When people hear that Richard Diamond is a spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission, they want to know about Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe failure,” Nicollette Sheridan’s dropped towel and other high-profile cases the FCC has dealt with recently.
While not denying the importance of the issues raised by these incidents, he moves to another area of his work that has even greater impact: the exploding revolution in communications that is changing the way individuals and whole communities relate to one another.
“Indecency enforcement is a small part of the story of what we do, when you consider that every communication device you use in your daily life is somehow the concern of the FCC,” Diamond says. “We set the rules under which all these devices operate, from telephones to satellites to every sort of technology. We are involved when two communications giants merge, or when a new technology is emerging.”
He has been deputy director of media relations and spokesman for Michael Powell, the recently resigned FCC chairman, for more than two years. Before coming to the FCC, Diamond worked as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas, the former House majority leader who retired in 2002. He was also press secretary for the House Select Committee on Homeland Security when Armey was chairman.
A 1992 graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., Diamond says that the school’s Great Books curriculum prepared him to reason from first principles that should guide action and thought. He has a master’s degree in politics from the University of Dallas.
“Lots of times people tend to look at the decisions the FCC makes as favoring this person over another or this company over another,” Diamond explains. “But what Chairman Powell tried to do was look at the principles involved and how to move the communications industry ahead. He decided where we want to go and made decisions based on that goal.”
Within a year, Congress will be rewriting the Federal Communications Act that guides the FCC’s actions. “The laws were written for another time,” Diamond says. “We need laws for the new technologies and new ways of communicating that have been developed.”
Talk to Mike Wallacavage for more than a minute and he’ll outline for you the essentials for “the new Christendom College.” Catholics must be active in the arts, music, media and every aspect of culture, he says — but they also must change the way they live. The suburban separation and frenetic urban pace should be replaced by communities where people can walk, meet and converse in leisure. Culture is not just ideas; it is the physical elements of daily life, Wallacavage notes.
It’s natural for Wallacavage to talk about the new Christendom. He graduated from the school, in a planned Catholic community in Front Royal, Va., in 1989. He works as program officer for the International Institute for Culture (IIC), an educational and research center founded in 1989 by John Haas, the noted Catholic moral theologian.
The IIC, housed in a splendid mansion in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section, seeks to bring Catholic principles to the problems of society by sponsoring lectures, seminars and summer-overseas programs (http://www.iiculture.org).
Prior to the IIC, Wallacavage was lecture director at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for eight years, where he arranged campus appearances of Catholic scholars such as Princeton’s Robert George and EWTN’s Father George Rutler.
Wallacavage also holds a master’s degree from a philosophy academy in Liechtenstein, where he studied under Italy’s European Minister Rocco Buttiglione, a friend of Pope John Paul II who recently was refused a position with the European Union for his views on homosexuality.
At the IIC, Wallacavage says, “My entire job is to bring a Catholic perspective to issues of society and culture in the tradition of Josef Pieper, Christopher Dawson and John Paul II. My main job is to set up first-rate scholarly lectures and seminars at our Philadelphia headquarters, a few blocks from St. Charles Seminary.”
Christendom College, he says, gave him a vision of a Catholic community. “It was just great. Everyone was reading the same great books — Augustine, Aquinas, Aristotle — and discussing them outside of class. You were inspired to take what you learned, share it and bring it into the world.”
Man of the Church
Greg Wolfe has a heart and mind for the Church. He has worked for the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark., since 1985, starting as director of lay ministry and moving up to vice chancellor of personnel and chancellor for administrative affairs. For the past four years, he’s served as director of the finance office. He was appointed to his present post by Bishop J. Peter Sartain.
Wolfe admits that working for the Church can cost in terms of monetary rewards, but observes: “One of the things that has kept me at the diocese is the fact that in a Church context I am able as a manager to make decisions that would not be allowed in a business environment. We often are able to put the individual person ahead of what might be the quick, bottom-line decision. We work in a context that values the poor, that recognizes the dignity of each person and that tries as far as humanly possible to be fair and just.”
He adds, “To know and be with God is our ultimate end, and to seek him in this life is the great quest. I think that working for the Church offers opportunities to do this.”
Wolfe grew up in Little Rock and graduated from the University of Dallas in 1977. A year later he married his wife, Patrice, a 1978 graduate of the school. They both hold master’s degrees in formative foundational spirituality from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Wolfe and his wife have four children, two of whom attend the University of Dallas. Explaining his decision to attend the university, Wolfe says, “The staff and students who I met were not only intelligent, but also kind, friendly, honest and sincere. There was a spiritual feel on campus, a sense of God’s presence. I felt that the Lord was calling me to attend.”
A summer in Rome with the school opened his eyes to the universality of the Church and set the course of his life. “It was a Holy Year, 1975, and pilgrims from around the world were flowing into Rome,” he recalls. “I saw that Jesus Christ, through the humble vessel of the Church, has touched the hearts of every manner of people.”
Stephen Vincent writes from