Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It just so happens...

Flying into DC last Wednesday night to visit my sister for Easter, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman seated next to me during a holding pattern above BWI airport. And when I say I struck up a conversation I mean he engaged me, because my policy while traveling is to maintain a vigilant and aggressive silence so as to enjoy a competitive edge if I have to elbow out an old lady for the last spot in the overhead compartment or perform a leg sweep on a high schooler who's trying to step in front of me in line for baggage pickup.

Anyways, this guy, who looked like he was in his mid- or late forties, noticed my ND sweatshirt and asked me if I went to ND. When I told him I did, he explained that his son is beginning the college search, and that he wants his kid to go to a Catholic college. Not just any Catholic college, though -- he wanted a truly Catholic university that maintained orthodoxy while still being academically rigorous.

So he wondered whether ND fit the bill, and asked me if I knew anything about the University's Catholic character or if I had any opinions about the matter. He was especially interested in whether there were any student organizations addressing Catholicism at Notre Dame.


Brian Boyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Boyd said...

looks like he ran into the right student to talk to!

for all those out there who are similar to Joe's traveling companion, seriously:

it's one of the things that disenheartens me the most when good Catholics refuse to send their children to ND because it isn't 'Catholic enough.' I have good friends at UD and TAC and respect those schools very much -- but if your child has the desire and ability to attend Notre Dame, I wouldn't discount it! It takes a concerted effort to join the right groups and ask advice about which classes to take. But given that, he or she very much can get a solid education, make truly good friends, and be in a great position to make an impact on the world upon graduation.
(The Rover has done exceptionally well in the past few years in sending off its graduating editors to graduate school at Harvard, U Penn, and Oxford; solid journalism jobs with USA Today and The Weekly Standard; and everything from military service to the married life.)

Anonymous said...

The college guide "The Newman Guide" (http://www.thenewmanguide.com) may help because even though they don't recommend Notre Dame, they then go ahead and spend a chapter to discuss the school in detail.

Us alumns must remember to pray for the school and not give up. This reminds me that I need to write a letter to Fr. Jenkins to express my disappointment in his allowing "The V***** Monologues" on campus, and yes, I honked today at the group protesting the play at the ND entrance!

Brian Boyd said...

Respectfully, I'm going to have to disagree. The Rover was sent an advance copy of the Guide and our EIC, Matt Smith, wrote a thorough reply to their portion on ND.
In sum, The Rover strongly feels that the handful of things they focused on - the Monologues, the no-longer-titled-Queer-Film-Festival, the existence of a campus group that calls for social justice (as if that were a bad thing!) - presented a seriously distorted picture of ND.
True, ND isn't overwhelmingly Catholic like Christendom, nor does it provide nearly as rich an engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition for every single one of its students as TAC does. So the Guide is useful in drawing those sort of comparisions. But for the Newman Society to refuse to call Notre Dame a 'good Catholic college,' in our view, takes things significantly too far.

Matt Smith said...

Moreover, it is absurd for the Newman Society to draw comparisons between schools which enroll only a few hundred students (some of which have yet to open their doors!) to a university with over 8,000 undergrads and a long history of challenges overcome.

That is not to argue that a larger student body (or, for that matter, a prestigious reputation)is preferable; only that one should be hesitant to draw such sweeping comparisons across institutional categories.

Anonymous said...

Your President is intellectually incoherent. Your school is not in accord with the local bishop, who is coherent. Your trustees are running from Catholicism if faculty numbers of Catholics are the criterion. The place is Dying in the Light.

Brandon said...

The leadership has faultered, no doubt. But the masses of students who still hold the sacredness of Our Lady dear keep her University grounded. The Irish Rover is one example. Hesburgh's "crown jewel" the Center for Social Concerns is another. The students who stand in protest of Monologues represent a belief in the dignity of women not just the sexuality.

Despite the Main Building's pandering at the altar of secular academe, there are many of us here who still believe that "Catholic university" is not a paradox. It is a precarious balance no doubt that Notre Dame must strike. A balance that the secular world need not worry about because it has lost all sense of a moral compass. But it is a balance that we can find, if not from the top down, then from the bottom up.

So dying no, life support maybe. But perhaps the large number of doctors that we produce can come to her rescue. And if not them then rest of the alumni, who should have no qualms making restricted donations to scholarship funds rather than the annual fund, knowing that their money will not go to the ill-conceived uses proposed by administrators but towards making a dream come true for other young men and women who will make a difference at Notre Dame and in the world.


Tom said...

Ralph Mcinerney has this to say: http://ethicscenter.nd.edu/events/ccs/chestnd.shtml (see part 3...if Chesterton came to ND today).

Brad and Matt make good points, but it seems Mr. Anonymous (sorry; do not know your name) articulates important issues. There is a disconnect between faith/ the sacramental life and reason/the intellectual life that needs to be rectified.

And I don't think that The Newman Guide is misinformed in its observations and criticisms of the University, though, pragmatically speaking, you want to encourage the sort of folks (solid Catholics) who read things like The Newman Guide to send their children here and help out the rest of us.

Anonymous said...


Vagina is not a swear word. It is a body part. Feel free to type the whole word out.

Dan Amiri said...

The fact that people are censoring themselves when typing "Vagina" as in "Vagina Monologues" is no inexplicable phenomenon. The cast use like an expletive, a word to evoke shock and humor on stage, and so those who prefer to remain modest will censor themselves. A vagina is a female body part, not a rallying call.

Anonymous said...

Notre Dame is still the leading Catholic university in this country. I don't know what you all are worried about. This is a university, not a monastery. We should never aspire to be like UD or Stuebenville. Nor should we aspire to be BC or Georgetown.

Don't worry so much about 'liberal' or 'orthodox' classes here. Take courses with great professors, even the so-called unorthodox professors. You can learn something from them, and you can learn what and why liberals take certain theological positions (and why they're wrong).