Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Better Ways To Engage Contemporary Culture

"Are Events Such as the Vagina Monologues Essential to Gonzaga's Mission and Identity?"
Fall Family Weekend at the Gonzaga Socratic Club
(summary handout / video / Calhoun remarks)
In April 2011 Gonzaga University officially hosted a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.  The University placed some constraints on the performance of the play, such as restricting play attendance to University students, staff, and faculty.  Further, the organizers and administrators placed the play into an academic context by holding several related events during the week of the performance and a lecture one week later.

Sponsoring faculty, university officials, and others argued that performance of the play not only was permissible in the light of Gonzaga’s Jesuit, Catholic, humanist identity and mission, but that such a performance was central to or even necessary for an institution with Gonzaga’s identity.  For example, one commentator suggested that John Paul II’s call for “an impartial search for truth” (Ex Corde Ecclesia §7) demanded that Gonzaga address controversial questions and events with scholarly charity, and several defenders of the event cited Pope Benedict XIV’s charge to inhabit the place where the gospel confronts contemporary culture (Address to the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus).

At the October meeting of the Gonzaga Socratic Club, held in concert with Fall Family Weekend, Gonzaga philosophers Doug Kries and David Calhoun will argue that the official events surrounding the performance of the Vagina Monologues were academically deficient, because they avoided genuine dialogue about the strengths and weaknesses of the play as a vehicle for advancing Jesuit, Catholic, humanist identity and mission.  While acknowledging that there is reasonable disagreement about the mission value of events like the Vagina Monologues, Kries and Calhoun will argue that there are much better ways to engage contemporary culture and issues from a Jesuit, Catholic, humanist standpoint.

Link (here) to the  Gonzaga Socratic Club website
What is the Socratic Method? (here)

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