Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Saturday, January 30, 2010
My first acquaintance with Ralph McInerny was not with him personally, but with a curious fairy tale, “The Frozen Maiden of Calpurnia,” published by Juniper Press back when I was in grade school. I remember the important moral of the story, “Many are cold, but few are frozen.” My second acquaintance was, also as a child, reading his book on miracles, which overcame my fifth grade intellectual skepticism about signs and wonders. Never did I dream that this Renaissance (or rather, Medieval) man would become my teacher, the person who best taught me the Catholic faith, and a wonderful boss-- indeed, the last boss who has ever given me a $500 Christmas bonus every year just for existing. Or rather, because he believed in Christmas and still believed in what the world calls fairy tales… or what the faithful call miracles.
As a boss, he was a great inspiration because he went to Mass every lunch but didn't make his staff go or pry into anyone's spirituality. He taught, but he didn't harangue. He believed he was witnessing a miracle at Mass and that was that. His office was fun-- I think there's something about a boss who wears jeans and refuses to take himself seriously.
Chris Kaczor’s tribute (at First Things) recreates the entire, living scene of the Maritain Center. Dr. McInerny really was kind without being indulgent, and treated us all to the best opportunities, repeated lunches at the University Club and Great Wall (which I forgot until I read Chris's article), unlimited coffee and true indulgence with the company telephone which I irresponsibly wore out with long distance phone calls to and from beaux. But everyone did that, whether it was a certain student calling some guy he needed to talk to in Rome, or the famed Latin translator Jean Oesterle calling her nieces, or other, meeker folks who would seek honest pretences to use the phone. We were all treated to endless junkets and Catholic conferences and fed a lot of great banquet food. It was really a great world! In fact, it was a junket with a purpose-- the purpose of knowing God and enjoying life. I appreciate it so much more in retrospect when I see how well everyone was treated. When Jean was too old to edit properly, we cooked up a subterfuge where she edited one set of proofs, I edited the other, and she never found out. Nobody lied there, nobody lied then, everyone really was honest because with him at the helm and Alice keeping everyone honest, there was no need, and no tolerance for, con artists. It was so important to know there was goodness in the world. (And no, Xeroxing an extra set of proofs for his benefactress, the 85 year old widow of the man who brought him to Notre Dame, is not a lie—it is a kindness. It is great respect. If you can’t tell the difference, please see St. Thomas’s Prima Secunda on ethics.)
I think the most important things I learned from him were these:
1. If you want something done, ask a busy person.
2. If something's too hard you might not be good at it.
3. He taught me, as he put it, "I could make a magazine ex nihilo," aka, self-confidence. This confidence goes to work with me every day.
4. When you are around a writer you are his material.
5. The most complicated intellectual tasks are simple if you pray and attend daily Mass.
6. Young years are formative. Ralph McInerny was who he was because he was a minor seminarian and cared about real things since childhood.
7. Never truly embarrass anyone, ever, especially someone who is dependent on you. (To be distinguished from Irish needling.)
8. If something doesn't exist, and it should exist, you need to create it.
9. If people aren't happy they won't accomplish anything.
10. Without a sense of humor life is miserable but humor makes everyone happy.
11. Take the help to lunch, give them bonuses, free books, and unlimited coffee.
12. Thomism is clear, and most other systems produce wooly-headed thinking.
13. Philosophy is not enough.
14. Don't waste your time reading dissertations or senior theses. Speed read them.
15. Philosophy and Catholic learning are for everyone, and McInerny's summer camp was a great place to get up to speed on Basics of Catholicism.
16. If you're bored, stuck, or otherwise can't do your work, take a book off the shelf and start reading it.
17. The letter of Vatican II is one thing, the so-called "spirit of Vatican II" is not the Holy Spirit.
18. Someone who trusts grad students and kids to work on his books and magazines has a lot of humility and does not take himself too seriously.
19. Never walk into the office looking grumpy. He never did this once.
20. The best way to learn a language is to take the Bible and try to figure out familiar passages in the new language.
Last but not least, if you need to end a conversation gracefully, take out your hearing aid and start playing with it as if it is broken.
His autobiography was entitled, “I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You.” Rev. Marvin O’Connell referenced this phrase, pointing out that in the Old Testament Book of Job, when the devil began to try Job and take away all his family, his cattle, his possessions, each time, there would be devastation, but one witness would escape, recount the story to Job, and say, “I alone have escaped to tell you.” Ralph McInerny inhabited a bygone world, but he alone escaped to tell us. He told us the truth of Catholic philosophy and theology, and he taught us with his example and classy leadership and kindness. Someday, as in the story of Job, this patrimony and this world of Christian gentility will be restored twofold. Miracles still happen. Ralph McInerny, rest in peace, until that day.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Sent: Fri 1/22/2010 5:04 PM
Subject: Announcement by the Chairman of the Board
AMSL Internal Announcement
Subject: Message from Chairman Monaghan to the AMSL Community
Date: January 22, 2010
Dear Ave Maria School of Law Community:
It is my honor to inform you that at a meeting of the Ave Maria School of Law Board of Governors yesterday (Thursday, January 21, 2010), the Board voted to name Eugene R. Milhizer the Law School's President and Dean. Dean Milhizer has my complete confidence as he assumes this responsibility, one for which his lifetime's work as a soldier, attorney, law professor, and his nine years of service to Ave Maria has prepared him.
Speaking on behalf of the Board of Governors, we have been extremely impressed with Dean Milhizer's leadership of the Law School over the past 21 months in his role as Acting Dean, and we have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead the institution to continued excellence. Furthermore, we are grateful for his commitment to the Mission of the Law School, as is evidenced by his past exemplary service. Please join me in honoring Dean Milhizer.
Thomas S. Monaghan
Ave Maria School of Law announced Friday that Eugene R. Milhizer has been named the new President and Dean. The announcement was made by Thomas S. Monaghan, chairman of the board, after a formal vote from the law schoo's Board of Governors was taken at a meeting on Thursday.So Milhizer is Dean.... I called it! Back when Dobranski resigned in August 2009, to be exact. Count it, Boko!
"It is my honor to announce Eugene Milhizer as the new President and Dean of Ave Maria School of Law," Monaghan said. "Speaking on behalf of the Board of Governors, we have been extremely impressed with Dean Milhizer's leadership of the Law School over the past 21 months in his role as Acting Dean, and we have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead the institution to continued excellence."
Now here's what I'm wondering: Does Dean Milhizer still have to write daily reports to Monaghan like Dobranski used to?
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I've lost much of my knowledge on the subject over the years. More basic arguments of the day have taken them over. But I want to honestly revisit this.
So here's what I'd like in the comments section -- What do you think Phenomenology is, and do you view it as a complement to the Thomistic approach? Are the two compatible? Should Thomists feel threatened by an approach that, in part, argues that what we think we know about the world around us may have quite a lot more to do with our own internal views, biases, and associations than the objective essence of the thing itself? Can one teach in an objective way if we are really to "question everything," at least as it comes to how we may have come to know our perception of the things about which we are teaching?
I think phenomenology argues that getting to really know things (including our own views and judgments) as they are is harder than it first appears, requiring a tremendous amount of work to separate the thing being known from the knower. That's simplistic, but let me know if you disagree.
This should be a fun discussion, if anybody knows what the heck I am talking about. Have at it!
Friday, January 15, 2010
I agree with the post. It has never made sense to me why the class size has grown so large (now 209 students). I've been told that the bigger class is necessary because of tuition revenues.... but this doesn't make any sense, even when considering it from a purely economic standpoint. With a bigger class comes poorer US News scores which affects the long-term reputation and success of the school, which then affects the ability of the school to raise donations. Why doom AMSOL to the bottom of the 4th Tier forever for a little bit of money now, instead of getting AMSOL to a higher tier where there would be increased financial support and more money?
Moreover, why does AMSOL need tuition revenues at all? Wasn't the primary reason for the Florida move a revenue source that would ensure AMSOL's financial stability in perpetuity? And Tom Monaghan seems to have plenty of money to burn, considering the fact that he has no qualms with wasting more than a million dollars on meritless litigation.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
FUMARE is a prestigious group of graduates appointed to provide national leadership in the advancement of AMSL's original strategic objectives.
I can only imagine how they and others on the faculty must cringe when their founder says things like what he said today. Perhaps, to borrow a bit from Plato, we should "call no professor happy while the founder of his university lives."It's a pity that Professor George didn't have this insight a few years ago when he was ignoring the pleas of his fellow Catholic law professors at AMSL and rubber-stamping Tom Monaghan's autocratic control.
[Today the Doomsday Clock was pushed back 60 seconds to 6 minutes to midnight because of the "new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government's orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of (U.S. President Barack) Obama."]
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Please join Ave Maria School of Law alumni, students and their families for a special March for Life Reception on Friday, January 22 from 2-5 pm at the National Press Club. This "happy hour" event, hosted by our Washington D.C. area members of the Alumni Advisory Council, will offer family-friendly camaraderie, delicious food, desserts, a full assortment of drinks and an opportunity to reconnect and strengthen your Ave Maria relationships. The reception is free to all AMSL alumni, students and their families.
Washington D.C. Area Advisory Council Volunteers:
Daniel Myers '03 Kellie Fiedorek '09 Jared Haynie '09
The Alumni Council is a prestigious group of graduates appointed to provide national leadership in the advancement of AMSL's strategic objectives. Celebrating the Law School's efforts at the March for Life will be the first event led by our D.C. area members.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
See the "Pizza Turnaround" video here.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
From: Office of Graduate and Alumni Affairs
Sent: Tue 1/5/2010 10:55 AM
To: All Alumni
Subject: Commencement Speaker Announcement
I am most pleased to announce that our 2010 Commencement Speaker will be Jeb Bush, the former Governor of Florida. We are honored to have Governor Bush as a part of this historic event - our first Commencement in Naples.
Governor Bush's accomplishments as a businessman, philanthropist, and public servant are widely known. As Governor of Florida from 1999-2007, he implemented widely acclaimed policies that strengthened the state's economy and improved the quality of life for all Floridians. A convert to the Roman Catholic Church, Governor Bush took strong stands against abortion and championed new strategies to lift up the poor. His Governorship is seen as a time of growth and prosperity for Florida and when he left office due to term limits, he did so as one of the state's most popular Governors ever.
Commencement will be at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 15. Governor Bush's keynote address will be among the highlights of a truly special day for Ave Maria and the Class of 2010.
Eugene R. Milhizer
Monday, January 04, 2010
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