Friday, September 25, 2009

Fr. Jenkins Concerned about Sanctity of Life?

Back in the spring of 2009, University of Notre Dame president Fr. Jenkins ignored the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their 2004 document, “Catholics in Political Life,” (which stated that Catholic institutions should not honor or give awards to those who support abortion), and he and Notre Dame awarded President Obama an honorary law degree. Last week, Fr. Jenkins announced to the Notre Dame campus via e-mail that he has appointed a university task force to research ways that the Notre Dame community can support the sanctity of life. Not content with just a task force and apparently now a crusader for life, Fr. Jenkins also announced that he will be attending the upcoming March for Life in Washington D.C. in January of 2010, writing that 'we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life.’

Fr. Jenkins must know very well what a Catholic university can and should be doing to uphold the sanctity of life. And rather than re-invent the wheel, he need only direct his task force to take a lesson from all the authentically Catholic colleges and universities that are upholding the church's teaching on life. For starters, Notre Dame could follow the example of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia where they shut down the campus for the day, and all students, faculty and administration attend the March.

It's only fair to believe it possible that Fr. Jenkins now genuinely desires to support a culture of life and wants the Notre Dame community to follow his example. But how is the fall of 2009 different from the spring of 2009? What happened? Instead of explaining, Fr. Jenkins seems to be manipulating his Catholic faith in order to satisfy the particular interest group of the moment. To whom is he directing this present show of concern? The more than 350,000 signatories to the petition protesting the Obama award will not much care that Fr. Jenkins is going to the March for Life. Neither pro-life Catholics nor pro-lifers in general will care that much either.

With his award to Obama, Fr. Jenkins has already ingratiated himself with the current power elite in Washington and the many CINOs (Catholic In Name Only) who serve there. He must already have the support of that 54% of American Catholics who either ignored or are ignorant of the Church's teaching on the matter of abortion and voted for Obama. He is certainly right in step with the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy, and others who might share
her view that the Pope has a thing or two to learn from Barack Obama. Ms. Kennedy asserts that President Obama represents American Catholics better than does the Holy Father. Kennedy manages to construe the decision to award Obama an honorary degree as Notre Dame’s ‘need to highlight the best of Catholic teaching as applied to politics.’

By linking the University of Notre Dame in the minds of the American public with the pro-abortion, not Catholic, not-very-religious, and questionably Christian Obama, Fr. Jenkins has already done an awful lot to help along the secularization and evisceration of American Catholicism and to secure more on-the-fence and poorly-catechized Catholic-voter support for Obama. Who is left for him to impress?

While navigating my own journey from Protestantism to Catholicism I read somewhere along the way (I'm now hazy as to the author) about looking for the perfect church, the one not ruined by human error and pride. The author wrote that if you ever find the perfect church, join it, and the day you join is the day that church will cease to be perfect. Having found the Catholic Church and converted, I take some tiny amount of comfort knowing that Fr. Jenkins (and Kathleen Kennedy) got there before me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let Us Eat Cake

Two articles among the very many on health care happened to catch my attention.

Dr. David Gratzer, a frequent and outspoken critic of Obama's plan to socialize our health care system, always offers a perspective that makes a lot of sense to me except for
this article in which he berates us for eating too much junk food, smoking too much, fueling a diabetes epidemic, being obese and generally acting like fools when it comes to our health. Now even the good Dr. Gratzer has stooped to lecturing and finger-wagging!

Dr. Gratzer enjoins us to promote the sort of health insurance reform that the Safeway supermarket chain has initiated where healthy choices are rewarded. Not really a bad idea, but why the need to denigrate Americans and their health habits. You will most likely remember the hubbub over Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's article on health care. If you'd like, you can read his

original and unexpurgated version direct from his blog. But, even he proffers advice on how we should all be eating.

In a different vein,
'The Pharmaceutical Umbrella,' explains how good health care around the world depends on American innovation and research in the pharmaceutical field. Two quotes should give an idea of the theme:
One reason for America’s drug dominance (though far from the only one) is America’s unsocialized medicine. Here, with the exception of a few programs like Medicaid and the VA system, the government doesn’t regulate the price of drugs, so when a company invents something big—the latest miracle cancer drug, say—it strikes it rich, making its executives hunger for more. Take away the profit motive, as government-run medicine often does by forcing drug companies to sell at discounted prices, and innovation will dry up.
But the lesson here isn’t that America should be stingy about subsidizing French health care. If American consumers and drug companies play a disproportionate role in protecting the world from dangerous microbes—just as America did in protecting it from Soviet missiles—we should be proud. (It would be too much to hope that this good deed will go unpunished among European elites.) No, the lesson is to be skeptical of reports speaking glowingly of socialized health-care systems, because those systems wouldn’t work nearly as well as they do without unsocialized American medicine.
In short, a 'nay' to Obamacare (and a request to leave us all alone to eat what we want).

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th


Daily news reports abound about the spread of the H1N1 virus, and I've just read another insipid article reporting that college students who are 'uninfected' are spending time thinking about whether or not they should go to football games, frat parties and other social venues where they might--horror of horrors--actually get sick! During the summer, I received an e-mail from the White House signed by Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano and Arne Duncan reminding me of the perils of this virus and telling me to wash my hands. And the media instructs us as to how we should sneeze. This is the kind of talking-to that parents give their pre-schoolers.

Americans, get a grip! Green-movement progressives aside, we are still a first world country and it is the 21st century. We have clean, potable water, sewage systems, medicines, highly-trained doctors and an extensive health care system (for the nonce). We have multi-vitamins and Purell.

It seems the media and the White House are on a campaign to convince as many of us as possible that a big, bad wolf is at our door, and, unless we listen to Mom and Dad in Washington, we just might not be able to handle this nasty virus on our own. If the spread of the H1N1 virus does manifest as a national flu epidemic, our concern should rightly be with the youngest and oldest and weakest among us who will be most susceptible to serious complications from the virus, not a healthy college student who might catch a bug because he shares a glass during his mid-week beer bash.

If only our president and our Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano were as concerned about terrorism and national defense as they pretend to be about protecting us from a virus. If only the president and Secretary Sebelius showed similar concern for protecting the weakest and most vulnerable in our society—the unborn, the elderly and the disabled--by denouncing practices such as abortion and euthanasia that exploit and destroy human lives. If Washington and its right-hand-man, the media, are successful in convincing the country to fear a virus, what other scapegoats will they dangle before us to to incite fear? Hope, indeed.

Hopefully, though, we will not mistake Washington's feigned concern about the nation's health for an Obama government that is ever more openly intent on controlling every aspect of our lives, right down to how we blow our nose.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ahead To College

The latest college guide from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), Choosing the Right College 2010-2011, is out and happily in my hands.

This guide is biased. It has an agenda. It's not exhaustive and it gives a highly subjective rating to the colleges and universities it does review. What a relief! With this guide it is possible to evaluate American colleges against a specific set of guiding principles as opposed to the 'objective' rankings of, say, a U.S. News and World Report. It is the most reliable and informative of the guides I've used in our family's two previous college searches, and I'm glad to have this most recent up-dated edition in time for our family's third college go-round.

The guide takes 80 selective institutions of higher learning (as defined by U.S. News & World Report), adds in a few more and then evaluates each school according to, first of all, the school's adherence to a prescribed and required core curriculum that embraces the canon of Western civilization. There is a discussion of academic instruction with a nod to those departments in which a school is strongest, a look at popular majors as well as a list of professors who excel as teachers and deliver instruction without politicizing their subject. In addition to the fairly in-depth discussion of academic life, the guide discusses student life--dorm living, sports, student clubs, the political atmosphere on campus, a student’s ability to speak out freely on campus and in the classroom, and the student's comfort level on campus regardless of political or religious identity. Statistics such as enrollment, test scores, tuition and retention rate are summarized for each institution, and, finally, each school is given a red, green or yellow light which is intended to indicate the 'state of civic liberty' at each school.

I was glad to see that two family favorites, Catholic University of America and the United States Military Academy received the green. I was not at all surprised that my alma mater, Barnard College, received a red. Schools that cleave toward the traditional notion of what a university education should be and are a pleasure to read about include Christendom College, Grove City, Hillsdale, Hampden-Sydney, University of Chicago and Brooklyn College among others. A surprise college, right here in New York City is The King's College, a school 'rooted in the Christian liberal arts tradition,' housed in the Empire State Building of all places.

Then there's that endless list of once perfectly fine liberal arts college, many of them having begun with strong religious affiliations, steeped in tradition and devoted to the classical notion of what a university should be, which have sacrificed their heritage and sold-out to the modern notion of what a university now is, largely a place where truth is relative and the inmates rule the asylum. Not surprisingly, many in this category are in the Northeast: Lafayette College, Williams, the Ivies (though Columbia University, alone among the Ivies, maintains its core curriculum), Amherst, Bucknell, Swarthmore, Haverford and Middlebury just to name a few. Speaking of Williams, a friend reports that during her recent visit to the campus, she and her son learned how incoming freshmen are sorted into living communities based on their race, ethnicity and religion. While these living communities have a long-standing tradition at Williams, it sounds like they are now being used for diversity training at the formerly all-male, mostly white Williams. I thought the ISI guide might have mentioned this case of diversity engineering, but perhaps the authors used up all their energy to arm readers with sufficient warning about Williams' s New England neighbor, Wesleyan University. This originally-Methodist college is so far gone on the progressive spectrum that ISI felt even a red light was not enough to ward off potential applicants.

So, if you'd like your English major to actually be required to read Shakespeare, if you prefer that your student emerge four years and $200,000 later with a grounding in classical literature, Judeo-Christian thought, American history, modern political theory and European intellectual history, if you'd like the college your son or daughter attends to reflect your values and priorities, then you will find this 1,000-page guide, along with introductory essays, to be engrossing, entertaining and informative reading. There’s a link to the ISI sight here on my blog, too!