When you look at the politics and emotions behind the usual Islamic religious school, you find interesting analogs to our religious schools here. Oh, I don't mean BYU, Liberty University, Heritage, Yeshiva, Oral Roberts, blah blah. See, it hits a little too close to home when you start talking about places like Notre Dame, or down the road from me at Catholic U. I teach at Georgetown. Our own Jesuit order has always been different. It's about service, knowledge, selflessness. The Church and politicians, kings, emperors and princes have gone up and down on the Society for centuries, but in the end, Father Ignacius Loyola's Crew always get cut slack because they take care of business!
At Notre Dame--which the Jesuits do NOT control --wingnut folk are sphincter-puckered up over Barack speaking at Commencement. No matter this venom ("scandal at Our Lady"?!) is unprecedented given the plethora of speakers and honorary degree recipients in the history of that institution and indeed the entire stretch of the American academy, that O man's the frigging PRESIDENT of the USA!, and it only seems to come afire now that a brother's in the White House (rather than running touchdowns for Lou Holtz or dunking for Digger Phelps). Indeed, never mind that now the Vatican has stepped in...yes, the conservative Vatican, Benedict XVI's Teutonic regime itself...and said chill the heck out. The Holy Father's rag, L'Osservatore Romano, published essays and statements within the last week stating so, and it's driven the loonies mad! That would be the end of the story with most sane people, but, like some Muslim fundamentalists, no one can be happy till someone's strapped on bomb or stolen a Pakistani nuke (figuratuvely, of course). (nervous laughter).
Today, the Washington City Paper published Amanda Hess's article (accompanied by Boehm's amusing illustration, see above) on Catholic University's bizarre sex policies (pretty much equating masturbation, fornication and contraception with rape in school conduct manuals). The God squad'll get ya! Catholic, not Hoyaville on the Hilltop, is the wellspring of what some diehards would call "for-real Catholic dogma-based education in the Nation's Capital." (my neighbor's term, not mine). Of course they try not to hit you over the head with it--too much. Particularly as they compete with other universities--like Georgetown--for top post-graduate (sciences...yes...sciences & research, literature, history, philosophy, etc.) and professional (ie law, social work, library science, architecture, adult/continuing ed) students both locally and nationally. But they apparently don't hesistate to pull out the trumpets out when it comes time for veiled politics. Newt Gingrich rolls up to the Basilica all the time for absolution. I've never seen him at the Dalhgren Chapel.
Hoyas don't seem to step into the bullshit as much. Remember, the Jesuits weren't the order giving blessing to slaughtering Indians of the Americas (especially South and Central America), r convert-or-die evangelism, or staffing the Inquisition (Jews should take note) or burning women as witches for such sins as having orgasms or back-talking their hubbies. Perhaps our own Patrick Healy, S.J., the Obama of the 19th Century, might have been fingered as a spook and hung had he tried to join the Dominicans or other order down south? Be interesting to go back in time and test...
So come on, right wing white Fox News-loving Catholics (that's really what's afoot, not religion). This here Episcopalian (don't get me started on Henry VIII) hates to sound like Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, spewing about "Roman Popery" before the big Irish vs. KnowNothing Brawl, but attacking the O man, or retreating to fundamentalism, ain't gonna get you to Jesus or his Momma on the fast track. Indeed, reading between the lines of what was in L'Osservatore and other such statements recently, the thought is this: you'll be left behind (apologies to Lahaye and the Baptist fundamentalists), shut out of research dollars and other goodies (not cool for universities, Catholic hospitals, etc.) and perpetually in the "No we won't" camp rather than "Yes we can" movement. The implications in the 21st Century are thus: if the Church is on the front lines of fighting poverty, disease, ignorance, want, genocide, injustice & war worldwide (the ultimate right to life), being tagged with the U.S. wingnut "NO!" is a tough albatross. Of course, the folk screaming about Barack at ND aren't part of this real life agenda. That, fanboys & girls, believers & non-, is what's worrying Herr Ratzenburger and his minions in Rome. On a basic level, the Pope knows this protest has got shit to do with stem cells, abortion, or birth control pills beyond a superficial rallying point...
As for Catholic U., I know it wants to make a pronouncement, a statement of beliefs...but this stuff which Amanda Hess exposes in her piece is both sad and laughable. How about treating the students like adults, rather than pre-teens in their First Communion whites? Simple as that. Even at liquor-swilling, meth-popping, roofie- in the- frat house-beer mindless party schools, the ratio of studying/community service to trolling for p***y/d*ck is lopsided in the former's favor; likewise, the success rate for attaining the latter is actually pretty low, given the hype. Make a statement without actually making one, as is done at Georgetown. Trust the students to follow it. Two great places to start: (1) Love your fellow man despite his/her faults, and (2) Love God. That doxology sound familiar?
To be fair to the average Muslim madrassas--and, I guess, the rabid rightwing "Domers" (ND alums)-- it appears none of the 9/11 terrorists graduated from religious schools. They went to secular universities here and in Europe. Indeed, even the waterboard king & 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (drowned so many times at Gitmo he likely even confessed to killing Danny Pearl's parents...who are alive & well and supporting Georgetown's Pearl Project, thank you), studied engineering at ol' North Carolina A & T. Lawd. An HBCU!!! Okay, so I never said I'm infallible. I'm not the Pope, after all.