Mandeville, LA – Joseph Pearce takes issue with George Weigel over the course of ‘Murican Catholics in being “in the world” and not “of the world.”
The point of disagreement, if indeed it is a disagreement, comes in what Mr. Weigel says next. “The answer to that cultural crisis cannot be a retreat into auto-constructed bunkers,” he writes; “the answer must be the conversion of culture by well-educated men and women who know what the West owes to Catholicism as a civilizing force.” The bone of contention in this particular sentence, or at least the bone that I have to pick with it, is Mr. Weigel’s apparent dismissal of the wisdom of retreating into “auto-constructed bunkers.” It’s sad but true that bunkers are sometimes necessary as places to which we need to retreat, as are catacombs and fortresses. If there are no bunkers, or catacombs, or fortresses, it is sometimes necessary to construct them ourselves. This was the spirit behind those other pioneers who founded Thomas Aquinas College and Christendom College as havens of sanity and sanctity amidst the mayhem and madness which followed in the wake of the surrender of mainstream Catholic universities to the power of the Zeitgeist.
If the mainstream is deadly, it might not be possible or desirable to swim upstream. On the contrary, if the river of no return is leading to a cataclysmic cataract, only a corpse or a madman would go with the flow. If the mainstream is flowing towards such an abyss or if it is so polluted that to swim in it is deadly, it is wise to get out and seek fresher water, or what Shakespeare would call the “quick freshes,” the living water that sustains life in the desert. I agree with Mr. Weigel that “the answer must be the conversion of culture by well-educated men and women who know what the West owes to Catholicism as a civilizing force.” The problem is that we need the well-educated men and women before any such conversion can take place. If such an education is impossible in the mainstream colleges, it must be sought elsewhere, even in “auto-constructed bunkers.” This is why parents seek to homeschool their children and why they want their children to go to Newman Guide colleges. – Joesph Pearce, Quarreling With George Weigel