In the late 1990s, the Lilly Endowment had the kind of problem we all wish we had: too much money. In keeping with the original religious intentions of the organization’s founder, and in tune with the interests of the group’s leaders at the time, Lilly worried about the increasingly prosaic, utilitarian status of higher education. In post-modern America, the “collapse of cultural authority embedded in American popular norms” had left a vacuum of meaning and purpose regarding higher education.
Mark Silk, at RNS, on the GOP's lack of historical perspective on their claims about religious liberty. Constraints on religious freedom today may or may not be advisable, but they are not unprecedented.
John Gerstein at Politico on the oral arguments in yesterday's Supreme Court oral arguments over same sex marriage.
Yesterday, I began looking at Building Catholic Higher Education: Unofficial Reflections from the University of Notre Dame by Christian Smith and John Cavadini. I only got as far as Smith’s survey of the relevant official and unofficial statements about Catholic higher education from the university. Today, I will look at how Smith examines the implications for those statements as well as Cavadini’s closing chapter on the role of theology at a Catholic University.
At Politico, James Hohmann looks at the performances of GOP presidential hopefuls in Iowa last weekend. He seems surprised about the attacks on corporate America, but I am thinking that in a room full of social conservatives the GOP contenders have one message and a different message from what they deliver at their fundraisers.
Higher Education is in a strange place in the U.S. today. Everyone agrees it is important, but the discussions about why it is important, what it should seek to achieve, and how it should be paid for have yielded more questions than answers. This is especially true of Catholic higher education. Two recent books look at some of these issues and, over the next couple of days, I will review them, starting this morning with Building Catholic Higher Education: Unofficial Reflections from the University of Notre Dame by Christian Smith and John Cavadini.
The Heartland Institute is becoming the Westboro Church of climate change. The so-called think tank leads the way in denying man-made climate change.They announced they are hosting an event at the Vatican, well, not at the Vatican, but nearby, to persuade Pope Francis not to believe what 97% of the scientific community think is so. Should we tell them that the encyclical is written and being translated as we speak?
Saturday night, I was in New York City to celebrate the memory of Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete with his friends at Communione e Liberazione. They had a wonderful piano and violin duo that began the evening, followed by tributes to Lorenzo by his friends Professor Robert Pollack and documentary producer Helen Whitney. Helen also showed a video that brought together some of Lorenzo's commentary on her shows. They also invited me to speak. Here is the text of my remarks which I reprint here because I hope they speak to people who did not Lorenzo too.
At Commonweal, Jackson Lears on the liberal arts versus Neo-liberalism. This is an important, important essay. The reach of scientific positivism, especially when it comes dressed in economicist drag, tears away at the very foundation of what we mean when we say "civilization."
Ross Douthat’s article in Atlantic sounded an alarm bell he has struck before, the idea that Pope Francis could provoke a schism if his revolutionary impulses turn out to be more than rhetorical devices or symbolic gestures. But, Douthat both underestimates the revolutionary quality of what is transpiring at the Vatican and overestimates the degree to which it might provoke a new schism of any size.
Take for example this paragraph. Douthat writes:
At National Journal, veteran reporter Ron Fournier dissects the Clinton's MO in the face of media scrutiny over potential scandals. In the process, he perhaps unintentionally demonstrates why they are such darned effective politicians.