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tv   Religion Ethics Newsweekly  WHUT  October 30, 2013 8:30am-9:00am EDT

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relationships, for instance. bob faw reports on two very different institutions, ave maria university in florida and georgetown university in washington, d.c. >> this is coming out day at georgetown university in washington, d.c. at this jesuit institution, three dozen students celebrate homosexual and lesbian lifestyles even though the catholic church considers them immoral. thomas lloyd is president of georgetown's gay pride. >> by recognizing pride, georgetown has become more true to its jesuit values. commitments to social justice are some of the most important and historically grounded parts of catholic doctrine. >> but what is sanctioned at one catholic university is anathema at another -- florida's ave maria university. >> this is a university that's founded on biblical truth, on scripture, and on the sacramental richness of the catholic church.
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>> at ave maria, 90% of the 1,000-member student body are catholic. professors pledge to uphold catholic beliefs. there are worship sites in every dorm, and mass is held three times a day. its president, jim towey, who worked for the bush administration as director of its faith-based and community initiatives office, also served as legal advisor for the late mother teresa. ave maria is determined to stay a course from which its president says other catholic institutions have strayed. >> in an age where modernity has attacked the whole idea of objective truth and the whole relativism that you see that's pervasive in our culture, i guess this university's not going to be here to be popular. it's not here to try to please everyone. it's here to try to be true to itself and its own catholic identity. >> georgetown university, renowned for its academic
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excellence, has a different view of its catholic identity. all students, though only half of the 7,000 undergraduates are catholic, are required to take two theology and two philosophy courses. >> lord, you are the giver of all good gifts. lord, have mercy. >> though students are not required to go to mass, there are many to choose from, and catholic priests live in each dorm acting as mentors and friends. but georgetown, which boasts the largest campus ministry in the world, also fiercely champions unfettered dialogue. >> what we did 50 years ago to promote our identity does not suffice today because the world is different, and our students and faculty are different. to quote something father hesburgh from notre dame would often say, "the catholic university is a place where the church does its thinking." and if that is to be the case, then we have to permit this free exchange of ideas. >> georgetown insists that welcoming groups like gay pride, even hosting a gay and lesbian
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center on campus, is part of the jesuit's priestly mission. >> the purpose of the center is not to undermine the church's teaching. it is a center for education. we try to teach our students and faculty and our alumni about issues of sexuality, of sexual identity and gender. that's an expression of our jesuit tradition of cura personalis, caring for each person mind, body and spirit, in their unique individuality. >> it's an openness, a kind of tolerance, ave maria's president disdains. >> they become bastions of relativism where your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth, the catholic teaching is just one path. that's not our view, and i feel sorry for those universities. i think they've lost their moral bearings, and i think they've lost their catholic identity when they water it down to the point where everything's true. >> still, many georgetown
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students argue that this catholic university has found the right mix of scholarship and religious character. >> i think it's reaching a great number of students, non-catholic and catholic, and helping them to develop, grow in their own faith and figure out really how they can bring their faith into public life. >> on georgetown's campus there are, of course, dissenting voices which contend that this university has strayed. >> is it catholic enough? i would say no. we have the knights of columbus, the catholic daughters, there's all student-run organizations, but the university is not promoting this stuff. we have a mass, but are they teaching you about this stuff? are they promoting this as an ideal, as a good? >> and you would say no. >> i would say they are a little passive on that. >> senior andrew schilling lives at the knights of columbus house just off campus. his letter to the student newspaper opposing same-sex marriage provoked withering criticism of him. schilling says when georgetown lets gays and lesbians advocate, georgetown's catholic identity
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is diluted. >> it's not so much that georgetown can't support homosexuals and treat them with respect and the dignity that they deserve, but it's rather that the university remains silent about the church teaching and position with regard to homosexuality, with regard to human sexuality in general. >> but gay pride activist thomas lloyd counters that his faith has been affirmed precisely because georgetown is catholic. >> i wouldn't even think about how to reconcile my queer identity with my catholic faith identity if i hadn't come to georgetown. what does it mean to be gay and catholic? can those two things go together? and my experience at georgetown with jesuits and with other people who are catholic and identify as queer on campus show me that you can. >> on the campus of ave maria, a debate on the role about groups opposed to catholic teachings seems unlikely.
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>> take what you want, leave what you don't -- as catholics, we believe that's not the way faith is meant to be lived. >> nor do students here feel they've been short-changed because they don't have direct exposure to gay and pro-choice groups permitted on the georgetown campus. >> even though our campus does not have such groups as that, within the classroom, you're talking about these topics in a way that presents, i think, both why do people believe what they believe with regards to abortion or homosexuality, and why do we believe what we believe? >> the professors represent their views well, and they present the argument in such a way that is challenging for us as catholics to engage the argument and try and prove it false. >> if a group wanted to be pro-choice, pro-abortion catholics we would not want to try to endow that group with legitimacy. that's not in some way
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curtailing academic freedom. it's recognizing that academic freedom has limits. >> and many ave maria students agree their faith has been strengthened largely because the catholic identity here is so pervasive. >> it's definitely grown. being able to experience it every day only makes you appreciate it and come to understand it more. being able to go to mass every day, and being able to go to the chapel only allows you to grow deeper in your faith. >> and fostering that, says ave maria's president, is the true role of a catholic university. >> what's needed now is a catholicism rooted in scripture, sacramental in nature, that's open to engagement with the world without losing its own identity. >> it isn't easy. ave maria to get more students recently slashed tuition. georgetown policies have prompted harsh criticism and loss of financial support from some alumni. and if the debate now under way
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at many of the country's nearly 270 catholic colleges and universities seems a bit untidy, that's precisely because it is. >> that's where there's a creative tension to be catholic and university, and it is -- yes, is it messy sometimes? and is it challenging? yes. those same questions that play out in parishes and around family dinner tables, they play out in a university, because we're all asking the question -- what does it mean to be catholic today? >> questions reverberating in the world at large and on catholic campuses. for "religion & ethics newsweekly," this is bob faw in ave maria, florida. in other news, the baptism this week of an heir to the british throne.
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3-month-old prince george was christened by archbishop of canterbury justin welby, who urged more parents to christen their babies as a way of "bringing god" into the family. if george ever becomes king, he would then also head the church of england. before the christening, welby made a quick trip to africa, where he met with conservative leaders who are unhappy with liberal directions in the worldwide anglican communion. a new survey from the christian research organization the barna group confirms that technology continues to shape the spiritual practices of millennials -- young people 18 to 29. according to barna, 70% of practicing christian millennials read scripture on a screen, such as a cell phone or tablet. and nearly 40% of them say they fact-check their pastor's sermons online. on our calendar this week,
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protestants observe reformation sunday, which recalls the day in 1517 when martin luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in wittenberg. november 1st is all saints day, when christians honor martyrs and saints, followed by all soul's day on november 2nd. on november 3rd, hindus around the world begin the five-day celebration of diwali, the festival of lights. diwali is one of the most well-loved of all hindu festivals, and is held in honor of lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. also this week, depending on the sighting of the new moon, muslims mark the islamic new year. we have a judy valente profile today of poet christian wiman, the former editor of "poetry" magazine, this year teaching at the yale divinity school and yale's institute of sacred music.
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wiman said poetry, and all the arts, are essential to experiencing what he calls glimmerings of the presence of god. meanwhile, he lives with the implications of his incurable cancer. >> poet christian wiman is in a place where he says his spirit is at home -- the chapel at the yale divinity school. >> there's so much genuine joy and intensity in those services. you think of young people as being ironic and dejected and you know, dispassionate or dissolute maybe. and here are a bunch of people in their 20s that are filled with joy. they're singing out. it is truly inspiring. >> wiman is here to offer a message to aspiring ministers and church musicians, that
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poetry is not only a means of reaching out to god, but one of the ways through which god reaches out to us. >> this is true in a profound sense, in the way that art radically expands or extends our notion of god. we've all had the experience of coming across a work of art that suddenly blows your mind and makes you think of everything differently, think of the world differently, think of god differently. it's actually an absolutely essential element of any authentic and unified religious experience, i think. >> wiman's arrival at yale's institute of sacred music as a senior lecturer in religion and literature comes at the end of a long personal pilgrimage. one that included years of spiritual unrest and wandering, and led ultimately to an encounter with what he calls "the god of job, the god of annihilation." it is a journey that began here, amid the arid plains and long horizons of west texas. >> i was raised in an atmosphere
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that was really completely saturated with religion. it was southern baptist, fundamentalist baptist. the bible was inerrant, as we said. and i never really met a person who wasn't a believer until i left that place. >> an early role model in faith was his fundamentalist grandmother, josie clorine wiman. >> she was able to be in the world in a way that was completely incarnational almost. there was no separation between her existence and this self-consciousness that i always feel afflicted with, separating me from my experience. she really inhabited the life that she had. and i think you could argue that that's what being with god is, being able to fully inhabit the moments that we are given. >> wiman left texas to travel the world, aspiring to be a poet.
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he also left behind his baptist upbringing but not what he calls an insistent, clandestine religious yearning. >> i wouldn't have called myself a christian for years and years, but clearly it was a passion. it wasn't exactly dormant. >> he would go on to publish two collections of poetry and win a major award for younger poets. at age 36, he was named editor of the prestigious "poetry" magazine in chicago, just after the magazine was awarded a $150 million bequest by pharmaceutical heiress ruth lilly. he fell in love and married. >> falling in love with my wife, meeting my wife really shook my world up in ways i couldn't have predicted. i had not been able to write for a long time, and i began to write after that. she and i began to say prayers after we got together and we also began to talk about going to church. we didn't actually make it in the door, but we talked about it.
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>> then, at the age of 39, just one year into his marriage, wiman was diagnosed with a rare and incurable blood cancer. >> i have cursed mightily and i have been furious and have cursed god just like any old testament prophet. it didn't ever destroy me, it didn't ever make me bitter toward the people that i love. but gosh, it's been hard. i would say the illness made me need to formalize faith, need to find some form for it. it wasn't necessarily that i felt like i needed to be surrounded by people who were going to help us. i think that's part of it. it was more simply a sense of solidarity and suffering and a sense of solidarity and worship. i have a hard time conceiving of a god who is completely removed from suffering. once i understand the notion of christ participating in
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suffering, then it makes more sense to me. >> while wiman found comfort in worshiping with others, he found the ways churches talk about god, faith, suffering and death to be woefully inadequate. christian wiman says people today are seeking a new language for speaking about god. it is a language that goes beyond words, concepts, or even doctrine, that taps into a genuine experience of the divine, what he calls glimmers of god. >> if you ask me, do i get glimpses of god, yes, i get these glimmerings of intuitions, stronger than that really, where the existence of god seems to me absolute. we all go through our lives and then suddenly, we'll have a moment when we think, "i have faith right now in something." i find that i've had these moments in my life when i have been overcome by what i only know to call god. "think of the atoms inside the
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stone. think of the man who sits alone trying to will himself into the stillness where god goes belonging." in my experience, the artists that i know, even though they wouldn't call themselves christians -- some would -- but they are the ones who are fighting to remake some kind of language to connect us with the ineffable, with the divine. if we think that metaphor is how we talk of god, and that seems to me very hard to dispute that there's any other way of talking to god, talking about god, other than metaphorically, then it would follow that the place where metaphor is most powerfully used, most compressed, most concise, most explosive in poetry would be where we would go to find religious enlightenment. >> he cites as an example a poem
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that he teaches in his class by the polish poet anna kamienska. >> "lord let me suffer much and then die. let me walk through silence and leave nothing behind, not even fear. make the world continue, let the ocean kiss the sand just as before. let the grass stay green so that frogs can hide in it, so that someone can bury his face in it and sob out his love. make the day rise brightly as if there were no more pain and let my poem stand clear as a windowpane bumped by a bumblebee's head. it's a hard poem to pray, lord, let me suffer, let me die, lord, let nothing be changed after my death." >> wiman is now 46 and the
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father of twin daughters. his doctors tell him his cancer is under control. but his prognosis is highly uncertain. he has endured painful marrow transplants and in the course of many long hospitalizations, confronted death. >> i find that i don't fear death now for myself. it's just a great tragedy to think of my family. i also believe that death is here to teach us something and that we are meant not to fill up the content of the afterlife, and that we have to mostly be silent about it. >> a poem he often reads in public came to him after a three-year dry spell in his poetry writing. he wrote it in one of the darkest periods of his illness. it is a psalm-like portrayal of a god who appears in stone, atom, shadow and all creation, or as the poet says, "in every riven thing." >> "god goes belonging to every riven thing.
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he's made the things that bring him near, made the mind that makes him go. a part of what man knows, apart from what man knows, god goes belonging to every riven thing he's made." >> for "religion & ethics newsweekly," i'm judy valente at yale university's institute of sacred music. >> christian wiman's latest book is "my bright abyss: meditation of a modern believer." that's our program for now. i'm bob abernethy. you can follow us on twitter and facebook and watch us anytime on the pbs app for iphones and ipads. and visit our website, where there is always much more, and
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where you can listen to or watch each of our programs. join us at pbs.org. as we leave you, more music from the yale divinity school chapel. ♪ major funding for "religion and ethics newsweekly" is provided by the lilly endowment, an indianapolis based private family foundation dedicated to its founders' interest in religion, community development, and education. additional funding also provided by mutual of america, designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company.
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- is she too old for this? it's a provocative magazine cover that drew many double takes. - there's almost this taboo feeling that you should not be looking like a grandma when you're a mother. - science is making it possible for women to have babies at an older age, even beyond 50. - the guidelines do say that reproductive medicine-- meaning egg donation, primarily-- should not be used to have a woman become pregnant beyond her normal reproductive aging. - for older mothers, there can be medical risk or social stigma. - they have to consider whether they have the energy to go without sleep the way new moms do. - i don't get as much sleep as i'd like,
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but other than that, it's been pretty darn good. - also, inside e street, the computer that reads your mind. - chris, can you make it go left? - "inside e street" is made possible by... - auto and home insurance from the hartford, more than 200 years of helping to protect what's most important. for information about our program for drivers 50 and over, including how to find an agent, visit hartfordautoinsurance.com. - from the heart of the nation's capital and around the country, you're "inside e street" with lark mccarthy. - the age of first-time motherhood is rising in north america and western europe. in 1970, the average age of a woman having her first child was 21. today it's 25. in some european countries, it's even higher, at 30. the reasons? more and more women are postponing childbirth as they pursue careers. women are marrying later. and many women are starting second families
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following a divorce and remarriage. and while birth rates are generally down across the board, more older women are becoming moms. according to the centers for disease control, the birth rate for women aged 40-44 grows 3% in 2009. for those 45-49, births also rose 3%. for women above 50, the number of births increased 5%. in 2009, women over 50 had 569 babies. that's an increase of 300% since 1997. - are you up here? oh, yeah! - lynn laszewski is a working mom, busy raising her energetic toddler, kyle. - i had kyle when i was 51, mainly because i didn't meet anyone until i was in my 40s. and i really didn't want to raise a son--or a child alone. - having focused on her career, laszewski finally met
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her partner, tim carey. when the couple decided to have a child, they were told natural conception was not an option. neither was in vitro fertilization. the solution? an egg donor. - after thinking about it for a couple years and also after the death of tim's father, i thought it would be really nice for him to have a genetic baby. - but laszewski had trouble finding an ob-gyn who would take her on as a patient because of her age. - i was pretty surprised when i got turned down by 2 or 3 clinics until i found one that would take my case. - and when she found a doctor to treat her, laszewski was given an intense workup. - i did an awful lot of testing before i got pregnant because they want to make sure that there would be no troubles with high blood pressure or heart problems. - laszewski says she had an easy pregnancy. - i never got really, you know, big. so i didn't feel like, "oh, i can't even move--" rode my bike to the train station every day
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and did everything that i usually do. went to yoga 3 times a week-- stood on my head till two days before i delivered. - but she developed a condition that threatened her liver function. c-section. - the complications of pregnancy-- regardless of what they are: high blood pressure, diabetes, bleeding, cesarean section, all those things--get magnified as a woman ages. - later pregnancies may raise not only physical concerns. sometimes there are also sociological issues. angel la liberte had her first child at 41 and her second at 44. she felt a disconnect from younger mothers she met. - there weren't a lot of things to talk about at preschool or, you know, on the playground. you can be mistaken for a grandma. - la liberte decided to become an advocate for women who become mothers later in life

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