Dear Parish Faithful,
This week's "Thursday's Theological Thoughts" generated a good deal more response than usual, and I appreciate reading and thinking over those responses, all of which were quite interesting. I thought to choose at least one as representative and also for some of the insights for an evolving dialogue with the contemporary world and the contemporary student.
Dear Father Steven,
This is quite intense, but very typical of my generation, the "Slackers" or "Generation X", and has trickled down to Generation Y.
Ten years ago I was a non-traditional college student. I often had casual conversations with a friend of mine on the meaning of life. It was mostly rhetoric, centered on some of life’s great mysteries. My friend suggested I enroll in a Philosophy class because it introduces the same topics. As it turns out, philosophy was a great beginning to begin to learn what many great thinkers have tackled in answering. It was validating.
I really feel that students today are much like students of the past, who enjoy deep discussions about the meaning of life. So perhaps for many students they have yet to deal with the first question to philosophy: Do you believe in the existence of God? The second question is equally as hard: If God is All-Knowing, All-Loving, and Omnipresent, why does evil exist in the world?
Philosophy, in my opinion, is a gateway into critically thinking about God in a safe environment. If people were required to take a philosophy class and/or through casual discussion groups in place on or off-campus, it would possibly ignite a desire into theology by taking the first step into discovering deeper aspects of their mind. This is the beginning of truly seeking God with all mind, heart, and soul. Could it be required to take a philosophy class before students attend your theology class? Perhaps this is wishful thinking...
I was inspired by the way my professor presented the topic, opened the door into my mind to challenge my thinking. The teacher wouldn't tell us whether she was religious until the last day of class. Looking back, I can see the logic behind it and I admire her for it. At the last day of school, she smiled and shared with us, “I am Catholic.” I will always be grateful for her style. It serves as a model for my approach to people and life to this day.