Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Call for Papers: "Building Institutions for the Common Good: The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy"
My colleagues at the Ryan Institute have put out a call for papers for a conference next summer that is sure to be of interest to many MOJ readers.
The Tenth International Conference on
The Sixth Colloquium on Christian Humanism in Business and Society
"Building Institutions for the Common Good:
The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy"
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul - Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 21-23, 2018
The common good is a prominent principle and one of the pillars of the Catholic social tradition. Its origins in Judaism and Hellenistic philosophy were taken up by the early Christian community and reinforced by Christ's commandment of charity, forgiveness, and service. As suggested by its ancient roots, the principle is not exclusive to Christian faith; other religions and philosophical traditions uphold it too. Still, sharing an appreciation for the concept does not remove the important work about the meaning of the common good and its operational and institutional significance in business.
Scholarly reflections on the common good vary in correspondence with the whole range of existing philosophical, economic, political, and social positions. This is certainly true among leading voices in the development of Catholic social thought -- Jacques Maritain, Neo-Thomism, civil economy, personalism, and Catholic liberalism, among others. What has not been as developed is a tradition of thought that engages the common good with the purpose and practice of business. This conference is set out to make a contribution in this area.
As business and its impact have moved into virtually every country and culture on the planet, so have questions about its role in regard to human well-being and to what society holds in common. This makes the common good a subject for reflection in the education of all future business professionals. There may be as well a particular opportunity and benefit for reflecting on the common good in the context of business education in Catholic universities. Uniquely prepared to address the idea of the common good from a theoretical perspective, Catholic business education is also uniquely positioned to reflect on it as a moral principle for leaders and as an aspirational principle for a business mission.
This conference on "Building Institutions for the Common Good: The Purpose and Practice of Business in an Inclusive Economy" welcomes participants from multiple disciplines and perspectives ready to engage in a constructive dialogue on the common good and how a growing number of people can participate in the market economy and finance in an equitable, stable, and sustainable way. We take the common good within the Catholic social tradition as our starting point in this discussion.
We are looking for papers in three tracks: broad, organizational and theoretical treatments of the common good; the common good in relation to individual disciplines (marketing, personnel management, strategy, etc.); and curriculum design, materials, and pedagogical approaches for addressing the common good in a business context.
Track One - Exploring the Common Good, Its Meaning and Its Capacity to Inspire and Sustain Ethical Institutions
It is relatively easy to criticize what does not work and even necessary to do so. The much more challenging task is to build a humane and flourishing society. Catholic social teaching has examined property, free and ethical markets, businesses, the rule of law, and the legal protection of workers as some of the institutions that are essential in creating institutions that work. However, the best institutions falter if they are undercut by a lack of individual conscience and social virtue. Thus, Catholic social teaching also repeats demands for virtuosity: structures and institutions alone are not capable of solving the problems that beset society
Track Two - Exploring the Common Good and Its Relevance for Specific Fields of Management
Principles that are discussed on an abstract level can remain bloodless and unsubstantial. Not infrequently the abstract principles, like the common good, become clear by application in concrete circumstances. We welcome papers that explore the meaning and relevance of the common good in specific fields of management and business, especially (but not exclusively) if they discuss the institutional dimension in fields such as the following:
Track Three - Providing Curricular Materials, Processes, and Ideas that Reflect the Significance and Practical Wisdom of Business and Leadership Reflection on the Common Good
In the area of curriculum development, we are specifically looking for syllabi, background notes, and teaching notes that engage the Catholic social tradition and the disciplines of business and liberal education. For examples, please see
Monday, May 8, 2017
Here is the link to the recent Murphy Institute conversation between Ross Douthat and Cornel West on "Christianity and Politics in the U.S. Today." We've edited the wide-ranging 2-hour conversation down to a manageable hour, including highlights such as: an analysis of recent U.S. military interventionism in light of Christian principles; a fascinating debate about whether the term "white supremacy" is applicable to any situation other than the relationship between blacks and whites in the United States; Ross Douthat asking Cornel West: "What about sex?", and the ensuing discussion; and the moving and thoughtful response to a young Latina woman's request for advice to her generation about dealing with the perception of increased racism, discrimination, and xenophobia.
Minnesota Public Radio will be broadcasting the conversation as part of their MPR News Presents series, tomorrow (May 9) at both noon and 9 pm (CST). That link is here.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
My colleague Rachel Lu wrote this very perceptive essay for The Federalist on the Murphy Institute's Douthat/West conversation. She captures the extraordinary generosity and depth of the conversation very well. I was asked by a reporter why we were so confident that this conversation would be as rich as it turned out to be, and I told her that it was because of a couple of attributes we knew these two speakers shared: fierce intelligence, a strong faith commitment, and senses of humor. Rachel confirms this in her essay:
It would be difficult to script a more genial conversation between representatives of the political left and right. Charging headlong into the hard questions, West and Douthat discussed capitalism, white supremacy, traditional sexual morals and more. Neither man at any point lost his poise or sense of humor. In the end, the audience was left wondering: Is there a way to recreate this dynamic elsewhere in America? Why were these two able to venture where so many others have feared to tread?
There is an obvious answer: West and Douthat can understand each other because they are both Jesus freaks. That is to say, their perspectives are shaped in significant ways by a serious Christian commitment.
We're still working on the video link! It's turning out to be a bit complicated. Stay tuned!
Sunday, April 9, 2017
On Friday, the Murphy Institute hosted a truly memorable conversation between Cornel West and Ross Douthat on "Christianity and Politics in the U.S. Today." We had about 1,200 people coming from all over the university, as well as the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul communities -- a testament to the appetite in this country for civil dialogue between people of different viewpoints. And both them lived up to their well-deserved reputations for incisive, principled, generous, and inspiring commentary. I was privileged to moderate the conversation, and it was one of the most enjoyable 2 hours I've ever spent on a stage! We will post a link to the video as soon as we can arrange it. In the meantime, here are a couple of the highlights to look for: the fascinating debate about whether the term "white supremacy" is applicable to any situation other than the relationship between blacks and whites in the United States; Ross Douthat asking Cornel West: "What about sex?", and the ensuing discussion; and the very last audience question, from a 16 year old Latina woman, and both responses.
Here's a picture taken right after the program, showing (from left to right), Dr. Julie Sullivan (President of UST), Cornel West, Ross Douthat, Seanne Harris (the program manager of the Murphy Institute, without whom -- and I mean this very literally -- the program would not have been possible), and me.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A few days ago, Christine Horner posted an appeal to Pope Francis on Huffington Post (a site that no doubt the Holy Father has bookmarked on his computer), calling for "an end to the religious ritual of the declaration of unworthiness" during Mass. She's talking about the Centurion's refrain of “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof...” She argues that "dialogue and constructs that perpetuate “I am not worthy” are the root of all evil behavior. It is divisiveness personified."
My colleague at St. Thomas, Deborah Savage from the Seminary/School of Divinity, has written a powerful response, published in Notre Dame's Church Life Journal. She argues, among other things:
The cause of violence in our culture is not the call to admit my weakness, my uncertainties, my mistakes. The cause of violence in our culture is the refusal to accept the reality of sin and to recognize that, in that regard, we are all the same: in need of forgiveness and compassion. The cause of violence in our culture is our inability to see the humanity of another and to love them—to will their good—even if we think they might be flawed.
Deborah's essay contains a lot to chew on for these troubled times.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Among the many delightful people associated with Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture that I got to spend time with in Rome over the past week is Ken Hallenius, Communications Specialist. Ken has created a very cool index linking to all of Pope Benedict XVI's general audience reflections. He has organized them by topic, such as "Prayer", "Faith", "Holy Women", "Doctors of the Church".
Ken also brought to my attention this excellent essay by Amy Wellborn, very critical of the Vatican's framing (but not the act) of the recent elevation of Mary Magdalenes’ July 22 memorial to a feast. Wellborn discusses the book she wrote about Mary Magdalene a few years ago (now out of print, but perhaps to be made available in digital form soon).
Saturday, June 11, 2016
I've discovered a new hero over the past few days: the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche. Below is a picture of him delivering a delightful catechesis on the Good Samaritan this morning in the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, as part of the Jubilee celebrations for persons with disabilities. And yesterday, his office announced the raising the celebration of the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a liturgical Feast, recognizing the importance of her role as the “apostle to the apostles.” In his announcement, Archbishop Roche wrote:
Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter.”
“The Holy Father Francis took this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to signify the importance of this woman who showed a great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” writes Archbishop Roche.
He also notes Saint Mary Magdalene was referred to as the “Apostle of the Apostles” (Apostolorum Apostola) by Thomas Aquinas, since she announced to them the Resurrection, and they, in turn, announced it to the whole world.
“Therefore it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same grade of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, and shines a light on the special mission of this woman, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church.”
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Thanks to the generosity of Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture and the Jacques Maritain Center, and their inimitable leaders, Carter Snead and John O'Callaghan, I am spending the week in Rome, talking, learning, and thinking about all manner of issues related to Disability and Misericordia. We just finished a two-day conference, really more of a study seminar, on "Disability and the Face of Mercy", co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and physically hosted in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
We heard from scholars from a host of perspectives on the topic: John O'Callaghan tracing problematic misconceptions of the Imago Dei back to St. Augustine's finding the image of God solely in the activities of the human mind; Carter Snead on how our public bioethics frustrates the application of law as an instrument of mercy; Mary O'Callaghan arguing for a return to mercy in the medical practices of prenatal diagnosis by reviving the original motivations of the people who developed the tools now being used solely for purposes of eugenic abortions; Thomas Williams on how radically Jesus overturned the notion of weakness and vulnerability; Elizabeth Lev graphically illustrating Thomas' arguments, exploring the differences in depictions of disability between classical and Christian art, and Fr. Terry Ehrman speculating beautifully about disabilities in the resurrected body. I spoke about sacramental access for persons with cognitive disabilities, reflecting on the great gift to the Church of witnessing how the truths of the sacraments can be understood and shared by people whose religious experiences are not expressed in conventional rational speech.
We also heard and saw first-hand how the many gifts of faith and truths of mercy are shared in communities fully embracing persons with disabilities, from a wide array of persons with disabilities and their partners in an extraordinary factory in Milan, L'Arche communities in both Portland, Oregon, and in Rome, and the community of Saint Egidio here in Rome. The conference officially ended with a fantastic dinner at the Trattoria degli Amici, the fantastic restaurant run by the community of Saint Egidio, staffed by people with disabilities.
That was the 'official' end of the conference, but much the delegation (including me) is sticking around to participate in this week's Jubilee for the Sick and Persons with Disabilities . I will post more about that experience, but in the meantime, I am just grateful to have been part of an extraordinary couple of days.
Monday, March 21, 2016