April 13, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 15
Welcoming the cardinal
When you book a guest speaker months in advance, you never know what sort of momentous events might take place in the interim to make their visit a special event.
So back when the Boston College St. Thomas More Society arranged for the Archbishop of Boston to visit them, they had no idea they'd be getting a newly elevated cardinal.
Last Thursday, the Law School student group welcomed Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM, Cap., in one of his first public appearances since his return from Rome, where on March 28 he was officially elevated to his new position.
"It was a great talk," said John Mulcahy, Law '07, vice-president of the St. Thomas More Society. "This was more of a discussion format, and he spoke informally and casually with us about law and spirituality, and living a life of faith. The evening had a very good feeling to it."
The cardinal also displayed a wry sense of humor, Mulcahy adds: Noting the recent flap over whether US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an obscene gesture while leaving the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, "Cardinal O'Malley said he would invite Scalia back to do the Red Mass - in sign language," Mulcahy said.
Cracking the 'Code'
It's one of the most popular books in the world, and will soon become a major film event. But for many theologians and Biblical scholars, The Da Vinci Code is, if nothing else, an object of curiosity, what with its references to Christian themes, stories and myths.
The Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Policy will host a talk on the best-selling Dan Brown novel on April 26 by Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge. "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code or the Enduring Appeal of Conspiracy Theories" will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Fulton 511.
Interviewed last week, Attridge called the book "an engaging work of fiction that makes some intriguing claims about Christian origins." While in some regards the buzz about Da Vinci simply represents another awkward intersection between religion and pop culture, Attridge says, "there are specific issues that this book raises: attitudes toward sexuality in the Catholic tradition, the role of women in the Church, the possibility that conspiracies drive history, among others."
Don't count Attridge as a Da Vinci devotee, by the way: "I'm not a great fan of the book itself," he says, "but I welcome the opportunity it has provided to discuss a very interesting and important period in our history."
So, will he see the movie? "I wouldn't miss it."
For more information, see www.bc.edu/boisi.
A matter of interpretation
An April 24 panel discussion will examine the Pontifical Biblical Commission's 2001 publication, The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible.
Sponsored by the Boston College Theology Department and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, "Fuller Meanings: Christian and Jewish Readings of the Bible" will be held at 10 a.m. in Gasson 100.
Keynoters for the event are University of Notre Dame Theology Professor Gary Anderson and Jon Levenson, a professor at the Harvard Divinity School. The panelists - including Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College Executive Director Philip Cunningham and Associate Director Rabbi Ruth Langer, an associate professor in theology - will discuss how Jews and Christians interpret the Bible, where they differ and where they agree, and offer suggestions as to how local congregations can make the Bible a richer resource for study and education.
Our four-footed friends are widely believed to experience pain and stress much like we humans do. But do they also feel pleasure? Include scientist Jonathan Balcombe among those who believe they do, and he'll be on campus later this month to explain why.
Balcombe, a researcher for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, will present "Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good" - the title of his latest book, which will be out next month - on April 24 at 7 p.m. in Gasson 305.
Contrary to the belief that life for most animals is one long (or short) slog for food, shelter and safety and largely devoid of delight, Balcombe asserts that creatures from birds to baboons derive pleasure from play, touch, food, anticipation, comfort and other activities - including, yes, sex. The possibility that creatures other than humans have such feelings, he says, "has important ethical ramifications for both science and society."
For more information on Balcombe's talk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.