A Letter From Fr. Jenkins

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Here is a copy of the letter that Father Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, sent out to the Graduating Class of 2009 addressing the “controversial” invitation to Obama as Commencement speaker and the bestowing of an honorary degree.

May 11, 2009

 Dear Members of the Notre Dame Graduating Class of 2009:

 
This Sunday, as you receive your degrees at Commencement, your joy – and that of your families – will be shared by the faculty, staff, and administration of the University. We have had the privilege of laboring with each of you to inquire and discover, to teach and to learn, and we will send you off with affectionate and fond hopes for the future.
For those of you who are undergraduates, I feel a special kinship. You arrived in your dorm rooms as I arrived in the President’s Office. You have learned much; I may have learned more. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to learn with you, come to know you, and to serve you during our time together at Notre Dame.

 
During your years here we have endeavored to train you in the various disciplines and urged you to ask the larger questions – discussing not only the technical and practical but also the ethical and spiritual dimensions of pressing issues. I have been proud of you as you’ve grappled with intellectual, political, and spiritual questions. But I have never been more proud than I have been watching the way you’ve conducted yourselves over the past several weeks.

 
The decision to invite President Obama to Notre Dame to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address has triggered debate. In many cases, the debate has grown heated, even between people who agree completely on Church teaching regarding the sanctity of human life, who agree completely that we should work for change – and differ only on how we should work for change.

 
Yet, there has been an extra dimension to your debate. You have discussed this issue with each other while being observed, interviewed, and evaluated by people who are interested in this story. You engaged each other with passion, intelligence and respect. And I saw no sign that your differences led to division. You inspire me. We need the wider society to be more like you; it is good that we are sending you into that world on Sunday.

 
I am saddened that many friends of Notre Dame have suggested that our invitation to President Obama indicates ambiguity in our position on matters of Catholic teaching. The University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.

 
Notre Dame has a long custom of conferring honorary degrees on the President of the United States. It has never been a political statement or an endorsement of policy. It is the University’s expression of respect for the leader of the nation and the Office of the President. In the Catholic tradition, our first allegiance is to God in Christ, yet we are called to respect, participate in, and contribute to the wider society. As St. Peter wrote (I Pt. 2:17), we should honor the leader who upholds the secular order.
At the same time, and born of the same duty, a Catholic university has a special obligation not just to honor the leader but to engage the culture. Carrying out this role of the Catholic university has never been easy or without controversy. When I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame, Fr. Hesburgh spoke of the Catholic university as being both a lighthouse and a crossroads. As a lighthouse, we strive to stand apart and be different, illuminating issues with the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Catholic tradition. Yet, we must also be a crossroads through which pass people of many different perspectives, backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. At this crossroads, we must be a place where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue.

 
The President’s visit to Notre Dame can help lead to broader engagement on issues of importance to the country and of deep significance to Catholics. Ultimately, I hope that the conversations and the good will that come from this day will contribute to closer relations between Catholics and public officials who make decisions on matters of human life and human dignity.

 
There is much to admire and celebrate in the life and work of President Obama. His views and policies on immigration, expanding health care, alleviating poverty, and building peace through diplomacy have a deep resonance with Catholic social teaching. As the first African-American holder of this office, he has accelerated our country’s progress in overcoming the painful legacy of slavery and segregation. He is a remarkable figure in American history, and I look forward to welcoming him to Notre Dame.
As President Obama is our principal speaker, there will no doubt be much attention on your Commencement. Remember, though, that this day is your day. My fervent prayer is that May 17 will be a joyous day for you and your family. You are the ones we celebrate and applaud. Congratulations, and may God bless you.
In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

Couldn’t have been stated any better. Well done. The letter appeals to the true meaning of our namesake, Catholic as “universal.”

I’m not going to get into any political/moral shenanigans here right now. I’m much too heavy for a soap box anyways. However, The Heap’s position is that regardless of political, religious or moral affiliation, it is an honor to have The President of the United States as speaker. As many media sources have already pointed out, there have been many past speakers that have not had beliefs 100% in line with those of the Catholic Church. Controversy is not new to Notre Dame Commencement. And perhaps the degree of protest and dismay isn’t either. I have a good feeling that media coverage has probably made this a bigger deal than it really is.

I know abortion is a big deal. I know the artificial development of human cells is an issue. It would be insensitive and even reckless to passively address the issue. But the topic is for another time and another place.

The time and place of May 17th  on the greatest of all campuses in the land will provide a national stage for accomplishment. THAT is what should be at the forefront. But I guess it is appropriate that demonstrations will be occuring. The real world is at hand. This is what has been handed to us. While I don’t agree with some of the extreme opinions that will probably be voiced, I would also be glad to see that we can live in a country where an opinion can be had, so long as it doesn’t violate personal space and regulations.

I recently read that 50 or so students are planning on boycotting the ceremony by instead having a prayer service. More power to you.

On the other hand, you bet I would be at Commencement after working my tail off for 4 years, and paying enough to by a house for my education, no matter who the speaker was. It’s a moment I worked for- for myself but most importantly, for my parents.

My advice to all in attendence is to listen. Perhaps you don’t agree with President Obama on ANYTHING. You might think his policies are only going to further debilitate our country. You may not like his manner, or uncanny humor, but his call to our generation for change is clear. What he has accomplished, as a devoted family man, and an outspoken social advocate for the improvement of quality of life alone is worth lauding.

I can only hope that he can top the address to Arizona State last night, because that was spectacular. Even if the speech echoes of the same themes, the message will be just as powerful, and perhaps even more meaningful to a university which has historically changed the world.

Just Listen.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Shirt 2009

The annual University of Notre Dame Blue/Gold game is today, marking the “beginning” of the countdown until kick off against Nevada next season. Alumni and fans alike all gather at ND this weekend to celebrate. This also means that “The Shirt” is released on the Friday before the game.

Now you would think that the release of simple shirt wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just a charity fund raising object and the shirt which the entire student body (hopefully) wears on game day, right?

Oh no. Not at Notre Dame.

Like ANYTHING that goes on on campus, it is subject to harsh dramatic criticism. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people had a serious “Viewpoint” tying this year’s edition to the school’s invitation and bestowing of an honorary Law degree to President Barack Obama.

Though I must admit that The Shirt 2005 (pictured below) rightfully gives the student body, alumni, and fans a reason to be a bit on edge when it is officially unveiled. What an awful design and color. Yeesh.

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Brutal. No wonder everyone wanted to make their own version.

Well, here is The Shirt 2009, which is the 20th anniversary of the tradition. What do you think?

Product: TS09

I like it. I think it looks very sharp, and it is a creative color. It will definitely stick out on those blimp shots on NBC! I like the emblem on the side, incorporating 20th anniversary with 2009. Very nice touch. But mostly, I’m glad there aren’t lame quotes on it. “Rise and Strike” perpetuates a message of the “old school, mean, and nasty” football that the team has been lacking. And of course, “Defend Our Honor,” after the program has become a punchline across the nation, is quite appropriate for this season, perhaps one of the most important ones in recent memory.

But I’m sure someone will take it as a subliminal message against Obama speaking… I mean the shirt IS kind of fleshy looking, right?

Just Kidding of course. Enjoy the game, all who could make the trip! I’ll be buying one of these off of the internet!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Fun with Graphs

Number of Pirates Killed By Each President

Just keep this in mind whenever anyone asks what Obama has done in the first 100 days of his presidency.

I laughed pretty hard when I saw this graph. Thanks to PV for posting it on Facebook.

Have a good Tuesday.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

 

One Year Too Late… President Obama to be Commencement Speaker for 2009 Graduation at Notre Dame

It seems like I graduated a year too early from my beloved alma mater. President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker for Notre Dame this year at graduation. My younger friends are quite lucky to be able to experience this! It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, it is certainly an honor to be able to hear the president address you specifically.

I’m sure The Observer is going to have a field day with this, especially since the grand majority of the students are of the conservative persuasion. Oh, what I would do to be able to read those “view points.”

Anyway, here’s the news release. Maybe I’ll try to get a ticket to commencement!

President Barack Obama will be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. May 17 (Sunday) in the Joyce Center on campus.

Mr. Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree by the University and the sixth to be the Commencement speaker.

The University will confer degrees on approximately 2,000 undergraduates, 420 MBA students and 200 Notre Dame Law School students.

Note to the media: Background on previous president Commencement addresses at Notre Dame follows.

Background: Presidential Commencement addresses at Notre Dame
Barack Obama will be the ninth U.S. president to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of Notre Dame and the sixth to be the Commencement speaker.

On June 5, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered Notre Dame’s first presidential Commencement speech, interrupting the 45th reunion of his class at the U.S. Military Academy to make the trip. In his 20-minute address, Eisenhower foreshadowed a U.S. government on the verge of social and political change.

President Jimmy Carter made what many regard as the key foreign policy address of his presidency at Notre Dame’s 1977 Commencement exercises. He spoke of a diminishing threat from the Soviet Union, a notion dismissed as naive at the time but which proved prophetic. He also advocated for the creation of new global alliances and championed human rights, policies built upon the “new reality of a politically awakening world.”

In May 1981, President Ronald Reagan made his first public appearance after the attempt on his life in March of that year. Like Carter, Reagan proved prescient in his remarks on foreign policy, saying: “The West will not contain communism, it will transcend communism. We’ll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”

President George H.W. Bush, was the University’s principal Commencement speaker in 1992. The elder Bush used the occasion to focus on family values and service to society.

Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, delivered his first presidential commencement address at Notre Dame in May 2001, declaring that the nation’s faith-based organizations were central to the war on poverty.

President John F. Kennedy — the nation’s only Catholic president — received the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame’s highest honor, in a White House ceremony in 1961, and as a U.S. senator in 1950 delivered the winter Commencement address and received an honorary degree.

Notre Dame also awarded honorary degrees to Presidents Franklin
Roosevelt and Gerald Ford, but those were at special academic convocations, not at Commencement ceremonies.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

My President is Black

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The 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama, the first African American to be elected to the highest office in the land. The media announced his victory shortly after the west coast polls closed, at around 11 PM ET. What ensued was utter pandemonium around the country, as many took to the streets in liberal strongholds such as Times Square in NYC, as well as the area surrounding the White House gates to celebrate the epic landslide victory. And Chicago, where he was based out of? Hundreds of thousands of supporters flocked to Grant Park just to be able to hear his acceptance speech and to catch a glimpse of the First Family to be.

In Arizona, John McCain also spoke to gathered supporters, giving a very gracious concession speech. I thought the speech was awesome, and  almost felt bad that McCain had lost. Despite some differences in policy, it seemed that the country would have probably been in good hands either way. Here’s the speech in case you missed it. It was excellent, calling for unity and beginning the healing process which must occur between the two sides after such a heated cmpaign. The heap. thanks John McCain for his enthusiastic love for our country, and that he continues to serve it proudly and well.

And then, of course, there was Obama’s speech, which has already been labeled as the “Yes We Can” speech. It will certainly go down in history as one of the most fiery, gracious but yet optimistcally realistic speeches given by a President-elect. If it doesn’t get you to at least feel that Obama has the power to electrify and motivate a majority of our country, then please check your pulse.

Perhaps the majority of Americans fell for the greatest of political ploys last night, a sweet talker backed by the fortuitous shortcomings of the preceding regime. But much like last night was such a historical night, and a monumental step forward for our country, we must wait and see the legacy left behind by Obama before we can make any true judgments.

I can promise you that this is probably the most political the heap. will be, mostly because it doesn’t interest us too much. But it’s hard to ignore history happening right in front of you. In our lifetime. Seeing members of my generation rising up and and actually getting fired up for a cause, even if it is proven to ultimately be misguided and empty, is certainly promising.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Rock the Vote

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The first Tuesday of November is here, meaning Election Day is upon us here in the Unitd States. One Third of the Senate is up for grabs, and a strong Democratic showing will all but ensure a filibuster-proof Democratic majority Senate. Most of the seats in the House are up for election as well. But of course, the main event is the race for the White House.

It is a historic election already. An African American is a presidential candidate for one of the two major parties, and a woman is a vice-presidential candidate for the other party. So either way, a historic event will happen in a few hours. It’s Barack Obama and Joe Biden vs. John McCain and Sarah Palin in an election for the history books.

Who will America choose? More importantly, who will you choose?

Exercise your right to vote if you haven’t already. Even if you are in a traditionally red or blue state, I really feel its a cool experience anyway. And it’s a right that others don’t have in the world. So get out there and vote for the candidates your heart desires! That’s the beauty of it!

But it must be said that Senator Obama’s campaign has received the ever so important endorsement of the heap. and it’s contributors! It could prove to be game breaker, especially here in Florida.

That is, if we can get our act together and actually COUNT the votes this year.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Priorities

bad rays

Thanks to fellow domer Mike Hatke for finding this story. It just goes to show that with out the readership, references and creative content of you heapsters., my little “landfill” if you will, here in cyberspace just wouldn’t be the same. Later this afternoon, The Rant II is also provided by another reader, but we’ll give him the proper credit when the time comes.

If you missed Barack Obama’s historic speech last night, or you just can’t get enough of that smile, check out Fightin’MexiCan’s blog over there on your right. He has the clip up, and his own political analysis (it’s credible… history major at Notre Dame). Also, check out Scott Hagan’s I’m So Bored With the USA. It’s been update with more of his adventures in the Dominican Republic!

As I said, Mike Hatke brought this blurb to my attention. As a Rays fan, I can only applaud this young man’s priorities. A true (Devil) Rays fan ’till the end, he essentially sticks up for them rather than his girlfriend! Hilarious. It’s short enough that I can copy and past the whole thing, but if you want to check out the blog, click here: What Did I Just Do?

When I was in high school being a Rays fan was less about being cool and more about being rebellious. I should clarify; rebellious in the sense that it was unique, like a unibrow. One event that stands out in my mind comes when I was dating a girl named Katie. She wasn’t the biggest of Rays fans, but more than most because she didn’t like baseball one bit. We were an odd couple, to say the least, but she understood that I had needs she simply could not satisfy.

We dated for about a month before that faithful night. It was the weekend before homecoming and a friend of mine was holding a party. Katie and I agreed to meet up there because I wanted to see the end of the Rays and Yankees game before arriving. The game lasted longer than I had anticipated and when I arrived Katie was nowhere to be found, at least until I went upstairs where she was cornered by a guy.

His hands all over her, much to her dismay, as she attempted to wiggle away from him while telling him to leave her alone. I rushed over and pulled him off. He immediately looked down at my shirt which featured the Rays insignia (these were the days of green) and decided to comment “She has low standards if she’s willing to date a Rays fan.”

I could not believe this guy was brave as to insult something I cherished that much right in front of me. I figured he would not be so daring as to say it twice. I asked him what it was he said. He repeated. I flew off the handle and grabbed him by his popped collar, throwing him against a wall.

“If you ever and I do mean ever say something like that again I will put you through this wall. The Rays will be good before you know it.”
At this point he had a bewildered look on his face. “What about her?” he asked.

“Same for her, she knows her place.”

By now most of the party had gathered around to see a fight or something, but much to their disappointment nothing happened publicly. Katie dumped me, and my night ended in heartache.

The Rays lost.

Absolutely hilarious story. Props to R.J. Anderson, who ever you are. Don’t know if I would have done the same thing… I don’t even think I had that much faith in the Rays at the time in general…

Like I said, a new edition of The Rant should be up today, and perhaps some sci-fi list action? We shall see 🙂 .

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