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« Late Lenten penance: learning about Chopra's "Christ" | Main | On Being Moved | by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. »

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Comments

Thomas

Boston College High School's own. Well said, and I like the (subtle) shot across the bow of Jenkins.

gsk

"Father Jenkins has informed me that after each evening performance there will be a panel discussion, which will include someone who will give an informed and sympathetic presentation of Catholic teaching."

So either a man or a woman can do this -- each charged with meaning. If a man, then the audience (fresh from their theatrical rant) will say that he's a misogynist who has no authority to speak for women, and should not tell them "what to do." If it's a woman, then she (doubtless, outnumbered) is neatly served up by the calculating president to defend what he will not: authentic femininity.

In addition to the fact that Fr Jenkins is a coward, he is also a cad.

Jackson

The panel discussion is nothing more than an exercise in relativism, and Father Jenkins is obviously a faithful subject of the dictatorship of relativism.

Rick

Hasn't this play been shown before and been a source of tension at ND in past years? Various web sites make seem to indicate that been showing at ND from 2002 on in various capacities. Besides its vulgar and bawdy themes, doesn't it get a little boring as well to keep acting in the same old stuff?

joe

Boring? You'd think so...but maybe this year's Playbill has a centerfold.

-J.

Ed Peters

right rick. one of jenkins' lines is that allows VM as a gesture toward free speech. well, how many gestures does one need?

Francis Beckwith

I've always thought it odd that only "left wing" sins are provided a microphone followed by "dialog," but not the vices the left opposes. For example, I cannot imagine Notre Dame providing a platform for a play called the "Penis Parables," a discussion among talkative male genitalia about their conquests and near misses. Can you imagine its student and faculty supporters saying that the "Penis Parables" ought to be performed since it will penetrate the minds of the Notre Dame community because it fills a need exposed during the Vagina Monologues?

I grow weary of the "free speech" defense, since ND is not a state actor. The "freedom" protected in the first amendment is the liberty of religious institutions to offer to the wider community an alternative to the secular marketplace and other religious institutions free of state interferenc. So, ironically, this supposed exercise of ND's "liberty" may have the effect of limiting its influence in the public square by moving its academic community in a direction that is indistinguishable from other elite, non-Catholic, institutions. The issue is not "free speech." The issue is the responsibility of a religious community to offer an attractive alternative to its secular and religious competitors; an obscene echo will not do.

Deacon Harold

Thank you, Bishop D'Arcy!

Lawrence

You are really a man of God. People like you give us the extra courage to live our faith.

William Dempsey

As President of Project Sycamore, a Notre Dame alumni organization dedicated to preservation of the Catholic character of the University, I sent the letter appearing below to Father Jenkins. I urge anyone interested in Notre Dame to visit our web site at www.projectsycamore.com and, if you share our concern, to sign our petition and join our mailing list. The letter:

Dear Father Jenkins:
I write on behalf of the 940 signatories of a Project Sycamore petition asking that the
University not authorize the on-campus student performance of The Vagina Monologues.
The signatories, whose number continues to increase, consist mainly of alumni, but also
include parents and other members of the Notre Dame family. The text of the petition and
the names of the signatories are posted on our web site at www.projectsycamore.com.
We have corresponded with you before on this matter, and I will not burden this letter
with an extended restatement of the reasons for our petition. Our objections, which are set forth at length on our web site, mirror those of countless others, including Bishop D'Arcy and his fellow bishops who refused to meet on the campus because of the play.

Our protest centers upon the meretricious nature of The Vagina Monologues, its conflict with core Catholic teachings, and its lack of any redeeming value. Surely it has no literary
merit. A New York Times drama critic dispatched the play summarily: “Given a choice
between seeing that play again or having Beowulf read to me in Croatian, I would
unequivocally choose the latter.” And the portions dealing with violence to women,
constituting less than a third of the script, are far overshadowed by the much longer
sections that celebrate illicit and perverse sex of all sorts in the most graphic terms.

We add three brief comments:

First, the play cannot be saved by a faculty member's pointing out that the sexual license
it extols is obviously contrary to Church teaching. Who in the audience could possibly
think otherwise? An analysis of a movie or play or novel in terms of Catholic theology
serves an important purpose where the work portrays evil in the guise of good. Such a
discussion would serve well, for example, in connection with the homosexual film
festival, where it is not provided. Here the only purpose it can really serve is to secure a
license for performance. Moreover, the complete inadequacy of the panel discussions the
last time is telling. The praise the panelists heaped on the play -- one professor compared
it to St. Augustine's Confessions -- simply made matters worse.

Second, while to mention the phrase "occasion of sin" might seem quaint to many, we
think it not out of place at a Catholic university. Such collateral effects of a work should
not alone be reason for barring it, of course; but neither should they be irrelevant.
These monologues are so sexually charged that it is safe to say they would constitute an
occasion of sin to some indeterminate number of performers and viewers. Indeed, the
author herself testified in her introduction that she had had "thirty-two public orgasms a
night" while performing it. In light of the libidinous character of the play, it is hard to
understand the contention that it deters, rather than stimulates, aggressive sexual
behavior.

Third, the decision by Notre Dame, and by you as President of the University, whether to host the Vagina Monologues cannot be dismissed as of no great importance on the
ground that, however deplorable the play may be, once performed it is gone. Notre
Dame is the leading Catholic university in the Western World, and The Vagina
Monologues has become a leading symbol of the primacy of wanton sexual gratification
of and by women. To give this work a place at the Notre Dame table is to signal to the
public, and particularly to Catholics, an indifference to this sort of moral rot. To bar the
door, on the other hand, is to give public witness to the teachings of the Church as well as
to the principles of decency that ought to characterize a civilized society. Such a
repudiation of what this play represents would fulfill in an important way Notre Dame’s
fundamental mission of playing a prophetic role in a culture saturated with moral
indifference.


padraighh

One problem posed by this so-called solution of having someone
discuss Church teaching is that the person in question must address
a hostile crowd. Next, how does Father Jenkins know that requiring
a faculty member to do this will not be an occasion of sin for that person.
Finally, the very act of allowing the play on campus is an insult to Our Lady
and clearly a source of scandal. Disobeying his bishop's advice
is also a source of scandal

saints preserve us

ND '79 '83

Matthew

Maybe Ed Peters can answer this: Why can't D'Arcy simply place the entire campus under interdict for a brief period, say, up to and including graduation weekend? I imagine having to explain to the parents of the graduating class why they can't have Mass might tick off enough people to change some minds.

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