Editorials

commonweal GENEVA TALKS: A STAMMERING WORD PERHAPS THE MOST FLEETING but indelible moment in the life of a family is the remarkable instant a child utters its first meaningful word. Briefly, time...

...The president must assume strong leadership, resolutely dismiss those obstructionists who have hampered progress in the recent past, and appoint not ideologues but negotiators of the highest possible expertise, experience, and commitment to diplomacy...
...Last February one could not have predicted that Ronald Reagan would today be calling nuclear deterrence immoral, and opting for a technically untried space-based system for insuring America's defense...
...The American electorate intuited this and responded...
...breakthrough in ASAT (anti-satellite weapons) technology projected for this Spring, as well as in technologies soon available to both superpowers in deploying nearly-impossible-to-verify nuclear-capable cruise missiles throughout the arsenals of both superpowers...
...For one, last year's electoral process...
...Keeping faith requires the mutual support of the community of believers...
...In joyful moments like birth, communion, or conversion, the theologian can enhance the richness of our lives by drawing attention to the tradition where deep calls to deep, where mystery is inexhaustible...
...Respected critics have shown the seemingly irreparable vulnerability of the president's Star Wars proposal: note the Winter 1984/85 issue of Foreign Affairs, the president's own Scowcroft Commission report of 1983, and the testimony of Richard D. De Lauer, currently Under-Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering, before the House Armed Services Committee: "Any defensive system can be overcome with proliferation and decoys, decoys, decoys, decoys...
...Theology can help...
...At its worst, theology obscures God through encumbered language and constricted ideas...
...Why claim a need for professionalism in a realm of experience religious experience that, as part of the human condition, includes everyone...
...it is an active way of being in the world...
...Similarly, the theologian can remind us of the guiding presence of the Holy One when our particular experiences of sickness, poverty, alienation, death cause us to lose our way...
...Keeping faith is a more modest claim than "being faith/W...
...While it must undeniably be credited, by supporter and critic alike, with significantly motivating the Soviets to return to the table at Geneva, it has also injected further instability into the world's already fragile nuclear condition...
...Following the president's U.N...
...The Soviets will have to discuss and explain their apparent violations of the ABM treaty at their Krasnoyarsk radar station, and dismantle or amend it if necessary...
...25 January 1985: 37...
...Furthermore, Foreign Minister Gromyko's statement at Geneva calling attention to the progressive threat of further nuclear weapons proliferation to other countries is another sound, sober reminder...
...There will have to be significant agreements in the realm of verification...
...Such contradictions cause us to ask: What is the nature of the relationship between faith and reflection upon God...
...In the present state of relative nuclear parity and the relative symmetry that pertains at all levels of nuclear weaponry, a significant breakout in any category of nuclear weapons technology would be immediately, and perhaps catastrophically, destabilizing...
...The bear and the eagle have spoken a word...
...Because the theologian's task is to work with the multiple textures of human religious experience, theology's yin-yang perspective is most helpful...
...The massive "elective unconscious" of the American people made an unmistakable choice for stability in November...
...Such a miracle only comes after long, diligent work...
...KEEPING FAITH Like it or not, there is something disturbing about the word theology...
...How can one pretend to systematize what is best described as mystery...
...On the other hand, the theologian may contex-tualize loss within that part of God which is absence...
...For faith, while a gift from God, is also practiced, cultivated, appreciated, shared...
...The theologian is less an apologist, less an advocate of dogma sent to persuade the unbeliever, than a faith partner who serves the inquiring believer...
...It can be seen in the work of Karl Rahner who spoke of the future church while co-creating it, at a time when the very ferment of the present church appeared to be more than many of its members could bear...
...On the Soviet side, the past two years of multiple, top-level changes in the Soviet regime have demonstrated a remarkable resiliency on the part of the Soviet leadership...
...It is related to the stability President Reagan referred to following January's Geneva talks: "Our objective in these talks will be the reduction of nuclear arms and the strengthening of strategic stability," he said...
...The theologian does not attempt to shrink questions of ultimate significance for the simple-minded, or, God forbid, to answer them...
...That the eagle and the bear are again talking is crucial...
...There is a conscious element in faith...
...What is the relationship between the practice of compassion and hope...
...Others have pointed out the extravagant fiscal burden Star Wars promises to place on the American economy (four times more than the initial $26 billion the president has mentioned see Leonard Silk quoting Dean Rusk in the January 11 New York Times...
...Gromyko that he didn't eat children, and Mr...
...it is a prerequisite as well...
...What were the developments that led to this longed-for moment...
...Would not the politician, the news reporter, the historian, or the futurist be more fitted to the role of commentator...
...Stability is not only a means to and a goal of arms control talks...
...It means preparing for the long haul through commitment to the present and reflection upon the past...
...Nevertheless they share a kindred quest for meaning and truth...
...The fundamental premise of theology, unlike that of its sister, philosophy, is theistic...
...While relative stability may have partially prepared the way to January's coming in from the cold in Geneva (a relative stability because the Reagan and Chernenko regimes are both in a rapid state of internal flux), change itself has been the second, indisputable component which has led to the start-up of talks...
...Reagan told Mr...
...It's my hope that this week's meeting in Geneva...
...Briefly, time and hearts stop, and we know the power and plenitude of hope...
...It can be seen in the work of Bernard Lonergan, who in coping with ill health and with the sort of isolation endemic to the path-breaker, pushed on to explore a means by which future theologians could relate the work of God to a new generation...
...But essential...
...is the beginning of a new dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union...
...At its best, the ancient enterprise of theological reflection sharpens our focus so that we can, in faith, see God among us...
...And why the need for theologians if God does indeed become manifest in the affairs and persons of this world...
...Conversely, the theologian may point to the unchangCommonweal: 36 ing aspect of a transcendent God...
...and Soviet delegations will be critical...
...Both sides have good reason to negotiate...
...Like the artist, the theologian shares with us an interpretation of the world that can enhance our recognition of God, of hope, of beauty, of mystery, and of love...
...While no space defense could be foolproof, it would significantly enhance the offensive capability of whichever country deployed it, offering heightened protection to its strategic land-based offensive missiles...
...That they have agreed to talk simultaneously on three levels of the nuclear equation strategic and intermediate-range weapons as well as space defense is heartening...
...Such an instant of hard recognition occurred last September at the White House when Mr...
...Is it any wonder then that, in Pope John Paul's recent phrase, the renewed disarmament talks between the superpowers in Geneva have sent "a beam of hope on the horizon of the world...
...We are at a point where either a moratorium will be effected or a geometric leap is going to take place...
...The possibility that arises from accepting this fact is the realization that one's adversary is not going to wither up and forsake the contest...
...It can be seen in the letters of Vincent van Gogh who spoke of the future of art while birthing that future through artistic vision and practice, at a time (and at a price) of personal poverty and sickness...
...It seeras paradoxical then, that one can spend a lifetime studying theology, even constructing or deconstructing it, and have no faith...
...As Leslie Gelb has described it, 1984 saw a historic reversal in American arms policy...
...The president is correct in his assessment that "a more stable peace is achievable through these negotiations," urging all Americans to "join us in supporting this search for a more stable peace...
...The choice of those appointed to head the U.S...
...This realization must be coupled with the reminder that a mistake could trigger a catastrophy...
...Pershing II missile in Germany should be used to underscore mis fact...
...his work directs our attention to the inherent grandeur of a landscape we are all too prone to neglect...
...Those two questions are how to deal with the gargantuan national deficit, and how to avert nuclear war...
...For example, to the person who experiences loss, the theologian may provide a way to contex-tualize that loss within the expansive realm of life, comfort, or immortality...
...It seems pretentious...
...Possibly...
...This could be not only destabilizing but could accelerate an irreversible plunge...
...Philosophers have reflected on such events, developing far-reaching theories of human knowledge, culture, and human nature itself...
...Despite the no-contest nature of its outcome, that marathon evoked two questions which have altered the landscape of American politics on which even a returned Reagan administration must operate...
...it is that which allows some persons to discern the manifestation of God in events and in people, while God remains hidden from the purview of others...
...The eagle and the bear have uttered a meaningful word in one another's presence...
...Rhetorical...
...To one who experiences the metamorphosis (metanoia) of conversion, the theologian may point to similar transformations in history...
...Nor would the Soviets have anticipated Mr...
...Despite these, it seems clear that the president's Strategic Defense Initiative, as he prefers to call it, has had two decisive results...
...Both superpowers sense this not only regarding Star Wars research, but in apredicted U.S...
...Finally, both sides must be aware that time is running out...
...As a family marvels at a child's first word, it is eventually blessed with the stunning recitation of a complete, revelatory sentence...
...it is less doctrinaire than claiming to keep the faith...
...In so doing they have opened the possibility for political compromise, progress, and promise on a variety of levels...
...But they must not be allowed to back away stammering before they have fashioned the crucial sentences that can yet return some semblance of hope to the world...
...How does one study God...
...speech last September a Soviet official commented to John Newhouse:' 'How can we ignore that what he said in New York was not what we had been hearing for more than three and a half years...
...The artist Christo does not drape Pacific islands in sheaths of color because nature herself is inadequate...
...Gromyko responded by saying that children weren't eaten in the Soviet Union either...
...Reagan's 25 January 1985: 35 significantly mollified rhetoric...
...Even such recent events as the Soviet missile mis-flight over Norway and into Finland, and the fire which destroyed a U.S...
...These contradictions can be resolved in the daily process of bonding faith to reflection and compassion to hope, in what Karl Rahner calls the practice of faith...
...It is also paradoxical that one can spend years doing the works of mercy and still lose heart...
...Faith is also the interpretive framework with which one views the world...
...Rather, the theologian is a partner in awe...

Vol. 112 • January 1985 • No. 2


 
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