Men’s feet; Johnson, Tracy & Mujica


While I am deeply grateful for the outstanding work of Luke Timothy Johnson over the years and am therefore extremely reticent to criticize something written by this eminent Catholic scholar, I was more than surprised to note the following in the midst of his otherwise excellent and timely article, “Dry Bones: Why Religion Can’t Live Without Mysticism” (February 26): “The marginalization of the mystical within Christianity reaches its epitome in movements like the social gospel or liberation theology.”

I presume Johnson’s mention of the social gospel is a reference to the social-gospel movement among Protestant religious leaders in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which was an effort to shift the focus of Christianity from theological considerations to social relations (a note of clarity from Johnson would have been helpful here). But does he find no trace of a contemplative and mystical foundation in the work of theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, Jon Sobrino, SJ, Leonardo Boff, and Juan Luis Segundo, to say nothing of the thousands of other Christians who have based their lives, and many, their deaths, on the gospel orientation of liberation theology?

William Joseph Tierney
Jacksonville, Fla.

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