Friday, November 19, 2010

A Philosophy on Education

At a recent panel for Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture's annual fall conference, I had the opportunity to receive some valuable insights on an approach to education strategies.
Apparently, there is an issue when it comes to how "student-centered" a course should be. In engineering the design and goal of a course, faculty members are confronted with the problem of content versus process that complicates this issue. Professors, as such, have a responsibility to offer content for coursework, since they alone possess the robust scholarship necessary to make such decisions. There is a duty, however, to engage the interests of the students attending the university who are pursuing studies in various disciplines. The question is, how much dialogue should there be between students and faculty to ensure that courses are constructed with the balance that provide challenging, yet stimulating content for students. The process of a course pertains to how the method by which the content should be explored. The same happy medium is required here to ensure similar success. The problem that happens most frequently, from my perspective, is that it is either the professor's course or the student's course. Basically, either the professor has designed a course with strict and rigid parameters without allowing for pedagogical adaptations or the professor has compromised on too many issues, allowing students the course settings they desire while simultaneously relinquishing content of any real substance.
The solution? Humilty.
According to one of the panelists, humility in curriculum is essential to foster an optimal setting for learning. Ultimately, what this means is that the professor has to assume the virtue of humility to acquire a perspective of both his students and himself that will elevate that student-teacher relationship to its highest good. A professor with humility will become, in a sense, a student once again. He will realize that, despite years of experience in scholarship and research in his chosen field, he is not above the force of education. He, too, can engage his students and the course content in a way that will ensure that he will never stop learning. Professors often speak of the enriching experience of being an educator which usually implies that there is still much to gain.
Socrates supposedly said that "The only real wisdom is knowing that you know nothing." According to the panelist, it is this humble perspective that may inspire a sense of awe and wonder in a classroom setting that may inspire students to engage readings and material purely for the sake of education, the perpetual quest for truth. The responsibility of casting this aura over the classroom center rests mainly on the professor, whose agency is vital in setting the proper tone for a learning atmosphere.
Some of the greatest courses I have taken during my time at Notre Dame have been ones that have created this same atmosphere. The professor engaged the text as if he too were a student. Feeling that this was the case, the professor joined us in discussions, the hierarchy was disbanded, and grades became objects of little or no importance. The thirst for knowledge was instilled by an overarching sense of humility which loudly admitted that "we know nothing." The virtue of humility involves another balance. It takes humility to say "I know nothing" but this can turn into despair and dejection if it is not accompanied with a healthy sense of pride that completes the phrase: "I know nothing, but I possess the capacity to learn." It is with this complete, humble realization that we find ourselves looking at the world from an awesome perspective that spurs us towards the wonder of truth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stimulating what?

Thought I'd take the opportunity to post a link to the new DOL report on jobs lost since the stimulus was passed. Apparently jobs were gained in a whopping TWO states (and DC - shocker with all that government spending).

But, wait, wasn't the stimulus suppose to save and create new jobs?

Just waiting for someone to figure out how to count "saved" jobs and I'm sure we'll find out that this bill saved millions from breadlines.

link to Big Government .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Surprise! Conservatives make for the more generous donators

"On the surface, the notion that liberals are the world’s most charitable individuals could easily be accepted. After all, many on the left talk quite a bit about helping the poor and providing social safety nets."

The findings:

-Conservatives donate about 30 percent more than do liberals (though, on average, conservatives earn less than liberals.)

-Conservatives are 17 percent more likely than their liberal counterparts to donate blood.

-In 2004, George W. Bush carried 24 out of 25 of the states in which charitable giving exceeded the national average.

"[I]t’s no secret that liberals are more prone to accept the notion that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide direct services to the people. While conservatives are by no means opposed to essential state-sponsored programs, they place a higher value on personal responsibility and the building of self-driven social capital."

Read more:

Nobel Prizes, Pretty worthless now-a-days

For those of you who still think the Noble Prize holds any worth, this year's Noble Prize in medicine ought to disabuse you of that notion.

This year's winner was Robert Edwards of Britain who developed in-vitro fertilization. He was selected over the favored Shinya Yamanaka (story here).

Yamanaka has done some amazing research with great potential. He figured out a way to take fibroblast cells (most abundant cells in your body, a sort of generic connective tissue) and to make them pluripotent (with the ability to become any cell in your body). These cells are referred to as Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS Cells). Not only do they allow for stem cell research without the destruction of an embryo, they also allow for new tissue to be developed which is not seen as foreign by your body (because the tissue can be grown from your own cells). In fact, Yamanaka has grown all sorts of tissue from these cells; even that of beating cardiac tissue. This is a major medical breakthrough and that is why most experts thought Yamanaka was a favorite to win the Nobel prize in medicine.

However, the researcher who developed in vitro fertilization won instead. This is much less medically interesting, and, given the political bend of the Nobel awards, it only makes sense to me if I assume it was purely political. How disappointing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"A dark and delightful sunday afternoon read"

Hot off the press, medical thriller The Ensouling is poised to move hearts. One customer reviewed:

"In this action-packed medical thriller, Petrik delivers a dark and delightful Sunday afternoon read.

Petrik's protagonist, the eminent neurosurgeon Dr. Killeen, is a man without a conscience whose egomaniacal wickedness is as perversely fun to watch as Dorian Gray's. Helped by his substantial medical and scientific talents, he lies, manipulates, and murders his way into a prominent position on the faculty of a fictional Louisville University, a financially favorable marriage, and the skirts of innumerable subordinates. His research lab--whose denizens' personal lives make for some of the book's most humorous and tenderest moments--is on the brink of a monumental discovery when a tragic accident threatens Killeen's future and his life. True to form, Killeen risks everything on a final series of daring and horrific crimes that will leave him forever scarred and leave us realizing, like Dorian, that we are witnessing a portrait of our own corruption.

As well as a knack for the swift pace and spare, descriptive language of a good thriller, Petrik posesses a facility with medical and metaphysical arcana to delight the heart of a nerd. The plausible scientific detail brings home the chilling fact that this book is set in the present, and the questions it raises are ones that doctors are grappling with even now, in this time of high hopes for clinical trials of fetal stem cell transplants: [...]. In the tradition of fathers of science fiction like H. G. Wells and Arthur C. Clarke, Petrik delivers his moral bluntly, and readers put down The Ensouling both satisfied and perturbed."

Available to download on Amazon.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I'm sorry Congressman, the correct answer is "What is the Bill of Rights?"

The absurd claim: "I think that there are very few constitutional limits that would prevent the federal government from rules that could affect your private life."

-Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif.

The rebuttal: “Congress is subject to checks and balances by other branches of government, as well as to specific constitutional limits. The First Amendment, for example, says ‘Congress shall make no law’ on freedom of religion, speech, assembly and petition. The Second Amendment protects ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms.’ The 10th Amendment says all powers not specifically enumerated for the federal government ‘are reserved to the states, or to the people.’ Washington politicians like Stark should get familiar with the founding documents, particularly this radical Constitution whose present advocates among his constituents make him so uncomfortable. After all, every two years for the past nearly four decades, he has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, vowing to bear ‘true faith and allegiance to the same.’”

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Map

Here's a cute story to think about as we venture through all this political turmoil:

A little girl wanted to know what the United States looked like. Her father tore a map of the United States out of his magazine and cut it into small pieces. He gave them to her and said, 'Go into the other room and see if you can put this together. This will show you our whole country today...'

After some minutes, she returned and handed him the map, correctly fitted and taped together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly.
'Oh,' she said, 'on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together.'

Sooo... when we get Jesus back where He belongs --- our country will come together!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Behold, the Triumph of the Canine Spirit!!

I found this awe-inspiring jewel of a story on Fox News and I felt compelled to post a blog on some of the thoughts that crossed my mind thereafter.

The pictorial story featured in the Fox News story is merely a single example of a growing trend that appears to be more harmless than it really may be. This trend is a movement to personify animals as if they possess the same emotional, psychological, and spiritual capacities of human beings. For instance, the Fox story features Lucy, a paralyzed dog, who scales to the summit of Mt. Washington (2,290 feet) with the help of a dog wheelchair to become the first paralyzed fog to ascend such a distance. The heart-wrenching story concludes with Lucy’s owner commenting on how her dog is such a “go-getter.” In my humble opinion, this may be giving the dog a little too much credit. After all, it’s only a dog. Although it is an impressive feat to witness your handicapped pet succeed at such a challenging feat, it’s important to realize that it’s nothing like the drive and the passion that fuels our very own human spirits.

Just the other day, I heard a broadcast on the radio that praised the nimble efforts of local firefighters extinguishing a blaze that endangered the residents of an entire apartment complex. The report concluded with the reassurance that all pets had been safely rescued. My immediate reaction to this story was, “Pets? Really?” This response came from the realization that there was no mention of any children that were safely evacuated. It seemed like the pressing matter was whether or not the domestic animals were saved.

For some, household pets can be valuable companions. Dogs can be loyal, cats can be cuddly, and fish can be awesome too. The problem arises when an undue amount of care or attention is paid towards these animals, which can potentially place values within these pets that elevate them to the same status as humans. The distinction between man and beast lies in personhood. Animals don’t have that trait. They are beings, but they are not commensurate to human beings. They lack the ability to think, to reason, to hope, and to love because they lack interior life, a soul. That is a statement that is subject to protest since it is difficult to claim that an animal’s existence is devoid of an interior life when you cannot simply sit down with a squirrel, a wombat, or Lucy the dog over tea and crumpets to discuss the matter. Regardless of that unfortunate circumstance, I cannot leave this point to a matter of opinion: animals do not have souls, therefore they are unequal to humans.

Now, I am the first to tell you that I am no animal lover (except for the occasional non-slobbery dog or an irresistibly cute kitten), but I am also no enemy to PETA. That is, I don't run about seeking to indiscriminately abuse or exterminate animals. When I make the point that animals are not akin to human beings, it is because I believe it is an important distinction to make in a world where individuals and small circles of society hail treat these creatures with the same sort of dignity. As patrons of the earth it is the duty of humanity to respect these animals as such without forgetting that they were fundamentally placed on earth for human purposes.

I enjoy cutting into a good steak, bacon is delectable, and there’s nothing quite like barbecue chicken for a summer cookout with family and friends. My palate for processed, cooked, and seasoned animal flesh (sounds delicious if you put it that way, hm?) is in no way inspired by an insatiable hatred towards particular members of the animal kingdom. At the same time, I never find myself lamenting the death of another cow, pig, or chicken. With no strong aversions or affinities towards animals, I simply co-exist with them. It’s not because I am a ravenous carnivore or an insensitive dolt that I exhibit this sort of apathy. Rather, it’s through the acknowledgement of the essential distinction between man and beast and the natural hierarchy that follows allow me to accept that animals have been placed on this earth primarily for the good of omnivorous human beings.

This story on Lucy, the mountain-climbing canine, is a presentation on the formidability of the animal spirit, but this pales deathly in comparison to the human soul.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You know you're in Egypt when... see "Inception" at 12:30 AM and a third of the people in the theater are under 15 years of age.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Obama Gets Racy

-"[D]ealerships were retained because they were ... minority- or woman-owned dealerships";

-Thousands of jobs were lost, unnecessarily, due specifically to Obama's "mandate for shared sacrifice";

-A disproportionate number of Obama-forced closings were of rural dealerships, in areas unfriendly to Obama, even though such closures could "jeopardize the return to profitability" for GM and Chrysler.

The media, of course, remain mute about these serious allegations in the Barofsky report. They have limited their coverage to the job loss numbers and tried to place the blame on Treasury Secretary Turbo-Tax Tim Geithner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stupak = Fail

Via RedState/Lifenews :

Washington, DC ( – The Obama administration has officially approved the first instance of taxpayer funded abortions under the new national government-run health care program. This is the kind of abortion funding the pro-life movement warned about when Congress considered the bill.

The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March.]

Stupak = Fail

It's just too bad that people have to die as a result.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

From the Fox News Intern Desk...

A darkly-clouded New York City looked like Gotham City earlier this morning. Sadly, I didn't see Batman swooping down to shake-up the the blank faces of hardened city-slickers sliding through a hazy bog of paper wrappers, horn-happy drivers, and coffee cups, half-empty (Kevin where were you?!).

But apparently no one would think of criticizing Batman today- "Who would go out in this steamy weather by choice?", they ask. Between you and me, I think he stayed in to avoid hearing every conversation begin with, "Ohhh it's so hot and disgusting outside," as if it were happening for the first time.

Or maybe he's out trying to find the AWOL Afghans, or intercepting spy-exchanges in Vienna, or avoiding all that conflict as he admires ancient Egyptian tombs.

I'd go with the last considering that solutions to the other problems are moving along molasses-style.

Note: It's no coincidence that all those links take you to the Fox News website. As my title implies, I'm happily working as an intern at Fox this summer, an opportunity that has enabled me to make all these insider observations about NYC, and to spend some time pondering concrete sidewalks and superfluities.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Spill Coverage

Touche, Zakaria.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Problem of Polling

A recent poll cited by Salon shows one of the largest problems with polling. In an article entitled, "The American people want more government spending," Salon seeks to promote the claim that the people of this country aren't concerned with the deficit. However, this headline is misleading because the poll questions are misleading.

Directly from the results at Gallup :

"Would you favor or oppose Congress passing new legislation this year that would do the following?

Approve additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Favor: 60%
Oppose: 38%
No opinion: 2%

[USA Today/Gallup, June 11-3, 2010 in random sampling of phone interviews]"

Who wouldn't want jobs and a stimulated economy? Of course, there are concerns over how well such a thing does it. In addition, I have major concerns over the lack of background concerning how our ballooning deficit spells danger for future economic growth and stability.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You know you're in Egypt when...

...the most reliable place to watch the World Cup is McDonald's.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Let us not mock God with Metaphor

My uncle, a man unsentimental to the point of cynicism, pulled a worn copy of this Updike poem out of his wallet last Christmas for me to read. It is a timely challenge of the current trend of religious relativism and the “I’m spiritual, not religious” mentality. Either Christ rose, and Christianity is true, or he did not.


Make no mistake: if He rose at all

it was as His body;

if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules

reknit, the amino acids rekindle,

the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,

each soft Spring recurrent;

it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled

eyes of the eleven apostles;

it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,

the same valved heart

that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then

regathered out of enduring Might

new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,

analogy, sidestepping transcendence;

making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the

faded credulity of earlier ages:

let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,

not a stone in a story,

but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow

grinding of time will eclipse for each of us

the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,

make it a real angel,

weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,

opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen

spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,

for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,

lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are

embarrassed by the miracle,

and crushed by remonstrance.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Read Claire's Book Review

Claire is too modest to post this herself, but she wrote an excellent book review for The Washington Times during her summer internship there. Way to go Claire! That's how Rovers do it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's a Donor Dad?

All right, I know I'm one day late, but a family friend forwarded this WSJ article to me. Someone conducted research disproving Cornell psychologist Peggy Drexler's claim that single, middle-class, educated moms whose children have sperm donors for fathers can raise their children as well as two middle-class, educated biological parents. A new study was conducted on a random sample of 485 young adults conceived by donor insemination and 563 young adults conceived by a biological mother and father in "the old-fashioned way." Some of the responses from the first group sound disheartening, to say the least:

"That was when the emptiness came over me. I realized that I am, in a sense, a freak. I really, truly would never have a dad. I finally understood what it meant to be donor-conceived, and I hated it." -Katrina Clark, in a contribution to the Washington Post

And half of the 485 young adults conceived by a single mother and a sperm donor "report[ed] that they 'feel sad' when they see 'friends with their biological fathers and mothers.'"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

You know you're in Egypt when...'s 108° F and no one is wearing shorts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You know you're in Egypt when...

... the washing machine makes clothes dirtier.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Excellent writing...

that will engage you much more than any post of mine could do. The message doesn't bode well for today's school systems, but O'Rourke adeptly draws a laugh while addressing a lamentable folly that's quite serious- like a modern-day Erasmus. And, although this most convincing proposal might not be practicable, I think it ought to awaken people to establish and/ or pursue alternatives to our public education system.

Good Readin'

Anyone looking for some quick but edifying summer reading should check out Bonaventure’s The Journey of the Mind to God. In this work of medieval philosophy and mysticism, Bonaventure lays out six steps to contemplative unity with God. The Journey is a mere 40 pages, but it’s littered with spiritual gems straight from the heart of this devout Franciscan. Some excerpts:

According to Augustine and Bonaventure, the first thing we know is God, even though we are not aware of this at first. Just as we would not see the colors and shapes of a stained-glass window unless the invisible sun was illuminating them, so we would not see visible things if the invisible God was not illuminating them from within. (Introduction)

Since happiness is nothing else than the enjoyment of the Supreme Good, and the Supreme Good is above us, no one can enjoy happiness unless he rise above himself, not indeed, by a bodily ascent, but by an ascent of the heart. (5)

For we are so created that the material universe itself is a ladder by which we may ascend to God. (5)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Watchdog's New Patron Saint

A friend (credit goes to Johnny Jbombz Gerardi) recently recommended a new patron saint for the Rover-- Manuel Lozano "Lolo" Garrido. Soon to be beatified, Garrido (1920-1971) wrote prolifically as a journalist for the Associated Press and other publications. He also authored nine books. Tragically, at 22, he contracted spondylitis, an inflammation of the spinal joints that progressively worsens over the course of one's life. Nevertheless, he organized what became known as "Sinai" groups, gatherings of twelve people suffering from illness who prayed for a particular area of mass media. Though Garrido was blind for the final nine years of his life, at one point he was given a typewriter to use while he still possessed some strength in his fingers. Upon receiving it, in words that might speak to many journalists, he prayed,

"My Lord, thank You. The first word, Your Name, may it be the strength and soul of this machine...May Your light and clearness be the mind and heart of all that type on it, so that everything written on it may be noble, fair and promising."

Blessed Lolo Garrido, pray for us. (Source of information is the link cited above.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Worship of the Institution

Several months ago a commentator wondered why we (or maybe I) continually addressed Health Care while ignoring the Church abuse scandal. Well, here I go.

First, I have not been personally affected in any way by this scandal. I have not been abused. No one I know (as far as I know) has been abused. In that regard, I can only pray for these people and admit that I cannot understand what they have gone through. No one should ever have their trust shattered, especially the trust one places (and I have placed) in their faith and religion.

With that disclaimer, I hope that those that have committed abuse are fully prosecuted for their crimes - just as any teacher, minister, neighbor, uncle, father, mother, etc. are prosecuted when they commit such acts. The cloth should not protect someone from criminal investigation.

However, I find the systematic hiding of these abusive priests more troubling, and in a certain sense, parallel to my fears regarding Notre Dame. For Bishops and Cardinals around the world, it seemed that fear of negative publicity and a focus on protecting the ecclesiastical order of the Church trumped its mission. The Church is first and foremost the establishment through which grace is communicated and we, as a people, are lead to salvation which is found in Jesus Christ. The focus of the Church should thus then be the redemption of people. Yes, it is easier to redeem people with a Church free of scandal, but when abuse does occur it must be rooted out immediately in order to show that salvation remains at the heart of its mission. The defense of institution remains a secondary goal and one clearly subordinate to ensuring that the children of God are ministered to and lead to salvation.

It seems to me that Bishops and Cardinals around the world worried more about the Institution than their flock and that troubles me deeply. Especially in the case of the Legionaries of Christ, whose founder Marcial Marcel not only abused seminarians but fathered children and did so while seemingly wooing the Vatican with donations and ostentatious shows of wealth, this corruption smacks of the Middle Ages. Here again, we see institutional corruption, where advancement within the institution supplants the true goal.

What does this have to do with Notre Dame?

Our University has one primary goal: to educate students in an academically sound, Catholic manner. Two parts: academics and Catholic. Under those two broad parts falls our library, our Chapels, our athletics, our classrooms, our research, etc etc. One should not become more central than the other and over the last decades, many, including those here at the Irish Rover, have warned that the Academic Standing has garnered more focus than ensuring the Catholic Manner. The University has, it seems to me, become focused increasingly on becoming an academic institution and not a Catholic academic institution.

I believe that just as some Bishops worried about what people thought of the Institution of the Church and sought to preserve its outside appearance while ignoring their flocks, so some in the University and on the Board have sought to increase the academic standing and prestige of the Institution while ignoring their charge to educate well and in a Catholic manner.Both the Church and the University should worry about their institutions - ensuring a good image and good academics, respectively - is important for their missions. These, however, do not replace the true mission of these two and it is important that we, as Catholics and Domers, remind our leaders of that fact. We remain the focus of these institutions, not good press, not US News and World Rankings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law Debate

As a follow-up to my own post regarding the Arizona Immigration Law, which I still don't support, I stumbled upon a brief article on the same act. Peter Wehner, a former staff-writer in the first term of George W. Bush and aide to Bill Bennett, writes:

Still, I would oppose the law (as does Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and Karl Rove, among others) on the grounds that it potentially changes for the worse the relationship between the community and the local and state police and risks treating some people as guilty until proven innocent. The Arizona law, in my estimation, nudges things a bit in that direction, which concerns me.

The article is well reasoned and clearly written while not being too wild on either side. It also contains links to a debate by two journalists, Michael Gerson of The Washington Post and Byron York of the Washington Examiner.

Ultimately, as someone who sees free (or relatively-free) immigration as compatible not only with Catholicism, but also conservativism and capitalistic-economics, this law is wrong, in my opinion. And more importantly, the law also seems to pertain of future, even more-drastic legislative decisions.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Baby Boy Survives for Nearly Two Days After Abortion"

This story from Italy caught my eye. Several things in this story are alarming, besides the mere fact that an innocent life was killed.

1. "The mother, pregnant for the first time, had opted for an abortion after prenatal scans suggested that her baby was disabled." The technology today and ease of an abortion have contributed to a growing sense of righteousness on the part of parents who only seek perfection. If these feti were alive and recognized by governments as being human beings, we would call this euthanasia on par with Hitler's executions of Jews, homosexuals, communists, religious and physically/mentally impaired individuals. In the ongoing Western-race towards worldly perfection, abortion is a handy tool, when paired with pre-natal scans, for ensuring that little Johnny and Jane are mentally and physically perfect.

2. "However the infant survived the procedure, carried out on Saturday in the Rossano Calabria hospital, and was left by doctors to die." Doctors left the infant, now alive and born and recognized as a human being to die. I feel like this might violate the oath of a doctor to do no harm.

3. "He was discovered alive the following day – some 20 hours after the operation – by Father Antonio Martello, the hospital chaplain, who had gone to pray beside his body." The most effective way to combat abortion, which is truly a horror as this story points out, is prayer. Prayer for the aborted, their mothers, the doctors, and our leaders.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Be Proud that You're a Catholic"

An excerpt from a speech given by Jewish businessman, Sam Miller, on Thursday, March 6. Full text here. :

"Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?

Do you know - the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.

The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.

The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people - not just Catholics - in the United States today

But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.

Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church , 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.

Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic Problem.

A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.

The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.

Walk with your shoulders high and you head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States . Then remember what Jeremiah said: 'Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'. Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.

Be proud that you're a Catholic."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Arizona's Immigration Bill

I know I break ranks with many conservatives in supporting open immigration and immediate legalization of all illegals, but from a Catholic standpoint and capitalistic standpoint, it makes the most sense.

Let me explain briefly. As Catholics (and Americans) we should be welcoming to all, especially those who like everyone's ancestors came seeking a better future - politically, economically, etc. - for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren.

Secondly, capitalism advocated as little regulation as possible to enable the market to dictate the economy. Anyone who has taken microeconomics can tell you that the three principle parts (or factors of productions) are land (natural resources), capital, and labor. Why not let labor freely be exchanged as conservatives argue capital and land are?

Anyway, it was with great horror that I saw Arizona pass its new law . The law gives local and state officials the right to stop a person "where a reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States."

Essentially, an officer driving down the street can ask persons to prove whether they are legally or illegally in the country at any time and without warrant. Besides issues of racial profiling, the law seems eerily reminiscence of regimes who likewise demanded a person's papers upon request. I encourage everyone to fight against this law or learn more about the issues at stake here.

An online petition with other opportunities to fight against this legislation:

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Required Reading

So when people ask me what I think about California, I usually have an ambivalent response about how it's the best place on Earth but also the worst place on Earth. It's sometimes difficult to articulate why that is, but it comes down to a few things: horrible government and down right selfishness. Unfortunately, those two go hand-in-hand and their synthesis is greater than the sum of their parts. I've linked two stories. One brief one about a veteran in San Diego (my hometown) who is being booted off his land because he didn't clear his property (putting his neighbors at risk). You can decide who's right and who's wrong in that case. The second is a longer analysis of public employees unions, which basically run the state. This paragraph sums up why all Americans should be concerned about this:

How public employees became members of the elite class in a declining California offers a cautionary tale to the rest of the country, where the same process is happening in slower motion. The story starts half a century ago, when California public workers won bargaining rights and quickly learned how to elect their own bosses—that is, sympathetic politicians who would grant them outsize pay and benefits in exchange for their support. Over time, the unions have turned the state’s politics completely in their favor. The result: unaffordable benefits for civil servants; fiscal chaos in Sacramento and in cities and towns across the state; and angry taxpayers finally confronting the unionized masters of California’s unsustainable government.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sins of Admission

This piece appears in Commonweal next week. It is written by an anonymous Notre Dame grad who is in a homosexual relationship and sends her sons to a Catholic elementary school. Should be required reading. One paragraph:

I do not take the teachings of the church and its two thousand years of accumulated wisdom lightly. I never have. But in the actual experience of loving my partner, I knew that our love was good. It was as simple as that. Our love as we experienced it was a flowering of our faith, and not its undoing. This was so overwhelmingly apparent that I was immediately suspicious of my own self. The possibilities for self-deception are infinite, I knew. And I was sure “I know that our love is good” was right up there with “It seemed like a good idea at the time” as the phrase of choice of love- and lust-addled adulterers and sundry other kinds of sinner. But at the end of the day, one is left with oneself, one’s conscience (however formed), and the stirrings of the Spirit. At the time I listened over and over again to a jazzy rendition of the Quaker hymn “How Can I Keep from Singing?” and decided, ultimately, to sing.

What to expect from health care reform

In this great piece on health care reform, James C. Capretta details the failings of the current plan for universal health care in MA. He shows how it has led to many worse problems than we currently have: budget shortfalls, rationed care, and limits on the type of coverage available.

What is most troubling is that the current reform measures are very similar to those in MA. This just goes to show how there were no significant cost controls introduced in the bill rather it allows for more government intervention. The bill could have promoted health savings accounts to tie consumers to the cost of their care but because the bill was more about controlling the health care industry than lowering costs, this was not the case and we will see many of the same failures as we see now in MA.

I hope I am wrong.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Homelessness Persists in Boston

Although hundreds of institutions exist in Boston with the mission of alleviating homelessness, there are still over seven thousand homeless individuals according to a 2008-2009 Census Report, many of whom live in the streets year round.

The Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 includes in the definition of homeless those who are forced by lack of regular access to conventional dwelling to spend nights in shelters, locations not intended to be dwelling places, or locations where personal safety is compromised. The Census Report showed a homeless population in Boston of 7,861, an 11% increase since the previous year. 437 of those individuals lived on the streets, as opposed to seeking aid in an emergency shelter.

Christopher Jencks wrote in The Homeless, “Late in the 1970s Americans began noticing more people sleeping in public places, wandering the streets with their possessions in shopping bags…[T]he faces of the homeless often suggest depths of despair that we would rather not imagine, much less confront in the flesh. Daily contact with the homeless also raises troubling…questions about our moral obligations to strangers. At a political level, the spread of homelessness suggests that something has gone fundamentally wrong with America’s economic or social institutions.”

Jencks cites a place to live that offers “a modicum of privacy and stability” as the most important thing that can be done in improving the lives of the homeless. In addition, he claims solutions regarding housing are generally easy to devise and evaluate. Yet those on the streets time and again shun shelters, the venues by which this service is, at least temporarily, provided.

On an average night in 1987, only a third of homeless single adults slept in shelters in the US. Lack of beds is not the problem, as sometimes 30 percent of shelter beds are empty. Jim Baumohl writes in Homelessness in America, “Sustained homelessness…[has] the potential for doing a great deal of damage to the human spirit, and, thus, to create divides where none existed before.”

This past spring break, we completed a UROP and CUSE-funded research project in Boston, in which we investigated why so many individuals are still living on the streets when there is an abundance of shelters. We were able to interview eight staff members of Pine Street Inn, survey 21 homeless individuals, and complete two oral histories, which can be found at a/ home.

Of the homeless individuals surveyed, duration of homelessness ranged from three months to thirteen years. The reasons given for their presence on the streets were substance abuse, psychological disorders, aversion to shelter rules and conditions, the ability to survive on their own, possession of an animal, and lack of knowledge about shelters. The predominant reason by far was an aversion to existing shelter conditions. Pine Street staff members also acknowledged shelter conditions may be a deterrent. One Street Outreach team member admitted she would not stay at Pine Street if faced with the option of that or the streets.

Some homeless individuals interviewed had high spirits and a keen sense of humor. One man burst around the side of the outreach van as I was preparing his meal, shouting, “Ogabogaboga! Homeless people!” in a good-natured and effective attempt to startle me. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Larry lamented, “Everything just seems to be going bad, ya know?”

Another man detailed the events leading to his homelessness, which included the death of his beloved, eviction, alcohol abuse, unemployment, and imprisonment. A line from his journal, which he donated to our cause, reads, “The HaNd of Faith HAS TAken ALL wiThout WArNiNg or Reason!” Despite this despairing start, he adds later, “I will not fail or turn back…I rise with every sunrise.”

Incidental findings of the study included several issues related to the support structure for the homeless. The guest-staff relations are often perceived as poor. Assistance, although perhaps of substandard quality, is readily available for those who want it. Housing programs that provide sufficient support are claimed to have been largely effective, in particular the “Reach” program implemented by Pine Street. Finally, only about 10% of the homeless population fall into the “chronic” category, which takes up approximately half of the funding.

The investigation left us with the following questions: is getting more people in shelters a worthy goal? how can shelters be improved? will improving shelters have a positive effect, or will it enable homelessness? how can those with substance and psychological problems be better cared for? is homelessness a psychological condition related to locus of control? These and other questions will be discussed at the upcoming Undergraduate Scholars’ Conference.

Katie Petrik and Julian Murphy are sophomores. They’re now quite adept at approaching strangers and asking personal questions.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Religion isn't so bad afterall

Somehow I was put on a listserv from Mapping America, the National Survey of Family Growth. I generally get an email once a week with new findings from their research. Generally the findings are so obvious, I am disappointed that someone spent time or money on finding it. However, this week's finding is a nice one because it counters the assumptions that religion acts as a force to domesticate women and prevent them from getting an education. These findings show that religious women from intact families are more likely to receive a bachelor's degree. More information can be found here

Sunday, April 4, 2010

2010 Urbi et Orbi

Pope Benedict's 2010 Message to the City and the World on the Occasion of Easter:

Text via Radio Vatican

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea. It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!” Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own: “Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago. You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism. May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.”

The Gospel has revealed to us the fulfilment of the ancient figures: in his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the radical slavery of sin and opened for us the way towards the promised land, the Kingdom of God, the universal Kingdom of justice, love and peace. This “exodus” takes place first of all within man himself, and it consists in a new birth in the Holy Spirit, the effect of the baptism that Christ has given us in his Paschal Mystery. The old man yields his place to the new man; the old life is left behind, and a new life can begin (cf. Rom 6:4). But this spiritual “exodus” is the beginning of an integral liberation, capable of renewing us in every dimension – human, personal and social.

Yes, my brothers and sisters, Easter is the true salvation of humanity! If Christ – the Lamb of God – had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope, our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably be death. But Easter has reversed that trend: Christ’s resurrection is a new creation, like a graft that can regenerate the whole plant. It is an event that has profoundly changed the course of history, tipping the scales once and for all on the side of good, of life, of pardon. We are free, we are saved! Hence from deep within our hearts we cry out: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

The Christian people, having emerged from the waters of baptism, is sent out to the whole world to bear witness to this salvation, to bring to all people the fruit of Easter, which consists in a new life, freed from sin and restored to its original beauty, to its goodness and truth. Continually, in the course of two thousand years, Christians – especially saints – have made history fruitful with their lived experience of Easter. The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place. In our days too, humanity needs an “exodus”, not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.

I pray to the Lord Jesus that in the Middle East, and especially in the land sanctified by his death and resurrection, the peoples will accomplish a true and definitive “exodus” from war and violence to peace and concord. To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq, the Risen Lord repeats those consoling and encouraging words that he addressed to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21).

For the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are seeing a dangerous resurgence of crimes linked to drug trafficking, let Easter signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect for the common good. May the beloved people of Haiti, devastated by the appalling tragedy of the earthquake, accomplish their own “exodus” from mourning and from despair to a new hope, supported by international solidarity. May the beloved citizens of Chile, who have had to endure another grave catastrophe, set about the task of reconstruction with tenacity, supported by their faith.

In the strength of the risen Jesus, may the conflicts in Africa come to an end, conflicts which continue to cause destruction and suffering, and may peace and reconciliation be attained, as guarantees of development. In particular I entrust to the Lord the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.

May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan. To the countries afflicted by terrorism and by social and religious discrimination, may He grant the strength to undertake the work of building dialogue and serene coexistence. To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid. May the saving power of Christ’s resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.

Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”

Happy and Holy Easter!

Luke 24:1-12:

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Presidential Doublespeak: Easter and our Shared Sprit of Humanity

In his recent weekly address, President Obama took the opportunity to talk about health care reform and job creation. Perhaps minutes before he began his address, he realized it was the Easter weekend, and so he dropped in a few references. Let us hope these were last minute additions because if he thought out what he was saying, he sorely misunderstands Christianity.

He implored the nation to reflect on our "shared spirit of humanity" this Easter holiday. Now I am no theologian, but I am Christian enough to know that the entire Easter holiday is predicated on mankind's sins. The incarnation and the resurrection were to redeem man of his sins, not to celebrate his "spirit". I suspect that if Obama could 'reform' religion, he would do that too to suit his naive humanism.

Furthermore he hinted at a very troubling idea of what Americans seek:
"As Americans, and as human beings, we seek not only the security, but the sense of dignity, the sense of community, that work confers."
No mention of liberty, or even religious liberty. Sadly, this is all nothing new.

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security." - Ben Franklin

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Did Fr. Ted get Healthcare Passed?

This rumor is slowly popping up around the internet.

According to a March 22 AP article on the passage of Obamacare:

"A knowledgeable Democratic official said that Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, asked the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame and frequent appointee to presidential commissions, to call Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana on behalf of the legislation. In the end, Donnelly voted yes."

The LA Times followed the next day by beginning its story over healthcare's passage with the same antidote:

"In the tense hours Sunday leading up to the House vote on a historic healthcare bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took time to call the former president of Notre Dame, Father Theodore Hesburgh.

The House Democrats' leader was not seeking spiritual guidance. What she wanted was Hesburgh to help lock up the vote of Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat from South Bend, Ind., who was wavering over the abortion issue.

Donnelly ultimately pressed the "yes" button late Sunday night."

Finally, on March 26, the South Bend Tribune reported the same story with additional reporting from Donnelly's press secretary.

I'm sure we can all appreciate what Fr. Ted has done for this country between setting Catholic Universities apart from what makes Catholicism so special in 1967 and now socializing 1/6 of our economy and securing a meaningless executive order protecting the life of the unborn.

Looks like Fr. Jenkins will have to go on the March for Life again just to make up for this one.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Money is the root of all evil...

Following the mind-boggling healthcare votes of the "Stupak-11", earmark requests for the 2011 Fiscal Year were released. The reports reveal that the eleven requested earmarks in the billions range. See here for more details....