Skip to content

The tragic Fr. Ted Hesburgh

September 16, 2019

This Saturday, September 14, 2019, I addressed the subject of the loss of faith and attempts to sustain religious faith at Protestant and Catholic colleges. I mentioned in my remarks an organization of Catholics disaffected by the religious order that founded the University of Notre Dame. Today, Sycamore Trust founder, Bill Dempsey, calls my attention to a review of a biography of Fr. Theodore Hesburgh who, for many years, was President of the University of Notre Dame and strove to remake Notre Dame into a “great” university.

Fr. Wilson D. Miscamble, CSC, the author of this biography, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, was admonished for criticism of the direction that Notre Dame has been taken and directed to cease his criticism.  Catholic priests play hardball when their livelihood is jeopardized.

I entered the graduate Department of Government at Notre Dame in January 1965, after working on the campaign for President of Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) and found the intellectual home that I had longed for during the four years I was an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh.  The Pitt Panthers had an excellent football season in ’63 under coach Johnny Mickelosen with Mike Ditka and other “Greats” on his winning teams.   What I did not anticipate was Ara Parseghian’s football team at Notre Dame that would make those dark and wet Winter Saturdays much brighter than most Winter days in South Bend, Indiana.

During my days at Notre Dame I had the opportunity to take the measure of Ted Hesburgh who set about to make Notre Dame into a great research university.  He began by dismissing Fr. Stanley Parry, CSC, from his position as Chairman of the Government Department and replacing him with a typical Liberal political scientist whose specialization was Latin American politics. He in turn brought aboard his Department other political scientists who could be found at any  number of “great” research  universities.

Fr. Stanley Parry, CSC, was a student of Willmore Kendall at Yale and became a much-admired friend of William F. Buckley and, though given limited resources, hired émigrés escaping Hungary, Germany and other countries blighted by Hitler and Mussolini. Thus in my first semester I was in seminars with Gerhart Niemeyer, Eric Voegelin and Fr. Parry. Voegelin and Niemeyer were not Catholic.

To be honest, the Government Department in 1965 was small and largely serviced degree candidates from other Catholic religious orders who were seeking advanced degrees. Some graduate students in the Government Department were graduates of Notre Dame and a few came from one of the best undergraduate Catholic college of the day–Assumption College.

I, raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran, was there because Fr. Parry was a political conservative and I was followed by two other Goldwater alumni.

The Catholic church and Notre Dame were in transition. I recall speaking with a young seminarian who told me he wanted a secular education. By the time Ted Hesburgh completed his task making Notre Dame “great,” that seminarian did not have to leave Notre Dame for a secular education.

Protestant colleges have the same problems,  if they seek to remain faithful to the ministry of John Wesley, John Calvin or Martin Luther –and most fail. Catholics have a more difficult problem because in 1931 Pope Pius XI changed the direction of Catholic theology by affirming Social Justice as a goal of Christ’s Church and the Christian life.

“Quadragesimo Anno,” effectively transferred the souls of the faithful to a form of activism in this life and away from salvation in life after death.  In doing this, Pius XI dumped St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas into the equivalent of a Catholic dustbin and opened the door to sanctification of modern ideologies that seek a utopian world,

Fr. Hesburhgh was more influenced by the “modern” Catholicism of “Quadragesimo Anno” though he published a book on Thomism.

That clear mistake by a 20th century Pope–and the practice of admitting  homosexuals into the Catholic priesthood–has brought the “Roman” Catholic  Church into compatibility with Modernity and the greatness that Fr. Hesburgh sought.

Because I believe that the Church and its Sacraments are a gift granted us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I do not despair. In His own time, God will rectify even these mistakes and make his Church and Notre Dame university truly great.

 

Free Felicity Huffman!

September 15, 2019

On Friday, September 13, 2019, U.S. Federal District Judge Indira Tallwani sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to federal prison for fourteen days, one year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service and a fine of $30,000.  Her crime: arranging for someone to take SAT tests for her daughter who has difficulty taking standardized tests.

Indira Tallwani earned a BA from Radcliffe and a JD from UC-Berkeley.

Two things disturb me about this sentence.  The defendant is a woman and Judge Tallwani’s statement, according to Melissa Korn’s report in the Wall Street Journal, at sentencing , that the admission system is corrupted:  “…the larger unfairness in the college admissions system, preferential treatment for athletes, and the opportunity to get additional time for standardized tests.”  In this direct quote, Judge Tallwani stated that “The outrage is a system that is already so distorted by money and privilege in the first place.”

Apparently “the system” did not unfairly block admission to Radcliffe when Judge Tallwani applied in 1978. Legacy admissions took a hit in the Ivy League in the mid to late 1960s and the Economist estimated in 2004 that legacy admissions in the Ivy League ranged from 10% to 30%. Before believing that, I would like to know how a British journal reached that conclusion.  I’d like to see the research.

Judge Tallwani’s statement indicates that she did no research to affirm her view that the system for college admission is unfair.

Indeed, things have improved as grades are largely discounted and greater emphasis is placed on SAT scores. Money counts, of course. If you can pay full tuition, admission is in your favor. As for athletes, if a college wants to win in football it must recruit athletes, not scholars. Admission of athletes simply represents alumni demand.  All those parents with Tail Gate parties before games want their team to win. As for additional time to take standardized tests, they are administered by the College Board, a private corporation.

I’m sorry, despite the fact that Judge Tallwani is female, the tendency of our judicial system is to treat female defendants more  harshly and Judge Tallwani’s legal “system” didn’t require her to sentence Felicity Huffman to prison; that was spite, sheer spite. Just ask Martha Stewart.

The Failure of Religious Universities

September 14, 2019

The record of faithlessness of Protestant and Catholic colleges and universities disappoints those who believe that Christian faith should make us better. As a close follower of religious colleges and universities, I am not surprised by any of their failings. And I am an active reader of reports by the Sycamore Trust about betrayal of the Church by University of Notre Dame administrators.

Because I know some good and bad Catholic colleges, I’ve always extolled the accomplishments of Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson’s Liberty and Regent Universities.

I once dined with Fallwell Sr. at a meeting of the Council of National Policy. Sitting to my right was the President of Palm Beach Atlantic University and I was impressed when Fallwell asked why Palm Beach Atlantic wasn’t a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. In Protestant religion, a membership of that sort is the equivalent of Orthodoxy among Catholics. Fallwell was a believer and wanted to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the ways he tried to do that was by founding a Protestant university.

Politico has published several essays by a former Liberty University undergraduate, Brandon Ambrosino, that reveal some slippage in the morality of Jerry Fallwell, Jr. and his son, Trey.  It seems that the Fallwells are very human, proving that the sons of Great Men have a very tough time of it.

Keeping any religious or philosophically “conservative” college or universities on the straight and narrow, is very difficult. Intellectuals, even committed Christian ones, are non-conformists and something, indeed most things, they write will offend. We accept that because we believe that over a lifetime they’ll get some things right.

That is not the case with the Progressive Left that entered higher education in the late 19th century, dominated higher education in the Great Depression and today are engaged in indoctrination of college students in Progressive ideology that some trace to the Marxist Frankfort School in Germany.

How then can you keep the faith and administer the gifts of higher education to students. As Protestant preachers, Fallwell and Robertson, maintain a rigorous social code that every employee agrees to adhere to. “No drinking,” of alcohol, of course, is a big one that I find intolerable. But there are other strict policies that, from my perspective, miss the point.

If you are educating students for life, you want traditional scholars who intentionally have resisted the ideologies that go back to the French and Bolshevik revolutions.

How do you find them? Read their books and essays. And what if you can’t find ones your looking for? Go to Europe and you’ll find some who are not infected by Political Correctness.

I did something of the sort and recruited scholars in Classics, Art history, Philosophy, Politics, Business, History–some thirty scholars who made up our first curriculum in Government at Yorktown University.  Eventually, I met with every single one of them and confirmed that I had done a good job.

I didn’t ask a single one if they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior or whether they regularly imbibed alcoholic beverages.

 

 

Bye Bye Bolton

September 11, 2019

When the name of John Bolton, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was mentioned as a possible successor to National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn, I didn’t take that seriously.

Bolton, was former Ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush Administration and is considered a serious national security analyst.  On closer inspection, Bolton is not a serious analyst. He is a polemicist, scribbling diatribes whenever the occasion permits. He has published two books, one a 500-plus commentary on his experience as UN Ambassador and another a 48 page diatribe against Barack Obama.

One wonders if the Neoconservative war faction housed at AEI could come up with a more substantial candidate for NSC Advisor, but Bolton has his uses. He was seen frequently on Fox News–which President Trump watches because his reading ability is limited due to dyslexia–and Bolton is a gifted propagandist for a forceful, imperial, American foreign policy.

As the anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, President Trump invited the Taliban to meet at Camp David. That, in addition  to goofy pronouncements on Russian-American relations, caused friction between President Trump and John Bolton.

We should have known that Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor wouldn’t end well. When campaigning for President only Donald Trump and Rand Paul spoke out against a militaristic foreign policy. The key question is why President Trump picked Bolton in the first place. The answer seems to be that President Trump literally knows nothing about National Security.

So, once again, let’s listen to Ann Margaret sing “Bye Bye” as another top Trump appointee leaves government service.

 

 

Why We Remember 9/11

September 11, 2019

From July 14 to September 11, 1683, Vienna endured the siege of a vast Turkish army under the Turkish Serasker (Supreme Commander), Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa.

After fending off 18 major Turkish assaults, only a third of the originally 11,500-strong garrison in Vienna remained fit for combat and their munitions were nearly exhausted.

The Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, called for help. Responding were Imperial troops and additional forces from Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, Franconia and Swabia.

The opposing military forces were those of the Ottoman Empire and Ottoman fiefdoms commanded by Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha.

The King of Poland, John Sobieski, led the relief forces and defeated Mustafa Pasha.

The attack on the World Trade Towers occurred 328 years later on September 11, 2001.

 

Samantha Power: Making a Career as a PC Intellectual

September 11, 2019

Throughout American higher education, an official civil religion consisting of the utopian dream of absolute equality alienated African-American students from their country and bludgeoned white students to accept white guilt. Other ideological propaganda was foisted on women students in “Women’s Studies” programs. New types of professors to teach PC subjects were hired to teach African-American Studies. A doctrine of group representation of women, minorities, identity politics and diversity studies took hold.

At Colorado University-Boulder, for example, the Department of Women and Gender Studies “educates” one hundred Department Majors in “how gender affects social movements and politics, the histories of sexuality and gender politics in Latin America, feminist political philosophy, global justice, violence against women, and feminist literature and cinema.”

At the University of Southern California, a “Diversity Summit” was convened in one Department. Conducted over four days “devoted to dialogue around issues of race, gender, culture and identity — not only in our School, but throughout our field.” USC’s President, C.L. Max Nikias, educated as an electrical engineer, has dedicated USC to maximization of diversity throughout the university. Continuing the departure from understanding our citizenship in Western civilization, President Nikias argued in an annual presidential address that “It is by embracing every culture … every religious view, every individual, that we find ourselves.”

For those not trained as engineers, careers in academe and government are made by publishing books on topics favored by the Left University and by earning graduate degrees at “the best” institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, CU-Boulder and USC.

A typical case is former Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, who this morning joined MSNBC as a commentator on “Morning Joe.”

In addition to alleged abuse of power during her service in the Obama Administration, Samantha Power is an ideologically motivated Leftist with a “Johnny one-note” interest in “global justice” and the pursuit of power. Her ability to discern common interests with the wealthy and powerful led her to Gregory Carr and the staff of a junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Powers parlayed that position into work on the Obama Presidential campaign and appointment as U.N. Ambassador.

Power’s career indicates what the “fast track” to success within the Left University system requires.

1)  work on the campaign of a successful candidate for President;

2)  a major prize for publishing in an area of Leftist “Progressive” interest;

3) a patron who is, essentially, uneducated, but extremely wealthy;

4) a Harvard law degree and

5) affiliation with the Kennedy School at Harvard University that attracts endowments for ideological area studies from wealthy benefactors.

 

 

Who is to blame?

September 10, 2019

If Xi Jinping retakes the Republic of China and seduces South Korea into a position of defensive animosity toward America’s military presence–we blame FDR and Richard Nixon.

If the mullahs in Teheran move to control shipping of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, we blame Jimmy Carter for inaction in the face of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

If Vladimir Putin moves to retake  Ukraine, we blame Donald Trump.

FDR, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump are Presidents we elected “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

In order to keep Stalin from occupying Korea, FDR granted Stalin territory above the 38th parallel in Korea. Of course, FDR was confused about Marxism and, perhaps, thought it was a more rigorous form of his “New Deal.”

Richard Nixon played “the China card” against the Soviet Union opening up Communist China’s isolation and Jimmy Carter granted diplomatic recognition to the PRC.

And, of course, for personal reasons yet to be fully explained, President Trump cedes power and influence to Vladimir Putin.

All four Presidents erred, but only President Trump will be Impeached.