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Editor's Note - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:25 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

Dear Reader,

I hope you don’t mind reading, because this issue will have plenty of it. There are only four pictures among the seven articles. I hope you don’t miss any more.

If you recall, our first issue this year had only three “staff writers” (do note, however, that students in editorial positions also frequently write for the Review). We’ve been blessed to have three new staff writers join our team, and I suspect that more are to follow; some articles are already even set in the docket for our January issue. In other words? We’re going to more than double our writing staff.

It is for that reason that I hope you don’t mind some hefty reading. This issue is packed to the brim, between writers new and old—two first-year students and one sophomore have joined the mix: Mr. Pietro, Mr. Buck, and Ms. George—but quality has in no way been sacrificed. Mr. Pietro’s thorough research, as reflected in the sources at the end of his article “Fooling Ourselves: A Dragon in Disguise”, is a credit to his work’s certain merit. Mr. Buck and Ms. George, who collaborated on “The Summit’s Not It,” graciously gave me several hours out of one night’s evening for a lengthy discussion and session of editing. I hope that all three of these enterprising young students are proud of their work, because I am proud to include them on our team.

Our older writers, moreover, are just as capable as ever. Mr. Smith returns for political commentary, Mr. Rosenwinkel for a decidedly amusing piece of satire, and Mr. Dooley for an enlightening discussion on our motivations and humility. Mr. Buzzard ties up the issue nicely with a literary analysis of A Christmas Carol. Whether I am also a capable writer? Debatable.

By the time you receive this issue, Advent will have already begun. Be sure to use it properly: for excitement, joy, hope and peace as you prepare for Christ’s coming on December 25th. We at the Fenwick Review are sometimes rabble-rousers, so although I encourage you to enjoy all of our squabbling, flamboyancy, and perhaps excessiveness in the coming pages, please make sure to leave time for Advent to be Advent.

When Christmas is over, we’ll still be here, though. I look forward to seeing you then.

 

Have a wonderfully merry Christmas,

Michael Raheb

Editor-in-Chief

Be Careful What You Sign For - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:21 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

by Michael Raheb ‘20

On November 16th, 2018, the College of the Holy Cross held a rather spontaneous discussion called the “ENGAGE Summit.” The Summit was, essentially, a horribly unfocused amalgam of “talks” and various other events – some extremely well-attended, some not – which circled campus issues like sexual assault, racism, the experiences of foreign exchange students, and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community on this campus. While the 40-or-so events were, for the most part, facilitated by well-intentioned faculty members and students, none of the student body here at the College has been completely satisfied. The Summit’s preparation, content, and follow-up have been lackluster or incomplete.

Many expect that the Summit was a quickly-contrived coverup to preserve the College’s reputation after the explosion of followers on the “Sexual Assault On The Hill” Instagram account. The account, which first posted on November 5th, cites its purpose in a brief biography: “*TRIGGER WARNING* Our community doesn’t think sexual assault is real. Make your voice and/or story heard ANONYMOUSLY below. This is your platform.” Beneath the biography is a clickable link to a Google Form, on which survivors of sexual assault can voice their experiences or ideas about Holy Cross’ treatment of assault. The moderators of the Instagram, at their discretion, post these stories on the profile. As is mentioned in the account’s biography, the stories are anonymous; no names or emails of submitters are recorded, and the account cannot respond to any submitted requests without contact information also being provided. At the current moment (November 28th) “Sexual Assault On The Hill” has over 3,600 followers and 97 posts. Yet despite its popularity, “Sexual Assault On The Hill” has made questionable decisions with its recent petition.

Here I must digress. To whomever has just read my thesis: if you are a student (and, therefore, likely to support the Instagram account), please refrain from thinking that I intend to use this piece to denigrate the intentions of “Sexual Assault On The Hill.” I agree that sexual assault is reprehensible, violates a person’s dignity and rights, and should be entirely purged from this campus. For that reason, I appreciate the Instagram’s endeavor. It has been markedly successful in promoting discussion. I am also inclined to believe the stories of assault, which are typically posted in vivid detail. However, due to the account’s lack of transparency in its recent list of demands, I hesitate to provide my full support.

For the most part, the account’s decisions, even in the face of administrative action, have been prudent. On November 9th, “Sexual Assault On The Hill” published a letter which began with: “After receiving a cease and desist letter from a college-affiliated sports team and obtaining our own legal advice, we have come to the conclusion that, to maintain the integrity of this space, we will no longer name specific teams on this account.” A rash of frustrated students blistered the surface of the ENGAGE Summit a week later. Many complained that the men’s athletic teams promote rape culture, so they should have come to the Summit on mandated attendance. (Whether these teams, or members thereof, were or were not present at the Summit’s sessions is unknown. The football team, however, was at a game at Georgetown.)

The cease-and-desist sent down from College higherups, at first glance, seems like a classic case of student censorship. Young women and men, who could finally muster up the courage to give testimony to their assault, even be it anonymously, would be silenced. The end of “Sexual Assault On The Hill” would mean the end of a greater community discussion about sexual assault – that is, unless the letter’s content were made public, in which case the student body’s dissent against the administrator who sent it might be even greater. Since the content of the cease-and-desist has not been released, however, a judgement as to its justifiability or lack thereof cannot be made. (The Review contacted the Instagram to request information about the cease-and-desist letter over a week prior to the date of this article, but received no response). The letter could feasibly have been a polite request to protect individual student reputations. If a student with a vendetta against an athlete on the football team, for example, decided to post a false assault story to the account, the football team’s members could be viewed with unfair scrutiny. The Instagram’s decision to “maintain the integrity of this space” and (later in their statement about the cease-and-desist) “note again that we are not anti-athletes; not every member on teams or other student oriented organizations mentioned is an assaulter” was thus an apt decision. In regard to the cease-and-desist, “Sexual Assault On The Hill” did nothing wrong. The argument from various students for mandatory athlete attendance to the Summit, however – when most students were unrequired to attend – seems not to acknowledge that “not every member on teams... is an assaulter”.

On to the present, then. On November 26th, 2018, the Instagram published a compiled “list of demands for the administration based on your (the anonymous community’s) suggestions.” As of the date of this article, upwards of 470 signatures have been added to the end of the list. The demands include such efforts as providing a comprehensive report of all sexual assault incidents since December 2015, independent parties for investigating sexual assault, information about dismissing students and faculty on accusations of assault, and several other changes to administration. To view the demands, the list is accessible via the account’s Instagram biography.

Whether or not the demands are viable and should be put into effect (some may take issue with number 5, which demands a stance staunchly against Betsy DeVos’ proposed Title IX amendment that the accused be able to cross-examine the accuser) is a matter of opinion. One issue is more pressing: the moderators of the “Sexual Assault On The Hill” page have made changes to their petition of demands, without documented public notification, after students and faculty have already signed their names.

On the morning of November 27th, the first entry on the list demanded a comprehensive report (including results of cases) of all reported sexual assaults since December 2015. The final part of said entry requested that “this report conveys how many cases the Title IX office is currently judicating. We (presumably the petitioning members) expect this report by the end of the fall 2018 semester.” On the morning of November 28th, the entry had been amended to request also that the “report include the Title IX office’s budget and what its funding allocation is.” The date of expectation was also changed to January 20th, 2019. The seventh entry, which ended with “We demand transparency on these (Title IX) management plans, including the funding aspect” was also significantly emended. The November 28th edition extended that concluding line to a seven-line statement about how the Instagram’s popularity indicates that Title IX might be overstretched and under-resourced; thereby, it might require an additional staff member or office.

The content of the demands, frankly, is not much different than before. Most, if not all, petitioners would likely keep their names on the document in light of the changes. The lack of transparency, however – despite posting stories and updates, “Sexual Assault On The Hill” has still not made a public announcement of the changes to the demands – is troubling. When students and faculty add their names to a petition, they sign their assent to all the document’s demands, questions, and ideals. If the petition is edited after their signage, is their assent still valid? What of those who would wish to pull their names from the signature list if the content is changed? Without information, how can they make an informed decision? Most glaring is that nothing prevents the account’s anonymous moderators, under such circumstances, from making more drastic changes without informing their signers.

Only a few hours prior to this article, the Instagram posted another update asking to “spread the word” and that the “demands will be submitted 12/3 at 6PM.” I hope that the signers don’t mind the changes. 

The Summit's Not It - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:20 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:22 PM ]

by Marisa George ’21 and Andrew Buck ‘22

Well-intentioned and confused. What else is there to say about November 16th’s  ENGAGE Summit?

Late in October, the Holy Cross community received various emails regarding a hate crime on campus. Public Safety explained: “...a Holy Cross student reported an aggravated assault & battery motivated by bias (sexual orientation) that occurred on campus between Clark Hall and Brooks-Mulledy Hall on October 27 between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. The incident has been reported to DPS.” Responses from Dean Murray, President Boroughs, and other officials on campus condemned and expressed grief over the tragic event.

In response, a petition, which began in an English class, was dispersed to all members of the Holy Cross community (student, faculty, and alumni alike) by groups such as Pride, individual members of the faculty, staff, and student body, and the English Department itself. The petition called to “...cancel classes, athletics, and all extra-curricular events for a day. Or several days. Or a week. In place of these we would hold teach-ins, vigils, (and) community conversations.” Professor Leah Cohen of the English Department said that she would deliver the petition to Father Boroughs on November 8th, having garnered roughly 1000 signatures from faculty, staff, alumni, and students. The next day, November 9th, Father Boroughs sent out an email inviting the Holy Cross community to the ENGAGE Summit, which would  “...direct our collective attention to a conversation and exploration of our culture at Holy Cross and the steps we need to take to build a community that supports and celebrates all its members.” He further expounded that “This will be an important first step, but not the only step, in addressing issues of respect and inclusion on our campus.” The conclusion was to cancel classes and extracurriculars on the afternoon of Friday the 16th, then hold the Summit in their place.

The Summit’s sessions viewed inclusion (otherwise known, in most cases, as tolerance) and respect as complete, unquestionable agreement with and affirmation of another group, regardless of ideology. We, however, believe that tolerance does not necessitate agreement; rather, it entails a sort of unconditional respect for another person, regardless of his ideas. Every person has equal dignity, and we should act in a way that befits it. When you notice our encouragement of tolerance and respect later in this article, please note that we disassociate ourselves with the Summit’s definitions.

Students and faculty were encouraged to conceive of and facilitate various sessions addressing concerns with tolerance and respect within the community. Planning was limited, with merely a week to organize events. While the initial petition focused on the hate crime that occurred on campus, the untimeliness and lack of clear information as to its purpose threw the whole Summit into a bewildering muddle. When the list of events was distributed via email, confusion as to their variety grew: the first two main “sessions,” which each lasted for an hour, had about twenty optional events each. Each event lasted for the full hour. Talks would be held concerning women’s issues, Title IX, race, spirituality, international students, masculinity, etc. The third (and final) Summit session in Kimball was to tie together and address all these issues as the entire Holy Cross community. Due to that sheer quantity, questions started buzzing about what exactly the Summit was for. Many thought it was a reaction to the LGBT assault. Some, however, held it was also in response to the culture of sexual assault on campus or even in reaction to the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

However, when too many issues are addressed simultaneously, they must be watered down in order to assure that each receives equal consideration. In the attempt to solve every pressing issue, no issue receives the community’s undivided attention. The result is further division, which forces individuals to choose and prioritize certain issues based on their personal grievances. Such was the case with the Summit. With such a great diversity and quantity of events, the students who attended chose whichever ones appealed to them most personally. The profusion of topics led to fewer good ideas focused on a single campus-wide issue (such as sexual violence or racial discrimination, for example), and left the community with confused concepts of “progress.” As expressed by Father Boroughs, the Summit was to be the first step towards progress. Due to the conflation of issues, however, we students have no clue where this next step should or will go. (In fact, in over a week, there has been no follow-up email from the College’s administration.)

If we are to progress as a community, we, as students, alumni, faculty, and staff, must work together and strive for that “next step” without any further division. Efforts such as the Summit, however, create three separate communities: the involved, the indifferent, and the dissenters. The involved members have supported the cause since the beginning. They believed that an event such as the ENGAGE Summit is the correct response to any relevant issue. Because of their concerns, the involved were the most educated before the Summit and the most active during. The indifferent, on the other hand, had no bias either way. They were encouraged to shirk their disinterest and become advocates for the involved, so although they had no strong desire to participate, some attended, while some did not. Finally, the dissenters can be divided into two subgroups: those who believe issues shouldn’t be handled in the manner they were, and those whom the Summit was meant to address. The latter group includes, for the most part, assaulters — whether that be on sexual or physical grounds, such as whoever instigated the “aggravated assault & battery motivated by bias.”

The dissenters, regardless of the aforementioned subgroups, were expected to change sides, realize the “error of their ways,” and convert. They were not excluded, per se, but why would someone who disagrees with the Summit’s ideals even bother to attend at all? While the event claimed to center around open discussion, it appeared more like an opportunity for the involved to vent and strengthen the beliefs they already had. You can’t expect that spewing ideals at someone who disagrees with you will magically cause him to change his ways. To teach someone to love, you must love him. To prompt someone to become respectful and tolerant, he must see that we believe and support respect and tolerance. We must all act as guides, not lecturers. The issue of guidance furthers the problems with the Summit’s multiplicity of events. We cannot guide, much less expect the dissenters to follow, through a maze of topics. Simple, focused efforts of love and guidance are the only way to promote tolerance and respect.

This is why we two writers are dissenters of the Summit — part of the subgroup that believes issues should have been handled in a different manner, but dissenters nonetheless. Although we acknowledge the Summit’s good intentions, we do not believe this is the first step, by any means, to bettering our community. We are not denying the presence of any issues. However, we are denying the Summit’s effectiveness. Further, the Summit, as a formulaic “Tolerance 101,” sent down by the administration and its ideological cronies, interferes with the already natural and (mostly) tolerant community we have on campus. Improvement must come, willingly and enthusiastically, from individuals able to properly guide the outliers towards tolerance and respect.

The Summit’s efforts engaged 1200-1500 members of the community, according to the SGA Instagram, which is an underwhelming percentage when considering all the student body, faculty, staff, and alumni. Thus, it does indeed reflect the exclusion of those who needed it most. Of these participants, how many were coerced by extra-credit or mandatory attendance from professors? How many were able to actually learn and develop as members of the community? How many were the dissenters whose disrespect must be addressed?

We don’t believe in hate. We don’t condone violence. We support tolerance. We support respect. But we cannot support the Summit. We believe action must be taken to confront these issues by focused, individual guidance, not a plethora of “talks.” Instead, it is our responsibility as guides to spread love and tolerance, respect individuals, and better the world around us.

Election Season 2018: Wrapping up the Midterms - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:19 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:22 PM ]

by Cameron Smith ‘20

With the 2018 Midterm elections behind us and most of the races called, we can now officially say that the elections went about as well as they feasibly could have for Republicans. As of Wednesday of election week, the Democrats have gained twenty-seven seats in the house, taking the majority, but only barely, guaranteeing themselves a majority by only two seats. There are still twenty-three Congressional races that have yet to be called as of this article’s writing, but a majority of those races are likely to go the way of Republican candidates. Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Republicans have managed to pick up two additional seats, with three races still not called. This has clearly put an end to the predictions of the massive ‘blue wave’ that would occur as a referendum on the President, which is a crushing blow to those on the political left and a cause for celebration for those on the political right.

This election turned out to be a very important victory for Trump and the Republican Party, as they managed to eek out several wins in close races, such as the Senate race in Texas, in tightly contested states. With close races like these going the Republicans’ way, it manages to give a decent sense of the direction in which the country is leaning in the current political climate. With Trump and his party winning some of these close races while also strengthening their red strongholds throughout the nation, Trump is sitting pretty moving into the second half of his first term as president. He managed to get his voter base energized and ready to go to the polls on Election Day, win key races, and solidify the Republican Party as being under his lead.

One of the biggest stories of the election is the change made from the Republican Party to fully become President Donald Trump’s party. President Trump’s popularity was a massive factor in many of the Republican wins in this election cycle. While most midterm elections, especially those taking place in a President’s first term in office, are generally considered to be a referendum on the President, the results did not tell the same story as most members of the political left were telling. With Trump likely conceding only a single-digit lead in the House for the Democrats, he took a much smaller loss than Obama did during his first midterm elections, when he and the Democratic Party lost sixty-three seats in Congress. With President Trump’s approval rating steadily rising in the period of time leading up to the midterms, the results are a good omen for Republicans in terms of reelection hopes in Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

       Lastly, another big change that has become more apparent during this election cycle is the growth of the radical movement on the left. With candidates such as Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez winning in her New York congressional race, a new age of far-left liberalism has come to the forefront of American politics. Whether or not this ideology will hold and continue to get stronger is not yet clear, but it does show that the left in particular will not just have difficulties deciding the party leadership, but may also have a large amount of inter-party struggle as the Democrats deal with these newcomers who are even more radical. If this continues to be a trend, the Republicans may continue to gain more and more control as time goes on, as a majority of people, even on the left, are against many of the ideas that candidates such as Ocasio-Cortez bring forth. This will be another driving force behind Republican voter enthusiasm in the future, and will potentially give the Republican Party an even bigger advantage moving forward.

The midterm elections this year can serve as a relatively accurate compass to predict the direction in which future elections will go, particularly those in 2020. With the Democrats only picking up a small majority in the House and with the Republicans picking up seats in the Senate, the Republicans, barring a massive controversy surrounding the Trump administration that leads to impeachable offenses, should come out even stronger in the 2020 cycle. Granted, this is based on the assumption that the economy will continue to be strong during the remainder of Trump’s term in office and that he can continue to rile up his voter base, but more likely than not, these factors will remain the same. Given these factors, it is incredibly likely that the Republicans manage to take all three major branches of government (the House, the Senate, and the Presidency) again in the 2020 election cycle, just as they did previously in 2016.

So what does this mean overall? Well, this midterm election cycle turned out to be a big victory for President Trump and Republicans, not for just the next two years but for future election cycles as well. Although they lost the majority in the house, Republicans took many fewer losses in House seats and even picked up seats in the Senate. With Trump and his party winning quite a few close races while also strengthening their red strongholds throughout the nation, Trump managed to get his voter base energized and ready to go to the polls on Election Day, win key races, and solidify the Republican Party as being under his lead. With more radical candidates and seat holders on the left coming into prominence, Republicans should be able to get more voter turnout in future elections. With the Democrats only picking up a small majority in the House and with the Republicans picking up seats in the Senate, the Republicans should come out even stronger in the 2020 cycle.

What I Learned from the Feminist Forum - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:18 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:23 PM ]

by James Dooley ‘20

Dialogue. A noble ideal. We participate in dialogue so that we can become better people. Here at Holy Cross, we pride ourselves on being able to address controversial topics boldly. In my three years as a student here, however, I’ve noticed that what is labeled as “dialogue” is all too often one voice in many different tones. In fact, it’s truly rare to hear an outright disagreement on campus. As a philosophy major, forbidden dinner topics – divisive politics, religion, and morality – are kind of my “thing”; I crave disagreement, controversial opinions, and “hot takes.” Here at Holy Cross, we seem to proudly find common ground in our aversion towards acknowledging a conflict of opinions. Like-minded folks merely get together and express things which they all already agree with. Agreement is fine, but it is most certainly not dialogue, and we shouldn’t pawn it off as part of our “open to growth” Jesuit identity. There can be no dialogue without dissenting voices, and here at Holy Cross, where we always remind ourselves that we are so divided, one must ask: where are the dissenting voices? Why is nobody arguing?

There can be no community-wide dialogue if we are not open to opposition; one’s mind must not be permanently fixed. In this way, the conversation begins within the individual. One must allow for the possibility of dissent and doubt within oneself.

A recent event made me aware of this. Holy Cross’s own Feminist Forum and Students for Life co-hosted a discussion of abortion and feminism, and the dialogue proved to be organic and engaging, a breath of fresh air unstifled by the presence of a moderator. I’m not quite sure if any common ground was found, and people’s opinions on abortion, in all likelihood, stayed the same. Nevertheless, this experience made me aware of something that I believe can be used to help cultivate authentic and engaging debate between legitimately opposing viewpoints.

It all started with some honest introspection. After the Students for Life-Feminist Forum discussion, I reflected on how I speak differently when addressing pro-life and pro-choice people despite talking about the same thing: my views on abortion. The change in my style of speech, dependent on whether my company is in agreement or opposition, forced me to wonder about my motives for speaking at all. What was I trying to hide that would make me change the way I presented my views?

Upon reflection, it turns out that a lot of my reasons aren’t as pure as I would like to admit. Take my pro-life views for example. I’m pro-life because I believe that the taking of innocent human life through abortion is bad, and I firmly believe that there are better ways to help women in pregnancy crises – ways that hold up our society’s commitment to equality and justice. This motivation to serve women and children is all well and good, and it’s something I’m proud to profess. However, if I look within, I know that my commitment to love is not the only thing that drives me. My pro-life views are all-too-often hijacked by less generous impulses. I realize that my pro-life views on social justice often draw power from hate, serving as an expression of my frustration and anger against those who espouse pro-choice views. Animosity is a powerful motivator.

We hardly ever let ourselves doubt our noble motives. All the hatred and the ill-will: those belong to the other side, we tell ourselves. We are in the right, they are in the wrong, and we make this known within the comfort of our group. Having had genuine conversations with well-intentioned people we disagree with, like the ones I had with the Feminist Forum, we start to doubt that our motives are as pure as we would let ourselves believe.

I urge you, if you are deeply committed to something, to critically examine what drives your conviction. Identify the worst possible reason for holding your particular view, then go ahead and assume that some strain of that is what drives you to be so passionate about your specific cause. Contend with that possibility. Let it scare the hell out of you. We at a Jesuit Catholic school have a duty to do this. After all, we are “all about” discernment. These are forces that drive us, so let’s get to know them.

Here’s an exercise: Go ahead and assume that the side you oppose is correct in their caricature of you.

For example:
Staunch capitalist? – assume you are motivated by neglect for the poor, believing that they ought to suffer.
Budding socialist? – assume that you don’t really care about the poor – you just hate and envy the rich.
Pro-life? – assume you are motivated by the thrill you get from imposing your morals on others.
Pro-choice? – assume your commitment to abortion-rights stems not from a desire to help women in crisis pregnancies but rather from a disdain for the responsibility implicit in unsafe sex.

 

Why do this? After all, the mere questioning of personal motives in no way proves or disproves the righteousness or depravity of any particular cause. In this way, I’m not saying that you should go ahead and stop fighting for what you are passionate about. As a human, to some degree your motives are inevitably distorted. That’s just the situation we find ourselves in. Instead, this exercise is meant to foster a very necessary sense of self-doubt. The first step towards becoming a good human being is the knowledge that you are not a good human being. Through getting to know the real identity which drives you, you will be better prepared to cultivate the good and contend with the bad within you. Don’t be naïve, assuming that you are innocent and entirely justified; you are not an angel, and neither are your compatriots in your particular cause. At present, we all inhabit a place somewhere between heaven and hell. From this basic understanding, then, go forth and stand for what you stand for, but do so continually examining your motives. Be vigilant and skeptical of the forces that drive you.

The practice of assuming the worst of yourself – fostering self-doubt – is also the very virtue required to approach dialogue with others: humility. If you want to become a better person and make the world a better place, you need to face the reality of your potential to be motivated by evil.  Assuming that the views you are most passionate and proud to hold are – in part – driven by the worst motives, you will become a more morally aware person. This, in turn, will make you much more capable of dealing with the division that besets our school, community, and nation.

 

 

Fooling Ourselves: A Dragon in Disguise - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:17 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:23 PM ]

by Jon Pietro ‘22

What is the greatest threat that the United States faces in the 21st century? It is not terrorism, Russia or Iran, nor climate change. The most prominent menace that the US must confront is China. With an appalling human rights record, predatory foreign policy, and a sincere penchant for theft, China is the new Soviet Union – but far worse. Of course, this statement is by no means an indictment of the Chinese people. The people of China, rather, who are incredibly industrious and kind, are held captive by the regime. Traditional Chinese culture, one of the greatest cultures in world history, is under assault by the Communists in Beijing. The problems with China lie not with its people, but with its tyrannical government.

Since the establishment of relations with China by the Nixon Administration in 1972 and the beginning of economic reforms in 1979, the US has assumed that China would liberalize. The thought process was as follows: inject capitalism into China, give the Chinese people a taste of prosperity, and the regime would be forced to become evermore liberal. That prediction could not be further from the results. China has evolved into an increasingly authoritarian surveillance state, with such Orwellian tactics as a proposed (and soon-to-be-implemented) social credit system. The system will rank the populace on its behavior and apply restrictions, such as limiting travel or obstructing access to quality schools, to citizens with lower scores (Ma, 2018). This system is only possible because of the advanced technology and economy that China has acquired since the end of its isolation. Whether it be its membership in the WTO (supported by the US), its replacement of Taiwan on the UN Security Council, or profitable economic relationships, the West has played right into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Henceforth, I will outline each of the areas that contribute to China’s designation as America’s most dangerous adversary.

Some say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and if that is the case, then the US should certainly be honored. China is able to attain US technology through numerous methods, from hacking to government coercion. As a former CIA and NSA director, Michael Hayden stated: “I understand the Chinese espionage effort against the West; as an intelligence professional, I stand back in awe at the breadth, depth, sophistication and persistence of the Chinese espionage campaign against the West” (Talent, 2015). In October 2018, the US charged 10 individuals with connections to Chinese intelligence and government for attempting to hack US aviation firms to obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) regarding aircraft technologies (Viswanatha, 2018). Also in October 2018, the US arrested a Chinese spy charged with trying to steal IP from General Electric, a major US company with defense ties (Viswanatha, 2018). The incessant hacking of US government databases gives China valuable information that can be used to undermine national security. In 2015, the Chinese hacked into the US government’s Office of Personnel Management and stole millions of US government employees’ sensitive information (Nakashima, 2015). Despite seeming trivial, the information contained on this database is invaluable for countering espionage operations and can put US personnel at risk. This behavior is absolutely unacceptable, and must be addressed, for the Chinese show no signs of backing down.

But hacking is not the only way by which the Chinese steal US IP. For companies operating on Chinese soil, the risks are far greater. Authorities routinely enter the headquarters of companies in China and forcibly obtain computer files, passwords, and key technological information that the company holds. In December 2017, DuPont, a US-based chemical company, had its Shanghai headquarters raided by Chinese authorities after the US company accused its Chinese affiliate of stealing its chemical technology. The authorities took sensitive documents and harassed DuPont employees. The point? Stealing chemical technology worth billions of dollars (Li, 2018). A final example – one that starkly illustrates the intent of the Chinese – is the 2018 hacking and theft of sensitive information from a US Navy contractor regarding missile technology (BBC, 2018). This sort of behavior is not only illegal, but is very dangerous for the US. Intellectual property is the core value of many US companies, and the Chinese severely undermine the US economy to the tune of $225-$600 billion per year through theft (Pham, 2018). The military repercussions are also concerning. The US military is the most powerful in the world: not just because of its training, but because it has the most advanced technology available. That technological dominance is not insurmountable, particularly when the adversary steals it, and to lose that dominance is to lose the post-1945 world order.

Outside of economics, the Chinese are also hell-bent on regional and world domination. In the 2017 National Security Strategy released by the US government, China, along with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, was designated a “revisionist power” (National Security Strategy, 2017). It is high time the Chinese Communist regime has been called what it is: aggressive and expansionist. Why should they be classified as such? Simply put: since the early 2000s, the Chinese have been the bane of the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese have moved into the South China Sea, constructing numerous artificial islands in accordance with their “9 dash line” policy, and have subsequently armed the islands (Economy, 2018). This is concerning not just for the territorial contests it creates (as many of the countries in the South China Sea claim the territory occupied by China), but because about $5.3 trillion dollars of trade pass through the region annually (Fisher, 2016). Countries like the Philippines have attempted to combat China’s expansion in the region by filing suit in an international court at The Hague, alleging that China had violated its territorial integrity and broken international law (Fisher, 2016). The court supported the Philippines, but China refused to listen. This is not a surprise, but it is important because it indicates China’s aggressive violations of international law. The Chinese have also repeatedly harassed the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands in the Sea of Japan (Gale, 2017; Talent, 2015). Since Japan is a key US ally with a mutual defense pact, a threat to Japan is a threat to the United States. But for a more direct hazard to the US, one need look no further than the harassment of US vessels in international waters or aircraft in international skies. In early October 2018, a People’s Liberation Navy ship intentionally traveled within 45 meters of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea (Lumbold, 2018). That may sound far, but to a ship that is around 150 meters in length, 45 meters is perilously close. Similarly, the Chinese have been increasingly harrying US aircraft both in Asia and Africa with lasers meant to harm the pilots’ eyes and disorient them (McKirdy, 2018). These are just a mere selection of Beijing’s threatening tactics. These actions are not just reckless; they pose a significant threat to American lives.

        In foreign policy, China is a vicious dragon in disguise. It engages in predatory economic policy by offering substantial loans to developing nations in Africa and Asia, with the knowledge that these nations will become beholden to China. It is a sort of dramatic irony on a massive scale. A particularly egregious example is that of Sri Lanka (Abi-Habib, 2018). After having taken billions in loans from China to fund a new port, the nation realized its blunder. With Sri Lanka unable to pay back the loans, China got exactly what it wanted: the very port Sri Lanka thought it was building for itself. To pay off the loans, Sri Lanka signed the port over for 99 years to the Chinese, who could very well utilize it to extend their naval reach into the Indian Ocean, challenging regional stability and India’s local hegemony. Conquest by economics is just another way China has been pursuing its expansionist goals.

Nothing, however, can come close to the disgusting human rights abuses of the Chinese government. At the forefront of their barbarism is the mass internment of the Uighur ethnic minority by the millions in what amounts to modern concentration camps. Upwards of one million Uighurs are held in camps that are known to pursue torture and mistreatment, with reports of deaths within or shortly after release from the camps (Taylor, 2018). Why is China committing such a horrific crime? Because the Uighurs are Muslim, and to the Communist Party, any faith is anathema to the atheistic state’s stability. The discrimination is not just against Islam, for recently the government has been destroying Christian churches and holy objects at an ever-increasing rate (Rubio, 2018). Nothing is beyond the pale, nothing outside the Party’s bloody grasp. This is nothing new, for the Chinese have been attacking religious and spiritual groups for decades. Falun Gong, for example, a completely peaceful meditative practice, was first persecuted in the late 1990s. A minimum of 3,000 have been killed (although it is likely much, much higher), tens of thousands imprisoned and tortured, and allegations of organ harvesting, while not conclusively proven, are certainly not without evidence (Xu, 2018). I encourage readers to do further research regarding the persecution of Falun Gong, for it is a horrendous human rights disaster. This is not to mention the mass detention of journalists, forced confessions, and strange disappearance of prominent critics that occur on a regular basis. The world has been in an uproar, rightfully so, over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but that same brutality occurs in China on a much larger scale. The world has to come to terms with the fact that the image of civilized society that China builds is nothing but a facade. For those concerned about human rights and the dignity of humanity, China should be near the top of the list.

Recognizing China for what it is – a brutal dictatorship that threatens the world order of freedom that we hold so dear – is essential. More than a nuclear North Korea, a rogue regime in Tehran, or a resurgent Russia, China poses the greatest danger to the free world. No other nation has the economic wherewithal, military prowess, and sheer force of will to depose the US as the preeminent superpower than China. If history is any guide, tolerating or appeasing a despotic regime leads to nothing but needless suffering. The model of Taiwan, a great democratic success story, proves the viability and benefits of democracy in the region. One can only hope that the future will bring about a free and democratic China that treats its people with dignity and respect.

 

Abi-Habib, M. How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port. June 25, 2018, New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/world/asia/china-sri-lanka-port.html

Chinese hackers steal data from US Navy contractor - reports. June 9, 2018, BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44421785

Economy, C. E., Kurlantzick, J., Blackwill, D. R. Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea. November 2, 2019, Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker#!/conflict/territorial-disputes-in-the-south-china-sea

Fisher, M. The South China Sea: Explaining The Dispute. July 14, 2016, The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/15/world/asia/

Gale, A. Japan Is Building Missile Bases to Confront Rising Threat From China. December 20, 2017, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-is-building-missile-bases-to-confront-rising-threat-from-china-1513765804?mod=article_inline

Li, S. China Expands Its Cybersecurity Rulebook, Heightening Foreign Corporate Concerns. October 5, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-expands-its-cybersecurity-rulebook-heightening-foreign-corporate-concerns-1538741732

Lumbold, G., Page, J. Pentagon Says Chinese Ship Harassed a U.S. Vessel. October 1, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/mattis-trip-to-china-canceled-1538373418

Ma, A. China has started ranking citizens with a creepy 'social credit' system — here's what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you. 29 October, 2019, Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4

McKirdy, E. Suspected Chinese lasers target US aircraft over the Pacific, US military source says. June 22, 2018, CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/22/politics/pacific-ocean-us-military-jets-lasers-intl/index.html

National Security Strategy of the United States of America. December 2017, WhiteHouse.gov: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf

Nakashima, E. Chinese hack of federal personnel files included security-clearance database. June 12, 2015, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/chinese-hack-of-government-network-compromises-security-clearance-files/2015/06/12/9f91f146-1135-11e5-9726-49d6fa26a8c6_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.28637892b1df

Pham, S. How much has the US lost from China's IP theft? March 23, 2018, CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/23/technology/china-us-trump-tariffs-ip-theft/index.html

Rubio, M., Smith, C. China Grows More Repressive. October 9, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-grows-more-repressive-1539125565

Talent, J. U.S. National Security and Rising China. August 11, 2015, The Heritage Foundation: https://www.heritage.org/defense/report/us-national-security-and-rising-china   

Taylor, R. China Supersizes Internment Camps in Xinjiang Despite International Criticism. November 1, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-internment-camps-in-xinjiang-swell-1541052650

Viswanatha, A., Volz, D. U.S. Charges Chinese Agents in Hacking Scheme, More Cases Expected. October 31, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-charges-chinese-agents-in-hacking-scheme-more-cases-expected-1540942095

Viswanatha, A. U.S. Detains Alleged Chinese Spy It Says Tried to Steal GE Trade Secrets. October 10, 2018, The Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-detains-alleged-chinese-spy-it-says-tried-to-steal-ge-trade-secrets-1539204258

Xu, X. V., Xiao, B. Falun Gong: Two decades after a deadly ban in China, adherents still face pressure in Australia. April 21, 2018, ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-21/what-is-the-falun-gong-movement-and-does-china-harvest-organs/9679690

Meatfree Monday in Kimball: Proof of Actual Demonic Activity on Campus - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:15 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:24 PM ]

by Jack Rosenwinkel ‘21

People don’t like to talk about demons. They think it’ll make them sound crazy, or worse, religious. And yet Holy Cross has some rather odd ties to the demonic. For one, there’s the rampant rumor that an exorcism happened on campus. This claim would seem absurd if it weren’t for the locked room in O’Kane that everyone calls “The Exorcism Room”, and the Jesuits’ historic ties to exorcisms. To thicken the plot, Dinand Archives set up a special Halloween display with a crucifix and a book in Latin—sure signs that something suspicious is afoot—while implying that there may or may not be a section of the archives devoted entirely to exorcisms. Spooky. Nonetheless, since no one seems willing to confirm or deny whether or not an exorcism actually took place, it all seems like a dead end. But now, for better or worse, students can divert their attention away from the Exorcism Room because there is new evidence of demonic activity on campus: Meatfree Monday in Kimball.

In response to a rather unsurprising U.N. statement warning the world about imminent environmental catastrophes, the Student Government Association (SGA) teamed up with Dining Services to try to help the environment by reducing meat consumption. The result was the decision to create Meatfree Monday; on Monday, October 29th, they removed all the meat from Kimball and served only vegetarian options. To give more weight to the whole thing, SGA also referenced Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical that warns about the dangers of climate change. (As a side note, I’m still waiting for SGA to send an email about the dangers of Pelagianism, which Pope Francis warns about extensively in his newest encyclical, Gaudete et Exultate.)

At the same time, it isn’t initially clear how not eating meat will prevent the world from lighting on fire. After all, signs in Kimball pointed out that animal waste was creating a serious environmental impact. But logically, it seems like the best way to get a cow to stop defecating is to eat the cow. Vegetarianism, on the other hand, would just mean that the cows would live longer, poop more, and make more cow babies, and as a result, the world would burn faster. Meatfree Monday, then, makes no sense. But is it going too far to call it demonic? Perhaps not.  

       Recognizing that real demonology was above my paygrade, I reached out to James Dooley, a junior at the College, who once took a class on demons. (In all honesty, James wasn’t my first choice, but since no exorcist would return my emails, he’ll have to do.) When asked whether demonic influence was involved in the Meatfree Monday incident, James nodded. “I’m really of the opinion that most carbs are a gateway to pure evil,” said Dooley. “Meatfree Monday just means more carbs.” James also pointed out rather astutely that salt is often used to scare demons away, and meat is often salty. “It really could just be a ploy to limit the amount of salt so more demons can get in,” James said, noting that with less salt and more demons, the school could be exposed to even more horror, like entire weeks of vegetarianism. Extra spooky. To James’s first point, Kimball’s vegetarian substitutes were a little odd, albeit sometimes delicious. One student, who commented anonymously, said, “Meatfree Monday? More like Cheese Monday?” The student noted that almost all the meat was replaced by dairy products, like grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, and cheese lasagna. Given the high percentage of adults who cannot process dairy, this seems problematic, both for students and for the maintenance people who clean bathrooms on campus.

Seth Sullivan, a sophomore, also thought that demons were somehow involved. “I’m not entirely sure how,” he said, pointing out that he was actually an atheist. “But hey, you don’t have to believe in God to know when something really messed up is going on. I think demons may be a logical explanation.”  

That makes me uneasy. Now, once again, it may not be air-tight proof that actual demons are lurking in Kimball, but if even an atheist can recognize that the devil is involved… that isn’t good. Looking for more evidence, I turned to God. It makes sense: if God is somehow supportive of Meatfree Monday, then it can’t be demonic. Now, it was hard to find a definite statement for God. At least Biblically, God was pro-meat. St. Paul told the Romans that, “One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables” (Romans 14:2). That’s not looking so hot for Meatfree Monday. But if that wasn’t enough, I started to think logically. God gave us opposable thumbs (which are somehow part of hunting). He also gave us teeth, and He made bacon delicious. Now I’m not a math major, but this seems simple: thumbs + teeth + delicious bacon = God wants us to eat meat. In fact, one could go so far as to say that not eating meat is a form of ingratitude, since we are not using the meat-eating skills God gave us. And since St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, considered ingratitude the root of all sin, vegetarianism could properly be viewed as a gateway sin. “First you’re not eating meat,” said a Jesuit who asked to remain anonymous. “Next thing you know, you’re blowing up orphanages.”

Definitely demonic.

All of this points to something super spooky. Hopefully, administration will take the right steps, contact the proper authorities, and end this nonsense once and for all.

 

To Honor Christmas and Keep It All the Year - December 2018

posted Dec 17, 2018, 1:11 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Dec 17, 2018, 1:24 PM ]

by John Buzzard ‘19

Amidst the whirlwind of the holiday season, it may be a bit of a cliché to say that “we’ve lost the true spirit of Christmas.” This concept of “the true spirit of Christmas” requires some reflection. While Christmas has mostly become a secular holiday season from an outsider’s perspective, it is impossible to have Christmas without Christ. It is not worn-out to say that Jesus is the reason for the season, because all of the good that comes from Christmas time originates with the birth of Christ. It is crucial to define that the Son of God was brought into this world to save us from ourselves. This Spirit of Christmas is the theme of redemption in which humanity was saved from its ways through the sacrifice of Christ. With this in mind, the purpose of this piece is not to gush over the Nativity. It is to look at one staple of the Christmas season that reflects the redemption of Christ in the holiday season: A Christmas Carol.

These two stories (i.e. Christ’s birth and A Christmas Carol) have been associated with the Christmas season for good reason. They are appealing stories that pull at the heartstrings, and their pull comes from the arc of redemption that is at their core. The redeemed individual from A Christmas Carol is Ebenezer Scrooge. With Scrooge being a, “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” he isn’t exactly the most attractive character, and history has thus associated his name with a hatred for the season. I would argue that the title of being a Scrooge should be reclaimed, for he is an example of the spirit of Christmas, redemption through love, which is ultimately a result of Christ’s birth.

How is Ebenezer Scrooge a role model in any way? Wasn’t he the miser that tried to ruin Christmas for everyone? The importance in the role of Scrooge is to show the worst in humanity. Scrooge was not a murderer, a thief, or a monster. He was a man whose heart was hardened by greed, loneliness, and apathy. Scrooge was so miserable that no one, not a beggar nor a child, would reach out to him for any favors or kindness. There is a lesson to be seen in Stave One of A Christmas Carol: we are most alone when we close ourselves off from others. Scrooge demonstrates the sentiments of his inhumanity by seeing the poor as useless, a burden on the population, unless they are put to work. He seems like a lost cause, so what did he do to deserve the intervention of Marley and the Three Ghosts?

It is in this question that we find the Spirit of Christmas through the birth of Christ the Redeemer. We are sinful people. While not inherently monsters, we can become hardened to the suffering of the poor or become deaf to well-wishes of others. Scrooge wasn’t a monster, but he was certainly a difficult case. We must realize that Christ came to save even the hard of heart and the lost causes. Throughout the rest of A Christmas Carol we can see that Scrooge was never a lost cause; he just needed to be guided. This guidance comes with doubts, with a ‘humbug’ and all, as Scrooge doubts his senses by likening Marley to food poisoning and the wails of London’s lost souls to the product of sleep deprivation.

It is in the Ghost of Christmas Past that Scrooge begins to seek his redemption and the audience begins to see why Scrooge became such a jaded wretch. We begin to glimpse his humanity when we see, during a vision of his childhood, how, “Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be.” We see Scrooge become saddened when recalling the death of his sister, the joy he experiences with his former employer Fezziwig, and his heartbreak when the love of his life leaves him after prioritizing his wealth out of fear of poverty. When we reflect on our lives and we look at our shortcomings and failures, it is easy to look at God and echo Scrooge in saying, “Why do you delight to torture me?” We beg these feelings to go away, but we will not be able to save ourselves from our misery unless we can process our hardships.

In the Ghost of Christmas Present, we can see a Scrooge that has accepted his lot and is much more willing to take part in his redemption. It is in the first few moments of meeting that Scrooge submits to this Spirit, saying, “conduct me where you will…to-night if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it.” There is no more humbug; instead, a willingness to go along in his soul’s redemption is present. Scrooge ends up at Bob Cratchit’s house because the Ghost of Christmas Present is the spirit of sympathy and kindness to the poorest of society. When Scrooge is able to watch the Cratchit family, he is able to see that the poor faces and they have their own lives. Scrooge becomes an active participant in the lives of the poor by being concerned with the fate of Tiny Tim. I believe that the turning point of A Christmas Carol and Scrooge’s redemption comes when the Ghost of Christmas Present responds with Scrooge’s own dismissal of the poor, after which “Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.” We see the mercy and love of Christ in Bob Cratchit, who raises a toast to honor Scrooge as the one who founded the joy of their Christmas dinner. Cratchit does not care to see the evil in men, and rather delights in the good and the joy that exist in every human being. This spirit is still present when Scrooge and the Ghost visit Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, who will not speak ill of his uncle despite their disagreements. Fred believes that he can help to save Scrooge by showing him kindness, visiting every year around Christmas to wish him well and share in the joy of the season. Finally, Scrooge sees the children of Man – Ignorance and Want – with the former being the most dangerous, for ignorance will bring doom to humanity unless it is erased through recognition and care. After these events, we see a penitent Scrooge ready for the final ghost.

In the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, we see a Scrooge that reflects upon his mortality and his legacy. Scrooge witnesses a man very similar to him having his garments stolen and being, essentially, grave-robbed. These individuals aren’t mourners; rather, they take advantage of no one caring about his estate. The only ones who care about Scrooge’s death, shown by the Spirit, are people who are going through a debt crisis because of him. Scrooge needs to witness kindness through death, and sees the grief of the Cratchit family after the death of Tiny Tim. The reminder of death, the memento mori, is an important detail to this Stave because Scrooge is shown his own grave, prompting the realization that all of the malice shown towards the other man was really meant for him. It is in this part that we see the redemption of Christ in Scrooge’s vow to live out the ideals of Christmas for the rest of his life. With Christ as the foundation of the Christmas season, Scrooge is essentially vowing to become like Christ. We are called to honor Christmas and to live in the Past, Present, and the Future. Ultimately, this calling is to be a Scrooge.

In the End of It, we can see that Scrooge is good on his word. Scrooge awakens with a new approach of life in which he states, “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.” Scrooge is certain that it was all real and is certain in the fact that his soul was saved that night. He buys the prize turkey for the Cratchit family, he donates significant amounts of money to the poor, he becomes a better uncle to Fred, he increases Bob’s salary while providing benefits, and he becomes like a second father to Tiny Tim. Perhaps the most important part of A Christmas Carol is the statement that “Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more” which is reassuring to an audience that may question the effectiveness of this journey. The ending to A Christmas Carol is extremely powerful because we see Scrooge embodying the Christmas Spirit in the rest of his days, and this means that Scrooge is living an actively Christian lifestyle, emulating the work of Christ. As it is observed in the end, “he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed that knowledge” and, as such, to keep Christmas well would be to show the mercy, love, and charity of Christ.

What can be learned from A Christmas Carol? It is a story of redemption, which is a theme of Christmas, but we can actively see a man go from cruelty to compassion. To be a Scrooge is to be someone who recognizes his own faults and is able to be redeemed by emulating the Christmas season, which means emulating Christ. It is more than just a Christmas tale; it is a message of redemption that encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas without ever overtly stating it. The reader is left to interpret the redemption of Scrooge. We can wonder, “am I worth redeeming? Am I able to change? How can I live Christmas in my heart and keep it all the year?” While we may not have the love of these Christmas ghosts to reach out directly to us, we do have Christ and His Church doing that already and always welcoming us to join them. Will we call this life a “humbug” or will we let ourselves profit from Christ’s mercy? May we be like Scrooge every day of our life, and as is fitting for any commentary on A Christmas Carol, God bless Us, Every One.

 

An Urban Legend of Holy Cross (Satire) - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:26 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review

A conversation overheard at Crossroads, 9/15/2018, 11:47 P.M.

Student 1: “Last time, I’m pretty sure they trapped a Dominican friar and then released him inside Campion house. I’m pretty sure it’s true, too.”

Student 2: “I’d believe it. Kind of like the Exorcism Room.”

S1: “Yeah, initially it was like a ghost story. Everyone heard sounds in the walls as the Dominican scurried about, but they dismissed that as the pipes or the house settling. The chaplains thought it might’ve even been a squirrel on the roof collecting acorns or a mouse chewing on wires. The building’s pretty old – early 1900s, I think, and it actually used to house Jesuit priests for a while. Mice wouldn’t be out of place, right? But anyway, next they noticed additional St. Thomas Aquinas icons lying about, and the cookies kept disappearing.”

S2: “A shame. Those are good cookies.”

S1: “Oh, but that’s just where it started. There were reports of a figure in all-white – a ghost, perhaps – talking about existence and essence, synthesizing faith and reason so well that it terrified the students greatly.”

S2: “That really does sound terrifying. I thought faith and reason were completely separate entities.”

S1: “That’s what most people seemed to think, so the students reported their fears to the chaplains. The chaplains, hearing that report, assembled and came clean to each other about some of their own paranormal experiences. One mentioned that he went back to his office and found that his decorative Summa Theologica was open, while another chaplain explained that when he was having lunch, his Twitter had been used to correct James Martin.”

S2: “James Martin, S.J.? Bold move.”

S1: “Eventually they mustered up the courage and headed into the attic to investigate. As the story goes, they saw the form of a man in all-white speaking in some demonic tongues (and I took Latin 101 last semester – looks like those were actually prayers). They all screamed ‘ghost!’, but then they remembered that the supernatural doesn’t exist. They thought back on all their experiences: the Aquinas icons, the open Summa, Jesuit fights on Twitter, synthesis of faith and reason so well that students were converting at a rate much higher than the 15-person RCIA cap, the Salve Regina being sung from the ceiling, and they realized that it must be a Dominican.”

S2: *visibly shudders.* “I’m glad I wasn’t there. Anything that serious would’ve freaked me out.”

S1: “It got even spookier, though. At every theological error, the Dominican would pop out of the floorboards or descend from the ceiling to make a correction. The chaplains tried to catch him with bear traps and theological books from Dinand, but they weren’t in the original Latin, so he wasn’t interested. Apparently, they even tried to lure him out of the attic with a prostitute.”

S2: “That doesn’t sound very Jesuitical.”

S1: “Well, this is all hearsay anyway. He chased her away with a fire poker, as the story goes, although I’m not sure where he got the hot poker. He then collapsed on his knees, receiving a chord from an angel and growing in power.”

S2: “But I’ve been in Campion – how come I haven’t seen him? After all that, did the chaplains finally manage to get him out?”

S1: “I’m not sure. He got pretty heavy from the cookies, at least, so that might’ve been his undoing. Maybe he headed up to Ciampi, the new Jesuit residence. I’ve never been up there, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been sneaking in and out of their hallways. In fact, I don’t even know if Ciampi has hallways. I’ve never gotten so close as to see in a window.”

S2: “That friar is probably still creeping around here somewhere. I get the feeling, somehow, that he hasn’t left – that he watches, disapprovingly, from afar.”

S1: “Who knows. Let’s get our pizza, though, before Croads closes. At least that isn’t a theological error.”

 

Catholic Rite of Catholic Lite (Satire) - November 2018

posted Nov 8, 2018, 7:24 PM by RSO The Fenwick Review   [ updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:25 PM ]

By John Buzzard '19

In a shocking turn of events, the Vatican has released a new encyclical that will “fit our modern times.” As the Church faces a time of crisis, it seems as if more and more people are turning away from Catholicism in response to unanswered questions from their clerical leadership. In order to address these questions, the Vatican has decided to avoid controversy by refusing to initiate any dedicated discussions on the topic. Instead, the minds of the Holy See have released Tempus Boomerorum, a brand-new, full-length document that confronts the current trends of modernity.

 Many proponents of the encyclical are lovingly referring to the document as “Catholicism Lite.” One Vatican official added, “We call this Catholicism Lite because sometimes tradition is hard to uphold. We’re in a very fast-paced time, and it’s up to us to meet that pace. At the same time, through Tempus Boomerorum, we can appeal to many of the lost sheep and be the “lite” to bring them back. It’s a very fitting name.” Inside the encyclical, we find encouragements from papal authority to reduce all the difficult aspects of Mass, such as kneeling, being silent, and paying attention. The specifics are clear: the Church wants to work with us and base itself on our example rather than thousands of years of tradition.

The press release indicated that Tempus Boomerorum will address several Mass-related issues. Mass attendants will be encouraged to keep their phones on and with them at all times. One congregant stated, “I’m glad I can finally feel guiltless about when my phone rings during Mass. Sure, it’s usually just my friends inviting me over to watch football, but it could be something serious.” As we can see through the above example, sometimes we have to give people the benefit of the doubt; they might be attending to important matters rather than mindlessly browsing social media. The encyclical also encourages congregants to wear shorts and sandals into Mass. The Vatican wants to encourage comfort – not a hot, unfocused congregation – when commemorating Jesus Christ’s suffering and dying for our sins. A parishioner at St. Thomas Aquinas Church told reporters, “I mean, I never saw the problem with wearing sandals at Mass. Jesus wore them, right?” The encouragement to bear more skin seems like a net-positive for Church attendance. Dress codes are, after all, the most significant factor in most people’s Mass attendance.

Tempus Boomerorum is a groundbreaking encyclical because it adds another optional Mass that the celebrant may offer. The “Lite Mass” is one that can fit the pace of society. Each Mass has a maximum run time of 30 minutes; while God only asks for one day a week, that time can always be repaid later on in the future. The celebrant is also encouraged to offer Mass from the pews with the laity as a way to involve everyone in the proceedings. While ad orientem Masses may seem “hip,” they exclude the people in attendance, who are the backbone of the Mass itself. At the same time, versus populum may seem like a happy medium, but for the Lite Mass, it just isn’t enough. The rest of the Mass remains the same, but the attendees are also encouraged to join in holding hands for the music. The music will also feature the “instruments of the people,” the guitar and piano, rather than the exclusionary organ and choir. At St. Cecilia’s in New York City, a parishioner added, “Well, the organ is nice and all, but if I can’t see the person playing the instrument, what’s the point? I want to feel involved rather than excluded.” The proponents of this encyclical are willing to abandon outdated, traditional liturgical music for a more relatable soft-rock atmosphere.

 Perhaps the most lauded piece of Tempus Boomerorum is the 100 page warning against global warming: an absolute must for this update to the Church. Vatican officials wanted global warming to be the focus of the encyclical, despite commotion from detractors that “wanted to focus on Church-based issues rather than political debates.” The response to these detractions was to include another 50 pages that were loosely related to Church issues, but were sure to mention the importance of separating trash and recyclables. “Our Earth is ours for future generations, and we are called to be stewards of creation”, stated one Vatican official. While it seems like no one was criticizing the statements about respecting our environment, the inclusion came at an interesting time of deflection (or, rather, reflection) in the Church.

The greatness of this document will shine for generations. Each Youth Synod will be allowed to make alterations to the document, which is a novel idea to the eternal Church. As the youth are the next to take charge of the Church, officials felt that their input on the encyclical will begin a new bridge between two out-of-touch generations. One staple of each Youth Synod is the inclusion of a suggestions box for how the Church may improve. The youth in attendance are encouraged to write down their suggestion on a notecard or tweet with #MyModernChurch to @Pontifex. The very nature of this document being open for changes is a sign that the Church is going in the right direction. In such open-ended and free responses, there had to be some restrictions. For example, the Minister for the Youth noted, “The youth think they’re humorous in writing their responses in Latin, but frankly, the Latin language isn’t very inclusive for most of the world. Please write your response in the vernacular. The Minister of Vernacular Languages added, “I’m glad to announce that our Catholic Church has received suggestions in over 60 languages, and am looking forward to appointing a committee to go through each response in their native tongue.” Truly the Church can say to its critics, “we’re keeping up with the world, so how about that?”

Tempus Boomerorum is sure to be the stepping stone for a Third Vatican Council. One can only hope that the Church can better fit with the world governments today and make the necessary changes to exist in the 21st century. As we await the positive outcomes of this encyclical, rather than addressing the negatives, we hope to be able to stay in touch with Vatican officials in order to see a new, tolerant, and truly universal Catholic Church. 

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