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Showing posts from September, 2011

When Your Voice Gives Out

It has been a crazy week around these parts! I went to Boston last Saturday for a feis on Sunday, came home, and resumed teaching on Monday. I had to write, to give, and obviously to grade 2 different tests this week, prepare for a rally, Homecoming Dance, and a little thing called Pledge Detroit. So it just seems fitting that, this morning, I woke up with no voice.

You know you teach really good kids when you can't really raise your voice and they absolutely still so that you can still teach!

My life has not been quite my own this week. I'll be back to more regular postings after Tuesday's big day. Please keep those involved in U of D Jesuit: Pledge Detroit in your prayers.

Your Teacher Told You to Get What???

I can remember distinctly that, when I was a high school student at Saint Ignatius in Cleveland, the happiest teachers on the faculty seemed to be the Jesuits. Etched into my memory is a particular instance when I saw then-Mister and now-Father Raymond Guiao, SJ walking across the campus and being struck by the man's obvious joy. Of all the things I ever wanted in life, I knew that I wanted to be happy, to be joyful, and the joy of the Jesuits I came to know over the next several years helped to focus my desire to serve God as a Companion of Jesus.

In between classes yesterday, I heard some of the sophomores talking about how they were learning about sexually transmitted diseases in their Health class. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to say something outlandish and seizing an opportunity to point out the use of the Latin genitive case, I encouraged first my Freshmen Latin students and then, later in the day, my sophomores to go home that night and to announce with conviction …

U of D Jesuit: Pledge Detroit! 2011

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Yesterday, our school community kicked of the Second Annual U of D Jesuit: Pledge Detroit! As you may remember from last year, this is a school-wide initiative that serves as the largest student-driven fundraiser of the year. Rather than selling raffle tickets, our students collect pledges that support them when, on October 4th, our entire school gives itself over to a day of service in the city of Detroit. This year, we are pleased to be returning to Belle Isle, Historic Fort Wayne, and adding Palmer Park. 
It is easy, I suspect, for schools to use handy quotes like "AMDG" or "Men for Others" when talking about what they do as a school. What I am most proud about Pledge Detroit is that it allows our students to do more than say that they are "Men for Others." Pledge Detroit gives them an opportunity to be "Men for Others" together as they put their hands where their mouths usually are! That we are able to involve our alumni and the parents of ou…

Got Jesus?

Earlier this week, a high school football game garnered wide media attention simply for the cheers offered by the student body. Cincinnati's Saint Xavier, a football powerhouse, went head-to-head with a major rival, Cincinnati Colerain. The then-No. 26 Saint Xavier narrowly triumphed over then-No. 8 Colerain with a score of 17-14.

Apparently, moments after the victory, the Student Section at Saint Xavier began to chant "We've Got Jesus." Upon hearing this cheer, Colerain's coach Tom Bolden apparently went ballistic and he began shouting at the students. Asked after the game, a simmering Bolden is quoted, "They ought to be embarrassed."

In response, one of the Saint Xavier students had this to say:
"The sad reality of this situation is that our entire faculty has absolutely handcuffed us in terms of what we are and aren't allowed to chant because they are so worried about our public relations, and the chants that our student section chant are not…

This Made Me Laugh

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One of my favorite subjects to address with my students is the compatibility of religion and science. There are any number of ways to enter into the discussion, although one of my preferred ways is to make the distinction between the fundamental types of questions theology and science ask. The philosopher Wittgenstein wrote in his Tractatus "It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists." Or, as I frame it for the guys, Science asks "how" things are in the world; Theology asks the very different sort of question: why is there anything at all?

Father Kiser's sister forwarded him this Doonesbury comic earlier this week. It really made me laugh, as recently there seemed to be some confusion about what the Church's teaching on religion and science actually is. As one who understands the nonsensicalness of both "Creationism" and "Intelligent Design," I fully appreciated the wit of this cartoon.


Prayer as the Exercise of Desire

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Over the past few days, I have been spending several minutes each morning with Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Spe Salvi. I find this a helpful practice as the Holy Father is a beautiful writer and his meditation on the virtue of hope displays his power both as a theologian and a man deeply committed to prayer.
One metaphor he employs is that of Prayer as the School for Hope (32-34). He quotes Augustine's belief that prayer is an exercise of desire, that the slow process of praying gradually stretches the human soul, making it ever more receptive and attentive to God's creative activity: By delaying [his gift], God strengthens our desire; through desire he enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity [for receiving him].  Employing a further metaphor, the Pontiff quotes Saint Augustine yet again:
Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [a symbol of God's tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?” Th…

Ode to a Feis Mother

Somewhere around fifteen years ago, when my siblings were wholly enmeshed in the world of Irish dancing, I put my pen to paper and wrote a little piece called "Ode to the Feis Mother." A copy of the poem has hung in the hallway of my parents' house for years and it is only today that it occurred to me that it might be nice to publish it online.
A word of warning to any current feis parents: this poem is dated. Back in the "old" days, Irish dancers didn't wear wigs...they actually curled their hair in rollers! In those days, groups of parents would get together the night before a feis and have "curling parties" where they would drink beer and roll hair for hours. When I was a young musician just starting out playing the accordion at feiseanna, I was always entertained by the quizzical looks passers-by would give to the legions of little girls, their heads tightly bound with multi-colored curlers. While I think the move to wigs is one innovation in …

Prayer, Interrupted

In the conclusion to his thought-provoking text God Interrupts History, theologian Lieven Boeve quotes Johan Baptist Metz who writes, "The shortest definition of religion is interruption." Christianity, for Metz, was never meant to become a cultural assumption, something into which one was born and went through the motions. Quite to the contrary, Christianity is a dangerous memory of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This "dangerous memory" is itself subversive of the current order, giving courage to those folly, or brave, enough to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and inspiring them to live courageously in a world so ravaged by sin.

This being my first exposure to Boeve's thought, I am inspired to continue reading. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout my reading, impressed with the clarity of his writing and the power of his thought. Indeed, Boeve sees it as essential that Christianity be re-contextualized in each era. This is not t…

Like Grandfather, Like Grandson

After several visits to see my physician and quite a few x-rays, blood tests, and questions like, "Does this hurt? Can you bend this back any further? How long has it been doing this" I learned that I have arthritis. This sort of make sense, really: for the last eight months or so, I've noticed a stiffness and soreness in my hands, ankles, knees, elbows, and neck. On my desk I now have three bottles of delightful medication - Flexeril, Ultram (that was the initial prescription and has been replaced by) Nabumetone.

Now, I haven't any idea what this means for me in the longterm except that I can expect the soreness and stiffness to linger, if not worsen. My first concern was that I might eventually lose the ability to play music. While this is a possibility, I suspect, I can still play two days of feis music on the accordion and I wasn't too much worse for the wear afterward. I also realized that I've never been guaranteed another day of playing - I could, afte…