Festschrift for Tomáš Halík
The most prominent Czech Christian writer and intellectual Tomáš Halík celebrates 70! Martin Kočí edited the Festschrift which includes contributions from theologians, philosophers, sociologists and religious leaders from all over the world. The book entitled Vykročit z uzavřenosti (Praha: Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, 2018) is published in Czech. The following lines offer its summary in English:
This book is a gift of the academic community to the 70th anniversary of Tomáš Halík. As one of the most prolific Christian writers of our times, Halík inspires and provokes to think about the position of religion in a postmodern context. This Festschrift is aiming to offer miscellaneous perspectives on ideas which might be associated with the Czech theologian, philosopher of religion and sociologist. However, rather than analyzing Halík’s work and thought, the present collection of essays continues a dialogue on questions, opened by Halík. The international body of authors, who contributed to this book, provides the readers (including Tomáš Halík) with a critical engagement with timely ideas such as the essence of theological thinking, new perspectives on the pastoral care of the Church, and intertwining of philosophy and faith.
Three distinguished persons, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the Prague auxiliary bishop and former dissident Václav Malý, and the Polish Dominican Tomasz Dostatni opens the book with the words of wishes addressed to Tomáš Halík. The rest of the book is composed of academic texts.
Alister McGrath analyses Halík’s contribution to the practice of theology in an age of uncertainty. Mcgrath finds the most promising issue in Halík’s method of overcoming lethargy (both spiritual and intellectual). On a similar note, but in a different context, Charles Taylor argues that the only way how to defeat fundamentalism of any kind is the realisation of a dynamic spiritual renewal.
The younger generation of Czech theologians, represented by Denisa Červenková and František Štěch from the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague, engages with the question concerning the essence of theology. Červenková focuses on spirituality as the internal necessity for practising theology, whereas Štěch presents theology as publicly relevant discourse, and thus focuses on its external impact. Both texts highly resonate in the Czech academic debate where the debate on the nature of theology has not yet been sufficiently saturated.
Grace Davie from Exeter and Lieven Boeve from Leuven open a broader perspective. Davie presents the contextual perspective on the position of Christianity in a secular Europe. Boeve, presupposing this contextual perspective, show the paradigm shift of theology which is both unavoidable and necessary for theology to remain contextually relevant but also theologically plausible. The Cambridge theologian Janet M. Soskice then provides us with an example how such an open theology, an approach practised by Tomáš Halík, might look like. Similarly, William Barbieri from the Catholic University of America presents an argument how contextual and historical changes, called ‘signs of the time’ in the tradition of the Second Vatican Council, interacts with the Christian faith and its doctrinal development.
Besides being a scholar, intellectual and academic, Tomáš Halík is also a priest. This fact is reflected in texts which focused on pastoral issues of the contemporary Catholic Church. Paul M. Zuhlener narrates the story of the ‘Pro Pope Francis’ initiative, which he developed in cooperation with Halík. Martin Staněk, a close collaborator of Halík from the Academic Parish of Prague, deals with a difficult matter of pastoral care of divorced and remarried catechumens.
Tereza Matějčková, Pavel Hošek, and Martin Kočí return back to more theoretical questions, in one way or another associated with Halík’s own work. Matějčková treats the question of modern nihilism. Hošek, in dialogue with C. S. Lewis, meditates on the question of evil. Finally, Kočí critically engages with the future of religion in an age of media.
One of the principal domains of Halík’s interest is the interreligious dialogue. The rabbi Karol E. Sidon contributed to this book with an authentic Jewish interpretation of Torah. This remarkable text shows that the world of Judaism is truly complicated and very different from a popular imaginary and perception.
Benedikt T. Mohleník makes a similar argument, although in a completely different context. On the example of the creation of the Dominican order and its historiographic rendering, Mohelník shows that the medieval mentality is much more modern than the popular comprehension of the Middle Ages.
Last two texts leave the space of academic pulpit to come back to the church where Halík acts as a priest. Norbert Schmidt deals with the question of liturgical space. On the examples from the first half of 20th century, Schmidt argues that the space of liturgical celebration and its architectonical rendering is the expression of intellectual engagement with the thought of the time. Ivana Noble concludes this book with a meditation on the identity of pastors and spiritual leaders in our liquid times.