Wednesday, September 26, 2007
One of the problems (I mean, joys) of having a young baby is that all my time is pretty much accounted for. So I'm a little late off the blocks in thanking Mark and Villanova for hosting such a great conference last week. It was great to finally meet him, and Rob, and Susan and Pat in person after getting to know you on this site for these past couple of years. For those of you who couldn't make it this year or haven't made it before to one of the JCST conferences, I definitely recommend it for you for next year.
The questions that Fr. Miscamble, Peter Steinfels, John McGreevy, and others are working through are hard, and I admire all concerned for their clear acknowledgment that something -- but what? -- needs to be done to reverse the trend according to which formerly "Catholic" universities no longer deserve that predicate.
Approaching the issue from a slightly different angle than any I've seen in the recent discussions, I'll take Villanova, where I am privileged to work, as an example. Villanova University is, as it has been from its founding, an aposolate of the Order of St. Augustine. The Augustinians have chosen to allow lay men and women (along with other religious and clerics) to join with them in that apostolate at Villanova. It would be self-defeating, indeed perverse, for those charged with this apostolate to attract to Villanova those who either don't support or are hostile to the apostolate. Obviously, those doing the hiring at Villanova will and must look for qualities in addition to ones bearing directly on support of and contribution to the apostolate, but it's hard to see how one can justify adding folks who do not in some way further the apostolate as such -- unless by outright denying that the University should be engaged in its declared apostolate (a point to which I return below).
As a matter of fact, however, most "Catholic" colleges and universities, including Villanova, do most of their hiring without regard for apostolate or mission. It would seem to me, therefore, that the first necessary step is to try to get agreement that support of apostolate/mission is as imporant in potential faculty hires as are intelligence, education, collegiality, and the like. With most people in most Catholic places of higher education not even granting the legitimacy of hiring for apostolate/mission (let alone its desirability or exigence), it's no wonder we cannot begin to reach consensus on whether hiring Catholics (with a numerical goal in mind) is the way to go or hiring "for mission" is the preferred path. In each of the several Catholic law schools I know, non-Catholics are among the biggest supporters of mission, but in most Catholic universities, including their law schools, controversy rages over whether or not to hire "for mission."
I think it's virtually beyond serious question that, whatever has been going on over the last generation has delivered a raft of Catholic places of higher learning that are no longer meaningfully Catholic. In my judgment, the sponsors of those institutions with charismatic and canoncial apostolates should either acknowledge as much and stop pretending the contrary or take the necessary action to renew the religiosity of their institutions. What that action would be, I'm not entirely sure, and obviously it would to some extent vary from place to place. It's worth bearing in mind, though, that (as Bernard Lonergan observed) extraordinary action may be required to reverse a cycle of decline. I can understand why some people are uncomfortable, for example, with numerical goals for hiring engaged *Catholics* (rather than hiring "for mission"), but it would seem to me that the burden is on those who oppose such numerical goals to demonstrate an alternative that will likely do better. Personnel are policy, and engaged Catholics are at least prima facie on the side of the sponsoring Catholic religious order's apostolate.
Peter Steinels worries about a "top-down fiat [that will be] disruptive of the university community." In my judgment, such disruption may be exactly what is needed to reverse the unhappy trend that seems to move forward with inexorable force. But, granting Steinfels's concern, what about the "disruption of the university community" that occurs when colleagues deny that hiring for mission is even legitimate, claim that the Catholic quota is filled, or openly mock and actively subvert the religious identity of the institution? What about this disruption that quietly but insatiably eats away at the core season after season, day after day? I don't disagree with Steinfels that "hiring for mission" has promise, but it has to be done. How many pro-mission faculty can one find at such "Catholic" schools as Georgetown, Fordham, Boston College, Santa Clara, and the rest? I suspect that if the incumbents were pro-mission, hiring "for mission" wouldn't be so controversial as to be the exception rather than the rule.
Let me be clear: In my judgment, Catholic places of higher education should be inclusive, both at the faculty level and at the student level. But there is no inconsistency between being authentically Catholic and genuinely inclusive. The arms of the Church are wide.
Over at First Things, Monica Migliorino Miller reviews a new book by Sister Sara Butler titled The Catholic Priesthood and Women:
Butler points out that Inter Insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis both insist on Christ’s sovereign freedom in his choice of male apostles. And this is an enormously important point. Indeed, much of the legitimacy of the “fundamental reasons” is based on the fact that, not only did Christ act in a certain way, thus setting up a permanent norm, but that Christ acted in freedom. History does not constrain him, culture is not a barrier, history is not a force that may dictate to Christ his choices. Christ is the Lord of history, he is the Lord of his Church. Behind the “fundamental reasons” is a christological one, and while the Church’s documents insist on Christ’s freedom, it is the theologian’s task to explain why this is important. Butler does not provide this much-needed explanation. What is at stake is the very person of Christ—the divine Logos—in a gesture by which the constitution of the entire new covenant depends. If we follow the arguments of the dissenters, we are forced to conclude that in the very founding of the Church Christ (perhaps innocently) was guilty of an act of injustice to half of the human race. This, of course, is untenable.
All of the apostles were also Jewish, of course, so gender must somehow be different, though Miller believes that Butler's explanation on this point is weak. Miller expands it:
Arbitrary or no, Christ’s male gender, as Butler recognizes, is constitutive of the economy of salvation. But this means we are not dealing any longer with merely theological reasons for the ban on women priests. After all, Christ’s male gender is as much a historical fact, as much a willful historical choice on the part of the Redeemer, as was his choice to call only men to be among the Twelve. Thus Christ’s having called only male human beings to be apostles, having called only male human beings to share in his priestly ministry, is preceded by the fact of his own masculinity in relation to the Church. Thus the “fundamental reasons” and the “theological reasons” are closely intertwined. If the Church believes she must remain faithful to an original gesture of Christ when he called only males to be apostles, she is even less free to dismiss the male gender of Christ in the economy of salvation upon which the meaning of that gesture depends. The ban on women priests is not simply a matter of the Church remaining true to a fact—Christ only chose men—but a matter of the Church remaining faithful to the fundamental truth of the relation between the order of redemption and the order of creation—an order the Church has no power to undo.
The book seems well worth reading; perhaps it will take up the questions Eduardo asked back in March 2006.
The theme for this year's Fall conference at Notre Dame's Center for Ethics and Culture is "The Dialogue of Cultures." All the info you need is here.
Reason #389 why I try not to take my daughters with me to the grocery store check-out line: the new edition of US Magazine has the screaming headline "Revenge Plastic Surgery," telling the story of a beautiful young television star who got "revenge" on boys who always teased her for being flat-chested. Her revenge? Why, getting breast implants, of course! Because if there's one thing we need to teach young girls today, it's that the best way to deal with their own insecurities about how they look is to anticipate the day when they can accept their own surgically-enhanced self.
Thanks, Rob, for bringing this interesting NYT article to our attention. But, personally, I think you missed the most interesting finding -- the explanation for the growing gap in happiness between men and women:
Since the 1960s, men have gradually cut back on activities they find unpleasant. They now work less and relax more.
Over the same span, women have replaced housework with paid work — and, as a result, are spending almost as much time doing things they don’t enjoy as in the past. Forty years ago, a typical woman spent about 23 hours a week in an activity considered unpleasant, or 40 more minutes than a typical man. Today, with men working less, the gap is 90 minutes.
Thirty years ago, women reported being happier than men; now, according to two new studies, the happiness levels have been reversed, but not because women are necessarily working more than they were (which is the thesis of the "second shift" theory):
[R]esearchers who have looked at time-use data say the second-shift theory misses an important detail. Women are not actually working more than they were 30 or 40 years ago. They are instead doing different kinds of work. They’re spending more time on paid work and less on cleaning and cooking.
What has changed — and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends — is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents). They can’t possibly get it all done, and many end up feeling as if they are somehow falling short.
Mr. Krueger’s data, for instance, shows that the average time devoted to dusting has fallen significantly in recent decades. There haven’t been any dust-related technological breakthroughs, so houses are probably just dirtier than they used to be. I imagine that the new American dustiness affects women’s happiness more than men’s.
Ms. Stevenson [one of the researchers] was recently having drinks with a business school graduate who came up with a nice way of summarizing the problem. Her mother’s goals in life, the student said, were to have a beautiful garden, a well-kept house and well-adjusted children who did well in school. “I sort of want all those things, too,” the student said, as Ms. Stevenson recalled, “but I also want to have a great career and have an impact on the broader world.”
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
The story is here. This should be an interesting case. The Court's execution-regulation strategy has, over the years, proceeded down three main tracks: (1) regulating the fairness of the procedures through which capital sentences are handed down; (2) reducing the number of offenses for which the death penalty is a permissible punishment; and (3) narrowing the categories of offenders who may be executed. For the most part -- notwithstanding the text of the Eighth Amendment -- there have been relatively few cases dealing with execution-methods. We'll see . . .