More on the (cancelled) Harvard Black Mass

Catholics at Harvard have come out with a good statement on the Black Mass that had been scheduled for last night but, apparently due to the public outcry, was cancelled.  The op-ed piece in the Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, gives details about how the Body of Christ is desecrated during the Satanic rite and draws parallels to the burning of a Quran. [Read more…]

Harvard’s Black Mass

Harvard University will hold a Black Mass this evening, sponsored by the Cultural Studies Club and conducted by New York Satanists.  Though the rite centers upon the profanation of a Communion wafer–usually sexual, according to Wikipedia, probably having something to do with the naked woman on the altar–the club is assuring the public that a consecrated Host will not be used.

UPDATE:  The club now says that the Black Mass will be held off-campus.

UPDATE:  The club now says that it could not find a venue and that it will no longer sponsor the event.  The organized prayers against the Black Mass must have worked!

[Read more…]

Why they cheat at Harvard

Harvard University is currently being torn by a cheating scandal.  It was discovered that nearly half of the 250 undergraduates in a course called “Introduction to Congress” cheated on a final exam.  Why would so many of the nation’s ostensible best and brightest at American’s most elite university do that?  Harvard professor Howard Gardner has been studying his students and offers some explanations:

Over and over again, students told us that they admired good work and wanted to be good workers. But they also told us they wanted — ardently — to be successful. They feared that their peers were cutting corners and that if they themselves behaved ethically, they would be bested. And so, they told us in effect, “Let us cut corners now and one day, when we have achieved fame and fortune, we’ll be good workers and set a good example.” A classic case of the ends justify the means.

We were so concerned by the results that, for the past six years, we have conducted reflection sessions at elite colleges, including Harvard. Again, we have found the students to be articulate, thoughtful, even lovable. Yet over and over again, we have also found hollowness at the core.

Two examples: In discussing the firing of a dean who lied about her academic qualifications, no student supported the firing. The most common responses were “She’s doing a good job, what’s the problem?” and “Everyone lies on their résumé.” In a discussion of the documentary “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” students were asked what they thought of the company traders who manipulated the price of energy. No student condemned the traders; responses varied from caveat emptor to saying it’s the job of the governor or the state assembly to monitor the situation.

One clue to the troubling state of affairs came from a Harvard classmate who asked me: “Howard, don’t you realize that Harvard has always been primarily about one thing — success?” The students admitted to Harvard these days have watched their every step, lest they fail in their goal of admission to an elite school. But once admitted, they begin to look for new goals, and being a successful scholar is usually not high on the list. What is admired is success on Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood — a lavish lifestyle that, among other things, allows you to support your alma mater and get the recognition that follows.

As for those students who do have the scholarly bent, all too often they see professors cut corners — in their class attendance, their attention to student work and, most flagrantly, their use of others to do research. Most embarrassingly, when professors are caught — whether in financial misdealings or even plagiarizing others’ work — there are frequently no clear punishments. If punishments ensue, they are kept quiet, and no one learns the lessons that need to be learned.

Whatever happens to those guilty of cheating, many admirable people are likely to be tarred by their association with Harvard.

via When ambition trumps ethics – The Washington Post.

In other words, the students, while bright, have no sense of vocation, don’t believe in objective morality, believe the end justifies the means, and are fanatically ambitious in a materialistic, self-aggrandizing kind of way.

Non-religious chaplains

Now non-religious students are clamoring for non-religious chaplains to minister to their spiritual needs:

While many higher-education institutions have been affiliated with particular religions since their founding, there has been a broad movement in recent years to accommodate religious diversity by enlisting additional chaplains to serve different faith groups, such as Muslims, Jews, Hindus and various Christian denominations that might not have been present at institutions’ foundings.

Now an organization of non-religious students at Tufts University is saying: Hey, what about us?

The Tufts Freethought Society — a group of about 150 students who identify as atheistic, agnostic, or otherwise non-religious — wants the university to establish a “humanist” chaplaincy to serve as a resource for students who are interested in exploring how to live “ethical and meaningful lives” without subscribing to any religion.

They may not be alone, according to Alexander W. Astin, founding director of the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, who has studied the issue. “Most students — religious and non-religious — have an interest in what we consider to be spiritual issues: the meaning of life, their most deeply felt values, why they’re in college, what kinds of lives they want to lead, how connected they feel to others, etc.,” Astin wrote in an e-mail.

“The current chaplaincies just don’t address the needs of those students,” said Xavier Malina, president of the society at Tufts. “A lot of students might want spiritual guidance but don’t feel comfortable going to the available chaplains on campus, [who] might not satisfy their spiritual needs.”

“Perhaps there is some validity there,” said Don Brewington, president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. However, Brewington added that spiritual guidance may require “a little more than humanism will and can provide.”

“Using the word ‘spiritual’ — that seems to be somewhat contradictory,” he said.

Still, Brewington said he was reluctant to pass judgment on the notion of a humanist chaplaincy, since Wednesday — when he learned about the Tufts campaign — was the first he had ever heard of such a thing.

That’s probably because there are only three such chaplaincies in the country. Only Harvard University, Rutgers University, and Adelphi University retain humanist chaplains, according to Harvard’s Greg Epstein. Stanford University and Columbia University have had them in past years, Epstein said, but the positions are currently vacant.

So if being non-religious is a religion, complete with clergy, how are we going to separate church and state? If people who aren’t religious are concerned about their spiritual needs, in what sense are they not religious?

HT: Jackie