Charles E. Rice—“God is not dead. He isn’t even tired”; a Christendom College Commencement Address

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President O'Donnell asked me to give this address, I expressed one concern: "Will there be a protest? And will you prosecute the protestors? Or at least 88 of them?" He made no commitment. I accepted anyway.

So what can I tell you? This is a time of crises. The economy is a mess, the culture is a mess, the government is out of control. And, in the last three years, Notre Dame lost 21 football games. But this is a great time for us to be here, especially you graduates of this superbly Catholic college. This is so because the remedy for the general meltdown today is found only in Christ and in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Let's talk bluntly about our situation and what you can do about it.

Read it all but please note: I would be grateful to readers if there could be no comments about the historical reference to Germany but instead to the larger argument--thank you; KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsSecularism

Posted May 25, 2010 at 12:05 am

To comment on this article: Go to Article View

The URL for this article is

1. IchabodKunkleberry wrote:

Incisively written from an unapologetically and unflinchingly Christian
point of view. The logic of his argument is irresistible.

Without getting into any real discussion of 1930’s Germany, the
article did provide a salutary reminder that the mechanisms of
democratic states can be manipulated to evil ends. It is so
very important to understand that our national constitution in no
way implies the infallibility of our political institutions. The relativism
which has subverted both language and our national institutions
has allowed the horrors of abortion and same-sex marriage.

May 25, 1:53 am | [comment link]
2. MarkP wrote:

“I would be grateful to readers if there could be no comments about the historical reference to Germany”

Dear KSH: The reference to Nazism set the context for the whole thing. “Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

May 25, 8:12 am | [comment link]
3. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I noted that he made reference to the vile and Evil Soviet Empire’s “legal” use of the gulags and their control over education.  So much more could have been said.  The communists/socialists murdered over 100,000,000 of their own citizens in the 20th century…from deliberate starving in the Ukraine to the killing fields of Cambodia…and they are by far the worst (5 times worse) than the other government system mentioned.  Yet today, we are pressing closer and closer to socialism/communism with nary a wimper of protest or warning about the murder inherent in that system; we hear only about the loss of some finances and the undue usurpation of some specific freedoms.  Communism/socialism is inherently murderous.

This is communism/socialism in a nutshell:

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for someone’s blood, let’s waylay some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse” -  my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. ~ Proverbs 1:10-16

For me, the money quote in the article was:

It is time for us to shed our inferiority complex. We allow ourselves to be conned into thinking that the smart guys are the academics who think that something can come from nothing, who are sure that they can’t be sure of anything and who think that freedom means, without limit, the power and right to do whatever they want. This culture has lost not only its faith but also its mind. They need to hear the truth, especially about the right to life.

I’m not sure I agree about contraception, but it is worth thinking about and studying the issue.  Just as the Lord made us husbandmen over creatures, are we not also stewards of our own bodies?  Just as we may and should make rational choices for the good of all when it concerns our stewardship of the creation, are we not also to make decisions and choices about the size of our families in accordance with how we are able to support them?  These are worthy things to consider and the article did give plenty of food for thought.

Finally, I was with the speaker right up to the very last paragraph where he encouraged prayer to Mary.  Now I agree that Mary is blessed and all generations shall call her so, but I do not agree that we are to pray to her.  I pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.  There is one God and Mary is not God.  We pray to God alone and we have no other gods before the one true God.  That’s my take.

All in all, a most excellent article.  Thanks for posting it.

May 25, 8:57 am | [comment link]
4. Dan Crawford wrote:

Ah, yes. It’s is always an indication of rational thought and learned discourse when the first black president of the United States is compared to Hitler, Stalin, Mao. But then from certain sectors of the American polity, rational discourse is as rare as a hen’s tooth. Apparently, one should expect such stuff from a place which arrogantly refers to itself as “Christendom College” as if it alone possess “Christendom”.

May 25, 9:26 am | [comment link]
5. MarkP wrote:

A question has been gnawing at my mind since I made my previous comment, so I’d like to ask it even if I’m running the risk of seeming to ignore Kendall’s request. Feel free to remove this, elves. But understanding this would would help me understand the thinking of the (many) people who talk this way.

Do you think the author believes that much of western Europe—with its welfare state, mandated health care, labor laws, and the rest—has been worse on the scale of power concentration than Hitler’s Germany for the past, oh, 40 years? I wonder to what extent this is about his sense of losing specifically American freedoms. Could he have used the government of France, say, as his yardstick rather than 1930’s Germany?

May 25, 9:57 am | [comment link]
6. newcollegegrad wrote:

It’s puzzling why the skin color or ethnic background of a president should determine his or her immunity to a commonplace slur within U.S. politics. On the merits of President Obama’s policies is he anything like Hilter, et al., and if the answer is no isn’t that the relevant objection?

An even better objection is that “You are like [insert dastardly villain from history or literature here]” is weak, lazy political rhetoric. That Obama, very Darth Vader like.

May 25, 11:11 am | [comment link]
7. St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse wrote:

Sick & Tired mentioned:

I’m not sure I agree about contraception, but it is worth thinking about and studying the issue.  Just as the Lord made us husbandmen over creatures, are we not also stewards of our own bodies?  Just as we may and should make rational choices for the good of all when it concerns our stewardship of the creation, are we not also to make decisions and choices about the size of our families in accordance with how we are able to support them?

Trust in the Lord, my friend, trust that He will provide you with means.  I am the oldest of 9, and saw my parents struggle along in faith as my younger siblings arrived.  One by one they arrived, and the Lord always blessed us with opportunities for my father to provide for our family.

I have only 4 so far, but all along, when we’ve needed it, the Lord has provided.  Our last (not final) child was preceded by a raise at work, and so I was expecting that a child was coming when the Lord blessed us so.

Trust.  Remember, Jesus told us that we are worth more to God than the sparrows in the air and the lilies in the field.  Just trust that God will provide.  You may not be living as comfortable as you might wish, but we find in all things a way to become closer to Jesus by uniting our sufferings and sacrifices with His.

Just trust in the Lord.  Contraception shows a lack of trust, and an unwillingness to fully give yourself to not only your earthly spouse, but our heavenly Bridegroom.  Trust in the Lord.

May 25, 11:26 am | [comment link]
8. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Ah, yes. It’s is always an indication of rational thought and learned discourse when the first black president of the United States is compared to Hitler, Stalin, Mao.”

Agreed.  Why Dan Crawford has therefore brought up such a thing and inserted into this thread is anybody’s guess.  One wonders if he actually read the article or just has a difficulty in quoting correctly and understanding.

May 25, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
9. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Hi St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse,

Thanks for your input and congratulations on being the father of 4.  We have 3 and my youngest is not quite 6 months old (I am 46 and my wife is 41).  We have struggled with this issue, despite being evangelicals.  We consider ourselves catholics (small “C” deliberate) as we believe the truth of the creeds and are members of Christ’s Church (I suppose some call it “mysterious”), as are all those that love Him and follow Him.

I confess that I share almost all Roman Catholic moral stances (support for illegal immigrants being a notable exception) and find them a closer fit than most of the mainline protestant denominations.  This common cause springs from, I believe, the fact that we share a genuine and common faith - we actually believe that Jesus Christ is God and that the Father raised Him from the dead and we confess this with our mouths.  We also believe the Scriptures are true.  So, once again, I see a great deal of common ground, despite some significant theological differences.

I often listen very carefully to what the Roman Catholic and Orthodox have to say on matters of faith and morals because, though I am Protestant, I remain part of the catholic Church and believe that we share this in common.

So thank you for the encouragement.  We will continue to seek the will of the Lord as best we can.

God bless you.

May 25, 12:49 pm | [comment link]
10. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I think it is reasonable to compare the current administration, with it’s drive toward socialism, with historic examples of the extreme ends of that path.  Why you choose to inject race into the discussion says a lot more about you and your own biases than it does any of the comments in either the article or on this blog.

To be blunt, your injecting the ethnicity of President Obama into a discussion of his policies and their comparison to socialist policies of historic record are the only racism viewable in either the comments or the article.  I think almost everyone would appreciate it if you checked that at the door.  I hope that was clear.  Racism has no place in this discourse and your introduction of it is unwelcome.

May 25, 12:59 pm | [comment link]
11. newcollegegrad wrote:

Two reasons not to compare the Obama administration to “the extreme ends of that path”:

1.  Social democracies/mixed economies such as France or Great Britain are not going to construct death camps and gulags. Where’s the evidence that Obama would want more state control of the U.S. economy than those two examples and that for him the methods of Hitler Stalin and Mao are the ticket? (If your argument is abortion, how does this distinguish the President from his predecessors?)

2. Hinting at apocalyptic scenarios distracts us from more likely problems—insolvency or significant losses of personal and economic freedom. It substitutes polemic for reasoned argument. It is reasonable to disdain statist economies even if they do not result in death camps.

May 25, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
12. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Time out.  On a more irenic note, when I read the threat title, “God is not dead.  He’s not even tired.” I was reminded of a lovely, memorable response that the late Ruth Graham gave years ago when a reporter asked her about her response to some theologian (maybe Thomas Altizer) or religious leader who had said, “God is dead.”  She feigned surprise, and quipped, “That’s odd.  I just talked with Him this morning.

On a less irenic note, contra Dan in his #4, I see nothing inherently arrogant in a Christian college calling itself Christendom College (as if that amounted to claiming some monopoly).  But I do think it’s a surprising and unwise choice on other grounds, since the whole conept of “Christendom” is very outdated.  The marriage of Church and State has proceeded beyond mere separation now to outright divorce in most of the western world.  Instead of nostalgically trying to recreate the union of Christian faith and European culture that marked the Middle Ages, what we need are distinctively Christian schools that help shape young graduates into the kind of deeply dedicated followers of Jesus that can not only survive but thrive and bear much fruit as a despised, misunderstood minority in an increasingly neo-pagan and anti-Christian culture.

David Handy+
Passionate advocate of aggressively post-Christendom style Christianity for the 3rd millenium

May 25, 4:45 pm | [comment link]
13. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:


Hello and congratulations on your recent graduation. 

If the comparison between the Obama administration and the Nazis and Soviet Union were universal, I think you would be right in what you are saying.  However, the comparisons were specific and narrow.

The comparisons were used for two purposes.  The first was discussing the similarities between the Enabling Act being irreversible and opening the way for total national socialist control of the individual and how the Health Care Reform Act may be doing something similar.  We may disagree with the comparison, but I think it was a fair and reasoned one, if a bit dramatic.

The second comparison was concerning government control of student loans (as part of the Health Care Act) and the similarities that that type of control has with the Soviet Union and the Nazi regimes and how that “opens the way to make political loyalty a test for educational advancement”.  Again, we may disagree with this assessment, but I think it was a reasonable comparison about the possibility of coercion (in the form of enabling education or disabling education of individuals) unless loyalty was obtained.  One might also compare that with Chicago politics or even feudal patronage with its oaths of loyalty.

So, respectfully, I disagree with you.  I think you are focused on the end of the path and a comparison between the Obama administration and those extreme ends of socialism, while the author (and at least this reader) understood the comparisons to be between the current steps that the Obama administration is taking and the historic steps that some very very bad socialist governments also took.  Therefore, I think the comparisons are valid because there are remarkable similarities between the steps that were historically taken by those evil regimes and some of the steps being taken by the Obama administration.  The narrow scope of the comparisons I think make them valid.  If they were broader, then I would agree with your assessment.

May 25, 7:52 pm | [comment link]

© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

<< Back to main page

<< Return to Mobile view (headlines)