The Cult

don't mess with jez

There’s loving your alma mater, then there’s going to a Jesuit college or university.

Never in my life have I been a part of such an impassioned, loving, hilarious or vital community. Santa Clara was not only a college, but Jesuit association quickly becomes a lifestyle.

P jokes, somewhat seriously, that because of “the cult” I can go anywhere in the world and run into an SCU connection.

On the flight from Portland, OR to Boston, in the airport in London, randomly on the streets of Turkey – hey, it happens!

More than that, an association with the Jesuits means to me a dedication to service to the poor, connection with the world, and scholastic reflection about its betterment.

Never did a teacher, mentor or priest urge me to back away or tell me my questions were too controversial.

Quite the opposite, they asked me to delve deeper, challenged my blanket assumptions, and at the end of the day, always assured me that I was bigger, better and more loved than any grade, paper, mistake or accomplishment.

As I wrote about last week, Reza Aslan (an SCU alum) has been in the news a lot lately. Now, I am pretty good at ignoring all things Glenn Beck, but when SCU posted the above photo and statement, I couldn’t resist:

‘SCU became a target in Glenn Beck’s show last night when Beck went into a rant about Reza Aslan ’95, “He was a Christian before going into college and colleges are doing a great job of churning people out that are not Christians anymore. It’s there that his professors started ‘teaching’ him…So it’s not surprising to me that the elitist, godless professors sway him away from Jesus.”‘

I’m going to ignore the source and get right to the meat: never would I have become a person of faith (of any kind) or a Catholic (perhaps especially) if it were not for SCU and specifically the Jesuits who became a part of my life.

The reactionary statements of Beck don’t so much make me angry, as sad. His assessment fails to recognize the deep wealth of religious reflection Aslan and others are taught to seek in Jesuit institutions – whether they come away as a Catholic, a pagan, a Muslim or an atheist.

Jesuits taught me about what it means to love one another through conflict, tragedy and the most essential questions we all have about why we are here.

About how to engage with each other to learn and listen, rather than “win” or convince another of your position.

And, most essentially, how to expand our own compassion and empathy to recognize the mystery we all live in – however it is defined in our lives.

With the first Jesuit Pope in office now (one of us!), I can only hope we all take the real lessons of the Jesuits to heart, and grow together “to love and serve.”

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Dispatch this week to Bandito, the newest of the Jezzies I know!

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