Henry Giroux, a Canadian, is one of my favorite social critics and public intellectuals (with Chris Hedges of course). I usually catch him on Truthout, and there he has recently written about the corruption of the public university. Not a small matter or something that can be ignored without serious consequences. If our religious institutions are suppose to form and direct our hearts toward the “higher things” of life, our universities are suppose to inform our minds and empower us to think intelligently and critically about our life and our society. But, alas, we are in serious trouble on both fronts!
Giroux’s target here is the university. It has become mostly a shil for corporate America and the maintenance of the status quo. Yes, there are some decent people there and some real scholars, but the institution as a whole has been totally undermined as a bastion of independent thought, as a home for deep thought in the classic sense. Read Giroux’s lengthy, powerful, and devastating indictment here:
The nation is abuzz with Obamacare talk! Conservatives and Republicans are absolutely apoplectic about it. Most of what they complain about are either small problems or downright lies and fabrications on their part. A few things are actual, real problems, but what truly bothers them is the increasing role of the Federal Government. They are against that even if that were to produce good results for people. But about such a thing we could have an honest debate in other circumstances—but not now, for the simple reason that BOTH sides are absolutely wrong on this issue (and so many others). The trouble with Obamacare is not a broken-down website or the fact that the government tells you that you must have health insurance. The real problem is that Obamacare is another subterfuge for big business, for the insurance companies to make a ton of money. Yes, Obamacare will help some people; it will also hurt a few people. But you really miss the underlying narrative if you just look at these kind of numbers. No, the U.S. did NOT have a great health care system in private hands as the Right claims—there were (and are) so many serious problems with it, but what the Obama administration came up with is this strange blending and joining of corporate and government elements which is truly toxic—as in the military-industrial complex in another segment of our society. An extensive description and analysis of how this happened and why can be found here:
. Not too long ago the Pope gave a homily in which he said something astonishing. He used the term “ideological Christianity” and he called it an illness within the Church! Indeed! A remarkable diagnosis coming from the highest office in the Catholic Church. This afflicts all Christians but there is a particular “flavor” of it within Catholicism. As the Pope put it, these people become not followers/disciples of the person of Jesus Christ, but of an ideology which is called Christianity. They are more interested in “being right,” in “being correct,” rather than following the person of Jesus Christ. They avoid the real cost and the real terms of discipleship. The reality of Jesus attracts people to the Church; ideology repels them. (This reminds me of Abhishiktananda saying somewhere how he met a number of Indians/Hindus who very much loved the person of Jesus but who were put off by Church people.) Ideological Christians become hard and brittle judges who believe, well, that they are superior to others who don’t hold the “correct doctrine.” They do not invite anyone to discipleship; they beckon them only to accept that particular ideology. The Pope also said that the cause of this illness was the lack of “true prayer.” I believe by this he meant “contemplative prayer.” I think it is simply impossible to have entered the realm of deep contemplative prayer and be an ideological Christian. This takes you beyond any ritual, sacramental, external, verbal, conceptual system of Christianity.
Now given all this that the Pope said, it is so disappointing to see his actions are very different. Just one example, described in the National Catholic Reporter, has him appoint a bishop for Hartford, Connecticut who seems seriously afflicted with this illness. Defenders of the Pope will say that he doesn’t have full knowledge of the man he appoints, he is simply presented with some names on a list and some information about each of them. Well, I think if he really wants to “make a difference” in the Church, he better find a way to make his actions and appointments correspond to his teachings. For example, he could appoint a woman to the College of Cardinals—at least one!! There is no church doctrine that stands in the way—you do not need to be an ordained priest in order to be a cardinal—Jacques Maritain, who had been a married layman, was made a Cardinal toward the end of his life in order to honor him for his service to the Church. More than words or symbolic actions are needed. Pope John XXIII called for the Vatican II Council in the first year of his pontificate.
One Last Thought: How different things would be if we all lived like Socrates, Jesus, and Gandhi. Very simple really, isn’t it? But all three were murdered—by State and religious interests.