Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Duty to Delight

On Sunday, February 26, 2013, Krista Tippett interviewed Father Greg Boyle, SJ.  If you missed the show, I highly recommend the podcast.

Father Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart, is SLU’s first-year summer reading book for fall 2013.  I commend this selection.  We at SLU have much to learn about service and kinship and mutuality from Father Boyle.  Father Boyle’s perspectives are also relevant for us here at the Heithaus Haven, where we focus on how our internal norms, practices, and structures embody our mission.

Father Boyle suggests that we have a duty to delight in one another.  A duty to delight. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remembering our Mission, Imagining our Future - Part II

The Jesuits of Saint Louis University have organized a Jesuit Mission Series for the SLU community.  The three-part series began on February 28, with a presentation by Fr. Joseph Tetlow, SJ, on our “Catholic and Jesuit Heritage.”  The text of Fr. Tetlow’s presentation is available here. A video of the presentation is available here.  An introduction to the series by Fr. Patrick Quinn, SJ, is available here.

The second  installment of the series takes place this evening – Monday, March 25, 4:00-5:30, in Room 117 of the School of Nursing.  Fr. John Padberg, SJ, will address “The Meaning and Purpose of the University.”  Fr. Padberg has been the Director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources since 1986.  He is renowned for his passionate commitment to scholarship, spirituality, and institutions of learning and culture – and as a storyteller extraordinaire.

Fr. General Kolenbach once said to Fr. Padberg, “Your love of God…has manifested itself in deeds, and not just in words – although quite often your ‘deeds’ have issued in the publication of many ‘words.’  Our Jesuit brotherhood has been richly blessed because of your great passion for our history and our life.”  We at SLU have likewise been richly blessed by the presence and contributions of Fr. Padberg.

All are invited – students, staff, faculty, administrators, trustees, alumni.  Please join us in reflection and discussion (and refreshments) devoted to helping us as a community to articulate who we are and who we want to be as we move forward in SLU’s history!

Here at the Heithaus Haven, we would like to provide a space in the comments section for continued conversation following the presentation – conversation that we hope will inspire us to action.  Please join us in the comments section, following Fr. Padberg’s presentation. Or, if you are so inspired, send us a reflection for publication as a blog post.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Imagining our Future, Remembering our Mission

Joseph Tetlow, S.J.

An address given in the series sponsored by the Jesuit Communities at St Louis University, February 28, 2013, to faculty, staff, and students.

The American churches want our universities to remain religious. The Baptists at Baylor, the Disciples at Pepperdine – and the motto of  Wheaton in Illinois is still “For Christ and His Kingdom.”  Think of Notre Dame; think of SLU.

Is it reasonable for us to expect to remain religious? After all, Yale was Congregational; Emory used to be Methodist Episcopal; Webster was Catholic; Brown had a Baptist minister president for 200 years, but not now. Now, these and many others are as secular as West Point or Mizzou. Is this secularizing force in Western culture irresistible? Is SLU doomed to join Wash U in the secular race?

To remember our mission and imagine our future, we need to open and face this issue. I’d like to suggest three considerations: (about which I’ll say just enough to leave everyone confused). First, in the West, war, the law, and thinking about the cosmos have gone from religious to secular – and now the university?  Second: the church, which invented higher education, still needs it – and not just for the young. Third, Jesuit-sponsored universities can retain their identity, if their faculties want them to.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Oxonian Idea of a University: The Annual DeLubac Lecture, Wednesday, March 20

18th Annual DeLubac Lecture

The Oxonian Idea of a University:

John Henry Newman’s Formative Oriel Experience

Lecturer: Dr. Peter Nockles, Ph.D.,
Assistant Librarian of Printed Books and Methodist Collections,
Methodist Archives and Research Centre, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester.

7:00pm Wednesday March 20
Saint Louis Room, Busch Student Center

Dr. Peter Nockles is a leading expert in the history of the Oxford Movement and has written extensively on the subject. His publications include the highly acclaimed study, The Oxford Movement in Context: Anglican High Churchmanship, 1760-1857 (1994). He has been a Visiting Fellow at Oriel College, the long-time home of the Anglican John Henry Newman. Nockles is also a major contributor to a new history of Oriel College, Oxford. An introduction to his DeLubac lecture follows below:

Is there a crisis in the modern academy? Has the modern university abandoned the historic ideals of a humane liberal education and of a ‘republic of letters’ for a de-humanizing corporate and utilitarian model rooted in commercial considerations? If so, can the educational ideals of learning for its own sake and for training the mind for a life of service espoused by John Henry Newman in his classic Idea of A University be recaptured and reapplied for the world of today?

This lecture poses such questions and seeks to explore the practical historical roots and context for the genesis of Newman’s vision – his paternal or pastoral notions and practice as a tutor at Oriel College, Oxford, and plans for the revival of the medieval ideals of college life whereby his famous dedication to the importance of personal influence whereby ‘heart speaks to heart’ was best realised; forming the later blueprint for his Dublin lectures that made up his Idea of a University and plans for the new Catholic University which he founded in Ireland.

At a time of uncertainty and challenge, Newman’s vision has a relevance and resonance for the world of the university today, which should be heeded.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fr. Heithaus’ Example: A Duty to Lead

Paul Lynch

Francis Xavier is said to have boasted, “give me a child of seven, and I will give you the man.” Even if that attribution is apocryphal, it is not wrong: the Jesuits can get their hooks in you. I graduated from a Jesuit high school in 1989, at a time when Pedro Arrupe’s admonition to be “Men for Others” was on everyone’s lips. (Later, when the school finally admitted girls, it became “Men and Women for Others.”) It was a time when liberation theology was still alive and leading to the martyrdom of Jesuits like Rutilio Grande. We were taught about Oscar Romero and the four American missionaries who were raped and murdered by the Salvadoran military. That education led me to go on a trip to Peru, where I met Jesuits serving the poorest communities while under threat from the Sendero Luminoso, a Maoist terror group. These men—and particularly the Peruvians with whom they worked—soon revealed by their example that it was actually my classmates and I who were being evangelized on that mission trip.

A few months after my high school graduation, the massacre at the University of Central America reinforced the risk of following the Gospel. When I visited the Jesuit teachers I had befriended at Loyola, I remember seeing commemorations of the UCA martyrs hanging in their residences. It was clear that this horrible event had not only shaken the Jesuits but galvanized them. In a small way, it also galvanized me: after college, I served two years as a Jesuit volunteer in Kingston, Jamaica, where I once again witnessed Jesuits living in the most dangerous neighborhoods, confronting the criminal gangs that were often indistinguishable from the government. (Six years after my return from Jamaica, another Jesuit was murdered for working with poor farmers on land reform.)

So, when I was offered a position here at SLU, I was pleased to be coming back to a Jesuit institution, where I expected to encounter the same kind of commitment to social justice. In my five years here, I’ve witnessed the Jesuit mission in many ways: in the College-in-Prison Program, in Casa Salud, in the service trips, in Micah House, most especially in the desire of faculty and students to find magis—something more—in their work. Nor is it at all surprising to me that a Jesuit like Fr. Heithaus would have stood up and called for desegregation at SLU in the 1940s, even at the risk of punishment and exile. Certainly he sets a fitting example as we discern the future of his and our university.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spring Break Hiatus

Dear Readers,

We are going to take a brief hiatus during the week of spring break.  We’ll be here to moderate comments and accept submissions, but won’t offer new essays or commentary.

The first four weeks of this new adventure that is the Heithaus Haven have been exciting.  Here are a few summary statistics:

Ø  11 essays and entries have been posted, 2 of them contributed by guests
Ø  25 comments have been offered and shared
Ø  4,602 pageviews have been logged (3 of them from Romania and 2 of them from China)
Ø  The post with the most pageviews, at 607, is Steve Harris’ letter to Thomas Brouster, Chairman of the SLU Board of Trustees.

Thank you readers and guest contributors, for helping the Heithaus Haven get off to such a wonderful start. 

We look forward to more discussion in the comments section, and to more submissions from guest contributors.  We would like to especially encourage submissions from or on behalf of SLU staff members and hourly workers.  We’ll be back with a new post on Monday, March 18.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Tale of Two "Princes"

A Full Time Faculty Member at SLU

It is an interesting historic coincidence that Ignatius Loyola and Niccolo Machiavelli were contemporaries since they exhibit such dramatic differences in their approach to what we would now call “leadership.”  Although Machiavelli has been much-maligned (and many have argued he was simply an Italian patriot), his approach could be perceived as quite effective. He saw leadership solely in terms of power while Ignatius saw it as a service to others in the name God. Machiavelli saw others as objects to be manipulated through fear while Ignatius saw others as creatures of God to be loved as one loves oneself. Machiavelli’s “effective use of fear” contrasts sharply with Ignatius’ “humble practice of love.”

Machiavelli’s most important words of advice to The Prince were that, “It is safer to be feared than loved.” Fear, he believed, was the most stable of all human emotions and the one that could most readily manipulate people. The Prince must therefore seize power and rule his kingdom through the exercise of fear.  The Prince could accomplish a great deal, stay in power,and cement his legacy if he knew how to manipulate the masses effectively.

On this account, fear is a more stable emotion than love. Love seems fleeting but fear endures.  Keep the people afraid and you will never lose power.  But the mistake here is in thinking that power is something that we should pursue and cling to – even if it is in the professed purpose of some greater end.On this view we never develop “friends” we merely “collect allies” in our quest for control. Fear inhibits the development of true character and genuine relationships. Fear might work as a tool on those who are immature and easily intimidated.  But it has little effect on those who possess a higher vocation than “merely keeping their jobs.”

Although we now have a beautiful monument in midtown – and many have benefitted including faculty and students—at what price has this been bought? The efficacy of the Machiavellian model proves itself well with buildings and property but how well does it really work with persons who are made in the imago Dei? This route has left faculty afraid to voice their concerns on a wide range of subjects and students feeling disempowered.  People who question authority—one of the key aspects of a Jesuit liberal arts education—are punished and intimidated through fear. The result is that what small pockets of genuine community that do exist at SLU are undermined in significant ways at the institutional level.  There are those who possess power and those who don’t. As Henri Nouwen has observed, “It’s easier for us to control people than it is to love them.” However, there is another story that can—and should—be told.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Semper Ref!: On Alasdair MacIntyre’s “The End of Education: The Fragmentation of the American University”

Claude Pavur, S.J.

All the compact power of a bullet, all the promise of a life-saving pill — that is how I see Alasdair MacIntyre's sweetly bitter salvo, "The End of Education: The Fragmentation of the American University" (Commonweal CXXXIII: 18 [October 20, 2006]: 10-14, still freely available on the Web, as at  MacIntyre takes the position that higher education can and ought to be less fragmented than it has allowed itself to become through the rampant differentiation of disciplines, and through the accompanying professionalization and specialization affecting teachers, curricula, and students.  Catholic universities can follow a "distinctive calling" to show even their secular counterparts how a more integrated approach can be achieved.  Here's the bitter part: we are not going to do it.  We lack the will.  And probably we lack the vision too, or any belief that the vision is a salutary one.  Thus we will avoid this pill as if it were a bullet.

A pity, really.  Students lose out. Educators lose out.  Society loses out.  The world loses out.  One might easily imagine that as larger, deeper, better, more integral and unifying views of human existence are foregone, the kind of human flourishing that we desperately need will elude us by wider and wider margins.  Consequently bad political and social and personal choices are made.  Corruption grows; ethics weaken; the family unit collapses; crises abound; decline accelerates.  The university's failures will have become society's failure, and vice-versa.  We lose our grip on Shalom. We do not even want it anymore. Hell!