_St. Elmo’s Fire_: What’s Wrong with Catholic Universities in America

Today, if you didn’t know, is the feast of St. Erasmus, better known as St. Elmo.

Interestingly enough, in June 1985, 25 years ago, one of the definitive films of the 1980’s was released, St. Elmo’s Fire. It was, along with The Breakfast Club, one of the two films that defined the so-called “Brat Pack”, as three cast members, Emilio Estevez, Allie Sheedy and Judd Nelson, were in both movies. Combinations of cast members had already collaborated on a few films, and would go on to work together on various films in the late eighties and early nineties. Officially, the “Brat Pack” were the main stars of both films, but some other frequent collaborators, such as John Cusack, get grouped in sometimes.

Oddly, in one film, the characters are high school students, and in the other, they’re recent college graduates, though both came out the same year.

In any case, what makes St. Elmo’s Fire worth noting on this blog, besides its title and today being the feast of St. Elmo, is that the film concerns seven young adults who have recently graduated from Georgetown University.

Huh. Other than the name of their favorite campus bar, there is not really any reference to the fact that Georgetown is supposed to be a Catholic university. There is really no reference to religion at all, save an implication that one character’s family are Jewish.

Also no reference really to the expense of a Georgetown education, and the graduates are given a socioeconomic diversity that would seem more appropriate in a public university. One character has fathered a child and is in a “shotgun marriage,” officially living in the slums, but he doesn’t support his family. By the end of the film, he’s already divorced.

Another couple are shacking up right out of their Catholic education, with the female not wanting to get engaged while the male insists on it. The same guy drops his less-paying job working for a Democratic senator to scandalize his friends by working for a Republican (because Republicans are soo much richer than Democrats, you see). “I always knew he was a Republican!” gasps Demi Moore’s character.

Three characters can’t hold down jobs. One is a cocaine addict. One a drunk. One a stalker.

They’re all living out their modern American college education: getting drunk and partying. Sex, drugs and Rock & Roll. No responsibility. Huge debt. No work ethic. And those that are working are yuppies.

Why did their parents waste all that money?

Mere fiction or the encapsulation of most college graduates coming out of modern American universities?


2 responses to “_St. Elmo’s Fire_: What’s Wrong with Catholic Universities in America

  1. Mere fiction- but a scary comment on the state of Catholic universities in general.

    I go to a very *LIBERAL* Catholic parish. It’s also in a very rich area of Portland, where the average home values are over $300,000.

    I’m always amazed that these graduates of University of Portland, Marylhurst, and even Mt. Angel Seminary, seem to think NOTHING of “dissent” against the Pope on celibacy, women’s ordination, images of God as a female, and monogamous homosexuality (though, I find, they’re still against abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, war, and promiscuous sexuality of any type, which puts even these Democratic liberal Cafeteria Catholics far to the right of most Americans).

    It’s almost like, intelligent thought is not compatible with orthodoxy.

  2. Well, the problem is that a lot of them are taught that it’s “subtlety”. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told I’m orthodox because I’m not properly educated in theology.

    As Fr. Corapi says, the Bible only describes one being as “subtle.”

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