Public Notices

CLASHES OF VALUES IN INTERCONFESSIONAL DIALOGUE: THE NEED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE AFFECTIVE DIMENSION

Description
CLASHES OF VALUES IN INTERCONFESSIONAL DIALOGUE: THE NEED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE AFFECTIVE DIMENSION
Categories
Published
of 7
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Related Documents
Share
Transcript
  1 ECUMENICAL SOCIAL WEEK, LVIV, UKRAINE 1-5 October 2013 Round- table “Interconfessional dialogue: Between searching for unity and protection of values”   Clashes of values in interconfessional dialogue: The need to take into account the formation of affective attitudes [author: Heleen Zorgdrager] Through my work at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Lviv I am blessed to move between different contexts, between those of the Netherlands and of Ukraine, between the western and eastern part of Europe. Although crossing the borders is not as exciting anymore as it was eight years ago, when I started working in Ukraine, yet, there is always the feeling of entering a different cultural and political space, with its own rules, moral and social codes, values, historical experiences, and outlooks on the world. In religious matters the differences may perhaps be most striking. Let me share with you an experience from September 2011. Within one week I found myself first at the opening of the academic year of this Ukrainian Catholic University, and then a few days later in an academic theological conference in Germany. The opening of the academic year took place on the newly built Campus and started with a festive Divine Liturgy in the wooden church, led by patriarch Sviatoslav. At least a dozen of priests were assisting at the celebration. Students and teachers were so many that most of them stood outside the church, watching the liturgy on a big screen. After the liturgy there were speeches of the patriarch and rector Gudziak presenting the roadmap for the future of the university. One thing was clear: the Catholic ecclesial vision would be leading for all education and research in the university. The presence of the Church  –  with a capital letter -and its leadership was quite impressive in this academic ceremony. Rather the opposite was my experience at the academic theological conference in Germany. The conference included also the Sunday. However, to my surprise it was not foreseen in the program that the participants would visit a church service. Instead, a lecture was scheduled on Sunday morning from 9 till 11 about the topic, ironically enough, ‘Church between Communication and Institution’. For the German participants it seemed quite normal to spend the Sunday morning in this way, just continuing the academic work. Mark that the venue of the conference was Wittenberg, the birth-place of the Reformation. In this town, where Martin Luther once hammered his theses on the church door for the renewal of the church, on this Sunday morning his secularized followers gave their highest thoughts to the church without sharing in its living worship and community.  2 This experience not only tells about my ‘culture shock’ crossing the borders between Western and Eastern Europe. It also shows the great difference of religious cultures on the same continent, from highly secularized to a revitalized, religiously dominant culture. Differences do not only apply to confessional variation. When visiting the Hungarian speaking Reformed Church of Zakarpattya I, as a Reformed Christian from Holland, can feel as much like a cultural stranger as sometimes in Orthodox or Greek Catholic churches. The style of leadership, the doctrinal approach to theology, the conservative morals, the strong ethnic identification are foreign to me. I discover that in many aspects I feel more at home in a local Roman Catholic parish in the Netherlands than in a Reformed sister-church in Eastern Europe. Culture is more decisive here than confession. Clashes of values in the interchurch encounter include moral values, cultural values, social values, political values, nationalist values, ethnic values, ecclesial values, often in complex intertwining. As for controversies between western and eastern churches, moral values seem to attract most attention. For instance, the profound disagreement about blessing of same-sex relations that has become already a church-dividing issue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Lutheran churches of Sweden and Danmark, and the Episcopal Church in the USA as well. Is it only a moral issue? Or is it a social, cultural, ecclesial issue as well? I will come back to it in the end of my paper. This paper is structured in two parts. First, I will discuss the notion of unity as the goal of ecumenical dialogue. What do we have in mind with the unity of the churches today? In ecumenical theology it is admitted that unity itself has become an ecumenical problem. Challenges of globalization and the postmodern situation necessitate reconsidering previous models of unity. I will present to you some of the newer models that have emerged from discussions in the World Council of Churches and that are proposed by theologians from different contexts in the world. How do these new models offer a space for fruitful dealing with differences and diversity in the Christian community worldwide? Second, I will point to the need to apply intercultural hermeneutics when we engage in interconfessional dialogues about values. Hermeneutics is about the way we try to understand the other. In interconfessional dialogue we have to show the willingness to listen to each other and to try to understand and respect the other’s view. We question the partner in conversation and we put ourselves into question. This is very hard since our deepest views and convictions are interwoven with the formation of our personalities and our affective attitudes. In this connection, I will introduce to you an approach that takes into account the cultural and historical formation of our affective attitudes. Models of unity  3 ‘Unity of the church’ has become a problematic concept. First of all because pluriformi ty has entered the mainline churches. Although they still foster the ideal of a homogeneous ecclesial identity, in fact within the churches there are multiple identities - whether these express themselves loudly or not. Neoconservative and neoliberal views can go together in one church. How do we deal with that? Further on, postmodern thinking revealed the totalitarian effects of the idea of unity. The postmodern critique has a profound horror unitatis : fear of the idea of unity as a form of totalitarianism.   Concepts of unity tend to exclude the other, lead to the suppression of what is divergent. Instead, in many liberation movements pluriformity is positively valued as the base of human community in rich diversity. Also we have to face the reality of globalization. Everything in the world is drawing more closely together. Migration shapes people with multiple religious belongings. On the reverse, there is an increasing “provincialism”, the tendency of defining one’s own religious identity over and against that of others. The World Council of Churches acknowledges this changed reality of today’s world and tried to find expressions for a fruitful relation of pluriformity and unity. In its report on The Nature and Mission of the Church   (2005) models were proposed of “r econciled diversity ”, “c onciliar fellowship ” or “k oinonia ” (which means communion with God and with your fellow Christians, and in the end with the whole creation). Such theological studies of the WCC could, however, not solve the problem that every denomination has its own understanding of unity as the goal of ecumenism. The different confessional ideas about unity continue to coexist in an unreconciled manner. Lutheran and Reformed churches move from a more loose federation or alliance into a communion of churches. The Catholic Church strives for full visible unity. The Orthodox churches aim at a communion of autocephalous churches. The Pentecostals favor yet another option. There is no consensus about the form of visible unity. Konrad Raiser (1991), former secretary of the WCC, proposed a paradigm shift: from consensus and convergence to a trusting coexistence in a common household. His image is oikos , a common household. One should not try to unify the churches or to curtail their diversity. “Member s of the household have equal rights and are yet different. They do not create the house themselves, but are incorporated into it, added to it. Even the weak, the dependent, the doubters and the uncommitted belong to God’s household as full members. (…) In   the one house of God there are many ‘’dwelling - places’ (John 14:2), and not only one committed community.”    4 Appealing to me is also the model Annemarie C. Mayer (2012), Catholic Consultant to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, proposes. It is the m odel of unity as the “difficult whole” . What does she mean by that? She borrows the image from the influential American architect   Roberto Venturi (*1925) who somehow paved the way for postmodern architecture. Venturi writes: “The difficult whole in an architecture of complexity and contradiction includes multiplicity and diversity of elements (…) . [It] embraces the difficult number of parts  –   the duality and the medium degrees of multiplicity…” Still, such a building does not end up in a mess; in the end also this building needs a roof. The beauty of it is in a “messy vitality” over an “obvious unity”.  One could compare it to a poem of playwright in which there can be dilemmas without solutions. The validity of the questions and vividness of the meaning are what make these works beautiful art. The unfinished Pieta ’ s of Michelangelo are today appreciated for having more immediate expression than the finished one.   Applied to ecumenical hermeneutics, this means: church unity taken as a ‘’difficult whole” s till entails the vision of a whole, of unity, but the one whole and its truth are withdrawn from immediate access. Yet the vision of a whole is there, as a common point of reference for communication. Interconfessional dialogue as “obligation toward a difficult whole” moves within a horizon of truth without having already identified where the road would lead to. The model leaves room for real differences and conflictual relations. On the road to unity the whole diversity of the church is invited to grow on the basis of equality: laypeople and clergy, women and men, young people and elderly. The “difficult whole” expresses the fullness of Jesus Christ who is always ahead of us, whose truth is to be discovered in what happens to his disciples today. A further model which could be relevant to the churches of the Kyivan tradition (who represent more or less a family with a tragic history) is that of relational unity (Thomas Ryan, 1989). “ Relational unity ”  implies: there is a basic knowing that we belong together, because of the relation to the triune God, and that we have a common future together, like in a family. This creates space for all partners to be themselves. Within a family you can have quarrels about all kind of things without falling apart. The unity facilitates the diversity. A precondition is that all participants have committed themselves to this family so that the diversity does not end up in division. Intercultural hermeneutics and formation of affective attitudes The integration of intercultural hermeneutics in theology is advocated by Robert J. Schreiter, professor of doctrinal theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and influential in the field of mission studies. He calls for a “new catholicity”, a new way of doing theology with a universal scope. He states that theology needs to attend both to its context and to its universalizing dimensions. God’s mission to the world, God’s reconciling the world has a universal impact, which is central to Christian faith. But we need to transform our understanding of the universal function of theology. New universal theologies (mind the  5 plural!) are characterized by addressing of global, systemic problems (like poverty, gender injustice, the ecological crisis) and by the ability to intercultural dialogue. Christians are sharing across cultural boundaries. They have to pay intense attention to communication itself and to hermeneutics. The development of intercultural hermeneutics is essential to theology in a globalizing world. This is all combined in Schreiter’s concept of ‘new catholicity’. It takes up catholicity as one of the marks of the church, and revitalizes and expends its meaning. Catholicity implies 1) the wholeness of the Church, 2) the fullness of faith, and 3 the way this is being achieved namely through exchange and communication. The aspect of intercultural hermeneutics should be incorporated in the ‘new catholicity’. Within this framework of intercultural hermeneutics, I explored a method to better understand the conflicting positions of churches today on a specific topic, namely that of homosexuality. In a longer essay, to be published soon, I investigated the affective dimension of the public discourse of the Russian Orthodox Church on homosexuality. What do I mean by affective dimension? It is the acknowledgement that affect (or emotion), as forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing, not only drive our actions and shape our social relations but that they are also being shaped and produced by the power of discourse, technology, and by the ‘cultural politics of emotions’  (Sarah Ahmed, 2004). Our affective attitudes have a history. Since the 1990s in social sciences a whole field of studies - affect studies  –  reflects on emotions and affects in this critical way. I analyzed the documents of the ROC on the social teaching of the Church and public speeches of Metropolitan Hilarion, the Head of the Department of External Relations. I looked at the role of religious concepts, such as human dignity, sin, redemption and deification. But most important of the research was the question: How is the Church’s discourse on homosexuality shaped by its particular cultural and historical backgrounds? I cannot go into details now. Very roughly, the survey of the cultural-historical background revealed how the Church’s affective attitude is shaped to a high extent by patterns srcinating from communist times, in particular Stalinist propaganda and the traumatic Gulag experiences. The rather lenient, more compassionate approach of medieval Slavic Orthodoxy has completely been forgotten. The Gulag ’s  homosexual subculture, its violence, its crude language shaped the prevailing imagery of same-sex relations in Soviet and post-Soviet society. Gulag survivors from the intelligentisia  depicted in their memoirs the abusive same-sex relations in the camp with clear disgust. In order to protect their humanness in an inhuman world they drew the boundary between themselves, the politicals, and the criminal ‘homosexuals’ who were depicted as animals, monsters. This boundary is still effective today. There is much more to say, also on the images which Metropolitan Hilarian employs. But I cannot explain it within the framework of this paper.
Search
Similar documents
View more...
Tags
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks