Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 2009: Faculty and Alumni News

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC participated in a two day conference on April 3-4, 2009 exploring interfaith dialogue and study which was held at the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO. The conference was entitled, "Learning from Other Religions," and was organized by Fr. Scott Steinkerchner, OP. The purpose of the conference was to share ways that the programs of study and pastoral outreach engage with other religions in the training of Christian ministers and theologians. Presentations by professors and administrators of various institutions discussed how their courses of study and extracurricular activities help their students and local communities learn about other religions. Sr. Marianne was not able to be physically at the conference but gave her presentation through the use of video-conferencing. She discussed the course offerings at DSPT and the GTU and did a formal presentation about the "Faith in Human Rights" interfaith project.

Elissa McCormack, DSPT alumna, participated in the conference organized by the Western Commission for the Study of Religion (WECSOR) at Santa Clara University on March 22-23. WECSOR coordinates the regional meetings for the western organizations of the American Academy of Religion, the Society for Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. She participated in the History of Christianity session organized around the topic “Power Relations in Christian History: Issues of Race and Gender,” with Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiakoski (CDSP), Dr. Gary Macy (Santa Clara University), and Dr. Christopher Ocker (SFTS). Her paper, “Angelique’s Reform: Gender and Power in the Example of Port-Royal,” argued for a view of the beginnings of Jansenism and the reform of Port-Royal that gives more “credit” to the work that Angelique did, instead of just looking at her merely as a pawn in the theological experiments of the Abbe Saint-Cyran.

A new book by Fr. Christopher Renz, OP, In This Light Which Gives Light – A History of the College of St. Albert the Great, will be available soon. Originally founded in 1851 as the House of Studies for the Western Dominican Province, the College of St. Albert the Great was civilly incorporated in the State of California in 1932 with the hope that it would become "a lighthouse of religion and learning to the regions around," and in so doing open up a conversation between the Church and contemporary culture. In tracing the history of the College, Fr. Christopher sets it within the eight-hundred year-long educational mission of the Order. From the earliest day, Dominicans were dedicated to combining the education of the friars with the education of the laity and the spread of sana doctrina. The friars of the Western Province incorporated ideas from the famous Angelicum (Rome) in order to establish a place where laity would be educated in philosophy (and later theology) and thus be equipped to engage confidently the challenges of their time. As its growth continued, the College became well situated both academically and geographically to respond to the ecumenical movement of the mid-twentieth century. Ideas which served as the seedbed for the Graduate Theological Union (1962) also provided the means for the College to be the first Catholic institution to join the GTU in 1964. Shortly thereafter, the College changed its name to the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, moving classrooms and administration to the GTU campus. As Bishop Cummins, author of the preface, notes, "St. Albert College has grown much from the Benicia days. It has received much from its participation in what was once an experiment in Berkeley. We rejoice in what St. Albert's has contributed to the Graduate Theological Union. Without the Catholic presence, the consortium would be a respected educational institution but it would hardly be distinguished." To order a copy, visit

DSPT alumna Sophia Stone has an article appearing this spring in the book Stephen Colbert and Philosophy: I Am Philosophy (And So Can You!). At the head of The Colbert Report, one of the most popular shows on television, Stephen Colbert is a pop culture phenomenon. This book is crammed with thoughtful and amusing chapters, each written by a philosopher and all focused on Colbert’s inimitable reality – from his word creations (truthiness, wikiality, freem, and others) to his position as a faux-pundit who openly mocks Fox News and CNN. Sophia’s chapter is titled “My God Stephen Colbert Really is Funny and I Can Use Wittgenstein to Prove It.” The book will be available on June 1 and you can preorder it from here.