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.