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Welcome to Nexus

by Michael P. Murphy

Header image created on Pablo Xavier on Midjourney

Nexus: Conversations on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is a digital-age journal that amplifies and publishes the scholarly dialogue taking place in the Hank Center—whether in symposia and conference proceedings or in the research of its several faculty working groups. Cultivating the Jesuit principle of finding God in all things, Nexus fosters a wide scope of interdisciplinary scholarship, reflection, and public engagement—theological, philosophical, artistic, scientific, literary, historical, political, and more—forms that constitute the habits of mind and inquiry that constitute this tried, tested, and ever innovative approach. Nexus is robust space to encounter and explore the "living tradition" of Catholic thought and practice to be a leavening to the scholarly community of Loyola University Chicago, to the Church, and to our local, national and international partners and audience. Nexus is published annually by the Hank Center.      


Our second issue of Nexus transports us into the exciting and complicated present. In our lives together, the drama of faith and culture is always afoot; but, in our late modern era, where science, digital culture, and AI are entwined in such fecundating dynamism, the stakes and implications have increased, well, dramatically. There is so much at which to marvel—and so much at which to wave the flag of caution. Will our advances in science and technology be a liberating movement—one that helps solve complex problems while bringing out the best of our shared humanity? Is this a moment, as Abraham Lincoln counseled in his First Inaugural Address, when we need to let loose “the better angels of our nature”? Or is it the case, as the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation repeat (as if a litany) that “resistance is futile”? In Catholic land, both possibilities are well in play.


Dear reader, what you have before you is a collection of compelling fresh takes on faith and culture in the era of science, digital culture, and AI. Volume editors Joe Vukov and Michael Burns have assembled a truly stellar array of articles, think pieces, and interviews—and have crafted an introduction that frames the volume with care and insight. Joe and Michael are at the forefront of conversations in science, religion, and technology—specifically as these dynamics integrate (or collide with) religious belief and unbelief. Their very popular, team-taught course “Philosophy and Biology for the Future,” draws scores of students every year—students who are eager for more expansive and careful conversations about religion, science, philosophy—and much more. The essays they have collected here are superb, and I am grateful for the work of our contributors and volume editors.    


We at the Hank Center are delighted to present Nexus to readers of goodwill so as to share needed insight and engender constructive conversation.  Thanks for reading!


Michael P. Murphy

Michael P. Murphy is Director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage. His research interests are in Theology and Literature, Sacramental Theology, and the literary/political cultures of Catholicism—but he also thinks and writes about issues in eco-theology, Ignatian pedagogy, and social ethics. Mike’s first book, A Theology of Criticism: Balthasar, Postmodernism, and the Catholic Imagination (Oxford), was named a "Distinguished Publication" in 2008 by the American Academy of Religion. His most recent published work is a co-edited volume (with Melissa Bradshaw), this need to dance/this need to kneel: Denise Levertov and the Poetics of Faith (Wipf and Stock, 2019). He is currently at work on a monograph entitled The Humane Realists: Catholic Fiction, Poetry, and Film 1965-2020

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