The End of an Era

With a smile on her face, I recently saw a bright young woman go straight to Professor David Solomon and hug him. I’ve seen this happen with many of Professor Solomon’s former students. They return to campus and light up when they see him, almost as if they are seeing their father after a long absence.

When I entered Notre Dame in the fall of 2009, not much time passed before I sat in his office with a couple of other freshmen and had a conversation about how we wanted to write tracts about what it means to be a Catholic university. I think starry-eyed students like us helped Professor Solomon to be ever-creative in his efforts to promote Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, from founding the Center for Ethics and Culture to beginning the Fund to Protect Human Life. I wonder if students have been doing this since he joined Notre Dame’s philosophy faculty in 1968. Continue reading “The End of an Era”

The Awkward Avoidance of Biblical Interpretation

In contemporary biblical interpretation, much emphasis is placed upon such questions as: Which book or chapter was written first? Which stories have greater historical credibility? What other biblical stories or texts was this book’s author aware of? How far back did the oral tradition of this text go, and, consequently, how true are the words to the original?

In understanding the Bible in relation to Christendom, these are remarkably strange questions. They skip around the fact that, though these texts have long histories and stories surrounding their authorship, their significance for Christianity comes primarily from a selection of texts by a particular Christian community. That is, the relation of the texts to each other finds its significance more from the Christians compiling the Bible for a communal identity, than from the individual authors and histories of the texts themselves. Continue reading “The Awkward Avoidance of Biblical Interpretation”

Compliance Questions

The following column was published in the Irish Rover on Thursday, March 20, 2014. 

On February 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held an oral argument in Notre Dame’s case against the HHS mandate. Among the more surprising moments was Judge Posner’s question to Notre Dame attorney Matthew Kairis, asking whether the use of birth control was a mortal or a venial sin. Even more surprising was the admission of ignorance by Kairis, a graduate of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, followed by Judge Posner’s answer that it is a mortal sin.

Continue reading “Compliance Questions”

To Win as Notre Dame

Notre Dame has a weird alma mater. You wouldn’t know that from a teleconference with head football coach Brian Kelly today. In it, he said that football players would not be expected to remain on the field and sing the school’s alma mater with the other students after home losses. He said, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to put your players after a defeat in a situation where they’re exposed… I want to get them in the locker room. It’s important to talk to them, and I just felt like in those situations, after a loss, there’s a lot of emotions. It’s important to get the team back into the locker room and get them under my guidance.”  Continue reading “To Win as Notre Dame”

The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II

The following is the Part II of my response to Annie Selak’s Washington Post article. Part I can be read by clicking here.

Third, Selak desires “a church that embraces that God is everywhere.” In particular, she relates a “need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.” She states that “some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions.” She fails to realize, however, that in Pope Benedict she has an ally. Benedict himself informed the Roman curia in 2012 that “in man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities.” He calls for a dialogue about the relationships between religions, and also about the relationship of religion to culture, reason, and society. Continue reading “The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II”

In Defense of Catholicism and Catholics at Notre Dame

The following column was published in The Observer on Tuesday, February 12, 2013.

In its recent student government endorsement, Scholastic Magazine criticized one ticket for its proposal “to instate a prayer before home football games.” Scholastic insisted that such a proposal “contradicts their platform of inclusion.” No doubt, furthering the inclusivity of the campus environment at Notre Dame has been a very important focus in recent years. After publishing an offensive comic strip by The Mobile Party in January 2010, The Observer issued a statement condemning the “cruel and hateful” comic printed in its pages. The comic made an offensive joke about gay men being assaulted. Continue reading “In Defense of Catholicism and Catholics at Notre Dame”

Catholicism, Consent, and Notre Dame Football

The following column was written for, though not submitted to, Notre Dame’s student newspaper, the Observer. I have copied it here, as I had originally written it in November 2012:

I was at a dorm party my freshman year, and one of my friends was dancing with a guy she had never met before. Both had consumed several drinks. After the party was over, everyone gathered in the hallway, and he asked her, “Hey, how about we go back to my room?” He held her by the hand and motioned down the hall. I grabbed her other hand and said, “Come on, time to go downstairs.” I don’t know if she would have been assaulted otherwise, but I do know that sexual assault happens at Notre Dame. Continue reading “Catholicism, Consent, and Notre Dame Football”