14 May 2011

The Need for Vanderbilt Catholic

I was at Vanderbilt's graduation yesterday. It left me depressed. In the first place, it was kind of a mess because it had to be moved inside because of the weather. The Chancellor's address, in my opinion, was far from stellar. The most substantial things he had to say were references to John Dewey, of all people! The Chancellor was extolling the fact that a Vanderbilt education is about the facts. Getting the facts. That and not putting up stupid things on FaceBook. I do not jest.

Don't get me wrong; I am all for facts. (I feel vindicated in naming our intellectual formation curriculum iFacts!) But what to do with the facts? Vanderbilt does not offer the slightest clue. Here are the values the university creed has to offer: scholarship, honesty, civility, accountability, caring, discovery, and celebration. Well, I guess there is some guidance in practical living that Vanderbilt does not advocate mayhem and pillage.

There is no "how" attached to any of these values. And how is exactly what the students of the university need. How is what Vanderbilt Catholic supplies: formation is what we call it. There has to be a living way to pass from vague values to virtuous deeds. We dare to say that that living way is Jesus Christ followed in His Church. Hence the picture at the top!

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