Why it is Hard to Find Truth in Academia

These days I spend a good deal of my time in the university talking with students who are both philosophical skeptics and advocates for “social justice.” As a teacher, I feel compelled to try to explain how the first commitment undermines the second. Though my contribution is not always welcome, I foolishly persist in making it.

So I tell them if you are someone interested in righting wrongs and seeing justice done, you might want to think twice about being a philosophical skeptic, i.e. someone who believes that “we all have our own truth,” and that there is no objective truth. Why? Well, if there is no truth, no objective reality independent of individual perceptions, then there is no injustice either, as the political philosopher Norman Geras observed some years ago. You can’t claim one minute that all truth is subjective and then the next minute claim to have been wronged and expect anyone to believe you if they too live by your philosophy. By that philosophy, anything you say is just your “take” on it, just your story, and which could be told differently. You were raped? I don’t think so; that’s just your reality. There was a Holocaust? Nah, that’s just one way to look at it. Everyone has his or her “own truth” and so why is the Nazi truth any less valid than anyone else’s? You can’t claim to be a philosophical skeptic and then turn around and say “Well, obviously there is injustice in the world.” No, there are no more facts that are not interpretations. That’s no longer an option if there is no truth “out there,” beyond subjective perception.

Of course such relativism doesn’t mean “truth” goes unclaimed. It certainly does, only instead of being determined by the honest attempt to find it in reality, what actually occurred or how things actually are, it is instead determined by whoever has the power to get their preferred version of reality—the one that allows them to get what they want—imposed on everyone else.

We have minds and the purpose of our minds is to know the truth. The most dangerous thing we can do, as Fr. Schall has perfectly put it, is to “doubt the capacity of our mind to know and to state, as true, what it knows.” Skepticism is not just a philosophical failure, but also an ethical failure. It lacks the virtue of courage. By refusing to use our mind to know and to state, as true, what it knows, we open the door to all kinds of horrors.

Skepticism is a plague on the universities, where I spend most of my time, and where most of my time there is spent fighting it. Today university students are led into or confirmed in their skepticism by my colleagues, often the very same professors who claim society is overflowing with obvious injustices. So why would these smart people be so unconcerned with such philosophical incoherence? To make sense of it you have to realize that the universities today in the main serve more as re-education camps than as universities. Skepticism might be untrue, but it is useful to the goal of convincing students to embrace a secular humanist perspective. Once you convince someone that there is no truth it is much easier to convince them of “your own truth,” i.e. ideology.

In the case of professors in most of the social sciences and across the humanities, the vision offered is of a fallen world, riddled with preferred injustices (some are highlighted, others ignored), but one capable of redemption, and indeed exaltation, through science, technology, state power and of course, plenty of “education.” In the secular humanist dispensation, we will save ourselves from ourselves without any assistance from God, who we don’t need, and who in any case probably doesn’t exist.

Students are, of course, not encouraged to voice any skepticism about the false promises of secular humanism, and in this they follow their teachers, who with some exceptions are anti-Christian fundamentalists, but who claim with a straight face to believe in nothing for which there is no “scientific evidence.” But never mind; these days “academic freedom” means not the unfettered pursuit of truth, but the right to spout any nonsense safe in the knowledge that no one would dare call you on it, not the insecure and bewildered undergraduates you teach, nor the colleagues who believe exactly as you do, nor the civilians who quite sensibly have better things to do. As we know, the hallmark of the liberal ascendancy in the universities is the “celebration of diversity,” except when it comes to challenging secular humanism. The celebration ends where diversity of thought begins.

I know how all this works. I taught my first university class in 1982 and up until a few years ago I too was an instructor in the camp, harvesting souls for the secular humanist faith. Though a cradle Catholic, and even an altar boy, after high school I wandered away from the Church and into various kinds of trouble—and obviously stayed there for much too long, abusing and misusing mind, body, and soul. Someday perhaps I will be able to fully explain why I came home to the Church, but the fact is I’ve been spending so much of my time since thanking God and having fun (i.e. attending Mass, accumulating a library of Catholic philosophy, theology, and Church history, teaching, writing, and thinking) that I haven’t taken the time to give it justice. But there is one moment I know will be crucial to the story and that was the day I looked at my life and came to the conclusion that what I was thinking, saying, writing, and teaching, whatever it was doing for me, simply wasn’t true.

 Editor’s note: The image above is a statue of Veritas (Truth) by sculptor Walter Seymour Allward outside the Supreme Court of Canada.

Clifford Staples

By

Clifford Staples, Ph.D., is a sociologist serving as a Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

  • HenryBowers

    God bless your journey home; may you bring many souls with you. A young man on the internet last night tried to tell me that all marriages are just stipulative agreements, so that SSM does not differ essentially from coital marriage. But for that claim to hold, as your article shows, all parties must have a meta-agreement about stipulative agreements, and what compels universal, meta-agreement? The only thing that could compel a universal agreement is a universal reality, but the SSM proponent denies that marriage is a universal reality to be defined in law. SSM is absurd before it has a chance to be false.

  • fredx2

    Universities used to be the places we sent our best and brightest. Now it is the place where we send our weirdest and most sophomoric children. And I am talking about the professors.

    • Fred

      As a engineer with an advanced degree who visits campuses frequently, I have to say I don’t see too much nonsense going on the Engineering Dept’s. For the most part they are still excessively consumed with problem solving and inventing. No doubt many are not spiritually developed and find humor and/or meaning in shows like the Big Bang. However, I see little in the way of overt proselytizing in the class room. However, they no doubt they still do when they leave their shells and venture into the humanities world.
      Do you ever ask why so many laws have been passed to “protect the student privacy” to prevent parents from learning about what’s happening with their child. Could it be that maybe they don’t want you to know what they are doing?

      • HenryBowers

        But engineers will clone people and vote for the tyrants that fund schoolteacher unions, to placate their spouses. Sad sots, of utilitarian stripe. Some of them even own TV’s.

        • Fred

          No doubt some do and will. Others find a other higher calling.

        • theoldsargesays

          Ah f*ck. Hadn’t thought about that end of it.

          You just blew my comment from above right out of the water.(I suppose that’s what I get for joining in a discussion with a bunch of engineers.)

          • DE-173

            I’m not an engineer, but I respect the craft, because they traffic in facts, not profanity.

        • Caritas06

          Technically, engineers won’t clone people although geneticists or people in the medical and biological fields well might.

          • DE-173

            Never let facts get in the way of a good rant.

      • DE-173

        The good think about engineering is that bridges and circuits do operate according to real physical laws. Complaining that Maxwell’s equations are eurocentric, homophobic or racist produces a inoperative circuit.

        On the other hand, the companies that employ engineers are just as subject to PC BS as any other enterprise,usually evidenced by the mandatory diversity self-flagellation that they haven’t done enough to attract diverse people.

        • Fred

          Oh yes, we have many lively discussions pointing at the absurdity of our employers who I suppose are more shackled to DC nonsense than us minions to win contracts. We’re thankful for contracts and are good at filtering out BS.

        • Fred

          Yeah, I work for that train company you mentioned a little while back (not the division), and within a week I read the internal posting regarding the glorious market victory. Well, it/you made me laugh. Seeing you boss in an embrace with the anointed one was hard to take, but on a positive note we sold NBC and I don’t think they trade Christmas cards any more.

          • DE-173

            Hah!

            So sorry to hear of your employment difficulties.

            Hey here is one for you? What is the difference between a 50 year old EMD and 50 year old GE? You take care of the EMD because you expect it to run in another 50 years;you shaved with the GE this morning.

            Of course the 7DL prime mover is really a spiffed up ALCO.

            • Fred

              Sadly, I’m not up on that end of the business, my interest stopped with Lionel. What I work on goes goes quite a lot faster, and higher.

              • DE-173

                Yes, but if you step into the cab of a locomotive today, it very much resembles a cockpit. GE will have a monopoly on that end of the business in 2.5 months, until 2017. Life will be good there.

                I like the things that faster and higher but I hate flying, I was on a plane that lost a couple thousand feet way too quickly for my eustachian tubes not to notice.

                I attend a particular air show every year, and when I see the guys flying those souped-up P-51’s, especially in a full bore dive, with the engine screaming, I don’t know how they don’t vomit up everything.

                Then you realize a P-51 is a curiously slow antique to the boys in the Eagles, Hornets and Raptors.

      • AugustineThomas

        Most engineers, like all students of the hard sciences, have no idea about logic or philosophy but they’re convinced that the smartest engineers are atheists so they become atheists and are often as aggressive as any others.
        That’s the problem today. We barely teach any children logic, philosophy and theology, so they just follow the herd and believe in the false myth that if one is very smart at science he knows all about logic, philosophy and theology.
        It’s no use telling these people how foolish they are and challenging them on their lack of knowledge in those subjects. They simply fall back on the fact that a majority of the elite in this country now only believe in satisfying their own cheap desires.

        • Fred

          Was that addressed to me, really? I’m speechless. It might surprise you to know that I am well aware of my limitations, and am humble for the gifts I do have. I would offer you a more stern rebuke if I didnt agree with lot of what you said, limited to generalities. The smart ones learn their limitations (self flattery) and the challenged ones will eventually be humbled by their limitations, and may learn.

        • Fred

          I reread, and the second time struck me that there was a tone of hostility almost. Are there issues here to confess? Best to stay away from broad generalizations of any group of people, except to knock the Jesuits in today’s other article.

        • Quartermaster

          Most of the Engineers I know are Christians. Few of my classmates in Engineering School bought atheist nonsense.

        • WSquared

          I think it was either Fr. Schall or J. Budzieszewski who quipped that those who are untrained in philosophy (and theology) will still philosophize.

          But they will do it badly.

      • theoldsargesays

        “.. I have to say I don’t see too much nonsense going on the Engineering Dept’s.”
        That’s because engineering is.

        • DE-173

          “There’s no room for philosophy, sympathy or empathy.”

          See if philosophy, sympathy or empathy holds up the bridges you drive over.

        • Fred

          I can salute you on that one Sarge.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      I hate to admit it, but you are correct. From the time I was a very young man I wanted to be a university professor. Then I discovered to my dismay that the modern American University resembles nothing so much as an insane asylum.

      • Fred

        My best professors were those that worked in industry and then came back to academia late in life due to passions. I often think that should be a requirement, particularly for politicians. None should be elected unless they’ve had a real job in the private sector for at least 10 years.

  • DE-173

    I think the author has skepticism and cynicism conflated in this article. Skeptics demand reasonable evidence, cynics either will not accept evidence or demand unreasonable evidence.

    • HenryBowers

      ♫ and all my heroes at the methadone clinics

      • Fred

        Are your heroes the ones administering care to the addicted in the clinics, or the ones that chose to try and escape reality?

        • HenryBowers

          That sounds like an excellent question for Kid Rock.

          • Fred

            Who is that?

            • HenryBowers

              A sheep I hope converts.

    • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

      The cynic tastes life, spits it out and dies of hunger.

      • DE-173

        Like!

    • I’ve yet to see a skeptic with a reasonable definition of the word “evidence”.

      • DE-173

        So you are saying you are a cynic?

        • Very. I am extremely cynical, especially as of the last two weeks.

          • DE-173

            I’m getting there. You might feel toes rubbing your heels,

    • Guest

      “A cynic is the man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

      — Oscar Wilde, (a cynic).

      Chesterton complimented Wilde on that witty and meaningful statement. But he also said the following of cynics and those who worship cynicism for what they perceive to be wit, when it is hardly ever witty:

      “It does sometimes happen that a man of real talent has a weakness for flattery, even the flattery of fools. He would rather say something that silly people think clever than something which only clever people would perceive to be true… In their poor muddled minds there was some vague connection between wit and cynicism, so they never applauded [Wilde] so warmly as a wit, as when he was cynical without being witty.”

      • Fred

        Ouch.

      • DE-173

        Wilde was as usual wrong. The knowledge of price and ignorance of value may be an element of cynicism, but that confusion resides in large corporations and especially government bureaucracies, where there’s a peculiar sort of pseudocynic that exhibits another Chestertonian observation- they don’t believe in something, but don’t believe in nothing , they believe in ANYTHING.

  • Scott W.

    In the real world, fads come and go, but in academic Never-Lever Land fads tend to fossilize. In the 70’s it was Marxist interpretations of everything. Then feminist interpretations. Then racial interpretations. Today it’s LGBQWERTY. So thirty-thousand dollars a year gets one not so much an education, but an expensive bus tour through a PC ghetto of dead narratives. This used to afflict only the humanities departments, but now politicized science is getting into the act as well.

    • jb

      “The PC ghetto of dead narratives.” I did a spit take, Scott. Having been a teacher education professor for nearly 15 years, I lived in that ghetto far too long. It stinks from the intellectual rot. If I hear one more person defend teaching Freire to hapless pre-service teachers who just want to help the kid in the second row. . .

      • John200

        Paolo Friere was a bottomless fountain of pseudo-intellectual rot. I knew who he was and what he was doing, but did not know him personally (didn’t want to at the time). Over the years I have squashed several of his worshippers when they would not cease fire on their idol’s idiocies.

        Wherever he is spending eternity, he was a terrible influence on educators and education.

        We would have been better off if he had served his fellow man as a janitor.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Here in St. Louis at the Ferguson ‘Protests’ a white college professor brought her students and set up a table with small toy animals and figures for the angry demonstrators to use to ‘act out their feelings’ about the ‘murder’ of Michael Brown. Her explanations of her actions were such gibberish, even the reporter was speechless a moment. For me this was a defining moment. Her truth was so arcane it was hers alone. She is insane, living in a private universe of her own creation. Hell must be like that.

    • Fred

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or both at the same time. How sad for her, and more sad for her students, and more mad for university systems for allowing such perversion of learning.

    • HenryBowers

      We need the Ferguson cop elected President, to face down Congress, and to face down ISIS.

      • Fred

        Oh, you stepped in it now. Don’t you know he’s already been convicted of being a racist and they have indicted him in the public square? I think they are even saying they will burn down in protest their own neighborhoods and communities if he doesn’t get imprisonment?

        • HenryBowers

          Formally convicted? Please provide source.

          • Fred

            Be serious Henry, the only court that matters of course. He’s been tried and convicted in the secular court of public opinion. Just like the Cambridge Police Officer. OK, cooler heads did eventually prevail and there was a beer summit to make amends. Sadly Michael Brown will not get a 2nd chance to grow and learn.

            • HenryBowers

              People who die like that make excuses their whole lives long. Cops don’t stop them; the entropy of the universe stops them. Hopefully Brown saw what the Good Thief saw.

              • theoldsargesays

                Being unfamiliar with the word, I had to look up the entropy .

                “Cops don’t stop them; the entropy of the universe stops them.”

                You nailed it.

          • DE-173

            The Cort of public opinion and media crucifixion of course.

    • Beth

      Please tell me she’s not from SLU! Oh wait, she’s from Wash U, right?

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        One of the St. Louis Community Colleges I believe. That’s a PUBLIC institution we pay for her idiocy.

        • theoldsargesays

          “…we pay for her idiocy.”

          Thankfully not much though. It is after all a community college.

          Poor gal probably has herself convinced that her little attempt to display empathy with the oppressed people of her community is making the world a better place.
          That may, in some ways, be true because I’m sure those colored folk in Ferguson are getting a good chuckle over her silly display.

    • John200

      Never doubt it, hell IS like that. We have this conclusion from the very best authority.

  • Fred

    I’ve repeated it too many times now that I must find a way to stop. Sadly it continues to resonate because the shoe seems to always fit. Of course it helps that I’m re-reading it again so it’s fresh in my mind. Of course I’m talking about Skousen’s book from 1958 called the Naked Communist essentially about how to destroy western civilization from within. To keep it short, in a nutshell it can be summarized as “turn things on their head and convince people that what is good is bad, and what is bad is good”. The obvious thread with your article is the explicit goal of infiltrating our Dept of Education to administer the poison. Well, their culture has had 50 years to grow in the Petri dish of academia and we can now see that the infection has nearly consumed the host so I’d say they were pretty successful. Cunning and deceitful too, the handiwork of a skilled one.

  • Watosh

    Archbishop Sheen said in 1974, “We live in a sensate age. We are no longer governed by Faith, we are no longer governed by reason. We are governed by FEELINGS.”

    • Fred

      God, do I ever miss him. Thankfully he lives on in his recordings.

      • John200

        His books, too. He was an enthusiastic and prolific scribbler who left a long list of publications.

        • Fred

          I know, but I have an app for my phone with all his tv show recordings and that’s what I listen to.

  • Fred

    Echoing what Henry said, welcome back, Clif.

  • Jdonnell

    It’s always heartwarming to hear of someone outgrowing adolescent rejection of Christianity and returning to the Church. It is sad to confront those who have no grounding in belief, but it would be even worse if they also neglected to provide aid and comfort to the distressed. They are at least following natural law (though why they opt to follow it is another matter)–a law which Aquinas rightly observes would be discoverable without a belief in God. Also even if they have no basis for seeing “injustice” as the article says, they can see suffering. They are offering a love of sorts in doing what they can to relieve it.
    How strange that non-believers might extend themselves in what is tantamount to Christian charity, while so many Christians take the view that the poor are responsible for their own plight and do nothing to help them.

    • ELBpdx

      “while so many Christians take the view that the poor are responsible for their own plight and do nothing to help them.
      I am not sure what “poor” you are referring to that Christians feel are responsible for their plight and not helping. Who and where please.

      • Certaint not in PDX, between the St Francis dining hall, St Andre Bessette downtown Chapel, and the many Protestant faith based organizations-Stumptown is a destination for the down and out.

        • ELBpdx

          Yes it is. Especially Old Town.

      • Jdonnell

        You must be living in a closet. “When and where”? It’s a mantra among some rightists, who complain about the poor with their “welfare Caddies, to calls to them to “get a job,” calls for sterilizing the poor, etc. It goes on all the time. The same people opposed food stamps, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, etc., the idea being to let the poor fend for themselves. Wake up.

        • DE-173

          What a weird moral space you inhabit.

          • Jdonnell

            Yes, it is weird; it’s a moral space based on loving your neighbor and doing and supporting efforts to help those Jesus so often focused on, the poor, the sick, the disenfranchised. Imagine Him supporting things like requirements for a voter ID with a picture? The latest way to try and disenfranchise American citizens. Note too that your silly comment is not an argument and is empty of content.

            • DE-173

              Oh bovine excrement with your thinly veiled political activism. Go back to the HuffPO swamp you slither about in.
              The welfare state you insist must be supported without limit or question has been crushing souls, spirits and society for decades, and yet we are told by the cult of statism, “more”,”more”, “more”.
              Jesus never said make people wards of the state. The complaint about ID is ridiculous when you need ID to buy a beer, drive a car, or a myriad of other things, including getting into an auditorium to hear Obama speak.
              But hey, anything that supports the right to vote early and often. To quote a famous physicist; “you aren’t even wrong”.
              I really wish you statist idolaters would stop the speculative blasphemy.
              Charity is reaching into your pocket, not mine.

              • Jdonnell

                Christian activism, otherwise known as charity, love, caritas, agape, is what is at stake.
                The complaint about an ID to vote is a thinly veiled attempt to keep certain people from voting. Unlike things like liquor purchases, voter fraud is largely absent in US elections, and the rush to legislate the IDs was a political ruse, based on nothing.
                Most of the social legislation passed in the US has been based on support from Catholic elected officials.

                • ELBpdx

                  When I first started voting in 1964 the folks at the polling place knew who I was. Now with an atomised mobile demographic and id fraud how do you propose maintaining the integrity of the vote.

                  • Jdonnell

                    There has been no voter fraud problem to cause this sudden surge of voter ID laws. Its impetus came from a bout of registration fraud committed by people who hired to register new voters and were paid by the numbers registered. Some of those hired padded the lists; the bogus names were expunged, and none of those fake names turned into a vote. My last sentence contains the key info, which was not mentioned when the ID promoters lobbied for the new law.

                • DE-173

                  Nice Freudian slip. You didn’t say Christian charity, but “activism”.

                  Activism is political, and you are a fraud trying to pitch your statist idolatry as charity.

                  If you were Christian, you’d understand that in a sinful world, we need to be protected from that sin. It is inane, vacant and stupid to write that voter fraud “is largely absent”

                  “Most of the social legislation passed in the US has been based on support from Catholic elected officials.”
                  So what? I don’t really give a hoot what moral cretins like the Kennedys, Pelosis, Bidens or Caseys pitch. They all are for saying the for pitching their dependcy inducing programs

                  • Jdonnell

                    You obviously don’t know what a Freudian slip is. I didn’t slip but chose exactly the word I intended. Charity necessitates activism.
                    For you to judge who is a Christian is unchristian in itself, the height of presumption. The social legislation I had in mind pre-dated those you cite; it goes back to the days of when more basic social legislation was being passed during the Depression and shortly afterwards. Those you mention have carried on that responsible behavior. Nowadays, we have some Americans complaining about creating a “dependency” by helping the poor (as if feeding otherwise starving children can be dismissed as creating a dependency), yet some of those same people have supported the creation of America’s biggest dependency–its military, with thousands (literally) of retired generals and admirals having lived completely socialized lives throughout their careers and retired on six figure tax-payer paid pensions.
                    Justice is one of the four cardinal virtues. It requires activism. Charity is not passive. Your two sacraments are Me and Me.

            • Caritas06

              I am dedicated to works of corporal mercy but I honestly cannot imagine Jesus caring about a voter ID with picture or not. That would have related to Caesar’s, and not His Father’s Kingdom. He did not tell his followers to overthrow or reform the corrupt Roman state or their Jewish collaborators that exploited the poor of his day – he told them to overthrown their sins and transform their lives by taking care of the poor themselves.

              • Jdonnell

                Jesus cared about the disenfranchised and marginalized. That concern ought to prompt us to fight for the poor, in this instance oppose the attempt to disenfranchise many of them because of the ID requirement that many of them will be unable to meet. Most people don’t have any pic. ID aside from a driver’s license. Many of the poor don’t have a need for one and don’t have one.

        • ELBpdx

          “sterilizing the poor’ comes from rightist i.e christians?. you might want to google, eugenics, Margret Sanger, American Birth Control League, Planned Parenthood. I suspect ideologically these folks are leftist/totalitarians especially when it comes to Negoes. The first commandment addressed to humanity in genesis is “be fruitful and multiply” PS. I am a christian rightist negro

          • Jdonnell

            I said some rightists. Period. I don’t know their religious preferences. Sanger was then, now a new eugenics is coming. And, yes, racism plays a part in that rightist thinking.

            • DE-173

              If you don’t know something, then don’t make claims based on ignorance.

              I’d hate to live in your world, where Christianity is reduced to being a philosophy that requires one thing (the unquestioning support for the crushing welfare superstate) and permitting nothing else.

              • Jdonnell

                I do know something, not everything. I do know that Jesus instructs us to care for the poor, and in a large complex society, much of that has to be done through govt. It is Christian to support such efforts and unchristian to act in ways that thwart charity.

            • ELBpdx

              And racism does not play a part in leftist/progressive thinking.
              Who was Bush II speaking about when he spoke of the ” soft bigotry of low expectations” .

              • ELBpdx

                Witnessing 50 years of leftist progressive thinking, The Great Society, has left large swaths of the “the african-american” community in worse shape especially spiritually than before its institution.

              • Jdonnell

                Bush’s words prove nothing–any more than they did when he lied the US into war. “Progressives” as you call them recognize that racism has kept back Black student but that given the right circumstances they will flourish along with others. That’s not racism; refusing to acknowledge it as a continuing, degrading presence in US life is racism.

          • DE-173

            “I am a christian rightist negro”

            Nice to have you aboard.

            I don’t care about the color of your skin, but I like your commentary. Brief, direct and decimating.

            • ELBpdx

              Thanks. I do not care about the color of skin but I can’t leftist/liberal/progressives/democrats get away with the lie that they are not rascist and there protection and programs keeps blacks from going back to Jim Crow.

    • WSquared

      Well, the moral law is written in our hearts. And I also think that we tend to view “Christian charity” pretty narrowly, certainly in this country.

      What we do in our lives involving body, mind, soul, and strength can either highlight or obscure that moral law for ourselves and others. There are many humble unbelievers just as there are proud Christians. But there are also many humble Christians, just as there are proud unbelievers. Also, bear in mind that an inability or unwillingness to understand that Scripture is not self-interpreting also ensures that it can be used to justify pretty much anything– like making Christ in our own image and saying that Jesus really wants you to consume more and more stuff (we can tell whom God favors more by the nice things they have). By contrast, unlike many Americans, both unbelieving and self-professed Christian of any stripe, no saint of the Catholic Church has ever assumed that helping the poor and right belief and worship are separate. The saint understands that the law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of living– lex orandi, lex vivendi, lex credendi– and that all three are required and all three are related.

      Crucial to helping “the least of these” is the kind of understanding heart needed to see “the least of these” on all levels, which is cultivated and nurtured by God’s grace and cooperation with Him. And besides, I wouldn’t judge merely on appearances: after all, “who am I to judge” where somebody is on the road to conversion? An unbeliever might be further along the road to finding Christ than a self-professed Christian than he knows. A Christian may be lethargic now, only to become fervent later. I merely assume that feeding the poor is good, no matter who does it; I don’t presume to know the state of that person’s soul. I also don’t presume that helping the poor is the highest or only good. I don’t pit the best non-believers against the worst-behaved
      Christians, and I expect the saints to be more than a match for anyone–
      both self-professed Christian and unbeliever– still alive and kicking around. Also, no well-formed Christian who takes being holy seriously ever assumes anything other than his own conversion being an ongoing and life-long enterprise. Moreover, as Joseph Ratzinger writes, neither belief nor unbelief are
      hermetically sealed. Believers all have a bit of unbelief in them, just
      as unbelievers have a bit of belief in them. We also know that we are to start somewhere, and the rest will follow with persistence in charity.

      In addition, man is matter and spirit, not either/or. For that reason, both the Corporal and the Spiritual Works of Mercy matter, and can’t be divorced from each other, to the detriment of both. Think about the message that it sends, for example, to help the poor, but live a lie about sex, love, and marriage in private and in public. It sends the message that the whole person is not worth loving, and least of all when that person is materially poor. And it’s not just “secularists” who do the latter; many self-professed Christians do the same. The Catholic Church, however, does not teach that Christians who exhibit this sort of incoherent behavior are good Christians. Christianity also isn’t reducible merely to materially helping the poor (as in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked). It furthermore is wicked to lie, which creates poverty of a wholly different sort. Where having the fullness of the Truth matters is that anything less
      than that will destroy the good that someone who does not have that
      fullness already possesses.

      • Jdonnell

        No, the moral law is not written in our hearts; the capacity to discern it is in our minds. Everyone at all times and in all cultures has thought that he/she should do good and avoid evil. That is the basis for reasoning out the moral or natural law.
        Your sermonette is not always explicit about the treatment of the poor. On the rare occasion when you use a specific ex., it is only perplexing: should the unmarried not attempt to aid the poor? That seems to be what you imply, which if it is, is nonsense. I nowhere reduce Xty to helping the poor, but it is central, and you seem to want to deny it. Do you also support trickle-down economics, which is one of the real lies of our age.

  • Tony

    Pascal: “Skeptic,” for obstinate.

    There is no one on God’s green earth so easily prone to intellectual fads than is the self-styled skeptic. That is because, however we consider ourselves to be bravely holding aloof from judgment, we MUST ACT, and we end up acting just as the people around us are acting. The ancient skeptic Sextus Empiricus was at least honest about this, saying that we SHOULD conform ourselves to the mores of the people among whom we live, because it was practical, giving us the best chance of leading an untroubled life.

    In the end, only a believer can be brave, because only a believer will have the inner strength to stand against the power of numbers and the madness of social fads….

    • WSquared

      “the self-styled skeptic.”

      …who is less honestly skeptical than he really is, which is why/because he is only self-styled.

      Lightweight.

      • DE-173

        Most self-styled skeptics are merely selectively cynical.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Wonderful article. I taught in state universities for nine years, where I did not have one single colleague I counted as a friend. It was like living and moving among creatures on another planet. We had absolutely nothing in common and no way to communicate with each other. From the moment you ascribe any validity to the word “truth,” you are an outcast from the academic world.

    • Fred

      Thanks, I think … for validating. Oh, and sorry. I can imagine how hard to be alone or feel like your walking among the spiritually dead. Actually, I feel that way often when out and about, but not in as personal a way.

    • Cap America

      This is shocking to hear. At one time I considered an academic career, but the negative job market was a disincentive! I may be glad I didn’t get going down that route.

  • BB

    Yuri Bezmenov describes the communist infiltration of our education system (available on YouTube; and a fellow traveler (of his) wrote: Brainwashing in our schools is so pandemic, it’s invisible!

    • Fred

      Harder to say that now with our Father who stated that communism stole the flag from Christianity. I have faith he was actually talking about the dazzling posters showing the workers paradise ideal more than he was the actual practice in all of human history. Also, see my notes below. It would seem that the those who do not like us have been at this for some while.

      • DE-173

        You know I thought Jesuits were supposed to exacting and precise with words. I think I might find that statement disagreeable, but Its so colloquial, that I have no idea what he is trying to say.

        • Fred

          They are our intellectual and academic leaders allegedly. Maybe it’s so high level we need a secret decoder ring to translate. But what then does that say for the masses. Maybe it’s like a dog whistle and we can’t hear it.

          • John200

            More like a whistle blown by a dog, and we are better off ignoring it.

            I see one possible justification for this locution — we might have a poor translation. It is possible from where I sit with my weak Latin. But if the translation is good, then this is an excrescence. Wipe and flush, gentlemen, wipe and flush.

            The Jesuits, as a whole, blew it. In 2014, their broad tendency is to lead where one should not go.

            • Fred

              Have they really fallen that far and that hard, what happened to them, and is it curable?

            • DE-173

              “The Jesuits, as a whole, blew it.”

              I have an older friend who attended a Jesuit high school and
              Georgetown (a classmate of Scalia, in both, to fix his age).

              He always says “I went there when the Jesuits were the Pope’s marines”, although I suspect even then, the rot was setting in.

  • AugustineThomas

    I hope you survive writing articles like this. Your old secularist friends will be out in an ideological lynch mob to get you.

    God bless you!

  • cestusdei

    They don’t believe truth even exists.

  • Tony

    Why it is hard to find truth in the academy:

    1. The search for Truth is related to the search for God. So an aggressively secular institution cuts itself off from any truth that cannot be reduced to numbers.

    2. The academy, in the humanities and social sciences, does not reward truth. It rewards publication, and that means novelty, and sometimes insanity.

    3. Truth is to rest in, once you have attained it; but the academy is now modeled after the factory. The watchword is work.

    4. Professors not only do not give their students a broad education in arts and letters; they have not had that education themselves. They cannot give students what they do not have, or whose very existence they do not suspect.

    5. Truth implies a judgment against falsehood and folly. But if we had to judge against falsehood and folly, a lot of people would lose their jobs.

    6. Relativism and nihilism are in one sense easier than a belief in truth; they require nothing from us. In another sense, they help us make work … any idiot can be a relativist or a nihilist, and can dream up the next insane interpretation of Shakespeare or the next philosophical justification for killing babies.

    7. The besetting sins of academe are envy and acedia….

    6. The search for Truth is like the inculcation of the Good. It

    • Cap America

      excellent points.

  • Tony

    Meant to add below: Truth is related to the Good; but the Good stands as testimony against our sins. Best not to open that door if you want to stay comfortable and worldly.

  • mollysdad

    A university is a place for thinking, as a team is a place for playing.

    Nowadays, it seems that a uni is a place for not thinking.

  • RaymondNicholas

    Did you ever consider the notion that the reason for your thinking is that you are getting old? I’m guessing you are nudging up to sixty. When Plan A fails, then Plan B, then C, etc. something has to give, and you have to land somewhere. What better hands are there than God’s?

    • Cliff Staples

      Good to be back! Thanks for the support.

  • Mike

    We have been lied too so much, by our politicians, by our press, and by all the institutions of western society, which are all controlled by powerful monied interests in order to forward a satanic agenda.  In such a demonic world, is it any surprise that our kids harbor such skepticism? Of course our universities are completely controlled by the money power, and they serve as yet another mechanism to confuse kids trying to make sense of it all. Naturally, they manipulate well meaning people with a desire for justice who seek truth in a age of lies and divert them down a communist, atheist dead end path. Freedom of thought is allowed so far as it doesn’t conflict with the magnesterium of those who fund the universities. More importantly though, they serve as means to get people into debt in order creating a entire generation of indentured servants in service to mammon . 

    With that said, things do need to be questioned and thought through as the amount of manipulation going on at all levels of society is staggering. What has to be avoided however is  into falling into the seemingly endless traps of the devil who plays both sides of the aisle in order to distract, divide and conquer. The reactionary right is the other side of the coin, acting like there isn’t a justice issue in the western world and that any desire to fix the problem amounts to “communism”, as they crusade against “liberals” who rightfully desire justice, while ignoring the economic forces that are funding “liberalism”. 

    Every single political problem  in western society comes down to Satan’s control of the world through usury and private central banking. Both capitalism and communism are are both means to the same end, which is centralization of power in the hands of satanists. The right and left have the same enemy, they are just to distracted fighting each other that they don’t realize it, while the devil laughs his way to the bank. 

  • egalitrix

    [“objective” morality]instead of being determined by the honest attempt
    to find it in reality, what actually occurred or how things actually
    are, it is instead determined by whoever has the power to get their
    preferred version of reality—the one that allows them to get what they
    want—imposed on everyone else.

  • Harry

    … you have to realize that the universities today in the main serve more as re-education camps than as universities.

    That sums it up.

    Great article and congratulations on your finding and rejoicing in the Truth!

  • Johnny Rango

    Well, is the immorality of slavery an objective reality independent of individual perceptions?
    If you’re a Catholic, it depends what year it is.

  • Guy McClung

    There is a truth in the Academy. Initially, they relativize all truth to rid it of what we know as Truth and what we know as morality; and then, after they have purged it in the name of “tolerance” or “nonjudgmentalism,” they enforce their own truth, e.g., by making the utterance of anything contrary to their truth a hate crime. Try to publicly espouse a truth contrary to a liberal professor’s spewings in a class in a secular university and you will find how unrelative their truth is. Just ask the pagan empress Parker The First of Houston – get what she said a decade ago re: tolerance and place that side-by-side with her subpoenas of pastors’ sermons. Their truth is truth with vengeance. They should read their history, the history of tyrants, the history of totalitarians, Nero, Decius, Parker, etc. and they will see it is also the history of the triumph of Truth – and that is Truth with a capital “T”, and it isn’t a theory, it’s a Person. Guy McClung, San Antonio

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