In 1856, this University was founded by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley as a place devoted to the pursuit of universal knowledge. In continuity with and considering his correspondence with Blessed John Henry Newman, this University was meant to link the sons and daughters of the Church to the spiritual and scholastic wealth of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. He would have stressed the importance of theology as a branch of knowledge and emphasized that the purpose of an education lies in the formation of the mind.
Yet, 162 years after our founding, are we losing sight of this vision? The critical thinking encouraged by the faculty seems to be directed mainly towards the perspective we bring into the class, but rarely aspects of the content in the course itself. This begs the question: is it really “critical thinking,” if students are told what to be critical of? Further, the current classroom model directs its attention towards students merely retaining content, at the expense of failing to form workers who will be adaptable to changing working conditions.
Assuming that change is all but a certain trend of modernity, this dual approach of undermining critical thinking and turning students into little better than “copy & paste” robots indicates a vocational training crisis that plagues many of today’s modern universities. Lastly, our common theology courses have been watered down in the name of cultural “palatability.” This watering down of the integrated role that theology plays in the university has diminished a student’s social status from one that could never be reduced, namely that they are a child of God, to one where they can be considered little more than an object for another’s pleasure.
In this context, there needs to be something drawing us back to this University’s founding origins. There needs to be a movement that connects the dots between our content-based classes and the lived experience of our day-to-day lives that fulfills the vision for this University. Therefore, in continuity with our founding, we, the writers of The Heart of the Hall seek to fill that need. This publication seeks to elevate the pursuit of this University to this ideal and seeks to inspire the hearts and minds of its readers through developing the Catholic intellectual tradition in the context of a world unhinged from that frame.
As your fellow students, we see the modern push to tie self-esteem closer to materialism and others’ perceptions as part of the reason that so many people feel anxious, scared, and alone. Not alone in the physical sense, people are constantly bombarded with different opportunities for social engagement. Rather, society at large feels meta-physically alone. There’s been a trade of a deep sense of peace for superficial hyper-activity. Each day is filled with an angst gnawing away at hearts as people wonder why an abundance of material goods and social opportunities does not leave them feeling satisfied.
The hope of this publication is to allow the perspectives of some students to positively influence the way that their peers look at life, and perhaps help others to realize that they are, in a unique way, an irreplaceable element of this community. The Heart of the Hall beats for and because of you. May you never lose sight of that reality and may your own heart be open to blessings of temporal and eternal life.
Photo Courtesy of Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash