Dean's Corner

Ad Extra, Vol. 2, n.2: November 2012

Dean's Corner

November 2012

I recently forwarded this cartoon to a cat-lover friend of mine:

Dean's Corner - November 2012

Her response: This is so purr-fect! An operative definition of rationalization: The substitution of a good reason for the right reason!

Here at DSPT, we try to learn how to distinguish “rationalizations” from genuine truth as it can be known in the cosmos, in Sacred Texts, and in religious practice. Such distinctions become particularly important during such times as now exist in our nation.

Many have and will continue to sway our voting choice through cleverly devised rationalizations, substituting an apparent good for the real good or real truth. As I read through the various ballot measures I was struck by how complicated and convoluted they are. The same goes for the rhetoric on the television. Then I thought that if these issues are that difficult for someone like me – who has a doctorate – what is it like for those who can barely read.

While interpreting literacy rates is a tricky business, the published range for U.S. runs anywhere from 65% to 99%. One study conducted by the Federal Government (see “Adult Literacy in America”) indicated that 21% to 23% of adult Americans were unable to locate information in a text, could not make low-level inferences using printed materials and were unable to integrate easily identifiable pieces of information. That same study also noted that the average difference in prose proficiency between those with no more than 8 years of education and those who had completed at least some graduate work translates into “the difference, for example, between being able to identify a piece of information in a short news article and being able to compare and contrast information in lengthy texts.” And if you've read any of these ballot measures you know how very lengthy they are.

As members of an institution of higher learning, we at DSPT are in the top 10 percent of the “intellectual capital” of our nation. As such, we have a moral obligation to spend quality time and energy so as to understand as best as we are able the real issues in this election and the consequences of our decisions. By the gift and power of the Holy Spirit let us pray that we may invest wisely in our future and may properly engage our gift and power of critical reason in the choices which must be made.

Faculty Updates

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC, who is a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation, USA attended the bi-annual meeting which was held in Kansas City, KS October 1-3, 2012. The consultation is under the direction of Catholic Chairman: Bishop Ronald P. Herzog and Episcopalian Chairman: Bishop John Bauerschmidt. Presently the group is focused on creating a joint statement on moral teaching.

On October 18, 2012 Sr. Marianne moderated a panel discussion on “God in the White House” for Graduate Theological Union. Participants were James Donahue, GTU President; Robert Rees, Professor of Morman Studies at GTU; Zahra Biloo from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR); and Daniel Itzkovitz, Professor of American literature and culture at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.

Sr. Barbara Green, OP, will present a paper, entitled: "Divine Resolve: What and How God Decides (Jeremiah 17 and 18)," at upcoming meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, in a joint session of the two sections "Writing/Reading Jeremiah" and "Hebrew Poetry."

Fr. Albert Paretsky, OP, preached a weekend retreat from 19-21 October for the Dominican novices at St Gertrude's Priory in Cincinnati on the topic "Dominicans: weavers of words." There are currently 13 in the eastern province novitiate.

Fr. Michael Morris, OP, gave a lecture at the Magnificat Day of Faith on Saturday, November 3rd at the Crystal Cathedral (the future Christ Cathedral in the Diocese of Orange, CA). Fr. Michael's talk, "Allegory of Faith through Sacred Art," explored the myriad ways that faith has been treated in the visual arts, going back to that warrior woman who launched the anthropomorphic representation of a theological idea. His presentation was followed with an interview by Jay Fadden and Kevin Nelson – all simulcast live through the Magnificat website. The video of Fr. Michael's presentation morris is now available online.
Fr. Anselm Ramelow, OP, gave a talk at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association on the topic of "The Person in the Abrahamic Tradition." Fr. Anselm noted that "it was a very enjoyable meeting with a lot of young Catholic philosophers."