Monday, November 21, 2005

gettin' radical

The Exorcist may be going back to school.

The trouble with exercising a millenial livlihood is that updates are rare and, when they do occur, tend to be rather lengthy. Decades, sometimes centuries. But like my professor of church history used to say, "What's the rush? Time's on our side."

I have applied to Weston Jesuit School of Theology, one of the two pontifical faculties of higher theological studies run by the Society of Jesus, the other being Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, CA.

The Weston campus is smack in the heart of Harvard Square, Cambridge, although when founded (1922) it was situated in the eponymous MA town close to Boston. One of only seven universities in the US that can give the ecclesiastical degrees necessary to teach in Catholic seminaries, Weston has gained a reputation for being serious and avant-garde in its pursuit of academic excellence.

So where else would you expect an exorcist to go?

Yet my path has been fraught with misconceptions. I told my mother I wanted a STD and she cried at just the thought that I might be stricken with syphillis or herpes. "Son," she wailed, "the agony and the shame! And what about your vow of chastity? Does it no longer mean anything to you?"

I have since exhausted myself explaining that STD, in my particular context, means sacrae teologiae doctor, not sexually transmitted disease, but Mom just sighs and says, "At least you're not a pedophile..."

When I went in for my interview with the Dean of the STD program he looked at me with the interest of an entomologist who's discovered a new species of dung beetle. "The closest we've come to something like this," he reminisced, "was a fellow who had studied at Navarra. He wasn't actually Opus Dei, mind you, but Weston certainly meant a paradigm shift for him."

I assured the dean that the 'liberal' epithet often cast disparagingly at Weston was no more a hindrance for me studying there than the 'conservative' label frequently stuck on my congregation should be an obstacle for Weston accepting me. He agreed.

I still won't know whether I'm in or out until the first week of December. I can wait. It's not the first time my academic future has been in the hands of the Jesuits.