Things are bad all over … but at least Catholics have hope, rooted in God’s truth.

We live in something of a meritocracy, and our rulers believe they are by far the most enlightened and well-informed people who ever lived. For that reason they feel entitled to make the aspirations of the present day, or what they consider such, the compulsory standard for public life. They view the claim that there are principles that transcend those aspirations as the sort of thing that led to 9/11, and treat the past as worth considering only as something to escape from or a foreshadowing of the glories of the present.

Nonetheless, a variety of conditions, from the state of education and the arts to that of political discussion, makes it evident that Western society is growing less and less able to think clearly and effectively. That’s a big problem, and one that’s hard to deal with, because it is difficult to cure oneself of mindlessness. Still, we should do our best to understand what’s going on.

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Notre Dame and new board member are either stupid … blatant liars … or both.

Talk about digging a hole for yourself. This is what the office of the President at Notre Dame is sending in response to people asking about why Roxanne Martino was invited to sit on their board:

Ms. Martino (along with her husband, Rocco) is a Notre Dame graduate, and she is fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of life.

She has through the years contributed to organizations that provide a wide range of important services and support to women. She did not realize, however, that several of these organizations also take a pro-choice position.

This is not her personal position, and she will now review all of her contributions to ensure that she does not again inadvertently support these kinds of activities in the future.

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When Is Stupidity A Sin?

Carpenters, shoemakers, peasants, manual workers are guided by common sense. They have no pretension to have the key to wisdom. They do not raise questions the answer of which is above their capacities (Ps 130). The blue-collar worker is very unlikely to have any illusions about the quality of his work: If a carpenter makes a set of drawers that does not close, he knows he has done a bad job. If the food prepared by a cook is unpalatable, the culprit knows that he should go back to cooking school. If a tailor makes a suit that is much too tight for the person who has ordered it, he knows that he is a bad tailor. If a car does not work after a mechanic made repairs, the customer cannot be mistaken in telling him that he is a bad mechanic. Blunt, tangible results are more eloquent than words. The punishment is on the tailcoat of the fault.

Things are very different in the religious, spiritual, intellectual, and artistic spheres. These are domains in which we find both the greatest accomplishments and the greatest aberrations. Recall St. Augustine writing in his Confessions that when he joined the Manichean sect, he “swallowed” the greatest nonsense one can imagine. He writes: “I was led on to such follies as to believe that a fig tree wept when it was plucked . . . . If some ‘saint’ ate this fig — proving, forsooth, that it was picked not by his but by another’s sinful hand — then he would digest it in his stomach, and from it he would breathe forth angels!” (III, 10). Only a very humble man can share with us the stupidity he swallowed when young; most of us would choose not to mention it. Here was one of the greatest minds of all times, and nevertheless he too could fall into the hands of religious charlatans.
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