Don’t focus on the family

Here’s part one of U.S. Catholic magazine’s February 2010 interview with St. Louis University ethicist—and suburban mom—Julie Hanlon Rubio. Look for part two next week.

Julie Hanlon Rubio’s work as an ethicist at Saint Louis University has drawn directly from her real-life experience of trying to make the works of mercy and justice as central to her family as homework and sports. She felt oddly like a pioneer. Even while studying for her Ph.D., she says, “my professors were visibly not happy with me when I turned up pregnant once and then twice. It’s not what theologians do.” Hanlon Rubio begs to differ.

“I don’t know that we have many models—which is fine, really,” she says. Drawing from the marriage liturgy, sacramental theology, lay movements such as the Christian Family Movement, and adding Catholic social teaching on the family, Rubio stitched together her family ethics. “If I really believe that I am trying to form my kids as disciples,” she says, “then I have to ask: How does each activity contribute to that?”  Rubio is the author of Family Ethics: Practices for Christians (Georgetown, 2010) and A Christian Theology of Marriage and Family (Paulist, 2003)

You’ve said that typical suburban Catholic parents feel a certain emptiness in their lives. Why?

It comes out of my own experience of hearing that everyone is busy, which means that so many interactions are on the surface. Continue reading