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Forming Future Followers

Jul 13, 2023

Forming Future Followers by Randall Smith at The Catholic Thing. Campus culture has become disturbingly predictable. Of course they’re terrified of climate change and white supremacy and Republicans; everyone at The New York Times and NPR is. And of course they’re for “trans rights” and of course they sponsor drag shows, they’re all the rage. It’s “the thing.” …. The contemporary college and university campus does not educate students to critically analyze each of these “pop-up” movements in its turn, sorting through what is legitimate and valuable while distinguishing that from what is mere emotional manipulation; instead, campus culture encourages students to follow the flow wherever it happens to be going. If you wanted to educate leaders, you would have students read Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero…. You want them to study logic so that they begin to recognize good arguments from sophistry. And you would have them read Aquinas because, besides being a brilliant thinker, he is as good an example as you will find of someone utterly fair to his interlocutors. He puts the objections first, and never merely dismisses them. If there is truth to be found in them, he will find it and show it. Read


The Darkness of Transgenderism by William Kilpatrick at Catholic World Report. A recent study found that nearly 10% of Pittsburg high schoolers identify as “gender-diverse.” Meanwhile, data from Maryland’s largest public school district reveals that the number of students identifying as gender non-conforming may have increased almost six-fold between 2019 to 2022. And in the UK, the number of children and young adults who identify as transgender increased by 4,000 percent between 2009 and 2018. Of course, the contagion can be explained in terms of peer influence, social media influence, and any number of other factors. Still, the skyrocketing growth of the trans movement does create a suspicion that something other-worldly is involved—perhaps an intervention of that ancient influencer from hell. Read


The Long March Through the Soul by Noelle Mering at The American Mind. Many conservatives have been caught off guard by the acceleration of the woke movement over the last few years…. The good news is that in such a climate many are looking anew and with greater seriousness and hunger for spiritual answers and an ordered life. Increasingly, people come to seek the good because they begin to see the undeniable reality of great evil…. Many good things are being built and beautified to this end, but each of us can work immediately to shore up the family—that ever-ancient, ever-new institution that is most deeply human. Invest in yours, invite others in, and find mutual supportive communities to weather whatever is to come. Read


Getting Smart on Kids’ Smartphone Use: Catholic Parents Seek Virtue and Teaching Moments in Varying Responses to Big Tech by Elizabeth Hansen at National Catholic Register. [Kristjana] Underhill credits talks by older parents and priests for convincing her and her husband, Chris, to keep smartphones out of their homes.“I remember one speaker saying something along the lines of, ‘You wouldn’t let a total stranger into your home, so why equip the kids with a device that’s going to allow many strangers to access your home?’ It really hit home with me,” she said. A supportive community helps: The Underhills attend a small Catholic classical school, with a policy that requires students’ phones to be turned in at the beginning of the day. It’s not foolproof, but it “mostly works,” Underhill said, and it means her teens “don’t face the same pressures as their public-school peers.” Read


A “Revolutionary” Way Of Life: Wyoming Catholic College’s Technology Policy by Emily Chaffins at Catholic Exchange. Kyle Washut, the Academic Dean at WCC, explained the technology policy requires students to “check in their cellphones” every year…. WCC encourages students to contemplate, “are there habits we’ve created because of technology that aren’t as conducive to community? But it’s hard to know if you’re always immersed in it.” …. [T]he technology policy has helped to teach [student Anna Tabeling] that “you’re made for communion. You don’t realize you’re missing it until technology is pulled away from you and the world gets turned on its head.” Read


At Princeton, the Ugliness is the Point by Kari Jenson Gold at First Things. Diversity—the antithesis of university—denies the existence of one truth and posits instead a multiplicity of truths. Which is to say, no truth at all. Moreover, in its promotion of the LGBTQIA++ agenda, it also denies the supreme, essential “diversity” underpinning humanity—that of male and female. Equity demands equal outcomes for all, so one might say it actually forbids “diversity.” And inclusion is, in practice, precisely the exclusion of any and all who do not bow down to this new god. DEI is fundamentally anti-diversity, demanding a numbing sameness. Its visual equivalent might well be—a box. In this religion, beauty has no place. Read


Throwback Thursday


Something All Catholic Colleges and Universities Agree On by Randall Smith at The Catholic Thing on September 20, 2022. I have long wondered why Catholic education hasn’t been dramatically more successful, given the chaos in the culture and in the educational system in particular.  I fear the answer is largely a failure of leadership, although Catholic faculty have not helped by their lack of charity and prudence and their incessant partisan infighting over what specific flavor of Catholicism should dominate all the others. I have many gifted colleagues, dedicated to Catholic education, and I have known gifted faculty at many institutions. Was their presence enough to produce a truly Catholic education for students? In one sense, yes. They were the heart of their institutions. And yet they were often opposed by those who had checked the box “Catholic” to get hired, but who opposed nearly everything taught by the Catholic Church. And sadly, this opposition was often shared by administrators who considered their devoted Catholic faculty members “troublemakers.” There has been (and continues to be) an unmatched opportunity in the United States for Catholic education to shine and flourish as never before. But that opportunity has repeatedly been squandered because too many Catholic institutions still don’t believe in the value of the Catholic intellectual tradition or accept its fundamental moral principles in their own business affairs. The nation and the nation’s youth deserve better. Read

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