August 11th, 2000

Devil's Tower

Theological Notebook: Theology and Spirituality: The Self, Transformation and Holiness

THEO 540


The Self, Transformation and Holiness

The course explores the fundamental connections between theology and spirituality in relation to different understandings of being human, of Christian identity and of the process of transformation or growth in holiness. The first part will consider basic methodological questions and some classic understandings of what it is to be human. The second part will examine how a selection of major texts in Christian spirituality address such themes as human life (body and spirit), sin and alienation, the process of transformation or growth in holiness, individuality and community. Requirements: daily reading, class discussion, paper and take-home exam.



Five classic spiritual texts will be used comprehensively during the classes and are required for the course:

  • Benedicta Ward (trans.) The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers, SLG Press: Fairacres, Oxford OX4 1TB. UK. (distrib. in US by Cistercian Publications: Kalamazoo).
  • Edmund Colledge & James Walsh (eds.) Julian of Norwich: Showings, Paulist Press: New York. "The Classics of Western Spirituality" series. The Long Text. In this edition, p 175 onwards.
  • The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Any modern translation. Two best are either J. Munitiz & P. Endean, eds., Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings. New York: Penguin Books USA, 1996; or George Ganss, ed., Ignatius of Loyola: Spiritual Exercises & Selected Works. 'Classics of Western Spirituality', New York: Paulist Press, 1991.
  • George Herbert 'The Temple: sacred poems and private ejaculations'. Any edition but the most accessible is John Wall, ed., George Herbert: The Country Parson; The Temple, Classics of Western Spirituality, Paulist Press, New York.
  • Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink From Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People, Orbis Books, Maryknoll.

Two secondary texts will also be used regularly and are required for the course:

  • Philip Sheldrake, Spirituality and Theology: Christian Living and the Doctrine of God, Orbis Books, New York.
  • Philip Sheldrake, Love Took My Hand: The Spirituality of George Herbert. Cowley Publications, Boston.

All other material used in the course will be contained in a reading packet.



Students are required to attend all classes. They should be prepared for discussion of the day's material and have read at least the assigned texts and/or essential secondary literature.

Final grade will be determined by i). class participation, including the possibility of assessment of one in-class presentation, ii). a short written paper, and iii). a take-home final exam. A range of topics from which to choose the subject for a paper will be available with the reading packet.



Monday 10 July

The Relationship between Theology and Spirituality


Matthew Ashley, 'The turn to spirituality? The relationship between theology and spirituality' in Christian Spirituality Bulletin 3/2 (Fall 1995).

Sandra Schneiders, 'The study of Christian spirituality: contours and dynamics of a discipline', in Christian Spirituality Bulletin 6/1 (Spring 1998).

Sheldrake, Spirituality and Theology, Chapters 1, 2 & 3.


Tuesday 11 July

Spirituality in Postmodern Context


Sheldrake, Spirituality and Theology, Chapter 1.

Veronica Brady, 'Postmodernism and the spiritual life' in The Way, 36/3, July 1996.

Rowan Williams, 'Postmodern Theology and the Judgement of the World' in John Webster & George Schner, eds., Theology after Liberalism. Malden,
Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2000, pp 321-334.


Wednesday 12 July

Problems of Interpretation


Sheldrake, Spirituality and History, Chapter 7.

Margaret Miles, The Image and Practice of Holiness, Crossroad Publishing: New York, 1988, Chapter 1.


Thursday 13 July

Models of Self, Transformation & Holiness


Rowan Williams, On Christian Theology. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers Inc: 2000, Chapter 14, 'Sacraments of the New Society'.

Anne E. Carr, Transforming Grace: Christian Tradition & Women's Experience. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990, Chapter 6 'Theological Anthropology
and The Experience of Women.


Friday 14 July

The Early Desert Tradition:

i. Cultural & Theological Context of Origins.

ii. Main Emphases of Desert Spirituality: Introduction.


Ward, Wisdom, dip into the text to look for examples of the following emphases: solitude & silence, charity, humility, discernment, living the gospel call
with intensity.

Peter Brown, The Body and Society, Columbia University Press: New York, 1988, Chapter 11.

Douglas Burton-Christie, The Word in the Desert, Oxford University Press: New York, 1993, Chapter 2, espec. pp 48-62.


Monday 17 July

The Early Desert Tradition, Two Key Themes:

i. Asceticism & Struggle


Ward, Wisdom, read sayings on 'self-control', 'warfare' & 'endurance'.

Burton-Christie, The Word in the Desert, Chapter 6, espec. pp 192-208.

Brown, Body and Society, Chapter 11, passim.

ii. Obedience and Spiritual Guidance


Ward, Wisdom, read sayings especially on obedience and discernment.

Benedicta Ward, 'Spiritual Direction in the Desert Fathers' in The Way, 24/1, (January 1984), pp 61-70.

Kallistos Ware, 'Foreword' in Irénée Hausherr, Spiritual Direction in The Early Christian East, Cistercian Publications: Kalamazoo, 1990.


Tuesday 18 July

The Mysticism of Julian of Norwich

i. Cultural and Theological Context of Origins


The Long Text, Chapters 1-9.

Brant Pelphrey, Christ Our Mother: Julian of Norwich. Michael Glazier: Collegeville, 1989, 'Introduction'

ii. Julian's Understanding of the Human Person


The Long Text, Chapters 5, 27 & 56-57.

Joan Nuth, Wisdom's Daughter: The Theology of Julian of Norwich. Crossroad Publishing: New York, 1991, pp 104-116.

Ritamary Bradley, Julian's Way: A Practical Commentary on Julian of Norwich. HarperCollins: London, 1992, pp 199-214.


Wednesday 19 July

The Mysticism of Julian of Norwich

iii. Sin and Salvation


The Long Text, Chapters 41-63, passim.

Nuth & Bradley as above.

Grace Jantzen, Julian of Norwich, Mystic and Theologian, Paulist Press: New York, 1988, Chapter 9.

iv. God and Transformation


The Long Text, Chapters 11, 51, 59-60.

Nuth, pp 73-79 & 85-94.

Bradley, pp 98-100 & 105-121.


Thursday 20 July

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola

i. Historical and Theological Context


John O'Malley, The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass., 1993, Chapter 1 'Foundations Before the Founding'.

Terence O'Reilly, 'The Spiritual Exercises and the Crisis of Medieval Piety', in The Way Supplement, 70, Spring 1991, pp 101-113.

ii. To Grow in Freedom: The Spiritual Dynamic of the Exercises


Joseph Veale, 'The Dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises', in The Way Supplement, 52, Spring 1985, pp 3-18.

Marie-Eloise Rosenblatt, 'Women and the Exercises: Sin, Standards, and New Testament Texts', in The Way Supplement, 70, Spring 1991, pp 16-32.

Use references to the Exercises in the above to familiarise yourself with the layout of the text. All references to the text give standard paragraph numeration for
the Exercises.


Friday 21 July

The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola

iii. Theological Horizons and Contemporary Issues, 1: Grace and the Human Person.


Exercises, 23, 45-61, 91-100, 101-109, 136-148, 190-207, 218-229 - and any other paragraphs referred to in the secondary literature below.

Roger Haight, 'Grace and the Exercises' in The Way Supplement, 76, Spring 1993, pp 44-52.

Annice Callahan, 'The Human Person: Contemporary Theology and the Exercises' in The Way Supplement, 76, Spring 1993, pp 85-97.

iv. Theological Horizons, 2: Discernment.


Exercises, 313-336.

David Lonsdale, Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, Revised Edition. London: Darton, Longman & Todd/New York: Orbis Books, 2000, Chapter on 'Discernment
of Spirits'.

Michael J. Buckley, 'The Structure of the Rules for Discernment', in Philip Sheldrake, ed., The Way of Ignatius Loyola: Contemporary Approaches to the
Spiritual Exercises, The Institute of Jesuit Sources: St Louis, 1991.


Monday 24 July

The Poetry of George Herbert

i. The 17th century context of Anglican spirituality


AM.Allchin, 'Anglican spirituality' in Stephen Sykes & John Booty, eds., The Study of Anglicanism, Fortress Press: Minneapolis 1988.

Sheldrake, Love Took my Hand: The Spirituality of George Herbert, Chapter 1.

ii. Inward Struggle


George Herbert, The Temple - while familiarising yourself with the whole collection of poems, read especially poems entitled: The Call, Dialogue,
Christmas, Mattins, The Temper, Prayer 1, Prayer 2, The Collar, Love, Aaron, The Flower, Sacrifice, Discipline, The Agonie, Perseverance, Assurance.

Sheldrake, Love Took My Hand, Chapter 6.

Peter Hardwick, 'The inward struggle of the self with God: Gerard Manley Hopkins and George Herbert' in The Way Supplement, 66, Autumn 1989.


Tuesday 25 July

iii. Herbert's approach to prayer - personal and in common


As above and:

Sheldrake, Love Took My Hand, Chapters 2 & 7.

iv. Herbert's understanding of holiness and the purpose of the Christian life


As above and also:

Keith Yates, 'Christ: "my onely musick": The spirituality of George Herbert' in The Way, 23/4, October 1983.

Sheldrake, Love Took My Hand, Chapters 6 (as above) and 8.

Wednesday 26 July

Spirituality of Liberation: Gutierrez

i. Foundations and Context


Gutierrez, We Drink From Our Own Wells, Part 1.

Roger Haight, 'Religious Themes in Liberation Theology' in The Way, 27/1, January 1987, pp 42-53.

Roberto Goizueta, 'Liberation Theology, Influence on Spirituality' in Michael Downey, ed., The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, The Liturgical
Press: Collegeville, 1993, pp 597-600.

ii. Being a Christian: A Person and A People


Gutierrez, Part 2.

See secondary references for previous day and also.....

José Ignacio Gonzalez Faus, 'Anthropology: The Person and the Community', Chapter 23 in Ignacio Ellecuria & Jon Sobrino, eds., Mysterium Liberationis:
Fundamental Concepts of Liberation Theology, Orbis Books: New York, 1993.


Thursday 27 July

Spirituality of Liberation: Gutierrez

iii. Conversion


Gutierrez, Part 3.

Jon Sobrino, 'Spirituality and the Following of Jesus' Chapter 33 in Mysterium Liberationis

Segundo Galilea, The Way of Living Faith: A spirituality of liberation, SanFrancisco, Harper, 1988, Chapter 3.

iv. Martyrdom


Javier Jimenez Limon, 'Suffering, Death, Cross and Martyrdom', Chapter 34 in Mysterium Liberationis.

Ignacio Ellacuria, 'The crucified people' Chapter 28 in Mysterium Liberationis.

Friday 28 July

Concluding session: questions of contemporary interpretation and application.





NB. For appropriate reading for these topics, please see the set texts and the appropriate bibliographies in the syllabus.

1. 'The values of every spiritual tradition reflect the historical, social, cultural and theological conditions in which it arose and are limited by those conditions.'
Critically discuss this statement with reference to one or more of the texts you have studied.

2. Describe and evaluate the teaching of the early desert tradition on the purpose of the Christian life.

3. In your view, did the teaching of the desert tradition on asceticism understand the human body as a problem or as part of the process of salvation?

4. 'Sin is necessary, but all will be well.' Evaluate Julian of Norwich's teaching on the meaning of human sinfulness.

5. How does Julian relate her theology of God to the transformation of humanity?

6. Is the understanding of the self and human transformation in The Spiritual Exercises compatible with modern theological and spiritual insights?

7. With reference to The Spiritual Exercises, does discernment of spirits imply knowledge of God's will for the individual?

8. Critically evaluate George Herbert's teaching on Christian discipleship.

9. 'George Herbert's spirituality is concerned much less with the life of individuals in isolation than with the life of the Church.' Critically discuss this

10. Critically evaluate the understanding of holiness that arises from liberation theology and, in particular, from Gutierrez's text.