Conversatio Divina

Part 2 of 15

Possibilities and Process of Change

Conversations Journal

Although the language of “transformational theology” points in the direction we want to go in this section, it could be easily misunderstood. It might conjure up images of dry theory and dusty theology. But, as reflected in the articles that follow, this will not be what you will find here.

What you will find is candid ­dialogue about the possibility and process of genuine spiritual change. Easy talk about spiritual transformation flies in the face of the fact that most of us have experienced little of such change first hand. Consequently, our understandings about what it ­actually involves often have a poor fit with reality. We must, therefore, start with the realities of experience if we are to develop theological understandings of transformation that are spiritually and psychologically grounded. And, as argued by Larry Crabb in the lead article, we must start with brutal honesty.

One important function of spiritual theology is to provide maps of the terrain crossed by the soul on the transformational journey. Thomas Green, S. J., offers a helpful reflection on this analogy of spiritual maps.Thomas Green, S.J. When the Well Runs Dry: Prayer Beyond the Beginnings. Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Marie Press, 1979 p. 31. He suggests that the important thing about maps and journeys is not to confuse one with the other. To become ­preoccupied with the map is to be distracted from the journey. Studying the map won’t get me one step closer to my goal if I want to drive from Toronto to Montreal. Nor is it a good idea to paste the map to the car’s windshield and contemplate it as I drive. But having it on the seat beside me as I drive is often helpful, particularly if I suddenly find myself in New York and wonder how I got there!

But spiritual theology is not simply map development. It also involves engaging with the questions and challenges we face on the journey. Some of these are brought into initial focus through the articles in this first issue. Others will be raised as we proceed.

The journey is what’s important, not our theories about it. Let us never be guilty of preferring ideas about spirituality to spiritual experience—nor of confusing the two. Let us never be content with ­unactualized theology.