The following comes from an August 6 story on JuicyEcumenism.com.
Kyle Spencer of the New York Times has done a remarkable service for American Catholic higher education. In a recent celebratory feature on homosexuality at Catholic universities—most notably Georgetown—Spencer gives a largely sympathetic inside look at a growing trend that has largely passed unnoticed. Spencer’s is no investigative expose; it is the boast proper to a victor.
Spencer provides key insights into the thought process and strategy of those who seek “to bring the Catholic identity into the 21st century.” This notion reveals the manipulation of language that is at work. “Bringing the Catholic identity into the 21st century” means, of course, rejecting traditional and biblical Christian truths about the human person and human sexuality. With a prophetic air, campus crusaders for this new “21st century” “Catholic” identity make ex cathedra pronouncements like “Society is changing, and God is in that change.” Student government leaders have appointed themselves the augurs of the third millennium and may now be found taking the auspices around campus. Why worry about town-gown relations when there are national political issues wherein one may make his name?
This is not to be flippant, but rather to highlight how a great deal of the rhetoric of the gay movement at Catholic schools like Georgetown has been cloaked in religious language. Indeed, the cause carries with it a religiously prophetic certainty, and even eschatological dread. The righteousness of the movement is as undeniable as the cocktail of politics mixed with religious fervor is intoxicating. Here, one recalls Voegelin’s discussion of political religions.
The gay movement at Catholic colleges has attained such success precisely because it has couched itself in such religious terms. At Georgetown, this was evident in a series of articles (14 September 2012: Tisa: Distorted Religious Identity Divides GU, 2 October 2012: Gavin/Honjiyo: Limited Labels Obscure True Sexual Diversity, 12 October 2012: Tisa: Faith, Sexuality in Harmony) in the student newspaper last fall, all essentially distorting the Church’s true teachings on homosexuality so as to demand the repeal of those teachings. Those who shape the issue on campus are able to co-opt religious language by adopting an approach to religion that I will term the “tyranny of sentimentality.” Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman held sentimentality to be the acid of religion (see his discussion of liberalism in Apologia Pro Vita Sua). It is evident that the students Spencer writes about have reduced religion to the sentimentality of which Newman speaks. The emotional affirmation of the individual, rather than any supernatural realities, truths, or normative claims, becomes the basis of one’s religion. Because this basis is inherently the subjective creation of the individual, the religion of sentimentality is tyrannical, as it becomes a means for the furtherance of one’s will, ruled, not by reason or conformity to the divine or natural law, but by one’s passions and whims. Plato recognized as much about the tyrannical soul.
The tyranny of sentimentality may be summed up in this statement by one student: “You stay Catholic because you have a love of the institution and you want to change it.” That is to say, one is only saved from joining Gary Hall and friends at the National Cathedral by one’s ethnic identity. Absent is any notion that the Catholic faith – or even Christianity more broadly – may be true or that it may be the means by which one is saved or that it may make moral claims on the individual that are based in the order of things rather than in the creations of one’s will. Instead, one is Catholic only for sentimental reasons: Catholicism is part of one’s upbringing or familial and ethnic heritage. A sentimental ground of faith replaces a rational ground. Gone is the humility of conforming oneself to a higher reality that one receives rather than wills for himself. Instead, a tyrannical pride is manifested, whereby the will creates a system in which its desires can be justified. Because this system is created through pride rather than received in humility, it is not sufficient to remain as a merely personal construct. Because this system is the will’s attempt to justify itself, the approval and justification of others – including whole institutions – is ultimately and supremely required. A moral tyranny results.
Some Catholic colleges, like Georgetown, have been increasingly taken by the demands of the tyranny of sentimentality. This stems from decisions over the last several decades to reduce religion to sentimental terms. Catholic identity becomes largely shut up in a convenient, controllable, and clean “office of campus ministry” – another administrative unit like the counseling center, career center, or academic resource center – to help students deal with the stresses and anxieties of college life. Catholicism becomes just another flavor on the menu of religious choices in this well staffed department that fits somewhere between counseling and personal development. Talk of truth or salvation or morality becomes largely unnecessary, perhaps even offensive.
Yet, as institutional Catholic identity is increasingly hushed, there remains a perennial cognitive dissonance about the reality on campus. This comes through quite clearly in remarks from Georgetown’s spokeswoman who cites “the university’s two required theology classes and up to seven Sunday Masses at the main chapel as evidence that it is deeply connected to its Catholic identity.” She claims, “[Georgetown’s] Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger. Academically, we remain committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition….”
To read the entire story, click here.