Secular and Sacred, the Leonardo da Vinci Medal Talk

In mid-2019, Assistant to the President for Mission Integration Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos was appointed to succeed John Staudenmaier, S.J., former assistant to the president for Mission and Identity.

Punsalan-Manlimos' new Office of Mission Integration (OMI) will continue to reinforce the importance of Detroit Mercy's Catholic, Mercy and Jesuit identity with students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Leonardo da Vinci Medal Lecture by John Staudenmaier, S.J.

John Staudenmaier, S.J.
John M. Staudenmaier, S.J.

John M. Staudenmaier, S.J., Detroit Mercy's assistant to the president for Mission and Identity, spoke in 2011 on the occasion of being honored with the Leonardo da Vinci Medal by the Society for the History of Technology, an international organization dedicated to the historical study of technology and its relations with politics, economics, the environment, science and the arts.  The highest recognition from the Society, the Medal is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the history of technology, through research, teaching, publications and other activities.  Listen to the audio.

Fr. Staudenmaier used the occasion to talk about "several deep loves in my life," in particular, what he calls his prayer life, and his commitment to the secular academy.  The talk and the autobiographical stories it includes provisionally describe "how my prayer life and the academy are present in my self-awareness as two commitments that do not, however, live in schizoid compartments, nor does either trump the other."

Staudenmaier says the lecture was an appropriate venue to respond to a question written to him by Leo Marx in 1991, after a presentation by Staudenmaier, titled "What happened to the holy dark in the West?," had provoked some intense anger among attendees at a conference.  Marx pointed out that Staudenmaier had invoked "mysticism, the holy dark and even the Jesuits and Ignatius himself" at MIT, a place where these had long been directly linked with "a dire view of an inquisitional, dogmatic repressive absolutist church which we children of the Enlightenment grew up with and which I for one cannot wholly repudiate."

But Marx went on to raise the question which, twenty years later, Staudenmaier used to frame this talk.  Marx wrote, "Sooner or later you owe it to your secular friends and colleagues to say where and how faith makes a real difference in how we and you think.  Surely it must, or you would in effect be encouraging a trivialization of faith. Isn't there just a faint conspiracy (between you and your secular friends) to glide over that rock bottom distinction?"

Staudenmaier addresses that rock bottom distinction between faith and the academy in this podcast.

Staudenmaier's talk is preceded by excerpts of the introduction by Arne Kaijser, former president of the Society for the History of Technology, and 2011 chair of the Leonardo da Vinci Medal Committee (about two and a half minutes).

Running time is 55 minutes.