Author: Conor Kelly

Parenting, Masculinity, and Structures of Sin

I think a lot about parenting. I can’t help it. I’m a parent. Often, my thinking about parenting is colored by my research as a theologian and an ethicist. It’s an occupational hazard of a research agenda that looks for connections between theological ethics and ordinary life. This means that my work on the ethics of free time colors my reflections on the time I have together with my children, while my research on digital distraction has spilled over into my real life in a way that has most of my extended family convinced that I am a luddite....

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Faithful Citizenship and Democratic Institutions: Reflections from the CTSA for Our Political Moment

Earlier this month, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the self-described “principal association of Catholic theologians in North America,” held its annual convention in Indianapolis, IN. I had the opportunity to attend and, as I usually do, found it intellectually stimulating and enriching. The Saturday morning plenary session, especially, stuck with me, in large part because I continue to see its practical relevance confirmed on an almost daily basis. David DeCosse of the University of Santa Clara gave that Saturday morning address, and he framed it as a theologian’s reflection on what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops might want to consider as it plans for the 2020 update of its Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. That document is (re)issued every four years in conjunction with the presidential election. It is designed to offer insights from the Catholic tradition that can guide Catholics as they discern how to vote in their local, state, and federal elections. The thrust of the document in any given election cycle is usually pretty similar to its predecessors, but there are always additions and adjustments that are meant to speak more directly to the matters of the day. DeCosse used his address to explain why the 2020 election might rightly prompt a more substantive review than normal. Overall, I found myself very sympathetic to DeCosse’s points, perhaps in part because I know that...

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The Forces Shaping Catholic Universities Today

For those of us who live life according to the cycles of the academic calendar, May is a reflective month. The (post-secondary) school year is coming to a close and commencement, while technically a new beginning, seems to be experienced by most of our students as a visceral reminder that, as Seneca/Semisonic put it, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Despite all the prospects of the summer ahead, May always seems to prompt a bit of a backward turn. In my teaching, I actually encourage this glance in the review mirror as the semester comes to a close. In part, I do this because I believe in the value of Ignatian pedagogy, which places a premium on reflection. More importantly, though, I do this because I believe part of the rationale for studying theology at a Catholic university is to equip our graduates to evaluate their alma mater in a new, more critical light. After all, Catholic higher education is a theological project; consequently, it takes a degree of theological acumen to hold a Catholic university accountable to itself. Unsurprisingly, then, I find myself here, in the middle of May, caught up with a version of the question I encourage my students to ask: how well do our Catholic colleges and universities live up to the theological tradition that informs their work? There are a variety...

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