The New Meaning of “Cultural Competence”

The absurdity of the mantra “don’t judge” is lost on the ideologues. Ideology is the worship of an idea and as such it is the worship of self because in deciding what ideas to worship, the ideologue makes himself the arbiter of truth and in doing so increases in his own sight.  We Catholics worship the absolute person, the author of life, the Logos, our Christ. He is the standard by which we must judge everything and in worshipping Him, we decrease.

Asking people to “not judge” is like asking them not to breathe.  Jesus himself commands us to judge when he says in John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” This is a reminder of the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19:15,  “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”  In our Lord’s Prayer, when we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others we are best able to forgive properly when we see reality rightly. Proper judgment is also indispensable in the quest to see reality rightly. Therefore, it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of judging rightly.

The oldest intellectual error on record is one of sophistry. To “make the worse argument the better” is to ape God’s omniscience. This is what the serpent did to great effect. The three battle fronts of our spiritual warfare—Satan, a world steeped in the Culture of Death and pervasive self-deceit—make righteous judgment an elusive skill to acquire and an arduous virtue to cultivate. In Genesis 3:17, God says to Adam “cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” Our fallen natures make this true of cultivating the inner landscape as well, which is so important and laborious that we have instituted universities to assist us.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily

Email subscribe inline (#4)

The time has come for our first born to seek the assistance of a university.  Our local university is an asylum holding up the appearances of a college. The idea of a university is an enduring and worthwhile form, but outside of the Newman Society list what real Catholic options are there? We thought we would find out.

We received an invitation to a private Catholic college in Northern California, that bastion of beatnik pride and breeding ground of the barren sexual revolution. The campus is charming, it has a beautiful chapel, and saints’ names and Catholic words are flung around everywhere like rosary beads flying off a broken string. Teachers and students alike seemed very amiable before too many ideas were exchanged.

The appearance of a Catholic identity quickly began to dissipate as words of ideology began to overshadow the physical beauty of the campus. Words of inclusivity, diversity, tolerance and freedom began to paint a portrait of cultivated narcissism. There was a multicultural student panel with four students; one was the valedictorian. They were nice kids but hardly a vision of erudition or moral cultivation. Their testimonies were insipidly self-centered. The contiguous thread that ran through all four talks was the great fun they had there. Far from inspiring confidence, the valedictorian touted diversity by bragging about the LGBT and gay pride club.

After the multi-ethnic model students left, the dean of admissions took parent questions. I asked “this is a Catholic college, does it promote homosexual activity? And how do you square that with Catholic Doctrine?” A flushed silence engulfed the room. The dean of admissions took a moment to blush and regain his composure. With a mock attempt to mask mock distaste for the pedantic, he delivered a well-tempered righteously indignant response:

First of all we don’t promote anything here!
Gay people are everywhere! God created them that way!
Our goal is to promote cultural competence!

The silent tension in the room was palpable. Whether it was because I asked an uncomfortable question or whether the dean’s ideological response gave Catholics pause I am not sure.

At the end of the day in a misguided attempt at fraternal correction I approached the dean and said “that was quite an answer you gave me.” He fired “I just tell the truth.” There was a depth of sincerity in his brisk reply signaling an impassable boundary. This ended our exchange; I thanked him and went home.

To the mind that is nourished by its own authority, what passes for sophistication is childish incongruity. Cognitive dissonance is the mocking imitation of paradox and self-deceit is an abundant renewable resource in the inner landscape of the ideologue.

The dean’s three main points were demonstrably false. First he said “we don’t promote anything!” Even if they were promoting nothing, that would be foul enough. Considering that a religious order runs the school, they ought to promote Catholic truth for a thousand reasons to be found in the Holy Scriptures, explained in the Catechism, taught by the Magisterium and modeled by the Saints. Sadly, instead they are promoting the licentious ideologies that have poisoned the secular universities. But make no mistake; they are promoting plenty.

The dean’s second main point is that “God created them that way.” There is no credible evidence of a “gay” gene, but not for lack of searching. However, there is much anecdotal evidence that same sex attraction is a byproduct of disordered relationships and our fallen tendency to corrupt the natural order of things. Mark Regnerus’ study provides data to what can be observed about the nature of same sex attraction and its damaging effects on children. It demonstrates that being raised by same sex parents leads to a much higher incidence of same sex attraction.  Whether or not one is born with a proclivity towards same sex attraction is of little significance when considering the true nature of the disorder. It is an addiction, a vice, not terribly unlike heterosexual sex addiction.

We know that human sexuality is properly ordered to monogamous and faithful sacramental marriage between two complementary members of the opposite sex for the primary purpose of procreation in forming the building blocks of civilization. Another important purpose is that of communion in the struggle to attain eternal beatitude. Heterosexual and homosexual promiscuity lie outside the healthy boundaries revealed to us by the nature of the Trinity. Neither is to be condoned or encouraged nor do they represent a civil rights struggle, but a struggle with the perversion of a natural appetite

Bishop Fulton Sheen once described the three attributes of the demoniac as the love of nudity, violence, and division—a split mind. The father of lies leaves these fingerprints on his endeavors. As Catholics we are called to speak the truth with charity. If we do not, we have fallen short. But how does the “gay” community respond to Catholic Truth?  Like that of a class seeking civil rights? Or, like that of an addict?  Nudity, violence and double standards characterize “gay” parades, propaganda, and confrontations. A prime example is what happened in Belgium on April 23, 2013, when an Archbishop was attacked by four topless gay rights activists. The good witness prays and the vicious “gay” rights activists degrade with nudity, violence and double standards.

Finally, the dean’s whopper of a lie was to say “Our goal is to promote cultural competence!” That would be a fine goal if by “culture” he was referencing the great cultures throughout history, expressed in the truth, goodness and beauty bequeathed to us by our forefathers. Many cultures are worth much study and contemplation such as the Ancient Greek, Roman and Hebrew cultures.  He was not referencing these cultures; he meant “homosexual culture.”

The idea of “homosexuality” as a culture requiring competence is absurd. It would fall into a completely different category like that of “drug culture” and “sex culture” but not into that category of cultures known to organize and build up civilizations. The contrary category of so-called “cultures” of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll are known to disintegrate civilization. They have an eroding effect because they degrade the integrity of the human person.

This was our first visit to a Catholic college with our eldest daughter. It is incredibly disheartening to think that ideology has replaced the honest pursuit of knowledge, Catholic truth and the cultivation of the mind and soul through the contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful. We must reclaim our Catholic intellectual heritage and wrest it from the hands of the ideologues who have commandeered it and hold it hostage to pathological licentiousness.

The protestors against “gay” marriage in France are wearing pink in a clear sign of reclamation. As Catholics, we must reclaim our universities starting with the words and symbols that have been thieved and violated by the “gay” rights activists. We ought to start by reclaiming the truthful meaning of the words “culture” and “competence” and reinstate true Catholic culture to our schools. To use the words “culture” and “competence” to normalize sin is a scandal. The dean of admissions misled students and parents alike. To call such a pack of lies ‘truth’ is indeed the problem of our age.


  • Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg

    Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg is a Catholic convert and a teacher with over twenty years experience in the public education system. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a degree in History in 1991. He is also a husband and father of 3 children and a catechist at his parish in Bakersfield, California.

Editor's picks

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Signup to receive new Crisis articles daily

Email subscribe stack
Share to...