The historian and poet Robert Conquest wrote that a central flaw of the twentieth century was the addiction of educated men and women to �big ideas� divorced from reality and results. In a healthy mind, big ideas get tested against reality. If they don�t work, they get dumped. But the lunatic mind breaks and reshapes reality to fit the big idea. The cost doesn�t matter�even when it destroys a whole society; even when it�s paid in blood.
Here�s the point to remember: Education is an ambiguous word. It guarantees nobody�s humanity. It�s quite possible to be very well educated in a modern sense and at the same time to be shallow, smug, credulous, bigoted, and even murderous. Historian Niall Ferguson notes in his latest book, The War of the World, that when Poland fell to the Germans in 1939, the SS sent in five special units to murder Jews and political opponents. Of the twenty-five top leaders in those units, fifteen had doctorates.
It�s the content, the purpose, and the result of an education that count. And that�s why a truly Catholic education is so crucial. The doctrines and structures of our Catholic faith are there for very good reasons. They�re vitally important because they form us and sustain us as a believing community. We can never ignore them without undermining who we are as Catholics.
But the heart of being a Catholic is not a set of ideas. It�s a person�the person of Jesus Christ. The goal of a Catholic life is meeting, loving, and following Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a social-reform plan. It�s a love story. And it�s a love story like any other real love story�it has consequences.