Category Archives: school

Vaginas, Catholic universities and the fake Magisterium

There have been some occasions that I have read about, over the last few years, where Catholic universities have been disparaged because they have hosted performances of a play called The Vagina Monologues. The very title of the play, of course, says that it’s about sex and probably pushes the limits of good taste. I have never seen it, nor read the book on which it is based so I don’t know the graphic specifics of the content.

The most recent example is that Gonzaga University is hosting a performance of the play. The charge of outrage on Catholic blogs seems to be lead by a faculty member at Gonzaga named Dr. Eric Cunningham who, like Notre Dame’s own Dr. Charles Rice, has a lot of problems with the supposed “Catholicity” of his employer yet has no problem continuing to accept a paycheck.

There are two concepts that are peculiar to the Catholic Church that are involved with the current uproar. One is the Magisterium, the official teaching body of the Church, led by the Pope and comprised of the world’s Catholic Bishops. The Magisterium, either extraordinary (acting as a group as in an Ecumenical Council) or ordinary (acting as individual Bishops) is the only means by which Church teaching can be officially promulgated. The rest is just opinion. No Catholic layperson, or even a member of the vocations who is not a Bishop, can claim to authoritatively put forth Church teaching or claim to authoritatively speak on Church teaching or belief.

The other concept is that of the Catholic university. There have been numerous writings about what constitutes a true Catholic school, as universities are not, generally, connected to and operated by a diocese or parish as high schools and elementary schools are.  My school is, for example, operated by an independent Board of Directors and has always been run by the Congregation of Holy Cross (priests with a C.S.C. after their names); the archbishop of Ft. Wayne has some influence but no official capacity to tell the school what to do. What he can do, hypothetically, is say the school can no longer call itself Catholic. But, in that the word Catholic is not copyrighted, there is no real meaning to that power.

So how do these two things connect? The hysteria of the fake Magisterium, those who have appointed themselves as arbiters of who and what is really Catholic, over The Vagina Monologues is just the most recent example of how Catholic laypersons use universities not to further the goals of the Church, but to further their own personal agendas, be they economic or political. Catholic universities, like any other, exist to educate. A large portion of education is a free discussion of ideas, even many that we may find offensive. The common reason the fake Magisterium uses to decree Catholic schools as no longer Catholic is that a play such as The Vagina Monologues is harmful to the faith and conscience formation of college students like me. Of course if they were truly concerned, they would say Catholic schools aren’t Catholic if they don’t demand their students refrain from watching graphic sexual movies, or TV shows, or listen to music with sexual themes. But the reason the fake Magisterium gets so (fake) upset about this play is that the name catches attention. We don’t often hear the word vagina, a clinical term, in polite conversation. Rename the play The Girl Monologues and no one notices that it even exists. Make Barack Obama a pro-choice Republican and no one cares that he speaks at Notre Dame’s graduation.

If Dr. Cunningham truly thought that Gonzaga was no longer Catholic, he–apparently being a pillar of the faith–would no longer be materially complicit in Gonzaga’s failings by accepting financial gain. Think of it like an observant Catholic working at Planned Parenthood. The Ignatius Press blog publishes him to make money: selling books and getting ad revenue from the blog. The Magisterium, on the other hand, has no economic nor political interest in anything they teach. They don’t make money off blogs or get paid based on who stays in the Church or who doesn’t. Mostly, they just don’t get paid. The chances of any one of them moving to a position more authoritative than the one they are in is about one in a million since the only chance at promotion for any Bishop is to get fitted for the Ring of the Fisherman.

There is a reason that Jesus put Church authority in the hands of a few and made them leave their possessions and families behind. There’s probably also a reason He didn’t give them the internet and blogs (he could have!).

Is Gonzaga Still a Jesuit University

Surreal: Gonzaga VP invokes “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” to justify production of “The Vagina Monologues”

Apostolic Constitution Of The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II On Catholic Universities


These days ahead

Next Tuesday I officially begin my sophomore year as a college student. I am praying that this year goes better than last; or at least the first semester of last year.  Those three and a half months were a complete disaster marked by homesickness, actual sickness and hospitalization, and a constant feeling that I was getting beaten on by my math class. I think that having the same roommate and the same residence hall will help my comfort level immensely this year. I need this continuity, as I don’t know if many of you know that I am very much a creature of habit. Too many changes to my routine too quickly cause me to stop functioning and I turn into a monosyllabic idiot. Oh. OK. No. Yeah. Eeek.

The thought of Friday’s flight already has my nerves on end. I wish they would just give me a shot to subdue me and lock me in a cage in the baggage compartment like they do with family pets. I will throw up (sorry, you really don’t need to know this) at least once before landing in Chicago, hopefully before I leave our house for Sea-Tac. Fortunately, handsome businessmen have a very high tolerance for me, as do grandmas, and I am usually seated next to one or the other. I’m staying in Chicago Friday night and all day Saturday. That should be interesting, I know enough about the city to get around a little and pass the time on Saturday. On Sunday, my roommate and her dad are driving in from Wisconsin. Since they have to drive through Chicago, they will pick me up and we should be at school by noon if they get going at 6:00 AM per Laura’s dad’s plans. I know Laura well enough to know that we will arrive at school by 3:00 at best. They were nice enough to store my bedding and Xbox and such, which is a huge help. Small things like that make the moving for school so much easier.

My previous mention of my fight with math last year may lead you to believe Environmental Geosciences to be an odd choice for a major. I considered Political Science among other majors that do not include time spent near the College of Engineering. But my career choice is to be an attorney specializing in environmental law. I want to understand environmental issues beyond what the USC or CFR say about them. I want to intimidate my opponents not just with my legal prowess, but my ability to discuss mineral equilibria. I actually recovered and received a B in that math course; it’s not as though I am incapable of understanding the hard sciences, I have only realized that I had mistakenly convinced myself that I am not a “math person”. I am taking 18 credit hours this semester, including two lab hours. I love labs, but I hate the fact that they are all scheduled in the late afternoon. Anyway, here are my five classes:

  • Physical Geology with a Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Chemical Principles with a Lab
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Catholic Moral Theology

So, congratulations if you are still reading this pointless and boring post. I guess I am hoping that other people going back to school will tell me that my experiences sound familiar in some way so I don’t continue to think my emotional maturity level is still something like 14 while the rest of you are at 18 or 19 where I belong. This school year includes a very serious commitment to less blogging, not that I think that will be hard to do. I will write a post or two about rocks when I have a chance .

Students in public schools are going to Hell

Or so says the guy who runs this site. Insane, conservative, weird evangelical people really like to say that people who don’t agree with them are “asleep”, by the way. Anyway, this man’s opinion is that sending kids to public schools will ultimately lead them to Hell. In addition to Hell, they are more likely to “engage in sex and perversions”, “be indoctrinated in Sodomy/homosexuality and encouraged to experience it in Government schools” (really, actually in school, like during class?), and get stds, get pregnant, and whole lot of other things that will presumably happenbefore Hell.

I went to public school in first grade then to Catholic schools from second grade and on, so I didn’t experience any of this sodomy or perversion firsthand. I am not a big believer in public schools, but I don’t think I would go quite this far. Do you think private schools are better for kids?

Major decision

With now only three weeks remaining in my freshman year, a cold reality has settled in as I look toward sophomorocity (I just made that up!). Before I start registering for classes in August, I need to decide in what building on our little campus I will be spending most of my time. I need to decide on a major. Our school gives us a relatively well-structured first year, with a curriculum that is designed to allow us to experience a wide variety of classes and not have to worry quite yet about upper-level courses. With a year of PE, Theology, Latin, Math, Physics, Astronomy, Art History and English classes crammed into my head alongside Twilight trivia, the Starbucks menu, and song lyrics, I don’t know exactly how much room is left for two to three years of learning about the same topic. There are practical considerations; I don’t need to work during the academic year at all while I am an undergraduate, but that is in return for making the commitment to finishing in four years. My little sister Mary has the same deal, but at five months old, I don’t think they have told her, yet. Though I seem to remember my dad’s first college conversation with me was around kindergarten. That means no choosing majors, keeping one for a year, then having to start anew in another area. By August, I need to have committed to what I want to do for a career. Mostly.

I understand that many people do not have jobs or careers that are connected to their major. Certainly many professions require specialized education, but the majority do not. When I was a lot younger, I wanted to manage an office, because that is what my mom did (it lost its luster quickly). When I was a little younger, I wanted to be an attorney, because that is what my dad does. Sorry Cathy (my step-mom) web development something-or-other has never crossed my mind, but stay at home mom sounds good sometimes. Today…well, today I still want to be an attorney. That means law school and the choice of undergraduate major is not all that important. However, I want to specialize in environmental law, so it seems that I should have some serious expertise in environmental type things. That means science. Lots of science, and science is connected to math. My dad’s degree is in political science, not real science–basically make it up as you go along and if you don’t know just lie (but sound authoritative while you lie), science. He also claims to have a law degree, but those claims are suspect. I have pretty much had my fill of politics and I have eliminated political science from my list of options.

Right now, Environmental Geosciences is my choice. The course list for Environmental Geosciences reads like a study of rocks. And more rocks. Which is OK, because I like rocks. The physical history of our planet is told by observing rocks and dirt and the physical history of our planet tells us where we have been and where we are going. What made Geosciences land at the top of my list and has kept it there since I started really looking into majors is that as I read of geology and this area of study, I become increasingly excited about learning more. And the more I have spoken with the advisers in the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, the more I adore what these people are doing. I never thought I was the science type because it seemed too mathy. I truly never thought that I would spend any time around the College of Engineering. But I have been blessed with an exceptional Physics professor this year and having come back from possible failure to a “B” last semester in Finite Math has restored my confidence in my ability to do things with numbers and such. By the way, don’t get me started on the fact that a friend of Cathy’s was shocked to learn that a Catholic College offers degrees in science .

I believe that when armed with my rock knowledge, and my law degree, the politicians, oil and coal companies better look out because it is going to be Earth v. Them with God as a real party in interest and Megan as lead counsel for the plaintiffs. And if someone saves the planet before me, I can focus on being a stay at home mom. Which isn’t too bad.

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Picture associations

In my Composition class last week, we had an interesting activity that was intended to discover how we judge people by looks when, according to the theory of the activity, we are not given time to allow prejudices to enter our judgment. We were allowed to look at each picture of a mostly well-known person–at least at my school for a few–for just 15 seconds and had to write down as much as we could about the person in that time without including their name. I put my answers down below each picture, in the exact order I wrote them. If you want to, you should try to do the same thing; only look at the picture for 15 seconds and see what comes immediately to mind. I also copied the exact pictures that were used in the activity, as different pictures of the same person would obviously elicit different responses. Our professor shared a few other interesting facts including some differences in our answers (a class of freshman) opposed to the answers of other professors.


President Obama

President, handsome, flag, suit, tie, white house, ears, America, blue


Megan Fox

Transformers, pretty, movies, famous, stars


Governor Mitch Daniels

Indiana, suit, tie, flag, bald, old, governor


Jay Z

talented, hat, ring, music, rap, stranded, Haiti


John McCain

old, grandpa, mean, republican, war, ugly tie, tumor, lost


Hillary Clinton

lost, President, flag, crazy, first lady, loud, cold


Steve Jobs

ipod, computers, apple, beard, glasses, smart, old


Father Jenkins

volcanoes, President, lava, school, father, priest, smart, nice


Osama Bin Laden

evil, terrorist, beard, dead, new york, Muslim


Sam Worthington

cute, Avatar, blue, robot, army, tough, trees, Jake, moron

One of the first things that our professor pointed out was that 30% of the professors who did this with him did not know who #10 is, and a few more than that did not know #2. There were no students who didn’t know either of them. Also:
-Surprisingly, he said all but a few professors knew #4.
-Sadly, about 40% of the students did not know who #3 is (he is Mitch Daniels, the Governor of our state).
-A few students didn’t know #8!! He is Fr. Jenkins, the President of our school!! Which is very sad considering he spoke at orientation where every fresh would have seen him in person.
-Over half of the professors used “black” or “African-American” on #1 or #4, and almost half used “girl” on #2. Only 4% of students used the same terms on #1 or #4 and no students used “girl” on #2.
-Boys were, of course, very likely to describe #2 as “hot” and girls to describe #10 as “cute” or “hot”. No professors used those terms on anyone.
-No professors used “old” to describe anyone. Most students used “old” to describe at least one of the people .

What I found surprising was how rushed I felt to write something and I actually did mostly just describe the person’s clothes or something in the picture, even though I feel very strongly about a few of the people. Our professor’s theory is that if you do use “emotional” language to describe someone in this activity (“evil”, “crazy”, and “mean” in my answers), the feeling is extremely closely held and nothing will likely ever change your mind about the person. Did you think about the images as you looked at them? How different were your thoughts from mine?