Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: What Happened to Notre Dame?

Notre Dame professor emeritus of law Charlie Rice is releasing his latest book, "What Happened to Notre Dame?," this month (with Forward written by Notre Dame professor emeritus of philosophy Ralph McInerny and Introduction written by Notre Dame professor of philosophy, Alfred J. Fredosso). I recently have received a review copy of the book and thus have had a chance to look through its contents. Not only is the book very thorough in its examination of the seeming rise and fall of Notre Dame's Catholicity, but it also includes a keen dissection of the what led up to and took place surrounding the controversial 2009 Notre Dame commencement. The following is an excerpt from the publisher's synopsis...

... What Happened to Notre Dame? by Charles E. Rice, with a Preface by Ralph McInerny and Introduction by Alfred Freddoso – three of Notre Dame’s most distinguished scholars, who together have served the University 124 years – first recounts the details of Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. It then examines the succession of fall-back excuses offered by the Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and University publicists to justify Notre Dame’s defiance of the nation’s bishops and of Catholic teaching.

But Rice is not content with mere reportage. What Happened to Notre Dame? diagnoses the problem’s roots by first providing an overview of the Land O’Lakes Declaration, its inception and its aftermath, including the ways in which its false autonomy from the Church has led to an erosion of the Catholic identity of Notre Dame and other Catholic universities.

Then, it offers a cure. Christ, who is God, is the author of the divine law and the natural law. The book presents reasons why an acknowledged interpreter of these laws is necessary, and why that interpreter has to be the Pope exercising the
Magisterium, or teaching authority of the Church. And it shows why it is so important that we have such a moral interpreter for all citizens and not just for Catholics. The alternative is what Pope Benedict XVI calls the “dictatorship of relativism,” which the book analyzes. Even for those who do not share the Catholic faith, our reason leads us to conclude that the natural law is the only moral code that makes entire sense and points to the conclusion that the Vicar of Christ is uniquely suited to give authoritative interpretation to that law.

In the final chapter Rice shows why great good can come out of Notre Dame’s blunder in rendering its highest honors to such an implacable foe. Notre Dame got itself into such a mess because it attempted to be Catholic without the Church and
ended up defying the Church and disgracing itself. But good can result from the lesson here that roll-your-own morality is no more tenable than roll-your-own Catholicism.

Rice shows why what happened to Notre Dame is symptomatic of what’s happening in other Catholic colleges, indeed in colleges with non-Catholic religious affiliations. He shows how the abandonment of principle at the college level spills over tothe general culture, with devastating effect, as religious standards get pushed out of the public square. And, finally, he shows why people who have never seen the Golden Dome, never rooted for the Fighting Irish, and never graced a Catholic Church, also have a stake in what happened to Notre Dame...

(St. Augustine's Press, 224 pages, paperbound, $15.00; ISBN-13: 978-1-58731-920-4; ISBN-10: 1-58731-920-9; publication date: September 2009)

This book can be found at the following books sellers:

Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 31, 2009

Go go go go go!

Ever wonder what it's like to be an armadillo?
Or a cow? Wolf?
Well, there you go.

(h/t The Daily Dish.)

The Rover Film Review: Moon


Director: Duncan Jones (Whistle)
Starring: Sam Rockwell (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Choke) and Kevin Spacey (Se7en, American Beauty, etc.)
Rated: R for Language
Run Time: 97 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Moon is a rare and unique film featuring a thought-provoking plot, superb acting, and an excellent soundtrack. Without giving too much away, Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an engineer working alone (except for the computer GERTY [voiced by Kevin Spacey] )mining resources on the moon. Sam is nearing the end of his three year contract, when an accident suddenly jolts Sam, and the plot, widely away from expectations.

What follows is an interesting examination of what it means to be human.


Sam is a clone - the last in a long line of beings created to fulfill a three year lifespan and then seemingly destroyed to be replaced by the next. Memory implants of the original Sam Bell are the only comfort these clones have - keeping their existence hidden even from themselves.

Moon, while utilizing such well-known Hollywood devices as the evil-corporation, manages to break free from convention and deliver an examination of what it means to be human. Is GERTY human? Are the clones? The movie doesn't answer these questions - just proposes them. I would highly recommend this film and consider it the best of the year so far. Duncan Jones, up to now most known for being David Bowie's son, clearly has an eye for issues that reach into humanity - serving as the story creator, a writer, and a director. The film is in limited release and I also thank the fine people at DPAC for bringing this film to campus.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Passing of Ted Kennedy

There is an excellent appraisal of Ted Kennedy as a Catholic here.

I believe the most interesting part of this great editorial is the second-to-last paragraph:

"This also marks the passing of a certain type of cultural Catholicism — Northeast, Irish and increasingly Italian, concerned with obtaining political power while maintaining an identification with the Church, yet happy to relinquish the substance of the faith if it gets in the way. Indeed, today such cultural Catholics have dispensed even with the identity aspect and are often outright hostile to the Church of their baptism."

Please read the entire thing.