7 Quick Takes Friday (4/25/14)




In my last 7 Quick Takes post, two weeks ago, I asked readers  for their opinions about some posts I am thinking of doing:

I’m gathering ideas for several different upcoming blog posts, but I wanted to ask if there is any topic in particular that you would like to see explored.

Here are some things I’m thinking of writing about:

1. More About the Common Core and its Implications for Catholic Education

2. Vocation – Br. Justin Hannegan has a disquieting thesis about discernment that all of us should take into consideration. I’ve been meditating on this for a while, and though I am not expert on vocations by any means, I thought I’d tackle it.

3. My Top 10 Pieces of Advice for Teachers – which is kind of funny, because I’m not exactly a veteran teacher myself…

4. Should certain books be excluded from Catholic high school classrooms? If so, any notable ones? Why? – This has become rather a sticky issue at my own school, and though I know the sad majority of Catholic high schools don’t take their identity too seriously anyway, I thought it might be useful to ponder for those of us who do kind of care about being “Catholic” and what that means. For example, one parent does not think Homer is appropriate. (!)

5. Why Anthony Esolen isn’t completely right about writing … See what I did there?

(me, Mysteries and Manners)

In the comments, I got some great responses and also quite a few on Facebook, so I am going to do my best to start turning out some of these ideas.

However, I am extending the invitation again, and adding a couple of more topic ideas:

6. The role of entertainment in secondary education – To what extent are teachers responsible for making their classes “fun”? What does appropriate “fun” look like? Should we even care about being “fun” (the academic word for it now is “engaging”) as prevailing Education theories insist?

7. A response to this interesting post by community college professor Chris Cook: “Thence to a Lightness: The Madness of English 201”

A taste of his argument:

Writing about literature, however, is not the same thing as reading it. Not everyone needs to know how to do that. In fact, almost no-one does. We don’t make people who want to be professors learn how to take apart and rebuild an engine, so why do we make people who want to be mechanics learn how to review a body of scholarship, pick out relevant quotations, and format them properly as citations and sources in support of an argumentative thesis? (Cook, “Thence to a Lightness”)

8. Keats’ negative capability and the English classroom

9. How do I make my subject “Catholic” when I don’t teach religion? Do I just make sure to have my students pray at the beginning of class and that’s it? Or sometimes have “religion” days and incorporate some kind of reading from the Gospel or the catechism? How do I make my classroom Catholic?

Let me know what you think – and if you have any other ideas!


On religion in public schools:



Once again, Faith and Memory go together.

Pope Francis gave an amazing homily at the Easter Vigil, meditating on Matthew’s resurrection account, and a particular part of that account I had never thought about very much before. He tells all of us to ask ourselves: “Where is my Galilee?”

Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called. Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him (cf. Mt 4:18-22).


For each of us, too, there is a “Galilee” at the origin of our journey with Jesus.

(Pope Francis, Easter Vigil Homily 2014)

Go read it!


My dad sent me a beautiful poem by John Updike: Seven Stanzas at Easter. I have been reading this poem in different ways with my kids every day this week for prayer.

I love this part:

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

(John Updike)


From the ever lovable and incisive GK Chesterton, via Ignatius Insight:


It’s really hard to be Catholic sometimes because it involves so much obedience, and obedience isn’t popular or cool. It makes you look like a sheep sometimes. Especially when you’re following a huge ancient corrupt sinful institution like the Church.

On the other hand: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).



Via my friend Nico:

“The Case for Race-Blind Affirmative Action” by John Cassidy at the New Yorker

Given the glaring facts that America remains a very unequal society, with strikingly low levels of social mobility, what’s needed is a set of policies that promote upward movement from the bottom, and, at the same time, has more appeal to Americans who find racial preferences objectionable. Fortunately, such an approach is readily available: race-blind affirmative action that helps poor and disadvantaged people get ahead regardless of their skin color and ethnic origin. (Cassidy)



Pope John Paul the Great and Pope John XXIII, pray for us!

So often, it is women who are the first witnesses of the Resurrection…

Still, she said, she and her husband did not have the money to pay for more tests to verify the healing, but eventually her doctor did an MRI. “He was shocked,” she said. “My husband wondered why he wasn’t saying anything and I said, ‘because I’ve been healed through the intercession of John Paul II.'” (via Catholic News Agency, “Women recount the stories of healing through the intercession of popes”)

source: ihradio.com

4 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes Friday (4/25/14)

  1. I’d love to hear the ways you end up making your classroom Catholic–do remember that your classroom, like the rest of the world, IS Catholic, so instead of “making” Catholicism, you have the much less onerous task of accentuating it. (I don’t know if that’s actually less onerous, now that think about it.)

    How would your students respond if you asked them if some part of an author’s message is in fact true? You’d be arming them well for college, when “true” suddenly turns into a relative term subject to the professor’s opinion (everywhere but at UD, of course). If they can stand up for truth and back up their stance with examples, boy, will they be good Catholics to have in a classroom.

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Will. You’re absolutely right about the classroom and the world already being Catholic – sacramental, that is – and my job I suppose is more to show that reality, not necessarily create it.

      I actually have asked my kids about the truth of the author’s message, with very interesting results. With the Common Core’s (well, really everyone’s) emphasis on “evidence”, it’s all too easy to get caught up in being able to prove something – whether or not it’s really true – rather than actually ask your essential question.

      If you’re interested:

      Language, Truth and Power in the Classroom: Part I

      Language, Truth and Power in the Classroom, Part II

  2. I’d love your thoughts on any of the following:

    Common Core
    Book lists & the Catholic classroom
    Anthony Esolen (I’ve read some of his articles you’ve linked, liked some of his ideas and but felt vaguely uneasy about others)
    Entertainment & Fun
    Response to Chris Cook (similar experience as with Esolen’s articles)
    Negative capability (an idea that’s always intrigued me)

    And as always, although I don’t comment every single time, I love reading your blog, Maura — in a “get excited every time a new M&M post comes up in my RSS feed” sort of way. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom and your wonderful writing!

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