March 23, 2009

Is Obama Worth a Mass?

Some, like Tom of Disputations, are pretty cool-headed when dealing with these largely symbolic gestures of Catholic colleges honoring the secular culture, but I have to admit to being something of a rabid fundamentalist on the subject. And Notre Dame seems to be more interested in speaking power to truth instead of truth to power. Isn't honoring a man who supports the constitutional right to end a million lives a year a way of speaking our earthly "power" to Truth by saying non serviam?

What particularly bothers me is that it's so little to ask not to invite him. It's so little to ask to suggest a Catholic school not incur the scandal of it. It's a "burden" as light as a gossamer's wings! Does Fr. Jenkins really think he's going to convince Obama to mend his ways on the life issue? Because, you know, that's worked so well in the past. Especially on our Catholic politicians. (Not!)

The singular threat to Notre Dame is NOT that the students will fail to engage modern culture or that Notre Dame will fail to live up to what Yale or Standford can offer, but that the students will totally and reliably capitulate before that culture. And bringing Obama to campus will only aid and abet that process.

Obviously it's a symptom of a much bigger and more serious problem: the adoption of a "cross-less" Christianity that wants to pay absolutely no price for being Christian. A Catholic university is honored to have the President speak and to give up that honor would cost something.

It apparently would cost so much that the Fr. Jenkins is willing to endure the anger of so many Catholics who are offended by the message sent to the already morally confused by honoring President Obama.

Personally, I can more easily sympathize when universities and nations fall due to fatigue ("as fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty") rather than the sacrilegious donning by a Catholic school of fashionable opinions and people for the paltry purpose of something as perishable as earthy status. Perhaps I am a hypocrite, loving the good opinions of others too, and perhaps I would do the same as Notre Dame if I were in a leadership position. But all I can say is God have mercy on us both whenever we attempt to ensure our own self-engineered subsistence rather than relying on God's sustenance.

Which appears to be the case with the invite of Obama. Notre Dame seems to be happily building its own Tower of Babel, seeking its own power and prestige rather than promoting God's power and prestige.


Darwin said...

Particularly odd to me are two of the lines of defense that seem to be used most often:

1) It's not an endorsement, we're just acknowledging that he's president. Well, why in the world should everyone who becomes president deserve an honorary law degree and a commencement address invite from Notre Dame? Is this some new kind of fealty of which I was not informed, whereby all universities of importance must ritually bow their knees to the new ruler? Come now. If it is to be an "honor" surely one does it only to people one honors. And why should one honor someone merely by virtue of the fact that more than 50% of the citizens who bothered to vote chose him?

2) It's an opportunity for dialogue. Let's not kid ourselves. When your institution is "honored" to have a big name politician come to speak, he is addressing you, not you him. This is not a debate, it's an address. I tire of the modern approach of going over to the enemy and calling it "dialogue".

TS said...

Well-said. Both lines of defense - which I've been hearing too - insult the intelligence and barely merit a retort. Either ND is stupid or disingenous if that's what they're selling.