Sunday, December 30, 2007

Girard and von Balthasar

A friend who knew the great Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac recalls that, late in life, de Lubac remarked that, if he were young and beginning his theological work again, he would begin with René Girard.

What de Lubac wrote about his friend and colleague Hans Urs von Balthasar could also be said of Girard, namely:
Despite the silent hostility that superiority invariably encounters, and despite the remarkable resistance of certain professionals to take note of this unclassifiable man and acknowledge him as one of their own, even in France . . . von Balthasar’s thought has captured one by one the spirit of an elite youth.
As for the “diverse presentations of Christian origins by contemporary writers," de Lubac says of von Balthasar what could as well be said of
René Girard:
He takes hold of them, so to say, in one fell swoop which in itself is an intellectual feat – and then, with keen discernment comes up with an altogether different and unexpected view.
And then again:
. . . instead of, like many others, laboriously striving to rejuvenate scholasticism, for better or worse, by making gestures toward contemporary philosophy, or else abandoning, as so many others, all organized theological thought, von Balthasar shapes a fresh, original synthesis with radically biblical inspiration, without sacrificing any of the traditional dogmatic elements. His acute sensitivity to cultural developments and to the problems of our own times give him the necessary courage to do so.
The Emmaus Road Initiative is an effort to bring René Girard’s extraordinary anthropological insight into Christian uniqueness into conversation with the equally extraordinary theological contributions of Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), and others. In a few days, I will resume the monthly round of Emmaus Road Initiative sessions in (in chronological order) Washington, DC; Glastonbury, Connecticut; San Francisco, California; Santa Rosa, California; Dallas, Texas; San Diego, California; Wheaton, Illinois and Houston, Texas.

I hope to see as many friends – old and new – as are able to join us. For a schedule of the sessions, go here.

Happy New Year

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