Contingency in Catholic Colleges and Universities (The April 2019 Special Issue of the Journal of Moral Theology)

This is a guest post by Matthew J. Gaudet, one of the editors of the special issue of the Journal of Moral Theology on Contingent Faculty.   Today over 70% of college faculty in America work off of the tenure-track on some kind of fixed contract: for a term, a year, or rarely, multiple years. Even the longest of these is typically revocable at the discretion of the university and wholly dependent of the needs of the university. At some schools it is even common practice for contracts to be revoked after the term has begun, as course enrollments are ironed out,...

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Second Sunday of Easter: The Art of Being With Others

ACTS 5:12-16 PS 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-2 REV 1:9-11A, 12-13, 17-19 JN 20:19-31 I also wrote a lectionary post this week for my friends at Ekklesia Project. The Revised Common Lectionary readings are slightly different than the Catholic readings this week, but some of the points I make here are illustrated further there . See here for more. This week, our reading from Acts focuses on “signs and wonders” done by apostles, and shows people living in hope that even Peter’s shadow might bring about healing. This week, my gaze is drawn toward Thomas and his lack of trust of...

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What We Do When We Are Told to Do Things We Do Not Want to Do

He told us to love one another. But we would not. He told us to forgive as we want to be forgiven. But we would not. He told us to look with compassion when we see suffering. But we would not. He told us to store our treasure in heaven, and give generously of what we have here on earth. But we would not. He told us to stop looking at other human beings with lust, as objects for our own satisfaction. But we would not. He told us to follow the weightier matters of God’s law rather than...

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“Why have you abandoned me?” Reading the Passion through the Lens of the Border Crisis

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?They divide my garments among them,and for my vesture they cast lots.But you, O LORD, be not far from me;O my help, hasten to aid me. Catholics who attend the Palm Sunday Mass this weekend will have the opportunity to accompany Jesus during his passion. After we pray Psalm 22, we see the motifs anew in the gospel reading. One way of reading scripture invites one to place oneself in the narrative, as a character in the story, and imagine how the gospel scene plays out as you imagine yourself witnessing the events. I invite us all to imagine the gospel narrative this week through the eyes of a detained child in custody on the border of the United States, or a family stuck in Tijuana seeking asylum in the United States. “Why have you abandoned me?” Where is God in this space? Where is God in the midst of dehumanizing rhetoric from the US Commander in Chief? Where is God in the immigration system that is reaching a breaking point? Jesus was put to death by the state. Who is to blame? Luke’s storytelling does not give a tidy answer. Pilate, Herod, religious leaders, Roman soldiers, Judas, the crowd—there are plenty of people who are complicit and many more who remain silent, choosing apathy over advocacy for a man unjustly...

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On Christus Vivit: It’s Not Going To Be that Easy

On Wednesday, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit. The document includes familiar themes of Pope Francis’ writing: advocacy of openness as opposed to a stale defensiveness; emphasis on joyful encounter with the person of Jesus; and attention to realities of violence, poverty, and empty indifference. But at points in this document, I’m sad to say, Francis’ beautiful notes ring hollow for me. The problem is that appeals to openness and inclusion, even to the beauty of the encounter with Jesus, are not adequate responses to the profound objections to church teaching I hear  from my college-age students.

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What’s So Wrong with Paying Your Way into College Anyway?

The astounding allegations made front-page headlines in all the national newspapers: “Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud;” “Federal Prosecutors Charge Dozens in College admissions Cheating Scheme;” etc. I have to say, I mostly heard (and offered) cynical responses to this college admissions cheating scandal. It’s regrettable, we all agreed, but hardly surprising. People with money grease the wheels of power all the time. Isn’t that what money (at least very large piles of it) is for? In a word, no. Especially not in the context of Catholic moral theology. We would do...

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Captain Marvel, the MCU, and the Margins

Last weekend I saw Captain Marvel, the latest installment in the (bewildering) twenty-one films that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has put out since 2007. As the first of the films to feature a female lead (though two of the MCU-connected television series had women leads, Jessica Jones and Agent Carter), it is unsurprising that Captain Marvel immediately generated a fraught conversation about the MCU and feminism. Wonder Woman faced a similar challenge in its release, and while both films had a strong box office showing, there was much debate about whether either one really served the feminist cause....

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Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A (for scrutinies): Seeing Like Children of the Light

Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5-6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41. In so many ways, today’s readings have to do with allowing Jesus to teach us to see and read the world around us, to let God’s light illumine that world and its future, and to put aside the tricks we play on ourselves and each other to avoid seeing the world in God’s light. Samuel must lay aside his own impressions of who might be God’s anointed. “Not as man sees does God see,” for “the Lord looks into the heart.” To pray Psalm 23...

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Urgent Care for Creation

I try and hope to avoid hearing the word “urgent” in my daily life. After all, I immediately associate it with “urgent care” and health problems that I (or one of my family members) need to have addressed. The word denotes a situation or state of affairs that is dire, acute, grave, critical, and the like. It is therefore, as the bad song by the 1980s rock band Foreigner put it, “Urgent, urgent, emergency.” An emergency is a top or high priority. No time to lose. Dealing with it is vital. It is imperative. In his 1990 World Day...

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Lent and the Environment

Lent is here again! Most of us are a full week into our self-selected Lenten resolution(s) and are finding out just how easy or difficult they are for us to manage. And, like every year, people have chimed in with their recommendations as to suitable Lenten sacrifices. Among these was the call for people to give up plastic bags for Lent. For many of us, such a resolution would require some sacrifice and thus could be a great opportunity to grow closer to God, uniting our suffering to Christ’s and helping us to prepare for the great celebration of Easter. However, those who propose such a Lenten resolution do not seem to have the spiritual growth of the person or supernatural impact on the church as a whole on their minds. Rather, they are concerned about the environment, and see this sacrifice as a great opportunity for Lent to have a positive impact on the environment, in contrast with more typical resolutions, such as giving up chocolate for Lent. A bit of history Until November of 1966, Catholics were required to fast each day of Lent and maintain partial abstinence from meat. That is, meat was allowed only at the main or “principal” meal, thus once a day. And that rule of “partial abstinence” active until 1966 was actually the application of  the “working man’s indult.” Prior to Leo...

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