Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Three deaths

Terri Schiavo died, as we knew that she would.

John Paul II died as well, a few days later. The world, I think, will miss him more than it knows. I am afraid that I do not quite get the strong, even bitter criticism that he inspired in some quarters. Okay, he maintained ancient doctrines on abortion and a celibate, all-male priesthood. He reaffirmed the Catholic church's stand against artificial contraception. But jeez, the guy was a hero in the fight against totalitarianism. He reached out to other communions and other faiths more than any Pope in history. He engaged in far-reaching intellectual debate. He changed the face of the Catholic church, which used to be run exclusively by Italians. I am no Catholic, but I found him a remarkable and admirable fellow. But he wasn't right on the big A, I guess, and that meant that he was hiding devil-horns under the mitre. Well, may God welcome him in glory and help the cardinals pick someone with a bit of the same hope and wit and strength.

Then, over the weekend, a student at our college died. The details are not clear. He evidently passed out in a vacant lot on a Saturday night, died from exposure or from some other cause, and was found the next morning. Alcohol, one guesses.

What a bitter and tragic waste. We have lost students before during the time that I've taught here, to accident and to disease and even (in a truly horrible case) to murder. But this hits me differently. I am not a prohibitionist. Indeed, I strongly believe that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. But there is on many college campuses what can only be described as a subculture of drunkenness. Right at the moment, I'm afraid, what sympathy and tolerance I may have had for that subculture is pretty much gone. At the moment, that attitude has the look of the Enemy.


Blogger Joe said...

I disagree strongly with JP II (and, by extension, with my Church) on the issues of ordination of women and artificial contraception.

As far as abortion, I'll say this: I do believe that JP II was consistent. The essential, God-given dignity of every human life was the motivation for his fight against totalitarianism, the multinationals, economic injustice, war, and the death penalty. And abortion. He had an overarching belief system which he appeared to uphold consistently.

I don't believe we can say that about most of the political Right (or Left) in this country. And I do think that's why he should be upheld as a hero.

9:49 AM  

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