Saturday, May 2, 2009

puppy hugs (seriously)

Enough bad things have been happening on campus lately that I thought it'd be good to sound an upbeat note from The World Beyond:

May Day is a really big deal at Oxford (where I'm studying (I'm ND '08)). Pubs, which normally close between 11.30 and 1, are open till 6am, and breakfast places open when the pubs are closing; but no one goes to eat right away because the Magdalen College Choir sings at sunrise from the top of their tower to the thousand or so people gathered below .. the crowd stretches from both banks of the Cherwell well down into the Botanic Garden.

But honestly, today was even better than yesterday. The weather was perfect for a long hike, so I took the opportunity to explore the meadows East and North of the University Parks. Oxford is unique and amazing for a host of reasons, but one of the simple ones is that it has pretty much the perfect balance of old-European-city and lovely-peaceful-countryside nestled side by side. I got a bit lost, wound up going much further than planned (to Wolfson College, which turned out to be hospitable to strangers), but that just made it better. Everyone was outside, from drunken punters to cute old couples.

The highlight of the day was coming across an elderly but vigorous English gentleman who was taking his pup for a walk. We were in the middle of a ten-acre meadow with no other souls in sight (though plenty of birds and ducks could be heard nearby), and the little guy - I thought he was a terrier at first - came bounding up to me. Not content to lick me and be petted, he went so far as to literally give me a hug with his forelegs. Speaking in the Queen's English with the pacing of an Ent, the gent informed me that his miniature schnauzer was pleased to make my acquaintance. I didn't take a picture, but he was even more handsome than the pup I'm including.

The moral of the story?
Spring is coming; and true hope springs eternal.

Respecting Authority...

Recently, in my barrage of hate mail, I received one that caught my more so than others. In this particular message, its writer, who claims to be pro-life, Catholic, and "disagree with many of Obama's policies," cited a passage from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, chapter 13, in which Paul instructs his readers to respect those in authority. As this person writes, President Obama ought not to be protested at Notre Dame by virtue of the fact that he occupies the Office of the President of the United States.

First, I (and all of ND Response, for that matter) take issue not with the fact that the president is coming. We take issue with the fact that the University has invited and intends to honor an individual who aggressively has used the law to further an agenda that is inherently and thoroughly anti-life, and thus anti-Catholic. It is unfortunate that this person happens to be president. However, despite the fact that he is president, we believe that it is our moral duty to voice disappointment and opposition towards his policies and our University's intention to honor him.

Second, though she is correct to point out the Romans 13 passage regarding respect to authority, I believe that she has mis-ordered her priorities in respecting authorities. Christ said, "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's; and to God what is God's." I, as well as all those who disagree with Mr. Obama and the University, render the respect that is rightful due to whomever occupies the Office of the President, as well as to the Office itself. However, we recognize that, as Catholics, we can not sit idly by as the authority of the Church, which we believe supersedes that of the Office of the President, is not only disrespected, but scandalously disregarded.

Because this University has the privilege of identifying itself as Catholic, it is obligated--evermore so than individual members of the Church--to respect as well as robustly uphold and defend the teachings of the Church. In view of the fact that more than 40 US bishops and over 600 priests (10 of whom are Notre Dame-C.S.C. priests) have declared openly their sentiments regarding their disappointment in Notre Dame, all the while respecting the Office of the President, impresses upon us students that we are called, in our capacity as students, to respectfully oppose this situation as well.

I am sorry that people do not agree with those of us who choose to take issue with ND's invitation and intention to honor President Obama. We do not mean to offend. However, we do not think that we are out-of-line to feel compelled to voice openly our disagreement, especially if we do this in line with those voices of authority who have expressed similar sentiments.

Love thee, Notre Dame.