Showing posts from February, 2011

Sickening Feeling

Over the last two weeks, I have watched with an increasing feeling of dread and disgust the unfolding of the most recent crisis related to sexual abuse of minors in Philadelphia. For excellent coverage and some of the emotional toll it has taken on its author, I encourage you to read Rocco Palmo's brilliant blog Whispers in the Loggia. 

Just today, an old friend of mine wrote to tell me that he was unable to consider himself Catholic. His anguish over what has been unfolding over these years has crept so far into his soul that he cannot see himself offering his heart any longer to the Roman Catholic Church. I understand his pain and I can appreciate his decision, even if I do not agree with it. He will be in my prayers, though, and I trust God will lead him where he needs to go. I trust God to lead our leaders, too, although I sometimes wonder if they don't put up more of a fight than many of the flock.

Philosophical Investigations and the Control-F Generation

I have the terrible habit of reading multiple books at any one time. At this moment, I'm working through three different texts: Being and Time, Sources of the Self, and the Philosophical Investigations. Heidegger's Being and Time is on my nightstand, Taylor's Sources of the Self is in my book bag, and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations is...well, in the bathroom (be glad for me that I'm reading it and refrain from asking me to borrow it).

As I continue to reflect on the meaning and nature of what I have taken to calling the "Control-F Generation" and its relationship to religious practice, it occurs to me that Wittgenstein's text may be a helpful guide.

Dispatches from an Observer of the Control-F Generation

I’ve spent the last several days up on Mackinac Island with a group of four U of D Jesuit seniors and several adults leading a Kairos retreat for a group of students who live here on the island. This has been a great experience as it has given me a chance to know the students and colleagues in a new way and to bring the gifts and graces of Kairos to another group of students.
I’ve been reflecting over the last few weeks on what I’ve dubbed the “Control-F Generation.” The act of naming a generation serves merely to provide a cipher that offers one handle among many as a way of grasping something that is unique to or characteristic of a group. “Control-F” is more descriptive than, say, “Generation X” in that it indicates in its title something observable: the desire to find answers quickly, even at the detriment of feeding or developing one’s intellectual curiosity. The mindset seems to be, “There is too much information out there to get my mind around, so rather than sift through it I…

God Gives Us No More Than We Can Handle...

A temptation facing anyone with some study of theology is to look down on those with a less…sophisticated…notion of God. I usually have to remind myself that people generally do not care a lick about Karl Rahner’s writings on the supernatural existential or about the saturated phenomenon of Jean-Luc Marion. While I might care about these things and derive enormous joy from studying and reflecting upon them, most people go about their lives blissfully unaware of either author. What I find, generally, is that people have very basic questions about God: Is there a God? What does God do? Why is there so much evil in the world if God is supposed to be so good?

One refrain that my theological ear gets snagged on is this: “God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle.” While I seldom wade into theological controversies with folk, this is one that really seems to invite some comment.

The Problem With Prayer

I had yesterday the honor and privilege of speaking at the CYO Rainbow Conference hosted by the Archdiocese of Detroit. It was an enjoyable morning and afternoon of seeing nearly 1,5000 young Catholics drawn together to find camaraderie and prayerful support as they attempted to "Live for Him" as the conference theme proclaimed. My own role was to give two presentations addressing God's Job Description.

During my first presentation, one of the students asked me about prayer. "What," he asked, "should we pray for?" Unable to cede my beloved role as teacher, I posed the question back to him: "What should we pray for?" The young man gave all of the right answers: an end to abortion, respect for human life, vocations, the poor, etc.. These are, I assured him, marvelous things to pray for. Yet, I had to push him, is this reallywhat we should pray for?

Literal or Literalist...

Just thought I'd mention that in the last few hours, I've had a TON of hits to my site concerning the distinction between "literal" and "literalist" readings of Sacred Scripture. Back in June, I wrote a short piece about this. Since I'm apparently one of the few people who have written or, at least, blogged about this, many students from the same cluster of suburbs in Chicago have stopped by this site for help with #5 on their homework!

(It's funny what those tracking programs like Google Analytics and Statcounter can tell you!)

On the Lighter Side

When I get a chance, perhaps on Sunday, I would like to continue thinking through the "Control-F Generation" idea. I had a very stimulating conversation with a fellow Jesuit who sees the ability to search quickly using the Control-F function as a valuable skill. This I do not deny. Yet my point or observation reaches far deeper than simply a student's utility with research. I'm afraid of this being the framework or the way of being-in-the-world that shapes the way students see reality. If reality can be reduced so easily to something searchable, something easily found...what will they do with the tough questions which do not admit of easy answers? This is something that needs further reflection.

I thought, though, that I'd post something on the lighter side:

First up: Pig Roast Video

This is a video done to help promote our annual Freshmen Pig Roast that will be held this upcoming Friday, February 11th. Vegetarians may not approve...

Our second selection: Town Ha…

The Control-F Generation

My post yesterday introduced (to my knowledge) a new way of describing this generation of secondary school students: the "Control-F Generation." Sometimes they are called "Generation Why" but I think this is a total misnomer: they are willing to ask "Why do I have to..." or "Why should I..." but the deeper questions that the word Why should point to are often left unasked. Based on my limited observations - after all, I'm not a researcher nor do I have experience of secondary school students beyond my own experiences teaching here at U of D Jesuit - I do think there are certain traits that mark this generation in a remarkable way.

For instance, I find many students demonstrating a near-fixation on getting the answer and then moving on.   Recently, as I sat in my office with some very bright students in an AP English course, I watched one young man go to the computer and begin searching for "the meaning of...". Given an assignment t…

You have made us...

The first section I cover with my freshmen addresses what some might call their 'existential' condition; normal people, I reckon, would simply say that we start the course by investigating what it means to be human. Part of being human, our textbook suggests and our in-class conversations corroborate, means that we are filled with deep longings and yearnings. Over the last few weeks, I cannot help but marvel at how well  Saint Augustine captures this visceral hunger: " have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."

This is the best word to describe my freshmen: restless. They are, as a wise Jesuit teacher expresses it, "all boy." They fidget. They are easily distracted. They are curious about everything. They hold nothing back. Each day I need to come up with some new way of keeping them focused: a review game using a Nerf gun, having them tie their ties around their heads like Rambo, journal writing, note-taking, class d…