Let’s begin with a basic premise: The culture war is bad for the life of the mind. And let us consider why: If education is the life of the mind, then the food upon which the mind feasts is the asking of questions.
“Why?” That single word is the most important question in the universe. It is the asking and the answering of that question which has allowed the human mind to understand the physical and the social sciences. Because we know how to respond to the “why?” questions, we are able to grasp the vastness of the cosmos and appreciate the tiniest subatomic particles. Because we know how to deal with “why?” questions, we are can organize our lives in dense and complex patterns. Human society works, in other words, because we know how to address “why?” questions.
Catholic schools were once places where such questions could be openly pursued. But a culture war is ravaging the Catholic primary and secondary school systems of the United States, and as I survey the scene I am increasingly convinced that these skirmishes represent an actual threat to the health and integrity of Catholic schools.
In saying this, I have in mind particularly the schools of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. For what has happened in Cincinnati is absolutely tragic.