Over the last few weeks, I've begun to notice a common refrain from my Hebrew Scripture and New Testament students. Very often, they will say things like, "Yeah, Mr. Duns, Catholics don't take the Bible literally." So, then, how do we take it?
You see, the trouble is that the students are not making a very important distinction (If they did this already, I'd be out of a job!). The distinction is between a literal and a literalistreading of Scripture. Allow me to put on my teacher hat and help to bring out the importance of this distinction.
Catholics associate a literalist approach to the Bible with fundamentalists. On this view, if the Bible says that the world was created in six days then it was created in 144 hours. If the Bible says that humans were present at the very beginning of Creation, then the entire fossil record that shows no presence of human life for millions of years must be false. One might summarize the literalist position by saying: "The B…
I had the occasion recently to chat with a former student whose family I've come to know rather well over the years. Our conversation ranged over a number of topics and eventually I asked him about the campus ministry program at his university. His vague and somewhat stuttering response prompted me to ask, "Well, do you ever go to Mass on campus?" His response was disappointing but not surprising, "No, not really. I just don't get anything out of going any more."
I've written before that I think it one of the salutary features of the Mass to be boring. From morning to night, I am bombarded by a constant stream of texts, Tweets, Facebook messages, phone calls, and emails. I turn to edit an article and find myself moving the cursor to my web browser and reading an article; I decide I want to pray for fifteen minutes and discover that I waste the time looking for a perfect piece of music to accompany my meditation. I go for an evening stroll, deciding to …
As students prepare to go off to college, either as first-year students or returners, I'd like to share again something I wrote for my students last year. As most instances of advice, take what is helpful to you and ignore the rest.
I wrote this as a letter to the students of the class of 2012, the last class of seniors I taught at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. The content of the letter has remained basically the same, although I may have tweaked a point here or there.
I hope you're all enjoying what, as I look at the calendar, seem to be the waning days of summer vacation. Most of you will be leaving for school within two weeks. Make the most of your time with your family these weeks and do your best to prepare for the adventures of college.
It is hard to let the teacher part of me go, so please indulge me once more as I offer a few words of advice. Do as you will with.
1. Books: you need them. DO NOT BUY AT THE BOOKSTORE. You will only …