A Chat with My Dead Father

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. -ABM


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?

DadTempus fugit. Still. . .things are pretty much 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.


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 have you given me?

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 the Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing and a Senior Fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His most recent book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. His The Compleat Gentleman is now available in a third, revised edition from Regnery Gateway and is also available in an Audible audio edition (read by Bob Souer). Mr. Miner has served as a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA and also on the Selective Service System draft board in Westchester County, NY.