Lisa Sotomayor and the Decline of Catholic Education

So, Lisa Sotomayor has never thought about the rights, if any, of an unborn baby. I believe her, even though she went to Cardinal Spellman High School. Such a change has occurred in Catholic education, in just a generation! When I was in high school, at a regular old diocesan school in a working class neighborhood, we studied concepts like natural law, proofs of God’s existence, evolution, the soul and human nature, abortion and sexual ethics– moral questions of all kinds. We did it in religion class, training our minds to work within the framework of Aquinas, which is really Aristotlianism. (Nowadays, Aristotle is that benighted old fool in the front of your glossy science textbook.) We actually thought about things, or at least learned how to think, and we did it in high school, and those who went on to college did it on a more nuanced level. Or at least they did up till the sixties and seventies–I caught some wisps of the old-style education, enough to give me a taste of what I had missed. In The Closing of the American Mind, Allen Bloom praised Catholic universities for keeping the classic, Aristotlian methods alive. Of course, when he wrote, in 1987, the tradition had largely passed. I’ve always said I think I learned more in high school than I did in college (thank you, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales!). At least, the foundations had been properly laid.

Then there’s the “wise Latina” remark. If you have no particular philosophy, you have nothing but your self (and the color of your skin). Of course you fall back on your feelings. You haven’t thought anything through, your law school taught you a soulless technical skill, so you go with your instincts. You rely on the sentimental image of a village senora. You stick with the tribe. And my tribe is as good as your tribe, pal– maybe better! That’s judicial philosophy today. In this, she echoes Obama’s “above my pay grade” remark. No use having thought-out, universally accessible principles beforehand– that’s so white male.

Crossposted at http://www.rocscssrs.blogspot.com/