Author: Jana Bennett

Theology Majors and Catholic Universities

Catholic universities have sure raised a ruckus in recent years about the state of their theology courses and majors. The University of Notre Dame had its flap about curriculum review and the place of theology courses a couple years ago. While that university ended up keeping its theology requirements, other schools face similar questions or concerns. Providence College has had such conversations; so has Georgetown University. Most recently, St. Mary’s University is facing the loss of all three of its theology majors. This is a problem – but not necessarily for the reasons people might expect. Part of the debate has been conducted in the same kinds of ideological camps we’ve come to know and be annoyed by: the Cardinal Newman Society and more conservative Catholic campuses urge protection of theology courses. Not even “religious studies” courses will do, they say – since that smacks of secular liberalism. On the more progressive side (at least in terms of university administrations) might be the shrug of shoulders, the realistic admission that many students these days are “nones” and don’t want religion on their campuses – Catholic or no. Religion – so it seems – is a private affair, not really real like biology or engineering, dealing with the squidgier stuff of life. How could religion have a place on a campus – even a Catholic campus? The history of theology...

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Truth in Resurrection

Sometimes I think Catholic moral theology doesn’t deal enough – or seriously enough – in doubts. Maybe that’s for systematic theologians – but our arguments in this field are supposed to be more certain. This isn’t just about what is lawful, which is part of our field’s history and discourse. It is also that we promote definite paths of action and specific ways of seeking or imagining justice. This reflection on the Easter readings – done in combination with our ecumenical friends at the Ekklesia Project – speaks both to doubt and to living as Christian witnesses in spite...

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The Wrong Sort of Charity?

Giving to the poor is a Christian standard – something most Christians wouldn’t dispute, though they might argue about who counts as “the real poor” and what the best way to give to the poor is. One of our Western standbys has been to send boxes of toys and food to places around the world – especially at Christmas time. The boxes and stocking stuffers we gave out might just now be making their way to communities. But those boxes don’t have the effect we might hope for. The food, toys and clothes end up being useless, or preventing...

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Third Sunday of Lent: Desert Transformations

EX 17:3-7 PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9 ROM 5:1-2, 5-8 JN 4:5-42   Long-time readers know of my love of the desert and how much impact it’s had on my spiritual life. Yet deserts can also be places of intense illusions and lies – something worth thinking about as we walk through our own deserts this Lent. See my reflection this week at the Ekklesia Project...

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Giving up giving up? Lent, Our Contemporary Wastelands, and Truth

“I don’t think I’ll be doing anything for Lent this year,” a close friend of mine says. I know, all too well, the temptation. I am thinking this too –  that I will maybe not do anything this year. Lent, with its fasts and abstinence, its giving up good things (like chocolate and wine) and taking on more good things to do (like prayer and community service), seems too difficult this year. There are the personal reasons – the long-term illness that a family member has, which already requires a strict diet, the extra tasks that are taken on...

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