Summer Plans

With great gratitude for the semester (congratulations to all our graduates!) and grades in, I’m now looking ahead to my summer research agenda.

Currently, the research team for the American Abortion Attitudes project–based at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society–is knee-deep in interviews. The team includes the principal investigator in Tennessee, myself here in north San Diego county, and three other researchers in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Indiana. They’re a great team and I’m really excited to be a part of this project.

In less than two weeks I’ll be taking off to Villanova University’s Center for Church Management to join the eleven other fellows and twelve senior scholars for our final meeting. I’ll be presenting on Latino Catholic financial stewardship. I’m really excited to hear the findings from everyone’s projects. I’ll also start teaching my five-week online summer course–Theology of Marriage–at Santa Clara University, which always combines an interesting topic with dedicated students.

In July I’ll be heading to Wabash for the first of three sessions of professional development for early-career theology faculty. It will be fun to be on the learners’ side of the desk for a bit and find ways to improve and better integrate my teaching, research and service. I’ll also be working on my paper comparing the ways Chinese and American Catholics each navigate their respective social contexts as a conclusion to my China immersion experience in January.

In August I’ll head out to Washington, DC to spend the first of three weeks with the social scientists at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. My background is qualitative research so I’m really excited to join these experts in quantitative studies of Catholics and learn from them. From there, I’ll take the train to NYC where I’ll be leading a session on Catholicism and Status as well as another on studying the ways groups and organizations foster emotions and character traits.

Lots of great projects to be thankful for!

Good Friday Reflection

I was invited by my alma mater, the Jesuit School of Theology, to provide a reflection on today’s readings for their daily Lenten email series, A Heart Renewed, which reaches over 4,000 subscribers. I’ll provide the readings and text here:

— 19 April 2019 —

Good Friday

IS 52:13-53:12; PS 31: 2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; HEB 4:14-16, 5:7-9; JN 18:1-19:42

I’ll apply an important lesson from my preaching class to this reflection: Your sermon should always provide good news to your listeners.

However, today’s Gospel reading is dark: betrayal, denial, interrogation, intrigue, blame, torture, hubris and the execution of Jesus… good news is not obvious. But, we can see the dimmest of stars on the darkest of nights. After reading the texts several times, I finally saw it, and it appears only in John’s account, “The slave’s name was Malchus.”

When we first hear about the band who came to seize Jesus, we’re told of soldiers and guards. Peter, passionate and impulsive, reminds us that anger often follows the path of least resistance. He draws a sword and attacks, but not a soldier, not someone of power. Peter attacks Malchus, a slave. Likely, Malchus was not there of his own accord and had no personal interest in the situation. He had done nothing. He was innocent. And still, Malchus becomes the target of Peter’s anger.

With all the events that needed to be written down for Good Friday, this Gospel writer could have easily omitted Malchus’ name. True, his name doesn’t add to the plot… but, it does add to the story. The author of this Gospel may have recorded the name of this vulnerable, powerless slave to remind us that Jesus cared about those who were vulnerable and powerless. Malchus will never be “forgotten like the unremembered dead.” Malchus is forever a part of the story. He was marginalized and brutalized, but then lifted up and remembered. Including his name reminds us that there are possibilities for hope where there is despair, for solidarity amid fracture, and for tenderness, compassion and recognition in times of great violence.

“The slave’s name was Malchus.”

Flourish clipart

Good and merciful God, help me to see when I am being like Peter, finding scapegoats for my anger and frustration. Give me the courage to oppose real sources of personal and social ill, and to discern the good, rather than the easy. Open my eyes and heart to those who, like Malchus, are oppressed. Lead me to bring justice and hope to our world. Amen.

—–

Maureen K. Day, M.A. ’05, GTU/JST Ph.D. ’15
Assistant Professor of Religion and Society at the Franciscan School of Theology

A Good Friday, blessed Triduum and joyful Easter to everyone!

Women’s History Month

To celebrate women’s history month, I want to share an article I published in the Journal of Media and Religion, “From Consensus to Division: Tracing the Ideological Divide Among American Catholic Women 1950-1980.” The abstract follows:

This article examines the changing images of womanhood within two American Catholic publications: Catholic Mind and Catholic Digest. In the early 1950s, the periodicals had similar constructions of women, with a divergence in thought in the 1960s. Catholic Mind wrote very little on women for the majority of the decade. Catholic Digest in the 1960s featured women who worked in traditionally male roles while they also maintained that women’s primary sphere was in the home. The difference between the two publications becomes stark in the 1970s. Catholic Digest leaned conservative to mainstream and focused on women’s roles in home and secular society without asking ecclesial questions. Catholic Mind’s articles on women primarily examined ecclesial roles (e.g., women’s ordination) and demanded equality in the secular world. This fissure in female identity among American Catholics coincides with the political divide in the United States more generally.

I hope thinking about the three decades featured here can get us all thinking about our current notions of womanhood a bit more, too.

Conferences and Interviews

Here comes a 2-for-1 post.

11) I had a great time at my alma mater at the Jesuit School of Theology last Thursday. I had a very good meeting with the new GTU president, Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, to hear the projects the GTU is moving forward with. I also got to meet with a first-year doctoral student; look for Porsia’s work on sociology of Catholicism soon! Later that evening I had a beautiful experience at the liturgy remembering the lives of the four American churchwomen. Then I presented, to new and old friends, on studying and ministering to young adult Catholics. The following day I took the train to the Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference and got to give two presentations on my book. Thanks for sponsoring me for this, Paulist Press!

2) If you are a fan of podcasts, NCR just finished a great series on Jewish perspectives of Catholicism. I was included as a sort of capstone of this, weighing in on what an outsider’s perspective can offer, as well as some concluding thoughts on polarization among U.S. Catholics. My interview begins at 25:20.

Polarization Among American Catholics

Happy to see my article, “Why are we at each others’ throats? Healing polarization in our church” in this morning’s National Catholic Reporter. Polarization is getting worse in our society and it is affecting US Catholics. The article provides data on this as well as steps for your congregation or diocese to help heal the fissures that polarization has caused. Here is a pull quote:

We need to grow charity in ourselves, in our parishes and in our world. Charity will help to rebuild the personal and social trust that has slowly eroded.

Hopefully we can start to realize we’re all in this together and remember James Joyce’s words in Finnegan’s Wake: Here comes everybody.