Daniel CallahanOctober 29, 2012 - 10:53am3 comments
To have a career reflecting on ethics requires three skills: to know oneself, to understand the culture in which one’s life and one’s profession are embedded, and to have a working knowledge of the history and methods of the field. To know oneself, one must know where one came from. That contention has a particular importance in my case. Although I left the Catholic Church and religion in my mid-thirties, many friends and critics believe they can spot their remnants in me just below the surface. If this is true, I am hardly embarrassed by it. That background gave me insights and perspectives I would not otherwise have.
My parents were both Catholics. I was sent to parochial schools in New Orleans and Washington, D.C., where I was taught by nuns. From the seventh grade on, I was sent to St. John’s College (actually a high school) at Thomas Circle in Washington and spent the next five years in uniform, with daily marching. The teachers, all male, were members of the LaSalle Christian Brothers order, and they were a nice bunch, fanatical neither about their religion nor about education. We took a fine range of courses, Latin and French, English, biology, chemistry and physics, religion and history—but all taught in a low-key way with little, if any, homework. The military side was no less low key. I was not a military star—I was one of the few seniors in my school not made an officer.