Sunday, November 20, 2011

For you and for all

Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the feast of Christ the King.  The political reasons behind the creation of this feast day kind of annoy me, but at the same time I love Ignatius's meditation on Christ the King that starts the second week of the exercises.  So I'm a bit ambivalent about the feast.

Of course, it is also the last week with the old missal, the only translation of the Mass that I have ever known.  Or the last week with any vestiges of it, really, since we've been slowly moving to the new language over the last month and or two.

Most of the changes don't bother me much.  I mean, it's weird, and it's hard to describe how disconcerting it can be to have unfamiliar words in the place of words I know and love so well.  But most of the changes are merely awkward, uncomfortable and foreign, more ritual and less poetic simplicity.  Yet there are a couple of changes that really bother me, that make me feel somewhat sick.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Because football is not rape

I had a Feminist Moment during econometrics this morning.

In my program, the first-year econometrics lectures are in 2-hour blocks, so we generally take a 5-minute break in the middle of class.  During the break today, a couple of the guys were talking about football.  We'll call one of them Classmate A and the other Classmate B. (Thankfully, Classmate A does not actually belong to my cohort, meaning he's taking my class but not in my program.)

So they're talking about football, and Classmate A says, "Stanford got raped by Oregon this weekend."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First thoughts on graduate school in economics

At this point I'm roughly a quarter of the way through my first year of graduate school in economics.  And I'm glad to be doing it.  I am frustrated by the things that I expected to find frustrating (it's all math, which is fine in and of itself, but macro is frustrating because there's very little attention given to whether particular tools are applicable in various situations... I'm hoping that part comes later, but I'm not holding my breath).  I'm also enjoying the things I expected to enjoy (there's some nice math, and a lot of interesting ideas).

A few observations that should be obvious, but continue to be overwhelming:

1.  Grad school is exhausting.  You can never master everything, but you have to try.  There is never an end in sight.
2.  You are always behind, no matter what you do.  This is particularly true for Americans, who tend to have less preparation than the European or east Asian students.
3.  You can understand everything if you come in knowing a lot of math but very little economics, just like everyone will tell you.  But you will have to spend a lot of time learning foundational concepts, notations, and terminology that most of your classmates take for granted.
4.  Just because you majored in math doesn't mean you're familiar or practiced with a lot of the computational skills that you will need for economics.  You will learn those skills, but they will also take time to develop.

Of course, if you're thinking about graduate school in economics everyone will tell you the first two things.  And the third and fourth should have been obvious, in retrospect.  But all four are survivable, or at least I hope so.  It's still to early to say.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Getting away from 3rd grade God (part I)

One of my frustrations with the way that Christianity is practiced (at least within US culture) is that we tend to get stuck in what I'd call a 3rd grade view of God.  This is especially true in how we present things to outsiders and young people, but it extends beyond that.

Outside of theological discussions--which tend to remain the realm of adult Christians already heavily invested in their faith, perhaps understandably--we tend to present God in an overly simplistic, two-dimensional way.  (At least to the extent that we emphasize individual relationship with God at all... not Catholicism's strong point, in general.)

This 3rd grade God is the God of stars and hearts and flowers and rainbows and bunny rabbits.  This is appropriate for young children, because God's love for us is fundamental, as is the idea that God is the source of all gifts, all good.  God gives us good things.

But it's not an appropriate idea of God for adults. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The slow journey toward feminism

Growing up, I never really expected to become invested in feminism.  Not that I ever disagreed with feminist ideals, but that I wasn't passionate about them, and took them for granted.  Like many people, I didn't connect them to my own life, or understand that it takes real, conscious effort to protect them.

I attended a women's college.  But I didn't really plan on going to one.  Before college my school experiences were always co-ed, with the single exception of 9th grade PE.  But through high school my great desire in life was to be a professional ballet dancer, and I spent most of my waking hours outside of school in the ballet studio.  The ballet world is female-dominated, and most of the women I knew there were strong-minded and strong-willed.  I enjoyed my time at the ballet studio, despite its lack of guys.  So when I started looking at colleges, I didn't rule women's colleges out.  I remember saying, "sure, I'll look at them," at some point during 10th grade or so.  The decision felt inconsequential, almost like whimsy.   I had no idea that it would shape my life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Principle and Foundation

One of the questions I get a lot in words, and even more often in looks, goes something like this:
An outspoken, liberal young woman like you, Catholic?  Really?  What on Earth do you see in that?
There are a lot of reasons behind that sentiment.  Part of it is that most liberals are not religious in the U.S. these days, particularly not those under 40.  Part of it comes down to what people know about the Catholic Church, and its image in this country (for which the Church bears significant but not total responsibility).  People think of strict male-run hierarchy, of homophobia, of the obsession with abortion, of pedophilia.  None of which sounds very appetizing to your average American liberal.

But the on top of all of that formidable list, there's another issue: people don't have a clear picture of what the Catholic faith has to offer someone like me.  As to that, I have a lot of answers.  Too many to give an exhaustive list.  So I'll start with one of them.  It's called the 'first principle and foundation,' and it was formulated nearly 500 years ago by a Spanish priest, Iganatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.