Public Policy, Elections, and Making Legislative Change

For this Sunday’s Formation Time, we welcomed Creighton and Cortina alum Patrick Carter to speak to the community about public policy and how it can create justice for all. Patrick graduated from Creighton in 2010 with a degree in Justice and Society. Upon graduation, he completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Minnesota. Patrick currently works with Minnesota Department of Human Services as a legislative liaison. Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.27.00 PMPatrick provided great insight into the legislative branch and emphasized that you have to understand the system before you can make change. He shared ways how everyone can make an impact on public policy, from bringing ideas to legislators to meeting with your congressperson about a certain issue to contacting an executive leader with your concerns about a new law.

Patrick’s talk was fitting because of Election Day on Tuesday. As Patrick said, every election has a lot at stake, making it especially important that we exercise our right to vote. Here are a few resources to help educate you about important local, state, and federal elections this year as well as important voting information:

Douglas County Election Commission — find your polling place in Omaha, sample ballots, and more.

Voting Requirement/Process by State

Nebraska voter guide — the Omaha World-Herald‘s guide to elections in Nebraska. Nearly every major newspaper has a site like this, so non-Nebraskans can find a similar guide at other major newspapers.

Ballot Hero — sign up with an account, input your voting location, and learn about the candidates looking for your votes on Tuesday. (for Nebraska voters only)

League of Women Voters — create a personalized ballot to take with you to the polls on Election Day!

NBC News Decision 2014 — a nifty guide to this year’s Election Day that will be great for tracking key races across the country. Keep a close eye on Republicans to see if they takes control of the Senate.

Thank you to Patrick Carter for sharing your knowledge with Cortina. And remember to vote this Tuesday!

Formation Time – Business Ethics and CST


I hope that you thoroughly enjoyed our conversation during Formation Time on Sunday. A vocation in the business sector can be for the common good and create positive change in the world. I would be remiss in this statement if I did not admit that the society in which we live poses many challenges to maintaining such a posture toward the world. However, in and through collaboration—community—and an understanding of the human person as one who is integrally connected to others, change is possible.

Let’s add some feet to the challenge Madi posed at the end of our time together: What practices on campus and in your life as a consumer frustrate you? What makes you angry? What can we work to change? Let’s start the dialogue and do something about it!

Here’s the link to the document that guided Dr. Kelly’s presentation.

If you want to do some further research, I suggest these articles:

Peace and all good,


Cortina Field Trips!

This weekend, the Cortina Community began a new tradition: Cortina Field Trips! Cortinians had the opportunity to explore different sites in the Omaha area. Formation Group Leaders led small groups of students to their favorite places around the community, from restaurants to parks to churches. Students had the chance to see parts of Omaha they may not have ventured to before and experience the diversity and liveliness of this city. Here are a few pictures from the day. We hope to continue this activity throughout the year!

What did you discover about Omaha? What are some of your places in the city?

Monday Meditation: Vocation

The first Cortina Formation Time of the year focused on the topic of vocation. Freshmen and sophomores were split into separate rooms to hear from members of the Creighton and Omaha communities who shared their vocational journey and gave advice to students as they find their own vocation.

Our panelists were: Kyle O’Reilly, video editor at West Corporation; Scott McClure, Vice President of the Magis Program at Creighton; Dr. Andy Gustafson, Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Society at Creighton; Dr. Corey Guenther, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Creighton; Becky Nickerson, Assistant Director for Leadership and Retention in Creighton’s Office of Multicultural Affairs; Amanda Drapcho, Director of the Lieben Center for Women at Creighton; and Kate McKillip, an internal and pediatric resident at UNMC. We thank them so much for taking the time to spend their Sunday evening with us!

As you begin to reflect and meditate on your passions and career calling, here are some great resources to help you continue thinking about vocation:

“Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.” — Gail Godwin, Evensong

What does vocation mean to you? How do you see your time at Creighton informing your vocation? What can you do/are you doing to make your time here meaningful? How do you balance your inner voice and the demands of society/college culture when it comes to discerning your vocation?

The Start of a New Year

Welcome to our new and continuing members of the Cortina Community! After a busy start to the year full of new student orientation and the beginning of classes, we couldn’t be more excited for the year to come.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.22.09 AMOur first community meeting of the year was the annual Community Partner Bash where students learned who their community partner for the semester would be and met their fellow Formation Group members and leaders. Cortinians are eager to go to their service sites and learn about the Omaha community.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.22.53 AM The following weekend was the Cortina Fall Retreat, held at Carol Joy Holling Camp, for a time of learning, reflection, relationship-building and plenty of fun.

Students learned about Fr. Jon Cortina and were given a glimpse into his life of faith and service. In addition, we were privileged enough to see the premiere of a film made by Nico Sandi, second-year RA in Deglman, called “Faith That Does Justice,” which tells about the Jesuit martyrs tragedy in El Salvador that occurred 25 years ago. The incident shocked the world and spurred Fr. Cortina to fight injustice during a time of civil war in the country and for the rest of his life.

Cortinians also heard informative and inspirational talks from Ken Reed-Bouley, director of the Creighton Center for Service and Justice; Kyle Lierk, director of Campus Ministry at Creighton; and Dr. Faith Kurtyka, assistant professor of English at Creighton University, who all gave greater insight into the Cortina Community and how it will challenge students to think and to grow during their time in the community. We thank them for taking the time to speak to us, and we are looking forward to discussing and reflecting on what they shared with us as we continue to learn about ourselves and our world during the year.

In these first two weeks, we faced our fears, thought about our own beliefs, met new people, and shared laughter with wonderful people.

Here’s to the start of a life-giving year.

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,

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!

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?