Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New journal of Catholic culture

The Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research, a recently founded subsidiary of the American session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, is launching its new online review Humanum in November 2011.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Future of Catholic Higher Education

Inside Higher Ed has an article today on "The Key Task for Catholic Higher Ed" by Rev. Gregory Kalscheur of Boston College. He worries that while Catholic universities are working hard to maintain a Catholic ethos in their Campus Ministries, Student Activities, and even Residential Life, they are ignoring the most essential aspect of a Catholic education: the Catholic intellectual tradition.

An excerpt:
"Ten years after Ex Corde was formally adopted by U.S. Catholic bishops, Catholic colleges and universities today must meet the challenge to reaffirm and revitalize their engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition. Failure to do so will mean that they are content by default to risk leaving Catholic identity to what happens outside the classroom by abandoning the conviction that, to be authentically Catholic, they must integrate their 2000-year intellectual legacy into the academic life of their campuses."

Read the full article here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Contraception Mandate

Notre Dame Law Professor Rick Garnett has a column in USA Today arguing that the mandate for contraception coverage in all new healthcare plans should be scrapped. The mandate violates the conscience rights of religious institutions who are opposed to contraception, abortion, and sterilization. An excerpt:

"It is true that the administration's proposed mandate includes an exemption for some religious employers, but it is so stingy as to be nearly meaningless. It does nothing for individuals or insurers, and it applies only to employers whose purpose is "the inculcation of religious values" and that hire and serve primarily those of the same religious faith. The vast majority of religious educational, social-welfare and health care organizations — not to mention the ministry of Jesus on earth — do not fit this crabbed definition.

The proposed exemption covers only inward-looking, members-only, religious-instruction organizations while excluding those that respond to the call to feed the hungry, care for the sick, house the homeless and share the good news with strangers. Religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and universities that serve people of other religions would be vulnerable. The exemption assumes that religion is only about belief and values, not service, sacrifice and engagement. It purports to accommodate religious believers, but it actually would confine their belief."

Read the full column here.

Fall Conference news coverage

LifeSiteNews ran an article last week on our annual Fall Conference. Kathleen Gilbert has a lengthy article giving the flavor of the proceedings. Find it here. An excerpt:

"Wandering among crowds of professors, scholars, and students at the University of Notre Dame for the 12th annual conference of the Center for Ethics and Culture (CEC) for the first time, one can get a little overwhelmed.

Sit down with a Baptist scholar with a thick Southern accent, and he may just start talking to you about the richness of Catholic social teaching, and Marian tradition.

Or you might just run into the “Orthodox posse,” a group of Eastern scholars often hovering near ethicist Tristram Engelhardt, who may buy you a scotch and ask just why exactly you haven’t converted to the true faith.
In any event, the first thing that’s clear is that the CEC annual Fall conference is no ordinary scholarly conference. The second, is that this conference forms an intellectual catalyst for advancing the culture of life virtually unparalleled at any other university in America."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fall Conference highlights

Tom Hoopes from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College shared some of his favorite quotes from the Fall Conference on their blog. Here are his highlights:

  • “We are the diversity at Notre Dame.” — David Solomon, Director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and culture, opening the conference.
  • “To evangelize is to declare to the various areas of the culture that Jesus Christ is Lord. … Evangelization doesn’t compromise culture, it elevates it.” —Father Robert Barron, Director, Word on Fire Ministries, on his breathtaking series Catholicism.
  • “You can never successfully evangelize a culture you don’t love.” — Father Barron quoting Cardinal Francis George, who launched Father Barron’s apostolate at the instigation of Pope John Paul II.
  • “Christian morals without God are neither Christian nor moral. When God is removed, they lose meaning and purpose.” —Ryan Topping, St. Thomas University, Fredricton, New Brunswick, Canada.
  • “My subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.” — Dan McInerny quoting Flannery O’Connor to explain why he likes No Country for Old Men.
  • “When your premise is an idea you feel you must prove to the world, and you design your story as an undeniable certification of that idea, you set yourself on the road to didacticism. In your zeal to persuade, you will stifle the voice of the other side.” — Dan McInerny quoting Robert McKee to explain why he doesn’t like Fireproof.
  • “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of and the existence of free wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself.” — C.S. Lewis quoted by Benedictine College counselor Jennifer Schmidt on the need for “perinatal hospice” for infants diagnosed before birth with fatal diseases.
  • “The goal of all marketing is the reduction of a big desire to a small desire. In other words, you long for beauty, love, friendship, wisdom, and it is the job of the marketer to convince you that the way you will achieve these desires is to purchase a certain brand of shampoo.” — Kimberly Shankman, Dean of Benedictine College, riffing on Benedictine colleague Salvatore Snaiderbaur.
  • “Shakesepeare was probably a Catholic who kept his views hidden because to reveal them to the public would have been too dangerous.” — Lucy Beckett, author of the great In the Light of Christ: Writings in the Western Tradition which she explains here.
  • “If I had known Carter Snead would be leading the center I would have retired years ago.”— David Solomon at the close of his last conference, introducing his successor, the incomparable Carter Snead.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Carter Snead to speak at St. Thomas, MN

If you live in the Twin Cities, then you will have a chance to hear the Center's newly appointed Director, Carter Snead, speak on embryo rights and stem cell research at the University of St. Thomas, tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. Read the full announcement here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Archbishop Chaput on human dignity

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia discussed human dignity in an address at the University of Pennsylvania last night.

An excerpt:

"Here’s my first point. We remember Bonhoeffer, Solzhenitsyn, and other men and women like them because of their moral witness. But the whole idea of “moral witness” comes from the assumption that good and evil are real, and that certain basic truths about humanity don’t change. These truths are knowable and worth defending. One of these truths is the notion of man’s special dignity as a creature of reason and will. Man is part of nature, but also distinct from it."


"Working against abortion doesn’t license us to ignore the needs of the homeless or the poor, the elderly or the immigrant. It doesn’t absolve us from supporting women who find themselves pregnant or abandoned. All human life, no matter how wounded, flawed, young or old, is sacred because it comes from God. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God. Catholic teaching on abortion and sexuality is part of the same integral vision of the human person that fuels Catholic teaching on economic justice, racism, war, and peace."

Read the full address here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

45th Anniversary of the Observer

To mark the Notre Dame Observer's 45th anniversary, the school newspaper reprinted their very first issue, from Nov. 3, 1966. We are posting here an article we especially enjoyed, detailing the campus politics of the student senate of the time. Read to the end for student Ken Beirne's incisive commentary on student life in 1966 and the direction the University was heading: “It is time for one last look; when it happens there will be no memories for there will be no awareness. The Notre Dame boy can choose relative asceticism and a grasp of life, or he can for the final time reaffirm his weary attempts at alcoholic or sexual prowess and settle for ontological impotence. To have both is impossible.”

Thursday, November 3, 1966

“The Magnificent Reactionary” by Dennis O’Dea

To call Notre Dame a hot bed of seething discontent and potential eruption would be as far from the truth as labeling motherhood a subversive institution. Notre Dame is the home of the “Fighting Irish,” Our Lady, and Knute Rockne – that’s all.

Yet people do live there. And every fall they elect representatives whose task it is to articulate their thought – a very difficult challenge; but one that is met with great courage and energy by the asps and fish on the campus.

Ideas are never very central to Student Government elections – though it is in vogue now to rattle your sword over student rights and freedom. The way to get rights and freedom, of course, is to take University authority, and drown it in the lake, and replace it with student responsibility, honor code, and community spirit. And just about everybody seems to agree that there lies the hope and salvation of Our Lady...almost everybody.
In the senate election in Lyons Hall though, Kenneth Beirne decided to challenge the popular mythology and suggest a new approach. Said Beirne: “We are now unfettered, but we are not free. Freedom demands a purpose. The man is not free who has no chains, unless he has something to do. In the last year we have seen freedom of motion take over in the absence of a significant sense of m oral and academic freedom. Soon the latter may both be gone.”

We are all members of the great “honest” and “sincere” generation. Everyone is being “honest” about sexual morality and ethical values. Students at Notre Dame are honest too – or as Ken Beirne says, “honestly dishonest.” And when they say they want freedom, they are quite clear in how they define it: elimination of all curfews, and restrictions on their physical freedom, women in the halls, cars for everybody – and anything else they think they might have overlooked (i.e. anarchy). The assumption seems to be that the best authority at all – let Christian community take care of it – whatever that means.

Ken Beirne did not take a very positive view of this student action in his campaign: “The Asp (or ASP if you will) seems certain that the administration is afraid of them. I rather think it hopes they’ll stay around, for if that organization and Student Government keep themselves busy on cars and other trivia, they won’t look at themselves and discover that they are the symptoms of a rapidly weakening Christian educational system. Those demanding surfeit cannot at the same time demand an education, and that demand the administration fears, for I don’t think it’s at all sure how to go about it. The administration can only sit in horror, wondering what someone in the past knew that they don’t, and watch Notre Dame be slowly turned into a chicken Berkeley.”

And this is the central accusation Beirne makes against the Notre Dame community. The Administration is not providing its students with an education, is not providing the moral center this generation desperately needs. Instead it is hiding behind its long black skirts and slowly retreating before the hysteria of freedom, student rights and anarchy.

And what has to be done to save Notre Dame from “Chicken” Berkeleyism? Here Ken Beirne fights extremism with extremism with such proposals as: “…reduction of the student body to a tolerable level, at the cost of the non-liberal arts schools” …and… “voluntary reinstatement of curfews and similar restrictions, sponsored by the student body, to preserve leisure on campus and provide any interested advisor with a clue to the most severely disoriented individuals.” Along with these rather unique suggestions, are more common and conservative demands for reevaluation of stay hall, honor code, curriculum faculty salaries, tuition, and the traditional demand for a more interested and involved clergy – yet here Ken breaks out and blazes a new trail. Instead of demanding that the University show its interest by acquiescing to student demands and assist the march toward anarchy, he wants the students to “force” the University to take power: “It is time the Catholic clergy reaffirmed its right to butt in on its own students’ personal lives, or else let it take up knitting.” So there it is – the emergence of the Anti-student, a student who does not want other students “to escape from the realization that it might take four years of relative asceticism to prepare oneself for a meaningful moral existence.”

Whether the newly emergent student rightists or Asp people lose any sleep over Ken Beirne’s six page challenge to their credo is unimportant – the challenge is there. Are students at Notre Dame running away from what they know is the truth? Ken Beirne thinks they are: “It is time for one last look; when it happens there will be no memories for there will be no awareness. The Notre Dame boy can choose relative asceticism and a grasp of life, or he can for the final time reaffirm his weary attempts at alcoholic or sexual prowess and settle for ontological impotence. To have both is impossible.”

Ideas such as these will neither sway the masses nor win elections. The most they can hope to do is provoke a response. And whether or not Notre Dame’s absent-minded student body is able to respond is an open question.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Harvard vindicates Pope

Harvard researcher Edward Green has published a book entitled Broken Promises: How the AIDS Establishment Has Betrayed the Developing World in which he argues that condom distribution has had no clear impact on slowing the spread of AIDS in Africa, and that sexual fidelity has. Read more here.

"At Culture's Edge" Call for Papers

A Conference sponsored by the Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame:

Hybrid Irelands: At Culture¹s Edge (Abstracts due November 15th, 2011)
A Graduate-Student Conference Exploring the Relationship between Hybridity and Irish Literature

Place: University of Notre Dame

Date:  March 29-31, 2012

Keynote Speakers: Terry Eagleton (University of Lancaster, University of

Notre Dame)

  David Lloyd (University of Southern California)

  Clair Wills (Queen Mary, University of London)

Poetry Reading: Nuala NĂ­ Dhomhnaill

  Medbh McGuckian (tentative) (Queen¹s University, Belfast)

In recent literary and cultural analyses, Ireland¹s unique relation to various notions of hybridity has been given preliminary consideration. Whether pertaining to genres and styles, discourses and disciplines, or identities and influences, it has become apparent that a defining feature of many Irish works is their resistance to traditional, narrow categorization.

In an attempt to expand upon these earlier approaches, the Keough-Naughton Institute at the University of Notre Dame will be holding a three-day graduate-student conference to address the relationship between hybridity and Irish literature, with a special focus on texts from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Submissions might interrogate past engagements with the concept of hybridity definition are specific to Ireland.

We invite criticism that focuses on conventionally understood literary genres (poetry, fiction, drama, memoir) as well as work from related fields, including but not limited to history, art, theory, folklore, material culture, and film studies. Furthermore, because the nature of hybridity suggests a coming-together of different elements, one of our goals is to cultivate a critical approach that is itself hybrid; in other words, we very much encourage interdisciplinary approaches to the topic. Our hope is to facilitate a critical conversation that envisions a hybrid Ireland

We're also pleased to announce that we will be able to offer a limited number of international scholarships for graduate students attending the conference from abroad. To apply for these scholarships, in addition to the
abstract, please submit a 500 word statement explaining the importance of the conference to you own work.

Suggested topics:
Transnational Poetics
Generic Crossovers
Contemporary Engagements with Folklore
Transatlantic Fictions
Culture and Immigration
Ireland in Translation
Evolving Images in Film and Art
Recontextualizing ³Literary Ireland²
Dialects and Language Change
Dislocated Spaces
Print Culture and Textual Authorship

Abstracts should be no longer than 150 words. The deadline for submissions is November 15, 2011. Please email your abstracts to

For questions or concerns, please contact John Dillon and Nathaniel Myers at> , or look us up on Facebook (search: Hybrid Irelands).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cultivating Catholic Imagination

Dan McInerny, a presenter at our upcoming Fall Conference, discusses how to cultivate a Catholic imagination in this Catholic Exchange article. He has recently started a company called Trojan Tub Entertainment to produce wholesome and humorous children's literature, available through digital media.

An excerpt:

"his is the Catholic moment in the arts. In other words now, more than ever, our culture demands the fruit of a truly Catholic imagination, to save it from the Scylla of hyper-rationalization and the Charybdis of an exaltation of the imagination rooted more in the passions than in reality.

There are many Catholics, as well as other Christians, doing exciting things in the arts. And yet so much more is needed, especially in the arenas of popular culture. Recently I decided to make my own contribution to this effort, to lend my small trowel to the cultural cause. I started a company, Trojan Tub Entertainment, devoted to my Patria series of humorous adventure stories for middle grade readers. With Trojan Tub I hope to share with children and families my passion for wholesome, but always funny, children’s literature."

Read the full article here.