Moving from Saint Anselm’s college to a public university, I was confronted with questions about how I would teach the Catholic theological tradition in an institution founded, in part, to keep theology on the margins of academic discourse. Thomas Jefferson gave architectural representation to this commitment by replacing the chapel typically located at the center of universities with a library housed inside of the gleaming Rotunda. I faced a barrage of questions from my former colleagues: Why would a Catholic theologian want to work in such an environment? Is it possible to translate the richness of the Catholic tradition without transgressing the boundary between church and state? How can you shed light on the Catholic tradition without stating anything as truth?
I shared their concerns: Could I really teach theology, in its confessional fullness, at a public university?
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