The Middle Ages are dead

The Middle Ages are dead February 8, 2012

A Notre Dame student tries to initiate a public conversation about the morality of contraception. However, being young and over-eager, he makes the mistake of citing an inflammatory quote from Gandhi on the subject. This gives an excuse for people who prefer emoting over thinking to avoid the hard work of thinking and keep on emoting. Postmoderns are particularly adept at replacing thought with emotion.

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  • Andy, Bad Person

    If the whole thing was going to devolve into an illogical emotionfest, the initial email writer should have at least thrown the race card for criticizing Ghandi.

    Where does racism fall in the hierarchy of victim groups? I think it’s Gay>Woman>non-white, but I can’t be sure anymore.

  • Inflammatory? By what standard?

    “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:49-51)

    It seems to me that there is no way to sugercoat the Church’s teaching on contraception. Ghandi is one of the liberal gods, and I’m happy in this instance that he’s on our side. The core truth is there… contraception is an instrument of oppression (of women especially). Let them have their emotional outburst. It will ensure that they will remember it, and hence it’s a seed of truth.

  • Joseph

    I think the dude did actually capitalize on the Ghandi thing. He shouldn’t have apologized though. He should have simply said, “For Notre Dame Law students, it’s amazing that you’d let such obvious irony zip over your head. I guess it says a lot about our admissions process, don’t ya think?”

  • You wonder about the person taking the con side of the debate. Why go to a Catholic law school when you hate the church, don’t believe in God, and think even discussing Catholic ideas is offensive? It boggles the mind. I went to a protestant college. I just can’t imagine a student like that. They didn’t go there and if ever one did they would be told to grow up or get out.

    The truth is these discussions should be mandatory at a Catholic law school. They are failing to give students a Catholic perspective on the law if they fail to put these ideas on the table.

    • rjolly

      They didn’t go to a Catholic law school- they go to Notre Dame.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    I notice the objector said twice that it was “settled law.” I could not help but reflect per Dred Scott, slavery too was settled law. Supreme Court, even.

    If they didn’t like the quote from a brown man like Gandhi, how about a quote from a white man like Darwin:
    Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring.
    — Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (2nd ed., 1882) pp. 618.

    (BTW, I am always happier when these quotes cite the when and where of the matter.)

  • Consistency


    Clearly, it’s not like they’re having forums regarding the use of contraceptives… or speaking out against the HHS mandate… Or sending hundreds of students with Fr. Jenkins to the March for Life.

    Good to see that you’ve been named arbiter of Catholicism.

    • rjolly

      With respect, my comment was meant to convey the quite obvious fact that while there are many good Catholics that go to Notre Dame- the administration and the board of trustees have made decisions (including the arrests of peaceful protesters on their Campus) which call into question the commitment of the Notre Dame Leadership to preserving an institution which supports and defends Catholic moral teaching. By all means I’m happy to be wrong, and would love if they ensured that their theological professors had a mandatum from their Bishop (as they are required to by canon law).

      To quote from an Observer article by Tim Drake:

      One of the few professors who has written publicly about the mandatum is Notre Dame law professor emeritus Charles Rice.

      Rice, writing for the Observer, the daily newspaper at Notre Dame, said: “It is fair to say that if Notre Dame will not ensure that its required courses in theology are faithful to the Church’s magisterium, those courses (and required philosophy courses) should no longer be required. If the professors want to do their own thing, let them and the university abandon any claim that it is the ‘Catholic’ thing and let the students decide whether to take such courses.”

      Feel offended by my off-hand comment if you want- but it is folly to think that Notre Dame’s Catholic identity shouldn’t be questioned.

  • Michelle

    Pope Benedict XVI, who is neither young nor overeager, also made the mistake of using an “inflammatory quote,” for which many blamed him when some Muslims began violently “emoting” all over the place. Thank God we in America are so much more enlightened than that and would never dream of emoting (violently or otherwise) rather than engage in the hard work of thinking.


  • Disgusted in DC

    The student should have refused to apologize. As an aside, I took at least one class in college – forget which one – where there was a “multicultural” requirement involved and the writings of Gandhi on the birth control movement and Sanger/Stopes(?) was required reading! Interesting discussions ensued about clash of cultural values. So, late 1980-1990s students could read this provocative stuff in class and discuss, but not 2012 law students at Our Lady’s Own university. WTF??????

  • Consistency

    Notre Dame certainly has plenty to improve upon but to condemn it as unCatholic is disingenuous at best. How much exposure to Notre Dame have you had outside of reading Cardinal Newman Society emails? Notre Dame is far and away the most conservative and most Catholic elite school in the world. If you know a better place to impact American Catholics please share.

  • Paladin

    Gandhi is the modern Socrates of whom St. Justin Martyr spoke. What a great quote.

  • rjolly


    Half of my extended family are Notre Dame Alumni. I applied to and was accepted to Notre Dame but went somewhere else that had a better pre-med program. I strongly disagree with your contention that Notre Dame is far and away the most conservative and most Catholic elite school in the world based on my own experiences and that of my family. As to other places which provide a better “impact” for Catholic families to send their sons and daughters- I provide the following list (in order alphabetical).

    Aquinas College – Nashville, Tennessee
    Ave Maria University- Naples, Florida
    Benedictine College – Atchison, Kansas
    Christendom College- Front Royal, Virginia
    DeSales University – Center Valley, Pennsylvania
    Franciscan University of Steubenville – Steubenville, Ohio
    Thomas Aquinas College- Santa Clara, California

    And if you don’t mind going to another country-
    University of Dallas – Dallas, Texas

    • Rachel K

      Don’t forget Catholic U in DC!

  • Consistency

    None of those schools are considered elite by any standard. None of them impact national thought to a significant degree.

    • rjolly

      With respect,

      I think your priorities in a school and your assessment of the schools I listed are radically different than mine. Further discussion is likely to generate more heat than light. I continue to wish the best for Notre Dame’s students, faculty, and priests regardless of my disagreements with the way the University is being managed- it is a cross that they bear.

      Deo juvante

  • Rachel K

    Hoo, boy. You know you’re in for a nice, well-reasoned debate coming from a nuanced perspective of Catholic theology when it begins, “I’m not sure that God exists, but if there is one. . .”