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January 14, 2015

Robert John Araujo, S.J., the John Courtney Murray, S.J. Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago, writes in Mirror of Justice about the Atlantic story about Jesuit universities (my post on that essay here). His is a bracing call to revisit the originating mission of the Society of Jesus in its approach to education. He writes that a prominent problem at many universities is the closing down of authentic academic freedom: First of all, universities today—including those claiming to be… Read more

January 5, 2015

Autumn Jones writes a helpful piece in The Atlantic (12/30/14) titled “The New Brand of Jesuit Universities.” Her thesis is that there is a very clear attempt at the 28 Jesuit universities in the United States to imitate Pope Francis’ attempt to rebrand themselves. She wonders, though, whether that attempt signals a conflict: What is left at stake for both Pope Francis and Jesuit universities is whether this rebranding attenuates the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. She notes, somewhat infelicitously:… Read more

December 18, 2014

Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law, wrote in yesterday’s Washington Post about a speech controversy at Marquette. The back story (via InsideHigherEd): A Teaching Instructor, Cheryl Abbate, is lecturing in an ethics class, lecturing on John Rawls’ theory of justice. She calls for examples of violations of Rawls’ thesis, and a student raises the issue of gay marriage. She declines to discuss that issue. A student approaches her after class to express disappointment that critiques… Read more

December 9, 2014

Yesterday, my colleague Tobias Winright, a former corrections and police officer and now the Hubert Mäder Endowed Chair of Health Care Ethics and Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Saint Louis University, posted the Statement of Catholic Theologians on Racial Justice at the catholicmoraltheology.com blog. I am a signatory of that document. The document is a statement of solidarity with people affected by racial injustice, an attempt to simply be with people for whom racial prejudice is a daily burden. To be… Read more

December 8, 2014

  Acclaimed novelist Alice McDermott, author of such novels as Someone (2013), After This (2006) and Charming Billy (1998), gave a talk at Boston College last April, and an excerpt from that talk is at the Boston College Magazine website. It is an exquisite meditation on writing and–though she claims to be no theologian–it is one of the most moving meditations on the life of the Trinity I’ve read anywhere. She describes her agnostic friend who cannot understand the doctrine: The… Read more

December 5, 2014

The Theos Think Tank has released a lucid essay on Christian humanism in an effort to reclaim the term “humanism” as a category of Christian thought. In answer to the Humanist movement (example), authors of the essay, Angus Ritchie and Nick Spencer, argue that humanism comprises a positive (set of) creed(s) that are consonant with Christianity and worthy of Christian support. Moreover, they argue that Christianity offers a more secure intellectual home for humanism than non-theistic philosophies: commitment to rationality, human dignity and moral realism is… Read more

December 2, 2014

Joe Humphreys at the Irish Times asks whether John Henry Newman’s vision for Catholic universities has died. He speaks with Paul Shrimpton, author of a new book on Newman’s vision of higher education, The ‘Making of Men’. The Idea and Reality of Newman’s university in Oxford and Dublin. Below are excerpts from that interview. On Newman’s vision of education: Newman stressed that the essence of a university lies in teaching, not research, and that a combination of lectures and small-group –… Read more

November 14, 2014

Sunday November 16 marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter at the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (abbreviated as UCA) in El Salvador. The Jesuit university is remembering the murder with a series of programs that examine the work of the Jesuits and their contribution to the social development of Salvadoran society. The anniversary is being remembered by many of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. In his 2001… Read more

November 13, 2014

Over at Aleteia, Randall B. Smith considers the college accreditation process, and argues that bishops could undertake a similar process in accrediting colleges and universities as authentically Catholic. Describing the existing accreditation process, he writes: Every ten years, my university, like every other college and university in the country, must undergo a major “accreditation review” to renew our accreditation with the regional accrediting agency.  And every ten years, roughly eighteen months before the accreditation review team is scheduled to show up,… Read more

November 5, 2014

What drives the life of the intellect is something that itself is not intellectual: namely, a desire to know. Philosopher/theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ described this dynamic in his massive tome Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, which examines different kinds of questions that human beings raise: mathematical, empirical/scientific, metaphysical, ethical, transcendent/religious. In all these, the common denominator is the questioning person, or, in Lonergan’s terms, “the pure, unrestricted desire to know.”   Thoroughly understand what it is to understand and not only… Read more


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