Are Great Books Not The Answer?

Monday, April 12, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

Patrick Deneen of Georgetown University has an essay on Minding The Campus in which he argues that cultural and intellectual conservatives should be more cautious about championing Great Books type programs in colleges and universities as an antidote to the rootlessness and relativism of the modern curriculum, because the Great Books format itself is often essentially relativistic:

Most curricula in the Great Books offer the various philosophies as inherently coherent and valid systems, suggesting to each student that there is finally no basis on which to decide which philosophy to adopt other than mere preference. One must simply decide. This Nietzschean (or Schmittian) lesson is reinforced by the typical organization of such curricula (where they persist), which is typically chronological. Given that most students today have deeply ingrained progressive worldviews (that is, the view that history has been the slow but steady advance of enlightenment in all forms, culminating in equal rights for all races, all genders, and all sexual preferences), a curriculum that begins with the Bible and Greek philosophy and ends with Nietzsche subtly suggests that Nietzsche is the culmination of Enlightenment’s trajectory. The fact that his philosophy is reinforced by the message that an education in the Great Books consists in exposure to equally compelling philosophies between which there is no objective basis to prefer only serves to deepen the most fundamental lesson of a course in the Great Books, which is a basic form of relativism. The choice of a personal philosophy is relative, and the basis on which one makes any such choice is finally arbitrary, the result of personal preference or attraction.

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The Claremont Reviews Advent Interview with Fr. James V. Schall

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 \AM\.\Tue\.

Since 2002 Ken Masugi, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and lecturer in Government at Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, has conducted Advent interviews with James V. Schall, S.J., author of over thirty books on political theory and theology. Fr. Schall teaches in the Government Department of Georgetown University.

The interviews themselves are a delight to read and span a variety of topics from current events to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI to issues in philosophy, theology and ethics — and sometimes, in addition, what books Fr. Schall himself is reading at that particular moment in time.

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Setting the Record Straight on the Church in D.C.

Friday, November 13, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

The leftist blogosphere has gone bananas over the role that the Church has played in keeping abortion funding out of health care legislation, as well as defeating the gay marriage initiative in Maine. The utter chaos into which House Democrats were thrown upon the success of the Stupak amendment has trickled down into the “progressive” blogosphere as a torrent of hatred and vitriol, epitomized by this entry at the Huffington Post by Allison Kilkenny.

The topic is the Church’s war with the District of Colombia in the event that gay marriage is legalized there, but of course the author takes an opportunity to unleash a stream of hate-ridden filth upon the entire Church, insulting Pope Benedict, the Virgin Mary, and the “unenlightened masses”, that is, the American public. Though the D.C. bill exempts religious organizations from having to perform gay wedding ceremonies, it would force them to abide by discrimination laws and provide benefits to homosexual employees who are married.

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Jesuitical 5: Obama as “the Spirit of Vatican II” President

Thursday, June 4, 2009 \AM\.\Thu\.

John O'Malley

The fifth installment of my series pointing out the follies of some Jesuits in this country.  Father John O’Malley, SJ, of  the theology department of Georgetown has a piece in America, where else?, in which he hails Obama as a President who embodies something called “the Spirit of Vatican II”.  Actually I think Obama really embodies “the Spirit of Jesuits Trapped in ’68”.    Father Z does the necessary fisking of the article here.  Carl Olsen has some pointed comments on the same subject here.  Rich Leonardi of Ten Reasons points us to thoughts about the meaning of Vatican II by the late, and very great, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, which appeared in America in 2003.

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Jesuitical 2

Monday, May 11, 2009 \PM\.\Mon\.

John P. Lanagan

In the National Catholic Reporter, Father John P. Lanagan, SJ, of Georgetown takes to task those bishops and cardinals in our country who view abortion as the pre-eminent moral issue of our time and who have the audacity to speak out against the Obama administration because of it.  Father Z shows him the errors of his way.

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Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

Friday, April 17, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

catholic-democrats

Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.

Update:  Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.


Where’s Jesus?

Thursday, April 16, 2009 \PM\.\Thu\.

ihs

When Obama gave an economics speech at Georgetown, the monogram IHS in the background was covered over at the request of the White House.  I approve!  Whenever this President speaks at a Catholic college, anything related to Christ should be covered over!  I will leave to others to debate whether Georgetown is a Catholic college!

Update I: Father Z unleashes one of his unforgettable fiskings on this story here.

Udate II: Excellent commentary here.