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Aug 11, 2022

When the “Harmless” Gets in the Way of the Excellent

A Catholic school library does not seek to provide access to “all kinds of books,” but rather the best and most meaningful books aligned with the school’s mission. Even books that appear to have nothing harmful in them may not make sense to include in the library’s collection if it is unduly attracting students away from the best readings. For example, the cartoon-enhanced book, Ellie McDougal, may be more attractive and less work than Little Women, and the book Captain Underpants may be more enticing than Captains Courageous. But there is no doubt which books are better for our children. When the “harmless” gets in the way of the excellent, it’s not as harmless as first thought. Efforts should be made to steer youth to lasting and meaningful works that have high quality writing and artistry and ideals of enduring value. There are plenty of other options outside of the school and the school library for trite and frivolous reading.

When the “Harmless” Gets in the Way of the Excellent

"What Makes Catholic School Libraries Different?" at Cardinal Newman Society

Aug 4, 2022

Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw

A lot of ink is spilled on the separation of church and state. But much of it is wrong. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the United States Constitution, nor are public expressions of faith tantamount to theocracy. The First Amendment exists in part to protect religious freedom while preventing the establishment of a national church. The amendment’s recognition of religious freedom as our first unalienable right also suggests there is something important about religion. In a series of recent decisions, the United States Supreme Court invites us to recall that truth, and recognize that religion is a feature, not a flaw, of our national life.

Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw

"Religion is a Feature, Not a Flaw" by Josh Holdenried at First Things

Jul 28, 2022

Education as the Sum Total of its Various Parts

[T]he performative high-school education today’s average eighteen-year-old college freshman has received has not done much to cultivate… intellectual curiosity. Constant cultural and societal bombardment about college as the gateway to a professional career clearly has not helped either. Fortunately, it is extremely difficult to beat the natural desire to know out of a human being entirely…. [But] it is exceedingly tempting for administrators, and a good number of faculty, to delude themselves into believing that the Catholic intellectual component of a student’s education is secured simply by requiring every student to take some fixed number of theology and philosophy courses in order to graduate. This approach misses the fundamental intellectual point of a Catholic liberal education. It conceives of such education not as forming an intellectual whole, but merely as the sum total of its various and diverse required parts. Viewed in this way, the Catholic element in a Catholic liberal education is reduced to being exposed to a handful of Catholic authors and arguments in mandatory courses that have little, if any, substantial relation to the rest of a student’s undergraduate education.

Education as the Sum Total of its Various Parts

"Catholic Colleges and Universities Owe Students an Apology" by Marc D. Guerra at Catholic World Report

Jul 21, 2022

If Man is Merely Matter, He Doesn’t Really Matter

As with all great poetry, the opening verse of Sassoon’s lament is burgeoning with extra-textual meaning. It asserts that materialist philosophy, in its idolization of physics and its abandonment of metaphysics, had broken the belief in human good. Man was no longer seen as good or evil because he was merely matter, like everything else in the cosmos. And if man was merely matter, he didn’t really matter. Those with power could do with him what they liked. And this is what they did. Powerful men subjected their fellow men to the revolution of industrialism with its “slavedom of mankind to the machine”. And this industrialism gave rise, in turn, to industrialized ideologies, mechanized and determinist, such as Marxism, with its Hegelian certainties about the future, and Nazism, with its Nietzschean belief in the twilight of the gods and the emergence of the superman and the master race.

If Man is Merely Matter, He Doesn’t Really Matter

"The Litany of the Lost" by Joseph Pearce at National Catholic Register

Jul 14, 2022

Culture Wars Come for 'Woke' Catholic Schools

The culture wars over critical race theory, gender theory, and coronavirus protocols that ignited a nationwide movement of parent activism have spread beyond public education. Once seen as a refuge from activist public school teachings and pandemic closures, Catholic schools are in the midst of their own internal struggles of whether to wade into cultural touchstone debates or hold firm to religious teachings. “The reality is these are very troubling times, within and outside the church,” Bishop Thomas Daly of the Diocese of Spokane said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “[It's a] challenge when we have Catholic schools, Catholic bishops, religious orders, and institutions within the church who have, quite frankly, gone ‘woke.’” “When the church goes down the path of ‘wokeism’ ... we are unfaithful to Christ's mission that he's entrusted the church ... [and] we cause [great] harm.”

Culture Wars Come for 'Woke' Catholic Schools

"Education Culture Wars Come for 'Woke' Catholic Schools" by Jeremiah Poff at Washington Examiner

Jul 7, 2022

When Reason Becomes Madness

Technocracy thus ends up with the same attitude toward truth as toward beauty and goodness: all are in the eye of the beholder. Our picture of reality—what we think we know—is something we make up to please ourselves. This is paradoxical, since modern science originally wanted to make knowledge more objective and reliable. But the consequences are real. As the Supreme Court said in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, everyone is now entitled to define his own reality: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” That is why, in the view of educated and responsible people today, a baby is only a baby if the mother says so, the mother is only a woman if she identifies as one, and two men make a married couple if that’s how they view themselves. The problem is made worse by the tension within the technocratic view between human beings as resources and human beings as the creators of all values. The first means meritocracy—grading people by their usefulness to the system—while the second means an absolute right to define the world that turns each of us into a little god. And who can grade or make use of a god? So a compromise is reached: people can be distinguished from each other, but only by purely technical criteria like academic certifications, and these must be equally distributed among all discernible social groups. The result is that no one can define what a woman is, but if women don’t make up half of all fighter pilots, that’s wrong because they are not being treated as equal human beings.

When Reason Becomes Madness

"When Reason Becomes Madness" by James Kalb at Catholic World Report.

Jun 30, 2022

The Kind of Human Beings We’re Cultivating

“The goal of education [should be] wisdom and virtue and preparing citizens to pass on a culture from one generation to the next and less about just job training or getting test scores or achievement,” [Keith] Nix said. “If you have a good school, those things do happen, but the goal ought to be about something bigger, longer-term, more beautiful — the kind of human beings that we’re cultivating.”

The Kind of Human Beings We’re Cultivating

"The Growing Movement to Restore Classical Education" by Jeremiah Poff at Washington Examiner

Jun 23, 2022

Supreme Court Upholds School Choice and Religious Freedom

On Tuesday morning the Supreme Court once again voted to defend religious freedom—this time by upholding the rights of parents to choose a Christian education for their children. In a 6-3 decision, the court held that the state of Maine violated the Constitution by preventing families in areas of the state that lack a public high school from using state aid to send children to schools that provide what it calls “sectarian” instruction. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, explained that Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Supreme Court Upholds School Choice and Religious Freedom

"Supreme Court Upholds School Choice and Religious Freedom in Carson v. Makin" by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer at National Catholic Register

Jun 16, 2022

The Teaching Credential the Church Has Been Asking For

Mary Pat Donoghue, the executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Crux that the program is an answer to an expressed need from Catholic bishops, superintendents, and principals: finding well-formed Catholics to fill leadership positions in Catholic education. Donoghue noted that Catholic schools often require state certification to have a measurable way of ensuring quality, even though those certifications sometimes contain elements that “contradict or undermine the faith.” “This program will assist bishops in [ensuring quality], but in a way that’s fully consistent with the church,” Donoghue said.

The Teaching Credential the Church Has Been Asking For

"New Program Offers Alternative Credentials for Catholic School Teachers" by John Lavenburg at Crux.

Jun 9, 2022

Training the Will to Want the Good

One thing that has struck me about the classical model of educating young people is how it involves the education of the will. It’s teaching young people to want the good and to pursue the beautiful. The way I was raised—I went to public schools and received a progressive education—if morality was taught at all, it was just a list of rules that you would follow…. There was no training of the will to want the good. How do you think we can train people to have our wills be aligned with Christ’s wills? What does that look like as a pastor, teacher, parent? How do we train the will? (Brandon Vogt speaking to Bishop Barron)

Training the Will to Want the Good

"The Christ Who Knocks" by Brandon Vogt and Bishop Robert Barron on Word on Fire Show (episode 336)

Jun 2, 2022

We Were Made for These Very Times

God made each one of us, in his own image and likeness, for truly extraordinary lives. He made us for greatness of soul, and mind, and heart. In the Diocese of Lincoln, we strive to prepare students to face a world that is often hostile to the Christian faith. We no longer live in a culture that supports our values and respects our Christian worldview. Therefore, our students need to be prepared to deal with these challenges. To be authentically Catholic today, is to necessarily be countercultural. There is no other way around it. We shouldn’t be at all surprised when we meet resistance in our society. But we should face that resistance with joy, confidence, and, above all, deep charity—the love of our neighbor. For we were made for these very times. God wants to use each one of us, with all our gifts and all our shortcomings, to bring the light of Christ and his hope, peace and joy, to a world that is filled with division, hatred and hopelessness.

We Were Made for These Very Times

"Our Principles of Catholic Education" by Bishop James Conley at Southern Nebraska Register

May 26, 2022

Chipping Away at Parental Rights

The next frontier of the sexual revolution is parental rights. That might initially sound hyperbolic. Governments are not, after all, removing children from their homes in any sort of systematic way. The problem, banal as it may seem, is that the intellectual superstructure is already in place to chip away at parental authority over children’s lives…. In Ohio, a child was removed from a home (and placed with grandparents) where Christian parents did not affirm the child’s gender transition.

Chipping Away at Parental Rights

"Parental Rights: A Christian Natural Law Primer" by Andrew T. Walker at Ethics and Public Policy Center

May 19, 2022

Crowning Mary: A May Tradition

For many decades, the lovely words and melody of the hymn “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” have been gracing the beautiful traditional crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The ceremony has been held in countless parishes, schools and homes throughout the world. “The crowning is symbolic of Mary as Queen of Heaven and of our lives,” Father John Broussard, rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin, explained to the Register. “We entrust all our intentions to her, and she takes them to her Son, who is the King. Even here at the shrine, when she appeared to Adele Brise [in 1859] at the opening of the apparitions, she said, ‘I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.’”

Crowning Mary: A May Tradition

"Crowning Mary: A May Tradition" by Joseph Pronechen at National Catholic Register

May 12, 2022

The Sorry Situation of Catholic Schools

"How many Catholic schools are really just public schools with a Mass requirement attached, plus an elective or two of theology? Many schools feature lots of Catholic talk on the website, but when it comes to the actual books assigned and knowledge tested, Catholicism pretty much disappears."

The Sorry Situation of Catholic Schools

"The Sorry Situation of Catholic Schools" by Mark Bauerlein at First Things

May 5, 2022

TikTok is Emotionally and Spiritually Killing Our Children

"Any school teacher will tell you that the new epidemic is a spike in wildly disruptive and inappropriate student misbehavior, fueled partly by students’ shared love of Internet videos. Students who were previously well-behaved in school have begun to act out. Students know shocking words that one wouldn’t even normally hear on television or in their families. Students know a huge number of inappropriate gestures and dance moves, and they all learn them around the same time. In schools, students congregate around screens at any opportunity; and if not that, they spend their time talking about what’s online."

TikTok is Emotionally and Spiritually Killing Our Children

"TikTok is Emotionally and Spiritually Killing Our Children" by Miriam Diller at Crisis Magazine

Apr 28, 2022

Shameless Acts of Civilizational Renewal

" [P]eople in the classical education movement don’t spend a great deal of time bewailing the condition of schools controlled by progressive teachers’ unions. Too depressing. They find their joy in rediscovering and reviving the great educational traditions of the past, in the chance to teach moral and intellectual virtues, eloquence, love of country, and the traditional arts and sciences. Classical educators know they are participating in a revolution, in shameless acts of civilizational renewal, and they are plainly experiencing the euphoria of all those who enlist in successful movements. There is a certain kid-in-a-toyshop attitude, a sense of astonishment that abandoned, centuries-old techniques of learning are just lying about, ready for someone to pick them up and use them again. Memorizing poetry, what a great idea! Logic and rhetoric? You mean there are ways to teach people how to think clearly, how to express themselves persuasively? Cool!"

Shameless Acts of Civilizational Renewal

"The Renaissance of the Classical School" by James Hankins at First Things

Apr 21, 2022

The English Teachers Who Don’t Like Books

"The National Council of Teachers of English is the largest body of primary and secondary English teachers in the country. This organization certifies state-of-the-art teaching and research, hosts conferences, and advocates for the field in public affairs. Earlier this month, NCTE issued a position statement that calls for a fundamental change in the discipline…. Here are the sentences summarizing the goal: 'The time has come to decenter book reading and essay writing as the pinnacles of English language arts education. Speaking and listening are increasingly valued as forms of expression that are vital to personal and professional success . . . It behooves our profession, as stewards of the communication arts, to confront and challenge the tacit and implicit ways in which print media is valorized above the full range of literacy competencies students should master.'”

The English Teachers Who Don’t Like Books

"The English Teachers Who Don’t Like Books" by Mark Bauerlein at First Things

Apr 14, 2022

We Need a Separation of Home and State

"As soon as you enter the door of a home, you are in a sacred place, and you are subject to its proper authority. So long as no one within is engaged in behavior that immediately endangers or injures the welfare of those nearby—no one there is setting fires or playing loud music in the middle of the night—and so long as children, who are especially vulnerable, are not being starved or beaten bloody or raped or otherwise harmed in a clear and lawless way—the home is its own small parish, its own small county. And when homes come together to establish a village or a school, they extend and they delegate some of their authority, so that these enterprises are still to be considered as subordinate to the home and supportive of it. Think of the school, properly, as a general governess or tutor hired by a cooperative of homes."

We Need a Separation of Home and State

"We Need a Separation of Home and State" by Anthony Esolen at Crisis Magazine

Apr 7, 2022

Education in an Age of Commercialism, Bureaucracy, and Propaganda

"The basic goal of education, it seems to me, is to incline people to act well in the world and make them more able to do so. To the extent possible—some things are difficult to inculcate reliably in an organized way—it should also help them in their pursuit of ultimate goods…. Overall, education should concentrate on helping young people connect to the human world and orient themselves within it, and through it to the basic purposes of life. For that reason, topics such as history, literature, philosophy, and religion should be basic to the education most people receive, and especially to the advanced education intended for future leaders."

Education in an Age of Commercialism, Bureaucracy, and Propaganda

"Education in an Age of Commercialism, Bureaucracy, and Propaganda" by James Kalb at Catholic World Report.

Mar 31, 2022

New Vatican Instruction for Catholic Schools

"The Vatican’s education congregation on Tuesday published a document responding to conflicts over the interpretation of the concept of “Catholic identity” in Catholic school settings. The 20-page instruction affirmed the importance of a Catholic educational project with an evangelical goal and explained the role that teachers and administrators play in its achievement.“The whole school community is responsible for implementing the school’s Catholic educational project as an expression of its ecclesiality and its being a part of the community of the Church,” the document from the Congregation for Catholic Education said."

New Vatican Instruction for Catholic Schools

"New Vatican Instruction: Identity of Catholic Schools to be Respected by Teachers, Students" by Hannah Brockhaus at Catholic News Agency