Saturday, May 9, 2009

Joseph Bottum on "God and Obama at Notre Dame" in The Weekly Standard


The First Things editor, Joseph Bottum has just published a piece in the May 18, 2009 issue of The Weekly Standard. Here's how it begins:

All across campus, the flowers have begun to bloom, their dull Indiana roots stirred by the spring rain, and the grass is almost green again at Notre Dame. Beneath a 16-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin, the main administration building sits, as always, its gold dome sparkling in the warm spring sun.

Meanwhile, in the offices of the college chapel--some chapel: the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, with a 230-foot spire and the world's largest collection of 19th-century French stained glass--young couples are meeting with deacons to plan the alumni weddings that run nonstop through the spring and summer. The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes flickers with candles, lit by anxious students as they prepare for final exams. The 14-story mosaic of Jesus, arms in the air, signals a perpetual touchdown on the side of the Hesburgh Library. The girls wear shorts, the boys wear jeans, and the gossip is all about next year's football team.

Oh, and a small plane crisscrosses the sky above campus, dragging an enormous picture of a bloody fetus. The wild-eyed and news-hungry pro-life activist Randall Terry is being hauled away by the police for trespassing. Graduate students from the theology department, their faces twisted red in fury, are screaming "Torturer!" at former Bush-speechwriter William McGurn as he tries to give a campus lecture on abortion. The local bishop has declared he will boycott the graduation ceremonies, the Secret Service has announced its fears of violence, and the university's president has retreated in a snit to his office--venturing out only to make snide remarks about his fellow Catholics before he closets himself again. The official Notre Dame website has dealt with the circus by featuring a desperately uncontroversial photograph of the school's annual Eucharistic Procession, a kind of pathetic little lie that, really, there's nothing much happening here in South Bend, Indiana: No, sir, no need to worry. No need to worry, at all.

Welcome to 2009 at the most famously Catholic school in America. Welcome to Catholic education in the 21st century

You can read the whole thing here.

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