Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Oral Roberts University poised for better days

December 4, 2007

Over Thanksgiving dinner a priest friend told us about the scandal that’s shaken Oral Roberts University in recent weeks. In short, Richard Roberts (Oral’s son) had been using the university’s money to live large. ACTA summed it up well:

The campus is reeling, and students are reacting strongly to the news that their leaders have not necessarily held themselves to the moral and behavioral standards to which they hold students. Oral Roberts students sign contracts committing to observe a dress code, a curfew, and strict rules about such things as swearing, drinking, and lying. Allegations that Richard Roberts used university resources to–among other things–finance cars, horses, vacations, and a swanky Beverly Hills home aren’t sitting well with them.

According to my friend, an ORU alum (yes, strange, given that he’s now a RC priest), Roberts would take multiple vacations a year (like 2 per month), and would fly to Italy to get his custom-tailored suits. Apparently, on the university’s dime. Well, he’s resigned now, and the Board of Regents seems committed to turning things around. Here’s to a future of upright dealing, all around, at ORU.


Affirmative Action: when “voluntary” means “mandatory”

October 25, 2007

It’s also when “non-discrimination” means “discrimination”.

Colorado State U at Pueblo is but one of many universities currently recruiting faculty for the Fall 2008 school year. CSUP’s application instructions tell the applicant what documents to submit to be considered for the position. Among these is a “voluntary” demographics sheet. So, you “must” include the “voluntary” sheet that tells what race you claim to be.

The choices are illuminating: (there is a check space next to each option)

1. American Indian OR Alaska Native
2. Black OR African American

More on marriage

September 30, 2007

An op-ed in the NY Times criticizes the Times’s piece on marriage that ran a few days ago. They say that, contrary to the dire note struck by that article, in reality marriages are more stable, percentagewise, than any time since 1979. (But fewer people get married, which they also note.)

I had to pause when reading this paragraph, though:

Why has the great divorce myth persisted so powerfully? Reporting on our families is a lot like reporting on the economy: statistical tales of woe provide the foundation for reform proposals. The only difference is that conservatives use these data to make the case for greater government intervention in the marriage market, while liberals use them to promote deregulation of marriage.

This seems to reverse the conventional wisdom about conservatives and liberals: namely, that conservatives favor less “government intervention”, and liberals more.

“Deregulation” in the manner meant by the op-ed writers must mean increased government involvement in the lives of many people “unmarried” in the traditional sense, since the whole push is for the state to recognize and reward their various nontraditional household arrangements. And though conservatives here are depicted as wanting “government intervention” in marriage, it seems to me that as good a case (if not better) can be made that they want to limit government intervention: if the definition of marriage is thrown wide open, all manner of legal tangles are born.

I can also see, though, how the original paragraph might make sense: conservatives want the government to intrude into our bedrooms, whereas liberals want it to leave us alone, to do as we see fit. I don’t favor that characterization of the issue, but that seems to be the essence of it.

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

September 26, 2007

Are you all following this story? The nutcake president of Iran was invited to speak on the campus of Columbia University, an invitation promoted by the nutcake president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger. Commentary on this tragically stupid move is ubiquitous online, but here is an excerpt from one of the denunciations.

Friends, please take 60 seconds to read this and let me know what you think. I agree with the point about it being unacceptable to treat genocide as a topic of legitimate debate, but am not so sure about the call to abandon Columbia. I’d think rather the goal should be to renew it by gradually injecting it with common sense, in the form of new professors and new students who are attracted to it precisely because they do not conform to the currently-prevailing views. You can still get a good education there, after all, while not agreeing with the administration’s politics (and looniness).

Is carbon-offsetting just eco-enslavement?

September 5, 2007

Is carbon-offsetting just eco-enslavement?

All good people should read this article—and all who consider themselves environmentalists. It condemns mainstream environmentalism as misanthropic, anti-development, and devoted to keeping the citizens of undeveloped nations in abject poverty and daily suffering.

A quotation:

Feeling guilty about your two-week break in Barbados, when you flew thousands of miles and lived it up with cocktails on sunlit beaches? Well, offset that guilt by sponsoring eco-friendly child labour in the developing world! Let an eight-year-old peasant pedal away your eco-remorse…

I agree 100% with everything in this article.


More “diversity”, less Catholic dogmatism, would have prevented the Holocaust (or something like that)

September 1, 2007

Fighting Modernists, a Decree Shaped Catholicism. By Peter Steinfels. I’ll give the opening paragraph, the final paragraph, and then sum it up.

One hundred years ago next Saturday Pope Pius X issued a papal encyclical, “Pascendi Dominici Gregis,” that would have a huge impact on the Roman Catholic Church and consequently on its role in the blood-drenched history of the first half of the 20th century.
[. . .]
In the short run, in other words, “Pascendi” was a success: it stopped risky new ideas dead in their tracks. In the long run, however, it failed abysmally — and at a very high cost.

The argument of this editorial is that the encyclical “Pascendi” of 1907 engendered an authoritarianism in the Church, which resulted in a purge of a number of progressive theologians. The result of this purge was an authoritarian group-think that made the Church favorably disposed to the secular authoritarian regimes that rose after World War I, which meant that when the mass murders began, the authoritarian spirit that the Church shared with these regimes made it reluctant to speak out against them.

The moral of the story is twofold: (more…)

Who says all Protestants ignore the Old Testament?

August 23, 2007

It’s not uncommon in my experience to find Protestants criticized for focusing more or less exclusively on the New Testament. But this article, entitled “Of Church and Steak,” (get it? we live in a theocracy headed by the ultra-pious George W. Bush, so it’s no wonder we can’t keep these things separate!), shows a “new breed” (ahem) of evangelical Christian: the kosher beef farmer. The North Dakota farmer profiled is named Scott Lively, and it’s all OT, all the time with him.

Mr. Lively adheres to a diet he believes Jesus followed. Like Mr. Wiesenfeld, he says the Bible prescribes that he use organic methods to respect the earth, treat his workers decently and treat the cattle that enter his slaughterhouse as humanely as possible.

“We learn everything from the Old Testament,” Mr. Lively said, “from keeping kosher to responsible capitalism.”

I reckon he means, “we learn everything about the cattle biz from the Old Testament,” since if he learned everything from it, he’d be Jewish instead of Christian. Even this, though, seems pushing it. This was the first I heard of capitalism in the ancient world, as well. Aside from loaves and fishes, and some wine, do we have any other record of Jesus’ diet? I can’t think of anything else, and beef is sounding kind of out of place, to my mind. Maybe I should check out The Maker’s Diet. (Or not.) Or listen a Joel Osteen sermon like “Living at your ideal weight.” (No longer available online, but it was last year. Who says that all Protestants pay attention to the Old OR New Testament?)

And if anybody has any idea where Lively gets the Biblical “prescription” to use organic methods, do tell!

Why the law of nature is not necessarily normative for human beings

July 25, 2007

Was browsing the website for the American Museum of Natural History, which currently has an exhibit on frogs. I laughed out loud when I read the following description of the African bullfrog:

African bullfrogs grow up to eight inches in diameter and eat almost anything that moves. They are able to live without food or water for months by digging underground. When the rains arrive, they emerge to eat and mate. The male guards the tadpoles, which swim around him for protection. While protecting the swimming tadpoles, he also feeds on them. After metamorphosis, froglets often eat their smaller siblings.

I have read arguments that homosexuality is okay because we can see it happening among animal species. Apply this rule universally and you would get a sticky-fingered cashier trying to defend himself in court by pointing to the African bullfrog . . . protect what’s given to your charge, but help yourself, too!

The eros of souls

July 9, 2007

I spent 20 minutes reading this piece over at the American Scholar website, so I thought I’d share. The link came to me through my Arts & Letters Daily RSS feed (you can currently find a link in my “Other Sites” section in the right column).

The author, William Deresiewicz, a professor of English at Yale, discusses several recent movies that depict English professors as failed writers, sexual predators, bad husbands, deadbeat dads, etc. and analyzes possible causes for this new academic stereotype (the old stereotype was the absent-minded professor). At the end, he explains that a kind of eros does exist in the best of student-teacher relationships, but that it is a mental, not physical eros. I enjoyed this piece a lot. Here’s how it ends (note: it’s not possible to “spoil” this piece by giving away the ending):

The Socratic relationship is so profoundly disturbing to our culture that it must be defused before it can be approached. Yet many thousands of kids go off to college every year hoping, at least dimly, to experience it. It has become a kind of suppressed cultural memory, a haunting imaginative possibility. In our sex-stupefied, anti-intellectual culture, the eros of souls has become the love that dares not speak its name.

“The Catholic Boom”: some observations

May 25, 2007

David Brooks, writing in the Opinion section on the TimesSelect website (subscription required), argues that the “quasi-religious” have economic and sociological advantages over the truly religious and the truly unreligious.

In making this argument, he seems to insult both Protestants and Catholics even as he praises them for their great financial and educational achievements. You see, quasi-religious people respect history and tradition, and benefit from the stability these afford, but because they are always questioning and dissenting, they don’t get stuck in productivity- and income-quashing ruts.