Saturday, October 13, 2007

No More Excuses: We Shall Overcome


Nothing quite says fall like a home game at Notre Dame. Flocks of alumni and visitors drifting around campus and asking for directions, and observing a students live a life that is, at once familiar and different. Students, on the other hand, are running around, trying to do everything they need to get done before the weekend comes. The glass candles are brought out at the Grotto and support for the team is seen everywhere. Meanwhile, the temperature is about 30 degrees lower than last week and everyone is scrambling for socks and jackets as highs hit the 50's. The leaves are turning and falling, the legendary "blue-grey October sky" is here, more commonly known as "the permacloud", and students hunker down for the combined start of midterms week and a marathon home-game streak. Break is so close. And, we have a game tomorrow.

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Tonight in the JACC was one of the better pep rallies I've seen. Spirit was high among the students, who were distinguished by their dorm apparel. The speakers, Rocket Ismael and Justice Alan Page, were inspiring and enthusiastic, especially the Rocket since he brought the entire Arena on its feet.

Before the pep rally, he told the players, so they've been knocked down, but so what? Get back up again. The worst enemy is in the head, the one that thinks about defeat and losing. It isn't about excuses. Today's society is all about making excuses, which only get in the way of full potential, so stop thinking about defeats and aching muscles, so just go out there and play. (I paraphrase into cliches because I don't recall any exact quotes. He did for sure say that thing about today's society.) Go to und.cstv.com to watch a video of him speaking and finish believing we can dominate BC. (Seriously. Go watch it. I wont't transcribe it. Use Internet Explorer 6.0 or better.)

During the rally, he said "You can either stand or fight, or throw up your hands and live to see another day. Well guess what, it's time to stand and fight." After that, we could have probably Boston College then and there and won, playing like we are going to play in all of our winning games next year.
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(Brief digression: If anyone is familiar with the movie "Robin Hood: Men in Tights", there is a scene where Robin Hood gives a motivational speech to his Merry Men, he winds up doing an impression of Churchill. Then Achoo steps in with a rousing speech in the style of Malcom X. That is what I couldn't help thinking of hearing Rocket talk, especially when after he told us to "stand and fight", he said that "together we have what it takes to overcome.")

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rush Week?

Want an indication on how far Notre Dame football has fallen?

In this week leading up to the second biggest home football game of the year, a large amount of ink has been spilled in the Observer and internet message boards over whether the student body should rush the if the Irish knock off the #4 Eagles.

Have things really gotten so bad that we are more concerned about a premeditated celebration than the football game itself? It sure does seem so.

Screw rushing the field. Screw the "Back Up College" shirts. Screw bickering over "Our Little Brother" and "Fredo." The student body just needs to go out on Saturday and make as much noise as possible. We are not helping our boys by arguing over petty details in newspaper and internet message boards. When toe meets leather, all that stuff doesn't matter. What does matter is noise - lots of it. Don't believe me? Look at any SEC school (well, maybe not Vandy). During the game call them whatever names you want, just so long as you yell it. And when it is all said and done, win or lose, stay off the field. Boston College deserves our utmost attention and respect, but we still have work to do next week against Petey and the Men of Troy.

My suggestion: no talking next week. The silence before the storm.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Reflections on the Observer...

These last two days, I have been somewhat bemused by stories appearing on the pages of Notre Dame's own official student publication, The Observer. This amusement, I should note well here, has nothing to do with the strangely personal attacks on my fellow Rovers which have appeared on more than one occasion in the Observer's pages this semester (kicking puppies? see this post.)

The degree to which the paper seems to be out of touch not only with a particular segment of its readership on campus, but with the identity of the university its reporting--willingly or not--represents, has become quite apparent. I figured this out long before these few examples came to light (read: freshman year), but I thought I'd share these recent developments nonetheless.

Yesterday, I grabbed everyone's favorite daily paper on my way to class, surprised to see the name of my favorite Dominican Doctor above the fold on the front page! I celebrated with a friend who had taken the theology course "Aquinas and the Pursuit of Wisdom" with me last semester--only to be, well, disheartened to see the reason the Observer justified printing an article on Thomas in that esteemed location:
Professor lectures on Aquinas: Scholar Encourages a Skeptical Reading
Skeptical reading? of Aquinas? "Now why," asked my buzzing little theological mind, which admittedly feels almost as much at home in Thomas' disputed question format as it does in Mass, "would anyone encourage such a thing?!?" It was unpleasant to be hurled into an alternate universe, where my friend Thomas is being read by the skeptic, instead of the person seeking to travel a transformative path towards union with God. I searched the text of the article for answers.

I didn't find much, for the article was rather light on content. But I did locate this reason given in the article (I did not attend the lecture) for skepticism in our reading of 'St. Aquinas' (this unusual moniker, given in the article):

"Aquinas is still, among Catholics, a weapon in the culture wars," she said, adding that, because his writings aren't Scripture, "we should be even more skeptical of him."

Sounds like a rather Protestant reading of, well, any theologian. Skepticism about any teaching which does not come directly from one's own interpretation of the divinely inspired Word of God sounds just like sola scriptura, and any Catholic scholar should flee from it, whichever side of the 'culture wars' they are on. And yes, one would think that the many truths found in Aquinas' thought, which are in continuity with what the Church had taught up to the 13th century and has taught since, would have a role to play in our modern cultural debates. We don't have the luxury of reinventing and reinterpreting Christian ethics in each generation.

So much for Thomas.

Today's paper featured an article helping to gear up the ND community for "National Coming-Out Day" tomorrow--woohoo. The promotion of these sort of 'gay pride' events is in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching on the matter. Yes, the university should be a place where the human dignity of all should be respected, and where love of neighbor ties the community together. But implicit in our coming together as a learning community under the patronage of Our Lady is that we are together striving to live Christian lives--to be transformed and become virtuous in the sort of way Aquinas' works indicated. When certain members of our community embrace a lifestyle--that is, one involving certain actions, I am not here addressing the orientation--that is antithetical to virtuous self-control, it's plain that the rest of the community can't sit back and cheer them on. Instead, in love and always with respect, we are to witness to the truth of God's plan for human sexuality.

This certainly applies to the SMC community as well, which I understand as part of the larger ND family. So the discussions being covered yesterday in the article are ones which seem to completely disregard the life of virtue to which we are all called. Instead, we are to accept the vice--and endorse it.:

"Your coming out is at your own pace and you have to be O.K. with it [before you can actually go through with it]. Until you are comfortable with who you are, you won't be comfortable in the world," Warner said.

All three panelists spoke of how far the College has come in its acceptance of homosexuals on campus.

"Twelve years ago, when I came here I had to stay closeted so I didn't lose my job," Porter said. "I think a lot has changed since then."

Porter, who eventually came out after receiving tenure, said that while Saint Mary's has a non-discrimination policy - which can apply to sexuality - she thinks the College could go even further and offer benefits, such as healthcare, for the life partners of homosexual employees.
Finally, on to the coverage of the Tridentine Mass coming to Notre Dame, following Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum this summer.

Headline? "Students demand Latin Mass after rescript".

Two immediate thoughts:

1. Rescript? What's a rescript? The search string I entered into Google--"rescript Latin Mass"--amusingly immediately returned this very article to me as the top search result, followed by other blog posts which helpfully told me that 'rescript' is pretty much the English term for 'motu proprio'. OK, I'll take it. We don't want classical languages on the front page. Too churchy.

2. Students DEMAND Latin Mass? It sounds like Domers descended on campus in mid-July and proceeded to bang on the doors of Campus Ministry until their wish was granted. Read on to discover that the 'demands' consisted of expressing interest and providing the evidence required by the motu proprio of a "stable community of the faithful" requesting that the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite liturgy be available on campus--expressing interest in emails and a Facebook group. But we have to make that crazy Latin-obsessed Catholic cadre seem off its rocker...

The article was actually quite good on content, with quotes from Fr. Warner and Brett Perkins of Campus Ministry. But there had to be that headline...

I am often confused or dismayed by the attitudes of my fellow students, and perhaps the Observer is just an all-too-visible way for me to see it, day in and day out, in sometimes the silliest of examples. And I'm sure that this is an ageless problem, for young adults have never been famed, as a group, for their stunning self-control or great wisdom.

That's why we need our University to teach us these things. Catholic faculty hiring is of the utmost importance in retaining the Catholic identity of this University, for it is the faculty who help to transform us from rebellious teens (think Thrasymachus) into faithful and virtuous young adults. When both students AND the faculty who are supposed to lead us cease to care about the life of faith of the community into which they have been called--and the moral development which that life requires--enormous problems facing the very identity of our University are inevitable.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Energy Week

As I battle this silly cold which I attribute, in part, to my lack of sleep on production night, I am finishing up a poetry assignment. That is to say, pardon my “waxing poetic”/ sarcasm in the rest of this post.

As hopefully most readers of this blog know, Respect Life Week concluded today with Respect Life Sunday, during which, at all masses, homilies addressed pro-life issues and prayer cards were handed out, a nice final touch for a solemn week of prayer and sacrifice, and I mean this with all sincerity.

Incidentally, today is also the beginning of Energy Week, a period of seven days devoted to raising awareness about the global warming, pollution, and energy depletion which is occurring in our very midst. The Cemetery of the Innocents is to be replaced by a display of electric cars and hybrid motorcycles, and, instead of to the Theology of the Body discussion which was held last Friday, this Friday, many students (more than were at the discussion) will flock to “a factual and informational story about global warming told by Al Gore” being presented on North Quad. In case anyone was interested in attending, the Weather Channel is predicting a high of 59 on Friday, a little below average for this time of year. As night falls, temperatures should drop to the high 40s, so be sure and bring your sleeping bag and hoodie!

I’ve also been curious about posters in my dorm’s restroom which try to explain how much energy is wasted by our typical daily actions. For example, apparently if you throw away an aluminum can, you’ve wasted as much as energy as if you were to fill that can half full with gasoline and pour it on the ground (i.e. approximately how much gas I use in 30 seconds going 80 on the toll road.) Also, the energy equivalent of all the oil that flows through Alaskan pipelines in a year leaks through the windows of American homes in the winter. And, my favorite: the average American baby produces one ton of trash a year! That’s a lot of poo diapers! Because of these posters, I have vowed to no longer drink coke, heat my house, or have babies. God bless the environment!

All joking aside, the environment is a serious issue, as it always has been. How much we humans can affect earth’s entire climate, however, is a matter of serious debate, but a little bit here and there does help: Have time? Use the air dryer instead of paper towels. The recycling bin near you in LaFortune? Throw your plastic away there. Print two-sided when the opportunity presents itself and be sure and turn off your lights before you leave the room. If you have enough money, buy a hybrid vehicle, and carpool if it is accessible.

On the other hand, we needn’t reduce babies to their equivalency in trash or devote time and energy to preserving oil reserves when unborn children are being murdered in our midst. Let us not forget that we were placed over creation, and that, therefore, the person, and all those means of maturing as such, must never be reduced to a source of pollution.