June 29th, 2005


Personal/Theological Notebook: Run-around day

Lots of randomness to today:

Had a good conversation with Erik, who was having his annual day off from what sounds like a much more work-intensive Ph.D. program than just about anything I've heard of. He's realizing, though, what kind of skills his extra work with the Boston Archdiocese's schools are giving him, and that he would be very effective as an educational consultant along with counseling he's learning in Psychology.

He had me running around to talk to Financial Aid people about all this "lock in low consolidated rates" stuff that everyone's been screaming about. Apparently what I thought I discovered about not being able to do this and keeping my deferment whilst I remain in school is not accurate for the direct government loans that I have from Marquette.

Sent amea the greatest musical care-package in the universe, before her journey to deepest, darkest, King-Kongiest Africa begins. When it arrives, she'll understand the word "overkill" in a new way. That's what you get for having dial-up. And not being mp3-savvy, Medievalgirl. Sorry about the packing material: best I could do on short notice.

My local high school student and classic rock/Motown connoisseur cousin Rebecca has thrown my mind a musical curve ball by insisting on everything I can offer her on the Smiths. I didn't think she got interested in anything this side of 1977. Now my long turned-off Smiths-fan nob in my brain has been turned back on, and I got lots of their stuff crowding the corners of my mind. I didn't even bother going to see Morrissey when he was in concert four blocks from me a few months back, but now they're back in my head. But maybe it's just who they used to be that's back in my head.

My abstract for a paper for Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture conference "Joy in the Truth: The Catholic University in the New Millennium" was accepted. (See my June 22 entry) I was sure they were going to think I was on crack. OH CRAP!!!! I just noticed that it's scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1, and not in November like last year. Naturally, that's right around the time I'll be doing my doctoral exams, and so I thought I could really work on the conference paper after I finished that up. Well, that's what I get for not reading the small print. When it rains....

I've actually been sliding in that direction in my reading the last few days, since I typed up the abstract that that link above hides. My DQE question on religious discourse in the public sphere is somewhat related to the secularization of the American colleges and universities. Folks, I have been reading an absolutely brutal analysis of the secularization process called The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches. Well worth picking up, but extremely discouraging in seeing the thoroughness of the process. The author, James Burtchaell, who I'd met at Notre Dame while he was working on the book, organizes it by denomination and then examines two or three schools in each. Politically wise, since he's a Holy Cross priest himself, he avoided Notre Dame and in the Catholic section he focuses on Boston College for his principal examination. In the period between 1965 to 1975, you see the Jesuits strip themselves of ownership of all their schools. Their reasons were understandable, in the context of the times, with the fear that the Supreme Court was about to destroy all church-owned schools in pending court cases involving public monies at such schools (like whether one could get a Pell Grant, for example, if they attended Boston College). As it turned out, the Court ended with a much more modest ruling, given the fears, but by that time all the schools were actually under the ownership of lay boards. The Orders had strong intentions of laicizing after Vatican II, but while that may have been their intention, what actually happened was their secularizing, and the distinctive missions of the schools and the visions of their founders were stripped away. It's the standard story of how American Liberalism can go bad: that in the quest for "pluralism" and "diversity," all schools were made over in the state's ideological vision and all American schools tended to become "diverse" by becoming the same in their secular ideology. Instead of strongly distinct Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc. schools with distinct points of view and strongly-committed, culturally-distinct faculties, one homogenized culture became so administratively and legally dominant that in the space of a generation, most students have no idea just how diverse educational reality could be. It was a startling failure of vision, but a predictable one--on the Catholic side--given the long-obvious Catholic worry and struggle to be acceptable to mainstream America.

Time for some food, I think. Toodles. Oh, some of you with the inclination, pick up these writers with new and/or little-known Live Journals: 2ndtimothy, a high-school best friend and spiritual writer in the woods and lakes of Minnesota's Boundary Waters region, and bongofreek, "Bongo" Bob Purcell, of old George and the Freeks fame, now an American expatriate living in Switzerland and commenting on his trans-cultural adventures.