Issue 1709

African Spirituality and Its Contribution to the Ecological Crisis

Introduction “No one throws a stone where he or she has placed a container of milk.” The wisdom of this Rwandan saying has never been as needed as it is today, particularly with regard to the depletion of the environment. We continue to throw stones that destroy our “common home.”[1] I use this proverb to underline that African moral principles are founded on taboos or proscriptions that spell out what ought to be done or not be done in order to “preserve balance and harmony within the community, among communities and with nature.”[2] Most studies on climate change and the...

By: Marcel Uwineza, SJ

The Practice of Zen and Christian Meditation

Unlike Islam, Buddhism presents itself to the public in a subtler way. In fact, in an age characterized by activism and feverish agitation, Buddhism offers an alternative way to people on a religious quest. Throughout wide areas of public life, the invitation to silence and meditation is no longer connected to the Christian Church. In churches, however, there are numerous opportunities for reflection, and some of them have an Asian origin. In that sense, beyond the simple attraction of Asian practices, specific elements are also used.  Zen and the West In the following text, what Buddhist meditation proposes will be...

By: Hans Waldenfels, SJ

Luther and the Magnificat

In a recent biography of Luther, historian Heinz Schilling describes the devotion of the reformer to Mary the Mother of Jesus and his theological sensitivity to Marian themes that would later be neglected by his followers. Among the works finished in 1521, Schilling describes Luther’s commentary on the canticle of Mary: “He then completed his interpretation of the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55, the song of praise by the Mother of God that lay very close to his heart. While his successors would no longer hold Mary in such high regard, the reformer saw in Mary the epitome of the human being...

By: Giancarlo Pani SJ

The Question of Qatar

For many observers the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy was overly cautious, especially at a time of high turmoil and human tragedy in the region. In Libya, President Obama was derided for “leading from behind.” In Syria, his failure, after drawing a red line, to bomb Syrian poison gas arsenals was dismissed by hawkish critics on the right and inevitably by the press, too, as lacking fighting spirit. President Obama’s acceptance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to dismantle the Syrian chemical armory is too little remembered. Though, as we learned, it was not a complete success, it served to...

By: Drew Christiansen SJ

Parrhesia: Freedom of Speech in Early Christianity

The philosopher Michel Foucault defines parrhesia as “the frankness, the openness of heart, the opening of word, the openness of language, the freedom of speech.”[1] However, this does not mean saying what one wants in the way one wants, for by its very nature parrhesia reflects an ethical attitude in that what one has to say is said “because it is both necessary and useful, as well as being true.”[2] Therefore, parrhesia is connected to the truth and to the good, and so excludes calumny, defamation and disinformation, while satire is admissible.[3] “Parrhesia” in the Greco-Roman world The Romans had...

By: Enrico Cattaneo, SJ

The Spring Tide of Saffron Power: India between Democracy and Nationalism

The national election for the Lok Sabha (the people’s parliamentary chamber or lower house) in April-May 2014 was a watershed in India’s democratic polity. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made a quantum leap over the threshold of coalition politics in which it seemed to have settled for good. The BJP won 282 seats out of 543, an absolute majority on its own. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the coalition they led, won 336 seats, an almost two-thirds majority. And this happened because the BJP connected to a strong network of associations involved with the national volunteer organization Rastriya Sevak Sangh....

By: Rudolf Heredia, SJ

Reality is Superior to the Idea

Pope Francis and the primacy of reality When speaking of evangelization in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG), Pope Francis addresses the topics of the common good and social peace (EG 217-237). He speaks of four principles in this regard: time is greater than space (222-225), unity prevails over conflict (226-230), realities are more important than ideas (231-233), and the whole is greater than the part (234-237).[1] He returns to the third principle in Laudato Si’ (LS), where he invites us to confront the ecological crisis by thinking about the common good and pursuing the path of dialogue (LS 201)....

By: Gaetano Piccolo, SJ

Arvo Pärt: The Sacred and Religious in Music

Arvo Pärt was born September 11, 1935, in Paide, Estonia, at that time part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . His family moved soon after to Rakvere. During an otherwise ordinary education, Arvo began to learn to play the piano and other musical instruments. Following his military service, he attended the Tallinn Conservatory. The professors there were strongly influenced by the music of the Russian composers Alexander Glazunov and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. His formation was typical for composers of the late 19th century and early 20th century, but a job as a sound technician gave him the chance to...

By: Giovanni Arledler, SJ
Authors of this Edition