Another Voice on Jodi O’Brien From the Philosophy Department
I would add two points to your fine analysis.Of course, we don’t think that O’Brien deserves any sort of endowed chair. Indeed, her scholarship would not even merit tenure at Marquette -- although some politically correct department like Sociology would probably give that to her.
1) The question of what is core to Catholic theology is one that Catholics need to decide. I, you, and Dr. O’Brien really need to stay out of it. Suppose that, internally, the Church decides that traditional teachings concerning family are stable and central to Catholic ethics. Suppose that we find such teachings ethically reprehensible. Then we should leave the university. A parallel situation: for a while the Mormon church had a racist theology. Were I on the job market then, I would not be able to teach at Brigham Young in good conscience. But why should a Jew be the one to say what is authentic LDS teaching?
2) I think that if MU had offered the position to a gay activist arguing for his position from within the Catholic intellectual tradition -- someone like Mark Jordan -- this would have been a courageous move, and I’d be out there with the protesters if the appointment were rescinded. But MU has been moving away from being grounded in this tradition (one I honor and learn from). The O’Brien appointment was double pronged stick in both of the eyes of MU’s Catholic identity -- its historical intellectual tradition, and Catholic teachings. Her scholarship represents that of nontheistic mainstream scholarship in the humanities -- where values are human creations, grounded neither in nature nor the Divine. And it takes her places where she attacks teachings apparently central to the church -- such as the natural basis of the family. Her appointment as dean was the reductio ad absurdum of the idea that scholarship at MU should be indistinguishable from that at secular universities. The most public face of Arts and Sciences would have been one whose scholarship encourages Catholics to invent their own sexual identity and accept fluid family arrangements for children.
I suggest that MU find a wealthy donor to allow it to offer her an endowed chair for a couple hundred thousand a year, and then find a traditional Catholic intellectual as dean. Such a move could bring everyone together and heal the damage.
Dept. of Philosophy
But the temptation to try to buy off the campus gay lobby with more “programs” and courses on “human sexuality” (taught from a pro-gay perspective) will be great. Indeed, Fr. Wild has suggested he would do just that.
Such would be foolish indeed. When you have won a battle at substantial cost, you don’t turn around and surrender.