Spotlight: Engaging Emotion in Pursuit of Justice

I sit, paralyzed, watching the credits roll. Suddenly hyper-aware that I am wearing my bright maroon Boston College hoodie I purchased the day of my dissertation defense, I anxiously stuff my arms into my jacket and wrap myself in the folds. For me, these gold letters are a source of pride and identification…

Disgust and shame have figured prominently in emotional responses to Spotlight. Some will argue that such emotions are at best unproductive and at worst destructive. How might Catholics and people of good will respond to these emotions in constructive ways that help us to (1) truly hear this story, especially as it emerges from victimized persons and (2) seek justice within ecclesial, legal, and educational institutions?

Read More at Catholic Moral Theology.

#ReclaimMLK and the Aesthetics of Appropriation

Yesterday’s national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s holiday—arriving in the wake of the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and a series of similar incidents—elicited a stream of posts and hashtags criticizing sanitized depictions of MLK’s legacy. This annual commemoration induces moral discomfort as it seems to invite facile interpretations of MLK’s person, legacy, theology, and politics.

Read more at Catholic Moral Theology.

James Foley and Catholic Education

Like so many others, I was stunned and saddened by the news of James Foley, Marquette University ‘94, who was apparently beheaded by ISIS insurgents as retribution for US airstrikes in Iraq against the group. I did not know James Foley personally, but as a Catholic educator, I feel like I know a lot of students like him: smart, idealistic, committed, and brave. In his story, I see the stories of so many of my students. The gravity of his life and untimely death offers occasion to think about the values that make uncommon virtue so common among students like James Foley. In short, what is it about Catholic education that prepares students to pay the cost of discipleship?

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology and Millennial Journal.

The Discipline of Dialogue: Finding Faith in Difference

This post is part of a series on the Faith of Theologians on Catholic Moral Theology. A full list of the previous responses can be found at the bottom of Dana Dillon’s post introducing the series.

Two young women, Tamar* and Reema*, sit in folding chairs facing each other.  Tamar speaks to Reema, carefully gesticulating as she expresses each thought.  Reema listens intently, her brow furrowed and her arms folded across her chest.  She gives an occasional nod to reassure Tamar that she is listening.  As Tamar finishes her thought, Reema says, “Let me see if I heard you correctly.” Then carefully, deliberately, Reema repeats what she just heard, attempting to accurately render Tamar’s statement.  When she finishes her summary, Reema asks, “Did I understand you?”  Tamar scrunches her nose and shakes her head tightly from side to side.  Tamar repeats her statement, this time using slightly different language and attempting to add some nuance to her idea.  Again, Reema repeats Tamar’s statement.  She finishes her summary, lifting her eyebrows and cocking her head in Tamar’s direction.  Tamar says, “Yes, that is what I said.”  The women heave long sighs as a thoughtful pause passes between them.  Their roles now reverse; it is Reema’s turn to speak and Tamar’s turn to listen.

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology.

March on Washington Anniversary: Fannie Lou Hamer and the New Evangelization

This week, thousands gather in Washington D.C. to commemorate the March on Washington 50th Anniversary (#MOW50). While many associate the march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, this event was a product of a broader justice movement executed by a large network of civil rights activists, including Bayard RustinElla BakerSeptima Clark and a litany of veterans of hope.  Their combined efforts yielded significant legal, political, and cultural changes that represent a monumental democratic achievement.

This anniversary arrives at a crucial moment in U.S. national life.  The fact that a black person is POTUS on this 50th anniversary seems miraculous to those who remember pre-civil rights America or lived in the shadows of persistent racial discrimination in subsequent decades.  Still, racial conflicts surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s acquittal dominated U.S. headlines this summer. The SCOTUS decision to overturn key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 illustrated the tenuous nature of civil right’s most important achievements.  These conflicts exposed profound racial disagreements and prompted vitriolic exchanges between opponents. MOW50, against this backdrop, serves as both a rousing celebration of victories already won and a sobering reminder that racial justice is still a work in progress.

Read more on Catholic Moral Theology.