Tom O'Toole
Saving Notre Dame: A call to (prayerful) arms
By Tom O'Toole
March 30, 2009

While taking an English course to attain my teaching certification at Elmhurst College (a local liberal arts school), I got into a debate with my professor. It was a 200 level course on literary criticism, and although the textbook had chapters on 11 different "schools" of critiquing fiction, including; Feminist, Marxist, African-American, "Gay, Lesbian and Queer," and, of course, Freud's favorite, Psychoanalytic Criticism, it contained nary a chapter on the Christian perspective — despite the fact the college was still listed (albeit in small print) as a United Church of Christ affiliated institution. "This class is proof," I told my prof, "that Elmhurst can no longer be considered a Christian college. For while Wheaton [a local evangelical school founded by the great Billy Graham] may teach only Christian Literary Criticism, and Notre Dame would teach all the modern modes but then put these methods in a Catholic Christian context, Elmhurst is apparently afraid of even mentioning what the Christian meaning of the story may be." But not long after that class, in a defiant, disobedient and underhanded manner, my alma mater invited our infamous abortion president, Barack Obama, to both speak and receive an honorary law degree from the famous South Bend university, and I realized Notre Dame was not far from becoming a Catholic version of Elmhurst College after all.

To be clear, this article is not meant to denigrate Elmhurst College (a little school with many fine classes and dedicated teachers) and, as for the counter argument by another classmate that the merger of such diverse liberal and conservative congregationalist churches into one denomination rendered the United Church of Christ incapable of making any definitive statements about Our Lord and Savior, I'll let the UCC brothers among our readers decide. What this column is meant to show is that Notre Dame, by becoming either too rich, too afraid, or too cool to preach the Gospel, has for several decades been on that same gradual slide to secularism, and now, balancing on the brink of the cliff that separates the world from the Kingdom, their anointing of Obama may be the decisive action that pushes her over the edge. And, because this would be such a great loss to not only the American Catholic Church (that is, those still in allegiance with Rome) but America itself, I'm calling on not only all loyal Catholics, but all devout Protestants and Evangelicals in the fight to save Notre Dame from slipping into the clutches of Satan himself.

But before I further expound on why not just Catholics but all Christians should be concerned with this particular school's possible demise, let me first show what a special place Notre Dame is (or at least, was) by explaining what it's not.The University of Notre Dame will never be Wheaton College (or Stubenville, the closest Catholic equivalent); in other words, an institution with only Christian teachers and, thus, teaching only the Christian perspective. Rather, Notre Dame was more modeled to be a modern equivalent of the medieval University of Paris, a place where Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) learned from not only the greatest Christian minds, but the best Moslem and Jewish teachers too. This not only enabled Thomas to attain the best education in both philosophy and theology, but math and science as well. Paris provided Thomas with the unique ability of starting his apologetics from a Jewish or Moslem point of view, and then showing how the Catholic Christian version either refuted or completed the other side's vision. Of course, this strategy, that of inviting every differing prince or duke to the court, will only work if Christ is still the King. This certainly was true with Saint Thomas, as his preaching and writing both strengthened Christians and converted heathens, while Notre Dame, with its devout priests, devoted laymen (not to mention championship football teams!) spread her fame and His Name throughout the world. But now, as Jenkins (who invited Obama on the sly, not informing his bishop until after Barack accepted the illicit invitation) stands once again poised to trade God for gold, both Notre Dame's faith and football fail to inspire.

Know that Notre Dame still possesses its special gift, its unique apostolate ... if only she will use it! Wheaton and Stubenville may still make great statements, but they preach only to the choir, never to be covered by the mainstream media. But if Notre Dame were to now re-emerge with a true new leader proclaiming a bold pro-life, pro-family vision, you could be sure that every soul with a radio, TV or computer would hear about it. A renewed Notre Dame would have the power to single-handedly revive the pro-life movement, and the Republican party along with it. I urge all Renew America readers to pray for Notre Dame, sign The Cardinal Newman Petition condemning the Obama invitation, and donate your time, money and insights to the cause as the Spirit leads. And, while I'm not making any predictions, if Notre Dame were to return to the fold, I wouldn't be surprised if God turns around the football team too!

© Tom O'Toole


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Tom O'Toole

Thomas Augustine O'Toole was born in Chicago and grew up in a devout Catholic family with five brothers and two sisters. He was the sports editor of Notre Dame's Scholastic magazine, where his story "Reflections on the Game" won the award for Best Sports Feature for the Indiana Collegiate Press Association... (more)


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