Last week, for four days, I was in Kananaskis, Alberta, about 90 minutes from Calgary. I was speaking at the annual Blueprints conference, an extraordinarily well-coordinated gathering for principals of Catholic schools and their trustees. I returned to the close of the Fordham school year utterly exhausted, but in a good way, by the nearly 200 Catholic principals and trustees who welcomed me into their meeting in the belly of the Kananaskis Valley under the gargantuan shadow of the Canadian rockies. Many shared the opportunities and difficulties involved with the unique situation in Alberta of public funding for Catholic schools, a situation which seems to inform almost every conversation there about Catholic education.
Whether it is Albertan Catholic creativity, the Canadian sensibility, or something else, I again enjoyed the relaxed and casually creative character I have so often found in my sojourns to the Great White North. The opportunity to work with this community became the occasion for me to read several works on secularization in Canada, and this reading and the many conversations last week have enriched my understanding of the travails of Catholicism in secular cultures, and the travails of secularity in Catholic cultures. They patiently heard me present my current thinking about some important dynamics of secularity, theologically understood: the tension between the affirmation and criticism of secularity in contemporary philosophy; the parallel tension between the affirmation and criticism of secularity in recent Catholic teaching and magisterial discourse; the prevalence of popular media culture as a source for spirituality in secularity; the turn to the everyday in theological research in secular culture; the many theological problems in the measurement of faith in recent research about religion in secularity; and the development of a secular Catholicism in Western culture. These topics and more were the stuff of many good conversations.
And did I mention there are a good number of Rush fans among these Catholic education professionals? Unfortunately, I did not get to sample Edmonton or Calgary’s rockish wares, so I will have to return.
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, United States
Cross-posted to Rock and Theology, where you can see a Canadian legend, la petite Quebecoise,transvaluing -- or is it elevating to Canadian transcendence? -- a legendary rock anthem.