By Julie Davis

"Okay," some might say, "Utilitarianism may be poison in politics, but what about in our personal lives? If we restrict this theory to individual decisions, surely what brings happiness for the largest number of people must be right." When Granny is in a nursing home, having lost her marbles, and lies in bed drooling all day, what shall we say? Granny has no real quality of life. She demands constant care. Constant care is expensive. Is it not more merciful (and cheaper) to simply assist her to her final journey home? She will die soon anyway. Is it not better for all the rest of the family, indeed for all the rest of society for Granny to go? ~ Dwight Longenecker, “Utilitarianism”

Never in a million years would it have occurred to me that a great motivation behind the euthanasia movement is efficiency. Or, to be more accurate, “Utilitarianism.”

Indeed, part of the motivation actually is misplaced kindness. But the rest, yep, it is Utilitarianism.

There is a great comfort in knowing what to call something, in having a definition on which to hang ideas that you have encountered. It helps clear the mind, helps one wrestle with new concepts, and helps one evaluate what is truthful and what is erroneous in the concept.

For everyone who has ever had a discussion where they were left grappling because someone has pushed an idea on them that they knew wasn't "quite right" but weren't sure exactly why, I present the grappling hook: Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind.

Disorientation is specifically designed to help educate young Catholics on the threshold of leaving home for college for the "Wild West" of modern ideologies with which they will be bombarded upon entering the classrooms. The idea is that if they know what something is (progressivism, multiculturalism, hedonism, and so forth) then they can identify it up front and not fall prey to replacing solid Catholic teachings with skewed thinking.

Fourteen essays by top Catholic writers explain and put into context these “isms” and ideologies, which so many people rarely think about because they are entrenched in our society. The book is edited by John Zmirak, who provides a tongue-in-cheek light touch that permeates the book and keeps it from becoming too heavy. (For the record, I think this is a good thing, especially if you are aiming at the college-bound.)

Now, I have no idea if you can get a college student to read this book, but if you've got such a creature in your family, it is surely worth a try. For that matter, Disorientation is worth picking up just to get your own education up-to-date. I was darned glad to be working my way through it at about the same time that it fell to my lot to read God Is Not One. I knew there was a lot wrong with the latter, and I was helped in identifying exactly what by reading some of these essays.