I have a huge regard for Australian Catholic Theologian Terry A. Veling, both from the articles he’s written, including a brilliant one several years ago on “Spiritual Reading” published in Tjurunga – that introduced me to Ivan Illich’s book In the Vineyard of the Text.
My first introduction to Veling came via the Australasian theological journal Pacifica, specifically the February 1996 issue and his very evocative essay Marginal Writing and Marginal Communities: Between Belonging and Non-Belonging. Here’s the abstract.
"What does it mean to live “in the margins of tradition”? Many intentional Christian communities occupy this space of marginality, living on the edge of a tradition in which they feel both the need to belong and the impossibility of belonging. Marginal hermeneutics suggests that the interpretive space of “the margins” is a creative, productive, vital site of receptive and critical engagement with a tradition’s enriching and distorting effects, and with our own contemporary questions and concerns."
It was therefore a delight to be reminded of the last book of his that I added to my library, was his 2005 publication Practical Theology:"On Earth as It Is in Heaven" which interestingly had my favorite Michael Leunig cartoon on its front cover; a cartoon that has meant so much to me and my journey.
Who reminded me of this book? Simon Carey Holt in a recent post. Here’s an excerpt:
“…According to Veling, the discipline, at its best, reclaims the ‘reintegration of theology into the weave and fabric of human living, in which theology becomes a practice or a way of life.’ For Veling, practical theology is ‘less a thing to be defined than it is an activity to be done.’ It is the practice of theology, not a pre-packaged box of propositions, but a theology discerned and known in the midst of the encounters and experiences of daily life.
This jells so much with my own experience. For me, the life-giving nature of theology has never been in its provision of a speculative and grand system of thought through which every situation of life can be interpreted. Rather, it’s about a way of knowing and understanding that flows out of and into experience—mine, yours, ours. For that reason, theology has always been for me more fluid than solid, more open than settled, more pervasive than undergirding.
Veling says it well: ‘Practical theology wants to keep our relationship with the world open, so that we are never quite done with things; rather, always undoing and redoing them, so that we can keep the doing happening, passionate, keen, expectant—never satisfied, never quite finished. … Practical theology is suspicious of any theology that is too solid, too well-built, too built-up. Rather it is a theology that is given over to a passion for what could yet be, what is still in-the-making, in process, not yet, still coming.’…”
You can read Simon’s complete post here.