Why the Concourse; Why now?

by the editors

It doesn’t take a long acquaintance with Franciscan University to notice the unusually high degree of interest people associated with her take in her welfare. Consider, for example, the intensity and variety of opinions continually whirling in the atmosphere here: we should become more serious academically; we should be careful not to lose our distinct emphasis on Student Life; we should be loyal to our “charismatic roots”; we should move toward a more traditional spirituality; we should be more Thomistic in our Philosophy Department; we should make our Philosophy Department the American center of Realist Phenomenology; graduation should be in the tent; graduation ought not to be in a tent; secular rock music has no place here; we have too many rules stifling students’ individuality; we should expand our outreach ministries; we should cutback on outreach and re-focus on academics…And the list goes.

We think it high time the University had an open forum for the intelligent and courteous discussion of these and other issues affecting our life—and not only our life here, but issues concerning Catholic culture in general, such as the role of the fine arts in human civilization, or the place of religion “in the marketplace”. As we see it, such a forum is an integral part of the mission of any university, and of a Catholic university in particular.

Accordingly, we proudly launch this, the University Concourse, an independent, bi-monthly journal of opinion, designed to encourage fruitful discourse among the members of our University community.

One of the principles undergirding the Concourse endeavor is the idea that the truth about the mission and identity of our University (or about Catholic culture) is not the property of any particular “party” on the campus or in the Church; it is not something simply revealed and then either revered or resisted. Rather, it is, at least in part, something forged, by the coming together (even the occasional butting together!) of many minds, and by the exertions of individuals acting more or less in concert with the Divine Will, and according to their own “best lights”. Even the doctrines of our Faith, though given to the Church once and for all, were not given in finished form, but rather as “seeds”, so that our understanding of them has been emerging only gradually across centuries of Christian experience and through the medium of human reflection and debate. Even more, then, will more properly “human truths” need to be hammered out in “the arena of ideas.”

Needless to say, it is inevitable that even the most loyal and respected members of our community will disagree with each other on occasion and on various matters—even passionately disagree. But disagreement need not imply discord; nor does it entail a betrayal of our Christian duty to “be of one mind”. We think rather that honest debate, provided it is carried on in a spirit of charity, is one of the natural ways that unity of mind is achieved. Furthermore, if our disagreements are not worked out in an upright, university-like manner, they will tend to fester, creating a spirit of mistrust and prejudice in our midst, polarizing the campus, and undermining our communion.

With this in mind, and in keeping with the “communio” theme selected by our President, Father Michael Scanlan, for this year, we have named our journal the University Concourse, denoting a place where minds can meet, where thoughts can be aired, where particular views can be expressed and challenged, where understanding can be expanded and deepened, and where consensus can be built—all for the sake of cooperating with each other in advancing the Kingdom and the welfare of this marvelous University

Let ideas converge and Truth emerge! And to God be all the glory.

the editors