Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jason King's "Faith with Benefits"

Jason King is Professor and Chair of the Theology Department at St. Vincent College. He has published essays in the Journal of Catholic Higher Education, Religious Education, Horizons, the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, American Benedictine Review, and the Journal of Moral Theology.

King applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Faith with Benefits: Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses, and reported the following:
It is a funny exercise to turn to page 99 of one’s own book to see if it reflects the work’s main thesis. When I did so for Faith with Benefits: Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses, I found a chart that related mass attendance and hooking up that included intercourse for Mostly Catholic campuses. These three aspects are what support my claim that there is a “benefit” to faith.

First, the page indicates that Catholic campuses have different kinds of religious cultures. While I found three different types – which I typically describe as Very, Mostly, and Somewhat Catholic – it is perhaps better to think of them as three different configurations. For Mostly Catholic campuses, the one referenced on page 99, the religious culture is a communio Catholicism that puts “a clear priority on people and relationships.”

Second, the religious culture of a Catholic campus is primarily constituted by the students themselves. For mostly Catholic campuses, the majority of students are Catholic and go to mass weekly. They understand Catholicism to be fostering kindness and hospitality, rooted in God’s love, and tend to place less importance on the church’s sexual teaching and the authority of church’s leaders.

Finally, it indicates that the religious culture, as constituted by the students, affects hookup culture. This effect is not a simple, linear relationships, where more Catholic means less hooking up. Instead, the different configurations of Catholic culture affect hookup culture differently.

The communio Catholicism of Mostly Catholic campuses, made up by students who go to mass weekly and value the church’s teaching on kindness but not sexuality, transforms hooking up from a “no strings attached” affair to an “entry way into a relationship.” In other words, the religious culture generates a relationship hookup culture.

Page 99 succinctly suggests that different Catholic campuses have different religious cultures and, as a result, different hookup cultures. Students constitute most of the culture, the culture affects expectations around hooking up, and these expectations shape students’ behavior. While there is more to understanding how a culture works and the limits of changing it, these basics indicate that, because the religious culture affects hooking up, there is a “benefit” to faith.
Learn more about Faith with Benefits at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue