Monday, November 23, 2015

Welcome to the (Dysfunctional) Catholic Family!

Image source:
So you’ve completed the RCIA program, been confirmed (possibly baptized, if you weren’t before), and have even got your first rosary, bottle of Holy Water, and collection envelopes. Congratulations, and benedicamus Domino! You’ve joined the Catholic Church! Like the song in The Music Man says, “So what the heck, you’re welcome; glad to have you with us, even though we may not ever mention it again.”

It’s theoretically possible that you were comatose for the last twenty years and, like Rip Van Winkle, just woke up before you began the conversion process. Or, you could be young enough to not remember the scandals of the “Long Lent” of 2002 (and haven’t seen Spotlight yet) — was it really that long ago? In any event, I’ll trust you decided that the people of the Church don’t have to be perfect in order for the Church to teach the fullness of Christ’s truth. Many former Protestants and non-Christians convinced themselves of the truth of the Church’s doctrines, through self-directed study, even before they registered for the classes.

If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need the Church to begin with. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. ... I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

Monday, November 16, 2015

“Safe Spaces” and the Fear of Growing Up

Protesters at Amherst College. (Twitter via Daily Beast)
On Thursday, November 12, Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts joined the list of institutions that have suffered student protests. According to MassLive, the protest “was sparked by the shared experiences of students who felt discriminated against on campus ..., as well as recent incidents on campus, like the papering-over of ‘Black Lives Matter’ posters with anti-abortion messaging that said ‘All Lives Matter.’”

“The turning point and why it got so large is that multiple students of all sorts of background recognized a feeling of feeling marginalized, or feeling invisible or  feeling isolated in some important way,” [organizer Mercedes] MacAlpine said. “It really took off just being to come together and talk about those experiences.”

What began as a sympathetic sit-in strike in support of the protests at Yale and the University of Missouri took an uglier turn when signs appeared claiming that freedom of speech was the “real victim” at Mizzou. In a response freighted with irony, the protesters demanded that Amherst president Biddy Martin issue a statement saying that Amherst would not tolerate the actions of the students behind the “All Lives Matter” stickers and the “Free Speech” posters, and that said students could be punished and re-educated in “racial and cultural competency”.

Devin Foley, in a post on Intellectual Takeout, asks what’s the matter with kids these days. “At the same time some students are flexing their political muscles (with the help of some professors) at the University of Missouri, Yale, and other schools demanding ‘safe space’, we’re treated to an increasing number of stories about the lack of resilience and overall fragility of many college students.”

This juxtaposition of intolerance and delicacy isn’t as oddly self-contradictory as it appears on the surface. The need for “safe spaces” is individual, while the strong-arm tactics belong to the group: “safety in numbers”, as the saying goes. However, it’s clear more is happening on our campuses than an increase in racial tensions and student political activism. The safety the protesters seek is far less from physical assault than it is from fear itself: more and more students are demanding that colleges rescue them from everything that causes them the least anxiety or unhappiness, from racism and sexism to bad break-ups and failing grades.

Leftist politics has found its home in the children of helicopter parents.