Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

A Professor Ponders Kings, Kangaroos, and Abortion

Donald DeMarco, who is now an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut, has an Antiques Roadshow fantasy that involves his “ethics students of long ago” at another Catholic institution of higher learning.

In a piece entitled “”Of Kangaroos and Kings” in the latest issue of the Human Life Review, DeMarco explains:

[I]nstead of appraising their possessions, I appraise  them. I inform my erstwhile students that they are more precious than  diamonds, that they were created by the greatest Artist of them all, and that they possess an immortal soul. Alas, my exalted appraisal  does not delight them. As a matter of fact, it actually saddens them.

Despite DeMarco’s efforts to persuade them of their value, the students remain unconvinced:

 [The students] explain, in turn, that they are really products  of chance, descendents of apes, and destined to peaceful oblivion. They reject my high appraisal of them, preferring to believe that they evolved from slime, have little intrinsic value, and are heading for  nowheresville.

The philosophies of Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre  and other low evaluators of the human being danced through my mind. My poor misguided students, I thought to myself. They never acted this way when they received high grades. An A paper was always regarded as  higher and more happiness-inducing than an F. Curiously, however, they preferred an F for their low self-evaluation for themselves as  individual human beings rather than an A. Perhaps their low  self-evaluation helped to explain their exaggerated enthusiasm for  good grades. They had seemingly emptied themselves into their  possessions.

It is only when we understand what it is to be a human being, DeMarco seems to be saying, that we are able to grasp that “the unborn  human has a future and a destiny.”

Okay, so where do the kangaroos come into the picture?

[M]an is capable of dispossession, the ability to turn away  from his own nature and the destiny that nature implies. Soren  Kierkegaard referred to this phenomenon as “despair of defiance.” This  kind of self-estrangement is not found among beasts. Consider the  kangaroo. This species is not regarded as particularly intelligent.

Yet, the mother knows the value of her offspring. In the unhappy  instance when she is being pursued by a dingo, she knows that she will  not escape her ferocious predator. Before she becomes a meal for her  pursuer, she will take her offspring from its pouch and fling it away  to safety. She believes, somehow, as only kangaroo mothers can  believe, that her baby has a future. Her belief is fully validated by  the fact that it often happens that Aussies traipsing through the  woods find abandoned joeys and adopt them as pets. The mother kangaroo  is never alienated from her nature as a kangaroo.

The piece is both charming and profound—perhaps “profoundly charming” is the right way to describe it, so it is unfortunate that it isn’t online. By the way, the king in the title is the late King Baudouin, who abdicated for several days rather than sign a liberal abortion law passed by the Belgian Parliament.

Holy Apostles College–where we’re sure students know quite a bit about the Catholic notion of what it means to be a human being–is recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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