Robert Spitzer (priest)

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Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., (born May 16, 1952) is a Jesuit priest, philosopher, physicist, educator, author, speaker, and retired President of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Spitzer is founder and currently active as President of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith (www.magiscenter.com), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing educational materials on the complementarity of science, philosophy, and faith. He is also President of the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership (www.spitzercenter.org), dedicated to helping Catholic and for-profit organizations develop leadership, constructive cultures, and virtue ethics.

Early life[edit]

Robert J. Spitzer was born in Honolulu, then the United States Territory of Hawaii, on May 16. 1952, the son of Arthur H. Spitzer and Blanche H. Van Oort Spitzer. He went to Punahou School, graduating in 1970 as a member of the National Honor Society.[1]

Education[edit]

Spitzer received the degree of Bachelors of Business Administration, with a focus on Public Accounting and Finance (magna cum laude) from Gonzaga University in 1974. He then received a Masters degree in Philosophy from St. Louis University (magna cum laude) in 1978, a Masters of Divinity degree from the Gregorian University in Rome (summa cum laude) in 1983, a Master of Theology degree in Scripture from the Weston School, now the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, (summa cum laude) in 1984, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (summa cum laude) in 1988. His dissertation, under Paul Weiss, is entitled A Study of Objectively Real Time.

Academic career[edit]

Spitzer began his teaching career at St. Louis University as a teaching assistant in 1978. He continued at Seattle University as an instructor of philosophy from 1978 to 1980. He taught as an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgetown University from 1984 to 1990, where he received the Bunn Medal for Most Outstanding Faculty Member in 1989. He then proceeded to Seattle University (1990–1998) where he was tenured as an associate professor of philosophy in 1996. During that time he held the Frank Shrontz chair of professional ethics (1997–1998) and won the award for outstanding faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1997.

On September 17, 1998, Spitzer was inaugurated as the 25th President of Gonzaga University. He is credited[2] with bringing a period of growth in the physical plant and student population, as well as a position of financial health to Gonzaga, and for increasing the focus on the Catholic, Jesuit identity of the university during his tenure and until he retired from that position in July 2009.

Religious career[edit]

Spitzer entered the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus in August 1974. He took his first religious vows in August 1976. He was ordained a priest in June 1983, and professed the fourth vow particular to the Society in April 1994. His theological interests focus on two areas: fundamental theology and New Testament scripture studies. He is the co-director of the Institute on Faith and Reason at Gonzaga University.

Spitzer's interests in New Testament scripture studies focus on Christology, his thesis at the Gregorian University in Rome was entitled, The Influence of Sophia Speculation on Early Christological Hymns. His thesis at the Weston School in Cambridge, for which he won the American Bible Society award, is entitled, The Depth Grammar of "Pneuma" and "En Christo" in I Cor: 12. He is currently completing a book on Christology entitled, The Unconditional Love of God in Jesus Christ.

Spitzer has served the Church in a variety of different capacities: as an advisor to the Theological Committee of the Washington State Catholic Conference between 1994-98 as spiritual director to contemplative religious communities, as advisor to lay religious groups, and as a lecturer in Catholic Higher Education, fundamental theology, Christology, Ecclesiology and spirituality. He has also been a featured guest and series host on the Eternal Word Television Network.

Spitzer belongs to several Catholic professional associations: the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Jesuit Philosophical Association, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Spitzer is currently the Rector of J Serra Catholic High School located in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Writing and publications[edit]

Books

  • The Spirit of Leadership: Optimizing Creativity and Change in Organizations (Provo, Utah: Executive Excellence Publishers, June 2000).
  • Healing the Culture: A Commonsense Philosophy of Happiness, Freedom, and the Life Issues (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, October 2000).
  • Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life: A Practical Guide for Active People (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008)
  • New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010)
  • Ten Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues (San Francisco; Ignatius Press, 2010)

Articles

  • Proofs for the Existence of God Part I: A Metaphysical Argument (International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 41:2--June 2001) pp 162–186.
  • Proofs for the Existence of God Part II: (A Cosmological Argument and a Lonerganian Argument) (International Philosophical Quarterly, Vol 41:3--Sept 2001) pp 305–331.
  • Indications of Creation in Contemporary Big Bang Cosmology. (Philosophy in Science, Vol 10, 2003, pp 35–106.)
  • Definitions of Real Time and Ultimate Reality (Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, Vol 23:3--Sept 2000) pp 260–276, for which he received the section editors’ award for the best article between 1999–2001
  • Indications of Creation in Contemporary Astrophysics (Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, Vol 24:3-Sept 2001) pp. 1–50.
  • Indications of Supernatural Design in Big Bang Cosmology (Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, Vol 27:4) pp 265–287
  • Getting to the Heart of Ethics (Journal of Business and Professional Ethics, Vol 25:1, Spring 2006)

He has published other articles in a variety of journals and collections concerned with leadership, metaphysics, ethics, ontology of physics, and higher education.

Father Spitzer has also produced eight television series for EWTN since 1998 (see EWTN catalog).

As of August, 2010, he is in the process of submitting four other manuscripts:

  • Jesus-Emmanuel: A Philosopher Looks at the Evidence for the Unconditional Love of God and the Divinity of Christ.
  • Suffering and the Love of God (with Mary Cunningham Agee).
  • Happiness (with John Keenan).
  • Organizational Ethics (with John Keenan).

He continues to write articles in leadership, ethics, higher education, metaphysics, and the ontology of physics. He gives approximately 60 public speeches per year in the above five topic areas.

Founder of Institutes and Organizations'[edit]

Spitzer has founded or co-founded five institutes and organizations since 1987:

The Magis Center of Reason and Faith (www.magiscenter.com)[edit]

Upon his retirement from Gonzaga, Spitzer founded the Center, located at the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, which produces books, articles, documentaries, videos, and new media materials on the complementarity of science, philosophy, and faith -- particularly physics, cosmology, philosophy of science, and metaphysics. It also produces high school programs, college programs, and adult education programs.

As president, Spitzer continues to write, teach, and speak widely on the issues of philosophy of science, metaphysics, theology, and ethics.[3]

On 10 September 2010, Spitzer was a panelist on a full-hour prime-time feature with Stephen Hawking dealing with the relationship of faith and reason on Larry King Live (CNN). The program also featured noted author Deepak Chopra and Hawking's co-author, Leonard Mlodinow.[4]

Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership (www.spitzercenter.org)[edit]

Spitzer founded this organization in 2005 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The organization focuses on developing leadership, constructive cultures, and virtue ethics in Catholic and for-profit organizations.

Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (www.cjbe.org)[edit]

Located in Seattle, Washington, and Spokane, Washington -- co-founded by Spitzer in 1993, who remains active in its leadership. This organization helps business faculty in Jesuit universities to develop modules in ethics, service, social responsibility, and spirituality -- commensurate with the educational ideals of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). It also publishes the annual Journal of Jesuit Business Education.

Healing the Culture (www.healingtheculture.com)[edit]

A Seattle-based organization co-founded by Spitzer in 1998, who remains active in its leadership. This organization is dedicated to developing educational materials on the philosophical underpinnings of the life issues -- particularly "beginning of life" and "end of life" issues. It addresses how these issues affect and are affected by the notions of "happiness," "virtue," "freedom," "love," "personhood," "suffering," and "the common good."

University Faculty for Life (www.uffl.org)[edit]

A Washington, D.C. organization founded by Spitzer, University Faculty for Life began in 1989. This organization is devoted to promoting research, dialogue, and publication by faculty who respect the value of human life from inception to natural death. It holds an annual conference at different universities and publishes its annual proceedings -- Life and Learning.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ "Gonzaga University : A History Unfolds". Gonzaga.edu. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Spitzer, Robert J, S.J. New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010)
  4. ^ "CNN". Transcripts.cnn.com. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 

External links[edit]