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Professor argues analogy of woundedness can lead to understanding

college paper

Dr. Kevin Considine responds to questions from his office at Calumet College of St. Joseph on July 1. The assistant professor of theology presented a paper at the International Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in June in England. (Steve Euvino photo)

 

By Steve Euvino

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

     WHITING – Addressing colleagues from around the world, a Calumet College of St. Joseph professor offered a link between woundedness and crossing boundaries.

     Dr. Kevin P. Considine, an assistant professor of theology at CCSJ, delivered a paper at the fifth International Conference on Peace and Reconciliation, Who is my Neighbor, held June 22-25 at York St. John University in England.

     Drawing people from academia and those actively pursuing peace, the conference explored the role of religion in peace-building, examining resources and methodology for religious communities to engage in peace-making and to participate in the public life of the wider community.

     Starting his third year at Calumet College, Considine’s paper is titled “Bandaged Hand in Hand: Crossing Boundaries of Prejudice and Distrust through an Analogy of Woundedness.”

     In his paper, Considine argued the principle of analogy – similarity in greater dissimilarity – may be reoriented to enable one to cross a boundary of distrust and prejudice into some measure of understanding and compassion toward one’s neighbor through an analogy of woundedness.

     “An analogy of woundedness can bind neighbors together and urge communication through suffering solidarity and seeing one’s own pain in the scars of others,” Considine stated, concluding his paper with a reflection on how analogy relates to racial boundaries in the U.S.

     The international conference drew participants from around the globe, the professor said, recalling comments from Father Jamal Khader, rector of the Latin Patriarch Seminary in Beit Jala, Bethlehem. A Catholic priest raised in Palestine, Father Khader spoke on how he and others survive in that part of the world.

     “I learned so much – just the sheer scope of global injustice,” Considine said. “At the same time, people are very, very helpful in wanting to do something about it.”

     Considine examined analogy in terms of three movements: affirmation, negation, and negating the negations. Using God as an example, one can say God is a rock, through affirmation, because of strength and support. In the second movement, one negates that initial statement because God is greater than a rock. The third movement negates the second movement, but nevertheless one continues to speak of God.

     Similarly, Considine wrote, this foundation for limited but real knowledge of God can be reoriented to understand human woundedness, even across boundaries of prejudice and distrust.

     Specifically, using the Korean han (the cumulative experiences of unwarranted suffering), Considine said one can understand another’s suffering by connecting it to his/her own suffering. Second, one negates that initial statement because another’s suffering is a mystery to him/her. Finally, one negates the negation and yet continues the process.

     “This is because,” Considine wrote, “even though our sufferings are neither univocal or equivocal, they do share commonalities. After all, we both are human beings with a history of sinning and being sinned-against.”

     The overall mood at the conference was positive, said the professor, describing himself as critically optimistic – “optimistic but not naïve.” He noted, “The depth and scope of injustices are so deep, they can’t be underestimated,” but at the same time, “we cannot turn a blind eye and do nothing.”

     Considine teaches several theology courses at Calumet College, including social justice, history of global Christianity, and, this fall, world religions. His social justice students choose an issue to address as part of the class. Some students have volunteered at homeless shelters, while others became involved with striking oil refinery workers or with the Headstart program serving Gary and East Chicago youth.

     In his paper, Considine concedes crossing boundaries of distrust and prejudice is a “risky, uncertain, and vulnerable endeavor.”

     Just as we can never know God and never fully understand another’s sufferings, Considine wrote, we are called to a decision. “We … must choose whether or not to press our wounds against one another, and bind them together, in hopes of a new creation to emerge,” the professor stated. “This is a new form of understanding that is not based on information or the fusion of conceptual horizons. Rather, it is the risk of becoming a new creation that the world may neither understand or recognize: the resurrected Body of Christ.” 

       

 

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