergan are often suspicious of political theology. That is one of the reasons that I, for my part, wanted to do the paper with David – I think this resistance to political theology is unwarranted, largely because Lonergan’s thought is ripe for dialogue with theologies that, however is may be specifically formulated, are opposed to totalizing narratives.

      However, that same resistance often is a reaction to a fairly consistent lack of care in the control of terms and their relations that manifests itself in positions that are, in terms of a retortion-like argument, performatively self-denying or at least -questioning.

      As an example, I would cite the potential implication of your comment here. If Metzian or politically-oriented concerns and methods are intrinsic to valid theology and they are not to be lost, then the upshot of your comment is that Lonerganian theologians must abandon their Lonerganian tendencies in favor of Metzian positions or formulations in order to be authentically theological. Understanding Metz through Lonergan is impossible from that point of view, and any attempt to do so is a reduction of the (valid) positions of Metz to the (invalid) positions of Lonergan.

      The irony that people in my position tend to see in this, and from our perspective it is a common problem with certain political (or any other) theologies lacking sufficient care of their terms and relations, is that we are basically being told, “Do not be totalizing, and make sure you are non-totalizing the way we are non-totalizing.” Frankly, it think it makes a mockery of any responsible sense of the term, ‘dialogical,’ because it’s just as dictatorial as a decadent Catholic scholasticism.

      ‘Course, if you weren’t serious, then I’ve just taken your comment as an opportunity to make a point, independent of what you actually meant.


  4. Ben says:

    Jeremy, there wasn’t one ounce of seriousness in my comment, but rather I was giving David some shit just for the hell of it (I thought my posts were clear enough) — I felt the liberty to do so since David knows that I have always been supportive of his bringing Metz into dialogue with more systematic thinkers like Lonergan or Balthasar (and I usually side with the more systematic thinkers btw).

    But, so as not to let your comments go in vain, I too will use them as an occasion to expand, in my own direction, on a point you made. I am also in agreement with your critique of the common postmodern imperative to not “totalize”. This imperative is more piously inspired than philosophically so (and actually all too modern as well). It is often out of some Kantian arbitrary and authoritative claim about the supposed finite bounds of knowledge, which dogmatically predetermines the absolute real as unknown. In rendering the absolute off limits to thought it is even more totalizing than, say, Hegel’s pursuit of absolute knowledge (who is often the scapegoat of much of pomo thinking, though this is not to say that Hegel is unproblematic but contra current opinion he is actually less totalizing than Kant). But people so often invoke this Kantian line of thought as if they were the gate keepers of humble knowledge — as if they are able to see the limits of knowledge beyond which an otherness resides that is not to be transgressed. But to claim to see the limits is already a not so humble claim to see beyond the limits, and therefore a woefully arbitrary line drawn which entails vigilant police work to uphold. And this has more to do with the indigence of thought trying to enclose within itself rather than being open to an excess of thought which continually gives itself to be thought.

    So I say onward ho with the pursuit of knowledge regarding the absolute totality of reality (lest we fall into the tyranny of a totalizing sophism/pragmatism that disciplines us not to ask questions about the absolute anymore).

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