Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dangers of Year of the City

I believe that Year of the City does matter to Loyola students. While I’ve been here, there has been a growing trend to bubble ourselves between Charles Street and York Road with the occasional trip to Fells point. Loyola students, consumed by luxurious fitness centers and overpriced Sodhexo food, are beginning to forget that we are just blocks away from the heroine capital of the country. This is not based on mere speculation; I have heard more and more often that underclassmen have not ventured far beyond the stone architecture of the quad.
There is a danger however, in introducing the Year of the City and that danger –judging by Lucas’ essay- has apparently been plaguing the Jesuits for some time. My immediate concern with both the Year of the City and the history of Jesuits in urban settings is the image of “Jesus Freaks” storming the city on horseback taking its welfare in their hands. For example, during the Mass of the Holy Spirit in Charles Village several weeks ago, I felt a slight sense of displacement. I was with everyone I know from Loyola, some of whom I know to be trapped in a bubble, yet surrounded by an urban setting. I couldn’t help but wonder if those living in the neighborhood surrounding the church really wanted us there.
Lucas seems to describe similar situations. Although there is not much about clashes between Jesuits and urban citizens, the manner in which Jesuits go about serving the city came off –to me at least- as intrusive. He describes Father Francisco Javier “redeeming” the Goa of its vice-ridden, sinful lifestyle. Maybe the actual implementation of his mission was slightly more unobtrusive, but the way it is described it seems as if they are going into India to civilize a city of savages.
I believe the Year of the City is important to Loyola. I do believe that Loyola students need to be more aware of their surroundings. I also believe that Loyola should be wary of the image they are creating and to also be wary of their intentions.