Wednesday, April 19, 2006
"Super Catholic" ID Card Could Solve Catholic Identity Issues
A former Department of Homeland Security official and RBCU* alumnus suggested a novel solution to ongoing "Catholic identity" issues debated at RBCU at a campus forum yesterday: the "Super Catholic" identification card.
Instead of engaging the draining battles against the typical culprits--whether the Administration will allow The Vagina Monologues on campus, sponsoring special interest groups that may or may not agree with Catholic teaching, or how many credits in Theology are in the general education curriculum--Brandon Well says that complexity can be put to a halt with a simple punch card I.D. "The beauty is in the simplicity of it all. When a student registers into the university, he or she gets this snazzy 'RBCU Super Catholic' card with the student's face and name. It can be used on one edge for adding money for the school cafe, bookstore, etc., or as a door key to dorms. The other edge gets a raised nub--a dent put in with a stylus--every time that student attends Mass, prays through Campus Ministry, participates in a sacrament, or wears a WWJD wristband," Well argued. When the card is "nubbed out," the student could receive another one, although he or she may wish to keep the other as a mark of distinction in Catholic observance.
It would be up to the school as to how to deal with students with smooth cards would be handled, Well said. "It does raise issues. Are smooth cards a college judicial offense? Could a person be reprimanded? Or would the card force students to self-select attending a distinctively Catholic school like RBCU? Either way, I think you have the Catholic identity problem solved."
In a phone interview after the forum, this reporter asked Well if something as complex as institutional identity can be held in a plastic card. Well responded, "I didn't want to say so on campus, but complexity at a college campus tends to be overrated. Look at the theological greats of the Catholic tradition, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. Clear as a sanctus bell. Look at the greatest practitioner of the faith, Francis of Assisi. Obvious as can be he is Catholic."
I.C.: "Yes, but those greats had their detractors within the Church at the time--Thomas' work was condemned for a few years after his death, and Augustine was constantly defining Christianity against the Donatists and Pelagians. And Francis had some problems from the powerful Pope Innocent III...."
Well: "OK, but perhaps they would have had an easier time of it if they had their own cards, right? Cut through the muck and darkness of their own ages?"
Well added at the forum, "There is no reason that these cards wouldn't appeal to today's undergraduates. I foresee a kind of 'buy ten get something free' strategy...maybe 'get ten nubs, get 50% off the new Compendium to the Catechism.' It can be a kind of conspicuous consumption of devotional life."
RBCU administration responded to our queries with "no comment." However, a handful of students left the forum and sat in a silent circle in the campus plaza, holding a single sign, stating "Matthew 6:5-6."
*Really Big Catholic University