How Catholic Are “Catholic” Universities?

How Catholic Are “Catholic” Universities?

December 20, 2017, Malcolm A. Kline

Many are recognizably Catholic in that they have the reputation for being so, largely due to their age. Moreover, they advertise their Catholicism on their websites but when you go to their catalogs, you find material well beyond St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

The young staffers at the Young America’s Foundation did just that and offer a neat little guide to several of these universities. For example, at Georgetown you can take courses in:

• Labor/Sexuality/Globalization;

• Athletics and Gender;

• Culture/Politics/HIV;

• Gender and Sustainability; and

• The Bible and Horror.

Providence College, meanwhile, has a Women’s Studies department that is easily competitive with its secular counterparts, offering courses in:

• The Power of Whiteness;

• Gender and Politics; and

• Globalization and Social Justice.

Nevertheless, the prize for testing the boundaries of the faith may go to Seton Hall University, with its course on The Politics of Marriage. “This course focuses upon gay marriage as a contemporary political idea, part of an important public policy debate,” the catalog promises. “Gay marriage is bound to a larger historical, religious and cultural narrative.”

“The course focuses upon the European and American experience. Other nonwestern and indigenous traditions are introduced to assist in examining the diversity and complexity of the topic. Complementary ideas are introduced and evaluated, most notably social construction and essentialism. This endeavor requires careful attention as many important voices here (women and queer individuals in particular) are historically marginalized.”

It makes Xavier University’s course on Religion and Hip Hop look absolutely pious by comparison.

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One comment on “How Catholic Are “Catholic” Universities?

  1. Küng Fu: Modernism the Legend Continues

    Master Po: What is troubling you, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: I am confused, Master.

    Master Po: What is confusing you, Grasshopper. Perhaps you are wondering whether the NFL will force the Green Bay Packers to release Aaron Rodgers for violating the Injured Reserve rule?

    Aaron Rodgers: Released?

    Kwai Chang: No, Master. That is an interesting dilemma but I am wondering about something else.

    Master Po: Well, then, perhaps you are still wondering why American college students were triggered by Steve Martin’s “King Tut” song as a politically-incorrect microaggression of cultural appropriation, sending them in hysteria as crazed snowflakes searching for safe spaces?

    Kwai Chang: That is confusing and absurd, Master, but I am actually confused about something else.

    Steve Martin: Funky Tut! A wild and crazy guy, yeah!

    Master Po: Well, then, perhaps you are wondering why postmodern professors of Cultural Studies find Santa Claus to be a cisnormative construction of Western male domination and patriarchy who forces elves and reindeer to work on holidays without union representation?

    Kwai Chang: That is very absurd, Master, but I am actually confused about something else.

    Master Po: Perhaps the curse of Tutankhamun has affected postmodern professors’ and students’ minds, Grasshopper. The realm of illusion presents many challenges and dangers. But what is confusing you right now, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: Very well, Master. I am wondering why the modernist faculties at certain Catholic colleges and universities do not wish for them to remain Catholic in their spiritual and cultural identity.

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Oh, yes, very good, Kwai Chang.

    Master Po: Strange are the ways of the cycle of karma in the realm of illusion when searching for the flow of the Tao , are they not, Grasshopper? For who can know the way to San Jose in the long quest for satori? Perhaps you are wondering who will next accuse Congressman Conyers of grabbing her thigh or the next woman to claim that Al Franken has squeezed her behind?

    Gumby: Satori?

    Kwai Chang: I cannot be certain of that, Master.

    Master Po: Why can you not be certain, Grasshopper?

    Kwai Chang: Because David Hume has forbidden me from being certain on metaphysical matters, Master.

    Father Copleston, S.J.: Whatever happened to the Ratio Studiorum?

    Father O’Malley: I think they threw that out with the bath water at the Land O’Lakes conference?

    Father Fitzgibbon: And what did they replace it with, Father?

    Master Po: Ah, Grasshopper, the cycle of karma takes many forms. We must bring to a sufficient state of satori, Grashopper, that will bring you to such mindfulness that you will be prepared for such knowledge. For long is the quest for inner strength in the Tao of virtue, as the great philosopher Lao-Tzu has explained in the Tao Te Ching. We must keep our attention focused very closely in the quest for mindfulness in Zen Buddhism, Grasshopper. Thus, I shall put it to you another way. If there were no Road Runner, would we ever learn Stoic lessons from the follies of Wile E. Coyote?

    Plato: Don’t look at me. Try asking Professor Cornford.

    Professor Toynbee: I’m not sure he’s available…

    Father Mulcahy, S.J.: Father Gannon always encouraged wide reading in the ancient Stoic philosophers at Fordham in the old days.

    Gomez Addams: Ancient Stoic philosophers! What a great idea!!!

    Gomez: Are you up for some serious reading tonight, my dear!

    Morticia: So that’s what you had in mind?

    Robin: Ancient Stoic philosophers?

    Batman: We can discuss that AFTER you have finished ALL of your homework for your Latin class at Fordham Prep, Robin.

    Catwoman: I’m interested in learning about the ancient Stoic philosophers, Batman.
    How long would it take?

    Batman: Well, I suppose four or five hours, covering the basic background. That is, if you have nothing else to do tonight?

    Catwoman: Alright. Where should we begin?

    Captain Kirk: Mister Spock! Analyze using your superior Vulcan logic which we no longer call “superior” in public discussions in order to avoid being accused of neo-Pelagian triumphalism and excessive rigidity by sensitive liberals and progressive modernists who might be less familiar with Aristotelian logic due to changes in curriculum from the Land O’Lakes conference and who, therefore, might view displays of logic as triggering events and microaggressions …

    Spock: Fascinating, Captain. This may take some time …

    Dr. Strangelove: Ja, ja. It usually does …

    Kierkegaard: As long as we cover Angst and existential self-estrangement in modernity …

    Father Berrigan, S.J.: What about praxis?

    Hans Küng: I would like to address that…

    Reverend Neuhaus: That’s my opening….Forgive me for interrupting again as aggressive and pushy professional Protestant converts sometimes do, but speaking as a semi-recovering former Lutheran familiar with the pitfalls of eliminating reason and logic from discussions of religion, this might be a good time to discuss the Naked Public Square in modernity, Max Weber’s concept of disenchantment in modern culture, and Professor Taylor’s secularization theories….

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