Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 2009: Faculty and Alumni News

Several DSPT professors have published articles in the most recent issue of the Angelicum (86). Fr. Michael Dodds, OP, Professor of Philosophy and Theology, wrote an article titled “Unlocking Divine Causality: Aquinas, Contemporary Science, and Divine Action” (p. 67-87). His article looks at how the notion of causality, broadly conceived in classical philosophy in terms of material, formal, efficient and final causes, was reduced by modern, Newtonian physics to efficient and material causes only. Dodds points out that the discoveries of contemporary science have again broadened our understanding of causality, opening the way to a retrieval of the idea of causality in classical philosophy which may be useful to science in its account of the natural world and to theology in its discussion of divine action. Fr. Anselm Ramelow, OP, Associate Professor of Philosophy, included an article titled “The Best of All Possible Sciences: Leibniz’ Alternative Beginning of Modern Science” (p. 175-189). Ramelow discusses how the typical contemporary opposition between faith and science is a late development that stands in contrast with the assumptions of the early giants of modern science in the seventeenth century. He looks at G. W. Leibniz’ approach in particular and shows how it demonstrates that modern mathematical physics requires and profits from a metaphysical basis and a notion of substantial form. Fr. Chris Renz, OP, Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of Theology, published an article titled “Our Daily Bread: Practical Wisdom for Food Purchase and Consumption in a Global Market” (p. 215-237). Renz explores how multinational corporations use their network of relationships to camouflage behavior which is harmful and to confuse the consumer. He also explores some theological concepts of practical wisdom and the development of what Benedict XVI has termed an “ethics of participation.” Finally, by recalling the relationship between liturgical life and daily life, the article suggests an important source of strength for effecting real changes in response to the problems of a global food market.

Fr. Hilary Martin, OP, Emeritus Professor, brought his work with Australian Aboriginals to DSPT this semester as part of the Faith in Human Rights symposium. On April 19, as part of the reception for the art exhibit Touching the Land: Contemporary Aboriginal Art from Australia, Martin organized a ceremonial placing of an Aboriginal message stick as a permanent part of the DSPT Chapel. Then, on May 19, he partnered again with Virginia May, curator of the art exhibit, for a showing and discussion of the movie Ten Canoes and the Aboriginal art. The movie is about Australian Aboriginal life in Central Australia around 1000 B.C. and is narrated and acted by the Aboriginal people of Central Australia. Both events were well attended and all attendees enjoyed learning more about Australian Aboriginal life.

DSPT alum, Ed Hopfner, is now coordinating the Marriage and Family Life programs for the Diocese of Oakland. He reports that his studies at DSPT in the area of moral theology are especially helpful here, and the focus on first principles emphasized at DSPT are particularly important for grappling with some of the issues with which they are involved. The individual faculty and student members of DSPT that he has come to know have also served as wonderful resources for his work.