Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal/Theological Journal: Julie Digresses; My Modernity Conference

I walked Julie back to her dorm a while ago, after having hung out here for yet another evening of two highly-ADHD people jabbering at one another full-speed with digressions splattering everywhere like wreckage from a crash. Or maybe I should say like spilled beer, Jules having poured some on my newly-arrived (and loose, as "not in plastic sleeves") issues of Batman: Shadow of the Bat as she jerked in laughter from seeing my Thanksgiving video of niece Haley experimenting with putting baby carrots up her nose to my admonitions (falling on deaf 2-year-old ears) that this was "unfathomably disgusting" of her. This video was a requested on-the-spot digression from my computer digression of making her listen to a few key "Markisms" of Mark Lang (in particular the famed "shoot out of your mind" line from the February '96 Bridgets gig), that being a digression of a general conversation about Mark's formerly-limited vocabulary and multi-year preparation for the GRE, which was a digression from our discussion of Julie's GRE adventures from this past week. Thus you have a five-minute peek at a train of conversation and consciousness that lasted some four hours of the like speed and shifting. Her big news (she had been teasing me for a few days with the mere existence of such) was that she has been nominated for the University's Outstanding Senior award for this year's graduating class, and so that was a blast to see her hard work – she's already getting first-author credit for published research in Psychology – be rewarded even with such a rare nomination.

So I've not yet got much done tonight. Been feeling kinda queer since Notre Dame: I don't think that the rich food of the conference has sat well with me, and still seems to be troubling my already-much-troubled digestive system these three days later.

My conference, like everyone else's, was distinct. With so many schedule and topic choices, no one experiences the same thing at these conferences. This is the full schedule, for anyone interested in such. And this was my personal schedule through the conference:
Thursday, November 30, 2006

7:40 p.m. The Josef Pieper Keynote Lecture
"Islam, Modernity and Us "
Alasdair MacIntyre, University of Notre Dame
Chair: Mark Roche, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, University of Notre Dame

[I got to chatting with Father Iulian Anitei, Pastor of Houston's Holy Protection Romanian Orthodox Church, who was seated next to me and turned out to be Tris Engelhardt's son-in-law. He knew my classmate Iulia, proving that it's a small, small Romanian Orthodox world in the U.S.]
9:30 p.m. Reception

11:00pm-1:00am Dinner at Wreckers with Deirdre McQuade, Director of Planning and Information and Spokeswoman (self-described as "Spokeschick," actually) for the USCCB's Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities (Dee and I lived in the same grad housing together in grad school at Notre Dame, were members of the Notre Dame Folk Choir together, and then lived in the same apartment building when we both worked for the South Bend/Fort Wayne Diocese – I as a high school Theology teacher and she as the Bishop's research assistant and coordinator/speaker for upteen things. Suffice it to say we've known one another for over a decade and now I'm thrilled to see her in an incredibly important position, one which her whole life as been preparing her, even being a Mawrter, as friede might find interesting.)

Friday, December 1, 2006

10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Invited Papers
Session 1: "Modernity, Autonomy, and the Problem of Legal Authority"
Steven Smith, University of San Diego School of Law
Chair: Rick Garnett, University of Notre Dame Law School

12:15-1:15 p.m. Lunch (with Gregory B. Sadler, my co-presenter, and his wife)

1:30-2:45 p.m. Invited Papers
Session 2: "From Scholasticism to Modernity: Why Gianni Vattimo is Right"
H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Rice University
Chair: David Fagerberg, University of Notre Dame
2:45-3:15 p.m. Break, Refreshments

3:15-4:45 p.m. Colloquium Sessions
Session 9: Theological Challenges of Modernity I
"Re-Imagining the Trinity: The Modernist Roots of Post-Modernity"
Hilary Chala, Chaplain Intern, Ben Taub Hospital
"Halving the Mystery and Yearning for the Infinite"
Tom Harmon, Ave Maria University
"The Loss of God in Modernity: Did De Lubac Go Far Enough?"
Christopher Malloy, University of Dallas
Chair: Matthew Levering, Ave Maria University and Myser Fellow, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture
6:00-7:15 p.m. Dinner (with Tris Engelhardt, and that student Paul, from the University of St. Thomas, that I had mentioned earlier.)

7:30-9:00 p.m.
"Owning Knowledge: Modernity and the Purposes of the Intellectual Life"
Paul Griffiths, University of Illinois – Chicago
Chair: John Cavadini, University of Notre Dame

Saturday, December 2, 2006

9:00-10:15 a.m. Colloquium Sessions
Session 6: Catholicism Confronts Modernity
"The Idea of Modernity in Gaudium et Spes"
Michael Anthony Novak, Marquette University
"Between the Pascendi and Fides et Ratio: Blondelian Tradition as Critique of and Alternative to Modernism"
Gregory B. Sadler, Ball State University
Chair: Adam Skoczylas, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture
10:15-10:45 a.m. Break, Refreshments

10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Invited Papers
Session 4: "A Montage of Catholic Modernists"
Rev. Marvin O'Connell, University of Notre Dame
Chair: Russell Hittinger, University of Tulsa
12:15-1:15 p.m. Lunch (with Adam Skoczylas)

[Adam and I spoke of many things: his recent marriage to another former student of mine, Maria Shakour, who was the eldest of the trio of Shakour sisters I had taught and who is now in medical school; what being married is like; my own doings at Marquette and in the wider theological world, particularly regarding my dissertation (this took in the Reimers, seated on my other side, who are the parents of another student of mine, and Prof. Reimers having been one of Adam's Philosophy instructors at Notre Dame); and such and so forth.]

1:30-2:45 p.m. Invited Papers
Session 1: "Reason and the Fear of the Incarnation"
Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, Communion and Liberation
Chair: Paolo Carozza, University of Notre Dame Law School

[I managed to humiliate myself going in to this one, as I was approached by a lovely young woman, who greeted me and indicated that we had met here at the conference the year before. Having the historian's problem of remembering the living that I do, I took her to be a graduate student and tried to recall which program she was in, asking her something along those lines. She flushed and was clearly embarrassed and I came to realize that I had done the very thing that keeps happening to me when people take me to be an undergraduate – or a high school student, although that's not happened for four years now. Justyna Braun, as I quickly was made to recall, was a literature professor at Franciscan University. It's a trial to be taken to be too young when you're in that kind of position, both by students you have to teach and by colleagues with whom you have to work. So having had that happen to me repeatedly, I was totally embarrassed to do it to someone else. I did take advantage of her presence after this very cool talk to hit her up for a novel recommendation for the upcoming break. She enthusiastically pointed me toward the hitherto-unknown-to-me Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset (see below) whose 1000+ pages will serve as a fitting penance for me as well as quality entertainment.]
2:45-3:15 p.m. Break, Refreshments

[Somewhere around this point, as I was talking with Adam Skoczylas, I had another young woman come up to me, who I had noticed a few times during the course of the conference. She too greeted me with an aire of expectation or expectant recognition, and – in light of my embarrassment of having embarrassed Justyna Braun – I found myself having a panicked moment of trying to recall having met this woman last year as well. Suddenly, something in the way she smiled rang a bell, and I found myself in a minor moment of shock, cautiously asking, "Godfrey?!" And sure enough Catherine Godrey was the Katie Godfrey I'd last seen as a 16 year-old girl in my last year of teaching high school. Now she was a junior at Notre Dame and I had to squint to see the kid I had known before. She joined in the conversation with Adam and the with aristotle2002's sisters Darragh and Greer, and I was delighted to discover that she had resurged in the Christian faith which, the last time I'd spoke with her, it seemed that she had lost. She also inquired along the way about my recent rumoured death, which added another layer of complication to that particular urban legend as I sorted out how the story had gotten to her.]

3:15-4:45 p.m. Colloquium Sessions
Session 10: Autobiographical Reflections with Occasional Bearing on Modernity
"The Impact of Modernity on Philosophies of Education"
Adam Skoczylas, Ave Maria School of Law
"Political Philosophy and the Maintenance of Belief"
Catherine Godfrey, University of Notre Dame
"Sisters United: Classical Secondary Education, Reading Hegel as a 15 Year-Old, and Modular Audio Equipment"
Darragh and Greer Hannan, University of Notre Dame
Chair: Michael Anthony Novak, Marquette University
7:00 p.m. Banquet (with Darragh and Greer Hannan)

I just wrote the following to lost_romanov, who on her page was asking for book recommendations. As the first part of it actually has to do with the conference, and as I wrote enough to be interesting in its own right (at least I think so), I thought I'd just copy it over here, too:

You know, I asked for the exact same thing of a professor of literature from Franciscan University when I was at the Notre Dame conference, as I haven't read a novel since at least the summer, and am looking at a nice Christmas break coming up. She recommended – and I'm just now ordering from Amazon – what she neglected to mention was the masterwork of one of the only two women to have won the Nobel for Literature: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. (And she particularly insisted on the new translation, which I have linked here for your perusal, in the single-volume, Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition form, the work being in fact a trilogy. I had never heard of it before, but found it actually as one of the books being currently read and discussed on the Notre Dame campus at the instigation of the Center for Ethics and Culture. Some of the write-ups on it express the belief that the book has been forgotten because its strong, medieval, female protagonist who takes Catholicism seriously thus sort of ruins the traditional modern feminist narrative that all women were wretched victims – particularly of Catholicism – until modern feminism came along to liberate them. But I was more interested when talking with Justyna – the professor – on her claim that the author was an expert in her Norse, medieval context, and that I wouldn't be annoyed as an historian by all sorts of goofy details being wrong in an historical novel of the sort. So that's on my list.

You might also consider – as nonfiction – From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East by William Dalrymple, which I loved loved loved. It's a travelogue of sorts, following the pilgrimage route of a Byzantine writer from something like the 10th century, and visiting with, documenting, witnessing, and just plain seeing the Christians of the Middle East in what seems to be almost their last generation as their distinctive cultures are being pushed out of the ancestral center of the faith. A fabulous walkabout experience of read: you'll forever think you went to these places yourself.

So hell: get 'em both.
Tags: books, cultural, ecclesiology, education, ethical, faith and reason, family, friends-marquette era, friends-notre dame era, haley, historical, historiography, incarnation, islam, middle east, mysticism/spirituality, notre dame, papacy, personal, philosophical, political, saint joseph's high school, second vatican council, secularism/modernity, students, theological notebook, youtube

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