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A Chat with My Dead Father Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 15 July 2013

Note: My father, Prof. R.B. Miner, a Chairman of the Department of Business Organization at The Ohio State University, died suddenly in 1971. He was 54.

Just using my imagination here of course.


Me: How’re you doing, Dad?
 
Dad: Never mind about me; tell me what’s happening in the world.
 
Me: Where to begin . . .?
 
Dad: The last thing I remember is Alan Shepard hitting a golf ball on the moon. Loved that. Then what?
 
Me: Let’s see. Well, technology has boomed. Remember Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist TV? We have that now. Which reminds me: your man Nixon was re-elected in ‘72 but then had to resign in scandal a couple of years later.
 
Dad: Dick Tracy! Tricky Dicky!
 
Me: Exactly.
 
Dad: More.
 
Me: In ’73 abortion was legalized.
 
Dad: That’s gruesome. Your mother must have been pleased.
 
Me: I don’t think she noticed. Anyway, the mantra of the pro-abortion people was: “Safe, legal, and rare.”
 
Dad: And did that hold true?
 
Me: Fifty-million-plus abortions since then.
 
Dad: So. . .not true. Tell me something good.
 
Me: I became a Catholic in ’73. . . . Dad?
 
Dad: I was just thinking: it makes sense. Wish I’d done it, although it never crossed my mind. What convinced you?
 
Me: Jesus.
 
Dad: Tell me something else good.
 
Me: Ronald Reagan became president in ‘80.
 
Dad: It’s 1980 already? Why just yesterday. . .never mind. Reagan, huh? I liked him but never thought he’d go all the way. Wait: what year is it now?
 
Me: 2013. . . . Dad?
 
Dad: Tempus fugit. Still. . .things are pretty the same – except for abortion, right?
 
Me: No. Brace yourself: The Soviet Union fell, imploding from inside. Now, we’re in wars, hot and cold, against Muslim terrorists with various bases around the globe, and with ground wars: in Afghanistan and in Iraq. You never saw the Twin Towers – two huge office buildings in lower Manhattan. Terrorists in hijacked passenger jets crashed into them and toppled them. Hit the Pentagon too. Tried for the White House but passengers retook that fourth plane, although it also went down – all in a few hours on September 11, 2001, which is our December 7, 1941. A man of African-American heritage was elected president in 2008, and he’s all-but socialized healthcare. A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the State can’t ban homosexuals from marrying.

 
Fore!
 
Dad: Well. . . .Did the war in Vietnam end well at least?
 
Me: We withdrew in ‘75.
 
Dad: Afghanistan, you say? How long has fighting gone on there?
 
Me: Since those terrorist attacks. It’s now the longest war in American history.
 
Dad: Why so long?
 
Me: We needed a Grant and a Lincoln – or even an Eisenhower and a Roosevelt. We don’t have them. We also have homosexuals and women serving in the Armed Forces, with women about to be admitted into elite combat units. . . . Dad?
 
Dad: Would I even recognize America? How are things at O.S.U.?
 
Me: A little less bad than at some universities. Those Sixties radicals who protested about Vietnam, civil rights, and sex are the faculties at most universities, and faculties run the schools. They’re wrecking many colleges financially – inflating tuition and salaries (especially for administrators who maintain contacts with the government) and not providing what you’d consider a “higher” education.
 
Dad: Too much specialization?
 
Me: You have no idea. And, as in the Armed Forces, the best and the brightest are leaving to find “real-world” jobs in which they can be actually productive. Those left represent a bureaucratic echo chamber with a view of the world that’s essentially totalitarian: economically centralized and socially repressive.
 
Dad: 2013, huh? You, my baby boy, are older than I. . .was. How many grandkids do I have?
 
Me: Just two grandsons, I’m sad to say. They’re superb young men; the older of whom is named after you.
 
Dad: Thanks. . . . But why “sad”?
 
Me: Because my wife and I only had two. My Catholic-conservative conversion didn’t catch up to my old liberal-Protestant behavior until it was too late. The entire West is in a demographic crisis. We’re reproducing at a rate that’s below (or barely at) replacement level, which is a crisis it’s hard to recover from. Half the U.S. population is receiving some sort of government assistance, and half pay no income taxes. Twenty-two-million people now work for government.
 
Dad: Twenty-two – . . . That’s forty percent of the adult population!
 
Me: Not quite. We’re three-hundred-million now, although a chunk of the increase comes from illegal immigration.
 
Dad: What the – ??? This is not sustainable! May I assume your Church is fighting the good fight about this? Or – you’ve got me worried here – have Catholics also changed on contraception and abortion?
 
Me: Not officially. Two of our recent popes have been extraordinary men, but the Church itself has been splintering since 1965. It’s the strangest thing, Dad. Nothing official that came out of Vatican II was radical, but priests and bishops and laymen took the “spirit” of questioning that was part of the Council to mean that faith is just questioning.
 
Dad: That’s the worst thing you’ve told me so far. I never knew what we Methodists believed beyond the Apostles’ Creed, but I always admired the complexity and continuity of Catholic belief. Catholicism was never whimsical.
 
Me: Dad, you once told me you’d believe in heaven if there were golf course there. So?
 
Dad: Sorry, son; I can’t talk about that.
 
Me: God bless you, Dad. . . . Dad? . . . Dad?
 
Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is the author of six books and is a former Literary Editor of National ReviewThe Compleat Gentleman, read by Christopher Lane, is available on audio.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (5)Add Comment
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written by Suzuki, July 14, 2013
Creative post, Mr. Miner, and sometimes it Is good to walk down memory lane -- but this seems more like a piece for the Catholic Digest website than TCT ... Aren't there issues that TCT could direct attention to with "intelligent Catholic commentary"?
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written by Manfred, July 15, 2013
Brad: Good essay although I must say I was surprised at your "Dad's" lack of response when you alerted him that the Supreme Court is allowing homosexuals to marry. That is unthinkable today and it would have been CONDEMNED in the years 1971 and prior. I have alwys believed that it was American Protestantism which held the line with its sense of propriety, the Blue Laws, etc. It was they who built this Country's infrastructure, its cities, its government and court system. When mainstream Protestantism collapsed, Catholicism collapsed along with it. Which is why the post Vat. II Church is so loved by "cafeteria catholics" and the traditional Church with Its Mass is so despised. Can you imagine the SSPX, the FSSP, etc. ever having a substantial "predator priest" problem?
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written by Grump, July 15, 2013
Well done, Brad. Wonder what pop would have thought of the fact that we now have a black President and the country is more racially divided than ever. Or that Orwell proved to be an optimist and "telescreens" are everywhere spying on everyone. Or that only half the people vote. He probably would have not been shocked, however, that the Chicago Cubs still haven't won a World Series or that the evil side of human nature has not changed one whit since Cain slew his brother.
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, July 15, 2013
Brad,
It's enlightening to stand back and listen to what we would report to someone who has not been present to witness the deconstruction of Western culture. One thing you should have added to rlate to your father is the fact that people don't read books anymore but simply text inane messages to one another and people get their information from the State-controlled press and are informed what to think by public opinion polls. Oh, and you do not have to be a citizen of the USA to be able to vote. And, by the way dad, do you remember that book 1984?
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written by Jack,CT, July 15, 2013
well done thx ...

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