Readers know that we have had our differences with Penn State over the past year. But fairness demands that we give Penn State its due when merited.
In last month’s Catalyst, we ran a piece objecting to a Penn State brochure for its conference on Education Technology. It showed a man resembling Christ with pens and pencils pierced in his body. Conference Chairman Professor Henry C. Johnson, Jr. responded with a sincere letter that puts to rest any bad intent. A lengthy description of the image that we objected to was provided.
In essence, the figure was supposed to represent St. Sebastian and the message of the artist was to show how human life can be subjugated by technology, especially as it bears on language and communication. “Furthermore, and ironically,” wrote Johnson, “the assault on religion and the sacred, as legitimate aspects of human experience, exacerbated by the increasing impact of technology, is a principal theme of Ellul and Illich, and several presentations from that perspective are scheduled during the Conference.”
In his letter to Dr. Donohue, Professor Johnson said that “all of us on the Conference Committee would share the goals of your important organization.” At the bottom of his letter, he added, “There is, of course, no relation between our project and the art exhibits you cite, which most of us view with equal distaste, although that is not a strong enough term.”
Also meriting our attention is a statement from Andrew Sicree, Curator of Penn State’s Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum. In August, Sicree wrote a letter to the National Museum of American History decrying the Smithsonian organization’s “Science in American Life” exhibit. Sicree objected to the way the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraception were misrepresented. He even agreed to go to D.C. to explain Humanae Vitae to the directors.
This is good news. The Catholic League has no agenda against any person or institution and is only too happy to report on good news, as well as bad news.