The Catholic Thing
HOME        ARCHIVES        IN THE NEWS        COMMENTARY        NOTABLE        DONATE
Wise, Like a Pigeon Print E-mail
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Here’s a scene from The Lady Eve, a screwball comedy directed by the brilliant Preston Sturges. Henry Fonda plays a naïve heir to a brewery fortune. He doesn’t know or care anything about how his father made millions on “Pike’s Pale,” the pale ale for Yale. He’s an ophiologist; he likes snakes. So he’s sailing home on a cruise ship from a snaking expedition, and every young woman has her eyes on him – and his money. That includes Barbara Stanwyck and her father, Charles Coburn. They are cardsharps. She arranges for the three of them to sit at the same table. The subject comes round to poker.

“Watch this,” says Fonda, performing a card trick worthy of an eight year old boy.

“Why, Hopsie,” says the girl, “that’s just wonderful. How ever did you do it?”

“It’s easy,” he says, “you put the ace in the palm of your hand, like so.”

One day later, he’s out $20,000. But the movie does have a happy ending.

I’ve been thinking of that scene, and of the foolish vanity and naïveté of the pigeon. I’ve been prompted to it by the latest example of pigeonhood among American Catholic hierarchs. I don’t think that most bishops are heretical or treacherous. The problem with young Mr. Pike was not that he liked snakes – the natural kind, slithering along in the Amazon jungle. It was that he could not recognize the snakes that walk on two feet. He was a good boy, but dopey, and unpracticed in the ways of the world.

Most of our readers will have heard of the attempt to nationalize education, called the Common Core Curriculum. There are many bad things to say about it, and I’ve said a lot of them elsewhere already. The further I delve into it, the more inhumane it appears: reductively utilitarian, inimical to literature, utterly secular, divorced from history and western culture, dismissive of the imagination, and, in mathematics and grammar, incompetent.

It shrugs poetry and novels aside, in favor of what the promoters call, with an apt ugliness, “text,” as if “text” were an amorphous substance to be investigated by programmatic acids, rather than a novel or a poem into whose world we enter with gratitude and humility.

The National Catholic Education Association has come out in favor of it, because the NCEA is only the NEA, with a crucifix in a closet somewhere. The NCEA’s assumptions regarding education are the same as the NEA’s. Neither organization looks for guidance to the classics.

You will not read the philosophical Cardinal Newman on the NCEA’s website, or the lover of art John Ruskin, or even their Christ-haunted contemporary, the agnostic poet Matthew Arnold, all of whom wrote a great deal about a truly human education. Nor will you find any of our own contemporaries who have staunchly defended the search for the good, the true, and the beautiful. Self-promoting professional patois, yes; Stratford Caldecott, no.

Why should bishops heed the NCEA? There are alternatives. Take homeschoolers, for instance. Two million American children at this moment are being taught at home. Their parents, for the most part, have observed all the things habitually done in school. They have then gone and done just the opposite.

Their children trounce their counterparts on those infernal standardized tests, and succeed so well in college, that admissions departments go out of their way to seek them out. If they are Christian, they’re also much more likely to embody a robust and cheerful faith. They have not been assigned porno-garbage to read, by creepy teachers who want the children to be in the “know.” 

Their eyes do not glaze with incomprehension when you mention the Prodigal Son. They also tend to be much happier than their schooled counterparts, and kinder to young children. I’ve observed hundreds of them over the last twenty years, and can pick them out of a crowd.

Then there are the upstarts, Catholic schools sprouting up like green grass everywhere in the blacktop of mass education – schools with a clear religious mission, where students receive a truly human education. I see the harpoon on the wall of a classroom at The Heights, set there by the worthy English teacher who makes sure that his boys ponder the eternal questions on board the Pequod, with the mad Captain Ahab.

These schools too cut against the grain. Other schools cut recess; they enshrine it. Other schools try to turn boys into girls, or drug them. They turn boys into men. Other schools teach students to ignore or scorn the wisdom of our forebears. That makes them into convenient pigeons for the propagandist.

These schools do the natural thing, and teach students piety and gratitude to their forebears – which arms them against the propagandist.

So, when the latest stultifying educational fad comes around, with a few businesses set to make billions from it, why do our bishops go along? Your excellencies – why are you such easy marks? 

When has listening to secular “experts” ever done you any good?  When they told you that a molester could be “cured” with a little therapy? That the boys would be all right? That liberalizing the divorce laws wouldn’t hurt? That you could cross your fingers and not pay for abortion pills?

Why must you always end up hanging your heads in embarrassment? Why don’t you, for once, go to Newman instead of The New York Times? Why don’t you seek counsel from faithful Catholic writers and teachers, including homeschoolers and the principals of schools founded outside of the control of diocesan bureaucrats? 

Why must you always be played for pigeons?  Why must you always be found ten miles behind the front lines – ambushed while you were having buttered scones and tea?  Why never in the vanguard, the lookouts you are supposed to be? 

Why always last to smell the wolves?

 
Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

 

Rules for Commenting

The Catholic Thing welcomes comments, which should reflect a sense of brevity and a spirit of Christian civility, and which, as discretion indicates, we reserve the right to publish or not. And, please, do not include links to other websites; we simply haven't time to check them all.

Comments (33)Add Comment
0
...
written by Rich in MN, January 15, 2014
Prof. Esolen, you have an incredible memory. Wasn't there a story from, I am guessing, the Renaissance period in which a Jewish businessman had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah but still had doubts about joining the Catholic Church. He subsequently traveled to Rome on business and, when he returned home, he told the bishop he was ready to become Catholic. The bishop asked him, "What finally changed your mind?" He replied, "If I ran my business the way your Church is run, I would be out of business in a week. The fact that the Catholic Church has stood for many centuries tells me this is definitely the Church of God -- because only divine intervention could be sustaining it."

While Pope Francis' criticism of "legalism" sometimes strikes me as disconcertingly vague -- like writing an encyclical using Rorschach ink blots -- I am hoping that his criticism of "careerism" and comfort will wake those members of the episcopacy engaged in a seemingly lethargic and feckless leadership and defense of the Church. And so many of the wounds are self inflicted. Matt 13:24ff tells the parable of an enemy who sows weeds in a man's wheat field. However, the truth of the matter is that the enemy does not sow weeds in our fields. Rather, the enemy convinces us that his weeds ARE wheat. We buy his weeds and then WE sow them in our fields. And, once the weeds have established themselves, they are vehemently protected by what Fr. Richard Simon so aptly named "The Inflexibly Tolerant Committee."
0
...
written by Mack Hall, January 15, 2014
Yes, but did you vote in your last school board election? It's a fair question.
0
...
written by Steven, January 15, 2014
Excellent! Brilliant! Thank you!

In my Common Core training they repeat the mantra "poetry is not going to get you a job."

The common core is truly the Emperor's new clothes, the pigeons can't see them, but don't seem to care.
0
...
written by Athanasius, January 15, 2014
Excellent article. While it is good to be courteous and charitable to our civic leaders, it does seem that our bishops are too forgiving of the leftist sexual and economic excesses of our nation, but they seem all to ready to pounce on the rightist excesses of commercialism.

Our parochial vicar will preach the evils of the tea party from the pulpit one week and then preach the virtues of the late Ted Kennedy the next. He seems to confuse leftist views for Catholic views quite a bit. We hear a lot about the environment, but almost nothing about pro-life.
0
...
written by diaperman, January 15, 2014
Interesting piece, Tony. I agree with the main thrust of your argument, but let's realize this is a long time coming. Education has not been about "educating the human being " for a long time. Higher ed for instance is now almost entirely about job training or "signaling" competence to future potential employers. No one is going to shell out $50K per year just to go to Providence and learn Shakespeare and Dante from you...they do it because of the job and superior life prospects at the end of the tunnel. Take that away and the higher ed edifice comes crashing down. Add to that the overall trend toward democratization of higher ed and you get what we have today.

Thus high schools and elementary schools seeing the overall drift away from learning for its own sake and education of the total person and toward job readiness and concrete measurable skills have fallen into line. Common Core is not the problem but the symptom of a much larger problem--namely that we have allowed commercial interests and utilitarian considerations to completely overwhelm liberal arts education. This is what happens when we evolve from being a market economy to a market society.

In short there are really more fundamental questions that need to be addressed here that go way beyond common core. Because--if one accepts the premise that school is about job readiness--Common Core makes a great deal of sense and would probably be a benefit to students in struggling schools where even rudimentary reading and math skills are lacking.
0
...
written by Deacon Ed Peitler, January 15, 2014
Just because someone applies the term "marriage" to a particular interpersonal arrangement does not mean that it shares the same meaning as that intended by the Catholic Church. And, likewise, just because you call an agency "Catholic" as in National Catholic Education Assoc. does not mean that it is Catholic. I learned this the hard way when I went to work for the Church and made the faulty assumption that the work of the Church would be carried out by Catholics in fulfillment of her mission. Sad to say that just because an agency carries the name "Catholic" does not in any way suggest that it shares even the remotest identity with what people might think that word means. Same is true for Catholic hospital, Catholic university, even Catholic Charities.

So Dr Esolen's question, "Why don’t you seek counsel from faithful Catholic writers and teachers, including homeschoolers and the principals of schools founded outside of the control of diocesan bureaucrats?" makes all the sense in the world since so many of those 'diocesan bureaucrats' are probably not even Catholic - and those who are might even dissent from fundamental Church teaching. That's how we wind up with Church-endorsed Common Core. I might add, too, that's how we end up with the Catholic Health Assn endorsing Obamacare. We're waiting for bishops to pick up the shovel and help dig us out of the mess we're in.
0
...
written by Ray, January 15, 2014
Bravo, Mr. Esolen!! My wife and I raised four children in the Catholic School system in the 70's through 90's. They all received great educations. If we were just beginning our family today we would be home schooling. In January 2013, we sent a letter to the Archdiocese person in charge of Catholic Schools about Common Core. In the letter we described all the negatives associated with this system. Your article today describes perfectly the reply we received from the Archdiocese. In effect we were told not to worry about it; they were the intellectuals and would do what was best for the children. Thanks for taking the time to fight the current on this very important topic.
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 15, 2014
To Mack above: I've done more than that. I have personally gone to the local high school, as a translator of Dante with some reputation, to offer to give the students a presentation on that greatest of all poets. Never got a call back. I am afraid that voting for the school board can't get you very far, when the nominees are products of the system itself or are retired teachers or relatives of teachers, and when the textbooks are what they are, and the bad habits have been engrained over five decades. A new school board member is not going to be able to teach grammar to elementary school teachers. Sure, I vote, for all the good it does.
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 15, 2014
Rich -- the story is an old one. I don't know that we can tell where and when it first appears, but it's one of the stories Boccaccio tells in the first book of the Decameron (c. 1350)....
0
...
written by Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz, January 15, 2014
This reminds me very much of C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man: "We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful," and other such sayings. And he wrote that back in 1947.
0
...
written by Rich in MN, January 15, 2014
Dr Esolen, thank you for the reference.

Thomas Szyszkiewicz, thank you for the 'heads up' about the CS Lewis work. 1947 was also the year Carle Zimmerman published "Family and Civilization" -- a truly prescient observation of societal trends (and decay).
0
...
written by Karen, January 15, 2014
Excellent!! Prof. Esolen, would you give me permission to copy and send this - in charity - to every Ordinary in the country?

They need encouragement to become men like St. Joseph, providing and protecting the Faith and the Life of Christ in the world rather than compromising themselves in the slaughter of the innocent.
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 15, 2014
Diaperman: I agree with you that the disease is endemic. All the more reason for Catholics to fight against the disease, rather than to bind themselves to a rotting corpse, hoping to sweeten it with a dash of religion here and there.

I wonder, too, whether the worldly-wise aren't finally stupid even for their own worldly aims. Let's consider for a moment the education that a British boy got in the days of Newman, Arnold, and Ruskin. He studied the classics, and learned how to read and write, and therefore how to reason. All he did then was to establish an empire upon which the sun never set. We could say much the same about our own Founders. To put it another way, utilitarian education is itself, in the end, quite useless; and utilitarianism is self-refuting in the act, because the society that accepts it is on the way to disintegration.

You may be underestimating, a little, why many of the parents send their kids to our college, overpriced as it is (as almost all colleges are). I hear from parents all the time who want their children to study Dante and Milton and Gerard Manley Hopkins; they want to give their children an education. In any case, it does seem to make little sense for Catholic elementary and high schools to copy what the public schools are doing. If you're going to get a lousy and soul-corrupting education, you might as well get it for free.
0
...
written by Sue, January 15, 2014
So the USCCB sold our Catholic hospitals down the river to Obamacare, probably because sex-abuse has depleted the private money available to fund them.

It need not do the same to Catholic education, though more parish schools may have to close...as long as it supports homeschooling, which can survive beautifully on a wing and a prayer, and very little in the way of money. Just moral support, that's all we ask. And we'll tithe more priests (and maybe a few doctors) back to you. Those who can, homeschool.
0
...
written by Ben Horvath, January 15, 2014
Call it the 'wise as doves' policy...
0
...
written by Layman Tom, January 15, 2014
Hey Tony,

While we are heaping praise upon those to whom it belongs, let's not forget the National Committee for Scouting, who under the direct auspices of USCCB, fiddled while Rome burned. If they had just stood for Catholic ideals and voiced what, to me, seems like rational disapproval, it would have squashed the insanity in the BSA. The Catholic Church is, after all, the third largest chartering organization. But they took the mealy-mouthed approach and decided to "study" the issue until well after the vote. So add that to CC and Obamacare. Who knows, perhaps one day, some inquisitive mind will ponder from the relocation camp or catholic ghetto: "What happened to us?" "Where were our leaders when the secular forces systematically dismantled our rights?"

I am glad that both my sons have had the benefit of catholic education free from the mind-numbing normalization of CC. I just hope that it is enough of a foundation for them to withstand the last 2 and 6 years of their educations under the thumb of a dismal curriculum.
0
...
written by Deacon Jim Stagg, January 15, 2014
Oh, ye that live in an ivory tower! Come down! Come down! Come down and visit the serfs. We not only smell the wolves, but the refuse that dribbles down the sides of your castles.

Now that I have that out off my burdened chest.

Have any of you visited the CCCII web-site? If you would like to learn about Catholic education, at the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative. Please don't be shy. You might actually learn something other than the dribble that is proffered about CCSS......oh, yes, there is a difference.

Have you ever read the Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto? If not, please do. You may actually be surprised that public education in the US has emitted a loud sucking sound since it was inaugurated. CCSS CAN'T ruin it....it is already on life support.

We are sending my great grandson and great grand-daughter to a small Catholic (parish) school in central Illinois. ALL the superintendents of Catholic education of ALL the Illinois dioceses have endorsed CCCII, and are actively using it. I have a PUBLIC letter stating so. If you think Francis Cardinal George does not understand what is going on in education in his territory, you are sadly mistaken, Tony.

Now, you can write me off as another serf, because I have no letters behind my name. But I happen to be (still) married to a brilliant teacher who has primary grade experience in parochial, private and public schools........53 years worth. Her take of CCSS is that it is the latest in a long line of innovations to straighten out public education....she bases that observation on the many "experiments" she endured in 25 (yes, TWENTY-FIVE)years teaching first through fourth grades in a top-rated public school system. She also is supervising (from a distance) the present education of our great grandchildren, and is totally behind the methods employed in this small school, which is employing the standards in CCCII. She also understands that people send their children to private (secular) schools to bypass public schools. Her extensive experience teaching primary grades at three separate private schools (all of very good reputation) assures that these schools will continue to teach ABOVE the basic standards of CCSS, as will state schools like those in Massachusetts.

CCSS is a basic standard, not a goal. If you are disturbed with CCSS as a baseline, run for your local school board and demand your schools reach for the higher standards of private schools and parochial schools. That way, you will have a positive impact on public education.......if you have the guts to do so.

Otherwise, if you are secure in your ignorance, or in your (deficient) memories of the "good old days", just shut up. You are clouding honest differences with your personal opinions. Opinions, as my esteemed sister-in-law says, are like axx-holes, everyone has one.

Now, can we quit throwing bricks at CCSS for a minute, and try to engage in factual discussion about how to make a positive difference in failing American public education? Don't respond until you study the CCSS web-site first and read Gatto's book....at least the big one (he has more). Then you may study CCCII itself; this article and most comments show a lack of knowledge about what they are, and what the differences are.

And peace be with you, too!
0
...
written by Ray, January 15, 2014
Layman Tom, fear not!! It is readily apparent that you have taught your progeny well. They will be the Catholics carrying on our Faith in the future...
0
...
written by Ray, January 15, 2014
Deacon Jim, "Just Shut Up", I get that kind of talk. I would be a parishioner in your parish of record that would confront you head on and personally. Sent four children through 16 years of Catholic education but would have home schooled through 12 of those grades if Common Core was in place. Doubt if I would have left your wife teach my pets much less my children. You sir, are a Kool Aid drinker of the first order. God Bless you in your ignorance of what regular Americans think about Common Core...
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 15, 2014
Deacon Jim: I have been delving into and commenting about the CC standards in English for months now. They stink to the heavens.

1. Their own writing is atrocious.
2. They are supplanting literature, progressively through the grades, with "informational" texts. To hell with the imagination.
3. They continue the moronic practice of splitting up English grammar into a piece here and a piece there, rather than teaching it as a coherent whole when students are ready for it.
4. They encourage so-called "critical thinking" long before children have any deep experience of the world, and any knowledge of history at all. Call it easy prey for the propagandist.
5. They measure the complexity of texts by quantitative means and (quantitatively determined) qualitative means, not by the IDEAS expressed in the text. That means that a subtle work like The Grapes of Wrath, which uses short sentences and says a great deal, will come in at a lower grade level by far than the latest effusion of Maureen Dowd or George Will.
6. There is NO provision for students to learn English literature as a subject in itself with its own canon and history. The CC requires instead smatterings and excerpts -- because the point is not to enter into the world of a work of art, but rather to learn to say apparently clever things about a piece of it.
7. The CC assumes that works of literature are valuable only for utilitarian ends -- there is NOTHING in all their hundreds of pages of patois that would lead you to think that people read books and love books because they find goodness or beauty and truth in them.

You can take your sniffing against "ivory tower" people someplace else. Poetry is not for snobs -- heck, most college professors are ignorant of it. Poetry, until the last misbegotten century, has always been for everyone. The one thing that was good about our public schools was the idea that EVERYBODY deserved a shot at a liberal education -- EVERYBODY, regardless of income. That was behind the Lyceum movement in the time of Lincoln, and behind the Chautauqua movement later in the nineteenth century, and behind the funding of public libraries by Andrew Carnegie.

Your wife is right, CC is just the same old same old rotten stuff, with new scent. But how you can make excuses for it and have read John Taylor Gatto, I have no idea. Please don't try to tell me, either, that I have no clue as to what public schools used to be like. I have about two hundred textbooks upstairs as I write this, all more than eighty years old, in Latin, French, English, grammar, geography, arithmetic, algebra, and history. I have books edited or written by people signing themselves as Head of the Classics Department, Public Schools of (fill in the blank). Great art and poetry are for everyone. If Bill Gates and David Coleman and our bishops don't understand why, then let them build their own sweatshop schools and leave the rest of us alone.
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 15, 2014
Dear Karen,

Yes, it's all right by me if you do that. If it doesn't shock them into sense this time around, the memory of it may make them pause next time.
0
...
written by Beth, January 15, 2014
Deacon Stagg--with all due respect (although you seem to have none for opposing opinions) I have read some John Taylor Gatto and I have extensively searched the NCEA/CCSSI websites. We homeschool, thank you.

Oh, btw, I, too, am in central Illinois. It is quite unfortunate that our own bishop (whom I greatly admire for his courageous stance on same sex marriage and other social attrocities) has such a wall of misinformation around him regarding the NCEA. The diocesan school board has little to no respect for parents who are, according to Holy Mother Church, the primary educators of their children.

I have a feeling that in some cases, our bishops do not get the full story. When I brought the question/problem of Common Core to our bishops office, I didn't get past the #2 man and was sent to the diocesan school board president who basically told me to adjust my tin foil hat. The respect for parents in the education of their children is non-existent here.

And one more thing, I do believe you were quite rude in your remarks to Dr. Esolen. How can you, a man of the cloth as your moniker would lead us to believe, speak so to anyone?
0
...
written by Rich in MN, January 16, 2014
@Beth,
I know very little about CC except that it strikes me as being based on very dubious value judgments about human flourishing and fulfillment. And, these days, asking someone in Washington to make a value judgment for me seems analogous to asking someone with advanced macular degeneration to choose the artwork for my walls. Except, of course, the CC stakes are infinitely higher.

But I had to laugh with your "adjust my tin foil hat" remark. I realize I am straying off topic, but some days I feel like I am in a bad remake -- or should I say, a second bad remake -- of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." There seems to be this cultural zeitgeist/"party line" that takes over minds, seemingly even minds within the episcopacy on some matters, and to cross that party line incurs a first-order "damnatia" from friends and relatives -- ostracized as either a bigot or a lunatic, or a little of both. (Why didn't Jesus warn us that this could happen??? Oh wait... NEVER MIND!!!)

I really appreciate TCT. When well-meaning friends have accused me of "living in a cocoon" or "a Catholic ghetto" because I read this site daily, I tell them that TCT is more like an oxygen tank in a toxic atmosphere.
0
...
written by Layman Tom, January 16, 2014
I have another thought...yes, it's a red-letter day for me! Anyway, Karen's post and Tony's response got me thinking. Initially I pondered: What will it take for the bishops to realize that the natives are getting restless? But then it struck me. Perhaps, they know and just don't care. Maybe we are a smaller tribe of natives than I wish we were. Perhaps, the way Rich's friends appreciate us is actually true. I wish there was a way to know for sure where we stand. I believe that our opinions were once the mainstream Catholic's views. Truly, I believe they were Mainstream America's views. Are we still in the mainstream of catholic thought? I'm not asking whether we are right or correctly understand doctrine, but rather, if we are alone and isolated and becoming more so within our own enclave. Perhaps the leaders ARE leading, but not where we ought to be going. Perhaps our group of restless natives will trifle them not. Perhaps, ideologically, the ghetto is already here and the tin-foil hats are all assigned waiting to be distributed. All they have to do is keep us from teaching our children to follow in our misguided footsteps. They would have to keep those children from growing up to be thinkers and searchers of knowledge. Keep them from becoming curious about the sublime….

Please tell me I need a hat. Tell me that I have watched too much X-files. I really want these notions to be lunacy. Tell me the church will never leave us behind to twist in the wind. I know God will always protect us, but also that that protection is a matter of spirit and final destination. He also protected all those saints that met all manner of nasty ends. They are with Him in heaven, but their path there was not too pleasant. Please forgive the cowardice. I know He would give me the courage needed to face a similar fate, but I don’t need it yet, so He hasn’t given it to me. As such, the thought of being ideologically abandoned by the one institution I look to for absolute truth is a terrifying thing to think about.

Praying hard.
0
...
written by Rich in MN, January 16, 2014
Layman Tom, lay off those X-File reruns! Next you're going to try to claim that some high-profile Cardinal (dolan...dolan...dolan...) would bend over backwards to affirm that some high-profile flagrant opponent of key Catholic teachings on life and marriage (cuomo...cuomo...cuomo) is "a Catholic in good standing"!!! Now that's just CRAZY TALK!!!!


Praying hard, too....
0
...
written by Sue, January 16, 2014
Layman Tom,

Read. Lord. of. the. World.

to find out how the story could very well end.

Satan will eat his own damned tinfoil hat.
0
...
written by Beth, January 16, 2014
Layman Tom~no cowardice in your thoughts at all. It is a reality that we face. We have a small (yes, Papa Benedict) but strong Catholic enclave in our area--mostly homeschoolers but also some with children in the Catholic and public schools. It seems we are not making inroads with the 'powers that be' with Common Core neither in the public school nor the diocese, but we cannot for a minute stop raising our children in the truth, keeping them close to Mary and the saints. We've discussed time and again that we are raising the next generation of martyrs. If it is not our children, it will be our grandchildren.

Just had the discussion yesterday with our 8th grader--what is worse, to die a martyr or live under oppression, in essence, slavery to a master government. It was a fruitful discussion that I seriously doubt would take place in few Catholic schools these days.

If you have children heading to college, my advice would be to check out the Cardinal Newman Society http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/default.aspx to learn about TRUE Catholic colleges. Don't be fooled by name alone institutions; those will do more damage than a public university.

0
...
written by Chris in Maryland, January 16, 2014
Mr. Stagg:

Waiting to see your apology for incivility.
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 16, 2014
Dear Tom -- If you spent your days among young Catholics as I do, you'd be much more cheerful. I meet -- all the time -- young Catholics who are wiser at age 19 than I was at age 30; they KNOW what the fight is all about, and they are ready to march. (In fact, ten of my 45 honors students will be doing just that, next week, in Washington. That's ten, so far.) I can pick out seven or eight Catholic students just from my classes last semester, and these include mostly freshmen, who are all over the CC craze, and who tell me how rotten things have already become in some of the schools. (Imagine an honors student from New Hampshire's public school system, who ONCE read a poem by Robert Frost.)

Last week I was at a meeting with the redoubtable Robert George, who told us that he can't possibly feel discouraged, because every time he is tempted that way, he remembers this young person on fire for sanity and the faith, and that young person -- and so on. ALL the fire is on our side in this battle.
0
...
written by Rich in MN, January 17, 2014
Is anyone up for a modicum of hopeful news? Today Mary Jo Anderson was on Johnnette Benkovic's "Women of Grace" and she stated that a growing number of bishops are waking up to the 'pig in a poke' that is Common Core. She mentioned a letter written by 136(?) Catholic academics sent to the bishops that she believes had a real impact. Thank you, Catholic academics, whoever you are. (And I think it's a safe bet that the name "Tony Esolen" was somewhere on the bottom of that letter....)
0
...
written by Layman Tom, January 17, 2014
Tony, Rich, Sue et.al. Thank you. You guys are true friends. I feel much better, and just in time for the weekend too. It is, I think, a temptation to sometimes lose heart. Like I said, I never doubt who is going to win the war ultimately. I just sometimes look around and get a little dejected at getting routed in all the battles.

Tony, I just wrapped up 10 years as a Cubmaster in my son's Catholic grammar school. I still believe in Scouting and the catholic schools, regardless of the stupid decisions they have made of late. But then Cub Scout age kids are still full of wonder and excitement. Those boys are innocent and full of joy. It makes it easy to be positive and happy about the youth, but I'm also a realist and know the moral obstacles ahead of them. I'm gratified for your report that many young people survive the teen years and are girded for the fight ahead.

Happy weekend friends.

-Tom
0
...
written by Tony Esolen, January 17, 2014
Rich -- that really is good news. And yes, I was a signatory to the letter. I'm proud to say that my name is third on the list, after that of the author of the letter, Gerard Bradley (Notre Dame), and Robert George (Princeton). Nice company to be in.
0
...
written by Nicholas Dujmovic, January 22, 2014
Happy to see the spot-on reference to the Heights, where we Eastern Orthodox Christians gladly send both of our sons--not to make them Roman Catholic, but to help make them good men. It's a special place.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
 

Other Articles By This Author

CONTACT US FOR ADVERTISERS ABOUT US
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner