Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W Hudson

6/30/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Educators have failed to combat the slide of our culture into emotivism, presumably because they lacked the courage, or the means, to challenge it.

It was inevitable that the substitution of emotional fervor for rational discourse would impact our politics and our national debates on important matters such as the meaning of marriage.  Now we have witnessed the spectacle of five members of the Supreme Court thinking and writing as if they were guests on Phil or Oprah. What makes me cringe and shake my head with both anger and sadness, is that our nation\'s most powerful jurists sound like all those students, in my fifteen years of university teaching, who told me that \"truth\" is based upon feeling states, such as feelings of being \"excluded\" or \"judged.\" Thus, if the truth feels \"demeaning\" -- such as marriage is between a man and woman -- it can\'t be the truth. Such a view is called "emotivism" by philosophers

The Phil Donahue Show (1970-96) had a huge influence on American culture in the exaltation of personal feeling

The Phil Donahue Show (1970-96) had a huge influence on American culture in the exaltation of personal feeling

Highlights

By Deal W Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/30/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: emotivism, Supreme Court, Windsor, Gay Marriage, equal protection, Phil Donahue, Oprah Winfrey, DOMA, Prop 8, Deal W Hudson


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Thanks to my friend, Rev. Joshua Allen of Atlanta, for alerting me to the following passages in the recent DOMA decision of our Supreme Court.

I share Rev. Allen's "cringe at the language of the majority opinion," namely the "dignity" conferred on same-sex marriage by the State in the exercise of its sovereign powers (21). But I especially abhor the Court's language, written by Justice Kennedy, that differentiating between an unnatural same-sex marriage and a heterosexual marriage somehow "demeans the couple" and "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples" (23).

And finally, again in the same florid tone: The majority opinion claims that "the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage" (25).

What makes me cringe and shake my head with both anger and sadness, is that our nation's most powerful jurists sound like all those students, in my fifteen years of university teaching, who told me that "truth" is based upon feeling states, such as feelings of being "excluded" or "judged." Thus, if the truth feels "demeaning" -- such as marriage is between a man and woman -- it can't be the truth. Such a view is called "emotivism" by philosophers.

In a brief email exchange yesterday, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, agreed with me that the popularity of the Phil Donahue Show (1970-96) had a huge influence on American culture in the exaltation of personal feeling. 

You may recall how Donahue would rove around, microphone in hand, as a kind of psychological Socrates, asking members of his audience how does so and so "make you feel?" Donahue was raised Roman Catholic in Cleveland, Ohio, received an all-Catholic education, graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1957, but admitted, I was not "a very good Roman Catholic."

Donahue's fascination with public displays of emotional bedwetting would be copied by Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey. Live, daytime TV talk shows became virtual purgathons, during which the guru-like celebrities would seek to elicit as much laughter and tears, especially the latter, from their studio audiences as possible -- ratings soared as viewers, primarily women (no offense intended!) watched these histrionics in droves.

It was inevitable that the substitution of emotional fervor for rational discourse would impact our politics and our national debates on important matters such as the meaning of marriage.  Now we have witnessed the spectacle of five members of the Supreme Court thinking and writing as if they were guests on Phil or Oprah.

Have these justices, graduates of the finest colleges and law schools, never in the course of their education, had their adolescent fear of rejection challenged as the basis of all knowledge and value?

I don't blame Phil, Barbara, and Oprah -- it was their job to entertain, after all. But it was the job of educators to educate, not mimic the manipulations of the talk show host, and certainly not to embrace the key to their popularity, the idolization of high emotion.  Educators have failed to combat the slide of our culture into emotivism, presumably because they lacked the courage, or the means, to challenge it. I lay the primary blame for the Court's sophomoric confusion at the feet of educators at every level, but especially colleges and graduate schools.

-----
Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D, is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine. He is the Senior Correspondent for Church and Culture and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More U.S.

For the first time in 100 years, Yosemite National Park hosts extremely rare sighting of the Sierra Nevada red fox Watch

Image of For the first time in 100 years, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been spotted in the Yosemite National Park.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the first confirmed sighting in nearly 100 years, the rare Sierra Nevada red fox has been captured with motion-sensitive cameras in the Yosemite National Park. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We are thrilled to hear about the sighting of the Sierra Nevada red ... continue reading


Disaffected Colorado teenager who tried to join ISIS gets four years in prison Watch

Image of After serving four years in prison, 19-year-old Shannon Conley must spend three years of supervised release and serve community service.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Poor choices made in youthful hast have consequences. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Conley, from Colorado has been sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to join Islamic State. At the heart of this disturbing story is an Internet romance that went ... continue reading


Coin collectors of the world eagerly line up to see 1822 Half Eagle at convention Watch

Image of Historically, nearly 18,000 of the $5 pieces were minted in 1822. As the concentration of gold was lowered in coins after 1834, most of the earlier coins were melted down for gold.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

One of the rarest coins in the U.S., the 1822 Half Eagle, originally worth only $5, will make its first public appearance in more than three decades in Long Beach this weekend. There are only three of the coins known still in existence. The coin will go on ... continue reading


California's Kern County declares state of FISCAL EMERGENCY with plunging gas prices Watch

Image of Supervisors adopted a plan to immediately begin scaling back county spending rather than making deep reductions all at once in July.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kern County, in central California, relies heavily on its petroleum industry for tax revenues. While motorists nationwide are currently enjoying lower gas prices, this spells certain disaster for the County of Kern - officials there have declared a fiscal ... continue reading


Could terrorists attempt to attack the White House with a drone? Crash sparks debate over future use of drones in war Watch

Image of A small, four propeller drone, crashed on the White House lawn, spurring a discussion on whether drones may be used by terrorist groups in the future.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A two-foot-long, four propeller drone crashed onto the White House grounds yesterday, raising troubling questions that drones could be utilized by terrorists or other potential murderers to attack the White House or other U.S. government institutions that have ... continue reading


The Thrill of the Chaste: Matt C. Abbott Interviews Dawn Eden Watch

Image of Dawn Eden, author of the highly-acclaimed My Peace I Give You and the Catholic edition of The Thrill of the Chaste

By Matt C. Abbott

Being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and receiving Jesus' own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, has given me a deeper understanding of the meaning of being embodied. I see more clearly how chastity enables one to love fully in each relationship, in the ... continue reading


GOP teams up with Israeli prime minister to forcefully override Obama's Iran policy Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Speaker John Boehner is seeking to enlist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a congressional plan to override President Obama's Iran policy on March 3. Boehner hopes to bring Netanyahu to a joint session of the House and Senate. Boehner ... continue reading


The Prophetic Connection Between the March for Life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It is prophetic.We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together ... continue reading


Early Christian Deacon and Martyr Vincent Calls Us to Heroic Christian Witness in a Hostile Culture Watch

Image of Vincent was born in the Third Century in Huesca, Spain and born again to eternal life only four days into the fourth century. He lived in Saragossa where he served the holy Bishop Valerius as a Deacon.He was one of the scores of Christians who suffered brutal persecution under the evil Roman emperor named Diocletian. Diocletian is associated with the last of the ten persecutions of the nascent undivided Christian Church of the first millennium of our history.  Like many early deacons of the undivided Church such as Stephen, Lawrence and Ephrem, the hagiography which has been passed down through the Church records his holiness of life and heroic virtue. He lived the way he died, as a sign of the power of the Gospel and the truth of the presence of the Risen Jesus Christ in our midst.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Deacon Vincent was a man like us who encountered the same Risen Lord Jesus whom we have encountered. He struggled with the choices which always accompany living the Christian life in the midst of a culture which has squeezed God and His truth out of the ... continue reading


Caught in the act: Telephone scammers get comeuppance from plucky woman Watch

Image of Becoming pro-active, Rachel Fitzsimmons decided to take action in an effort to spread awareness so that others do not fall for the swindle.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Telephone solicitors threatening phony legal action are the bane of many people's existence. They typically prey upon "old-timers" who still have landlines in their homes and are home in the evenings. Rachel Fitzsimmons, of Denver, Colorado received such a call ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:32-39
32 Remember the great challenge of the sufferings ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 37:3-4, 5-6, 23-24, 39-40
3 Put your trust in Yahweh and do right, make your ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:26-34
26 He also said, 'This is what the kingdom of God is ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 30th, 2015 Image

St. Aldegunais
January 30: Virgin and abess, also known as Adelgundis, Aldegonde, or ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter