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Believing Scholars: Ten Catholic Intellectuals
Fordham University Press, 2005
204 pp., $40.00
Since the mid-1980s, the University of Dayton (founded by the Society of Mary) has bestowed the Marianist Award to a Catholic intellectual who, in Father James Heft's words, "has made a major contribution to the intellectual life." In Believing Scholars, Heft has published the Marianist lectures from 1996-2004.1 Recipients of the award were asked to "speak about their faith and how it had influenced their scholarship; and how their scholarship has influenced their faith." The ten Catholic intellectuals published here represent an interesting breadth of expertise, experience, and perspective.
In his introduction, Heft suggests that the voices in this volume represent three major developments among Catholic intellectuals since Vatican II: how the Church has recognized that it not only needs to teach the world, but to learn from it as well; how Catholic scholars have increasingly brought their Catholic faith to bear in their scholarly work; and how these Catholic scholars have dispelled the myth of the academy as an "ivory tower," cut off from practical commitments to truth and the common good. This bit of editorial framing of an eclectic set of voices provides the reader with a helpful interpretive lens.
The collection provides some moments of evident contrast in both style and tone. Consider, for example, the pairing of Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez (1997), who unpacks in a straightforward and accessible manner each of the terms in the well-known formula, "the preferential option for the poor," and University of Chicago theologian David Tracy, whose lecture the following year on the "forms of divine disclosure" reported on current trends in professional theology as informed and inspired by postmodern philosophic currents. Where Tracy speaks of "the turn to the Other" in Christian theology, Gutierrez focuses on the Old Testament passages that concern Jubilee and their commands to "be open-handed with poor brothers and sisters."
Another contrastive pair is seen in the cheeky ...