‘Reimagining Religion’

March 22, 2023 in Featured News, News

Jim Maher SJ’s latest book, Reimagining Religion A Jesuit Vision has just been published by Messenger Publications ». Whilst his preceeding book, Pathways to a Decision » has now been translated into Spanish, under the title Caminos Para Tomar Una Decision. Both books are written for anyone interested in Jesuitica or spirituality.

Reimagining Religion, according to the author, is also written for those who are interested in moving into a more adult faith while struggling with trying to make sense of religion and Christianity. “It’s for anyone trying to make sense of human experience,” says Jim Maher.

The book seeks to address a fundamental spiritual malaise that expresses itself through injustice, wars, xenophobia, narcissism, exclusion, and other dehumanising behaviours, he goes on, noting that these behaviours are at root caused by a loss of identity which in turn fuels a loss of meaning and purpose. “It’s only when we reclaim our biblical identity can personal and collective transformation come about, leading to a renewed energy for social and climate justice and a greater sense of being at home in ourselves by rediscovering our identity and understanding what it is to be human,” says Jim Maher SJ.

The book is centered around the four Jesuit preferences (ecology, spirituality, young people, and the excluded) of Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, global leader of the Jesuits. Maher believes that these apostolic preferences, are fundamental to any dynamic of change and can potentially help facilitate a hope-filled future for our young people and the global community.

“We urgently need a Church that addresses climate change, social injustice, economic inequality and war,” he says, adding that we need not to abandon the Eucharist and the Mass but to better understand how religion enables traditions of stewardship, solidarity with others and graced dependence to flourish. In this way he argues for the place of religion in modern society.

Chapters 1-2 of Reimagining Relgion address the tension between being spiritual and not religious. The author accepts that many people are open to spirituality but closed to religion and by creatively re-imagining religion with the four Jesuit preferences, Maher offers a path of rediscovery of the Christianity he says we need.

Chapters 3-5 discuss biblical and eucharistic literacy. Chapter 6 covers the first Jesuit apostolic preference while chapters 7-8 present the remaining three preferences. Chapter 7, entitled, ‘It’s Not Fair’, is a pivotal chapter on social and climate justice.

Maher believes that we are at a crucial moment in human history when the challenge of the climate crisis may force a reshaping of the economy and our everyday way of life and he asks, “Is it a coincidence that religion is in decline, replaced by an individualised spirituality? Faced with the rapid growth of technology and the decline of our natural environment, we can feel powerless. Is it possible that in turning away from biblical wisdom, we have put aside ancient tools for community-building that would help us recognise our responsibility to one another and our ability to make a difference together?”

Jim Maher SJ was born in Limerick and on leaving school joined the Jesuits. He has spent most of his Jesuit life ministering and teaching at Crescent College Comprehensive SJ. He managed the Fifth Year social outreach programme and led Sixth Year pilgrimage retreats. He continues to provide
pastoral support at Crescent College Comprehensive SJ.