The evening before our Founding President’s Requiem Mass, the College showed a 60-minute talk he gave last year describing why he and his colleagues founded Thomas Aquinas College in 1971. “We had to do it!” he declared. Catholic education was collapsing throughout the country, and someone had to meet the need to preserve an authentic liberal arts curriculum in the Church’s venerable tradition. Christendom and the great Western Civilization it engendered—that’s all gone, Dr. McArthur asserted with characteristic hand chops. Yet we can and must preserve what we can of the liberal arts so there is some good seed that may germinate in years to come.
Among the first casualties of Catholic education’s demise, Dr. McArthur pointed out, is marriage. We can no longer think in a straight line from first principles to final ends, or even from intermediate causes to their inevitable consequences. Contraception, he said, is just such an intermediate cause: it has destabilized marriage, which shattered family life, which has inexorably destabilized society. Western civilization had rejected the common pre-Christian practice of contraception for 1900 years, but by 1950 religious “liberalism” (which denies that man can know first principles, and divorces spiritual causes from their effects) had won the day. The world began contracepting like no one’s business, and inevitably marriage, family, and society began to unravel. Those who had been educated in the Western tradition foresaw this, but as liberal education declined, fewer could see the straight lines between sexual health and societal health.
Contraception is still the root problem, followed by its consequences of promiscuity, divorce, and traumatized children. The current manifestation of sexual dysfunction is “gay marriage:” the complete rejection of marriage per se. Yesterday Illinois caved in to the terrorist tactics of the homosexual and secularist bullies. “If you don’t deny marriage and family life, we will destroy you politically; we will target your businesses; we will break your windows and vandalize your cars.” All this because we’ve given up on the hard work of liberally educating ourselves, and so we stumble and bumble about, mostly blind, unable to see or think straight.
Dr. Ronald McArthur knew what he was seeing in 1970, and he did something about it. As I say, it’s unfortunate that the pall on his casket was crooked, but perhaps it reminds us that much remains to be straightened out. He leaves a successful project—the founding of an authentically Catholic liberal arts college—which must continue after his death. Be assured that the next generation of Thomas Aquinas tutors, staff, and students are doing just that.