Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saving Notre Dame: A Call to (Prayerful) Arms

While taking an English course to attain my teaching certification at Elmhurst College (a local liberal arts school), I got into a debate with my professor. It was a 200 level course on literary criticism, and although the textbook had chapters on 11 different "schools" of critiquing fiction, including; Feminist, Marxist, African-American, "Gay, Lesbian and Queer," and, of course, Freud's favorite, Psychoanalytic Criticism, it contained nary a chapter on the Christian perspective—despite the fact the college was still listed (albeit in small print) as a United Church of Christ affiliated institution. "This class is proof," I told my prof, "that Elmhurst can no longer be considered a Christian college. For while Wheaton [a local evangelical school founded by the great Billy Graham] may teach only Christian Literary Criticism, and Notre Dame would teach all the modern modes but then put these methods in a Catholic Christian context, Elmhurst is apparently afraid of even mentioning what the Christian meaning of the story may be." But not long after that class, in a defiant, disobedient and underhanded manner, my alma mater invited our infamous abortion president, Barack Obama, to both speak and receive an honorary law degree from the famous South Bend university, and I realized Notre Dame was not far from becoming a Catholic version of Elmhurst College after all.

To be clear, this article is not meant to denigrate Elmhurst College (a little school with many fine classes and dedicated teachers) and, as for the counter argument by another classmate that the merger of such diverse liberal and conservative congregationalist churches into one denomination rendered the United Church of Christ incapable of making any definitive statements about Our Lord and Savior, I'll let the UCC brothers among our readers decide. What this column is meant to show is that Notre Dame, by becoming either too rich, too afraid, or too cool to preach the Gospel, has for several decades been on that same gradual slide to secularism, and now, balancing on the brink of the cliff that separates the world from the Kingdom, their anointing of Obama may be the decisive action that pushes her over the edge. And, because this would be such a great loss to not only the American Catholic Church (that is, those still in allegiance with Rome) but America itself, I'm calling on not only all loyal Catholics, but all devout Protestants and Evangelicals in the fight to save Notre Dame from slipping into the clutches of Satan himself.

But before I further expound on why not just Catholics but all Christians should be concerned with this particular school's possible demise, let me first show what a special place Notre Dame is (or at least, was) by explaining what it's not.The University of Notre Dame will never be Wheaton College (or Steubenville, the closest Catholic equivalent); in other words, an institution with only Christian teachers and, thus, teaching only the Christian perspective. Rather, Notre Dame was more modeled to be a modern equivalent of the medieval University of Paris, a place where Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) learned from not only the greatest Christian minds, but the best Moslem and Jewish teachers too. This not only enabled Thomas to attain the best education in both philosophy and theology, but math and science as well. Paris provided Thomas with the unique ability of starting his apologetics from a Jewish or Moslem point of view, and then showing how the Catholic Christian version either refuted or completed the other side's vision. Of course, this strategy, that of inviting every differing prince or duke to the court, will only work if Christ is still the King. This certainly was true with Saint Thomas, as his preaching and writing both strengthened Christians and converted heathens, while Notre Dame, with its devout priests, devoted laymen (not to mention championship football teams!) spread her fame and His Name throughout the world. But now, as Jenkins (who invited Obama on the sly, not informing his bishop until after Barack accepted the illicit invitation) stands once again poised to trade God for gold, both Notre Dame's faith and football fail to inspire.

Know that Notre Dame still possesses its special gift, its unique apostolate ... if only she will use it! Wheaton and Steubenville may still make great statements, but they preach only to the choir, never to be covered by the mainstream media. But if Notre Dame were to now re-emerge with a true new leader proclaiming a bold pro-life, pro-family vision, you could be sure that every soul with a radio, TV or computer would hear about it. A renewed Notre Dame would have the power to single-handedly revive the pro-life movement, and the Republican party along with it. I urge all Renew America readers to pray for Notre Dame, sign The Cardinal Newman Petition condemning the Obama invitation, and donate your time, money and insights to the cause as the Spirit leads. And, while I'm not making any predictions, if Notre Dame were to return to the fold, I wouldn't be surprised if God turns around the football team too!


Anonymous said...

After reading Tom O'Toole's article on "Saving Notre Dame", Mr. O'Toole, in the same article, praises Notre Dame for it's liberal education, comparing it to a great university where many points of view were held and taught, and also condemns it because Jenkins has invited a speaker that has a different view from many students, alumni and faculty at Notre Dame.

Does Mr. O'Toole really believe that President Obama has nothing to offer other than his views on abortion? Whether you agree with his politics or not, Obama's story is a great one, as American as they get. The purpose of a commencement speaker is to inspire the graduates, and Obama has certainly proven he can do that.

I wonder if Mr. O'Toole spoke as loudly against President Bush when he was picked as the speaker at my graduation in 2001. After all, Bush oversaw dozens of state-sanctioned murders as Governor of Texas, when he had complete authority to stop the killings. (Obama has no such power to stop a single abortion.) If Mr. O'Toole did not speak up then, I wonder if his recent crying is really about morality and religion or just more hypocritical rambling from a typical right-winger.

Tom O'Toole said...

Dear Anon -- Tuesday, March 31, 2009 7:31:00 AM -- This is Mr. O'Toole. Apparently obedience to your religious superiors doesn't mean anything to you; not only did Jenkins go against his own Bishop D'Arcy in inviting the Obamanation to N.D., but the whole conference of U.S. Bishops, who clearly stated pro-choice politicians should a) not be given a platform and b) not be given honors at a Catholic university. Yes I was against Bush going to Iraq (as was the pope) and am also against the death penalty, but either you don't know going to war against an evil regime (and several thousand people getting killed) or killing several dozen murderers or rapists, however bad, is NOT the moral equivalent of killing 50 million babies, and, if you didn't know, then the Catholic Catechism would tell you so. Either you are ignorant of the Catholic faith or do not care about it, which either way makes you a poster child for what is now wrong with Notre Dame and what needs to be changed before it becomes Our Lady's university once again.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Toole-

I completely respect and understand your views on abortion. What I don't respect is how anyone who claims to value a liberal education based on open-mindedness and different points of view can, in the same breath, condemn Obama's invitation and say that I am "what's wrong" with Notre Dame, simply because we share different views from your own.

As far as the Catholic Church not giving abortion supporters a "platform", do you really believe that Obama is going to use his Notre Dame commencement speech as a platform for his "pro-choice" views? Obama is nothing if not a savvy politician. I don't think that would be a smart move on his part, do you?

Finally, Obama cannot stop a single abortion. It is not within his power. Bush could have stopped every execution in Texas. It was within his power. So, I agree that the situations are not "moral equivalents," though not in the way you meant it.

If Notre Dame needs saving, it is from the closed-mindedness that stems from the worst part of Catholicism, so that the University can focus on the compassion that attracts so many people to the religion.

Tom O'Toole said...

Anon -- Wednesday, April 01, 2009 9:09:00 PM -- Once again, you completely ignored the fact that Jenkins disobeyed both his particular bishop as well as the whole Council of Catholic Bishops by inviting Obama and awarding him. Read the USCCB statement yourself if you doubt me. Also, you continue to ignore the fact that by not only giving U.S. money to fund abortion in Mexico but also funding embryonic stem cell research, Obama IS directly the cause of COUNTLESS abortions.

By not commenting on the facts of Jenkins' disobedience and Obama's abortion fundings, you have fallen victim to the lies these two "politicians," for the most part, so masterfully cover up.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Toole-

I cede the point that, if you believe funding Embryonic Stem-Cell research is causing abortions, then you are right: Obama is causing abortions, though I would argue not as "directly" as you make it seem.

I do not agree with you, however, that Jenkins should not have the right to stand up to his superiors and do what he thinks is right. This attitude of "falling in line" has caused the Catholic Church all sorts of headaches, including the covering up of numerous charges of pedophilia by Catholic priests.

My final question, which I already asked, but you didn't explicitly answer is: Did you make such an outcry when President Bush, who killed dozens of inmates as governor of Texas, was invited to speak in 2001? If not, was it because he was a Republican? Or were you able to overlook this contradiction with your own views on Life, because you felt there were other positive effects from inviting the President to speak at graduation?

Tom O'Toole said...

Anon -- Thursday, April 02, 2009 7:46:00 AM -- Obama also approved a ton of taxpayers' money to fund foreign abortions after only four days in office. Apparently you are really confused about obedience and authority in the Catholic Church. The Church as you should know NEVER said pedophelia was okay. Neither the Pope or Bishops have ever written ANY statement other than it was a GRAVE sin. Yes, there are individuals who were guilty of the GRAVE sin and others who were guilty of covering it up. But surely you should know, neither sins were an official teaching of the Church.

In 2001, I was busy writing a sports book, Champions of Faith, and I honestly wasn't putting much time into theological writing. I am with the CCC in being against the death penalty, and I agree an ND protest was an appropriate response. Were you a part of one? (Being solely "anonymous," you are able to deal out stuff without really standing up.) As far as not inviting Bush, while there was a legitimate Catholic opinion to not invite him, I have also stated that killing less than 100 souls guilty of murder, rape and other heinous crimes is not the moral equivalent of killing 40 to 50 million totally innocent people. There can be no debate (if you are Catholic) about killing innocent unborn babies where there are a few exceptional cases where the Church approves of the death penalty. I don't believe Texas met these qualifications although I haven't studied all the cases in detail. So while not inviting Bush was a real moral option for a Catholic university, there is absolutely no way they can invite any person who personally approves of the mass murder of innocent people.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Toole-

This will be my last response, though I appreciate the debate.

I am only "anon" because I am not very blog literate. I was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania (where the Catholic Church's stance on condoms is killing thousands, though that's another debate) when blog technology first became popular, and I haven't bothered to catch up. As you know, because of my email to you, my name is Charles Roth.

I know that pedophilia was never spoken of as anything other than evil by the Catholic Church. However it was the Church culture that caused "higher-ups" to feel secure in being able to cover things up and the "underlings" to feel afraid to come forward about what was happening.

In 2001 I did not protest Bush's arrival to our campus. I felt, as I feel now, that having the President come to our graduation was a great honor, even if I disagreed with many of his politics. I also was not very politically active at the time.

As you know, the debate over abortion comes down to whether a fetus is a human life. Pro-lifers obviously feel a fetus is a human life, and therefore abortion is murder. Pro-choicers fell a fetus is not a human life, and therefore abortion is not murder. This is the debate, and is therefore debatable. No one can argue that a murderer or rapist is not a human life. Capital punishment is, without any debate, the purposeful taking of a human life, which is why I agree that capital punishment is not the moral equivalent of abortion; it is in fact worse. Executing a criminal has no benefits, whereas embryonic stem-cell research has many.

Again, I appreciate the debate.