Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Irish Community Celebrates with MAS

by Garrett McGowan

On March 12th, the Irish community of Mount Angel Seminary held their Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. This is the second party the Irish community has held, and this year the Irish community has now become one of the official cultural communities of the seminary. Everyone is welcome to join the Irish community, regardless of heritage.

Many people joined in for a night of Irish music, dancing, and poetry, along with corned beef with cabbage and Irish beer. Irish soda bread with Irish butter was part of the meal, with some desserts. One seminarian made a traditional drink similar to Bailey’s with egg in it.

The celebration was held at the bookstore located on Mount Angel Abbey’s hilltop called The Press. The seminary’s Vice Rector for the College, Fr. Terry Tompkins, and Fr. William Dillard, the Director of Spiritual Formation, told Irish stories and jokes. Deacon Bill Zondler sang songs with the Irish band, which was organized by Deacon Nathan McWeeney and Michael O’Connor. The Irish tricolor was proudly displayed in the center of the room were the acts were being held.

One of the focuses of the Irish community is to give people a look at Celtic spirituality and to bring all the different communities on the hilltop together. With many Catholics in America being of Irish decent and many seminarians of Irish decent at Mount Angel Seminary, they wanted to share their heritage with everyone. The Irish have elected new officers for next year and are looking forward to a third party for next year’s Saint Patrick’s Day.

Dr. Cummings Takes a Sabbatical

by Garrett McGowan

This year Dr. Andrew Cummings, the associate dean of the college and a professor of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary, has been on his sabbatical to work on his new book.

He is taking a six-month sabbatical from teaching to complete his new work. A sabbatical is a paid period of leave for a college professor, taken approximately every seven years, for them to focus on a field of work, study, or travel related to their field of expertise.

The content of the book will follow a debate between two famous philosophers, Georg Hegel and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The conversation that took place between the two men was how to know what the essence of Christianity is. Dr. Cummings said, “Their problems are our problems today.” Dr. Cummings has been doing research on this subject for some time. He said that you must study other peoples’ works to find your own voice and to know what experts are saying. Extra motivation for this was for Dr. Cummings to keep himself on top of philosophy.

Each philosopher takes a different stand. Hegel is on the side of concepts, coming at faith from a logical standpoint. Schleiermacher believes that faith comes from feelings, that there must be something deep down in the soul. Dr. Cummings sees this argument as a question that still troubles many people today.  He doesn’t have a title yet. However, he is considering using a quote from Hegel, “Is a dog a Christian?” that is coming from the concept that dogs act off emotions.

The type of philosophy that this would fall under is two kinds: philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Dr. Cummings says that there is a touch of theology in there as well. Another reason that Dr. Cummings chose this subject to work on is because both of these men are Lutherans, and in time Dr. Cummings thinks it would be interesting to research the Catholic Church’s response to their viewpoints.

Dr. Cummings also is hoping that seminarians will read his book in order to get them interested in these questions. Dr. Cummings asked, “How can you know something without pursuing it yourself?” He said he hopes that this book will be published. In order for that to happen he will need a minimum of 200 pages before moving on to the next step.

The writing process for Dr. Cummings is not one that is set in stone, meaning that he does not have a specific goal for what he will do when he gets up in the morning. He does, however, believe that you have to set your mind on getting something done, even if it’s a page or a sentence. Dr. Cummings said, “You have to move forward.” He refuses to leave his desk until something has been done. He says “Push yourself, force yourself.”