Thursday, May 10, 2007

Interpersonal Higher Education

Dr. O'Hara, of the Collegiate Way, posts on the Michael J. Buckley, S.J. article I posted about a while back. I more convinced than ever that the reestablishment of residential colleges would go greatly toward the reversal of the assault on faith that is often experienced even at Catholic Universiites, because there is no buffer between the relatively unsophisticated believer and the howling winds of controversy which naturally characterize the university.

Random thoughts on theology

At the end of the semester in Intro to Theology I give a little talk about the role of theology in the life of the Church and what our attitude should be toward it. Here is a summary of the points I make:

  1. Humility is the first virtue when doing theology or when evaluating the theology of others.
  2. Theology is an intellectual discipline. It requires intellectual work, not just feelings.
  3. Academic theology is addressed to intellectuals, and therefore requires knowledge of the intellectual currents of the time to be understood and criticized. This is true historically and in contemporary theology.
  4. Never presume you fully understand what is being said the first time.
  5. Never presume your work is done, especially if you are having difficulty with an official teaching of the Church.
  6. Theology itself is not a threat to the faith. Why? It is just Christians thinking out loud.
  7. Of necessity, speculative academic theologians express things in ways that are “on the edge” and therefore subject to error.
  8. Error is not heresy. It is okay for a theologian (and a seminarian) to be wrong so long as they subject their thinking to review by the theological community and submit to any correction by the Magisterium. .
  9. Inadequacy is an important category in theology.
  10. Theologians aren’t the teaching authority of the Church. However, they have an essential role in the exercise of the Magisterium.
  11. You will encounter teachers and fellow students who have theological opinions that differ from your own. That doesn’t make them a heretic. Even if they are wrong.
  12. Students of Catholic theology have a right to hear and teachers have an obligation to explain how a strange sounding statement corresponds to the teaching of the Church. But you must ask respectfully, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.
  13. There is such a thing as heresy, which is an obstinate and rejection of a clear teaching of the church and a public refusal to be corrected by the teaching authority of the Church.
  14. A person may have private difficulties with (but not doubt concerning) even an infallible teaching of the Church and not fall into heresy. As Cardinal Newman said, one thousand difficulties does not equal one doubt.
  15. We have not been given the responsibility of making the final decision about the validity of a given theological expression.
  16. Don’t put all your eggs in one theological basket.
  17. Both/And, not either or.
    a. The Eucharist: sacrifice and meal
    b. Vatican II: Dogmatic and pastoral
    c. Interpretation of Sacred Scripture: Historical-critical and spiritual sense of Scripture
    d. Liturgical music: Chant and contemporary liturgical music
  18. By the time you are done with your theological studies, it will make reasonable sense. Be patient.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Robert George to Give Milwaukee Pallium Lecture

Milwaukee -Robert George, author, lawyer and a leading voice for social conservatism on abortion, euthanasia and sexual ethics, will discuss "Faith and Reason: Why We Do Good" on Monday, June 11 at the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center, 3501 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis.
The free, public lecture is the final presentation in the 2007 Pallium Lecture Series, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The lecture will begin with a prayer service, led by Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan at6:30 p.m. A reception will follow the lecture.

George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University. He teaches courses on constitutional interpretation, civil liberties and philosophy of law and is a proponent of "New Natural Law Theory," a distinctive approach to moral, political and legal philosophy that views moral truths as accessible to rational inquiry.

George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, formerly served as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was a fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of several books, including "The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis," published in 2002, and "In Defense of Natural Law, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality," published in 1993.

In 2005 George won a Bradley Prize, given by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation for Intellectual and Civic Achievement and the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Liberal Arts of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, George earned a doctorate in philosophy of law from Oxford University. He is the recipient of a Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association, the Paul Bator Award of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and several honorary doctorates.

The 2007 Pallium Series is made possible with financial support from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and other generous benefactors. The Pallium Lecture Series, started in 2003 by Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, features national and international speakers who discuss pertinent issues related to religion, faith and Church activities in the modern world.

Jan Nowak
Communications Department
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
3501 S. Lake Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912
(414) 769-3461