Thursday, August 09, 2007

Clerics [and religious] and higher education

Athanasius has written a post on why college is a waste of time.

via Abbey-Roads2, which was found at the Western Confucian

Should higher studies be out of the reach except for clerics and the religious? iirc, an education in the liberal arts was required before one could go on to study law, medicine, or theology. How many lay men pursued these studies? Things were much simpler back then, and so temporary relocation would not be as much of a hassle--clothing, books and so on. But nowadays, with studies in the "humanities" so centered on the writrten word as they are, how can one avoid not accumulating a small library by the time he is done with his graduate education? And then there is the hassle of moving to another state in order to attend a school there. Some schools may provide housing for its graduate students (with furinture), but this is definitely not the case for Boston College. And so one must buy new furniture and dispose of it when one leaves (unless one is willing to move it to another state, or resettle in the state where the school is), either selling it or junking it. What a waste!

Those how have taken a vow or promise of poverty might fare better, especially if the university were to house and feed them at minimal expense. The needs of clerics and the religious should be less than that of the average lay person, and with graduate education spanning anywhere from 4 to 8 years, what lay person can really afford to take that much time away from the real world, epsecially if he wants to get married? Getting married requires a lot of financial preparation, and even if one curbs his desires, the stipend he may receive will not be adequate to support a family. Certainly when he is first hired his salary will not be much better than that of an public elementary school teacher, and may be even worse (especially in Massachusetts or California). It seems more worthwhile to invest money and resources into the intellectual formation of a cleric or religious who is "settled" in his vocation and has a more specific call to the intellectual apostolate. Alas, the Jesuits are in bad shape, and no longer produce highly-trained scholastics who possess the scientia in an integrated form, and they no longer adhere to the original Ratio Studiorum (as far as I know), justifying this decision on the need to "modernize." I don't see the Legionaries replacing the Jesuits in this respect in the next 20 years.

If there is to be a renweal of Catholic higher education (especially at the graduate level), I think it will have to come through the initiative of religious. Lay Catholics have too many financial burdens. Perhaps in the future there will be enough graduates of TAC and Christendom who have earned PhDs in philosophy and theology that they can work for the establishment of a new graduate program in either discipline and affiliated with either college. But this seems to me to be unlikely. Better to focus resources on the intellectual development of religious and clerics, than on a program catering to the laity? But, as God wills!

As for a liberal arts education--while this may be beneficial to some lay people, I still think that this should be pushed earlier, and replace secondary school for those who have the appropriate gifts and inclination. In a specialized economy, most people will require nothing beyond technical training, though some exposure to the liberal arts might be commendable. The question is what will the economy make possible?

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