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Here are a father’s words to a son soon headed off to college: “Sigue adelante. Te quiero.” Keep moving forward. I love you. It’s a sentiment concomitant with good family values. But there’s a problem. The words are shared by a man in Arizona then hauled off in an ICE van, to be deported back to Mexico. The scene is one that Kristin E. Heyer uses to introduce the human dimension of immigration policy in Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration (Georgetown University Press, 2012).
Read Kristin Heyer and John Gehring's op/ed "The 'family values' case for immigration reform."
Heyer is the Bernard J. Hanley Professor of Religious Studies at SCU. She is also the author of Prophetic and Public: The Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism. It’s no secret that the complexity of immigration reform continues to bedevil U.S. policymakers. “Immigration cannot be reduced to a security or legal issue alone,” Heyer summarizes. “It also involves economics, trade policy, cultural tolerance, family values, and criminal justice.” Indeed, as this magazine goes to press, the Dream Act is not yet law—but a new guest worker program is.
What Heyer offers here is grounded in a theology that “calls believers to promote structures and practices marked by kinship and justice.” Immigration involves a journey. In Heyer’s case, her grandfather—at 7 years old—traveled unaccompanied to the United States from Ireland. In the big picture of immigration, Heyer hopes what she’s written “can provide guideposts along the journey from exclusion to solidarity.” SBS
A prophetic voice
Robert McAfee Brown: Spiritual and Prophetic Writings (Orbis Books, 2013) is just the beginning, hopes editor Paul Crowley, S.J., of reintroducing readers to a man who was a truly remarkable theologian, activist, and spiritual guide. From the Civil Rights movement to wars in Vietnam and Central America, his sermons and actions embrace the place where faith meets the toughest issues of the day. He stood atop the crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau with Elie Wiesel; he was arrested for being a Freedom rider; he was invited by the Catholic Church to be an observer at Vatican II. Newsweek put him on the cover in 1966.
Crowley is the Jesuit Community Professor of Religious Studies. He was once a student of Brown’s at another university here in Silicon Valley; later, when Brown was a visiting professor at Santa Clara, they were colleagues. And SCU recognized Brown’s contributions two decades ago with an honorary doctor of sacred theology degree. Brown died in 2001. Crowley observes that Brown’s voice, and his understanding of “religious liberty,” is sorely missed.
Brown was also a man of humor, justice, and compassion, writes Professor of English Judith Dunbar in the foreword. And he was a man who wrote that courage “may be the most important Christian word for our times.” SBS
Knowledge for Love: Franciscan Science as the Pursuit of Wisdom (Franciscan Institute Publications, 2012), by Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M., is a book-length essay reclaiming the Franciscan tradition of scientific inquiry—lost for a time when Church leaders “did not successfully make the transition to the modern scientific paradigm.” From Roger Bacon’s study of the natural world and Bernardino de Sahagún’s investigation of the culture and worldview of the Aztec peoples, there’s the bridge to the present, where ecoliteracy, human dignity, and public health should be areas of concern. Among the questions Warner asks—not only rhetorically, but as a challenge: “Can we recognize the study of science and nature as a religious activity?” Along with lecturing at SCU in religious studies, Warner is director of education and research for the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, which has, among its modest goals: to positively affect the lives of 1 billion people by 2020. SBS
Happy father’s day!
Tim J. Myers loves being a father on the days he’s not battling toddler snowpants, sippy cups, Barney boredom, and those skull-shattering meltdown tantrums that can pop up out of nowhere like a destructive Texas tornado. And, actually, as he writes in Glad to Be a Dad: A Call to Fatherhood (Familius, 2013), when he manages to slow down and find humor, he loves being a dad even on those days.
A parenting book speckled with moments of joy, Myers’ tale recounts the days of newly found expertise as a homemaker. Packed with funny stories—the dried-oatmeal-in-the-toaster fire?—the book is a sweet pleasure. It also insists that fathers themselves stand to gain by investing time in the complicated work of active love.
“We need more than time-worn images of fatherhood that focus only on taking kids fishing, or teaching them how to catch,” Myers writes. Citing sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond as a bad example, he says we need “more than humorous, self-deprecating admissions of non-involvement and domestic ignorance ... Many men are beginning to understand how much they’re missing by not being domestically involved.”
Myers is a songwriter, a storyteller, and a lecturer in SCU’s Department of English. His Basho and the Fox was chosen as a Smithsonian Notable Children’s Book and read aloud on National Public Radio by Daniel Pinkwater. John Deever
When I’m 64
The question, Jerrold Shapiro observes, might be inspired by watching the last of our fledglings leave the nest. Or maybe it’s blowing out 50 or 60 candles on the birthday cake—and how unreal that seems. And the question might take the form of “Where do I go from here?” or “I’ve got everything I thought I wanted; why aren’t I happy?”
With celebrities like Jodie Foster and Jon Stewart marveling at the fact that they’re celebrating half a century (how can that be?), they seem to be giving voice to something millions of other baby boomers have experienced: After midlife, but before old age, what happens? In Finding Meaning, Facing Fears: In the Autumn of Your Years (Impact Publishers, 2012) Shapiro—a professor of counseling psychology who’s the far side of 70—offers a few things he’s gleaned from four decades as a psychotherapist and extensive interviews and surveys for this book: about health and the aging body, spirituality and finding meaning, relationships, inevitable losses, and the fact that “it’s not your father’s retirement.” To the question “How old are you?” he answers, “It depends.” To go along with the chronological age that’s simple enough to calculate, he offers some other theories of relativity for the aging individual: body age (injuries vs. being pain-free), psychological age (how well are you suited to your role as spouse, single person, parent?), social age (what’s your community?), and functional age (how do you adapt?). Then there’s relational age: how you see yourself amid your cohort. Boomers tend to think of themselves as in their 30s.
When Shapiro set out to write this book, his working title was The Seventh-Inning Stretch. Shapiro acknowledges that a major league baseball team probably won’t ask him to help out on the mound this summer, despite the fact that he can still throw a mean fastball. He’s written a book for those who plan on facing plenty of batters in the innings ahead. They’re just not the same kind of hitters they could have taken on in their 20s. SBS
Fruit and fiber
What brings people to religion and spiritual practice? Is it tradition, curiosity, a desire for fulfillment? And what does tending to the garden of faith bring them as individuals—whether that garden happens to be Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or other major traditions across cultures—and to society as a whole? Whew. Big questions, with many answers across different hardiness zones. Religion, Spirituality, and Positive Psychology: Understanding the Psychological Fruits of Faith (Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2012) sets out to offer a few of those answers, bringing together research and scholars from a bouquet of disciplines, to look at psychological and behavioral health, as well as physical and social problems.
Thomas G. Plante is editor of this volume and contributes several chapters, including one on “goodness.” Plante is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. University Professor of Psychology and director of the Spirituality and Health Institute. There are contributions from a sheaf of SCU colleagues as well: Professor of English Diane E. Dreher (“Vocation: Finding Joy and Meaning in Our Work”), Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology David B. Feldman (“Hope”), Senior Fellow in the Spirituality and Health Institute Carl E. Thoresen (“The Men’s Spirituality Group”), and a jointly written chapter by Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology Shauna L. Shapiro and counseling psychology grad Megha Sahgal M.A. ’11 (“Loving-Kindness”).
One example of the conclusions from data gathered: Since religious engagement encourages “clean living,” religious people are “less likely to engage in criminal behavior, marital infidelity, alcoholism, or unprotected sexual activity—as well as being more likely to engage in prosocial behaviors such as volunteerism and charity.” SBS
Inhuman Citizenship: Traumatic Enjoyment and Asian American Literature (University of Minnesota, 2012), by Juliana Chang, begins by excerpting a poem about a legendary archvillain: Ming the Merciless. From there things get complicated, as so much has since Buck Rogers first defended the galaxy. In this scholarly study, Chang, an associate professor of English, surveys a number of contemporary Asian American fictions and examines, among other elements, the contradictory impulse that comes into play with depictions of racism and suffering—where we’re both appalled but exhilarated by them.
Museum of Seraphs in Torment: An Egyptological Fantasy Thriller (CreateSpace, 2013), by David Pinault, pits a young Egyptologist against ancient mysteries and otherworldly visitors. The backdrop: from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to a mountaintop in Yemen to the American Southwest. Pinault is a professor of religious studies and the author of scholarly books on Arabic literature and religious rituals in South Asia.