‘Healing and Creating in History’ Bernard Lonergan
Elijah Interfaith Alumni Sunday 29th January 2023
In 1975 Bernard Lonergan a Jesuit priest gave a lecture entitled ‘Healing and Creating in History’ to The Thomas More Institute, in Montreal. It is included in chapter 7 of the Collected works of Bernard Lonergan, The Robert Mollot Collection.
It was circulated ahead of our Elijah Interfaith Alumni tonight.
Lonergan defines history as equalling human affairs.
He goes on to quote from a paper by Sir Karl Popper, ‘The History of our Time: An Optimist’s View’ in which Popper summarises a view of Churchmen as “Our intellectual development has outrun our moral development”
Then he directly quotes Popper,
“The main troubles of our time — and I do not deny that we live in troubled times — are not due to our moral wickedness, but, on the contrary, to our often misguided moral enthusiasm: to our anxiety to better the world we live in. Our wars are fundamentally religious wars, they are wars between competing theories of how to establish a better world. And our moral enthusiasm is often misguided because we fail to realise that our moral principles, which are sure to be over simple, are often difficult to apply to the complex human and political situations to which we feel bound to apply them.”
He summarises the view of Churchmen as ‘Clever but wicked’ with Popper’s ‘Good but stupid’
In illustrating ‘Creating’ he uses an example from economics citing a volume by Barnet and Muller entitled ‘Global Reach’. He brings us to the conclusion that multinationals don’t work for us and there is a need to create a system that works for the world.
He speaks of ‘insight’ which he says, “It is learning what hitherto was not known” as our means to create what will work.
For me, he raises the key question on page 99,
“But, one may ask, why does the flow of fresh insights dry up? Why, if challenges continue, do responses fail? Why does a minority that was creative cease to be creative and become merely dominant?”
He answers it by suggesting ‘bias’ within us, within groups distorts what began creatively. For us to succeed we need love throughout.
He speaks of the healer working with creating as a means to reconcile rather than outcast those who may oppose.
In looking at this chapter ahead of our meeting tonight I begin to see that not only do ‘Multinationals’ not work for us all but most systems need to either remain creative or recreate.
As people of faith, we are particularly interested in how our religions remain creative in responding to the needs of both our adherents and the world in which it exists. Are we creating and healing as we make our way in the world fuelled only by love?