Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Lonergan and therapy

I have always felt that there is more than a strong affinity between psychological therapy and Lonergan's method. But this is a surprisingly direct confirmation, from the man himself:
"As Vernon Gregson has remarked, such reflection is like a therapy. Just as Carl Rogers' client-centered therapy aims at having the client discover in himself the feelings he cannot name or identify, so reflection on one's interior operations is a matter of coming to name, recognize, and identify operations that recur continuously but commonly are thought to be very mysterious." (B. Lonergan, "A Response to Fr Dych," Shorter Papers, CWL 20:301)
But the affinity is not restricted to the procedures of Insight, though of course I find Lonergan repeatedly pointing out that Insight was an exercise in general method. Theological method itself incorporates what you might call group therapy - at the moment of dialectic!

An interreligious theological method

Again, since the sources to be subjected to research are not specified, they could be the sacred books and traditions of any religion. (B. Lonergan, "Bernard Lonergan Responds (1)," Shorter Papers, CWL 20: 274)
This also had escaped me: the clarity with which Lonergan here indicates that his method can be used by all religions, or (implicitly) in an interreligious manner. So the interreligious data does not have to come in only at Communications, as I recall someone (McShane?) saying recently. But of course, this is self-interpretation, and anyone is free to challenge it - provided she has good reasons.

Intellectual conversion rare

"Intellectual conversion, I think, is very rare."
- B. Lonergan, "Bernard Lonergan Responds (1)," Shorter Papers, CWL 20 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007) 274.

Amazing to hear him say that. It had not registered before. He is perfectly right, of course. We can and should readily expect to find religious and moral conversion in interlocutors with the most diverse origins, for the Spirit raises up good people everywhere. But the operation of the Spirit is probably somewhat different when it comes to intellectual conversion. I guess there it is a matter of history and the dialectic of history or the experiment of history, under the guidance of divine Providence....

So the key problem in dialogue and in theological method is going to be intellectual conversion. The most intractable problems will usually be rooted in lack of intellectual conversion.

But, I think, there are certain major problems rooted in absence of religious conversion? Would rationalism and immanentism be one such? Or would they also be, in the end, reduced to lack of intellectual conversion? For it is possible to be a rationalist and a truly good person all the same.