Pope Francis’ recent urge to “move around, to see reality from various viewpoints” (2014, p. 4) offers Christianity a transformative invitation to see itself anew, apart from the “centralism and ideological approaches” so often coloring its history.
I was asked to offer an interpretation of what this might mean for us, our communities, and our institutions.
In response, I immediately recalled the quote attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
This wisely suggests the rather common-sense idea that growth requires an upleveling—a dramatic shift—in the way we approach any situation.
Looking In, Looking Out
Before such innovative action can actually take shape, the matter must be seen from an entirely new angle.
This is much like the gradual horizon, unfolding before 15th century sailing vessels, helped disclose a spherical earth. More contemporarily, it is the transformational sight of the earth from space that has helped us radically recognize our planetary responsibility.
As Pope Francis recently noted, these “great changes in history were realized when reality was seen not from the center but rather from the periphery” (2014, p. 3). Expanding our knowledge of what Bernard Lonergan called the “incomplete and approximate portrayals of an enormously complex reality” (1972, p. 219) always requires a new viewpoint, a new perspective.
A Turbulent Margin
This necessarily makes Francis’ “move away from the central position of calmness and peacefulness” (2014, p. 3) our perspective-changing beginning.
From that place of the turbulent margin, we will proceed. Drawing from another of our senses next time, we will begin to look in on ourselves.
Lonergan, B. J. F. (1972). Method in theology. Minneapolis: Seabury.
Spardaro, A. (2014). Wake up the world: Conversation with Pope Francis about the religious life. La Civilta Cattolica (I), 3-17.
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