Bunnies, Glocks, and Mount St. Mary’s

Years ago I had the privilege of running in a few 5K races at Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU) in Emmitsburg, MD.  My familiarity with MSMU from the race experiences was what probably drew my attention to an article I ran across at: http://www.crisismagazine.com.   The article by Anne Hendershott,  Can a Business Leader Understand a Caholic University? , explores the tension that exists when changes are needed at academic institutions in order to keep them financially viable.  As always for any institution, making changes or simply staying the course for the time, leadership is a critical component.  And, how well that was handled in the case discussed in this article I’ll leave to you to decide.  The purpose of this blog simply is to help me work through what it means to be a successful enterprise while balancing goals, values, pragmatic considerations and the role of leadership.  And the article may be of interest to you as well.  Also, as an aside, the Hendershott article also mentions student and faculty unrest at the University of Missouri where I studied as an undergraduate.  I must admit that I was embarrassed about the unrest at Mizzou, especially when the football team threatened to boycott a scheduled game if the disgruntled students’ demands were not met. 
It is noted that in preparing for this post I spoke with the article’s author, Ms. Hindershott.    I sent her a note requesting that she contact me as I had a question regarding her article.  I wanted to determine for sure exactly who the “bunnies” were in her article.  On my initial reading of the article I, and also John Kershenstein (see his comments below, believed the bunnies could refer to either students or programs or particular courses of study at MSMU.  But, by the time she called in response to the note I sent I had already found the clarification I needed.  So we simply chatted briefly.  She was most gracious. [Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books).] 
Regarding the clarification I was seeking, I found an article by Susan Svrluga in the Washington Post most useful and I’m including that article, University president allegedly says struggling freshmen are bunnies that should be drowned, below. It contains additional interesting information about the MSMU situation. [Ms. Svrluga is a reporter covering higher education for the Post.]
Following the Hendershott and Syrluga articles I am also including comments from two of my friends, actually a father son combo, who shared their reactions to the situation at MSMU as described by Ms. Hendershott’s article.  The father, John Kershenstein, a retired PhD Naval Research Laboratory Physicist, and his son Jay Kershenstein, a regional operations director for the mid-Atlantic group of VCA Animal Hospitals.  They have different perspectives.  Jay, the son, actually attended MSMU and John was graduated from Georgetown University.  MSMU is a very strong adherent to basic Catholic doctrine.  Georgetown University, not so much. RMF

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Can a Business Leader Understand a Catholic University?
by Anne Hendershott

Mount Saint Mary's University

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Anne Hendershott

Anne Hendershott

In an attempt to help their highly ranked—yet financially struggling—Catholic university, the Board of Trustees at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD, hired Simon Newman, a Los Angeles private equity and strategic planning leader to be its new president in 2014. A year later, Newman found himself at the center of a faculty-fed firestorm over some intemperate remarks. According to media sources, Newman was talking with some faculty members about retention strategies when he jokingly said: “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t, you just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.” The faculty did not appreciate the joke.  Continue reading

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The Higgs Boson explained

Here is a neat little article, and video link, by  Fraser Cain, the publisher of Universe Today. He’s also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.  If you have a bit of difficulty in understanding particle physics you’re not alone.  I know I struggle with it and am always happy when something comes along which helps me get a better understanding.  The article and accompanying video helped me in this regard with respect to getting a clue about the Higgs Boson. The video and article appeared at: www.universetoday.com as: What is the Higgs Boson? I hope you enjoy it and leave better informed.  Incidentally, the Higgs Boson has been called The God Particle.  Here is a Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams that picks up on that theme.  (A Hat Tip to Pat Furgerson for sharing.)  RMF

Dilbert discovers the Higgs Boson by Scott Adams

Dilbert discovers the Higgs Boson by Scott Adams

WHAT IS THE HIGGS BOSON?

by Fraser Cain Video

Fraser Cain

Fraser Cain

What is this thing we keep hearing about – the Higgs Boson, and why is it important?  (Click HERE for link to the video)

It’s been said that the best way to learn is to teach. And so, today I’m going to explain everything I can about the Higgs boson. And if I do this right, maybe, just maybe, I’ll understand it a little better by the end of the episode.

I’d like to be clear that this video is for the person whose eyes glaze over every time you hear the term Higgs boson. You know it’s some kind of particle, Nobel prize, mass, blah blah. But you don’t really get what it is and why it’s important.

First, let’s start with the Standard Model. These are essentially the laws of particle physics as scientists understand them. They explain all the matter and forces we see all around us. Well, most of the matter, there are a few big mysteries, which we’ll discuss as we get deeper into this.  Continue reading

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What to make of imperfections – a close look

One would have to be hopelessly numb to fail to recognize that things are amiss.  There are injustices and cruelties and things just terribly out of whack.  The issue is what to do about it.  Change is needed but what type of change?  That is largely the question facing the electorate in the upcoming presidential election.  There is no need for me to spell out the contrasts between the parties and indeed even among the warring candidates.  You know them.  And, no one political solution is the panacea for a perfect society.  As a Christian I don’t believe that the perfect is going to appear until the Lord’s Kingdom is made complete and He is sovereign over all.  For now there are very scary directions that things can go – either to the extreme right or left.  What is perplexing is that there is a great deal of dismissiveness on all sides.  Name calling, divisiveness and hatefulness appear to rule.  The following Crisis Magazine (crisismagazine.com) article by Sean Haylock deals to that somewhat with the way the academic intelligentsia, in at least some cases, are not willing to join in the discussion being so convinced of their superiority to the dunces on the right.  I’m sure that there are likewise those on the right who are incapable or unwilling to engage in debate as it is so much easier to simply shout louder.  This article, which appeared first as: Left Ideas and Their Consequences  is at least fair I believe in the basic approach to the issues addressed.
I need to say that I’m personally not familiar with all the sources to which  Mr. Haycock refers so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is an honest reporter insofar as the way he characterizes publications and authoritative statements.  If you discover any elements of the article which are presented as factual but which you find to be inaccurate please let me know.  RMF

New Left Ideas and Their Consequences
SEAN HAYLOCK

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Victims of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge Cambodian Genocide

Victims of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge Cambodian Genocide

The world is not good enough. It could be better. We all agree about that. There are disagreements over how bad it is and what causes this inadequacy. A popular explanation is that all of the world’s problems are caused by oppression, the process by which the powerful exercise their supremacy over the weak. It is a seductive myth, often employed to license resentment toward the majority of decent people who don’t view the world in such Manichean terms. If you aren’t a revolutionary then you are an accomplice of the hateful establishment.

This is the kind of thinking that gave us the gulag, and it is the favored mode of thought in humanities departments the world over. Academics who rank Lenin and Mao among their greatest influences are subjects of veneration. Men who have repeatedly apologized for mass murder are regarded as geniuses. Propaganda is received as insightful scholarship. In the worst cases, homicidal rants are treated as righteousness itself. How has this happened? By what subtle arts have the acolytes of Marx taken hostage the minds of three generations of university students?   Continue reading

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Morality – is it simply subjective or are there some absolutes?

There are many things that leave my head spinning. Once you get past quantum physics the culprit that gives me the greatest fit is philosophy and in particular moral philosophy (ethics). It is not because moral philosophy is that complex, although it is dealing as it does with with systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. But it matters to me personally just because it is personal. It has to do with how I, me, act, treat others, and expect others to be. And, it directly intersects with my Christian faith, my concept of God as the embodiment of perfect righteousness and His call on my life.
Per Wikipedia,  as a branch of philosophy, morality investigates the questions such as:”What is the best way for people to live?” and “What actions are right or wrong in particular circumstances?” In practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual inquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory.
The following article by Scott Rae advances the position that morality is objective and not simply a matter of individual interpretation.  You may agree or disagree but it is worth serious consideration.  The article appeared at: http://www.thegoodbookblog.com as: On the Objectivity of Morality.  Dr. Rae is Professor of Christian Ethics and Dean of the Faculty at the Talbot School of Theology.   Dr. Rae’s primary interests are medical ethics and business ethics and the application of Christian ethics to medicine and the marketplace. He has authored 10 books on ethics.  RMF

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 11.06.12 PMOn the Objectivity of Morality

On the Objectivity of Morality
By Scott Rae

Professor Scott Rae

Professor Scott Rae

We are moving in our culture toward a view of morality that renders moral values and virtues as no more than simply matters of opinion with no force or application beyond the individual who holds such a view. The contrasts sharply with the notion of morality from a Christian worldview that insists that moral assessments are not only objective but also matters of truth and knowledge. As we come to the celebration of MLK day next week, we should be reminded that King himself held that the moral values on which the civil rights movement was based, were objective and knowable by the average person in the streets. He held that they were objective truths of morality, not subjective matters of individual preference.

Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell

My friend and colleague Sean McDowell uses a creative exercise to make this subjective-objective distinction clear to his students. He puts several statements up on the screen and asks the students to shout out either “ice cream” or “insulin” at the statement. The “ice cream” designation indicates a subjective statement, which resembles someone’s preference for flavors of ice cream. By contrast, the “insulin” label suggests an objective statement, which is akin to the statement that insulin is necessary for the body to process sugars. Continue reading

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The Big Outlook

George Will is known mostly for his political commentary.  He has the distinction of being praised by conservatives and univerally condemned by liberals.  Well, in the following article he probably didn’t upset anyone too much although just the mention of his name may be enough to evoke outrage in his most ardent detractors.  Regardless, I found it interesting and instructive so decided to share it with you.  So, here goes.  The article appeared in http://www.nationalreview.com as The Hubble Telescope’s Replacement Will Look for Clues to the Universe’s Origin. RMF

The Hubble Telescope’s Replacement Will Look for Clues to the Universe’s Origin
by GEORGE WILL

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The James Webb Space Telescope (Artist Conception)

Twinkling stars are pretty but, for astronomers, problematic. Twinkles are caused by the interference of Earth’s atmosphere with light radiating throughout the breathtakingly beautiful and unimaginably violent universe. In 1990, however, the Hubble telescope went into orbit 370 miles above Earth, beyond the atmospheric filter, peering perhaps 12 billion years into the past, almost to the Big Bang of 13.7 billion years ago.

George Will

George Will

It has seen interesting things, including HD 189733b, a planet about 63 light-years (370 trillion miles) away, where winds exceed 4,000 mph and it rains molten glass. As Hubble nears the end of its life, its much more capable successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, named after a former NASA administrator, is being developed at Johns Hopkins University.

The campus has several history departments. Some study humanity’s achievements during its existence, which has been barely a blink in cosmic time. Other historians — the scientists and engineers of the Space Telescope Science Institute — study the origins of everything in order to understand humanity’s origins. In 2018, Webb will be situated 940,000 miles from Earth, orbiting the sun in tandem with Earth, to continue investigating our place in the universe.   Continue reading

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Bright — I mean really, really bright.

The longer scientists explore the universe using ever more sophisticated methods and increasingly powerful tools the more they find.  And this is not surprising.  However, the fact that new discoveries are anticipated does nothing to diminish the amazement that can accompany such discoveries.  This was emphasized in dramatic fashion in the case of ASAS-SN-15lh, the explosion of  what is thought to be a superluminous supernova. Do your best to comprehend the magnitude of the power described in the following article which appeared at: http://www.mentalfloss.com as: Scientists Find a Supernova So Bright It Tests the Laws of Physics.  For me, as a Christian, I know I should not be surprised at what has been created by an omnipotent God — and I’m really not.  But, I am amazed and can only bow in worship and praise.  RMF

Scientists Find a Supernova So Bright It Tests the Laws of Physics

by David W Brown

dong1hr_supernova

IMAGE CREDIT: WAYNE ROSING

There is a thing in space that’s 10 miles in diameter and powering an explosion 20 times brighter than every star in the Milky Way galaxy—combined. The explosion is thought to be a “superluminous supernova” and has been designated ASAS-SN-15lh. It is 200 times brighter than a typical supernova and 570 billion times brighter than the Sun. Details of the phenomenon were published today in Science.

ASAS-SN-15lh (the first part is pronounced “assassin”) doubles the previous record for brightest known supernova. It was discovered by scientists with the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) project. Based at Ohio State University, the project involves the combined efforts of scientists and telescopes around the world. According to its website, ASAS-SN’s goal is to “automatically survey the entire visible sky every night down to about 17th magnitude, more than 25,000 times deeper than human eye.”   Continue reading

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Christians and Scriptural Consistency

Timothy Keller is one of my favorite Christian theologians and writers. In the following article which appeared in Church Leaders as Why Same-Sex Acts Got the Death Penalty in OT but Not Today Keller provides his views regarding seeming inconsistencies in Christian worship and practice.  Do you agree with his understanding?  For those who take the Bible as authoritative this is very important.  For those who view the Bible as merely a set of sometimes useful writings with no bearing on how one should live, not so much.  For those giving the Bible no credibility whatsoever – well, to them it doesn’t matter at all.  RMF

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Why Same-Sex Acts Got the Death Penalty in OT, but Not Today

By Tim Keller

Timothy Keller

Timothy Keller

  I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.”

What I hear most often is, “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t they just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”

It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.

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First of all, let’s be clear that it’s not only the Old Testament that has proscriptions about homosexuality.

The New Testament has plenty to say about it as well. Even Jesus says, in his discussion of divorce in Matthew 19:3-12, that the original design of God was for one man and one woman to be united as one flesh, and failing that (v. 12), persons should abstain from marriage and from sex.

However, let’s get back to considering the larger issue of inconsistency regarding things mentioned in the OT that are no longer practiced by the New Testament people of God. Most Christians don’t know what to say when confronted about this.  Continue reading

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