Not long ago I was contacted by someone at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research in Collegeville, Minnesota who invited me to become a regular contributor to Bearings Online, the Institute’s online publication. I spent a sabbatical semester at the Institute in the spring of 2009, four months that changed my life in many ways. Contributors are invited to write about “something that’s caught your attention in American culture; something on the international scene; a development in the church or the theological world; a book or a movie (good, or significantly bad) that you think deserves comment; a person or event we should know about; or simply something that you’ve been thinking about.” Just about anything goes, in other words–exactly my kind of assignment!
As I considered what I might want to contribute first, I immediately thought–as I usually do–about what has been going on in my classrooms recently. All of my courses occur in the atmosphere of lived commitments–how does one take this academic topic and move it into daily life? How, for instance, is a person of faith to live out her commitments in a secular world that frequently does not accommodate them? More specifically, how does (or how should) one’s faith shape one’s thinking and actions about economics, property ownership, and the distribution of scarce resources? In a class with eighteen freshmen, our text was from a medieval monk who asked “Is it lawful to steal through stress of need?” My Bearings Online article, just published today, picks up the discussion. Enjoy!