I’m sure Elizabeth Johnson’s publisher is happy at the prospect of a sales uptick with Quest for the Living God: Mapping the Frontiers in the Theology of God. I’m not well-read on Elizabeth Johnson. Maybe I should take Jim Martin’s recommendations to heart.
Have the bishops realized their approach to theology is not much different from a reviewer’s? I’ve written reviews for almost twenty years in print and online. I listen to a disk or read a book. I relate the content briefly. I explore one or two points of possible interest to readers. I give a recommendation or not. I generally don’t contact the creator.
First, this is sort of an enemy-of-my-enemy situation. People don’t like Cardinal Rigali, Cardinal Law and other bishops. The bishops don’t like Professor Johnson. People figure they might like Professor Johnson. The book gets read.
Next, isn’t this just a tomayto/tomahto kerfuffle? The bishops say Professor Johnson doesn’t grasp basic theology. She says they don’t understand her book. Good communication, that. As a result, more people will buy and read the book. She will continue to write and teach. The bishops will continue penning press releases at which some will cluck. Does that reinforce or enhance their teaching authority?
Is it plausible for a bishops’ committee to interview a theologian and discuss content? I don’t have the answer to that. It’s sure not the Vatican way. I will remark that institutional secrecy hasn’t done a lot of good for the Church recently.
Who knows? Maybe Archbishop Wuerl and his confreres on the committee really liked the book and if they gave it a positive review, they would sink it. There must be a better way to enhance the pursuit of good theology. If the bishops have abdicated, it looks like it’s been left to the laity.