Monday, April 23, 2007

Leisure as the basis of culture

"great thoughts and great friendships require a great waste of time." Michael J. Buckley, S.J. paraphrasing Jacques Maritain.

I found this in a lecture that Buckley gave at Santa Clara University on "Newman and the Restoration of the Interpersonal in Higher Education." One of the points he makes is that the University needs something like what Newman saw in the residential colleges at Oxford--a place to form not only the intellect, but the person, including character formation, moral education and religious indoctrination, but also the reading of classics and the literature of the people. This allows Newman to assert that the university's purpose is intellectual formation without neglecting the formation of the whole person.

Buckley cites the residential "colleges" at Notre Dame as an example of what all universities (whether religious or secular) ought to have at the undergraduate level. Now, of course, the dorms at ND (which tend to be more tribal than one thinks of in the residential colleges of England) are far from perfect examples, but there is something to the comparison. Expecially important is the promotion of spiritual life in the dorm at Notre Dame. Each dorm has a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament and often daily Mass. The rectors are often priests or religious. The parietals system (limited opposite sex visiting hours) enforces at least minimal a Catholic understanding of the proper relationship between men and women. And praise God that Notre Dame has resisted the almost universal capitulation of Catholic colleges and universities to establish co-ed dorms. Fr. Jenkins, hold your ground!