Look What I Just Found! -UPDATED

Needing to brush up on some things before submitting to an interview tomorrow, I came across this:

Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind is a collection of essays edited by John Zmirak, and geared toward providing a bit of balance to the university “orientation” that often ends up being more of a “re-orientation,” of a student’s values.

With an introduction by Fr. James Schall, S.J. contributors take on 13 specific “isms” into which students quickly become indoctrinated on the campus; these include Fr. George Rutler on Cynicism, Donna Steichen on Feminism, Peter Kreeft on Progressivism, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on Modernism, Mark Shea on Americanism and, as they say, “a host of others.”

My own modest contribution is an essay on Sentimentalism.

You are forgiven for wondering, “what is that?” Here is an excerpt:

If 20th century atheism rode in on the backs of totalitarian regimes, the 21st century has delivered unto the world an anti-God, anti-Church movement that fits seamlessly into shallow, postmodern popular culture. Having no need for uprisings and the hardware of destruction, the new fog of faith has crept in on the little cat feet of Sentimentalism and it now sits on its haunches, surveying its splendidly wrought sanctimony.

Sentimentalism is the force of feel-goodism, the means by which we may cast off the conventions of faith and casually dismiss those institutions that refuse to submit to the trending times and morals. The Sentimentalist trusts his feelings over hallowed authority or the urgings of his reason, frequently answering hard religious questions with some noble-sounding phrase like “The God I believe in wouldn’t…” (fill in the blank). What fits in that blank is typically some tenet of traditional faith that isn’t currently fashionable, some moral demand that pop culture considers impossible—and hence, not worth even trying. Thus the Sentimentalist, while believing he follows the inviolate voice of his conscience, is really sniffing after trends, forming his heart according to the sensus fidelium of middlebrow magazines and public radio.

A Sentimentalist cannot reconcile religious convictions—whether rooted in scripture, tradition or cultural practice—that do not correspond with his own considered feelings, which for him are both weighty and principled. Convinced that the people he loves cannot possibly be denied anything they want by a just God, or that the same just God would not permit deformities, illness, war, childhood abuse, or any of the human sufferings common to us all, he will not participate in a Church so fault-riddled and out-of-step with a generous and enlightened generation as…his own.

I go on like that for about 6 pages.

Anyway, that will be out soon, and it may be Now it can also be ordered pre-ordered now, via Amazon.

The collection of essays make for very good reading, even if you’re someone who has been out of college for–ahem–quite some time. We never do stop forming and re-forming ourselves!

Speaking of Fr. James Schall, above, here is a tribute to the man, via George Weigel.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Chris K

    This seems like a wonderful find.

    My son did not go away to college, but he sounds like he did. He says he is an atheist, and bounces between scientific reasons, and “would a loving God do/create (fill in the blank).” Please pray for him and all of the young adults who sound like him.
    I never thought it would be like this. We have been faithful, practicing, homeschooling Catholics his whole life.

    [Well...perhaps some of that is just normal resistance against upbringing. But perhaps you should pick this up and keep it around for one of those days when a friendly discussion is actually going somewhere...admin]

  • Jeanne

    Thank you for sharing this. I went straight to Ascension Press and pre-ordered it. My son is leaving for college in September and my biggest fear and subject of prayer has been this indoctrination which he will face. Will he gain a “world class education” at the cost of our life savings and his soul? My hope is in Christ, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try the book as well.

  • Warren Jewell

    Pffff! I’m just going to order for that list of great contributing writers, including our magisterial Anchoress! There have got to be some prize gems to be un-’paged’, pace unearthed. I’ll highlight those for my granddaughter, two years from college, so ‘SHE knows that I know.’

  • dry valleys

    What is it an interview for? :)

    [Oh, it's just me gassing away about whether or not the media has an animus toward the churches, and the future of Catholicism stuff, and now the book. I never knew I was so interesting! :-) -admin]

  • MasterThief

    Had I my college years to do over again and $10,000 I would have ensured that every Catholic freshman at my Jesuit-run alma mater would have had a free copy of this book waiting in their dorm room.

    Of course, the administration and half the faculty would have had my ass if they found out…

  • cathyf
  • Myssi

    looks like recommended reading for my DD who is going into her junior year in high school. She can read in the car as we make college visits.

  • http://www.fromthepulpitofmylife.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann

    I wish something like this had existed 12 years ago. Little did I realize the minefield into which I was sending my one and only offspring.

  • Maureen

    It’s very rough. I thought I did okay surviving college; but now, when I look back, I see how much I surrendered to various kinds of pressure or got tricked into fallacious thinking. “Better than most” isn’t really good enough.

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  • Kurt

    That sounds like it will be a useful book for many students. I wonder, though, if it might not be just as useful for students in high school as in college. It seems like it would be most helpful for those students who either feel fairly certain about their faith or belief, or for those who are just starting to puzzle over such issues.

    Speaking from experience, by the time I got to college, I identified as a “moderate” but I aspired to be a liberal and was looking for substantive justifications through the study of philosophy and other fields. At that age, I don’t think I would have been open to the idea of reading such a book. Even so, for a variety of reasons, the conversion completely occurred, and by the last years of the Clinton administration (about ten years after I graduated from college), my willingness to even give liberals the benefit of the doubt began to unravel completely. Sometimes it just takes time and experience.

  • Gail F

    I wish I’d had that in college. I expected that what they taught me in college was true and the right way to think — otherwise, why go? It took me years to see that this wasn’t true, and to sort out the many good things I learned from the many errors. It would have been good to be warned. And with that stellar cast of writers, it’s bound to be great.

  • Kurt

    I just re-read my comment and noticed another one of my famously glaring typos. I wrote “the conversion completely occurred,” when I meant to say “the conversion never completely occurred.” As I explained, though, until the end of the Clinton years, I was still willing to give all sorts of liberal nonsense the benefit of the doubt.

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  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    I’m with you Kurt. My girls are 12 and 8 and I’m going over to pre-order my copy now! Experience may be the best teacher, but at least I can have my ammo at hand… I mean arguments, of course.

  • Old Buckeye

    What’s the pub/ship date?? I need this SOON! :)

  • Steve P in La Crosse, Wis.

    You are right on the money, O Anchoress, about sentimentalism. Notice how common it is for people to talk about how they *feel* about something, when what we’re after is what they *think* about it. Bring it to their attention, and they often don’t seem to understand the difference!

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