Oh, That's Why Harvard and Carleton Are Such Crappy Schools

You know, this is just too easy.

In case you missed Kersten today, the topic is "Why St. Thomas University is going to hell in a handbasket". The short answer is, (and I’m only telling you this because reading the column will just cause you to think ill of thoughtful Catholics) because they don’t have the archbishop of St. Paul as an automatic member of the university board of directors any more.

But, in good conscience, I can’t spare you the punch lines.

Number one:

Who remembers that Macalester and Carleton colleges were founded,
respectively, by the Presbyterian and Congregational churches? Harvard,
Yale and the University of Chicago were also originally
church-affiliated institutions. But academics often view religious
affiliation as incompatible with elite university status, and believe
that it interferes with their "academic freedom."

Number two:

Because the widespread secularization of religiously affiliated
colleges destroys true diversity in education. There are plenty of
schools where students can learn professional skills and how to look
out for Number One (and planet Earth).

We need a few places where they can be called to pursue something higher: a transcendent vision of faith and morality.

From number one, are we to infer that the two best colleges in Minnesota, and three of the best universities in the world are not as good as they could be because they eschew religious affiliation? (Disclosure: I was a religion major at Carleton. The former editor of The Rake has a masters in Divinity from Harvard. Those two things might explain a lot.)

One other thing of note regarding Catholic universities in the United States: the recognized leaders in that category are Jesuit schools. Georgetown, Fordham, Holy Cross, Boston College are names you might recognize. The thing about the Jesuits is that they exist outside of the traditional church hierarchy. They report only to their own superiors, who report to the pope. The local bishop has no authority over them. (If you want to check into an interesting bit of local history, ask yourself why, until this year, the Twin Cities was the lone U.S. metropolitan area of any size without a Jesuit school. The answer: Bishop John Ireland didn’t want the insubordinate SOBs in his diocese. You can look it up. This is why we have St. Thomas instead of say, Georgetown.)

I should of course mention Notre Dame, too. Notre Dame is not Jesuit, so they’re not as institutionally insubordinate as they could be. However, the bishop of the diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend, Indiana does not sit on the board of trustees of Notre Dame.

So, I guess Notre Dame also fails the Kersten test and you can lump them and the Jesuits in with godless Carleton, Harvard and Yale and decry their failure to inculcate morality and transcendence in their curricula, too.

While you are at it, be sure to remember that, according to punchline two, concern for "Planet Earth" is also inconsistent with "a transcendent vision of faith and morality."

This is truly funny stuff.