Just as I started to draft a post on the recent news that Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, Pope Francis’s Apostolic Commissioner in charge of unjustly dismantling the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI), has been found guilty of defamation and ordered to apologize publicly while making restitution, a friend alerted me to a fresh piece by Steve Skojec: “Crypto-Lefebvrianism & the Willful Confusion Around the SSPX.” Though Skojec devotes only a single paragraph to the Volpi affair, his decision to turn his thoughts toward the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and the problematic manner in which they are treated by the wider Catholic Church is one which I wish to applaud. Not only does Skojec highlight the disgraceful manner in which the Society has been rendered toxic by various ideologues within the Church, he forcefully proclaims a truth which the SSPX’s legion of critics wish to obscure:
Dr. John Rao, an associate professor of history at St. John’s University, pulled double duty in traditional Catholic cyberland. First, over at The Josias, the opening part of Rao’s survey of the Catholic Church’s relationship to contemporary secularism, “The Question of the Res Publica Christiana in Post-Conciliar Catholic Doctrines,” went up online. Parts two and three will follow in due course. Next, over at Rorate Caeli, you can find Rao’s guest post, “Is the Papacy in Turmoil?–Call in the Outsiders.” Both pieces are well worth reading.
For those who care neither about plagiarism nor legal academia, I assure you this will be my last post on these matters (for now). In the previous post, I sketched how law professors can, and often do, incorporate student work into their scholarly output with less-than-adequate attribution. In perusing a few websites and articles (the very few that ever dare take up this topic), I noticed that one of the frequent defenses of this practice lies in the fact that professors must routinely direct students to their sources; provide details on how they want them analyzed and written up; and then make further modifications—usually stylistic—on the final product. All of that may be true in some circumstances, but I know from first-hand knowledge that the versions of events I set forth previously does occur. And, furthermore, I have seen little evidence that the practice isn’t widespread or just limited to a handful of wayward professors.
Following up on yesterday’s post, “A Note on Plagiarism,” I want to say a bit more about the phenomenon of plagiarism in legal academia. While some high-profile incidents have occurred in the past, it’s still a topic rarely discussed—unless it involves students. Students who commit plagiarism, such as Harvard Law graduate Megon Walker, can expect to find their career prospects crushed, assuming they are not expelled. Professors who commit plagiarism, on the other hand, have a playbook of defenses, some more plausible than others. For example, professors who are “busted” for improperly citing sources or lifting passages from other works without attribution can avail themselves of the excuse that it wasn’t their fault; one of their numerous student research assistants (RAs) must have done it. And that is the end of the story.
Several acquaintances of mine have been discussing the recent firing of Jared Keller, News Director for the online millennial news site Mic. (No, I am not a reader.) The cause? Plagiarism. According to Gawker (another site I don’t normally visit), Keller either plagiarized or improperly attributed sources at least 20 times over the past several months. Contrary to those who are reveling in Keller’s downfall while yammering on about the importance of “journalistic integrity,” I don’t see much of an issue with Keller’s cut-and-paste approach to journalism. As best as I can tell from briefly (and I do mean briefly) perusing Gawker’s list, not a shred of the information Keller lifted was unique to the original source; it appears Keller was just too lazy to go find it on his own. As for using someone else’s writing, well, none of the stolen prose was breaking new stylistic ground. Keller may have made his days run a little smoother by playing fast n’ loose with the time-honored rules of journalism, but he certainly wasn’t setting himself up for the Pulitzer.
This week’s installment, which only includes links about 50 Shades of Grey.
In a series of articles which have appeared in The Angelus, Front Porch Republic, and The Josias, I have attempted to sketch a general outline of what John Zmirak broadly decries as “illiberal Catholicism” and what I now prefer to differentiate into two camps: “radical” and “integralist Catholics.” (Those interested in these and other “off-blog” pieces can find them linked in the “Writings” section.) After scanning through various remarks on these articles in comboxes, blogs, and social media sites, it appears that there is still some confusion about integralism generally and the project of The Josias specifically. Without wishing to drape myself in the mantle of being a spokesman for a movement to which I only contribute modestly, allow me to offer a few general clarifying remarks which may prove useful to those who have only recently come upon what I hope will be a sustained integralist turn in Catholic thought. None of these comments are intended to criticize those who may harbor some misunderstandings about what Catholic integralism is for or how it relates to other socio-political paradigms both within and beyond the Catholic tradition. I take full responsibility for any ambiguities, misstatements, or unwarranted generalizations which may have crept into my previous writings on integralism, just as I recognize that this blog entry will hardly amount to my final word on the subject.
Here is a two-part reading recommendation for all of you.
First, the Thomistic blog Stomachosus Thomistarum is back from hiatus. After you finish perusing the archives, you may wish to cast your eyes on the author’s multi-part translation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s obscure (and arguably unofficial) response to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s dubia concerning Dignitatis Humanae.
Second, over at The Josias, “Beatrice Freccia” makes her debut with an outstanding, and no doubt controversial, article, “Understanding Aristotle’s Account of the Relationship of the Household to the State.” The second part will be up on Wednesday.
The precise location of Aristotle’s immortal soul we know not. That he lived, philosophized, and died is the most we can say certainly; but with Dante we may dare hope that a pleasant place in eternity has been reserved for the man reverently known as the Philosopher. This awe before the might of his intellect and the high morals he was thought to exhibit on the basis of his philosophical reflection is in short supply today, for Aristotle, contrary to those who call themselves philosophers today, lived for truth. Unlike Socrates, Aristotle did not perish for the truth, but there is some evidence that he suffered late in life for it. Suffering for the truth, even natural truth, is a perennial phenomenon in human history, though we, sophisticated men of the 21st Century, pay such sacrifices little mind; and we are made aware of them, feelings of contempt suppress any glimmer of admiration. There are, so the story goes, so many things to live for today: consumption, clothes, iPads, sex, etc. All of life can and ought to be ceaseless entertainment and unprecedented comfort. To suffer is to have failed at contemporary existence, and to suffer for something as “contingent” and “fleeting” as truth could very well by called, by our dim lights, the grossest form of idiocy.
Due to other commitments (i.e., finishing overdue articles) I haven’t had any time for the “Weekly Reading” posts that I was accustomed to doing. Today it returns, in slightly self-promotional form.