Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I write in the New York Times on Pope Francis's advocacy for migrants

Today the New York Times website ran an op-ed I wrote in response to criticism of Pope Francis over his comparing European refugee camps to concentration camps. Having researched Francis for my book Remembering God's Mercy, I am grateful for the opportunity to bring a Catholic perspective to the Times' coverage of him.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chastity and Care for the Other

Now that I am teaching dogmatic theology to seminarians at England's Oscott College, my public talks are less frequent than they used to be, so it was a special treat to be able to give several talks in the United States during my Christmas break. Among them was a dinner talk at Saint Mary's, the venerable women's college in Notre Dame, Indiana, on "Chastity and Care for the Other," which you can now see in the video above, thanks to the good people at Saint Mary's College Campus Ministry. In it, I share the message of The Thrill of the Chaste, Catholic Edition.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Doctor is in ... England!

"I am currently awaiting confirmation of a job offer—prayers, please!" Until now, that plea, posted on The Dawn Patrol last April, was the last bit of news I shared on my blog concerning my plans upon becoming the first woman to receive a canonical doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

At the Our Lady Seat of Wisdom statue outside Oscott, October 10, 2016

Today it is my joy to write of answered prayers. Since October, I have been a resident lecturer in theology at St. Mary's College, Oscott, which is the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England. It is the largest seminary in the English-speaking world outside the United States (not counting the U.S.-operated North American College in Rome).

Although Oscott has long had women on staff and recently awarded the title of Professor to Church History lecturer and Director of Studies Dr. Judith Champ, my hiring marks the first time that the seminary has ever had a female theologian in residence. It is also the first time any lay member of the faculty has resided on campus (a necessity for me, as I do not drive).

Rector Fr. David Oakley first approached me about teaching at Oscott when I visited the seminary during my European speaking tour in May 2015 to address seminarians on "Celibacy and Communion in John Paul II's Catechesis on Human Love." We stayed in touch as I completed my doctorate, and the hope of entering the field of seminary teaching — which was what I had long felt the Lord was calling me to do — inspired me as I wrote my dissertation.

Why, then, has it taken me so long to share this wonderful news with Dawn Patrol readers? Two reasons: First, although I arrived in the UK on a tourist visa in August, there was no legal assurance that I would be able to accept a teaching position until late September, when the authorities granted my request for a work visa. Second, once the visa was finally approved — which came after much bureaucratic back-and-forth, a visit to an immigration lawyer, and a journey back home to complete the application process — I had to not only dive straight into teaching three classes but also make up for weeks of lost lecture time.

Thus far I have been teaching three classes — Eucharist, Ecclesiology, and The Church and Dialogue — and next semester I will contribute two lectures to a fourth class, Holy Order (for which I will teach the theology of the priesthood from Vatican II to the present). My students, all of whom are men studying for the priesthood, hail variously from England, Scotland, Wales, the Philippines, Cameroon, and Nigeria. They include not only diocesan seminarians but also members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Vocationist Fathers, and the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Because I teach three different year groups, I have a total of thirty-two students in my classes—nearly half the seminary.

My initial experience of teaching was simultaneously exciting and daunting. It was exciting to finally begin to teach for the first time and discover that I really could do it. And it was daunting to discover how much I was in need of the wisdom that comes with experience. I began to understand that whereas I am blessed to have certain natural gifts for teaching, it will take significant time and effort to become the kind of teacher I want to be. Some things can be learned only by doing.

Although I arrived at Oscott having some experience of seminary life, it is unquestionably a different experience living at a British seminary than it was living at an American one. In fact, British culture in general is much stranger to me than I had imagined it would be. Most of my previous experiences of it were in the 1990s, when I was moving in a very different world, interviewing rock bands for compact-disc liner notes and for Mojo magazine. (I later romanticized those times in a song, "Girl on the Northern Line," that was recorded by the Anderson Council.)

Girl on the Northern Line: Rocking my way through London, October 1991.

Something to smile about: Catching up with the legendary Paulist Father James Lloyd during a Christmas trip to NYC, 2017 

If there is a thread of continuity between my experiences of England as a rock historian and as a dogmatic theologian, perhaps it is that of being an insider in a world that is well known but beyond the reach of most people.

For example, in 1992, while on assignment as a liner-note writer for reissue producer Ron Furmanek, working on collections of music by the Hollies and other British rockers, I stayed for two weeks in a townhouse at the Abbey Road Studios complex—the same place where Paul McCartney stayed when he recorded there. Ron was working closely with the Apple Records at the time, and I was able to tag along with him to a rehearsal of George Harrison with his touring band—which then included Tom Petty— at a cavernous soundstage at Shepperton Film Studios. I also went with Ron to visit Dave Clark at his famous Mayfair penthouse apartment. (My outstanding memory of that event is Clark's praising Ron and assuring him that, when the time came for him to license the Dave Clark Five's music for reissue, Ron would be his producer of choice. Instead, however, he made an ill-fated deal with Disney.)

Fast forward to today, and instead of having an inside look at how records are produced, I have an inside look at how priests are produced—or, rather, formed. More than that, I do so not as a mere spectator but rather as part of a team that is responsible for their intellectual formation.

And I still get to live and dine in rarefied, veddy British surroundings—only my present digs are more Downton Abbey than downtown London, being designed by Augustus Welby Pugin.

The faculty dining room at Oscott, with table set for a formal dinner, September 2016
But there is another side of being an insider that is not so enviable. Sally Read, in her masterly memoir Night's Bright Darkness, describes how Soho Square, where she used to party with her friends, took on a new meaning for her when, during her journey to Catholicism, she discovered the friendship of Jesus in the Eucharist at the parish church there, St. Patrick's. Too often, Catholics—and I include myself here—treat the faith as though it were an insider's experience, available only to those in the know. The faith may be attractive to us, but we don't really expect anyone else to be attracted by it. I remember an English monk years ago when he wrote to thank me after I gifted his monastery with a copy of The Thrill of the Chaste: "I'm sure that now we will all enjoy being chaste." Granted, he was being witty, but every day I encounter Catholics—again, myself not excluded—who lack confidence that, by living and proclaiming their faith, they can draw those on the outside toward the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Although Read encountered Catholic laypeople prior to her conversion, the person she credits with bringing her to the faith is a priest. My experience was similar, only it wasn't just one priest but many, and it wasn't only priests, but seminarians. They reached out to me during the time between late 2003 and early 2005 when I was a newly baptized non-Catholic Christian searching for a church to call home. I remember how such wonderfully dedicated Catholic seminarians such as Dennis Schenkel and John Brown, S.J. (both now priests) encouraged me in my search for truth. There was no pressure and no hint of triumphalism about their witness. They simply made themselves present for me, answering my questions, giving me good Catholic reading, praying for me, and demonstrating by their lives that Catholic morality—including the teachings on chastity and on celibacy for the Kingdom—far from quenching charity, truly enables it.

My hope is that, as a convert from Judaism via Protestantism who was long entrenched in the most secular corners of the media world, I can help the seminarians in my charge have confidence that, given a life of prayer and a sound understanding of their faith, they can bring souls to Christ who are lost as I was.

* * *

Now that I am teaching, I am looking forward to having summers off so that I may do ... more teaching! I am looking to teach at a university's summer program in theology and am also interested in giving classes to members of institutes of consecrated life. If you or someone you know would like to discuss having me teach in July or August, my e-mail address is dawneden [at] gmail.com.

In other good news, my doctoral dissertation is now available to academic libraries via ProQuest. "The Mystical Body and Its Loving Wounds" examines magisterial teaching on redemptive suffering from Pius XII's reign through the first three years of Francis's papacy. Now that I have settled into my teaching schedule, I intend to begin approaching academic publishers so that I might publish it in book form.

I am most grateful to those who continue to spread the word about my books on healing and conversion, including the good people at Catholic World Report, which recently published both Dr. Christopher S. Morrissey's review of my latest book Remembering God's Mercy and Rhonda Ortiz's interview with me about it.

Last, given that everything I have ever asked my family, friends, and Dawn Patrol readers to pray for has come to pass, might I ask you to please pray for one more thing for me? Please pray that I might make close friends in the metropolitan area where I am currently living. Moving an ocean away from friends and family, to a strange country where my accent and mores make me stick out, is the most difficult thing that I have ever done. I miss living around people who know me well enough that I can ask them for a hug without anyone being scandalized. On the upside, I am gradually meeting people and I do realize that friendships, like all good things, take time. Thank you for your prayers, and please know that every day I pray to Jesus through Mary for all my readers, including you.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rome Reports tells my story

The news service Rome Reports, which normally covers the Vatican, today offers a profile of my journey and apostolate.

I am terrifically impressed by how beautifully reporter Yeney Amaro condensed my story into this brief video. It features an interview shot at Mundelein Seminary by Jesse Weiler of the Liturgical Institute in July of this year, plus vintage clips of me with disc jockey "Rodney on the ROQ" Bingenheimer in 1986 (shot by Chris Carter) and with Jeff Probst on "Sound FX" in 1995. The book on Ignatian spirituality for healing that I mention is Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"God is there in our desperation and weakness and skepticism"

Catholic academic Ann Koshute today posted a beautiful review of my latest book, Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories. Here is a taste of it:

Remembering God's Mercy is a mini-retreat, an invitation to deep contemplation as well as an instruction on mercy through Scripture and the example of the saints. My favorite parts of the book are those where Dawn asks questions for personal reflection, and when she invites the reader to pray with her. (Her reflection on the Seven Sorrows in chapter 4 particularly touched me, and I will surely use it for further contemplation.) I was also moved by her recollection of being introduced to the Jesus Prayer by her friend and fellow convert Jeffry Hendrix, who later succumbed to kidney cancer. This simple yet powerful prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner – comes easily to my lips as an Eastern Catholic; perhaps too easily. Dawn recounts her discomfort with the prayer, believing it to be more a recitation of her wretchedness than a form of praise and supplication. It seems that trying to say the prayer was a fruitless effort. Only when faced with desperation (Dawn recounts an incident of where a painful memory from her past overtook her, causing great anxiety) did the words of the Jesus Prayer spontaneously arise from deep inside her:

“I said it again. And again. And, as I did, something happened…. The prayer was not leading me to self-pity. It was opening my heart to the purifying love of God.”

This is the beauty of God’s mercy in action, and the lesson we must learn in order to be embraced by it: to simply let go and be loved. Of course, God’s mercy comes with the charge to be formed by it, to be changed. But I must first know that God’s mercy is available to me, that He wants to give it to me, and that I am worthy of receiving it. It doesn’t matter if that knowledge comes as a result of the desperation Dawn describes, or if we can only weakly or even skeptically cry out to Him. God is there in our desperation and weakness and skepticism. As Pope Francis says, God “waits for us to concede him only the smallest glimmer of space so he can enact his forgiveness and his charity within us.”
Read the rest on the St. Joseph's College Theology Blog. My gratitude to Ann for helping spread the word about my literary apostolate to those seeking spiritual healing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On bringing dark memories into Christ's light

In this new video, recorded during a talk I gave at a private home, I share how the Ignatian approach of my book Remembering God's Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories can help people who have not been helped by popular approaches to spiritual healing.

William Doino, Jr., has praised this aspect of Remembering God's Mercy in his review on the First Things site:
Eden’s approach differs substantially from books on “inner healing,” because it reverses the process often recommended by the latter. Instead of starting with oneself, and trying to recall every painful trauma for God to treat, Eden begins with Christ’s sacrifice, and encourages us to unite our wounds to his, as a means of receiving his infinite mercy. She also places a high priority on the Sacraments—especially Confession and the Holy Eucharist—whose transformative qualities she describes movingly.
Remembering God's Mercy is available from Marytown and all major booksellers.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Listen: The Anderson Council performs my song "Girl on the Northern Line"

[Updated on December 7 with "Northern Line" video]:

Before I was an author, I was a rock historian and sometimes tried my hand at songwriting. One of the songs I wrote, "Girl on the Northern Line," was intended for the Anderson Council, friends who had me pose behind a Viewmaster for the cover of their first album on a brisk Queens morning in 2001.

So it is with great joy that I can announce that, fifteen years after I wrote the song, "Girl on the Northern Line" is finally seeing release as one of four newly recorded tracks on the Anderson Council's wonderful best-of CD Assorted Colours. Best of all, pop fans are raving about the album and even singling out my tune. Just today, MyCentralJersey.com reviewer Bob Makin wrote, "Of the four new tracks, the harmonic, innocent-sounding brief encounter of 'Girl on the Northern Line' stands out."

Here is a video of the song, featuring footage shot by fans of the Anderson Council:

And here is a preview video for Assorted Colours.

What a terrific blessing to fulfill my dream of having the Anderson Council record one of my songs, and to do so as I prepare to enter into my new vocation as a seminary teacher. If MOJO magazine ever does a feature on "Systematic Theologians Who Rock," perhaps now I will be on their short list.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Now available: my dissertation on redemptive suffering

Since I posted the text of my dissertation defense, readers have asked where they can purchase my dissertation. I am happy to announce that it is now available for purchase online. Just go to the ProQuest Dissertation Express website and search for "Goldstein, Dawn Eden" in the author field, or type in the title: "The Mystical Body and Its Loving Wounds: Redemptive Suffering in Magisterial Teaching, Pre-Papal Writings, and Popes' Teachings as Private Theologians, 1939-2015."