Pro omnibus et singulis

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

14 July 2009

Caritas in veritate

I'm still working through the Pope's new encyclical Caritas in veritate (Charity in truth). Normally I get through these letters pretty quickly, but this one is dense to put it mildly. I don't mean that as a criticism, far from it. The Holy Father simply has a lot to say about a wide variety of topics.

I ran accross a good editoral about the encyclical in the New York Times (not someplace one normally goes for good church reporting) entitled "The Audacity of the Pope" by Ross Douthat:

But Benedict’s encyclical is nothing if not political. “Caritas in Veritate” promotes a vision of economic solidarity rooted in moral conservatism. It links the dignity of labor to the sanctity of marriage. It praises the redistribution of wealth while emphasizing the importance of decentralized governance. It connects the despoiling of the environment to the mass destruction of human embryos.

This is not a message you’re likely to hear in Barack Obama’s next State of the Union, or in the Republican Party’s response. It represents a kind of left-right fusionism with little traction in American politics.

But that’s precisely what makes it so relevant and challenging — for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Like I said, I haven't finished the Pope's original text but from what I have read so far Douthat is on the right track.

AMDG

13 July 2009

Mas Bolivia

Good times continue here in Bolivia. Language school is going well, and I'm slowly learning some Spanish. The weather has been just lovely cold at night, warm and sunny during the day, just magnificent really. The community has been incredibly gracious. Everything is really just great. My only regret is that I have only two more weeks here.

Last weekend we traveled to the Jesuit reductions, like in the movie The Mission. Here are some pretty neat pictures from the trip.

AMDG
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16 June 2009

Cochabamba

Saludos de Cochabamba

Today is my first day of class at the Maryknoll Language Institute in beautiful Cochabamba, Bolivia. Six American Jesuits are studying here this term, four from Loyola Chicago, including myself, one from Fordham, and one from St. Louis University. Our trip down was largely uneventful except for a minor volcano related delay. A volcano in Peru erupted recently, the ash cloud delayed our arrival in La Paz about an hour.

So far we're all still getting our barrings. One of the Bolivian Jesuits was kind enough to show us around the city, I am pleasently surprised how nice it is here, downright cheerful really. The weather is sunny all day. It gets down to about 40 in the night and up to maybe 75 during the day. Rain and clouds are rare this time of the year they tell me.

More later and hopefully some pictures.
AMDG

08 June 2009

Youngstown

I'm here in Youngstown, well Boardman really but it's close enough. Take it away Bruce:



This morning my Dad and I took the Cessna up for a flight around the area to properly survey Youngstown. Sad to say it is not an encouraging site. The city and surrounding area even by air shows the scars of the rust belt--empty fields where steel mills once stood and proud homes slowly decaying. Proud residents too remain though many of their children have left. There's an odd beauty to the place almost as though the city has been frozen in time, waiting, for what I can't say. By most measures, at least American measures, the Youngstown economy was dismal before the financial crisis and has only gotten worse since. Still there's no place like home and hope springs eternal.

I had a wonderful but exhausting week in D.C. at the Kennedy Institute Course, "Bioethics Beyond the Soundbite." The course brought together many different disciplines including theologians, philosophers, lawyers, nurses, dentists, and primarily doctors to discuss the major issues confronting bioethics. I found the back and forth between the ethical theorists and the clinic professionals particularly helpful. Theories show their worth only when confronted with the human drama a practice. (No, I'm definitely not a Kantian.) I was particularly impressed with the presentation of Edmund Pellegrino M.D. whose list of accomplishments is nothing short of overwhelming. Dr. Pellegrino spoke of the practice of virtue in medicine and the need for self-examination including a reference to the Ignatian Examen. The Georgetown Jesuit community was particularly accommodating. I was also happy to see many friends while I was in town though not nearly as many as I would have liked. There are only so many hours in a day.

AMDG

29 May 2009

Another Long Absence from Blogland

Happy Summer one and all.

It was another hectic semester which combined with a bad case of blog laziness has meant no posts for quite some time now.

For the first time in my academic life I took an extension on a paper so technically my semester isn't quite finished yet. I'm trying to use a little cognitive science and a little philosophy of mind to support Charles Taylor's philosophy of action. It's a bit out of my philosophical comfort zone, but I'm enjoying the project.

I head to Washington, DC for a conference on Saturday at Georgetown. Then home for a spell become flying to Bolivia for the better part of the summer. For the second summer in a row, I'll be trying to learn Spanish, one of these times it's going to stick, right?

28 March 2009

Benedict and AIDS

Recently Pope Benedict received a lot of bad press for his supposedly naive view of AIDS prevention in Africa. One of my brother Jesuits, Michael Czerny, director of the Society's efforts for AIDS prevention in Africa wrote a wonderful piece contextualizing the Pope's comments both in the African scene and the larger Christian vision of reality. Here's a small snippet:

This [Christian] sexuality is based on faith in God, respect for oneself and the other, and hope for the future. Compare this vision with reliance on condoms. Everyone must recognise that ‘condoms all the time for everyone’ goes with a notion of ‘sex as fun without consequences’. Deep down, we know what a lie that is. It means treating another human being as a vehicle for my own pleasure. As public policy, it is to treat people as rapacious, unable to control themselves, incapable of anything beyond immediate self-gratification. Such an attitude is horribly pessimistic about humankind in general and, when imposed by public and international agencies on Africans, it also represents unconscious but abhorrent racism. This is not a route that the Church can take.
You can find the rest of the article at Thinking Faith. The whole thing is well worth a read. For more on the Society of Jesus' work to combat AIDS in Africa check out AJAN (African Jesuit AIDS Network). AMDG

16 March 2009

Templeton Day

The good people at the Templeton Foundation announced the 2009 winner of the Templeton Prize today: Bernard d’Espagnat, physicist and philosopher of science. The prize is awarded to, "a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works." Previous winners include such luminaries as: Charles Taylor, John Polkinghorne, Paul Davies, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and (Blessed) Mother Teresa. Check out the the prize website for more details.

09 March 2009

Stem Cells

Today President Obama lifted the ban on Federal money for stem cell research. Needless to say I disagree vigorously with the President's decision.

Slate Magazine posted an interesting article on matter entitled: Winning Smugly by William Saletan. Saletan juxtaposes the Bush administrations arguments for torture with Obama arguments for embreyo exploitation. It's hardly a full bore pro-life argument but it does raise some uncomfortable moral questions which are worth pondering.

AMDG

Jesuit Commercials

Drew Marquard SJ, a Jesuit in First Studies at Fordham University produced these Jesuit Mock commercials. I think they're pretty amusing.

Garbage Man



The 25th Date



The Naval Officer



The Author



AMDG

01 March 2009

Busy Semester

Yes, I'm still alive. This semester has turned out to be my busiest so far. I'm taking Philosophy of Action, Plato, Sacramental Theology, and just for kicks a Chemistry class with lab. I've found doing some basic science is a good mental break from all the "higher level" philosophy and theology that takes up most of my time. It's nice once and a while to just sit down to a problem set that has definite answers--at least theoretically definite. Well let's just call them probable answer in reality but definite according to a certain formalism. That's the problem with philosophy, it's hard to escape even in Chemistry class.

In addition to the four classes, I've also been volunteering with the chaplaincy department at Loyola University Hospital once a week. So far I've been bringing communion to patients and helping with some initial pastoral visits. Between classes, ministry, and keeping up with things around the community all the hours in the day seem to be pretty well accounted for. Thankfully I'm enjoying the busyness.

Currently Loyola is on Spring Break. For me this means time to get term papers underway. I am taking the opportunity to see a few concerts as well. This afternoon Hilary Hahn gave a wonderful recital at Symphony Center here in Chicago. The program included two of Ysaye's lovely sonatas for solo violin, 4 and 6, two sonatas by Ives, 2 and 4, some Hungarian Dances by Brahms, and some Romanian Dances by Bartok. All in all an excellent way to spend the afternoon. I've heard Ms. Hahn in concert previously but this was the first time playing chamber work. She is an amazingly versitile artist to go from the great Romantic concertos with full orchestra to sensitive solo pieces and aquite herself beautifully with both. Tomorrow is Mozart's Abduction from Seraglio at Lyric. Then the rest of the week is a whole lot of studying.