I don’t think that the lectern should be turned into a pulpit, but the soul of Catholic education requires classrooms haunted by the authority of the Church and the holiness of her saints. That was the actual, experienced effect of the old system, when large numbers of faculty were priests and nuns.
Every culture demands and prohibits, encourages and exhorts. The desire to have a university free from demands, a classroom sanitized and unhaunted, is nothing short of desiring an education free from culture.
Going through some of First Things online matter I came across R.R.Reno's The Closing of the American Mind, Revisited. There have been a spate of misty-eyed tributes to Bloom's runaway success on the web recently, and none of them, Reno's included, give me the impression that the writer in question actually went through the entire book. Indeed, it seems few ever did, except for Alexander Nehemas, who in his review of Bloom descried the strong Straussian influence on Part III. What we usually hear of, though, is Bloom's savage and largely accurate criticism of the University as it was in 1987--and sadly still remains--the "professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day...[all the while] moved by no desire to know good or evil, truth or falsehood, beauty or ugliness". Yes, Reno certainly can turn a phrase. But then so can Augustine, who described the very same phenomenon back in the 5th century: To Carthage then I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a cauldron of unholy loves. My freshman dorm in nuce. Was there a time, somewhere between the Fall of Rome and the Savings and Loan Crisis, when we were better? I'd like to think so, and Reno evidently does:
But back to my main point, what Bloom's book really is--as those who did in fact trudge through Bloom's protracted analysis of Nietzsche, Freud and Max Weber and all the rest might surmise--is a Straussian induction rite, and a good one at that. At some point I'll expound.
Yes, First Things excels at hand-wringing, and maybe that's why I love it so . Another one of their online pieces notes the verbal subterfuge with which Planned Parenthood covers over the plain facts of biology: "product of conception", "embryo", "fetus", but never "baby". We might as well throw in conceptus, too, but here we might note that, if the point is in fact to efface the humanity of our little ones, conceptum would do a lot better, right? Or am I too much the pedant?
Speaking of Latin and pedantry, I am next setting my sites on Summa Theologica, Part I, Question II for my next translation etude. I once had the good fortune of listening to John Wippel himself lecture at length on Questions I through XIII. But it was my first pass through the text and I'm sure the real subtlety was lost on me. And so, back I go.