Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Vagina Monologues' St. Valentine's Day Massacre at Notre Dame: An open letter to Fr. Jenkins

Rev. John Jenkins
President of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame/Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Fr. John,

My friends at The Cardinal Newman Society informed me that after a one-year hiatus, the diabolically-inspired Vagina Monologues has made its way back on campus. Granted, I understand you are not "sponsoring" it (the Anthropology and Sociology Departments are actually doing that), so (in your mind anyway) it is not considered an "official university-sponsored activity." Still, I have to admit, Father, it sounds to me a lot like a Catholic politician saying, "while I am personally opposed to abortion, I do not want to legislate my views on others," in other words; a lot of "sound and fury, signifying nothing." But maybe, as a daily Mass Catholic, I'm just overly sensitive.

Then again, maybe not. In addition to The Cardinal Newman Society, I just read that the United States Bishops Committee on Doctrine which was scheduled to have a conference at Our Lady's university starting on Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (which I trust is still a special day at Notre Dame, considering the lasting place your Lourdes replica grotto has in the hearts of both alumni and students), pulled out of their Notre Dame reservations both at their disgust of the play being held on campus, and in deference to your bishop, John D’Arcy (who called V-M "offensive to women" and "antithetical to Catholic teaching") and are instead meeting at a local convent outside of South Bend.

I know, I know. You would insist the real issue here is free speech, and just because this play glorifies lesbianism, upholds group masturbation as a dogma, and calls a girl's lesbian rape her "salvation" and "heaven," doesn't mean The V-Monologues is the equivalent of screaming "fire" in a crowded theatre, or "F*** Jesus" in Sacred Heart Church, as the case may be. And you have always preached that Notre Dame must allow free expression of ideas, even those contrary to the Faith, if it is to be a true leader in national, indeed, international university education, and thus, The V-Monologues stays—or is at least allowed to return.

Well, maybe you're right, Father, but something about that "leader" stuff still feels wrong. After all, Fr. McBrien's heresy has become old hat, and although pressure from people like the bishops and The Cardinal Newman Society have reduced the number of Catholic universities showing The V-M by almost half, there are still eighteen other allegedly loyal-to-Rome colleges presenting this decidely un-Christian play, so your presentation is no longer noteworthy in that regard. So if you really want to stand out, Father, why not keep the "Monologues" ... but hire Dana Jacobson to play the lead role? That foul-mouthed vodka-toting ESPN commentator has made a name for herself by blaspheming the sacred names of Christ and Notre Dame (again, something you thought not significant enough to personally rebuke, but your underling's statement of disagreement proved so mild that head football coach Charlie Weis finally had to step in and properly denounce the attack and defend Notre Dame's honor) and Dana would be perfect to make that play come alive. For, if Rudy Ruettiger was born to lead the Notre Dame players out of the stadium tunnel, then (according to your logic) Dana Jacobson was born to play that hateful lesbian role on Our Lady's campus. You'd have to admit, Father, that THAT would be a performance of The Vagina Monologues that no other actress on any other Catholic campus could ever live up to—and a rendition of the play that no orthodox president of a Catholic university could ever live down.

Now I've left you with much to think (and hopefully pray) about, Father, but before I go, please allow this loyal son of Notre Dame one final observation. If, on the eve of March 26 (the first day of The V-Monologues' scheduled Notre Dame performance), you look up in the sky and see the Lady on the Dome appear to cry, know that it is not due to the weather. It is Our Lady expressing Her right of free speech, in that silent manner that only Our Mother has obediently mastered.

God's grace and Mary's prayers,
Tom O'Toole, Class of '81


Jenny said...

Thank God for you, this is a blog I'll be back to again and again. Had Our Lady not radiated perfect humility during her earthly life, she would surely have mastered at some point during her tenure up on that Golden Dome...

Tom O'Toole said...

Jenny -- Thank God for you too! And you can always e-mail Fr. Jenkins yourself -- maybe if enough do so, ND might reconsider V-M. Father's e-mail is --

God's grace & Mary's prayers,

NDIrishRover said...

A disquieting suggestion, to say the least. I've taken the liberty of reproducing the letter on the blog of Notre Dame's Catholic (and independent) student paper:

Bill Dempsey said...

Why haven't I found this blot site before? This is a fine introduction. A first rate letter. I'm going to follow the lead of my friends at the Irish Rover and take the liberty of reproducing it on the blog of Project Sycamore, an organization of Notre Dame alumni deeply concerned about how much Notre Dame has lost its Catholic character. Our home page is Anyone who wants to learn all about the Vagina Monologues controversy from its inception and all about the reasons it has erupted will find it there. This is really all about the power of a secularized faculty. And anyone who wants to join us in expressing our collective opposition, you'll find out how.

Tom O'Toole said...

Bill Dempsey -- Thanks for your kind comments, as well as featuring me on your blog (remember, I do speaking engagements too!). Keep up the good work in gathering the signatures and reminding folks of the many loyal sons and daughters Notre Dame still has.

Tom O'Toole said...

ndirishrover -- The young man sees the vision, the old man dreams the dream.

I'm so happy as a middle-aged Marian Catholic Maverick, to see both ends of the faithful spectrum comment!

Thanks so much for featuring me on your blog, and for reminding people Notre Dame means "Our Lady," not "Alumni Money." Hopefully my daughter, Therese, will join your student ranks soon. And if you think my stuff is strident ...!

Paul Cat said...

Amen Tom. Your wife (I think it was your wife) left your link on my blog. I'm glad she did. I'll be sending Fr. Jenkins an email or at least a letter. Peace.

Aldrich said...

I returned from Spring Break Sunday night and I couldn't begin to tell you the relief I experienced finally seeing our Lady on the dome. I had been on the road for 25 hours total that weekend and I owed my safety to Her.

She'll mightily guard campus from vicious trespassers anytime.

Tom O'Toole said...

Dear Aldrich,

Thanks for commenting. Like yourself, I truly believe Our Lady will protect Notre Dame from all heresies, but as long as Fr. Jenkins is at the helm, She might have to work overtime.