Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Rosemary Haughton, Lonergan, and conversion

We have just had a wonderful paper by Kathleen Williams (Melbourne, Australia) connecting Lonergan and Rosemary Haughton. Lonergan is known to have admired Rosemary Haughton, and warmly recommended her books; his endorsement appears, I think, on the back covers of her books, and I have read and enjoyed and profited enormously from the work of this extraordinary woman theologian. So it was good to hear a paper linking her work with that of Lonergan.

Sr Williams focussed on conversion. Haughton might be said to engage the topic in a narrative mode, and Sr Williams has 4 utterly concrete examples of conversion in her paper. I found myself moved as she read out one of them. It is from such concrete experiences that theology must derive its categories, says Haughton. And, I thought, it is from the ability to illuminate such examples with the Word that the power of preaching derives. Or perhaps it is that the preacher must allow the Word to illuminate his own experience, which is also the experience he shares with the people of God.... At any rate, the Word becomes flesh again and again in our lives. And that is where, in the ordinary experience of our lives, in the experience of conflict, as the Law of our lives is challenged, as it breaks down, as a new horizon makes its appearance, that Haughton finds the experience of grace.

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