Saturday, April 5, 2008

Starts 20 minutes late, ends 20 minutes later

That was the highly touted Ethel Kennedy presentation this afternoon. Now I'm not going to knock on a nice old lady like Mrs. Ethel. But if this was Obama's response to Chelsea Clinton and Sean Astin promoting Hillary at Notre Dame, then I am sorely disappointed and frankly offended that the junior Senator from Illinois thinks he can get away with this weak attempt at self-promotion. The stately Mrs. Kennedy didn't even speak but for an anecdote about Fr. Cavanaugh and Grandpa Kennedy that some how meant that Obama might as well be Jesus. Most of the 20 minutes was filled with the heart-felt, fact-free pleading of Max Kennedy, the late Attorney General's son. Overall there was little substance in Mr. Kennedy's remarks, just his personal belief in Obama's ability to be a uniting leader who speaks the truth. After telling a story about how his father spoke out against Martin Luther Ling's 1960 arrest while his uncle, who was running for president, did not Kennedy said “When I look at Barack Obama, I see a man who will tell me the truth, and he will say it whether I want to hear it or not.” He continued by saying the United States would again be the country that he thought it was when he was a kid--that "Barac Obama is going to win, he is going to pull us all together. He can work with both parties." Of course the good prosecuter failed to give us any of Obama's achievements, but for his opposition to Iraq from the beginning. As time goes by that seems to be the only thing that Obama can really hang his cap on, but many people opposed the war, does that make all of them qualified to be president? Well, they didn't go to Harvard Law School so maybe not.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

40th Anniversary of Dr. King's Assassination

Friday marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. We all know what Dr. King has meant for and contributed to this country. He was one of our greatest leaders and visionaries, no less accomplished than Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Edison, Rockefeller or any other. We know his special connection with Notre Dame - when he was greated in Chicago by angry white protest, he was also greeted by Fr. Hesburgh, who stood with him a brother-in-arms. Yet despite his accomplishments, I admire Dr. King most because he was not perfect. He knew he was not perfect. At times he was depressed and disappointed. At times he failed. But he kept his trust in the power and love of God to the end. Like so many before he was a martyr for the true message of the Gospel and his legacy will never be forgotten. The following is an excerpt from his final speech, given on April 3, 1968 at the Mason Temple church in Memphis in support of the striking sanitation workers:

Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We've got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn't stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, because he had the capacity to project the "I" into the "thou," and to be concerned about his brother. Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn't stop. At times we say they were busy going to church meetings--an ecclesiastical gathering--and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn't be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that "One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony." And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem, or down to Jericho, rather to organize a "Jericho Road Improvement Association." That's a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the casual root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effort.

But I'm going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It's possible that these men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, "I can see why Jesus used this as a setting for his parable." It's a winding, meandering road. It's really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles, or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you're about 2200 feet below sea level. That's a dangerous road. In the day of Jesus it came to be known as the "Bloody Pass." And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?".

That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do no stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Feb. 15, 1929 - Apr. 4, 1968

Planned Parenthood is Racist - and yet Obama supports them

The fantastic Dawn Eden, who just spoke here for the Edith Stein Conference has recently alerted her blog readers to a study some students from UCLA have conducted.

The students of the group Live Action have posed as interested Planned Parenthood donors who wanted to give money specifically to fund the abortions of African-American children.
"Because the less blacks out there the better."

Planned Parenthood's response?
"Yeah, yeah it's a strange time for sure."

And there's more.

Best just watch...

This is the short version:

If you have time, see the full thing including Planned Parenthood's "defense":

And take a minute to read the group's great publication right here.

Now that you've seen all that, let's take a look at Obama's speech on July 17, 2007 to Planned Parenthood in Washington DC.

"Thanks to all of you at Planned Parenthood for all the work you are doing for women all across the country, and for families all across the country, and for men - who have enough sense to realize you're helping them - all across the country."

The entire speech is pretty outrageous besides the simple fact that he's cheerfully supporting an organization founded on the principles of racism and still continues to uphold them today.

Definitely better than Kofi Annan...

...but Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is not that exciting, as commencement speakers go.

Diogenes' interpretation of the selection process is on target:

"I believe that the performing of this play ... is in direct opposition to both the spirit and letter of Ex Corde Ecclesiae," D'Arcy wrote, "Also, because it depicts and endorses sinful sexual acts in direct opposition to church teaching, I believe its performance to be pornographic and spiritually harmful."

It's bad PR when the local ordinary addresses a Catholic university in these words. What better antidote than propping up a tame and genial cardinal on the commencement dais, and what tamer or more genial cardinal than the retired Archbishop of Washington?

Last night I discussed the choice of Cardinal McCarrick with another '08 Rover editor, and we agreed that he was fairly uninteresting in comparison to previous speakers at ND -- or even SMC, for that matter: last year they had Samuel Alito. But I think "uninteresting" is what the administration was going for.

Two Takes

Have you heard about Bill Clinton's latest campaign-trail misstep? For those of you who haven't, "Bill Clinton's tirade stunned some delegates," according to (and linked to by drudgereport, among many others).

Oh, wait, it wasn't a misstep at all! Rather, Clinton irked by Richardson endorsement, says the AP write-up.

In both cases, the facts are exactly the same. Yet the story differs significantly. The Rover would be justified in printing either of those headlines, as our allegiances are spelled out on the front page, signaling the interpretation to the reader immediately. As for the AP and the San Francisco Chronicle? Is it "Prominent Papers Accurate, Factual" or "Major News Outlets Biased, Opinionated?"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

John Paul the Great

Yesteray (Wednesday, April 2) marked the 3rd year anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Everything that could be said about him has already been said, from an eloquent eulogy by someone named Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger to the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who made their way to the Eternal City that April.

I don't have much to say, and if I did, I would do a horrible job articulating myself at 3 in the morning, but this is what I thought at the time. That year, Easter had been incredibly early, such that my birthday was, for once, not within Holy Week. (Having a birthday on Good Friday is sort of a buzzkill.) It was the earliest Easter I could remember at the time, but after JP2 died, it all suddenly made sense. It would not be fitting for such a holy man to die within the season of death and hopelessness. As God's true and faithful servant, it would be much more appropriate if he was welcomed at the Eschatological Banquet in the season of triumph and rejoicing, where Death truly meant nothing. The memorial Mass packed the Basilica full to bursting. A choir sang and the Communion song was "I Am the Bread of Life". Though I mourned for the world's loss, I could not mourn his passing, for his work was finished and he could rest and be healed from his suffering. It was a joyful mourning, if that makes any sense.

It makes me think of this scene from the movie "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King", which, though not based textually in the book, sums everything up nicely, methinks.

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf?... See what?
Gandalf: White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: [softly] No... No it isn't.

Redeem the Time

Before his death in 1974, Frank O'Malley, a Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, would come to be, in the words of Tom Stritch, "the most brilliant teacher of humanities Notre Dame has ever known." Unabashedly dedicated to the liberal arts tradition and the value of educating young minds in the same, he spent nearly 50 years teaching undergraduates in reading-and-writing-intensive courses covering the breadth of the Western literary tradition. He never earned a Ph.D. (rejected an offer from Princeton to do so), and spent all of his years teaching and living at Notre Dame in the dormitories as one of the last of Notre Dame's "bachelor don's".

I would add more, but Ralph McInerney has done a much better job of it. Click the title of the post to access a short and wonderful profile of the legendary teacher. (Also, see:

A particularly penetrating quote from Professor O'Malley:

“Teaching involves a selfless dedicated concern for the unique working out (to adulthood) of each soul, a delicate sense of the peculiar needs and aspirations of each, for the peculiar way with knowledge, that is each one. This sympathy, this capacity to appreciate the requirements of another’s fulfillment...seems a function of prudence, perhaps an extension of the prudence of the father. The teacher must respect the delicate sacred interiority of each student, he must encourage the timid efforts at genuine utterance and integration.”

God bless you, Frank O'Malley.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lecture Attempts to Explain Liberalism through Literature

By Sam Kaulbach, Staff Writer

Diet Coke bottle firmly in hand, Professor Amanda Anderson, the Caroline Donovan Professor of English Literature at Johns Hopkins University, began her lecture by saying “I swear at some point I’ll wake up.” Having just finished a long day of attending the Edith Stein conference held earlier on Friday, Professor Anderson presented a lecture entitled “Bleak Liberalism,” to an audience of more than forty in 104 McKenna Hall. “Bleak Liberalism” was the third in the Ward-Philips lecture series entitled, appropriately enough, “Bleak Liberalism.” She gave the other two, “Framing Liberalism” and “The Liberal Aesthetic,” on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. The series was sponsored by the Department of English.

Professor Anderson first had to reconstruct the main lines of her previous two talks for the benefit of those who missed them, and give her lecture a context. Anderson intended her series to “provide density to Liberalism in novels.” She concluded that Liberalism is the reconciliation between bleak objectivity and idealistic moral action.

Drawing from the works of George Eliot as well as from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Anderson argued, “Liberalism follows a utopianism accompanied by a bleak realism of what is going on around it, a bleakness and pessimism like that of John Stuart Mill.” Such a structure is the product of what she called “reflective enlightenment,” which is a fundamental rejection of authority and commitment to debate. This mindset and its consequences give rise to “concerns of social cohesion over such an environment.”

A Liberal temperament, Anderson stated, “is rationalistic rather than religious, there is no absolute acceptance of belief without reason to back it. Liberals see a need for argument in this, especially with those who think that belief trumps the arguments of reason.”

Anderson continued on to establish the connection between liberalism and the Aesthetic. “Aesthetic values shift an emphasis… they jar with the cathexes of liberal and normative philosophies.” She gave as examples of such values “complexity, ambiguity, excess, and paradox.” Professor Anderson then pointed out, “the Liberal ethos leads to a sort of anti-aesthetic, providing a narrowing of focus to thematic- and character-based criticism.”

Drawing upon the literary examples of two of George Eliot’s characters, Mordecai and Romola, Anderson attempted to show a problem of moral action. “It may be seen here that Liberalism might cause people to be unable to act on the ground, as it were, and neutralize moral action because one is too attuned to sympathy and moral consequences.”

This was the third lecture’s focal point: the conflict between what Anderson called “third-person perspective and first-person moral action, which are not conducive to each other.” Her object was to show that Liberalism tends to stray toward the third-person perspective, allowing for a certain bleakness in one’s outlook (hence “bleak” Liberalism). However, Professor Anderson used excerpts from Dickens’ Bleak House to show how both Eliot and Dickens “emphasized the necessity of a dual vision in a non-fatalistic way.”

Using this as a basis, Anderson maintained that Liberalism is a reconciliation of these two views. However, she did say that Liberalism tends to the “bleak” side of things. Because of this shying away from the first-person sympathy, Anderson concluded, “many of the academic Left desire to distance themselves from the political Left.”

Professor Anderson fielded three questions related to the third-person as a sociological analysis, and the relation between the stringent critique of the bureaucratic system of England in Bleak House and the Aesthetic values of the narrative. In answering these, after reflecting upon the sociological context of Bleak House she again dwelt upon the problem between social analysis and moral aspirations as Dickens expanded upon in Bleak House.

Throughout the whole lecture, likely because she had already attended lectures that day and had delivered two earlier in the week, Professor Anderson laughed after comically mispronouncing words. She was not the only one, as her introducer could not pronounce the word “Liberalism,” and in the end had to give up.

Anderson stated that “the Liberal Moment is that moment when there is an association between bleak assessment and idealistic movement.” Although she showed that Liberalism tends to shift away from the first-person element of moral action, due in large part to the refusal in Liberalism to accept established norms, she also asserted that there is a fundamental part of the Liberal temperament which is inclined toward the Aesthetic and first-person moralism. Both of these elements of the Liberal character Anderson held as necessary to Liberalism as a whole.

Monday, March 31, 2008

True Love Revolution

This article from this weekend's New York Times Magazine chronicles the journey of Janie Fredell from Colorado Springs to Harvard's True Love Revolution club. True Love Revolution promotes abstinence until marriage. The secular club (though most members are Catholic) is modeled after Princeton's Anscombe Society, but less philosophical and more practical. Last fall Fredell had a "debate" with fellow student Lena Chen, the face of sexual freedom at Harvard. They realized that they might have more in common than they thought.

Though lengthy this article is worth the read as it addresses an issue that all young Catholics should examine in tandem with the marital disfunction articles that have been posted. The interviews are also rather candid and informative. Predictable is the Harvard Crimson's dismissal of True Love Revolution, unprecedented at the institution is the will that True Love Revolution's leaders have to fight against the overwhelming moral norms at the school. Good read.

Janie Fredell, co-president of True Love Revolution

Leo Keliher, co-president of True Love Revolution

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Vagina: The New "F***"

The introduction to the Monologues joked about it, I've seen it in several articles, and, most recently, in the comments on this blog: "V*****."

It really is an interesting phenomenon. Under the guise of "raising awareness" about female sexuality and sexual assault (I have yet someone to explain to me how the Monologues actually achieves this goal), the Monologues uses the word "vagina" to evoke shock, humor, and, in some way, sympathy from the audience. And yet, in doing so, they have made the word shameful to use for those who prefer to be modest.

In precisely the way the Monologues uses it, v***** is a swear word. It is a rallying call. It is a banner for an entire movement on campus. "V******" screams rebellious, anti-Catholic rhetoric.

Funny how it was supposed to "give women a voice." Now that they have one, what can they say?