Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rod Dreher 's Not So Great LSU Catholic Campus Experience ( Dumbing Down God )

Rod Dreher has a good piece looking at the sad case of Catholic education from Baptism preparation classes to RCIA and everywhere in between via an article  he takes a look at . See  How We Make God Boring

I got interested in this piece a tad because I have some first hand knowledge  of what Rod  talking about as to what he viewed as he adds his own personal experience to the article he is examining. Note the school he is talking about is LSU which had and still does have  a rather large Catholic student body.

I would bet that this isn’t a problem limited to Catholics, but what Barbara says here rings true to my own experience. Back in 1991, when I sought to become a Catholic, I went to the parish at the university, where I figured — oh, naive convert boy! — that the instruction would be more intellectually rigorous. It turned out to be all guided visualizations and total pablum, as if we adults preparing to come into the Church were all children (except per Nicolosi, even children deserve more than what we got). Unlike most of my fellow catechumens, I knew enough about Catholicism then to know what we weren’t getting. I especially knew that the Catholic faith was a marvelous thing, a rich, complex, vital thing, an invitation to romance and drama and mystery! It was a scandal, really, that everyone in that class was going to be received into the Catholic Church without having much idea what the Catholic Church taught or expected of them, or of a sense of what it meant to be a Catholic. I left the class, in part because before I took a step that big, I wanted to know more about the faith to which I was going to commit, and because week after week, sitting through Sister Stretchpants’ and Father Frootloop’s Candy-Coated Catechesis was so insulting that it increasingly made me angry. I didn’t expect a seminar on Aquinas, mind you, but this made Sesame Street seem like the Council of Trent.

OK, I’m exaggerating. But not by much. The point is, if the drama and mystery of the Christian faith is offered to young people in such an insipid, vapid, and dishonest form, we should not be surprised in the least if they reject it.

I was around LSU and other Catholic campus ministries in Louisiana in the time period Rod is talking about. I can sadly state the situation Rod found at LSU was pretty much duplicated at every other secular , private, and Catholic college in Louisiana. This is not to say the priests and largely sisters that were involved that were not "good" people. I have fond memories of them to this day. But Rod's RCIA experience was the tip of the iceberg as to how very bad campus ministry was at the time.

I can recall getting very mad about this myself. I was aware of the loss of Catholic converts, the Catholics going to the Baptist Student Union or Campus Crusade because their faith was fed there , and the vast amount of Catholics that no doubt became " nones ". When you think of the Vocation crisis we have today that alone made this sort of Church malpractice on a grand scale .

Still Rod and I were the first part of that John Paul II generation and at least in my experience my concerns were viewed as reactionary. At times it was easier , and indeed just for the sake of popularity and fitting in ,  just  not to rock the boat.

That being said I think Catholic campus ministry and Catholic education in Louisiana and beyond has much improved since I was there in the 90's . Still as the article points out we have a long way to go. If we don't get involved  the causalities will just continue.

1 comment:

Heather/Alessandra said...

I have just blogged about this:
“Rod Dreher at The American Conservative teaches by example how to be a hypocrite regarding freedom of speech”

In his article “Campus Feminist Vs. First Amendment”, Dreher decided to launch an attack on a female LSU student, Jana King, portraying her as some rabid anti-freedom of speech nitwit, and himself as her very opposite, an enlightened defender of free speech. Now, that takes hypocrisy, given that Dreher is not in any way different than Jana King when it comes to being averse to freedom of speech.

As someone who I was banned from commenting on Dreher’s blog, because he was bothered by my comments, I can only say that Dreher teaches by example how to be a hypocrite regarding freedom of speech.

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