degrees & university

Vocations – Wherefrom?

Vocations – Wherefrom? posted in Eleison Comments on October 2, 2010

After following over tens of years a variety of part-time and full-time courses in the Humanities at two universities in major cities of an “advanced” Western nation, Robert (as I will call him) finds himself in substantial agreement with the criticism of modern universities that appeared in a recent “Eleison Comments” (EC 158), but he has an interesting objection that goes one, or two, steps further. Let us begin with his live experience of today’s university “system.”

A few years ago, after seemingly endless years of study, Robert did finally obtain his Doctorate in history, but only just, and in such a way as to disqualify him from ever getting a job as a university professor. The politically correct system, he says, had successfully defended itself from his “extreme right” ideas. “The integrist had been muzzled, democracy had been saved. The imbecile had thrown himself in front of the steamroller, and he had been duly crushed, as easily as Winston in George Orwell’s famous novel, “1984.”

“Given my experience,” he writes, “I would recommend no youngster to study Humanities at any University, still less my own children. Let them rather choose some manual trade or advanced technical training, the ideal being to work for oneself, in the country or at most in a small town, so as to avoid today’s enslavement to salary.” Had he his life to live over again, he says, that is what he would do, because as a Catholic intellectual he feels that his action has been limited to giving witness.

However, Robert has a serious objection to this solution of preferring some manual trade or advanced technical training. In brief, engineers may be better paid than philosophers, but the clip-clear nature of their work – on-off, zero-one – will disincline them to take any interest in the human, all too human, complications of religion or politics. Ideally, one might be a technician by day and a poet by night, but in reality it is difficult to lead a life divided between such opposites, says Robert, and a man will normally lose interest in one or the other.

He observes the same tension within the Society of St Pius X school in his part of the world. In theory the Humanities there have pride of place, but in practice boys and staff tend to go for the Sciences because of the better job openings. The youngsters coming out of the school are correspondingly less well equipped to understand in depth the problems of the Conciliar Church or the modern world, as it seems to Robert. End of his testimony.

The problem is grave. For instance, the SSPX schools are under pressure to incline towards the sciences, but future priests surely need rather a good formation in the Humanities, because souls do not function on clip-clear one-zero, on-off. Yet if vocations do not come from the SSPX’s own schools, where will they come from? How are things spiritual to be protected in a whole world giving itself over to things material? How are boys’ souls to be oriented towards the priesthood? I have observed that what is decisive in many cases is their father taking his religion seriously. Read in the Old Testament the book of Tobias (neither long nor difficult to understand) to see how God rewards fathers through their sons.

Kyrie eleison.

Wasteland Remedies – II

Wasteland Remedies – II posted in Eleison Comments on August 14, 2010

Why are modern ‘universities’ veritable dustbins or trash-cans of ‘democracy’? Because in a ‘democracy’ everybody must be equal, nobody may appear to be superior. But having a Degree makes someone superior. So everybody must have a Degree. But by no means all boys have the brains or bookishness to obtain a Degree. Therefore ‘universities’ will have to be dumbed down, and ‘Degrees’ extended to all kinds of dumb subjects, until every boy can get a ‘Degree,’ even if it will hardly be worth the paper it is written on. Today’s ‘university’ system is “totally bogus,” says an American friend and Professor, who knows it from the inside.

What is at the root of this modern stupidity? Once again, godlessness. All souls are absolutely equal before God, for eternity, before his judgment seat at death, which is all that matters, but they are in all respects unequal before men, for this short life, in human society. This is because God gives out his gifts very unequally, so that all men will be interdependent and have to look after one another. Accordingly a merely human ‘Degree’ as such makes anybody superior not before God, but only before foolish men who leave God out of account. Parents who take God into account will therefore discount ‘democracy,’ ‘equality,’ ‘universities’ and ‘Degrees’.

Their prime concern will be to form their boys in reality, so that they can get to the real Heaven of the real God, paying little attention to the unreality of a world falling in ruins all around them. First question for parents: what gifts did God give to this boy of ours, quite different even from our other boys? What does he incline to? God’s gifts to him will point to God’s will for him. Obviously more boys are gifted for hands-on work than for books. Moreover G.K.Chesterton once interestingly said that to seek mastery in any material domain, e.g. wood or metal, is an apprenticeship in reality. Then by all means let a boy go to a technical college and learn a real skill to become, for instance, a good carpenter or plumber or electrician or mechanic. Or has the boy an uncle with a farm? Send him there. Handling animals is a major school in reality!

To learn that reality let him shun a ‘Degree’. Today’s employers may still be requiring a ‘Degree,’ but tomorrow’s will soon be saying, “You spent three years wasting your parents’ money or running up a heavy debt, just to learn how to drink and throw frisbees and fool around with the girls? You don’t interest me!” On the contrary, if in addition to a practical skill a boy has learned at home honesty and hard work, he will be able to make more than just an honest living. His services will be much in demand in a world collapsing in the ruin of unreal values.

As for girls, let them learn the home realities of all time, like sewing, cooking, canning, music, the arts, in brief everything that lends delight to home life, but especially cooking. The world may fall in ruins, it may do whatever it likes, but the way to a man’s heart will still be going through his stomach. It is a man speaking!

Kyrie eleison.

Wasteland Remedies – I

Wasteland Remedies – I posted in Eleison Comments on August 7, 2010

“Alright, your Excellency,” I can hear parents saying, “so the ‘universities’ are a wasteland. But on that reckoning of yours you must admit that just about everywhere else is a wasteland as well. Then what are we to do with our children? God’s law forbids us to use unlawful means to prevent their arriving. They arrive. And then?”

The swift answer is that in a world worse than ever, souls that want to get to Heaven will have to be more heroic than ever, but their reward will be correspondingly greater than ever.

Pius XII said that the world was worse in his day than in the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he died in 1958! What would he say today? Facing the same problem, the Popes who followed him “moved the goal-posts” at Vatican II in order not to have to go on condemning, condemning, condemning. But that was the easy way out. To switch off the alarms is not the same thing as to extinguish the fire. Church and world are blazing merrily, and the first thing parents must do is to face the problem: extreme danger for their children’s eternal salvation.

If once they grasp that danger, their Catholic Faith will tell them that they cannot take the Conciliar low road, nor any other low road, they must take the heroic high road. “We will not get to Heaven on feather-beds,” said St Thomas More. Our Lord said, “He who would be my disciple, let him take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt.XVI, 24), and “He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved” (Mt. XXIV, 13). Parents must make up their minds that if to save their children’s souls they need to be heroes, then heroes they will be. At that point, as the proverb says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” so once parental love has the will, it will find a way, inside and outside the home.

For outside the home, see next week’s “Eleison Comments” for alternatives to the ‘university’ For inside the home, any priest worth his salt will tell them to start by firmly establishing the family Rosary in the home, and to continue by throwing out that television set which is a tabernacle of the world, the flesh and the Devil. From the youngest age, let children’s hearts and minds be filled in the home with live interchange and lively discussion of everything under the sun. This is because by the time children are of an age to go to ‘university,’ the die is usually cast, for good or ill, so that if a boy has grown up in a real live home, lifted towards Heaven by prayer, the worst of ‘universities’ may not do him too much harm, whereas if he has been raised as a televidiot, the best university may not help him too much towards Heaven.

Notice that EC 158 did not tell parents never to pay for a boy of theirs to go to ‘university’. It said to think hard before doing so. If parents think hard while their boy is still young, their Faith should tell them how life at home needs to be changed, without too much delay. As St. Paul says (I Cor. II, 9), quoting Isaiah (LXIV, 4), Heaven is infinitely well worth every effort, infinitely surpassing even the wildest human imagination.

Kyrie eleison.

“University” Wasteland

“University” Wasteland posted in Eleison Comments on July 24, 2010

Several years ago when I wrote that girls should not go to university, a number of readers were shocked. But when I listen today to a young Professor who recently spent six years teaching English Literature in an English “university” (not the same thing as a true university!), it seems I should add that boys should not go either. Or they should at least think very hard before going, and their parents should think very hard before shelling out the expensive fees. Here, in order, is what the Professor observed, what he sees as its causes, and what he sees as its remedies.

In the “university” where he taught, he observed no pursuit of truth nor education for truth. “Language is a game independent of reality, producing its own artefacts. The students are made to feel that everything is relative, there are no standards, values, nor moral framework nor moral reference. The sciences are infected with an evolutionism which opposes “science” to religion. The “Humanities” are degraded by a Freudian interpretation making everything centre on s-x. Professors tell students to have a s-x life because “it is good for them.” These “universities” advertize their night life, and almost praise the sin against nature. They are utterly s-xualized.

“As for the professors, many recognize that there is a deep-down problem, but many continue to play the game. They are all Marxizing, if not Marxists. They teach as though all authority is stifling, all tradition oppressive. Evolution rules. As for the students, many more of them than one would think are yearning for something, but they are no longer looking to their “university” for truth. If they want a “Degree,” it is only to get a job, and if they seek a good “Degree,” it is only to get a better-paying job. Rarely will they discuss ideas.”

So what are the CAUSES of the university being turned into such a purely utilitarian processor of information to serve the established system? The Professor says, “ The basic cause is the loss of God, resulting from several centuries of war on the Incarnation. Then education no longer means providing a truth or morality to live by, but rather developing one’s potential to be different and better than anyone else. Into the vacuum left by Truth moves pop culture and the Frankfurt School, with their liberation from all authority. Into the vacuum left by God moves the State, which sees “universities” as a source of technocrats and engineers. Absolutes are of no interest, except one: absolute skepticism.”

As for the REMEDIES the Professor says, “These “universities” can hardly get out of the trap they have fallen into. To learn something genuinely useful a boy is better off at home, or talking to priests or going on a Retreat. Faithful Catholics must do things for themselves, and band together to re-build institutions of their own, starting maybe with summer schools. The Humanities must be restored, because they deal with the basics of human existence, what is right, good and true. The natural sciences, specific and derivative, must remain secondary. They cannot take priority of the Humanities. Let parents send their boys to these “universities” to get a job, but not to learn anything truly useful.”

“The loss of God” – all is said.

Kyrie eleison.