Having spent the most of my life in one sort of Catholic educational institution or another, as a student in primary, secondary schools, and a Catholic university, and also as a teacher in a Catholic secondary school, and in Campus Ministry in a Catholic university, I have increasingly been concerned with the efficaciousness of the Catholic education system, at least as I have experienced it, in passing on the faith, and in its role in educating as such.
Through a happy twist of fate that I do not hesitate to name providence, I was able earlier last year (2016) to settle on a topic for a Masters thesis, which I was planning to write. I had just completed the coursework component for the MTS (Master of Theological Studies) degree at Melbourne’s ill-fated John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, and was increasingly interested in everything! Narrowing down a topic to write on was quite a task indeed, but the groundwork had been done by what I feel was an incredible program of studies through the Institute, and I was able to settle upon the topic for a thesis which was to enable me to think through systematically much of the concerns that I was perhaps unable to articulate adequately until then.
Then I happened across the following, openning lines to an essay which really knocked my socks off, and I was able to make a decision:
“Sanctity should provide the inner form of the intellectual life, in a way that affects both the methods and the content of the modern academic curriculum”
The thesis, which was eventually to be titled, The Catholic Academy and the Sanctified Mind: The Implications of David L. Schindler’s Critique of Liberal Metaphysics for the Ethos of Catholic Academies (the introduction of which can be read here – or email me if you’re interested in reading it in full), emerged over the 8 months or so that I was able to work on it as a piece which answered many questions for me, and has opened up new avenues for thinking, which I hope to be able to develop at some stage in the future.
Happily, I was able to delve deeply into the work of a formidable thinker in David L. Schindler, who I think is somewhat underappreciated at present, but whom I think will, in future, be recognised as increasingly important. Schindler’s work is deep, and while I was able to push out the thesis in 8 months, I must admit that much of the difficult work of getting to the kernel of Schindler’s thought (to the extent that I have been successful in doing so), was done in the years preceding.
What attracted me so much to Schindler’s thinking is, perhaps, what puts so many others off. That being, simply, the incredibly radical nature of his claim. And I will leave this blog post with a quote from the man himself which demonstrates this:
[I]f we as Christians accept the ontological force of the Incarnation, then we must consider [that]… things have their being only in relation to Jesus Christ and to all else in Jesus Christ, then of course they can have health and wholeness of being only in relation. They can be properly understood, from the beginning and finally, only in relation.
– David L. Schindler, ‘Faith and the Logic of Intelligence: Secularization and the Academy’, in Catholicism and Secularization in America, ed. David L. Schindler (Huntington, Indiana: Communio Books, Our Sunday Visitor, 1990), 170-93 at 176.