7 Quick Takes Friday (1/31/14)



I bought a car today!

Yes, the first car I have ever bought!

It was a stressful experience. I have been looking for several weeks for a reliable used car, but everything came together over the last few days. A friend of mine suggested I particularly turn to Mary – “she will take care of you.” So I did.

And she did.

I am so grateful.


Speaking of milestones, Pope Francis had this to say while addressing representatives from the University of Notre Dame, my graduate alma mater:


The biggest way Notre Dame has done this has been the Alliance for Catholic Education, which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year. As I have written about before, my two years serving with ACE were filled with blessings–and also with the biggest struggles I have ever encountered.


You should really read everything Pope Francis had to say to Notre Dame. I hope everyone at Notre Dame reads everything he had to say to Notre Dame.

I hope they don’t just hear whatever they want to hear. People have a tendency to do that when listening to Pope Francis.

This is the part I would like the administration to focus on:

Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. (Pope Francis, via Vatican News)

I mean, I don’t want to foist my own personal biased political agenda (albeit backed up by Church teaching) on Pope Francis’ words, but that sounds a lot to me like: Don’t back down on the HHS mandate. Don’t give in. Don’t be like everybody else.

And, even more beautifully:

It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it! (Pope Francis, via Vatican News)



In other counter-cultural news:

I was really inspired by Natalie Grant’s decision to walk out of the Grammys–which, from what I hear, were particularly vulgar and demeaning to human dignity this year.

Best of all, this is what Natalie said on her Facebook page:

We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.
Read more at http://theblacksphere.net/2014/01/christian-grammy-nominee-natalie-grant-walks-grammys/#pVifQ5MBSoDq05kB.99

How beautiful, that she professed Christ and did not, instead, vent her frustration at the antics that prompted her to leave.


Another example of respectful disagreement and engagement I found particularly arresting this week was Marc’s post over at BadCatholic in response to Rohin Guha’s thoughtful article about the “gay male subculture.” Guha’s lengthy article is rather explicit in places, so be fair warned, but well worth reading if you want to really listen to the perspective of a gay man wrestling thoughtfully with personhood and the dignity of men and women.

Marc’s response at BadCatholic summarizes well what is best in Guha’s article, and then ventures into some very Hans Urs von Balthasar-esque meditations:

For surely every encounter with the particular subject a woman is, an encounter with her as her — a particular Amy or Donna or Martha or Rose — surely such an encounter requires me to offer myself as the particular subject I am. We do not encounter subjectivity by disinterested observation. If we are to encounter the actual person, we have to meet them. We have to throw ourselves in the mix. In short, we have to communicate. But what is communication?

When I communicate I express my subjectivity — my hidden, interior thought — through my objectivity — through my words and my body language — and thus I lead my listener to encounter my entire person, which is a synthesis of subjectivity and objectivity.  Communication is the revelation of subjectivity through objectivity, and thus requires a subject. (BadCatholic)

For Marc, the problem’s Guha’s article presents lies in trading in one (stereo)type for another: “gay” (and what that has come to mean) for “queer” (since it does not mean everything ‘gay’ has come to mean). The problem, though, is that in both cases, the human person is considering himself in the wrong way– from the outside in, as it were, instead of the inside-out:

How then, can we communicate, we who are happily estranged from our subjectivity, taking refuge from its loneliness in over-accentuated objective traits — or from our infinite responsibility before God, depending on what rubs your metaphysics the right way. How can we share express our interior if we are entertaining the illusion that our exterior life is our interior? It takes a person to encounter a person, and if we are going to encounter women as people, if we are going to love our neighbors at all, we must first begin the terrible task of holiness, of living as precisely the person we are, shirking the delight and ease and irresponsibility of living as a type. (Ibid)


Speaking of communication and intersubjectivity…

My students finished reciting their poems in my Coffee House/classroom. A lot of them did very well, and even surprised me.

One girl in particular stood out. She memorized a poem that is four pages long and somewhat unconventional – more in the “slam poetry” genre than anything else. I will give you the link to Janette Ikz’s own recitation of the poem, which is powerful.

But somehow, hearing this from a sixteen year old sophomore was even more powerful:

And yes. She memorized the whole thing.


And, ahem, Notre Dame, take note.

My beloved undergraduate alma mater is featured over at National Catholic Register: “University of Dallas Renews Catholic Identity.”

A taste:

Added the University of Dallas president, “Enrollment has never been higher, and revenue has never been higher. And we are joyful about our fidelity to the Catholic faith.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/university-of-dallas-renews-catholic-identity/#ixzz2s1rjIrU7

Catholic identity is, and I would venture to say, always will be, a struggle for universities. But I am proud to call the University of Dallas my intellectual home, and I am thankful for the amazing education I received there.

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