The Gospel Truth

A D in Rhetoric? | March 22, 2012

I never got too upset over my grades at Holy Cross.

For the most part I hovered around a B, seldom cracking the rarefied air of A’s and B+’s.

That was even when the professors deliberately inflated our grades in junior year to keep us out of Vietnam.

A poker hand will illustrate my senior year.

During the first semester I had an academic straight——A, B+, B, C+ and a C.  That averages to an even B.

The last semester of my college career, I had five of a kind—-you guessed it—-all B’s.

Of all the myriad of tests I took over those four years, there is just one grade that still frosts my pancakes.

That was a paper I wrote for our sophomore Rhetoric class in 1963.

The prof’s name was Father Madden and the question he posed to us—Was the Catholic Church a Democratic Institution?

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Is the Church a democracy?

After some thinking and a little research I argued that the Catholic Church was not a democratic institution for all the obvious reasons.

Catholics do not elect any of their leaders, nor do they have much say so about doctrinal questions.

The pope is their shepherd and they are his sheep.

As a cradle Catholic I have no qualms with that structure, given its religious nature.

The pope is infallible in certain limited occasions when speaking ex cathedra in questions of faith and morals.

To my knowledge this has happened only two or three times and two of them had to do with the Blessed Mother of Jesus.  I have no trouble with this at all.

So when I got my grade–a D I was totally shocked.

After nearly 50 years of retrospect, perhaps my bad grade was attributable to my misunderstanding what he meant by democratic?

I was thinking democracy and the Greeks and he was thinking Kennedy and Johnson.

1960 Kennedy Johnson Donkey Pin

Maybe this was why I got a D

This has been a realization that was very late in coming.

Many Catholic priests and laymen I have encountered over the years had been completely enamoured with the presidency and personality of Franklin Roosevelt, the nation’s first great class warrior.

Despite his patrician heritage, FDR demonized the malefactors of wealth and at one time wanted to tax a 100% of the income above $25,000 a year.

That makes the current president sound almost conservative by comparison.

The Democratic Party under Roosevelt also had done a great deal to foster unionism and big labor in America.

These thugs are now an integral part of the Obama militia.

Roosevelt liked to deal in collectives blocks–I almost said Soviet–because he could control his base better that way.  Unions were perfect organizations for this purpose.

People were sheep to him and he had a number of underlings, such as the Marxist Harry Hopkins, who knew how to wield the shepherd’s staff.

All Catholics had to do was substitute the Great White Father for their pope.

Millions of Catholic felt that he was their modern savior who had rescued them from the Depression that in reality he had extended and intensified.

Roosevelt’s false pretenses towards the poor also resonated well with these Catholics.

When Roosevelt defeated oppression all over the world, almost single-handed, his status was elevated to not quite saint but definitely legend.

This erroneous Roseveltian legacy was handed down from father to son and so on for several generations just like being a Dodger, a Yankee or even a St. Louis Brown was passed on as part of a father’s legacy.

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Passed his legacy as they did baseball team loyalty

This analysis goes a long way to explain the Catholic Church’s continued infatuation with our current president, despite his overt anti-Catholicism that seems to permeate his political agenda.

While the Catholic pontiff does have some protection from error, it does not cover his bishops, especially when the subject is economics, wealth and greed.

President Obama has played the same greed card that his ideological mentor played over 80 years ago.

And it still works!

Millions of Catholics are quick to demonize and even hate the very people whose riches and wealth  helps to support their churches and the poor.

But Church leaders do have their principles.

They value the freedom to teach and practice the faith that the president demeans and attacks.

The proverbial straw was reached when he underlined his mandate that the Church had to pay for many things that the Church has consistently condemned– oral contraceptives, the morning after pill and even sterilizations.

This assault was a calculated risk in the president’s re-election strategy of dividing the Catholic Church.

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Part of his Catholic strategy

He knew that millions of women, including many Catholic women have availed themselves of these proscribed pills and procedures.

Like the phony war in 1940, Obama had created the war on women that did not exists, hoping to pit millions of American women against a celibate priesthood that was still looking over its collective shoulder because of the infamous homosexual scandal that rocked its very foundation the last 15 years.

This was ironic because the Church had been on board for virtually every part of the autocratic health care bill that not only threatened freedom but also lives.

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Understood the meaning of freedom.

Now that the Church’s oxen have been gorged, they have awakened from their docile acceptance of the autocratic intrusion of ObamaCare into the of millions of Americans–all in the name of the poor and downtrodden.

Their awakening has not restored my faith in their leadership against this most adroit disciple of atheist Saul Alinsky.

Sadly the bishops have missed the larger issue and that is freedom...not just religious freedom but the human freedom to choose the way they wish to live.

For 80 years Democratic politicians and some Republicans have been gradually raising the temperature on the waters of American life to the extent that we have become a nation of frogs and not human beings.

It is also ironic that the Catholic Church does not support human freedom more than it does.

Many of its leaders seem drawn toward the utopian promises of Karl Marx more than the prophetic statements of Jesus.

Where would the Catholic Church be without man’s free will?

It is a central teaching because without it, there is no fall of man and therefore no sin.

Without sin, there is no need for a Redeemer.

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Free will made this possible

If there were no Redeemer, there would be no Jesus and no Catholic Church.

But many Catholic leaders seemed perplexed by free markets and freedom of conscience.

When I use those terms, I use them in strictest accord with Catholic teachings on individual responsibility.

For example freedom does not mean the license to kill the unborn or steal from your neighbor.

All freedoms are tempered by the Seven Deadly Sins and the 10 Commandments.

That’s what morality is all about.

So as we prepare for the dog days of politics in August and September and see the Catholic Church in the middle of the struggle, it would be wise to relate to the uninformed all the dynamics that will be unfolding before our very eyes during the most important year in American history since maybe.

2012 will be not remembered for any Mayan prophecy but for what the American voters decided their future to be.

Were he alive, I wonder what Father Madden would have to say about this paper.

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Might not do as well this time.



  1. Bill:

    It looks like the Bishops use the Constitution ONLY
    WHEN it suits them. The WHOLE Obamacare is
    unconstitutional but they are silent about that !!!

    My question: Why aren’t they informing people about
    rationed health care which will in essence kill seniors
    and the disabled??? How pro-life are they???

    Have read that the HHS Contraception Mandate has
    been explanded to cover all college students who get
    their insurace through the college they attend. I also
    have read several articles saying that last Friday a
    new 32 page HHS Mandate was introduced that would
    provide for a $1 a month (or more) surcharge for
    abortions. I would think that Cardinal Dolan would
    be vocal about these new developments by now.

    Bill: What are you thoughts as to why the USCCB
    is not vocal regarding the threat of Obamacare
    to the lives of seniors and the disabled???

    Why to the Bishops want illegals to have health
    care at the expense of United States Citizens??? Do
    you think they are for the North American Union???

    Lastly, are the American Bishops acting on their own or
    are they acting in accordance with directives from the

    I have written to Cardinal Burke about the rationed
    health care and the fact that the USCCB reinstated
    Faithful Citizenship which of course will facilitate the
    re-election of BO. We need help from Rome to save
    our country. (Mailed my letter 10 days ago)


    Comment by M F — March 22, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  2. BB, I am sick of the whole health care business. Come on Bishops, get on the stick and be soldiers of Jesus Christ. We do not have to obey evil. Pax

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — March 22, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

  3. Dear Bill, I just love your sense of humour: Don’t ever lose it!
    Now about the love affair between Obama and our Pontiff; there is a beholden by the latter to the former and bringing legacies into the picture, President Bush, successor to the latter, made it possible for the latter, to claim diplomatic immunity when being faced with legal action as head of the Catholic Church, for abuse by American clergy, covered up on instructions from the Holy See.
    Is the church a democracy?
    No it definately isn’t as many laity and religious will confirm, especially if at the end of the yard stick.

    Comment by L. Newington — March 23, 2012 @ 5:43 am

    • What is that phrase…don’t lose your sense of humor when all others are losing their heads? I think I paraphrased something else. Please keep writing Lynn. I value your opinion and I have some really good stuff in the works that will reveal a lot about my “inner journey” these past few years. BB

      Comment by bbprof — March 23, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  4. A high school/grade school friend wrote:

    I wonder how Fr. Madden would have reacted to a course on baseball history?
    Sounds like something Ohio State offers to their football team.
    I don’t recall any teachers at BC raising grades to avoid the draft. If people were intelligent enough
    to enter BC, or Holy Cross for that matter, and chose not to apply their efforts, then maybe they were
    ready for the military.
    As for the grade – let it go. One question – did you review the paper with Fr. Madden?
    I once got a 58 on a test that I thought I had aced. Reviewed with the prof. and saw where I had answered the questions at length (2 blue books full as I recall)
    but had missed in almost every instance the point of the question. I had supplied much material surrounding the question but missed the key ingredients.

    Interesting piece. Ed

    Comment by bbprof — March 23, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  5. My response:

    You raise some interesting questions. That was 1963. It was a real watershed year, We had 12 freshmen on the DL out of 512. I was one of the other 500. In Junior year, it jumped to well over 70/ 445 or so. Did we get all that smart? I doubt it. It was one of the unacknowledged truths of the early war years.

    As for a BB course, it was virtually unheard of. I had only heard of one course like it–Dr. Harold Seymoiur, who taught it in the fifties I think or even earlier at Finch College in NYC. He wrote his PH.D. dissertation on the early years of the National League ad the American Association. It was the inspiration for my course in 1973 at Maryville College.

    I was desperately trying to garner a FT position by being innovative–it was not academically deep and probably would have been called a “gut” course. No Father never invited me to sit down and discuss my “D.” BB

    Comment by bbprof — March 23, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  6. A college friend writes:

    Don’t know about Madden but I’d give it an A . . good one . .in fact Bill I enjoy them all . . I am worried that the incumbent on PA Ave is going to return for 4 more . .the Republicans are just plain Dumb the way they have managed this process . .they are turning off their base and a lot of people in the middle and they are shooting at the wrong guy .. Romney can win . the others cannot . . get over it . . he is still far superior to 4 more .

    Comment by bbprof — March 23, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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