Australian Lonergan Workshop 2023

Commemorating 50 Years of Method in Theology

An Organon For Our Time: Connecting Theory and Practice

The 2023 Australian Lonergan Workshop celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Bernard Lonergan’s Method in Theology in which he outlines his discovery of functional specialisation as a new understanding and doing of science.

The theme takes its cue from Fred Crowe’s 1980 Marquette Lecture, Method in Theology: An Organon for our Time. In his lecture, Fred Crowe locates Lonergan’s Method in Theology within the context of two key works that influenced the development of Western science: Aristotle’s Organon (with its focus on logic) and Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum (with its focus on the empirical). He then goes on to suggest that Lonergan is proposing a new Organon, an Organon for the future.

In our Workshop, we explored the significance of Lonergan’s Method in Theology as a new Organon for the future and what is at stake in bringing theory and practice together.

ALW2023 flyer2

Tom Daly Oration – an Oration in Honour of Fr Tom Daly, SJ

John Boyd Turner on



so what now?

how do we make a history our children will delight to inherit

how do we make a history giving glory to the Trisagion

John Boyd Turner

In late 1963, in answer to his question, John was urged to read Lonergan’s Insight. On the basis offered Lonergan invites his reader to discover project-history in via: compassing all human subjects: light, wisdom, hope, progress confounded by darkness, delusion, despair, violating violence – within the sublating, healing liberating gift of the Trisagion on mission, who draw all into being-in-love.
       From whom descends peace …


Keynote presentation

Dr Jonathan Heaps on “The Springboard to the Future: How to Create a Modern Culture of Credibility and Cooperation”

Bernard Lonergan argued that an empirical view of culture transformed the modern person’s relationship to the past. It is now “the springboard to the future.” Lonergan surmised that this situation calls Christians to an age-old responsibility: “disengagement from a culture that no longer exists and involvement in a distinct culture that has replaced it.” Frederick Crowe characterized Lonergan’s Method in Theology as a “new organon” for unleashing the potential of the past and effecting a new culture of mutual credibility and cooperation. It is a task which requires the collective weight of the whole human community.

Video (23m 34s)   Audio   PDF

Jonathan Heaps specializes in Roman Catholic philosophy and theology. He has published numerous essays on the relationship between embodiment, cognition, and culture, drawing especially on the work of Bernard Lonergan. His research has appeared in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly and Theological Studies. Jonathan is currently investigating the role that embodied contemplative practices (meditation, “mindfulness,” etc.) could play in addressing the problem of verification and method in the humanities and in theology. His first book, The Ambiguity of Being: Bernard Lonergan and the Problems of the Supernatural, will appear in late 2023 or early 2024 from The Catholic University of America Press.

David de Carvalho

CEO Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

“’Pay attention!’: Simone Weil and Bernard Lonergan in dialogue on the role of attention in education – implications for the next National School Reform Agreement.”

Video (30m 40s) with slides

Audio (30m 40s)

PDF (12 pages)

    This paper is an imaginary conversation between Simone Weil and Bernard Lonergan about the role played by attention in education. Weil’s short essay “Reflections on the right use of studies in education with a view to the love of God” (1942) has a lot to say about “attention”, including Students must work without any wish to gain good marks, to pass examinations, to win school successes; without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes; applying themselves equally to all their tasks, with the idea that each one will help to form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer. Weil seems to be saying that when it comes to paying attention to the subject matter of a lesson, one’s own level of curiosity is irrelevant, that students must undertake an effort of the will to focus on subject matter that may have no intrinsic interest for them. 
    Lonergan’s “Topics in Education”, by contrast, suggests that paying of attention to some phenomenon is the fruit of curiosity: “The effort made by the teacher is fruitless without the proper orientation of consciousness on the part of the student. When one lies on the beach without a care, watching the clouds drift by, one is in a purely empirical pattern of experience. But when one begins to wonder about something – for example, why the clouds are drifting in this direction and not that – when one begins to ask why about something, then one has the illumination of phantasm. The flow of consciousness becomes directed by intelligence. It expresses an orientation of the subject; it exercises a selectivity over what is attended to; one’s Sorge is engaged; one is asking why.”
    The dialogue aims to shed light on a debate of practical contemporary relevance in relation to schooling in Australia: how should the new Australian Curriculum be taught: through the pedagogy of “direct instruction” or “inquiry-based learning”? Or is this a false dichotomy, to be resolved through Lonerganian “dialectic”?

Dr Sean McNelis

Centre for Urban Transitions, Swinburne University of Technology

“Functional collaboration as futurology”

Video (22m 5s)

Audio (22m 5s)

PDF (9 pages)

    The future has always had a fascination to us humans; we are oriented to the future, we hope for a better future; we are inspired by utopias and fear dystopias; we do things now in anticipation that they will be of benefit in the future; we like to know what is going to happen so we can adjust or take action to mitigate or alter it or avoid it. Each religious tradition has its own eschatology.
    The future of humanity, however, looks grim as we are confronted with an unparalleled number of major world crises – ecological, economic, political, cultural and religious.
    How can we hope to deal with these seemingly hopeless and discouraging challenges?
    Futurologists such as Richard Slaughter, Sohail Inayatullah and Wendell Bell are seeking to develop a method for future studies which is holistic, multidisciplinary, practical and creative. But how successful are they?
    In Method in Theology: An Organon for our Time, Fred Crowe describes Lonergan as a theologian who sought to build the future and, the functional specialties as relevant to any human studies that investigates a cultural past to guide its future. But can the functional specialties deal with the complex of issues that challenge the future of humanity and that are raised by futurologists? How is functional collaboration futurology? Does it provide a new global hope? This paper seeks to address these questions.

Geoffrey Brodie

Assistant Principal, St Patrick’s College, Ballarat, and PhD student at Notre Dame Australia

“An instrument fit for purpose: meeting urgent and important problems in education”

Video (24m 49s)

Audio (24m 49s)

    Based on nearly thirty years of experience in Catholic schools, in the classroom and in leadership roles, an urgent problem is to offer educators an instrument of mind worthy of their vocation.

    The importance of this instrument of mind is its function as the criterion of a human culture, the realm of freedom and responsibility that mediates between historical categories and transcendent human identity, capable of confronting the biases alienating schools from progress.

    Significantly, a pedagogical challenge is communicating – intelligibly, plausibly, and persuasively – an instrument that is in reality, goodness, and beauty, a solution to the problem.

    This paper proposes that Chapter 20 of Lonergan’s Insight grounds the harmonious orientation of Lonergan’s entire enterprise into service towards a solution to the problem of a worthy instrument of mind. The final relevant question for Catholic educators becomes: Am I collaborating with God’s solution to the problem of evil? As a workshop paper, it is a joy to invite others to workshop these emerging thoughts. Anecdotally, if Lonergan’s method is accurately put to colleagues, it consistently generates via personal recognition an affirmation of the meaning and value of their best efforts. Finally, Lonergan’s instrument of mind, framing the Catholic identity of schools as collaboration with God’s solution to the problem of evil, offers a very promising beginning for the harmonious orientation of educating towards Beatitude.

Other presentations

Professor Matthew Ogilvie, University of Notre Dame Australia, on “Biblical Fundamentalism and its Rejection of the New Organon”

Dr Stephen Ames, University of Melbourne on ““Lonergan Applied”
Rev Dr Jake Mudge, Corpus Christi College on “’The Power of Recognising and Expressing’ [MIT 66]: Lonergan’s Notion of the Symbol and finding Meaning in Reflective Practice for Ministry”

Father Robin Koning SJ, Australian Lonergan Centre, on “The Role of Chs 1-4 of Method in Theology

At the Workshop, we launched the fourth book in Australian Lonergan Workshop series, Meeting the Challenges of Today: How Has Bernard Lonergan’s Thought Helped to Meet The Challenges Of Our Day And How Will It Help in the Future? edited by Cecilia Francisco-Tan (ATF Press, Adelaide 2023)

As can be seen from this volume, the Australian Lonergan Workshop aims to encourage a diversity of contributions from across many disciplines and fields, from emerging young voices and those who continually value Lonergan’s work to inform, to bring to birth insights stirred by what Frederick Crowe,sj, called ‘a profundity we have dimly glimpsed in Lonergan’s work; we have a sense of an enormous potential to develop.’ The result is a collection ranging from the eclectic, stirring and practical, to the richly theological, and scholarly. Nonetheless, each contribution adds to the valuable ongoing exploration of ideas necessary for conversation and progress. To this end, the Australian Lonergan Workshop while a modest publication, remains an invaluable vehicle for developing Lonergan scholarship in Oceania.

The book can be purchased in softback version from this website (contact us here) or in one of four formats (hardback, softback, PDF and ePub) from ATF Press.

Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction

Tom Daly Oration 2021 Authentic Subjects Transforming Cultures: Fr Tom Daly’s Contribution Robin Koning, SJ

The Education Moment: Some Suggestions for a Foundation in Education Geoffrey Brodie

Teaching Lonergan’s Transcendental Method to Undergraduates Loretta Brennan, csb

An Integral Scale of Values as a Heuristic for Understanding And Transforming Cultures Sean McNelis

Towards Communal Discernment of Universal Foundations: Contributions from the Catholic Faith Tradition Christina Kheng

Lonergan and Encounter with Australian Indigenous Culture Matthew C Ogilvie

Divine Initiative and Human Participation Kathleen Williams, RSM

Towards a Situation of Bernard Lonergan in Relation To other Theologians Matthew C Ogilvie

Lonergan’s Verbum as a Thomist Cipher Maddison Reddie-Clifford

The Superhero and the Hero’s Journey: From Kierkegaard and Nietzche to Lonergan Matthew C Ogilvie