Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

18 April 2007

First Things First

Knowing that I like to read, as well as my interest in religion, Mike, our fixed-wing pilot gave me a couple of copies of a thought-provoking magazine called FIRST THINGS. It is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, which bills itself as, "...an interreligous, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society." A noble goal, but whew, what a mouthful!

And it’s not light reading, either. Oh, no. Not something you can read while the t.v. or radio is on in the background. At least not for me. The people who write for the magazine are the real heavy-hitters of theology. They write for people with their same level of education - or at least intelligence. (I read it slowly, with a dictionary at my side.)

FIRST THINGS is edited by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a Jesuit from Fordham University who seems like a pretty smart guy. That’s funny. Me calling him that is like a high school drama student saying that Robert DeNiro seems like a pretty good actor. Neuhaus has a huge, wide-ranging monthly column called "The Public Square." If you’ve ever met a Jesuit, you know that they are hardly taciturn or inarticulate.

In the February 2007 issue, Neuhaus mentions Wyoming Catholic College, a new university opening this fall. "This is a liberal arts college that really does intend to be different," he writes. Then he goes on to point out that WCC has a "Technology Policy" that operates on the premise that the human brain is the most powerful piece of technology, and it works best without certain distractions. To that end, WCC is banning television sets. In addition, there is virtually no Internet access, and no cell phones (a college after my own heart!). Classroom notes will be taken the old-fashioned way - presumably that means pen and paper.

Raising the literary eyebrow, Neuhaus wonders, "Would I have wanted to enroll? I don't know. Were I a parent, would I want my children to enroll? I don't know. But I might well be intrigued. To learn more about Wyoming Catholic College, check it out on the Internet that you might not be needing for the next four years."

(I love to read clever lines that actually cause me to chuckle out loud and make me wish I had written them. Neuhaus’ writing quite often does just that.)

I would gladly give up my cell phone for four years (or more!) But I cannot imagine being without the Internet any more than I can imagine being without Ramen Noodles or water. And I’m not at all sure that a college student today could get a complete education without Internet access. (What, no Google?!) But I agree with Neuhaus, it is intriguing.

Maybe Paul Simon could update his ‘70s-era hit, “Kodachrome” to something more modern…

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school,
It’s a wonder I can think at all.
And though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none,
I can read ‘most all of my email.


Give us those nice, fast search sites,
Give us the chat room catfights,
Makes you think all the world’s a
Funny blog, oh yeah…

I got a brand-new webcam,
I love to shop E-bay all night,
So mama don’t take

My Internet away.


Gene said...

Oh..Whatever..Technology is the future. Apparently they want to go back to the "OLD Times"..Why don't they just ban cars and microwaves/refrigerators. And go "poop" like the Roman Times outside next to someone.

Sharon Jones - sltmjones@hotmail.com said...

An interesting theory for eliminating distractions and I can agree with the banning of cell phones and T.V. After all, for emergencies there is still the regular, run-of-the-mill, standby telephone and a newspaper for news. The internet, however, is a real boom as an educational tool and they could simply monitor students activities on it and challenge those who are not using it in an "educational" manner - that being no porn, no joke searching, no games, etc. Being on a remote island, I welcomed the internet as a wonderful tool. When you have no phone or T.V. or newspaper (as a matter of fact our radio wouldn't pick up any stations either) this was a great instrument to keep in touch with the world.

Bob Barbanes said...

Gene and Sharon: You're both right; I too think banning use of the Internet is a step backwards - mistake. How can a student expect to get a comparable education without it? I question the motivation of the school...

However...I spent quite a bit of time searching the WCC websote, and I could not find one hint of this "technology policy" that Fr. Neuhaus referred to. Perhaps they've already gotten enough negative feedback that they've quietly rescinded the policy? One can only hope.

Still, true or not, I liked Neuhaus' "take" on the subject enough to run with it.