Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A New Definition For "Ruined For Life"

I found this (here) in a comments section at a science blog name Evolution Blog. The commentator's handle is Steve WH. He says he is a teacher (grad student) at a Jesuit institution, he seems to be describing the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara. It is not necessary for me to comment, because it is really self explanatory.

Here is Steve's comment.

While I generally rather like A.C. Grayling, I have to object to his characterization of the Jesuits. Whatever their history and the reasons for their origin may be, today, the Jesuits are not, in my experience, the ideologues that the paragraph you quote makes them out to be.

Some of my own history: I was raised Catholic, and attended Catholic schools from K-12, after which I attended a Jesuit university for my undergrad. It was there, in my Religious Studies 101 class (the department had made a conscious choice some years back to change their name from Theology to Religious Studies) that

I was first introduced to the idea of atheism in any kind of rigorous way - we read Nietzsche's 'The Anti-Christ'.
In the same class, we read work by John Shelby Spong, and
were taught to read the Bible as a historical document.
The second major exposure I had to atheism was in a philosophy of religion class that I took with a Jesuit priest - we studied work by John Mackie, among others.
An atheist by the time I graduated, I was supported in my decision to write my senior thesis attacking the natural law foundation of the Catholic ethics of sex, and their manifestations in the Church's Catechism - my thesis was passed with high marks.
Throughout my undergraduate education, I was taught to critically examine the Catholic Church and its teachings, often by the Jesuit priests themselves.

Today, I am a graduate student in philosophy, and teach adjunct at a (different) Jesuit college. My experiences there are much the same.

We are encouraged to look critically at Church teachings, even to criticize and challenge such fundamental doctrines as transubstantiation and the pro-life position on abortion and euthanasia.
I have spoken with may other professors from Jesuit schools around the country, and our stories are pretty much the same.
We are more comfortable teaching controversial subjects and being open about our beliefs - which are often in strong contrast to the official positions of the Catholic Church
- than we have been at public institutions where we have taught, because the Jesuit community is supportive of scholarship of all stripes.

One more example:

the rector of the Jesuit community is openly gay, and also vocal in speaking out against the Church's teachings on homosexual and transgender people
; he is publicly supported in this by both Campus Ministry and the President of the college.

I am an openly gay atheist teaching on campus, and the school does not care (actually, one of the Jesuits I work with once tried to set me up with a gay friend of his).
I teach students to be critical of fundamental church teachings, and the Jesuits encourage me to continue doing so.
In my experience, the Jesuits are the opposite of what they are portrayed as in Grayling's piece.

Read the original piece (here).

How does this make you feel? Who is responsible? What can be done about this situation?


Peter Fanshaugh said...

Regrettably, it is hard to think of a Jesuit college to which the situation outlined by "SteveWH" could not apply. Institutionally, the Jesuit response is to deny the existence of the rot until it becomes undeniable, and thereupon to change tactics and insist that it's not rot after all, but progress. In the earlier phase, critics are dismissed as slanderers; in the latter, as bigots.

Anonymous said...

The Dominicans fought the Cathar hersey. Today, there is no Cathar heresy.

The jesuits formed to fight protestantism. Today, there precious few Jesuits.

T. Shaw

Anonymous said...

These types of Jesuits are as Catholic and Christian as Maciel of the Legion of Christ. They need to be denounced publicly and their ideas need to be fought. Here in this town of Argentina 1 of the 4 local Jesuits openly preaches that Christ did not die for our sins. The priest even trains catechists! I have written to the local bishop who has done nothing. The church is infiltrated. This is war and it cannot be fought silently.