The Monthly Memo — March Edition

Adam Hagy via USAToday Sports

Adam Hagy via USAToday Sports

Why Loyola's Final Four Run Was Unbelievable

I realize that it is now April and I am sending out March's Memo. When Loyola made the NCAA tournament earlier in the month I figured I would send this out once they lost and March's Memo would be a good recap of things. But then they won. And they won again, and again, and again. They made the Final Four for the first time since 1963, where they finally, heartbreakingly, lost to Michigan. 

When Loyola finally lost I was, like most fans, crushed that our historical run came to end (I say "our" because I am a 2015 Loyola alum). But in retrospect, after seeing Villanova eviscerate Michigan in the championship game, I feel relieved that it wasn't us in that spot. How great would it be to make the championship but get blown out? 

I am beyond proud of what the Ramblers were able to do for the school and the city of Chicago. I have clashed with Loyola a number of times as a student and post-grad, but watching the basketball team do what they did brought out a sense of pride I never thought I would have for my alma mater

The glory of the 1963 team was heavily emphasized during my time at Loyola, from 2011 through 2015. The fiftieth anniversary of the championship run, in 2013, was a big event on campus.

But beyond that team sports has never had much of a place at the university. The university’s academics, Catholic, Jesuit identity, and its history are it’s selling points. Those aren’t bad ways to sell a university, but it does make it difficult to build a dedicated base of students and alumni who take pride in the institution.

That has all changed this year. But it didn’t begin this year.

Read more at The Monthly Memo.

What Loyola Can Teach Us About Faith & Sports

Michael Murphy, the director of Loyola's Hank Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage, dissects what it means when a Catholic school is introduced to a wide audience via sports. When Loyola burst on the scene in the tournament the media suddenly started paying attention to the school's Jesuit character. 

The spectacle of sport, like liturgy, discloses our explicit aspirations and implicit fears in dramatic fashion. But what if other values were also exalted and amplified—like solidarity, generosity and reconciliation? What if, like Sister Jean (who helped to establish the MAGIS scholarship for undocumented students at LUC), we saw collegiate athletics as but an extension of the classroom, another venue for helping young people to learn and grow? And what if we saw that extended classroom as a place where faith, reason and justice might be placed in creative conversation and fertile tension? What might this mean for a world so desperately in need of renewed models of humanity and citizenship?

Read more at America Magazine.


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But when, in December, the New York Times published an undisputed account of what might once have sounded like crackpot conspiracy theory — that the Pentagon had spent five years investigating“unexplained aerial phenomena” — the response among the paper’s mostly liberal readers, exhausted and beaten down by “recent events,” was markedly different from the one in those movies. The news that aliens might actually be visiting us, regularly and recently, didn’t provoke terror about a coming space-opera conflict but something much more like the Evangelical dream of the Rapture the same liberals might have mocked as kooky right-wing escapism in the George W. Bush years. “The truth is out there,” former senator Harry Reid tweeted, with a link to the story. Thank God, came the response through the Twitter vent. “Could extraterrestrials help us save the Earth?” went one typical reaction.

Suddenly, aliens were an escapist fantasy — but also more credible (legitimized by the government!) than mere fantasy. That Pentagon report, which featured two gripping videos of aerial encounters, was just one beat in a recent search-for-extraterrestrial-intelligence (or SETI) drumroll: In October, an object passed through our solar system that looked an awful lot like a spaceship; astronomers spent much of 2016 arguing over whether the weird pulses of light coming from a distant star were actually evidence of an “alien megastructure.” An army of Silicon Valley billionaires are racing to make first contact, and our new superpowered telescopes are discovering more conceivably habitable planets every year.

Then, in March, a third video emerged, featuring a Navy encounter off the East Coast in 2015, with the group that released it hinting at an additional trove. “Why doesn’t the Pentagon care?” wondered a Washington Post op-ed — surely the first time the newspaper of Katharine Graham was raising a stink about aliens. The next week, President Trump seemed to announce he was creating an entirely new branch of the military: “We’ll call it the Space Force.” You could be forgiven for thinking you’d woken up in a science-fiction novel. At the very least, it is starting to seem non-crazy to believe. A recent study shows half the world already does.

13 Reasons to Believe Aliens Are Real from New York Magazine