Posts Tagged ‘University of Chicago’

Encomium Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

With the 11/18/14 ceremony marking the beginning of the ministry of Most Rev. Blase Cupich as archbishop of Chicago, this is a time of thanks for the ministry of his predecessor Francis Cardinal George, OMI.

My first unknowing encounter with Francis George was hearing not his voice but his music in my 1950s childhood when he served briefly as a substitute organist in my parish, St. Priscilla. My second encounter with Archbishop Francis George was at the January 17, 1998 Chicago gathering of the National Center for the Laity, on whose board I then served, when he gave his noted “exhausted project” comments during a homily at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin benefitted throughout most of his tenure in Chicago and beyond from a cheering section both in the secular and in Catholic media, as I hope Archbishop Cupich will have as well. But Cardinal George did not and probably won’t ever have a cheering section to the same extent. This is unfortunate, since few spiritual heads in the Church evidence the depth of religious and cultural insight as does Cardinal George. While Cardinal Bernardin, borrowing a line from St. John XXIII, introduced himself as our brother, Cardinal George introduced himself as our neighbor, an equally rich scriptural reference.

While Cardinal George has grown stronger in administration and in the communicative side of being the Archbishop of Chicago, it did not come easy to him. Although a gentle person, he evidences from time to time vinegar and quick wit that can either help or hurt his efforts, but he also reveals self-effacing if not humorous humility. He has this bad habit of speaking the truth as he sees it. He sometimes made mistakes in appointments, as almost all administrators do. But one of his most carefully considered and successful appointments, of the Rev. Robert Barron of the Word on Fire media ministry as rector and President of the University of St. Mary of the Lake and its Mundelein Seminary, is of far reaching significance for the Church. As did Cardinal Mundelein when he appointed Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand to the same rectorship in the 1930s, Cardinal George has appointed “a man with imagination.” May Fr. Barron stay right where he’s at as rector / president of USML as long as the Lord wills it.

An equally significant appointment by Cardinal George was that of Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, OP, as Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago. In my opinion, Sr. Mary Paul is the best Chicago Catholic schools superintendent in living memory. May the Lord give her more strength and energy before He grants her a well-deserved rest! And may support come to the Catholic primary and secondary schools to continue this our shared Catholic mission.

In the temporal sense, three human progeny generally outlive a person: children, writings, and institutions. Cardinal George protected the Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese so many of their children could have a Catholic education. He stabilized the Chicago seminaries after a period of decline and scandal. He established the Liturgical Institute at USML to enrich the life of the Church. He defended the Catholic hospitals against radical interference, and defended religious liberty on both the health care and the marriage questions. He dialogued with Catholic university presidents both locally and internationally, keeping some in the fold, and under his support the Lumen Christi Institute at the University of Chicago has grown to an international reach. He also firmed up a structure to protect children from abusers, and to deal promptly with the perpetrators, and established a Healing Garden at one of Chicago’s oldest parishes, Holy Family. Cardinal George reached out to Muslims and those of other faiths. He dealt very patiently with Fr. Michael Pfleger, and he shepherded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius to ecclesiastical approval. He defended the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, joined anti-violence and affordable housing efforts, and supported countless charitable works of the Church.

And he has written well–both in terms of his most recent books, but especially in terms of his essays, pastoral letters, addresses and homilies. I do hope the Archdiocese perpetually keeps open the web page with Cardinal George’s writings. His books, The Difference God Makes: A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture, and God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, will be read the more as religious liberty continues to erode and as religion continues to be shoved from the public square. I hope Cardinal George is given the time, energy, and privacy to continue to write.

Cardinal George presided on the hot seat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the USCCB, during one of several recent rounds of the “bad priest” scandal. He was openly disrespected by a number of politicians, several Catholic. At the same time, Cardinal George served on numerous Vatican Congregations, and St. John Paul II asked Cardinal George to preach a retreat in the Vatican. In the celebrated words of Bill Murray’s assistant greens keeper character in the film Caddyshack, at least “He’s got that going for him.”

Cardinal George’s fun side was seen early in his tenure, when he visited the TV booth at Wrigley Field, and was asked for an invocation as Sammy Sosa came to bat. When Sosa promptly hit a home run, the city got to hear the Cardinal’s laughter. Whether the home run was due to divine intervention or to some other more worldly force will remain, as we Catholics say, a mystery.

Recently, I’ve been reading the works of the great 19th century German bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, whose 1848 sermons and later writings in Mainz presaged–with the Pope’s acknowledgement–Leo XIII’s social encyclicals.

The writings of Francis Cardinal George are of a similar stature. They will inform the choices that Catholic Christians will make for generations about faith and life, about religion and culture, and about church and state whether Cardinal George’s role is ever acknowledged. I’m sure that Cardinal George would be quite happy if he were forgotten and if the greater glory went to the Lord. That is why he stays to the very end of every parish event he attends, greeting and meeting parishioners down to the last person in line. Cardinal George has the charismatic gift of soldiering on, despite illness, be it polio, flu, cancer, a cold, or fatigue, long beyond his 50 plus years of priesthood. Perhaps I should say, the Gift of Carrying the Cross.

Beyond the temporal legacy of Cardinal George, there is the eternal. He learned from an early age the priestly role, an eternal role shared with the Lord. As a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, an OMI, Cardinal George gained a special appreciation for mission and religious life. I rejoice to continue sharing the Faith with Cardinal George as we look forward to joining the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews, 12:1).

Much will continue to be made of the differences between Cardinal George and Archbishop Cupich, especially regarding the 2009 Obama / Notre Dame honorary degree controversy, where each took a divergent approach.

On the above point I merely reply, that after the recent death of Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Lyne, Cardinal George could have moved from the mansion into the Holy Name Cathedral rectory at any time as was considered early in his tenure as Chicago archbishop. But I have a theory that the Cardinal elected to stay in the mansion so that his successor could elect to have the nice headline. Sometimes humility means that one look like a rich man so one’s successor does not have to. A lesser man would have kept the nice headline for himself. Archbishop Blase Cupich’s tenure will be all the better because he was preceded by Francis Cardinal George, OMI.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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In Memoriam, Rev. Stanley R. Rudcki

Friday, May 24th, 2013

My soul, give praise to the Lord;
I will praise the Lord all my days,
make music to my God while I live.
Psalm 146

As the conductor’s baton urged them briskly forward in a swift Allegro with the simple, direct movements learned from noted Chicago Grant Park Symphony founder Thomas Peck, a dozen or more professionals began Handel’s chorus in B flat major, His Yoke is Easy, and His Burden is Light.

First sopranos, then tenors, then altos, then bass squarely hit each others’ mark. Glances and smiles shot around the chorus as if to say, “This is great tempo, great rhythm, great pacing; I’ve never sung or heard Handel this way before; This conductor really knows his stuff; I’ve never had so much fun.” Each singer then took off–together–with confident abandon, and let the music dance and ripple, or if you prefer, rip. His yoke is indeed easy, they sang–and meant with all their hearts–and His burden indeed light. Despite having sung Messiah a hundred times before, each sang as if seeing the notes in first light.

The date was Sunday, May 22, 1994, at St. Michael’s Church in Orland Park, IL, the parish where the conductor began his first priestly assignment in 1953. And on May 22, 2013, nineteen years from the very date of that memorable concert of Messiah, in the sixtieth year of his Roman Catholic priesthood and in the eighty-sixth year of his life, Rev. Stanley R. Rudcki met the Lord he had served so faithfully and so creatively.

Rev. Stanley Rudcki, M.A., S.T.L., M.Mus. was a graduate of the Chicago Archdiocesan Seminaries and the Chicago Music Conservatory, with studies at the University of Chicago, DePaul (1958-60, in music), and Loyola (1960-61, in English) universities. Ordained in 1953, he served at St. Michael’s Church in Orland Park, Quigley Seminary (1957-1961), for a time as organist at Holy Name Cathedral and as a part-time faculty member at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where he completed his musical graduate studies (1960-65), and from 1961 until its campus closed in 1994-5, Niles College Seminary, then the Chicago archdiocesan college seminary, where he taught Music and English Literature.

In 1964 Fr. Rudcki organized the Niles College Seminary Concert Choir and the Niles Symphony, whose members were professional musicians drawn from the Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. Among the many works performed during the 1960s through the 1990s by the Chorus and Orchestra at a number of Chicago locations including Orchestra Hall and Holy Name Cathedral, St. Mary’s Riverside, St. John Cantius, St. Thecla, St. Andrew the Apostle, St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, were Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem (Chicago Premier, 5/20/1968), John Rutter’s Requiem (U.S. full orchestra premier, 10/5/1986, St. Mary’s Church, Riverside, IL, with orchestrations sent personally to Fr. Rudcki by the publisher in close cooperation with the composer [John Rutter had reportedly completed the orchestration just a few days earlier; I’ve been told that the ink was still wet when the parts arrived in Chicago two days before the concert]), Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (Chicago Symphony Hall Premier, 5/11/1967), Poulenc’s Gloria, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (May, 1972), Verdi’s Requiem (5/8/1966), a fully dramatized version of Honegger’s Joan at the Stake, Mozart’s Requiem, Berlioz Te Deum, Mahler’s Veni Creator Spiritus, and many other major choral symphonic works in dozens of performances. Rev. Rudcki directed the Hillenbrand Sacred Music Project for the former Hillenbrand Institute of Niles College at the time of the 1994 Messiah Concert, and conducted community concerts at St. Alexander Church in Palos Heights, IL (where he served as Associate Pastor in 1995 until his retirement from active ministry in 1997), and elsewhere in the Southwestern suburbs of Chicago, where his orchestra was named the Palos Symphony. He retired from conducting in June of 2011.

Stanley Robert Rudcki (6/13/1927-5/22/2013) was the son of the Polish and Bohemian owners, Stanley Martin Rudcki and Bessie nee Salak, of a past and noted South Side Chicago bowling alley, the Archer-Kedzie Bowl formerly at 4300 S. Kedzie, and grew up in a bungalow at 6501 S. Albany Avenue in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. His gentle demeanor blended somehow with his absolute confidence in several arenas, including bowling, water polo, music, literature, and theology.

He began his musical studies in second grade at the former St. Agnes School (Pershing Road). His talent as a young pianist was so exceptional (playing Rachmaninoff by 8th grade) that, at the behest of his teacher Sister Jane Elizabeth, the very structured Quigley Seminary of his 1940’s high school days allowed him to walk downtown after school to Chicago Music Conservatory, where he studied with Dr. Edgar A. Brazelton and Dr. Bernard Dieter, anointing the young Rudcki thereby a “grandson” by tutelage of Franz Liszt.

Stanley Rudcki played Schumann’s A Minor Concerto to mark the end of his high school days (“Watch out for that third movement, kid,” a member of the Chicago Symphony had advised him). Rudcki’s father had promised him that if he could learn Chopin’s Heroique A flat major Polonaise his father would let him use his car to drive to Mexico as a graduation gift (the war had just ended), and young Rudcki memorized it in a week. At the major seminary, young Rudcki organized an orchestra of fellow students, and performed the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor in a school concert. Humble to a fault, Fr. Rudcki sometimes stated that Cardinal Edward Egan, a Chicago seminary near-contemporary ordained four years after Fr. Rudcki, was a better pianist.

When given the chance to formally study Gregorian chant in Rome, Fr. Rudcki chose instead to continue his musical studies in Chicago, and to master conducting and composition. Among other works, he crafted a Mass in Honor of Chardin (1966), and A Symphonic Fantasy on the Salve Regina (1993), and served from time to time as an arranger on other’s musical projects.

Along the way, he deepened his knowledge of literature, especially tragedy and comedy, Shakespeare, G.B. Shaw (Fr. Rudcki was a regular Niagara On the Lake, Ontario, Shaw Theater Festival attendee), Dostoyevsky, and G.K. Chesterton. As a Chestertonian, Fr. Rudcki suggested to his fellow scholars that the dozens of Chesterton’s Illustrated London News articles be hunted down and published (they were by Ignatius Press). Fr. Rudcki also penned a number of Chestertonian plays that were performed at the seminary, and established an annual Chesterton Lecture for invited upper-level Niles Colleges students to give on weighty topics (very few volumes of these lectures remain). Few of his students will forget Fr. Rudcki’s stirring lecture on the Grand Inquisitor scene from the Brothers Karamazov, or his course on tragedy.

After Niles College affiliated with Loyola University, Fr. Rudcki was named Loyola faculty member of the year in 1969. In 1970, the Zoltan Koldaly Academy and Institute made him an honorary member in recognition of his promotion of the musical arts. In 1993, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, as well as Professor Emeritus at Niles College.

Fr. Rudcki also taught music appreciation to Chicago seminarians, many of whom had no background in classical music whatsoever, and gave a few of them private lessons. (He also kindly gave my oldest daughter a few lessons, gratis, and she continues to teach others the ways of excellent music). The performance Fr. Rudcki mounted of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis to enthusiastic press reviews at Holy Name Cathedral in 1972, sung by dozens of seminarians, parishioners, and professionals along with members of the Chicago Symphony, was in many ways a high point of Catholic culture in Chicago. But such culture, according to Fr. Rudcki, was possible to experience within any Catholic parish church, where indeed Fr. Rudcki brought his musicians.

Fr. Rudcki’s view of art was bound to the Thomistic distinction between prudence as the recta ratio of acting (agibilium) or doing, and art as the recta ratio of making (factibilium). But Fr. Rudcki’s Thomism was living, dynamic, and poetic, witness his nuanced 1987 article in the journal Thought, entitled “The Loss of Art: A Cultural and Theological Perspective,” for the beauty of his written expression.

Fr. Rudcki’s Christmas music during the late Advent prayer service at Niles College was a memorable annual spiritual ascent that realized his vision of art in service to the Gospel. But it didn’t hurt that legendary Chicago Symphony trumpeter Adolph (Bud) Herseth rang out the Gabriellic downward run from high A in the Hallelujah Chorus. Fr. Rudcki combined community musicians with just the right spike of professional excellence. He knew that inspiring music required great composition and musicianship, not simply good intentions. He also had a discerning ear for new music, and very early on performed the works of John Rutter. Chicago soprano Sarah Beatty was a regular soloist at Fr. Rudcki’s concerts for a musical association of forty-one years.

Fr. Rudcki also humbly sweat the small stuff. He would plan his concerts for weeks, and personally lay out the music for each symphonic position. He worked closely with the Chicago Federation of Musicians and the Recording Trust Fund of the American Federation of Musicians which supported many of his concerts, and with Robert Rushford, who contracted his orchestras for a period of years. (Throughout his teaching career, the Chicago seminaries also provided support for Fr. Rudcki’s concerts.)

One day, Fr. Rudcki decided to give up smoking, cold turkey, after decades, and simply did. Another day, Fr. Rudcki asked how to lose weight, and then lost twenty pounds. He very much liked Robert M. Hutchins’s joke about lying down and resting whenever he had the urge to exercise.

And who could forget Fr. Rudcki’s wit, especially his irony? See his 1992 letter to the Chicago Tribune about a critic who tried to juxtapose the Murphy Brown TV show / Dan Quayle controversy with famous characters from Shakespeare.

Fr. Rudcki could not abide Wagner’s Parsifal (“Even Wagner’s religious music is profane,” he said, echoing Chesterton), nor could he stand it when the 1960’s seminarians sang “Rambling Boy” at Mass. For his own 50th priestly anniversary, he chose Mozart’s Coronation Mass, K. 317. The last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony Number 6 in B minor moved him so deeply he could barely listen to it.

It was Fr. Rudcki who proposed the name “Niles College” to end a faculty impasse on the question of the name of the new Chicago Archdiocesan Seminary in the early 1960s, a decision he later regretted. With his colleague Fr. Martin N. Winters, Fr. Rudcki taught at this college seminary at the time of its rise, and of its fall, of which he wrote in a 1995 New Oxford Review article, “The Tale of a Dead Seminary.” (See my earlier post on the bad old days of Niles College).

One friend and colleague described Fr. Stanley R. Rudcki as the last of the true liberals, meaning not a New York Times editorial page political true believer, as the word has come to mean, but liberal in the sense of a humanist educated in the liberal arts freeing the human spirit to hear the Divine and to fully realize the authentically human.

Chicago’s former Quigley Seminary had an expression, “Days of the Giants,” to describe a past era of manly, spiritual commitment and accomplishment. In Fr. Rudcki, quiet giant is who we’re talking about. He was a gentleman when the word meant something.

Fr. Rudcki will be waked at St. Alexander’s Catholic Church in Palos Heights, IL on the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, May 29, 2013, with a funeral at that same church at 10:30 AM, Thursday, May 30. Funeral announcements are here.

I understand that Fr. Rudcki’s friends are quickly working to assemble the musical forces to sing and pray Rutter’s Requiem at the funeral.

May Fr. Rudcki’s soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in the Lord’s peace.

I regret I will not be able to sing the Salve in person on May 30th, but I will be singing it in my heart. Later that day, I’ll play a Mazurka or two for Fr. Rudcki.

[At a priest’s funeral in Chicago and in many places, at the very end of the service, the clergy gather at the side of the remains and lead all in singing the Salve Regina.]

[I wish to thank Mr. Paul A. Knez, a long-time supporter of Fr. Rudcki’s efforts, for some of the fact-checking. Any errors are entirely my own.]

© Copyright 2013, 2016 Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Anthony O. Simon

Friday, November 30th, 2012

After again reading of and about Jacques Maritain’s classic book Man and the State–required for anyone at all serious about social justice–my thoughts turned to Anthony O. Simon, the son of Yves R. Simon, Maritain’s student and later faculty colleague at both Notre Dame and the University of Chicago.

Yves Simon was the dissertation supervisor for my late uncle Robert S. Schorsch, who jumped into Normandy on D-Day as a Lieutenant in the US Army 101st Airborne Division, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, shortly after completing his doctorate in philosophy at Notre Dame. Robert died in combat soon thereafter at Eerde, Netherlands on September 24, 1944 during Operation Market Garden.

My late father and Tony Simon kept in touch over the years because of this family and scholarly connection. I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Simon on several occasions, and in sharing ideas. I just read Tony’s obituary from August, 2012, and regret that only now I have learned of his passing. May he rest in peace.

Anthony O. Simon’s work in preserving and promoting Yves R. Simon’s writings, many of which would simply have never made it to print without Tony, and his participation in Maritain scholarship as well, have advanced the cause of democracy, philosophy, Catholic studies, and social justice especially leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Because the ideas of great philosophers do move the world, this persistent and quiet service by Anthony O. Simon, like the children and grandchildren of Thomas More, who similarly saw irreplaceable works into print over the course of two generations, will prove to serve humanity well.

When I think of these great ones who have passed, and their legacy waiting to be yet rediscovered in books quietly waiting on the shelves or online, and waiting to be put into action in the world, I think again of these words spoken by a friend of Jacques Maritain who learned so much from him:

“Il suffit de rappeler que le sang de millions d’hommes, que des souffrances inouïes et innombrables, que d’inutiles massacres et d’épouvantables ruines sanctionnent le pacte qui vous unit, en un serment qui doit changer l’histoire future du monde: jamais plus la guerre, jamais plus la guerre! C’est la paix, la paix, qui doit guider le destin des peuples et de toute l’humanité! ”

“It is enough to recall that the blood of millions, countless unheard-of sufferings, useless massacres and frightening ruins have sanctioned the agreement that unites you with an oath that ought to change the future history of the world: never again war, never again war! It is peace, peace, that has to guide the destiny of the nations of all humanity!”

(servant of God Paul VI at the UN, 10/4/65)

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Science vs. Religion vs. Fornicating and Going on the Internet

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

In the science vs. religion debates, how few people who claim to base their lives on either science or religion actually do so!

Instead, we as a society follow politically correct, symbolic, faux science and religion.

If we did base our lives upon real science and religion, we as a society would, for example–

  • Eat right and exercise to avoid disease, and structure our homes, schools, and work environments to help us do so;
  • Treat alcohol and addiction as diseases in terms of public health and homeless assistance policies instead of politicizing “the homeless” to be used as a partisan footballs each election cycle, without actually healing their ills;
  • Treat sexually transmitted diseases in order to cure and to eliminate them, without regard to political correctness that instead enables and thereby spreads them;
  • Follow proper agricultural conservation principles;
  • Consistently focus educational resources based simultaneously upon ability and aspiration and achievement, and not simply upon one or upon another;
  • Maintain our roads, bridges, transportation, utilities, and communication systems in a self-sustaining manner using scheduled preventative maintenance;
  • Run our businesses, our charities, our government, and our bureaucracies based upon established scientific quality control measures to advance better customer service and achievement of mission and purpose;
  • Better match sources of funds with uses of funds in public policy decisions, e.g., pay for alcohol treatment with the alcohol tax, tobacco-related illness with the tobacco tax, instead of funding every other use of funds with a mishmosh of every other source of funds;
  • Regularly measure and test the effects of government action and taxation on a municipal, regional, national, and international basis (political parties are terrified of an unbiased, third entity measuring their actual achievement);
  • Educate prisoners while in prison, since abundant research shows that the more a prisoner is educated, the greater the reduction in recidivism;
  • No longer build homes or businesses in flood plains (which politicians allow generation after rebuilding generation; e.g., please see Ian McHarg’s 1969 book, Design with Nature, for a prediction of exactly where in New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, not to build because of the flooding potential of these locations; McHarg’s predictions were borne out by Hurricane Sandy);
  • No longer build homes, businesses, government projects, schools, or laboratories without adequate safety (especially fire) and without adequate security provisions.
  • But we are no more a scientific society than we are a religious society. We are instead really neither. Our familiarity with science and technology usually ends with the tips of our fingers. Our trust in God too often ends with the mottoes emblazoned on our coins.

    After lip service to both science and religion, when it comes to very important issues of human organization, we as a human society fundamentally ignore both.

    We are instead the uninformed and selfish inertia society, propelled by unenlightened self-interest pointed in the same direction that we may deny we have long been pointed: toward ourselves.

    But even there we miss the mark. Hamartia, for the Classic Greek author the hero’s tragic flaw, for the Christian the New Testament word for sin, literally means “to miss the mark.” We are indeed both a tragic and a sinful society that does not even act effectively in our own self interest:

    “A single sentence will suffice for modern man. He fornicated and read the papers. After that vigorous definition, the subject will be, if I may say so, exhausted.”

    Albert Camus, The Fall

    In her 11/11/11 talk at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture annual conference entitled, “Forgetting Jerusalem: Has the West Lost Its Way?” University of Chicago scholar Jean Bethke Elshtain updated and paraphrased the Camus quote above as: “We [Modern Man and Woman] fornicated and went on the Internet.”

    In her same presentation above, Prof. Elshtain mentioned hearing Julian Huxley confidently predict many years ago a scientific, non-violent, non-religious society “by the year 2000.”

    Julian Huxley apparently forgot that for scientific principles to be applied to address society’s problems, a certain amount of social altruism is needed.

    But scientific reason has heretofore not been the principal fountainhead of human cooperation and unselfishness. It is religion which has steadily, despite notable failures, urged its adherents to think and to act with the well-being of others in mind. The reason of science follows the altruism of religion.

    Catholicism in particular specifically recognizes not only Rome (Church teaching) and Jerusalem (Scripture), but also Athens (Reason).

    Science needs religion-based altruism in order to implement society-wide its best findings in the human interest. Religion needs science in order to separate altruism from self-centered self-deception.

    Both science and religion require a lifetime of study and work in their pursuit, which may explain why both science and religion–to expand G. K. Chesterton’s famous usage about Christianity–are “found difficult and left untried.”

    The greatest threat to religion is not atheism, but consumerism and one of its effects: weekend sports scheduled during times of worship.

    The greatest threat to scientific advance in society is not religion, but the scientifically-verified fact that approximately 25% of the collegiate population is abusing alcohol to the point that it interferes with their studies.

    The search for scientific truth and the pursuit of religious truth are compatible pursuits which spring from a human hunger for truth.

    Those who search for the truth of both the body and of the Spirit need each other in order to implement the best of their gifts of knowledge and wisdom to positively change our world.

    Otherwise, just fornicating and just going on the Internet will continue to shape society according to both tragic and sinful human inertia.

    Science is needed to prevent and to recover from tragedy, and religion is needed to prevent and to recover from sin. Both tragedy and sin stand in the way of human progress.

    Because the world thirsts for both an end to tragedy and an end to sin, science and religion can work together to more quickly advance a better humanity and a better world.

    © Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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    Why Research Universities Merit the “Freedom of the City”

    Sunday, May 6th, 2012

    What I shared with university colleagues on 5/6/12–

    Colleague,

    I’ve been thinking of implications of the various [Illinois] pension bills in the light of the larger question of the need for economic development in Chicago and in Illinois.

    Yale economist Robert Shiller, the co-originator of the Case-Shiller housing index, recently made a dire prediction, that the housing market may not recover for a generation, meaning “in our lifetimes.”

    The implications of this prediction, if correct, are profound. The political game of chasing around and announcing “jobs, jobs, jobs” may shortly be practically useless. Longer-term sources of economic growth besides tax incentive gimmicks to attract and retain businesses will have to be found.

    Cities have historically grown and thrived because, as centers of commerce, they were in some sense free economic zones that became magnets of opportunity for both migrants and for entrepreneurs. But our generation of legislators, whether federal, state, and local, have somehow embraced bureaucracy and regulation as a solution, and are locking out opportunity.

    By reducing constraints upon UIC’s [University of Illinois at Chicago] growth as an urban, state research university, Chicago and Illinois could become a greater research and educational magnet, drawing more scientists, more businesses, and more students, and rival Boston or LA within two or three generations, if we collectively make the right decisions to unshackle our research universities and institutes and let them grow and thrive. The “freedom of the city” must be extended to the University of Illinois (both UIC and UIUC [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]) and to partner institutions as research leaders.

    In order for such a strategy to succeed, civic leaders who are alumni of NU and U Chicago will have to drop their elite snobbery and allow UIC to thrive as well, since UIC in the long term can “bring the big numbers” of both graduates and researchers to help Chicago and Illinois thrive. But even these three Chicago research universities are not enough to build a “rival Boston” strategy for this region.

    That is why legislative action that drives away research talent, and the dollars that senior professors and principal investigators bring with them, is exactly the wrong economic development strategy for Illinois.

    As long as state research universities are lumped into legislation covering all matter of non-research institutions, and subject to numerous unintended consequences and unpredictability, the state research university will not thrive to the extent that it could in Illinois. We already see talented colleagues voting on the expected results of such election-year legislation with their feet before the final votes are cast.

    Infrastructure alone will not bring Illinois or Chicago back. We have to have a “somewhere” to where the roads and bridges lead. Because real estate will not be an answer for perhaps a generation, state and other research universities do help answer the question of “somewhere.” So let’s not sandbag research universities with bureaucratic disincentives for success, OK?

    There are so many encouraging changes taking place at UIC, especially UIC College Prep–there should be dozens more such Chicago and Illinois high schools!–that I’m sad to see some of our colleagues go at this critical moment for UIC.

    But we do have a great opportunity, even in these awful times for Illinois, to actually make the right legislative decisions to shape a better future.

    Regulatory freedom for the Research Universities of Illinois is part of the answer. The sooner the University of Illinois, including UIUC and UIC, can be set apart with its own legislation freeing the development of research and the attraction and retention of talent from regulatory constraints, the better.

    But who will take the lead in spreading this message? Who’s got the guts to do this in an election year?

    Much easier to add more bureaucracy and to call it “reform.” Yet where is the economic development–which is what we really need–in that?

    So far, the legislature has taken the safe DMV approach–more rules and more roads. But rules and roads leading to what?

    Cordially,

    Albert Schorsch, III

    © Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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    God, Freedom, and Public Life

    Thursday, October 6th, 2011

    I wish I could attend, but a massive bureaucratic task prevents me–

    God, Freedom, and Public Life

    On the occasion of the publication of God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

    featuring

    Jean Bethke Elshtain
    University of Chicago

    Hans Joas
    University of Chicago

    Martin Marty
    University of Chicago

    Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
    Archbishop of Chicago

    Thursday, October 6, 4-6:00 PM

    Mandel Hall
    1131 East 57th Street
    The University of Chicago

    From the promotional material by the Lumen Christi Institute:

    “In his latest book, God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, Cardinal George makes the case that religious faith plays a necessary role in American public life. Addressing the challenges of secularism and pluralism head on, he outlines a contemporary vision for our national life that respects human dignity and religious liberty, while also stressing the central contributions that diverse expressions of religious faith make to the common good of society.”

    Cardinal George’s essays confront the public predicament facing believers, Christians, and Catholics in particular. They deserve much wider currency.

    I offer the following excerpt, which typifies his thought:

    If the conversation about human dignity beings not with the human genome but with the fuller understanding of personhood presented by the Church, what shape will it take? There are three points to take into consideration when answering this question.

    First, one will speak of human dignity as a property of human nature received at the moment one comes into existence, something that can be neither gained nor lost throughout the course of one’s life. It’s given.

    Second, human dignity will also be understood in terms of an identity achieved, for example, as a wife, a father, as servant of the poor. Existential dignity is intrinsic, but it can be either enhanced or diminished by the kind of life one leads. We are not fully the beings we are meant to be at the moment we come into existence; rather, God grants us the freedom and ability to choose in part what we become. This is the stuff of tragedy when promises are not fulfilled and of triumph when capacities flourish.

    Third is the dignity that comes to us through freely accepting God’s graciously offered gift of salvation and life in him. We are the kinds of beings who can accept God’s grace and live as adopted sons and daughters of God. The end of this life of grace is eternal life marked by the fullness of truth and love. We have human dignity in that we are beings who possess the capacity to receive the gift of salvation. This is our destiny, and in the beatific vision we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

    Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., God in Action: How Faith in God Can Address the Challenges of the World, pp. 110-111. (I separated the original one paragraph into sections for better comprehension).

    © Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
    All Rights Reserved

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    Dan Savage’s Brief Shining Moment

    Friday, September 30th, 2011

    A few years ago I attended for a time one of the world’s best business schools, and there I confirmed in “granular” detail (a B-school word) something I already knew: that after people reach a certain age, hardly anybody drinks certain brands of beer.

    I have fond memories of these brands, not because I drank them–they had a taste that I never bothered to acquire–but because of their charming old advertising jingles and logos, and because of a silly joke my late Dad taught me when I was a little boy: “Albert, does beer make you smart?” . . . “It made Bud wiser.”

    From a great business professor I learned of the herculean marketing efforts necessary to get people to keep drinking these beers, with inevitably diminishing returns as people reach the age of functional maturity. Just as car insurance companies know from long-collected empirical evidence that young people cannot generally make wisely considered decisions behind the wheel until about the age of 25, the major beer companies know, based upon similar research, that young people generally stop drinking their brand of beer by the age of 29–perhaps because they have finally made a few wisely-considered decisions. Therefore the big beer companies live and die by the tiny demographic margin generated by their ads.

    One might say that these beers have each been branded as: “The beer America is still dumb enough to drink.”

    We’ve all seen the beer ads with young, slim, attractive people having all kinds of fun in something of a Never Neverland of youth, where beer neither makes you drunk nor fat, and where the mere choice of a brand of beer impresses buxom and scantily-clad–and recently, clever and engaging–young women. Then some day reality hits, like the actual beer party that occurred when the cast of TV’s Cheers retired from the show, and some of cast got sloppy drunk by actually downing the amount of real beer equivalent to the fake beer that they pretended to consume on TV.

    I have very unpleasant memories of these beers as well, and they have to do not only with the homeless alcoholics I tried to assist for over two decades, but also with the amount of swill consumed in the late 1960s and early 1970s by my contemporaries and some priest faculty at the now defunct Niles College Seminary, the former college seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago and my alma mater of unhappy memory. “Come for the priesthood, stay for the beer” seemed to have been the watchword at Niles College.

    While the priests of my early youth “took the pledge” not to drink until they were thirty, the uncorked “spirits of Vatican II” changed all that. Niles College in my unhappy college years was a particular locus of alcohol consumption by students and faculty alike, and quite a shock to my, I suppose, naively pious expectations formed in the minor seminary. I recall one day when the liquor delivery truck arrived at the Niles College rectory, and unloaded what seemed to be dozens of crates and barrels of booze for a faculty soiree. This being the Archdiocese of Chicago, I then prayed for Eliot Ness, Rico, Lee, and Youngblood to pull up in their 1930s roadster and bust the place, but my prayers went in that respect unanswered. One of my proofs for the existence of God is that somehow a number of holy priests were ordained in Chicago despite everything they experienced at Niles College during that era.

    Part of the “Niles Experience,” as we then called it, included the ribald, over-sexed, curse-laden, scatological, sometimes homosexual dorm humor that persists to some limited degree today among the clergy of the Archdiocese of Chicago of a certain age and outlook. This dorm humor is very similar to the dorm humor that has traversed colleges and barracks since time immemorial. This humor was also heard annually at Niles College around a beer party in the 1970s on the night of the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the quarters of a divine, a party that had a particularly defiling name for the Immaculate Conception that was finally squelched when John Patrick Cardinal Cody, several years into the recurrent celebration, got wind of it due to a dispute among the clergy when someone passed the word to him in retribution. This party for me, despite the abundance of drink, was a spiritual Dead Sea of the Archdiocese, from which sulphuric smoke followed for Chicago. What the seminary hath sometimes wrought! O tempora, O mores. . .

    The seminary system of the Archdiocese of Chicago not long thereafter played a part for a year or so in the high school education of MTV personality and sex advice columnist Dan Savage, who later completed his apprenticeship in dorm speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (coincidentally, the alma mater of Hugh Hefner).

    (Let me add a disclaimer here that the fine faculty of Quigley Preparatory Seminary North, as it was then called in the early 1980s, were a stellar group who wouldn’t dream of planting into Mr. Savage’s head some of the things which have issued therefrom since. Ditto for the faculty at UIUC.)

    While every college dorm seems to have a guy like Mr. Savage, he has since brought dorm humor to the world in ways the world might not have imagined possible through the means of his sex advice column and television appearances. Mr. Savage writes the way some co-workers talk together privately on the job or some college students talk together in the dorm, in a coarse manner similar to the dialogue on the current popular cable TV show about New York firefighters, “Rescue Me.”

    This mode of speech represents the underside of American Catholic culture. It is the way many Americans, and many American Catholics–to the shock of our Baptist and Evangelical brethren and “sisteren”–do talk informally, so it speaks to American youth in a particularly powerful way because they think that this is the way that grownups really talk, which is to a certain degree unfortunately true. In part to counter this cultural phenomenon years ago, the Holy Name Societies were founded. I’m expecting Archbishop Timothy Dolan any day now to enlist members of the NYFD to re-up in the Holy Name Society en masse for this very reason.

    Mr. Savage differentiates himself from a marketing standpoint by including in this common mix of dorm speech his own variations in homosexual humor, which apparently help to keep the curious listening to him. He dispenses advice to the lovelorn by rather gleefully engaging in intimate sexual detail and pop pseudoscience, while also from time to time publicly hurling rather direct and violent threats and insults at those who anger him for various reasons.

    Dan Savage’s sometimes violent writing persona is usually not that present in his public presentations to students, where he displays more honey and less vinegar, to use the celebrated distinction of St. Francis de Sales. One reviewer called Mr. Savage a “cool uncle” after his September, 2011 UIC MTV taping. His target demographic appears to be teens and young adults who still drink that certain brand of beer and who are still struggling to make wisely-considered decisions.

    Mr. Savage’s knack for describing the same old sexual plumbing in hip, kaleidoscopic detail should not deceive: he is a sexual plumber who apparently loves his work, not an engineer who deeply understands it. Witness his dumb advice for couples to have affairs to spice up their relationships, trumpeted by the New York Times this past Summer of 2011 as if it was the first time human civilization had heard such a brilliant suggestion.

    (Reserved for further extended comment at another time: Dan Savage’s understanding of heterosexual intimacy is almost completely blind to the experience of committed, long-term bonding as experienced by the female, and of the complex role that hormones like oxytocin and other physical and psychological processes play therein. The pictures Dan Savage draws of female-male committed love are clumsy, sad cartoons crushed down by pathetic, strained adolescent slapstick. Like the writers of “Sex and the City,” Dan Savage from time to time superimposes a gay male paradigm on the female.

    If it’s any consolation, Mr. Savage is in good company. Michelangelo had a similar problem, in that, with the exception of masterpieces like the Pieta or the lovely image of Eve wrapped in the arm of the Creator in the Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel, many of the Master’s images of females appeared as “males with breasts.”)

    Mr. Savage gives the lighthearted secular version of the “sex talk” previously administered in Catholic circles by physicians like my great aunt to Catholic high school girls in the 1940s, by straightforward Jesuits like Francis Filas, SJ in the 1950s and 1960s, and by Catholic couples in the 1960s and thereafter of his parents’ generation, who, like his parents, would participate in Marriage Encounter or other Catholic family activities. Mr. Savage thus represents in a way the secularized terminus of this tradition.

    But Mr. Savage’s admirers or fellow activists rarely view Mr. Savage in a holistic, complete manner to the point of confronting the violence of his language. Dan Savage is on record for his scatological public threat in TV journalist Paula Zahn’s direction in 2006, and for his shared popularization of a new word for the refuse generated by anal intercourse rather spitefully assigned to former US Senator Rick Santorum in retribution for the Senator’s moral and political stances. This word is designed to appear prominently when the former Senator’s name is searched on the Internet. The Senator has been reported to be asking Google for relief from this prank, which has made Dan Savage a hero to those who can’t abide the former senator. Recently, Dan Savage stated in a televised appearance that he wanted to f___ the s____ out of Mr. Santorum. While it is possible to study anal intercourse in “granular” detail and speak as many words for offal as legend claims the Arctic clans possess for snow, such a feat buries itself in piles of its own insignificance.

    Again, just about every big college dorm has, and probably always will, have its own Dan Savage.

    After years of writing for newspapers handed away for free and appearing as an occasional TV talking head, Dan Savage reached national prominence and a White House invitation through his anti-bullying campaign designed also to assist LGBTQ youth, It Gets Better. I have already commented in an earlier blog on the incongruence of a writer with a history of violent language starting an anti-bullying campaign.

    Dan Savage’s anti-bullying campaign has allowed him to cross over from speaking at predominantly LGBTQ events to a more general audience. Mr. Savage has thus found his way into national magazines, television, and of course the college speaking circuit where he is currently touring and taping for MTV appearances in which he dispenses sexual advice in a live-question format. His MTV taping appearance at the UIC campus in September, 2011 was not well subscribed, and staff reportedly had to rope in passers-by, but the campus newspaper gave him the obligatory puff treatment, citing merely his “sarcasm” directed at certain politicians, since after all, he is a celebrity who brought MTV to the campus. In general, the college press has been very kind to Mr. Savage, and has downplayed the violence that bursts out in his writing and occasionally on TV.

    (The John Paul II Newman Center at UIC–not by any means asleep at the wheel–has like many other astute chaplaincies about the country caught on to Dan Savage. The JPII Center responded to Mr. Savage’s UIC campus appearance a few nights later with a talk to students by Dr. Ken Howell and JPII chaplains.)

    Mr. Savage’s promotional photos show him in his T-shirt as the familiar “jock” who may have just stepped out of his dorm or basketball court. Born in 1964 in the last year of the Baby Boom, he is 47. Like Dick Clark and Richard Roeper earlier and many other journalist-entertainer personalities who maintained the puer aeternus mystique as long as they could, Dan Savage works the youth media circuit. For this reason I predict that some day Dan Savage will host the New York New Year’s Eve celebration, and lead the countdown from 10 to 1. Valuing authenticity, I do not expect Dan Savage to wear a wig.

    I also predict that later in his career, when Dan Savage can bring only an ever smaller demographic to market, he may appear late at night squeezed in between Time-Life infomercials and old Dean Martin roast highlights, perhaps hawking his own Dan Savage brand of heaven knows what (ala Mel Brooks in the film “Spaceballs”: “Dan Savage, the lunch box. . . Dan Savage, the flamethrower”), with a cryogenic Hugh Hefner propped nearby leering his frozen endorsement from within a glass catafalque graced with frolicking images of girls he may have known, but not quite loved.

    While Dan Savage has pronounced his atheism from time to time, has made a gross comment about Pope Benedict XVI’s derriere in 2009, and has criticized the Canadian Catholic Bishops for their advice against anal sex in January, 2011, Dan Savage appeared again on the Catholic radar in the Fall, 2011 when his name was associated with a series of symposia entitled “More than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church” scheduled for Fall, 2011 at Fordham, Yale, and Fairfield universities, as well as Union Theological Seminary, where Mr. Savage is anticipated to speak on or about October 1, 2011.

    Former New York Times writer and former Commonweal Magazine editor Peter Steinfels, who happens to be Dan Savage’s first cousin once removed, was chosen to be the moderator of the 9/16/11 Fordham event, and shared his reflections on the first More than a Monologue symposium on the dotCommonweal blog. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president Bill Donohue issued a preemptive criticism of the symposia on 9/15/11, as did the Cardinal Newman Society a few days earlier.

    Peter Steinfels and I swapped exchanges on his blog from 9/23-9/25/11 on the violent and threatening nature of some of Dan Savage’s statements.

    Now that Mr. Savage has reached national prominence and a bigger MTV gig, his overriding fiduciary obligation will be to bring to MTV the demographic group both dumb enough to watch him and also dumb enough, perhaps, to drink the beer and purchase other products being advertised during his programs. Since human gestation continues to generate people under the age of 25 who haven’t yet learned to make considered decisions behind the wheel of life, and won’t switch away from the swill they’ve been drinking until they are about 29, his success in this regard is almost guaranteed. However, I said “almost,” because Mr. Savage appears to not be able to contain his clever and uproarious wit.

    (Here is a representative video vignette from Dan Savage’s presentations, containing his short comments on coming out to his mother within a Catholic context. Notable in the story is that the local priest rushed to the Savage home to calm Mrs. Savage down, and announced that he the priest was gay as well.

    The rest of the video clip branches to a discussion of a sex act not for younger or impressionable viewers. But the quick shift of topic and mood is revelatory. Seconds after a heartfelt comment about his mother and something of a plea for understanding from the Catholic side, Dan Savage breezily advises a young woman who cannot sustain satisfactory suction in a sex act for her boyfriend to enlist the help of a mechanical pump. While this may have been just another day at the office for “America’s leading sex advice columnist” Dan Savage, this rapid, sad segue from soulfulness to hedonism bespeaks spirits restless and lost.

    So tell me: To hear such a conflicted message was worth the Catholic Fairfield University to bus its students from Connecticut to New York for Mr. Savage’s appearance on 10/1/11?)

    Like the old joke about the University of Chicago of the 1950s, where once atheists and agnostics taught the Catholic philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas to Jewish students, Dan Savage’s MTV show features a homosexual giving sex advice to mostly heterosexuals so viewers will stay tuned and buy cars, beer, or consumer package goods, or CPGs (a B-school acronym). For this, Dan Savage will probably be handsomely paid, as long as he can keep the show going. He can then endow the charities and causes of his choice until his demographic dies off (or grows up) and his infomercials inhabit the late night hours into perpetuity.

    When I taught at Chicago’s St. Ignatius College Prep in the early 1980s, I taught Dan Savage’s generation of young Catholics roughly at the time of the discovery of HIV. I told my homosexual students that they were especially loved children of God. But I also taught all my students the Church’s teaching that sexual intimacy belongs for believing Catholics within a lifelong, marital, heterosexual relationship. To my former students and advisees who trusted to me their homosexual identification, I conveyed love and affirmation of their intrinsic capability for caring creativity on behalf of their family, friends, and the common good. I deeply regret that I did not more vigorously warn more of the young people whom I knew years ago away from anal intercourse, and share with them a more detailed vision of chastity, since now unfortunately, a few of them are dead. Any intimate action that requires a series of precautions against disease and injury is inevitably subject to error, and therefore inevitably subject to disease and injury.

    The message that the Catholic Church offers, that of a life of chastity, is seen by some, both heterosexual and homosexual alike, in the same spirit of the definitive poem on the subject of joy-killing clergy by the poet William Blake (1757-1827). This is the first document that I had my high school students read during sexual morality classes in the early 1980s:

    The Garden of Love

    I went to the Garden of Love,
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
    And `Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
    So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
    That so many sweet flowers bore,

    And I saw it was filled with graves,
    And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
    And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars my joys and desires.

    A Catholic response to the sentiments expressed above can be based upon the knowledge that, to the Catholic, the Garden of Love is not simply the Garden of Sex, but a much more broadly defined Garden of Love in the divine image.

    To some engaging in sexual love outside the bounds of Christian love, the Christian admonition to their sexual intimacy is: Stop, and find another way to love.

    This admonition is consistent with John 8:11: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”

    This admonition almost never goes over well initially, whether it is from John the Baptist telling Herod to stop sleeping with his brother’s wife (result, the Baptist dead), to St. John Fisher defending the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (result, St. John Fisher dead), to a parent advising a child not to cohabit prior to marriage, to a parent advising a child, “I love you and will always love you, but what you are proposing to do appears to be a sin that will harm you, to that sin I cannot agree, and I will continue to pray that you stop and find another way.”

    These are not easy words to either live by or to deliver.

    A number of writers, including the psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, MD, who unlike Dan Savage actually treated well over 1,000 college students, have pointed out that the same developmental forces that militate against young adults making sound decisions behind the wheel, militate against their making sound decisions about sexual intimacy.

    This means that parents and grandparents and other close relatives should continue to play a necessary role in the successful growth of young adults, contra to the 1960s existential ideal of the fully-equipped 18-year-old leaving home and substantive conversations with Mom and Dad forever. With this in mind, Dan Savage’s parting advice to a UIC student fell a little flat:

    “Someone will come along,” he said. “So much of love and relationship is kismet and chance. Your moment, and you will have many of them over your life, hasn’t come.

    “Just chill.”

    The Catholic parent’s message and the Catholic Church’s message to a young person contemplating sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage can be summed up as:

    “I love you, but I cannot consent to the damage that sin may do to you. Please stop and reconsider.”

    The Catholic call to conversion, heard long ago by St. Augustine when the little singsong voice called to him to tolle, lege, tolle, lege–take and read, take and read–has not changed in centuries:

    And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14

    Romans 13:11-14 calls upon believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and to leave the hedonism of orgies, drunkenness, promiscuity, licentiousness, rivalry, and jealousy–similar to the dorm lifestyle and dorm values prolonged in “alumni” singles districts in many major cities–for good.

    But if one decides to stay in the virtual moral dorm, Dan Savage’s advice is right there online or down the street in a free newspaper to tell how to keep having lots of mindless fun.

    The virtual moral dorm has important economic and political drivers with an interest in keeping young adults morally anesthetized and suspended without life commitments so they can remain ready, predictable consumers and contained within known and politically sure, manipulable boundaries.

    For that reason, today’s young adult generation is the most heavily marketed and propagandized in human history. Little do young adults know the extent to which almost every consumer choice they face has been pre-selected from afar by sellers of clothing, entertainment, consumer goods, transportation, and housing. Similarly, political manipulators work to ensure that the strong peer orientation of teens be prolonged as far into the future life of the young adult as possible, since this trait enables easier generational manipulation by any number of Internet and media-enhanced political efforts. Likewise, this generation of young adults, with the exception of a rare TV show like “7th Heaven,” has almost never seen an intact, heterosexual family within a traditional marriage depicted on television on a continuing basis.

    The humor that young adults consume has been infused with the presence of the unfortunate sitcom stereotype of the outrageous homosexual clown (which some day will be seen as inappropriate as the Stepin Fetchit character), who like the Shakespearean fool will say anything at any time to anybody. This generation of young adults has thus been carefully prepared to think that someone like Dan Savage, despite his lack of Shakespearean wit and artistry, is funny and entertaining. Because in his role as “America’s most popular sex advice columnist” Dan Savage brings together both consumer and political interests, his role as moral anesthetist and political agent temporarily has placed him in the cultural catbird seat–as long as those who like what he says don’t grow up.

    Against these powerful forces of manipulation, the Catholic faith provides an invitation to grow into the fullness of human possibility through a life that values and honors procreation and the human beings who grow from it.

    The Catholic message to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” does not include the incitement to violence, the permission to bully, or the rejection of personhood or integrity. It is a call to continue to grow and to love. It is in the highest sense a loving, parental duty. “To put on the Lord Jesus Christ” is the last thing postmodern parents are expected to say to their adult children, but it is in many cases both the true and right thing to say.

    It is also right to oppose violence toward youth. As contradictory as Dan Savage’s own violent speech and his anti-bullying campaign might be to each other, his opposition to violence toward youth is a Motherhood issue.

    But one cannot at the same time ignore the violent speech of Mr. Savage, proclaim it basically a joke with little consequence, and simultaneously assign to Catholic teaching the blame for violence against homosexual and transgendered individuals.

    Despite his periodic rejections of Catholicism, Dan Savage is in many ways embedded in Catholic culture. While this may be his brief, shining, public moment in terms of notoriety and success, his obvious talents and the powerful grace of God may lead him in other positive directions.

    There is an old Portuguese saying, in the Augustinian tradition, that God writes straight with crooked lines. Dan Savage’s violent speech may paradoxically and indirectly succeed now in revivifying the Holy Name Societies, provoke parents to teach their children that anal intercourse (whether for males or for females) is a bad thing, and cause a serious rejection of the work of Alfred Kinsey. But I also suspect that Dan Savage is capable of directly accomplishing a lot more good beyond the positive spin-offs of his anti-bullying efforts. This is worth a prayer or two.

    (Left for another time will be a comment on how the definition of bullying is being ideologically expanded to proscribe religious objections to homosexual sex acts. Without mentioning Mr. Savage by name, President Obama referred to Dan Savage’s anti-bullying campaign during his 10/1/11 speech to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading LGBTQ rights organizations. If you do not think that the US is headed toward the proscription of religious objections to homosexual sex acts as the laws are enforced in parts of Canada, watch the President’s speech and think again).

    Postscript:

    Fairfield University provided transportation for its students from CT to travel to NYC on 10/1/11 to hear Mr. Savage say, according to the blogs:

    “We have got to ignore the b___s___ in the Bible about gay people, just as we’ve learned to ignore what the b___s___ in the Bible have said about women, about polyester, about farming and about slavery. . . . ”

    “They can’t see past our homosexuality to see our shared and common humanity, which is hugely ironic considering how many those priests behind those pulpits are gay. . . . ”

    “For many LGBT people, faith is at once the affliction and the solution.”

    Here’s an account of Mr. Savage’s 10/1/11 Union Theological presentation from the Fairfield Mirror. When a complete video or text appears, I will update the above information.

    ====

    I hope that the “More than a Monologue” series does not become simply “Another Monologue” by those who disagree with the Catholic teaching on sexual intimacy. While some have noted that the Catholic ministry Courage is apparently missing from the symposia, I should add also that Chicago’s Emmaus Ministries (for male prostitutes) also is apparently not included. To those who claim that the Catholic Church ignores ministry to male prostitutes, it should be noted that Cardinal Francis George wrote the introduction to the book, Streetwalking with Jesus, by Emmaus Ministries founder Deacon John Green.

    One of initiators of the “More than a Monologue” series is Prof. Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, who has stated, “None of these conferences has as its agenda to attack the church’s teaching on homosexuality.” Prof. Lakeland is no longer a Jesuit, but is rather stern in his own way about certain teachings of Catholicism.

    In a Huffington Post article on 5/10/11, Prof. Lakeland made very clear his own differences with Catholic teaching on homosexuality:

    When the Church requires life-long celibacy of all people who are not heterosexual (the demand it makes of homosexuals who wish to participate fully in Church life), it imposes a sanction which is, in effect, the imposition of a life of less love and human relationship than is available to heterosexual Christians. A call to be less loving, body and soul, is a call to be less in the image and likeness of God.

    Sed contra, Prof. Lakeland. A call to chastity is to be more faithfully committed and loving with one’s sexuality, and a call to celibacy is to be more like unto Our Lord Himself. Why must we be afraid to heed God’s call to such perfection? Are not all Christians invited to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48)?

    To imply that one must be sexually active in order to be fully human denies the humanity of Christ himself, not to mention those who either have lived saintly celibate lives like the Little Flower, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (a saint who is herself a great help to the sexually afflicted), or those who have struggled alone with their sexuality through a long life like Michelangelo, but whose faith, art, and creativity transcended their suffering.

    Perhaps Michelangelo himself should be given a chance to speak on this very subject:

    At times, pure love may justly be equated
    With fervent hope; nor need it be deceived
    If by all human loves the heavens are grieved,
    Then to what end was the whole world created?

    If I indeed honor and love you, Lord,
    And if I burn, it is a heavenly calm
    That emanates from you and makes me warm;
    Such peace is far removed from all discord.

    True love is not a passion which can die,
    Or which depends on beauty that must fade;
    Nor is it subject to a changing face.

    That love is true and holy which finds place
    Within a modest heart, and which is made,
    Far above earth, a pledge of love on high.

    Sonnet LX(ii), from The Sonnets of Michelangelo, Translated by Elizabeth Jennings, 1970, Doubleday, NY, p. 97.

    Prof. Lakeland’s apparent teaching that one must be sexually active in order to be fully human is what I have called the “gospel according to Molly,” after Molly Bloom of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. This is an old, mistaken idea which swept through Catholic seminaries in the 1960s.

    Prof. Lakeland in 2008 on the H-Catholic listserv called Humanae Vitae and Mulieris Dignitatem “two of the most destructive of recent Catholic documents,” and cited the idea of “non-reception” of dogma, a recurrent theme in his work, which also invokes his own characteristic appeals to the sensus fidelium. In my response in July of 2008, I challenged his position.

    Here is a the text of my first reply to Prof. Lakeland:

    Editor’s Subject: H-Catholic: Reflections on Non-reception
    Author’s Subject: Reflections on Non-reception
    Date Written: Mon, July 7, 2008 7:44 pm
    Date Posted: Tue, 07 Jul 2008 21:59:46 -0400

    Colleague,

    The theory of non-reception has long intrigued me when it is invoked to justify withholding unpopular Christian teaching.

    If non-reception inevitably leads to “ecclesial irrelevance,” then what are we to make of–

    * “Love your enemies, forgive those who hurt you, bless those who persecute you. . . ”

    * “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. . . ”

    * “Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you shall have no life in you. . . ”

    * “He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. . . ”

    * And the one that Peter initially “non-received,” which earned him the “Get behind me, Satan” comment from Christ:

    “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. . . ”

    Each of these teachings has had a long history of non-reception among Christians and non-Christians alike. Does that make them “ecclesially irrelevant”? And if not, what is the difference between these controversial teachings above, and other controversial Church teachings?

    As Garry Wills noted in his 1978 book _Inventing America_, the US Bill of Rights, when parsed into survey questions, is often rejected on key points by large percentages the US population. In light of this, I struggle to understand what makes the theological theory of non-reception a persuasive idea.

    I have observed over the years arguments similar to Prof. Lakeland’s as transmitted to H-Catholic on 28 Jun 2008 07:59:48, “Better to let them [non-received teachings] die the death and make it easier for a future pope to unsay the damaging parts of them.” To argue in such a manner seems to counsel a norm of silence on unpopular Church teaching.

    I submit that there has been indeed a norm of silence among certain Catholic leaders on Humanae Vitae for more than a generation. I have observed this silence especially among the cohort recently passed of leading “labor priests,” who prior to their deaths became much more outspoken on the abortion question, while expressing some degree of regret for their roughly two to three decades of silence on it. They were, to a degree, conforming to a norm of silence, and to a degree for a time shared agreement with Prof. Lakeland’s apparent proposed norm of silence on un-received teaching. This phenomenon I began to describe as “The Stealth Church,” which through systematic patterns of silence attempted to nullify unpopular Church teaching.

    Two recent popes have now made Humanae Vitae a centerpiece of their teaching. It is being taught worldwide to tens of millions of persons through the new Catholic media. It will certainly remain a centerpiece of Catholic teaching beyond Prof. Lakeland’s generation. When I began teaching again in Catholic schools twenty-eight years ago, I re-read and accepted Humanae Vitae’s teaching, reflecting that if I were to teach in a Catholic school, I should teach the faith completely as it is officially taught, or not teach in a Catholic school. I stand by this teaching today.

    Forthright rejection of certain teachings in Humanae Vitae, such as those rejections as direct as those of Garry Wills, are rare among Catholic scholars. The stealthy answers, standing behind surveys and theories of non-reception as proxies, seem to me much more likely.

    . . . .

    I’m actually tempted to submit a paper on community life and urban development to the Notre Dame conference. But alas, administrative duties will probably stand in the way. . .

    Cordially, with All Rights Reserved,

    Albert J. Schorsch, III
    Chicago, IL

    You can read the complete exchange over the period 7/8-7/10/08 at the H-Catholic log.

    The current collision of Prof. Lakeland, Peter Steinfels, and the topic of Dan Savage in Commonweal Magazine Internet space may represent something else: that Dan Savage also may mark the logical cultural terminus of the “Commonweal Catholic,” who rejects many of the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, and who, based on social justice claims, attempts to inhabit a position of moral superiority and exceptionalism within a Catholic Church he or she in fundamental ways rejects.

    ====

    Below, in case they are some day erased, are my side of the postings to the Peter Steinfels blog at dot.Commonweal:

    Albert Schorsch, III 09/23/2011 – 3:04 am

    Perhaps readers might consider the record of violent and threatening language invoked by Dan Savage before praising his wit. For some documentation, please see my post at–
    http://sanityandsocialjustice.net/?p=4025

    In Christ,
    Albert Schorsch, III
    Chicago, IL

    Albert Schorsch, III 09/23/2011 – 10:39 am

    Left out of the response above to Dan Savage’s statement “And I will personally track down and s_____ in the mouth of the next cable-news anchor” was his statement, “Consider yourself warned, Paula Zahn.—Dan.”

    Understanding rage is one thing, but naming a specific individual in print after expressing the intent to track down and commit a very defiling form of battery upon another, is by any standard a violent threat. There are plenty of other examples of violent and threatening language directed at individuals in Mr. Savage’s statements, a few of which I documented in the blog previously referenced, including his recently broadcast statement that he wanted to “f___ the s___” out of a former US senator. This former senator BTW did not take it as a joke.

    In Christ,

    Albert Schorsch, III
    Chicago, IL
    All Rights Reserved

    Albert Schorsch, III 09/24/2011 – 2:44 am

    Agreed that LBGT voices must be heard in the Church. The academy, including the Catholic academy, is one place to listen and to share. No argument there. But there is no way to square the circle and urbanely bracket Dan Savage without confronting publicly and directly the violence of his language. This violence must be openly, clearly, and unequivocally repudiated if useful dialogue is to continue. This violent speech does not belong in the academy, nor in public discourse. This violent and outrageous speech may just be witty schtick now to Cousin Dan, but violent and threatening speech such as his is destructive also to the cause of LBGT. Mr. Savage might consider beginning his Retractations, and do a little 12 Step to get off the violent language thing. It would certainly help the credibility of his anti-bullying campaign. (I’ll reserve the rest of my comments to my own blog at another time.)

    In Christ,

    Albert Schorsch, III
    Chicago, IL
    All Rights Reserved

    Albert Schorsch, III 09/25/2011 – 1:14 am

    Peter,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I want you to understand my intent, so I lay down my barbs, and regret the one directed to you above in the form of the words “Cousin Dan.”

    I have contemplated long and hard and have also written about the Christian duty to “disarm the aggressor”: “The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm (CCC 2265).” While these words are written about the duty of the state, we each play a part in achieving this common good.

    While Dan Savage your cousin has proclaimed his atheism from time to time, you know him personally, and I do not. I began to pray for him a few weeks ago, because his celebrity has catapulted him beyond the stage of a naughty niche sex advice columnist in newspapers handed out for free, and an occasional TV talking head, to a cultural figure known to tens of millions, whose every word–ever–would be scrutinized, and who very likely will be cauterized in the process because of his–at best–careless bandying of violent language. But this violent language must be opposed, and, if you will, actively “disarmed,” because of the threat that such language poses to the common good. Dan Savage, after all, speaks to millions of teens and young adults.

    I have come to the position that each Christian has an immediate, positive duty to speak out and act against unjust aggression within our own frame of influence, sooner rather than later. I regret not taking a much firmer and public stand when I first read Dan Savage’s violent words several years ago. So I have recently been making others aware of Dan Savage’s violent and threatening language in the hope that this language would not enter the heart of our culture, but remain forever recognized as disrespectful to human dignity.

    It is rather sad, that–like Reynold Hillenbrand, George Higgins, Ed Marciniak, John J. Egan, Commonweal’s James O’Gara, all the way to EWTN’s Mitch Pacwa, SJ–Dan Savage was for a time a “Quigley boy,” an attendee at Chicago’s now former minor seminary. What is sad is that if the wisdom of our Faith were embraced by Dan Savage, he would not say the violent things he continues to say.

    You and I have most likely not had the pleasure of meeting, but I did meet your spouse Margaret a few decades ago in Chicago when she was promoting Commonweal. We share, I believe, Eugene Kennedy as a teacher. I have major differences on life and other issues with Commonweal, and I ceased for those reasons to support Commonweal as an institution long ago after years of regular readership. So we can thank the Internet, or perhaps more than the Internet, that I found your blog when I searched for “Dan Savage Catholic.”

    “Dan Savage Catholic” is a rather good prayer, so I’ll leave it there.

    (I’ll have more to say about this at my own blog when time permits.)

    In Christ,

    Albert Schorsch, III
    Chicago, IL
    All Rights Reserved

    © Copyright 2008, 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
    All Rights Reserved

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    Film: Demographic Bomb

    Friday, January 28th, 2011

    The widespread belief in the threat of overpopulation is often more firmly held than religious faith, and persists throughout the developed world.

    This belief has shifted across several elites in society over recent centuries, from the pious powerful seeking to eliminate the undeserving poor, to the progressives seeking to engineer a better society, to the eugenicists and their negative mirror image (and their sometime friends) the associated fanatics seeking to eliminate the weak and to grow a master race, to environmental idealists wishing to erase the human footprint from the earth, to enlightened and wealthy postmoderns seeking to incrementally reduce the sources of social dissonance as they shape a society to suit their fanciful self-image or their charitable foundation’s flavor of the week.

    To all of these, the following film will come as something of a shock.

    The 2009 film Demographic Bomb ran on EWTN on the evening of 1/26/11.

    Demographic Bomb, written and directed by Rick Stout, who co-produced the film with Barry McLerran, includes top thinkers including Nobel Economics laureate Gary S. Becker of the University of Chicago, USC demographer and planning professor Dowell Myers, Columbia U. historian Matthew James Connelly, as well as partisans on opposing sides of the population debate such as Paul R. Ehrlich, the original author of The Population Bomb, and Nicholas Eberstadt.

    The film’s most telling point from the standpoint of economic science was made by Prof. Becker, who cited Adam Smith’s insight that prosperity was associated with growing population, while declines in population were associated with declines in prosperity.

    Indeed, the economic organization of our society is based upon the assumption of continued population growth. The outnumbering of the young by the old, which is implied by declining birth rates, places a great burden on the young, and can lead to economic decline. This is one of the basic arguments of the film, which notes a demographic trend underlying declines in real estate markets, where fewer buyers follow to acquire the homes built by the Baby Boom generation. This reduction in demand leads to declines in value, and thus also leads to economic decline.

    Those political and social activists who believe that an economy can be legislated or regulated into existence might as well be trying to legislate the weather and the force of gravity. Underlying every economy are its markets. Underlying these markets are demographic forces, and underlying these demographic forces are tangible resources found in the land, the air, and the seas. Without exception, the underlying market, demographic, and physical forces eventually erupt and overcome foolish efforts to shape society that do not effectively acknowledge and harmonize with the powers of these underlying realities.

    Demographic Bomb, the second film in a series preceded by Demographic Winter, lets the experts speak in their own words, but firmly draws its own conclusions that population decline, forced by misguided governments and organizations, is hurtful to human society.

    Here is the trailer for Demographic Bomb.

    Here is the trailer for Demographic Winter.

    Please see my earlier post on the work of Prof. Dowell Myers for the importance of the advancement of immigrants to economic development.

    © Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
    All Rights Reserved

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    UIC out of the CIC — Good for the State of Illinois? Good for the other States?

    Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

    (An edited version of what I shared with university colleagues on 1/10/11. The University of Illinois at Chicago has been notified that its guest membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation will be terminated at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.)

    Colleague,

    Some important points about CIC–

    CIC guest membership for UIC functions to allow the University of Illinois as a whole to be on a par with other CIC members with medical center campuses, in that the medical center and health sciences of the University of Illinois are thereby included in CIC consortium activities and resources.

    Without CIC membership for UIC, the medical center and health sciences of the University of Illinois may not have full access to CIC resources, and the University of Illinois would be in that major sense only a partial member of CIC. Whether the UIC Library of the Health Sciences would have the same panoply of resources without CIC is an important question. It is also questionable whether such a “no CIC for UIC” arrangement would be good for the State of Illinois.

    In a given year, UIC’s total grants and contracts expenditures exceed or are on a par with U. Iowa, or U. Chicago, or all campuses of U. Nebraska combined. UIC qualifies as a RU/VH (Research University, Very High Activity; formerly “Research I”) under the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classification system.

    The CIC arose during the period 1956-1958 at a time of several football scandals, during which many universities were accused of being “football factories.” CIC’s founding in 1958 can also be viewed as a response to the 1957 R&D challenge of Sputnik. The CIC collaboration positioned the Big 10 schools to better compete with the U. California system, with the Ivy League, and with the surging Texas universities for the funding coming for Big Science after Sputnik. The CIC also provided the Big 10 schools with the ability, like California already had, to develop a leadership pool from among the faculty, not to mention the advantages for libraries, student off-campus scholar studies, etc.

    The CIC therefore had at least a dual function, as an academic “fig leaf” to protect against domination by the sports enterprise (a major portion of the economy of a college town), and as a competitive consortium to seek federal and other funding while building intellectual and organizational capacity.

    But today it is unclear from the CIC website what the CIC’s mission actually is, other than being the Big 10’s “academic counterpart.”

    One might observe that there is a lot of unrealized potential in the CIC. It does appear to need a better defined sense of mission. If this mission were specifically established to advance higher education, research, and thereby economic development in the participating states, then clearly, all RU/VH universities within the participating states would have to be included in order to build the maximum capacity.

    In 1984, the CIC actually attempted to take the lead in establishing a regional industrial policy for the Midwest, per an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on 6/10/84 by Allen Batteau, then acting assistant director of CIC. Shouldn’t the CIC return to an economic development function for its states, especially in this time of economic trial? Don’t we need the _maximum_ research capacity of each state to work collaboratively to do that?

    One might propose that CIC membership include those universities in the state systems which have reached status of RU/VH, Research University/Very High Activity, as UIC has. This would rule out U. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but might include Wayne State University, which is an RU/VH as well. Wouldn’t that also be good for the _state_ of Michigan?

    If the CIC is a club that is really, deep down, a sports club, then, by “club” logic, out UIC goes, and out stays Wayne State. It is tempting to use other sports analogies, in which the big kids don’t want all their little kid brothers and sisters to play either.

    But if research, higher education, extension services, and especially R&D-based economic development within the participating states really do matter to the CIC, then with a better-defined sense of mission, the CIC might give the participating states and universities something of the advantage that the University of California system has (or used to have).

    In the present economic development and R&D context, removing UIC from the CIC takes roughly 5% of the research capacity of the CIC off the top, and that doesn’t make any sense from the standpoint of building public goods. Adding Nebraska, Lincoln in doesn’t make up the difference–unless one includes all the Nebraska campuses in the CIC, which did not happen.

    If the CIC is about research, academic collaboration, and R&D-based economic development to benefit the participating states, as one might think it should be, then UIC’s CIC membership allows the University of Illinois to fully participate in membership along with other CIC members with medical center campuses, and also benefits the CIC, in that it helps the CIC build maximum capacity. Although this might be temporarily inconvenient perhaps for the _universities_ of Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin, this would be good for the State of Illinois. And in the long run, wouldn’t it be good for all participating _states_ as well?

    So my question is, how is the removal of UIC from the CIC _good_ for the State of Illinois, and in the end for the other participating states? And aren’t these the most important questions we should be asking about CIC?

    ===

    From my earlier internal campus post on the CIC from 12/24/10–

    I can give one example of the benefits of CIC membership for UIC. Several years ago, UIC participated with Northwestern and the University of Chicago in the federal NSF grant to get the Chicago Census Research Data Center set up at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

    This center gives researchers access to confidential census data under controlled conditions, and has allowed UIC researchers to combine other data sets with confidential census data to embark on significant studies. Due to the complexity of urban and regional problems, access to such data is critical for addressing fundamental questions about public policy and quality of life.

    The CIC cooperative networks helped pave the way for the inter-university cooperation leading up to the Chicago RDC, if I’m not mistaken. I recall that Profs. Dick Campbell and Barry Chiswick were among participants in the discussions leading up to the foundation of the Chicago RDC, and that I represented CUPPA. My apologies for not remembering the names of all the many colleagues from several UIC colleges who participated in the discussions back in 2002-3 on this project. (Interesting that the University of Illinois is credited on the Chicago RDC website, since the Chicago campus, UIC, took the initiative on the foundation of the Chicago RDC.)

    Here is more background on UIC’s involvement in the foundation of the Chicago RDC.

    BTW, not enough of our colleagues at the University know about the resources available at the Chicago RDC, despite UIC’s role in its foundation!

    So yes, CIC membership matters big time.

    ===

    Some background on CIC.

    On why Nebraska president thinks CIC matters.

    On CIC in general.

    © Copyright 2011, Albert J. Schorsch, III
    All Rights Reserved

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