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!

Wabash Workshop

Image result for wabash center for teaching

I am very excited to be joining thirteen new professors for the 2019-20 Workshop for Early Career Theological School Faculty. This series of three workshops over the course of the academic year, generously funded by the Lilly Endowment, comes highly recommended by my dean, as he benefitted from this program, too. A bit more on the program from their website:

Do you wonder about teaching and the teaching life in theological education? In what ways would a yearlong conversation about teaching and learning ground your vocational identity? This workshop is a collaborative peer opportunity to develop pedagogical skills, reflect on teaching identity, learn in community, and navigate institutional dynamics.

The workshop will gather 14 faculty members for a week in two successive summers at Wabash College, and a weekend winter retreat in Corpus Christi, Texas. There will be a balance of plenary sessions, small group discussions, workshop sessions, structured and unstructured social time, and time for relaxation, exercise, meditation, discovery, laughter, and lots of good food and drink.

Sounds like it’s right up my alley. Thank you, Wabash!

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.

Younger Scholar in the Sociology of Religion

I’m very happy to have heard from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society that I was accepted for participation in their April conference. This is a very generous initiative on CSRS’s part as they are paying for all of the expenses of the younger scholars as well as bringing established scholars in to provide feedback on our work. You can read more about the conference (and register to join us!) here.

Two Studies Featured in The CARA Report

The most recent edition of The CARA Report featured two of my projects.

First, my edited collection, Young Adult American Catholics, was featured. The summary highlighted discussed the major parts of the book as well as highlighted the contribution of CARA senior researcher, Mary Gautier, as an example. You can read the report here.

Second, some findings from the report on the USCCB national study of Catholic campus ministers, co-authored with Brian Starks, were also featured; the CARA feature can be viewed here.

As any scholar knows, it is one thing to do research. It is an entirely different task to get your analysis into the hands of the audiences that would most benefit from these findings. Thank you, CARA, for your not only your own important research, but also your generosity in spreading the research of others in the field.

It’s official!

Image result for notre dame mcgrath instituteI just got word from our principal investigator, Tricia Bruce at the University of Notre Dame, that we have received the funding for a project examining Americans’ attitudes on abortion. The McGrath Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame will be funding this important work.

In a nutshell: The vast majority of the literature we have on Americans’ attitudes on abortion is from surveys; these tend to offer respondents forced choice/close-ended sorts of questions, which lack the depth or subtleties that may better characterize their true thinking on the issue. The studies that allow respondents to elaborate their beliefs in their own words tend to focus on activists (who are generally not representative of your “typical” American in their position or level of commitment). Using interviews in conjunction with the extant survey data, this study will help us better understand the tensions people navigate and the moral values they tap into when it comes to the abortion issue, as well as illuminate what’s going on behind the survey data.

I’m thrilled!

China Immersion Trip

img_7310I just returned from an amazing faculty immersion trip in Xi’an, Shijiazhuang and Beijing. Big thanks to the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego. It was such a well-organized trip. We got to experience important educational and Catholic sites–schools, seminaries, and Matteo Ricci’s grave–and learn much of what it means to be a Catholic in China. Additionally, we attended cultural shows, ate amazing food, and saw some of the significant historical sites in Northern China. It was a very enriching experience.

Here I am pictured with Kate Yanina DeConinck, an anthropologist of religion from USD’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies, on the Great Wall. Quite the view; thank you, CCTC!

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.