On a journey through North America, my wife and I
attended many churches. At one the pastor insisted repeatedly that "the meaning and purpose of life is to have a
personal relationship with Jesus." The claim irked me.
For five weeks the lectionary journey through the Gospel of Mark is interrupted by a brief sojourn into the sixth chapter of John. The chapter opens with two familiar stories from the synoptic Gospels: the feeding of the multitude (a story so important that it appears six times in the four Gospels) and Jesus walking on the water. Then there are dialogues, first with the crowd and then with “the Jews” (probably better understood as Judean officials) about the meaning of the miracle of the feeding and about Jesus’ true identity.
As some friends and I ate a picnic lunch, we fell into a rambling conversation about politics, real estate values in an earthquake zone and the virtues of sauvignon blanc over chardonnay. Then I mentioned offhandedly that perhaps I viewed something or other the way I did because I was a Christian. This revelation did not strike me as a big deal. After all, they had been talking about Buddhist meditation, Sufi parables and personal spiritual rituals.
With books like Blessed Rage for Order (1975) and The Analogical Imagination (1981), David Tracy became widely recognized as an important revisionist theologian—one who revised Christian categories in view of modern categories of thought.
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