Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spirituality: Today's students spiritually repressed?

In Sex and the Soul (Oxford University Press, 2008), Boston University prof Donna Freitas observes (according to Publisher's Weekly),

Boston ... with the exception of evangelical students, who allow their religious views to permeate all life choices, including sexual boundaries, most college students don't see much connection between their sexual behavior—which, in candid interviews, they often regret—and their spirituality, which is important to them. ... Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn.

The students get little help from Catholic universities, according to Andrea Mrozek of IMF Canada,
Freitas canvasses seven universities, secular, Evangelical and Roman Catholic and comes up with the following distinction. In essence, all schools are spiritual—students are universally interested in their spirituality. But only the evangelical Christian schools are both religious and spiritual “in affiliation and practice.”

In short, one might say students at the Catholic and secular schools are—wait for it—not sexually, but spiritually repressed. “When it comes to religion and spirituality, most campuses seem to be failing miserably, barely attempting (if at all) to create atmospheres where students feel welcome to pursue their big questions…This oversight has even bigger repercussions when it comes to sex, as student narratives will demonstrate,” writes Freitas. In short, all students are hungry for holistic spiritual formation—a robust spiritual integration even into to their sex lives. But only students at Evangelical colleges actually get it. Not one Catholic student Freitas talked to mentioned Humanae Vitae—or any other element of a robust Catholic theology on sexuality. Others from mainline Protestant faiths too, were unaware of what their denomination might teach about sex.
It seems to me that using and discarding others in a hookup culture would sideline serious spirituality.

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Brain: Find me those goddam pigs ... or else!

A friend alerted me to a wonderful poem on the brain, by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco (1949-) "Brain Litany: Or, Overlooking the Existential Factor". Di Cicco is poet laureate of Toronto and an Augustinian priest:
*" ... and when we think of coconuts and pigs, there are no coconuts or pigs in the brain." -- Gregory Bateson

[ ... ]

Where are the pigs
Where are the coconuts

The brain is a compendium of holographic mechanisms
Help me find the coconuts Help me find the pigs
The brain is a neuro-physiological metaphor
The brain is an illusionist's exercise in Euclidean geometry
The brain is a vibrational amplifier for ambient field quanta
Find me the goddamned coconuts the pigs
The brain is a cybernetic miracle with a three-ring
triune brain circus at its centre

Read the rest here.

It is simply the best sendup I have ever heard of materialist neuroscience.

So rarely does a poet actually take on the materialist nonsense rigorously, as opposed to simply sneaking away into some romantic or nihilist haze, or uselessly denouncing it, or claiming to have some incommunicable vision - those are all just copouts, really.

By the way, if you do find those pigs, lose them again, will you? And keep the coconuts, too.

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