JPS Seminar Series: “Nervous Conditions”

Thank you all for your participation in discussion over the Nervous Conditions presentation during Community Time last week. Our group wanted to provide a little bit of information and a couple resources in order to keep the discussion going. During this semester, because of the Nervous Conditions novel as well as a supplemental book called Privilege, Power, and Difference by Allan Johnson, we discussed multiple topics but mostly focused on racism, sexism, gender inequality, and educational advantage. In Nervous Conditions especially, we found that gender inequality was a profound theme because the main character constantly felt the struggle of trying to get one leg up in the world, despite being a woman in a male dominant society. We also talked about the fact that many of us don’t even realize that we are privileged, and the effects that that has on us and the rest of the world.

A bit about the Rhodesian culture and government at the time:

“The colonial education system in the then Rhodesia did not have a specific policy for the education of women and girls.  Policies were race specific and gender neutral.  There were two systems of education namely the European Division and the African Division.  The European Division of education was non-fee paying, compulsory and of higher quality.  It was meant for white, coloured and Asian children while the African Division of education, which was neither free nor compulsory and had inadequate provisions was meant for black children” (Chabaya, Dudhlanga 2013).

In case any of you are further interested in learning more about either book that we read, here are some links regarding both the authors, the books, and other writings that they have produced:

Privelege, Power, and Difference


Nervous Conditions


Here is a link to the TED Talk that we showed during our presentation:



JPS Seminar Series: “Female Chauvinist Pigs”

This post is the first from the six Justice and Peace Studies seminar classes. Each class has spent the semester reading a different book that focuses on a certain social issue or topic. After the groups did a presentation on their book during Sunday Community Time, members of the class were asked to complete a follow-up blog.

Feminism has definitely evolved since it first came about in the 20th century. It first focused on various issues such as voting rights, equality in the workplace, and the rights to our own bodies. Nowadays being a woman has changed into something that our sisters of the original feminist movement would shudder to see.

In Ariel Levy’s book “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” she suggests women are oppressing their own gender by displaying themselves sexually. She uses examples such as women’s clothing, their involvement with “Girls Gone Wild,” “Playboy,” and even sexually driven parties. Women are not only participating in these activities and events, but they are running the show as well as employees and CEOs of companies that “sell sex.”

Levy argues that these aspects are holding women back, but is this just a new way of women taking more control over themselves? Some argue that women’s increased sexual behavior is a path to empowerment and true self-expression. Levy generalizes that women want to be sexy in order to feel worthwhile, but it is possible that some women dress and act sexy for their own desires. It may make them happy, and criticizing their pursuit of happiness could be the greatest form of oppression.



This video shows the way the world would be if the roles of men and women were reversed. It seems so strange that people would be saying these types of things to anyone, but it’s true that women get treated the way the man in this video was treated. Men analyze our bodies and clothes, we’re treated as if our opinions don’t matter, and sometimes we are outright dominated by men. This video serves as a wakeup call; if it’s strange to see a man treated like this, why is it any better when a woman is treated this way?



This short video shows us what women went through in the past and what they are still going through in the present in certain countries. In the United States, for example, women have come a long way. Women and young girls are more respected and most of them live their age accordingly. However, it is important to keep in mind the countries where girls and women are mistreated. The question to ask here is:  Is it really men’s fault for disrespecting the other gender, or the women’s fault for not defending themselves?

Share your thoughts below.

an open letter to my students who live in a scary world

Hello there Cortina-folk.

THANK YOU for the rich discussion tonight. I think that these are issues near and dear to each one of us in different ways and I think it is important to acknowledge the frustration and fear that we might feel when we talk about them.

Mostly I want to acknowledge these feelings because there are very legitimate things to fear in our world. It is not productive to have these conversations pretending that this is not the case.

In our short lives, many of us have already felt the pain of violence & stereotyping. I think that the question we have to ask coming out of tonight is:

How do I love a scary world? Or, as Jesus put it, “love my enemies”?
(These could be physical enemies or people who pose a threat to my way of seeing the world).

The difficulty that Alex so aptly and practically brought up tonight is that there is a reality to danger. But the difficulty of always feeling this danger is that if we live in fear, we always feel the need to protect ourselves. If we always need to protect ourselves, there is no openness to anyone who is a stranger or who doesn’t live within the space of our daily interaction. If there is no openness to the stranger, there is no openness to the truth of anyone’s life that is not our own or those close to us. And often this proliferates what Jordan named for us: Confirmation bias. It is nice to have our biases confirmed; it makes us feel ideologically safer and in turn, physically safer.

Though this might be discouraging, do not lose heart! I don’t have to throw caution to the wind to love my enemy (or neighbor who I don’t know). I don’t have to leave my door unlocked at all times or run at 2am or wander aimlessly about an area I know nothing about and pretend like there is nothing dangerous about that. In fact, loving my enemies should be much more intentional than that.

Sometimes we have to start small and recognize our own biases and decide to not look everywhere to confirm them. Even that small act is an act of love. It is an act of hospitality to make room for the fact that someone may not be just who you think they are. This doesn’t mean you will get to know every person you have preconceived ideas about  or that you will invite every person you are scared of into your home, but it does allow you to engage your mind in a way that allows you to not be paralyzed by fear. Fear doesn’t allow your mind to expand, it makes it contract, shut down. FIGHT OR FLIGHT! We can’t fight or flee our whole lives. That is not conducive to living, but neither is only finding comfortable spaces where our ideas about what is good, normal, safe, or acceptable are consistently re-affirmed.

A brilliant man named Parker Palmer runs something called The Center for Courage and Renewal. In his book, To Know as We Are Known, he wrote these words that will challenge me until the day I die (and you’ll see him quoted elsewhere in my writing for this blog):

Hospitality is a central virtue of the biblical tradition itself, where God is always using the stranger to introduce us to strangeness of truth. To be inhospitable to strangers or strange ideas, however unsettling they may be, is to be hostile to the possibility of truth; hospitality is not only an ethical virtue but an epistemological one as well. Hospitality is not an end in itself. It is offered for the sake of what it can allow, permit, encourage, and yield. A learning space needs to be hospitable not to make learning painless, but to make the painful things possible, things without which no learning can occur—things like exposing ignorance, testing tentative hypotheses, challenging false or partial information, and mutual criticism of thought. Each of these is essential to obedience to truth. But none of them can happen in an atmosphere where people feel threatened and judged. 

How is our lack of hospitality a judgment that disallows real learning about each other and about the world? AHH. It is scary for me to think about how I do this to people all the time. Read Palmer’s passage again. You’ll see something new every time.

Yet again though, this is hard a hard truth because fear is deeply ingrained in us. For many of us it might take years of counseling to trust anyone again, to be “hospitable to the stranger” (even in our minds!). Here is my admonition:

do that work.

It is worth it. Do any work that you can to open yourself up. In opening up, we are able to not only give, but also receive love in a more full, abundant way.

It takes practice to make that space, and I am still learning to do so as well. It is equally important that we don’t assume everyone wants to get to know us or be our friends or have our “hospitality” forced on them. There is a balance. And it is hard. Have grace with yourselves, and others. That is loving ourselves and loving our enemies. And both of those seem important. If we can’t love ourselves through the scary things we see inside of our own hearts and minds, how will we do that for and with anyone whose heart and mind we don’t have direct access to?

Anyway, I just felt overwhelmed by your good questions and engagement today and I wanted to say “Thank you.” I would love to talk to any of you that would like to dig further into this & I would welcome any ideas you have about continuing one of many of the rich conversations that were begun tonight.

With gratitude,

Social Justice Song of the Week: “Spring to Come” by The John Butler Trio

To all of our excitement, yesterday was the first day of spring, and it sure felt like it. I could not even believe how nice it was yesterday. Without a doubt, it was one of the nicest days of 2014 so far.

What’s the point of spring? According to the dictionary on my computer, one of the definitions of the word “spring” is to “bring about the escape or release of (a prisoner).” Personally, I kind of like this definition. We all know about the reference of “new beginnings” that comes with spring, but I think this definition provides a new and unique, but still similar perspective. To be honest, after these Omaha winters, I practically feel like a prisoner, and days like today, when I can walk down the mall without a coat, I feel like I’ve just made bail.

This week’s song is “Spring to Come” by The John Butler Trio. As always, please listen and then reflect before reading what I have to say about the song.



I think all of us can relate to waiting for spring to come. As I have mentioned, the winter here can be unbearable, and it is incredibly refreshing to have a new beginning. Personally, I find solace in the very end of the song. Butler sings, “Out of the darkness, only light can come. After a lonely long night comes the sun.” I think that this is what spring is all about. After being prisoners to darkness, winter, loneliness, schoolwork, or whatever it might be, there’s always tomorrow. I think that this is an important thing to keep in mind. No matter how bad things might get, we always have hope for tomorrow.

With regard to Cortina, I think that we can find a lot of truth in this song. If not from this song, we can at least take truths from the idea of spring. I know that sometimes it might be hard for us to make it to our service sites every week because we are often prisoners to our schoolwork. However, this is a time of new beginnings and releasing ourselves from those kinds of binds. Perhaps it is good to take a break, become rejuvenated by your service in the community, and then come back to start anew on your schoolwork.

Furthermore, looking at the aspect of loneliness, I think it is important that we work this spring to establish even stronger relationships in the community. In The Cortina Community, and everywhere for that matter, nobody should have to deal with a “lonely long night” that Butler describes. With the end of the semester approaching, please make an effort to reach out to fellow Cortinians, people at your service site, and people all around campus. I will try to do the same, but we all must hold each other to this standard. I hope we can all start anew this spring and remember that “out of the darkness, only light can come.”

-Ben Feiten

Social Justice Songs of the Week: “What If” by Five For Fighting and “Another Man’s Shoes” by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

Today I want to focus on perspective. With my last entry, I tried to focus on how we can “be light” for others as members of the Cortina Community. I think that perspective is a really important part of this idea.

This week I have two songs. The first song is “What If” by Five for Fighting. Please listen and reflect and then read about how I think it can relate to Cortina and then close by reflecting to the second song, “Another Man’s Shoes” by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

The lyrics of this song are powerful. The first time I heard it, all I could think was “WOW.” Think about it…

What if I had your heart?
What if you wore my scars?
How would we break down?
What if you were me and what if I were you?

That’s pretty deep. To me, we should keep this in mind as we do service. If we make the service all about ourselves, we can’t truly serve. Instead, we have to keep in mind that the service is all about the people we are serving. If we remember that they have a story, we can sympathize with them and begin to understand the struggles that they might be going through.

Not only should we remember this when doing service, but also everyday when interacting with others. We may not know what another person has seen in their life, what they value, what their dreams are, etc. But keeping an open mind to what they have to say and what they think can help us to grow immensely. For example, maybe the person who frustrates you, annoys you, or won’t leave you alone just needs a friend?

I hope that all of this might sound familiar to the Cortina Community after Sunday’s community time. On Sunday we watched an episode of “30 Days” about immigration. A man was vehemently opposed to illegal immigration, so much so that he worked as a minute man on the border. After living with an illegal immigrant family for 30 days, visiting their family back in Mexico, and seeing their living conditions, he saw their perspective. He understood why they left Mexico for the United States. As we continue this week, I hope that we can all keep in mind that other people have stories and that we should not be so quick to judge. Instead, take a look at life from their perspective. Maybe walk a mile in their shoes


-Ben Feiten

Homelessness and the Unsurpassable Worth of Humans

During Sunday’s Community Time, we had a very special guest, Robbie Goldman, speak to us about the issue of homelessness and share stories about people living on the streets of Denver. He works for a non-profit organization called Dry Bones Denver, which works with youth who are experiencing homelessness.


Dry Bones’ mission is:

“In the context of relationships, practicing the way of Jesus, we meet spiritual and physical needs of homeless and street-connected youth and young adults. We seek to equip and inspire all involve to relieve suffering, facilitate reconciliation, and free the heart to love.”

Robbie also spoke about how Dry Bones works to make sure that every human they encounter knows these three things in a complete, transcendent way:

1. You have unsurpassable worth.
2. You are unconditionally loved.
3. You have absolute security.

As a community, we were asked to define homelessness and came up with a wide range of definitions that fit the word.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 3.04.46 PM

After a discussion as to what homelessness is and the reason behind its existence, we split up into our different majors or areas of study to answer the question: how can we use our skills or knowledge to end homelessness?

Great conversations took place, but now what? Here are various ways people are working to end homelessness and ideas for how you can participate, specifically in the Denver area:








Politics & Government:

City Planning: “As a city planner, I learned that plans involving the affected groups, whether a neighborhood or a business area, work best, with public participation by those directly affected. Denver Homeless Out Loud has a strong belief that these several thousand homeless citizens must be consulted in finding solutions.”

Comment below with ways you see people working to end homelessness in Omaha or your hometown or ideas you have using your skills or knowledge.

And special thank you to Robbie Goldman for taking the time to come to Creighton to speak to us and inspiring us all!

Social Justice Song of the Week: “I Will Be Light” by Matisyahu

As students at a Jesuit institution, I think it is safe to say that we have all heard a lot about the Jesuit Pillars. Everyone always talks about Men and Women for and with others, Magis, and Cura Personalis. I first heard about these pillars at my Jesuit high school and I loved them so much that I continued on to a Jesuit University. Over the years, I’ve learned about the connection between each pillar and how each one helps to fulfill the others. With this said, in the past year I have grown to greatly appreciate one particular pillar in this regard. “Finding God in All Things” has helped me to appreciate God in everything and better understand the other Jesuit Pillars. If I can find God in everything I encounter, I can be a better man for others, care for the whole person, etc.

Upon reflecting on this, I came up with the idea to start a semester long series for the Cortina Community called “Social Justice Song of the Week.” This will focus on finding God in everything around us. Specifically, I will be writing one or more pieces each week that focus on how I find God in music and the messages I take from it. I hope that this experience can help bring me and my fellow Cortinians closer to God, find Him in our service, and begin to think critically about how we bring God into our weekly service and daily lives. The first song I have chosen to write about is “I Will Be Light” by Matisyahu. Please listen and reflect on the lyrics and then read on to see how I think this connects.

I think everyone has the potential to “be light.” As members of the Cortina Community, it is our job to see the light in others and let it shine in them. However, how do we “be light”? To be a light for others, we have to love. This doesn’t mean we have to take someone out to a candle lit dinner. I’m talking about the ultimate, agapic love. Of course, that’s not easy. But we can make small steps toward this goal by doing things as simple as smiling or listening. When we are at our service sites, some of the people really just enjoy having a person to talk to. By being that person who listens, smiles, and helps however we can, we are being a light for the people we serve.

As we go forth to our service sites, I hope that we can each think about how we are being a light to the people at our sites and, in fact, how they are being a light for us. I started with this song to set the tone for the rest of the semester. I hope that with each song I post that everyone can enjoy them and see how they can take lessons from them to be a light for others.

-Ben Feiten

Come to “Pastries and Postcards” for Immigration Reform



The Cortina Community has been invited to be a part of the movement to pass immigration reform in the United States. An event called “Pastries and Postcards” will take place on Monday, Feb. 10 in the Deglman lobby from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Students will have the opportunity to sign a postcard for immigration reform and enjoy baked goods from the International Bakery.

Additional tabling on campus will occur on Tuesday, Feb. 11 in the Skutt Student Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All signed postcards from the week will be presented to U.S. Congressman Lee Terry when he visits Creighton’s Center for Service and Justice on Feb. 18 to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with students.

The tabling is a part of February’s Ignatian Family Advocacy Month (IFAM). A group of Creighton students attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. last November, and this month is intended to educate the campus about important social justice issues and continue the conversations with elected officials that were started at the event.

Kelly Sullivan, one of the organizers of Pastries and Postcards, explains the importance of needing reform for our country’s immigration system.

“Well first, coming from a Catholic institution, we see that Catholic Social Teaching tells us that it is our ‘duty to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.’ There are many ways our current immigration system does not uphold the human dignity of immigrants that we think needs to be fixed.”

The Ignatian Solidarity Network gives several examples as to why our system is broken:
1. Families are torn apart: There are ways on paper that allow family members to be united, but backlogs of up to 22 years force families to decide between separation or illegally entering the country.
2. Talent is wasted: Approximately 1.8 million individuals currently residing in the U.S. were brought here at a young age, but their lack of legal status prevents them from reaching their dreams and puts them at risk of deportation to a foreign country.
3. Workers are exploited: Migrant workers are consistently exploited and forced to work in unsafe conditions.
4. Suffering is ignored: Our asylum and refugee system is under threat, and rather than treating these oppressed peoples with compassion, the system treats them as potential terrorists and subjects them to lengthy delays.
5. An increasingly militarized border: The misguided border militarization of the last decade has cost $100 billion, doubled the size of the Border Patrol without sufficient screening, training or accountability, led to over 6,000 dead and murdered immigrants, and allowed widespread civil and human rights violations.

Sullivan also emphasizes the importance of acting now.

“Waiting will only continue to tear families apart, and the numbers crossing the border will not change. The Senate passed a bill (S. 744) in 2013. A similar comprehensive bill (H.R. 15) was introduced in the House, but has not been put on the floor to vote. We recognize that no bill is ever going to be perfect for both sides, but inaction is not the answer. We would like to see humane immigration reform passed this year before other issues become the center of discussion and the immigration reform is forgotten while the problems are exacerbated.”

Rep. Lee Terry’s visit to Creighton will allow him to hear what his constituents are asking for and give students the opportunity to have direct interaction and voice their opinions. If you are interested in being a part of the meeting, contact Cat Keating at

For more information and resources about immigration, visit the websites below. You can also visit and like the CU for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Facebook page.

Justice for Immigrants Campaign - a campaign under the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Interfaith Immigrant Coalition
United We Dream - immigrant youth building a movement for justice
Ignatian Solidarity Network, response to House Republican Perspectives

Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad Sparks Debate on American Diversity

In the midst of what is being considered a rather tame evening of advertising, one 2014 Super Bowl ad is receiving a great deal of attention.

Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” ad shows diverse scenes of American life with the song “America the Beautiful” playing in the background. In the aftermath of its airing, viewers took to social media to both praise and object to the ad.

Why the controversy?

First, the song is sung in various languages, including Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, and Hebrew. In addition, the ad features a gay family, which according to GLAAD is a first in Super Bowl advertising.

Some say the ad celebrates the diversity of our country and truly reflects what makes America beautiful. Others are calling the ad unpatriotic and are criticizing a classic American song being sung in different languages.

Katie Bayne, president of Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement, “We hope the ad gets people talking and thinking about what it means to be proud to be American.”

An extended version of the ad is expected to air during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.

What do you think of the Coca-Cola ad and the controversy surrounding it? Do you think it was the right choice to have “America the Beautiful” sung in different languages? What other Super Bowl ads caught your attention Sunday night because of their depiction of American life?

A Very Cortina Super Bowl


Before sitting back to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks, here is Super Bowl XLVIII by the numbers:

  • Super Bowl Sunday is the 2nd largest day for U.S. food consumption after Thanksgiving Day.
  • 82,500 fans will watch the game inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
  • Super Bowl XLVIII is expected to be the most-watched game in history and break 2012′s 111 million viewers.
  • The price of one ticket to the game has ranged in price from $500 and $2,600.
  • It costs $51 to take a shuttle to the stadium from various locations in New York and New Jersey.
  • The NFL has spent $11 million on game-day security.
  • The local economies in New York and New Jersey are expecting $30-90 million boost from game-related spending.
  • The players on the winning team will see a $92,000 bonus, while $49,000 will go to each of the players on the non-winning team.
  • 26 percent of fans say they pray to God to help their team.
  • This year the cost for a 30-second commercial is $4 million.

For more facts about this huge annual event, visit these articles from E! Online and ABC New York.

Whether you are cheering for your favorite team or are only tuning in to see the commercials, enjoy this year’s Super Bowl!