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In this conversation, they talk about how Jason found his way into Catholic moral theology, his research into Catholic identity and the hookup culture on college campuses, and what to do when a course seems to fall apart.
They also talk about science fiction and their love for . Jason King is a Professor of Theology at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.
Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. I swear to Who Knows What that his latest demand, this pile of typewritten pages he hands me with a face that says, Please, Olivia, oh please don't be difficult and just do this for me, is staring, no, it's glaring at me from the coffee table like a monster that might eat me. The thought Saved by dinner passes through my mind. Olivia, ladies, Sister June, I must be off." One by one, he nods at each person in the room, at each of us one last time, and I want to shout, Don't go! It was truly a pleasure."Before I can say another word, a thank you, or even a see you later, Father Mark is at the door, opening it to leave, and I become aware that our entire encounter has taken barely a couple of minutes, though for me, the time goes by like a dream in slow motion.
But when Father Mark's enthusiasm for Olivia's prose develops into something more, Olivia's emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. I feel like if I touch it I will go up in flames or the pages might bite. Isn't it just a matter of grabbing hold of the stack and moving it in front of my eyes so my eyes will begin to scan those black marks on the page which will magically arrange themselves into words that my brain will recognize and understand and voilà, I'm finished before I know it? If it's not dinner that saves me lately, it's sleep, and if it's not sleep it's, oh, I don't know, cleaning my room, scrubbing the toilet. I took the Lord's name in vain and it doesn't feel half bad. I wonder whether he means what he says, about being in touch again soon, but this question is answered almost immediately. Maybe only a minute passes before I can't help myself any longer and I give in, digging the cell out of my bag and texting them, Come 4 dinner 2nite, BIG News (!!!!!!!!
The thought Mom is going to freak when she finds out races through me in a wave of giddiness. Lewis is drawing tangent lines on the board and her arm and the chalk slope up, up, up and there is a knock and the door opens and Sister June our principal is standing there and I see the expression on her face and I know. I try not to look at any of my classmates, who are staring, especially Ashley and Jada because they know I've been waiting, counting the days until May, but as usual my two best friends get the best of me so I glance in their direction. She looks up at me and her cheeks are flushed with pride and not makeup because nuns don't wear makeup, and she clasps my hands between her soft, wrinkled ones and whispers, "Oh, Olivia, your life is about to change," and that's when I notice her eyes are shiny and that's also when I know I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what is waiting on the other side of the door. Gonzalez, my English lit teacher, encouraged me to enter it. He is speaking but I can't focus on the words, I am only aware that Ms. Now another one, another Father walks into my life.
But as soon as my eyes hit the title page I feel regret because seeing it makes something in my stomach go queasy. I grab the stack and slam it facedown as if I can make it all go away. That's how it starts: with a pervasive sense of this cannot be happening and thinking that no one is going to believe me when I tell them because I don't even believe it myself. Sister June's eyes are on me and suddenly I can't remember anything about the slope of the tangent."I need Olivia Peters in the office right away," Sister June says with unmistakable joy and I am already shutting my notebook and textbook and shoving them into my bag because a girl can hope — sometimes a girl can't help but hope, you know? Every few feet Sister June glances my way and I detect the trace of a smile on her pursed lips and my heart quickens until it is beating so fast I imagine it is racing the fifty-yard dash and has left my body at the starting line. Sister June stops short because we are at the office entrance and I am so startled I almost knock her over. With one hand on my back she guides me or maybe encourages me or even ensures that I don't run away because this is my big moment, and we enter the reception area as a united front and just like that it happens, the same way I've been imagining and daydreaming all these months ever since the contest was announced in October and Ms. The reception staff surrounds him like he is a movie star or some other kind of celebrity or maybe even God come down from heaven to ask, Hello how is everybody doing? "But that's not why I am here, Olivia."The way he says my name, it sounds like music, beautiful music that I listen to at the symphony, and I wish he would keep saying "Olivia ... Olivia" with his emphasis on the O as in Oh-liv-ee-aah and not a-livia the way most people pronounce it with a short a, as if my name begins with an article and I am this object named "Livia," like liver or just live. Greenie and I, we took to these stand-in dads like kids to candy.
Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it? Then, when he asks, because he will ask, I'll be able to answer truthfully, "Yes, I read it. Just about anything sounds more appealing than dealing with some God Damn demand fromhim. Before he leaves the room, before he goes, he turns and smiles and looks at me like I am a gift from God, and for a moment I feel like maybe I am. My cell pings with texts and I know it's Ash and Jada, but I am not quite ready to confirm what they suspect. ) SWAK, and then shove the phone back under my books.
This remarkable novel about overcoming the isolation that stems from victimization is powerful, luminous, and impossible to put down. I'm special and it's his responsibility to take me under his wing, to make sure I don't waste my talent. It would be a sin for me not to take his offer of help. I did," and he will smile and I'll be Good Olivia again. CHAPTER 3ON JOYWARM AIR TICKLES THE SKIN ON MY ARMS AND LEGS AS I walk home from school and I laugh out loud because I am happy. At a stoplight I take a moment to breathe deep, inhaling the scent of flowering trees, leaning forward off the curb and fidgeting as if these small pushes and movements can will the signal to change from red to green and the blinking sign to Walk, like magic. For now I want to keep the news to myself, let it sink deep into the center of my thirsty soul like water in a garden. I look both ways then cross the street, heading along another block of town houses anchored by riotous springtime blooms packed into tiny city flower beds.
Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Come on, sweetie.""Be there in a minute," I yell back to her. "But we'll have to continue this conversation later. "I'll be in touch again soon, Olivia, to discuss where we go from here.“The entire room erupted, because they all agreed with her,” Freitas recalls.“They were shocked to realize that every single person in the room felt like they needed to pretend that they liked the hook-up culture on campus.” Freitas wondered if this tension was unique to Catholic campuses, so with the help of several student research assistants, she spent five months interviewing students at other Catholic colleges, at Evangelical Christian colleges, at nonreligious private colleges, and at public universities. Freitas has written several books, including Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise: Spirituality for the Bridget Jones in All of Us; Save the Date: A Spirituality of Dating, Love, Dinner & the Divine; and Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials, about the religious and ethical dimensions of the children’s books by celebrated British author Pullman.She loves to ask Big Questions (Why are we here anyway? No, you are grateful, Olivia, I tell myself as if I am my self's imaginary friend, sitting across the table, giving advice. ) and delights in discovering the many possible forums in which to dabble with the stuff of faith, religion, spirituality, and gender. She has been a professor at Boston University and at Hofstra in New York.
He is the author most recently of (Crossroad, 2003). Special thanks to the College Theology Society for enabling this episode to be recorded at the 2017 annual convention.