Unifying Prayer at Notre Dame

December 8, 2011

Did another piece for MSPS’ Convos of Color blog on the power of prayer when it comes to race relations.  Check it out!

Prayer and faith is one of life’s most powerful unifying forces — especially at a place like Notre Dame.  Prayer offers us a unique opportunity not to put aside our differences, but rather to celebrate them coming together for a common purpose.

I saw that last week at the Asian American Association’s semestral Multicultural Rosary, at which 10 students gathered together to lead half a decade of the rosary each in a language they’ve studied or grew up with: from European (Spanish, German, etc) to Asian (Indonesian, Korean, etc) to even ancient (Latin).  It’s a tradition we revived last year, and it was touching for me last week to see how much it’s grown.  Though hosted by an Asian organization, participants included members from La Alianza and white students who had seen posters around campus.  It was a truly multicultural event.

Multicultural programming is a difficult task.  Minority students are always wondering how to reach out to other minority groups as well as to the majority.  How do we bring different people together and get them to talk so they can understand, empathize with, and support each other?

Here at Notre Dame, we have a unique advantage.  Notre Dame emphasizes faith, service, spirituality, and prayer like no other elite university.  It’s an important reason — if not THE reason — that students come here.  Prayer is one of the special ways that vastly different Notre Dame students come together.  It’s one of the special ways that diverse students can learn from each other and support each other without fear, nervousness, or awkwardness.

It doesn’t have all the solutions to fostering multicultural dialogue and understanding.  But it’s a good first step.

This’ll be the last time you hear from me this semester.  It’s been a pleasure.  Till next time, keep talking, keep thinking, and keep standing for what’s right.  Good luck with finals and Merry Christmas, all.


How Catholicism promotes authentic multiculturalism

September 12, 2011

I did a blog piece for MSPS today.  In it I strike at the boring and useless sterility of political correctness and argue why Catholicism actually promotes multiculturalism — the true kind, not the bogus type we see at universities such as the UC’s.

Link: http://convosofcolor.com/2011/09/12/does-nds-catholic-identity-make-us-more-multicultural/

Oh, how silly we are to those Europeans

August 2, 2011

I like history.  There’s at once a loftiness and an accessibility to it that allows anyone to grasp its grand breadth.  It’s why I love my summer job as a museum guide at El Pueblo de Los Angeles–the birthplace of California’s greatest city, and the home to the oldest house and fire station in LA as well as Old Chinatown.

Olvera Street, the prized Mexican marketplace of El Pueblo

It’s interesting comparing the different attitudes our tourists have towards history.  The typical American tourist–the one who cares a bit more than the casual passerby, at least–usually listens in wide-eyed awe when I teach about ranchero life in the 1840s or fire technology in the 1880s.  European tourists, however, are different.  They are among the most charming and pleasant people I meet at El Pueblo, and they are ever fascinated with the history of Los Angeles.  A few of them, though, can’t help but drop me an occasional teasing comment:  “You Americans get excited with a house built in 1818.  But the house I live in now has been passed down through my family for 400 years…and that’s not even saying much.”

No harm intended, only teasing.  But still, what a burn.  Talk about challenging the very legitimacy of my job.

Still, those European tourists got me thinking…because to an extent, they are very right.  If we are so impressed with a century-old building in one city, what are we to think of the Catholic Church, a 2 millennia old institution and global community that is living and vibrant even today?  We have to preserve “significant” buildings in Los Angeles against the march of time, so that they don’t disappear.  But the Church–the Church keeps charging on as alive as ever–even with the seemingly endless assaults that lay upon Her.

Now *this* is history.

Anyway, just some random thoughts I wanted to share.  The Church’s living history is just another reason to be proud to be Catholic.  The grand scope of the Church’s past, as well as the boundless hopefulness for the Church’s future, should be enough to inspire anyone who notices–even us silly Americans.