Friday, December 3, 2010

Cam vs. Thomist: The Great CINO College Debate

Thomist and I, my once-in-a-blue-moon guest blogger/ commentator (who most of you can probably guess the "secret" identity of), had a debate this afternoon. He's asked me to be fair to his sideand I will do my best. However, I'm confident he can also defend himself in the comments section if he has a few spare moments and if he wants I'll even give him his very own guest post (any time!). In fact, I've been trying to get him to let me publish his most recent paper on my blog in a series of posts. Now back to the debate.

You see, he is about to finish a graduate degree in theology at a CINO (Catholic in Name Only) college and is applying to schools around the country (and world) as he prepares to take the next step in his education. Right now he's checking out a couple of different options, and one of those options is law school in the US. Today he told me that at this point one of the most important characteristics that he's looking for in a university is that it be Catholic.

I'm pretty sure that my jaw just about hit the ground when he said the word "Catholic." You see I know the schools he's applying to. I've seen the list. While there are two (maybe two and a half...) schools I would really call "Catholic" the others are the schools I write about, and read about and roll my eyes about ("there they go again... supporting abortion... cohabitation... whatever..."), on a pretty regular basis.

The funny thing is that I would understand if he had told me he wanted to go to these schools because of their academic reputation. But going because they are "Catholic?" I suddenly wondered if he'd completely forgotten the past three years, particularly the two Catholic-hating professors who together taught 33% of the classes in his program.

When he said that access to a good spiritual advisor was a motivating factor I'm sure my eyebrows shot up. Thomist has been blessed with good spiritual advisors at his current school (despite a recent conversation that included these words coming out of my mouth: "He told you that you should drink?!?!?!"). Still somehow the idea of going to a (probably) Jesuit University for spiritual direction gives me pause.

I know, I know... I can guess what some of you are probably thinking. There are good Jesuits. And I have met some (okay... one...) and I can think of several others.

However there's also the glaringly obvious fact that when I read something that involves a priest shouting to the world about how he's right and the Church established by Christ is wrong, there's a good chance that the letters SJ are going to come after his name.

Thomist did make some good points. He feels that he has received a good education at his CINO University (if you take out the parts that involve complete disobedience and open hostility towards the Church and those who follow the Church's teachings). And he's definitely improved his already well honed debating skills. He's also been exposed to passionate, carefully thought out arguments in a volume that he would likely have missed if he had gone to a school that actually promoted Catholic beliefs. In some ways I guess it is kind of like he took three years of apologetics courses.

I can't argue with the quality of education that many CINO University's do offer. But I also watched as Thomist received grades that had been changed because the teacher disagreed with his views (changing the final grade despite the fact that all the grades prior to that grade added up to a solid A... especially since this was the same professor that asked him "why the Hell" he had decided to go to "this school"). There was also one final paper that was returned brimming with personal insults (with pages missing where, I imagine, his prof had gotten a little too carried away and decided to destroy the evidence).

Thomist has been assured by a member of the faculty at one of the CINO law schools that he's considering that they do not punish traditional Catholic students for their beliefs. My thought on this note, is that we can't really expect schools to brag about persecuting orthodoxy. Of course they deny it. I'm sure the professor who asked him why he was there and punished him when setting grades, would say the same thing.

For now I'll just wait and pray and hope that we end up where we should be. After three years at a CINO school Thomist should have an idea of what he's getting himself into. Hopefully not three more years of anti-Catholic professors.

And if you'd like to send up a prayer, Thomist is taking his LSATs this month and has been working and studying non-stop for months! I know he'd appreciate the prayers! We all would!


  1. Ugh, I can't stand professors who take it out on students who hold different beliefs simply because they don't agree with them. I majored in political science and have always been very conservative politically. Most professors in this field, as you might imagine, are incredibly liberal. It was incredibly difficult to be graded fairly given that my political values were typically the polar opposite of the professor. Of course, I would frequently slip comments into my papers that would allude the fact that I felt the professor was unable to be fair and recognize the validity of my points. I found when I did stuff like that, I would wind up with an A. Basically, I had to let them know that I was coming for them and I was fully aware of their bias.

  2. Go to an orthodox institution, or a secular one. Do it black or white, but not gray. Jesus would rather have you hot or cold, but lukewarm He will spit you out of his mouth.

    I also like the old western novels & movies in which right is right, and wrong is wrong.

  3. Good luck on the LSAT Thomist and Cam's dh. I am a law student at a secular university. (A pretty orthodox university would be St. Thomas Law School in MN, though they are not a high profile school).

    Anyways, in law school there isn't a ton of discussion that would implicate professors disagreeing with you over orthodox Catholic views generally. (The exceptions would be constitutional law, or other policy driven electives, but differences are usually chalked up to political differences). Many professors are practitioners or were, which often gives them a more conservative view than your average academic. Also in my law school, final exams and many papers are graded anonymously, which does help take out that "professor doesn't like me" element.

    You will always have classes and professors you don't like or who are unfair or just don't teach the material, thus is the nature of academia.

  4. Ave Maria School of Law, in Naples Florida is both orthodox and highly rated. I have supported them for years.

  5. The photo of the church interior is beautiful - which church is it?

  6. It's Saint Ignatius at the University of San Francisco.


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