Open to Everything, Dedicated to Nothing

“Merely having an open mind is nothing,” wrote G. K. Chesterton. “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

We have elevated “openness” to the status of a principle and in the process have forgotten what it is that we should select. Therefore, we are left hungry. Political correctness, the attempt to please everyone, is a restaurant without a menu, a church without dogma, a life without purpose. When we are open to everything, we find ourselves dedicated to nothing.

Fulton J. Sheen explains, in his monumental work, Life of Christ (1958), the essential dynamism of the Catholic Church which holds it together and gives it both meaning and unity. He refers to a delicate balance between two forces, one seeking the center, the other going out to the world: “As unity in doctrine and authority is the centripetal force which keeps the life of the Church one, catholicity is the centrifugal force which enables her to expand and absorb redeemed humanity without distinction of race or color.” The Church reaches out, but she has something to offer. Her teaching is not sterile; her outreach is not empty. In a sense, she provides food for all.

St. Jerome’s University, in Waterloo, ON, purportedly a Catholic institution, has decided to fly the LGBTQ flag on its campus to celebrate “Pride” month. Interim President Scott Kline defended the action as a way of sending the message that, “all are welcome in this place”. The immediate reaction to the move has shown significant evidence of outrage and division. Catholics do not believe that we can serve God and mammon at the same time or that a house divided against itself can continue to stand (Matthew 12:22-28).

 

It is an odd thing for a university to “welcome” everyone since not everyone who applies is admitted. Sexual life-style does not qualify anyone for admission. Therefore, those who are not admitted are not welcomed “in this place”. “Welcome” is a politically correct buzzword that is intended to make everyone feel comfortable. But, in the world of academy, rejection, firings, dismissals, and failures, are a daily occurrence.

I taught at SJU for 32 years. Logic was the one subject I taught most often. I recall explaining the “fallacy of accent” to my students. I used the example of “Today the captain is sober,” which places the accent on “today” and suggests that the captain is not sober on other days. Selecting the LGBTQ consortium to offer a sign of welcome to may lead one to infer that other groups are not welcome. What about that much maligned group that identifies itself as “pro-life”? Where is their flag? And what about plumbers, carpenters, masons, handy-men, and construction workers? To single out one group and reject all the rest does not serve the purpose of welcoming everyone. If Dr. Kline welcomes all groups, he should be just as willing to fly the flag of the Ku Klux Klan. He would not do this for the simple reason that he does not believe in what he says. Hoisting the LGBTQ flag is a capitulation to a fashion. The Klan is not fashionable these days.

The Catholic Church teaches that it is an insult to anyone to be identified according to his sexual preference. Such a labeling can serve as a stigma. The Church’s Pastoral Care of Homosexuals states the following (sec.16): “The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. . . . Today the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, His child and heir to eternal life.” The Church welcomes sinners, but only because she is confident, given the possibility of grace and forgiveness, that being a sinner is not a permanent condition. The Church welcomes everyone, but she does not have admission requirements.

From a personal point of view, Dr. Kline has made it clear to me that I am not welcomed on the SJU campus. After more than three decades of diligent teaching, I am now, and for no reason whatsoever, an outcast.

Photo by Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash

By

Dr. Donald DeMarco—Prof. Emeritus, St. Jerome’s University; Adjunct Prof., Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the St. Austin Review. His latest books, How To Navigate through Life and Apostles of the Culture of Life is posted on amazon.com. He is also the author of How to Flourish in a Fallen World (En Route publishers). Reflections on the Covid-19 virus: A Search for Meaning is in production.

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