Monday, January 28, 2013

Hold Your Applause, The Jury's Not Out

I don't know the average age of the people who routinely read my old blog and who are reading this one now, but I'm gonna guess that it's about age 35 to 55 years old, with most in their late 30's to early 40's. Which means that, likely, most of the people reading this right now grew up in an era of Catholicism that was, well, I don't really know how to characterize it other than to say that it's for sure not how it is now.

For me, looking back (and hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?), my Catholic faith was mostly a big nothing, with the exception of a few stellar moments like my First Communion. My parents were typical baby boomers who wanted their faith life to feel good and meet their personal needs, after having grown up in an era of supposed rigidity and guilt. Thus, I got kid-only masses, guitar masses, backyard masses, and was forced to re-do my first confession face-to-face when we moved into Rembert Weakland's archdiocese.

A fitting symbol for this sort of thing is this song, one of my parents' favorites around the time I was five or six years old, after my Dad converted to the Catholic faith and had a spiritual experience with the Cursillo movement: 

(By the way, I LOVE this song, and hearing this song or anything on this album is near to making me cry, because it is a memory of my Dad, and also of a little piece of my childhood that was peaceful and secure. It is a beautiful album, with beautiful lyrics that any Catholic should respond to.)

But it's also a typical expression of my parents' generation, and we now know that expressions of Catholicism like this didn't carry most people of that generation for the long haul of Catholic faith. I'm not necessarily saying this of my own parents, but certainly I believe we can all agree that the baby boomer generation of Catholics reached out to this sort of thing in one way or another. Why? Probably because they were, in so many words, smacked one too many times with a ruler by Catholic nuns. And to be fair, that sort of upbringing is a wound of mis-guided Catholic teaching that they have the right to have to recover from.

So the baby boomers got smacked around in their Catholic faith and needed a gentler, more understanding version of Catholicism. And my generation got a version of Catholicism that was so down-home organic and touchy-feely that it mostly came off as meaningless.

Which brings me around to the Catholics who are now in their 20's and 30's. Specifically, I'm talking about the ones who are the "good" Catholics, the ones we encounter on the Catholic internet and blogosphere, the ones who are homeschooling and were homeschooled, the ones who attended or are attending good Catholic institutions like Franciscan Univerity (Steubenville) and Christendom College, etc. The ones with parents who had their acts together and fomulated a plan for their kids to be Catholics of neither the guilty stripe or the loosey-goosey stripe.

Imagine if you will a carefully orchestrated "wall" of Catholic insulation:

-Starting in the 1980's and really catching steam in the 1990's, two generations of children purposely homeschooled in Catholic households for the sole purpose of transmitting the authentic Catholic faith.

-Teenagers of the same two generations being bussed off to Right-To-Life marches and Catholic World Youth Days, where they met and befriended other kids of similar upbringing.

-These same two generations of Catholics being carefully maneuvered into institutions of higher learning such as Ave Maria, Benedictine, the University of Dallas, Christendom, and Steubenville. Places where the majority came from the same sort of Catholic homes, many homeschooled.

-Loads of Catholic weddings between pure, newly matriculated graduates of the above listed colleges and universities, all having been thoroughly schooled in Theology of the Body and NFP prior to marching down the aisle.

-These same young Catholic couples now reaching out to other similar Catholic couples, moms, and dads for friendship via local Facebook groups, homeschooling forums, and Catholic lay organizations such as Opus Dei and Regnum Christi or church pro-life committees, etc.

-These same young, bright, well-catechized and spirit-filled Catholics taking to the Catholic internet for discussion and exchange of ideas via forums and blogs. Including the ones devoted to apologetics, as well the ones discussing where to get the cutest diaper covers (see previous blog entry).

Think about this. Until thirty or so years ago, not withstanding a seminary or convent, when has it ever been possible to have such a complete Catholic experience that spans birth into adulthood? True, I am painting here with a broad brush, but overall, I think you get the picture. There are literally thousands and thousands of young Catholics who fit this profile, and I know a few of them personally in real life.

The $25,000 Question:  Is this real? Is this real Catholicism? Is this the preferred prescription for turning out an authentic Catholic human being?

To get where I am today, I had to fight and scratch and crawl to reclaim my faith and say out loud that I really and truly want to be a Catholic and live my Catholic faith. It was hard, it sucked, and I don't wish my personal experience on anyone. I am positive that there are people reading this right now who share my experience and know exactly what I'm speaking of. Likely, they are people of previous generations (baby boomers, Generation X, etc.) who didn't have the benefit or opportunity of a carefully sculpted/planned Catholic upbringing.

So it's only natural that I wonder about these people who have, essentially, lived inside of a Catholic bubble their entire lives, some even purposely seeking careers where they can work for or within Catholic institutions. I wonder if their faith will actually get them through when the shit hits the fan? As it surely will, because life has a way of beating you up.

I am not saying here that their faith WON'T serve them. I can't say that because the jury is still out. We don't know yet. I am simply suggesting that like the baby boomers before us, and as with my own generation, it takes many decades of evidence to make a fair assessment.

This is not to wholly criticize people who have taken this path, or the parents who set them on that path. Hardly. Not only is it a universal truth that parents mostly do the best they can and make the best decisions they can with what they have to work with, it's also true that such a path had/has never been available before, and heck, why not try it since the previous methods of Catholic indoctrination weren't producing stellar results. If I had children in the 1980's and 1990's, perhaps I, too, would have went the renegade route and homeschooled with an eye to an authentic Catholic education and experience that would encourage, rather than deflate Catholic faith.

I just question the difference between "encourage" and "insulate."

Some reading this are laughing at me right now, because they know what kind of school my child attends. OK, you're allowed one laugh, and I laugh with you, too. Just a little. But see, I'm walking into this with eyes open, benefitting from my own crawl/scratch my way to faith experience, as well as watching the often questionable Catholic secular-ish perfectionism that more and more characterizes the John Paul II generation of Catholics.

I am not necessarily saying there is another way, as of yet. I am not here proposing something else that I think works better. I will suggest that a wall-to-wall Catholic experience is highly suspicious because of the homogeneous nature of it, but like I said, people do what they need to do based on the circumstances. We're doing what we think we need to do with our son, but we're open to the plan changing if need be.

Overall, my point is: Those who clap and jump up and down in enthusiasm for this young, bright, faith-filled generation of Catholics who are doing everything right need to recognize sooner or later that standing around clapping for the next two to three decades is going to get mighty tiring, as they wait to see if this is all turning out like it should or like we all want it to (me included). Some of these young Catholics, married or not, haven't yet "lived," in the sense that joblessness, death, illness, financial worries, marital problems, etc., haven't yet run their course.....because admit it, it's a very blessed person who gets through life without problems like these (usually one on top of the other) wreaking their devastation and testing your faith.

It's fine and well to gush all over some blog about how NFP has been such a blessing in your life when you're three years into your marriage. Report back to me in fifteen years and tell me how it's going.

Do I sound jaded? I'm sure I do. But please don't look at it that way. I'm naturally a questioning type, watching and observing, and wondering aloud. I want to believe in this form of Catholic engineering, I really do. Undeniably, our family is participating in some form of it.

Through it all, whatever path we plan, hope for, or take, we have to remember that in the end, it's just yourself and God and working out your salvation, which no one can do for you. No institution or Facebook group or college degree can get you to heaven, and of course we all know that. God has blessed us with these helps, thankfully.

But still, we can not insulate ourselves from the valley of tears that we live in, and I worry some of us say that we understand the concept, but then turn around and try to wave a Catholic wand to attempt the opposite. 


    Angela M.

  2. Well, I somewhat fit your description. Never homeschooled, but I did board to go to seton high school, founded by the founder of Christendom's wife, and attended Christendom college. One thing you may not have considered is that "regular" kids do attend these small private bubble schools, and often are "trouble" kids that their parents are seeking to reform. My best friend in high school had divorced parents that did not attend mass regularly, and her mom use to say, "if you want to have sex then just do it at home."

    Unless you are super psycho vigilant, yyou really can't escape the culture.

    1. S,
      That's what I want to hear. That you "get it."

  3. I wonder how it'll shake out. If parents did these things and presumed they could sit back and expect all these outside controls would do the job then I would predict less success. If, however, it was done as an adjunct to truly loving God and making Him a priority in the home in how they lived, it has a better shot. But it's no guarantee; you know, that free will thing. A couple of weeks ago there was a post somewhere about how there is no failsafe formula. My gut says that if a kid grows up completely insulated and never encounters difficulty or someone who questions the faith then they will be much more shaken when something doesn't go according to plan in their life. Overcoming small obstacles gives you more confidence when you're faced with larger ones, in life and faith.

    1. Maureen, you are ALWAYS so wise and I always want and appreciate your input.

    2. Thanks Char. I don't know that it's wisdom, I think it's more likely battle scars that I bear that ache and prod me in response to things that resonate.

  4. Yeah I would agree with Maureen - faith has to be a choice at some point. My parents sound like yours Charlotte and they just assumed that parochial school, Catholic high schools and Catholic universities were doing their job. I was pretty much out of control from high school through my mid 20s, but for me I needed to be in the winter lands of my faith to come back to it again. I had to learn the hard way that the world will destroy you. My parents had a lot of flaws, like we all do, but they did love the Church and respect and were obedient to Her. So I think in the long run, it was how my parents lived their lives that affected us children. It's a large Church out there and I think there is no one "right" way to raise your children in the faith. We can teach the faith to our children, but the rest is up to the Holy Spirit and of course, our children's free will.

    1. Obviously I agree that faith has to be a choice. That's the point. But why do so many parents believe that they can delay and orchestrate the moment when that choice has to be made? It's almost as if they're admitting that kids today need to be coddled and not asked to be responsible adults, etc., all the while out the other side of their mouth spewing out criticism of how kids in our culture are coddled and don't know how to be responsible adults. THESE are the people raising responsible adults! So let it happen already!

      I am NOT saying there aren't benefits to this kind of approach to Catholicism. I've said many times that if Alan wants to pursue Catholic higher education of this kind, I'll be glad of it, if it makes sense for his situation. But I know for a FACT that there are scads of parents who really do believe that all will turn out OK and their child will have no option but to choose the right path if they can get them from birth to the end of college education completely immersed in orthodox Catholic culture and education.

      It sometimes backfires. And I know of a handful of situations at places like Christendom where the orthodoxy and do-goody stuff overwhelmed people and they went off the rails. Some kids really do want to break out and try to live an adult life on their own. It doesn't matter if the college is teaching them deep thoughts and having them read the classics.....if the same school is telling you when to wake up, how to dress, pressuring you to pray with everybody else at the same time, dictating your dating life, etc., how is that adult behavior?

      I'm getting off track here. This is not supposed to be about the college thing.

    2. I get what you are saying. My mother grew up in a little Catholic bubble in Detroit during the 40s and 50s. She went to a small convent school through 12 grade. She loved it but wanted wanted to see what else was out there so applied to Columbia, where she eventually met my father. And believe it or not, she was challenged in her faith and it grew stronger. She always says it was her experience at Columbia that made her Catholic.

  5. Charlotte, I appreciate the balance in your post. Rather than rushing to judgement yay or nay, it offers some cautions to "test the spirits to see whether they are of God". As Christians we have no lack of cautionary tales of what happens when we don't strike that balance:

    "There is, I would say, a recurrent situation in Church history...You have a clique, an elite, of Christian men and...women, who are trying to live a less worldly life than their neighbours; to be more attentive to the guidance (directly felt, they would tell you) of the Holy Spirit. More and see them draw apart from their co-religionists, a hive ready to swarm. There is provocation on both sides; on the one part, cheap jokes at the expense of over-godliness, acts of stupid repression by unsympathetic authorities; on the other, contempt of the half-Christian, ominous references to old wine and new bottles, to the kernel and the husk...the break comes; condemnation or secession, what difference does it make? A fresh name has been added to the list of Christianities...the pattern is always repeating itself" (Ronald Knox, Enthusiasm)

    "I just question the difference between 'encourage' and 'insulate.'"

    That is the $25K question. Parents, young adults, groups, and movements will grapple with that question in their own way and more or less explicitly, but if they don't grapple with the question honestly at a a practical level, things are gonna go all pear shaped.

    "I can't say that because the jury is still out. We don't know yet. I am simply suggesting that like the baby boomers before us, and as with my own generation, it takes many decades of evidence to make a fair assessment"

    Questions of balance are question of sanity and the most energetic need to strive for the most balance.

    Chesterton: "People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. It was the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she merely went mad along one idea, like a vulgar fanaticism. She swerved to left and right, so exactly as to avoid enormous obstacles. . . . It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one’s own." (G.K. Chesterton Orthodoxy)

  6. I guess I wonder how many of these types of Catholics there really are out mention "thousands and thousands"...I guess that is as good an estimate as any.

    Going from there, this particular demographic you describe is such a small piece of the pie. Most Catholics are still the same type (can't think of a better word) that we grew up with in the 80s. Things really haven't changed all that much.

    To sum it up, as far as the future of the Catholic Church in America, the individual outcomes from this small group aren't going to matter all that much IMO, however interesting those outcomes might be. They are much less influential than some of them might think, because of the numbers.


    1. Catlady, you are right to wonder how many of these types of Catholics there really are.

      Maybe I am more accurate in stating that they appear to have a place of prominence in our culture, based upon who has the loudest voices on the internet.

      I would like to believe that they are less influential than they are....only because they are selling a "brand" of Catholicism that I don't see held up anywhere in the history of the Church or outlined in my catechism. Or maybe I'd like them to understand how their example can affect others - not have them apologize for who they are (if that's really who they are; so many now take their life cues from others), but for them recognize that they do in some way claim to represent something when they make it public.

    2. I agree, they definitely have the loudest voices on the internet. But I guess then I wonder how influential the Catholic internet really is, relative to the size of the whole Church in America. Even Father Z, who is probably the biggest Catholic blogger right now, he only has 12,000 subscribers on Google Reader, 13,000 twitter followers.

      There are about 66 million Catholics in the U.S. Even just taking the ones who go to Mass weekly, about 25%, that is about 17 million Catholics total. Let's be very generous and assume that there are 200,000 Catholics who read Catholic blogs, media, books, etc. 200,000 vs 17 million? It's only about 1%.


    3. Catlady,
      Thanks for pointing out potential numbers and bringing this discussion down to the realistic level for a moment. It's a good thing to remember, and likely more truthful than not.

  7. Charlotte writes : "There are literally thousands and thousands of young Catholics who fit this profile, and I know a few of them personally in real life."

    I know lots and lots of them, including my own family. Mainly from TAC and Christendom, but all the other schools including St. Thomas More in New Hampshire and Magdalene. Benedictine is new and Dallas is going downhill fast. Those who you speak of are my Catholic social environment.

    What they all have in common is a love of the Faith. And a sense of what it means to be Catholic.

    I'm an early Thomas Aquinas College grad, and my oldest is a senior at Christendom. I sent her there as much for the social environment as for the education. In fact I told her that going to Christendom would be like going home. I knew the environment from having lived it at TAC.

    I've raised my children not in a bubble, but I have done my best to have their friends be part of their formation.

    I was not raised a Catholic, quite the opposite. I was raise secular new age and found myself at TAC because I was intently interested in the intellectual life, but just as much because there was a girl at the school who I wanted to marry, and so I followed her there. I didn't marry her, but what I did do was discover that the Faith was the fruition of the hipster back to the earth movement, it is what they sought.

    But more to the point. When I went to TAC I expected to find a bunch of kids who didn't have a clue, what I discovered was that they understood my world exceedingly well and rejected it. My children likewise know the world, and reject it.

    1. Love the Girls, you're focusing on the college/university aspect of this, and that is merely just one section of the "wall of Catholicism" I am questioning. The Catholic experience before and after the Catholic college is just as much and important as the university part. It's a whole enchilada sort of thing.

      You're taking it that I am criticizing these colleges. I am and I'm not. I'm suggesting it's overkill in many of these situations. Your situation was different, you came to one of these schools as, essentially, a non-believer and left reformed. Great! But for many (not all), by the time they end up at a place like TAC, all the school serves to do is over-reinforce and over-insulate what came before and encourage a lifestyle that mimics the insulated environment once they get out.

      Hey, there's nothing wrong with having a Catholic identity and promoting that and living the faith as an adult in the real world. But when all it ends up being is preaching to the choir, then I have to wonder what it was all worth?

    2. The reason I brought up my past was to point out that I too came to the party with a false understanding of what was and is occurring. I assumed there was a nievete and insulation that simply was and is not typically there.

      As far over-reinforcement, I don't think there is such a creature, I want my children completely formed into the Faith because the world constantly pushes them against it.

      There a difference between pius nonsense such as every spelling word having to be tied into the Faith as opposed to forming an environment where the Faith permeates our children's lives. I've seen the former all too often, but among those I know who have graduated from those schools, they raise their children pretty much in the latter manner.

    3. "There a difference between pius nonsense such as every spelling word having to be tied into the Faith as opposed to forming an environment where the Faith permeates our children's lives"
      That right there is the crux of it. Is it a formula or is it an organic extension of the living of one's faith. And it is still no guarantee.

    4. OK, LTG, but I offer here one admittedly lame example to sort of play devil's advocate with you:

      In the last year, I was at a gathering where two young married ladies were in attendance, both graduates of TAC. One had worked as an RA (Residence Advisor)? - you know, the student who lives on each floor of the dorms and is in charge of keeping order and enforcing rules, etc.

      She told about how she was responsible for checking students' dorm rooms to see that they were clean AND enforcing some modesty code they had there. She explained how she actually had to walk up to women and do the four-finger on your neckline measure to see if their shirts/blouses were cut too low, and if they were, she'd have to write these girls up! She had some girls in tears.


      The vast, vast majority of those attending TAC could write a PhD thesis on modesty before they even walk in the door! Is the school so afraid that if they don't have RAs walking the halls humiliating fellow students that it's gonna turn into Girls Gone Wild? The whole proposition that a school like this, with the kinds of students who attend, would have any sorts of problems with modesty is so off-base as to make me reject the school automatically. This is the kind of school where a modesty code is almost unnecessary....if you dress like a whore there, I'm pretty sure peer pressure will do the correcting.

      Don't even get me started on the clean room check thing. What is this? Oral Roberts University?

      This is nothing but Puritanism and American Calvinism Gone Wild. This ISN'T faith permeating every aspect of a 19 year-old's life. This is guilt and scrupulosity. And I wonder how it extends to other areas of a student's life? Are people recording how many times a person misses the rosary that is recited every evening?

      Maybe a rosary being recited every evening is a great sign of how a Catholic should live out their faith. I would agree. But when we make it an infantile exercise in TELLING and PRESSURING people how to live, it's not real and it's not authentic. You enforce saying a rosary three nights a week when your child is at home with his family and is 11 years old - not when your child is 20 and one year off from getting a job and a wife.

      By the way, I'm making up the rosary thing. I don't know if they do stuff like that or not at TAC. I'm just assuming that this sort of thing happens. I'm sure you get my gist.

    5. Charlotte,

      R.A.s at TAC are better known as Prefects.

      I assume the rules are pretty much the same as when I was there. And let me help your argument a bit. Automatic expulsion for alcohol on campus. Automatic expulsion for being in the opposite sex dorm without explicit permission by a Prefect for some reason such as carrying out a piece of furniture. Expulsion for drugs as happened to my freshman year first semester roommate. Or Expulsion for being drunk on campus that happened to my freshman year second semester roommate.

      Rules I both really like and was sorry when they were enforced seeing friends leave, especially when it was two senior year classmates two months before graduation.

      The rules are strict but also merciful, I don't know of anyone who was not granted re-entrance the next year if they applied.

      It's not a matter of "girls gone wild", but a matter of recognizing that we do have fallen nature and knowing what could happen if there was not strict enforcement. During my four years there I'm rather certain that every girl who came to that school a virgin, graduated a virgin. And that's not my view alone but others in my class who I've discussed the school with.

      I compare that to my experience at the local university where the girls I grew up with went to a whole new level of hedonism at university that surprised me at the time because they weren't exactly restrained back in high school.

      Daily mass was not required, but attendance was virtually 100%, it was a habit I kept until I was married and ran into time constraints. Rosary, not so often.

      The clean room inspection is news to me, and if actually true, I'm sorry to hear it.

      As for the modesty code. It's pretty easy to live by, and the only girls who would be crying would be freshman the first week. Further it's not in effect except at meals and the class rooms and similar more formal environments.

      I don't know what the fashion is now, but back when I was there it was jean skirts, flipflops and hair tied up in scarf.

    6. I would LOVE to do an internet only anonymous poll of graduates of these kinds of schools re virginity and sexual activity. I'm sure the results aren't what we expect. Heard some stories this past summer about st. mary's kansas (sspx) during the 80's that were eye raising or hilarious, depending on your point of view. Of course it's only obnoxious Char that would want such a tacky poll.

    7. I also know the stories. Nor are they limited to the SSPX in Kansas. I know lots of horror stories.

      I'm also quite certain the results at TAC when I was there are what I think they are. When the entire student body is less than 120 and you live with them continuously, you get to know your fellow schoolmates surprisingly well.

      And the only schools I would consider in such a poll would be Christendom, TAC, St. Thomas More and Wyoming Catholic College, and perhaps Magdelene.

    8. And far from being obnoxious. I would be very interested in the poll especially if it was broken down by school and year. It could be rather useful because when a parent sends their child to a school the parent is delegating to that school their responsibility as parents.

      TAC and Christendom recognize that delegation and do their best to provide an environment that is formative.

    9. Hey let's have a one-up match!

      Trust me, i know stories from Christendom.

      Also, i absolutely 100% reject the idea that colleges should take over for parents, act as surrogate parents or owe parents anything! Attitudes like this are part of the problem. Babysitting college kids or playing morality police is not real life. A formitive environment is great, but its not formative unless there is free will.

    10. Charlotte, Until quite recently...actually I can be precise about the year, until 1968 everyone assumed colleges were acting in loco parentis. I am joking a bit about the specific year but that is the year after which everything changed at St. John's, no more curfew, no more guards watching the dorms for opposite figures against lighted windows, etc. Still rules about drugs but not enforced nearly so strictly as they later came to be. Alcohol rules were only about sleep/study because when I was in college the drinking age was 18 and almost everyone was 18. Rules got a bit stricter about that later, also.

      But the whole in loco parentis thing changed drastically in 1968.
      Why are you so sure it is a bad idea for colleges to take some role in safeguarding young people?
      As for "It is not formative unless there is free will," do you apply that to two year olds? To ten year olds? Of course it is formative, it develops habits. Virtues are not just one time acts of the will, but are formed by habitual repetition.
      Besides which, you do young women a favor just by protecting them from being used sexually, from possibly facing single motherhood and the loss of the chance for an education, or the temptation to hide one's guilt and try to solve the problem with abortion.
      Also, it *really* encourages marriage!

      I tried to get my youngest daughter to go to TAC, but she wouldn't. She went to St. John's, where I went. She didn't stay Catholic, but she acted a lot more sensibly and self protectively than I did when I was there, so I guess I have to count what blessings there are.

      Susan Peterson

  8. btw, when I say Benedictine is new. I mean new to the orthodoxy.

    1. I know kids at Benedictine and they seem like solid Catholics, but that's all I know. Out of curiosity, why do you say University of Dallas is going downhill. If you make that claim, you might as well substantiate it.

    2. The graduates I have met who have recently come out of the school are invariably leftist.

      Benedictine is really coming on and will only get better. They've laid down a solid foundation and are building on it. A dear friend of mine, and TAC roommate, who I've always admired for his prudence as well as for his level headed brilliance is the head of the philosophy dept. and has kept me somewhat informed over the years of the progress.

    3. Now that I've said all recent graduates I've met coming out of Dallas are progressive leftists, someone is sure to give me examples to the contrary. So let me, say, as far as I can tell, the place is going down hill, if the recent grads and those like John Medaille are the norm.

    4. I vote for a separate post on those super-Catholic colleges. There are differences; I think some are very healthy (big fan of UD; they have vocations and great ratings from both Catholic AND secular sources, which indicates good things. The vast majority of the undergrads are absolutely NOT liberal; this is a fact I know!) But I think some are seriously unhealthy; I've heard stories of checking inside drawers of clothes at Magdalene. it's a topic I'd be interested in seeing Catholics discuss at length. The college/bubble topic is relevant because it's what they do at college and where they go from college that forms a culture.


    5. Kitty,
      I'll think about doing a post like that, but if I do, I know it's gonna get controversial.

    6. Hey. love the girls, my son John is a grad student in political science at U Dallas and he is far from progressive/leftist! However he thinks the pol sci dept is going downhill because the professor he went there for left after last year.

      John became Eastern Orthodox while he was at St. John's, by the way.
      I became Catholic while I was at St. John's despite the secular environment; it was the books, and a few people who did it. (And I expect, prayers from Ed Macierowski who now teaches at Benedictine helped. And from my Catholic grandfather who died when I was 17...)


  9. Char...I will not gush about it, but NFP has been a the same way all of the Rosary is a blessing...glorious, joyful, lumious and has been a hard struggle, and this is the easy part of the road. I have 20 years of diapers under my belt and 20 years of college tuition yet to go...with two still not potty trained...I would wish for a touch of charity for those who wrestle and struggle with a different cross than you. I know home schoolers who tut tut over rock and roll, I know home schoolers who do not wear pants. Many of them have a meekness I cannot claim for myself. The thing is, no matter who we are, we struggle and we fail. All we can do as Catholics, is pray, work, and try our very best to discern how God wants us to live out this life. But it is a great struggle, because there are a lot of toxic pools out there which as parents, we want to avoid if at all possible. I have kept my kids in Catholic school at great cost to us personally to protect their faith...but in the age of the internet and 24-7 tv, they are not insulated from the world, the world bears down from every direction. And the world inside the Catholic school, doesn't always bear good fruit either. They are being hammered there by both soft felt theology a'la the 70's and by relativism, and by all the times we've failed to live out the life we're called to live during their formative years and even today. There is no Catholic bubble, because Catholicism demands we both be contemplative and active --out in the world but interiorly devoted to Him. The bubble is the human limitations we put on our Catholicism, our attempt to downsize our faith to our own fitting. All the same, our faith development is always something that we seek to impart through our actions and words, and is given however weakly, however sparkly, however faultily, with good faith.The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.

    1. Sherry, I agree with Maureen that you are misreading what I am saying here. In fact, you are more agreeing with me than not. For example, you yourself are admitting that NFP is hard and that you are still changing diapers after 20 years. You're not waxing nostalgic about how wonderful it is and how it solved every problem your marriage ever had. You're being honest and all I ask is honest. (In fact, I wish someone would show ME a little charity when it comes to saying I think NFP is something that has massively hurt my marriage. Not that YOU ever said that, but many times, no matter what I have said about it, I am "WRONG" and I'm "just not trying hard enough.")

      I am talking about people who paint a pie-in-the-sky picture of Catholicism and pretend that there is a formula for raising a successful Catholic child from cradle to college graduation and beyond. As this post clearly says, I would like to subscribe to such a plan, but can't get uber-excited by it because the results of such a plan cannot be judged this early in the game and I think the cries of "Look at this wonderful young generation of faithful young, traditional Catholics!" is way premature.

      I'm not ripping on homeschooling as a whole institution. Hardly. I've considered it myself and might have to consider it in the future. But like Maureen so nicely put it in the next comment, there ARE potholes in the wall-to-wall Catholic master plan and many are either blind to it or won't admit it. Homeschooling is not the point of this post and I don't really want to go down that rabbit hole right now.

      You are probably more right than not, that there is no actual real Catholic bubble that we can capture and photograph. However, I assure you that there are people out there who absolutely DO want that bubble and are actively trying to create one. Whether or not they admit that it's possible or if they are successful concerns me less than the fact that they attempt to do it at all.

      There is a corporate Catholicism theme and meme going around the internet. How others don't see it bewilders me, and if I question it, I sure hope I'm not being seen as uncharitable. I ask questions before I buy a major appliance and I'm sure as heck gonna ask questions about a master plan of Catholic engineering before I sign up my child wholesale.

      You are 100% right - Catholicism requires contemplation and action. I am glad people are taking action when it comes to their kids and trying to correct the wrongs of the poor catechesis of previous generations. But what we're doing today needs to be questioned, the good and the bad, of which exists both.

    2. I guess I don't spend time on the Corporate may be there, but it seems rather obvious what it isn't, Catholic. I'm sorry if I seem harsh, I guess your post hit me because I also know, people (even my own children in some cases) see me as treacle on toast. Too Sweet and boring to be of any substance. And I do send my kids to Catholic school, do pray in their presence and spend much time recognizing, I don't know what the hell I'm doing...but sure also don't want others to know that...least of all, my own kids.But I hope hope hope hope hope, they see that we gave them this because we think it is vital to their living. I've been bothered by how sharp I sounded since I I came back to just let you know, I guess, you poked my fear...that I've done both too little and too much and will continue to do new ways as we go on.

  10. I don't get the impression that Char is saying homeschooling etc are wrong at all. I think her point is more a questioning of the "faddishness" of some aspects you see within circles of Catholics. It's as if people are running scared and developing a bunker mentality, trying to tie up all the loose strings that could trip up their kids. As you rightly say, there are toxic pools out there and we should try and avoid having our kids land in them. I think what Char is questioning is how best to help our kids to discern what pools are toxic and also how to swim to shore should they fall into one.

  11. I don't understand how NFP could hurt a marriage unless he wants "it" all the time and can't have it(not your husband in particular, I mean the husband in general).

    1. I can tell youo how using NFP info when trying to concieve can hurt a marriage. It makes the act such a focal point and obligation that if removes the natural spontaneityand joy of it. It becomes a detailed checklist of must do. I suppose if trying to avoid pregnancy it could make for great frustration when you have to suppress the desire for your spouse and feel guilty

    2. Anonymous, I'd rather save the NFP discussion and particulars for another blog post because that's not what this post is about, even if I made mention of it in passing. But since you brought it up:

      Maureen is on the right track here, and I'd add that people who have been married for a long time and/or are married at older ages have unique problems that some of the NFP Cheerleaders are not capable of fathoming because they have no real reason to.

      Likewise, newly married young couples have unique circumstances that NFP can frustrate and those who have been married for quite awhile are prone to forgetting what it was like in the beginning of a marriage.

      In my case, I got newly married couple combined with older ages, alongside health issues and mental health issues. The church has yet to address our situation and believe me we have looked for answers. I steadfastly maintain that we are not unique and are not alone and that CCL is a dead-end for us.

      I also steadfastly maintain that just like the jury is out on wall-to-wall Catholic experience, the jury is also out on this "brave" new era of people actually using NFP, which really is only a hot trend since some time in the 1980's. I'm talking about NFP as a trend and "brand" that we can now sell and take a class on and purchase 27 books about.

      I don't know what people were exactly doing prior to the last 20-30 years, and I also maintain that what they were doing then and what people are doing now is largely not my business or yours. People talk WAY WAY WAY too much about NFP out here on the Catholic internet and it is damaging - misinformation abounds with people posting NFP questions on forums and blogs and unsolicited opinions becoming arguing points.

    3. Having never used NFP the whole thing is a mystery to me. In theory it sounds great but I think the reality is much more difficult even without medical issues, etc. Accepting it was my last stumbling block to overcome before I could allow myself to return to the Church. However, I am always mindful that since it was too late for me to ever practice it then it was almost easy for me to accept it and I really have no business promoting it to anyone.
      Angela M.

  12. I am a part of this new generation of Catholics you are talking about, and these are very good questions. Granted I do not totally fit the mold (from a small divorced family) but my mom tried her best to keep us in a nice Catholic bubble. My husband and I graduated from one of those very orthodox schools a few years ago and we are learning about the big wide world on our own now.

    In many ways we were a bit more prepared for it than many of our friends. My divorced family growing up made me more familiar with the world, and my husband went through a conversion of sorts in high school despite his parents' lapsed Catholicism. So we come from a bit more of the non Catholic world than many of our peers.

    My husband and I have done a lot of questioning about different aspects of the faith in our years since college. Dealing with the craziness of marriage and raising children provides quite a different outlook on faith and life than the nice clean college years did. I am asking questions about faith for the first time, and the doubts are scary. The messiness of life is hard to reconcile with the neat little bow the Catholic Church would have me tie on it.

    Many of our peers we see going through the same thing, particularly in regards to marriage and children. It is very very common for people of this stripe to graduate from college, get married that summer and have a baby in the next year. Usually all of these are embarked upon with a lot of enthusiasm, but then a year or two later we start to see frustration with marriage, babies, NFP, finances, stay-at-home momness.

    So in our case rather than seeing these young people emerging from the Catholic bubble, we see them question the Catholic life-plan due to the hardships of life, particularly those involving young marriage and family. Granted some seem to make these transitions with grace and seemingly little stress, but many have a very hard time adjusting and feeling peaceful with the difficulties of life, especially when that is compounded with having lots of kids very quickly (I know it isn't an NFP discussion, but I see a great deal of disillusionment in this area).

  13. Char,
    In all charity, I think you are spending too much time on Catholic blogs. Seriously. I am a homeschool mom, I don't do wear a denim jumper, I do use Catholic curriculum. I don't think about any of this stuff. I stay away from Pinterest too. I am so not a crafty mom, or a super Catholic homeschoolers mom.

    I think in your first "I'm back" post you mentioned your problem with scruplulousness? Maybe you're transferring this to other people? I can't remember if it was you, or a commenter who was talking about women who wear veils at Mass. Here is my personal daughter has said she wants to be a nun since she was about 5. When she was 8, she asked for a mantilla for her birthday. She wore it to Mass often, I don't know if she noticed, but I did notice that people were staring at her. I decided to wear a veil in solidarity with her. I was so uncomfortable and self conscious,I didn't last long. Just giving you another perspective. On another blog, I saw someone criticize the wealthy homeschool moms who have Coach purses. I do have a Coach purse, but I got it at Goodwill! If it weren't for you, I wouldn't know about any of these blogs you write about. I have problems enough with my own self doubt, without reading about other perfect moms and their perfect Catholic lifestyles.

    All I'm trying to do is give my kids a good education. In today's world, I am truly worried about my kids future. It seems like our faith is under attack, and I hope they are receiving the graces and the foundation now to face the trials ahead.

    Well easy for me to drop in here and tell you what you're doing wrong, huh? I really like your writing, and I worry about your self doubt. We all have self doubt!
    Take care- ZbarZona

  14. Zbar, see my blog role? Five blogs, that's all i read. This is now more about what i see in real life on facebook and member forums. If i read blogs the way i used to, my head would explode. It's easy to throw the blame and say i'm looking for trouble.

    The Catholic internet isn't just blogs.

    1. I would say I'm hurt you don't read mine. But no one else does either.

    2. Actually i'd rather be your facebook friend, i know you're there, i've looked you up. However i don't do religion or politics on faceboook, you would likely find me trite and/or suburban.

    3. Facebook friend me, I have a link on my blog.

  15. Another younger generation Catholic here (married & 27), here! I only went to Catholic school until 5th grade until my parents pulled myself and my younger sisters out when I endured some rather unpleasant bullying and went through the rest in public school and a public University. My parents were stricter than most and made a point of reinforcing our faith at home... but they didn't strangle us, either. I have never been close friends with any folks raised in a catholic bubble, but my sister who went to a Catholic college (not quite the "perfect" institution like Christendom or Steubenville) had several friends of the homeschooling or Latin-Mass-only variety. A few did end up going the "perfect path" that you described, but several others totally rebelled - one of her roommates turned atheist and moved off to Arizona with her boyfriend (sheltered homeschool) and another guy friend left seminary and married a young woman who is now a Lutheran minister... both are vocally anti-catholic now. I don't envy the perfect bubble Catholic young adults their $100,000+ school loans, though... As for raising my own children someday (if I can actually get pregnant), I am tempted often to raise them in a bubble... but know that won't be good for their souls and sanity in the long run for most of the reasons you mentioned above... the bubble just seems easier from this side of parenthood. Great post, Char!!

  16. I really want people to understand what i'm trying to say, so let me try it another way:

    1. I got crppy catechesis in the 70s and 80s. I don't want my kid to experience the same, so

    2. My kid is at a "bubble " school. It is an experiment, as is all parenting (including homeschooling; my experiment is equal to that experiment.)

    3. Some people will take the experiment further with an "authentic " Catholic college. If my son wants to do that i'm ok with that.

    4. If the use of the word experiment is annoying, i get that, i'm annoyed too. I want actual results that i can count on. But it is all an experiment at this point.

    5. The prevailing attitude of joy and hope over a new young generation or two of properly educated and socialized Catholics is understandable. I want to join in but i'm hesitant. I worry that the praise is premature because these young adults are....young and still wearing rose colored glasses.

    6. Thus, stories about successful homeschooled kids (and i know some) and strong graduates of Catholic colleges (i know some of these too) are, in my opinion, only anecdotal (sp) evidence. We need multiple decades of evidence to make the wide, sweeping proclamations of sucess that some are making. As an example, if the current generation of young faithful Catholics fails to produce another similar generation, then we'll know. I believe this is a fair assessment measure, given that we routinely assess the baby boomers as an entire generation, as well as the generation before and after.

    7. My questioning is not an attempt to tar and feather anyone. I am admitting that i'm in this too. I am currently placing my child in a school that has (horror!) young 20 something graduates of Univ. of Dallas, and i did that on purpose, with great hope that my son is being set on a better track than i or my husband were. Even so, i'm not giving in to rose colored hype.

  17. Well, I went to TAC, and several decades later I am here to tell you that anybody who thinks these types of happy, shiny Catholics who attend all the "right" schools, say all the "right" prayers, go gonzo over NFP and Theology of the Body, and have the "right" sized families are going to save Catholicism, probably has a nasty surprise coming.

    In my experience, many of these marriages and family situations are not holding up well at all, and it turns out some of them have been not only very far from the perfect situation they have appeared as, but have been downright abusive (emotionally, spiritually, psychologically---and yes, some physically).

    I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones who was smart enough to know a really good guy when I saw one and savvy enough to know that some of the relationship advice given to us way back when was simply nonsense. Many who were easily influenced later paid a price for having listened to the bad (if well-meaning) advice of "holy" people instead of just using their head and applying some good old fasioned common sense.

    Anything that looks too good to be true, probably is, and I now have a very suspicious eye when Catholics look oh-so-perfect. I suppose that is the natural response to having seen so many "perfect" situations turn out to be incredibly unhealthy and ugly underneath that lovely orthodox Catholic exterior.

    Don't be surprised or shocked to see a considerable number of implosions as these younger generations of Catholics raised "right" enter their 40s and 50s, and the veneer falls away.

    That's all I'm sayin'.

    1. Obviously it's not all sunshine and roses with marriages particularly suffering strife. But there are also some rather remarkable numbers such as the number of those who entered the religious life at around 10%

      Or the low number of those who have fallen away. My class of 82 stands at 3 out of 22 which beats the hell out of what has happened outside those schools.

    2. Anonymous who went to TAC,
      I know someone in their late 40's who went to TAC who EXACTLY fits your description. In fact, it's almost scary how perfect your details are. Marriage a mess, family a mess, and no way out. Kids being raised as "good" Catholics, but likely picking up more on the family mess.

  18. I can assure you that a good number of kids in
    "the bubble" are exposed to the popular example comes to mind...

    I (very briefly for reasons I will not discuss here) taught at a private school which splintered off from the one attended by Alan (this school, BTW, no longer exists). One day at lunch, I heard a couple of the eighth graders discussing a song by Tenacious D. Fortunately, it was "Tribute",which is fairly innocuous, but it's highly likely the boys were familiar with the rest of the album...

    1. Dave, my kid knows lyrics to Lady Gaga songs. Your kids can likely recite the lines to every Star Wars movie. The point is that the entire environment supports Catholic identity and practice, with all of the families actually on board with this mission and having Catholic identity and practice in their homes, as well. As someone said above, there is no actual Catholic bubble, but there is bubble thinking. I call Alan's school a bubble school because compared to parish schools, it is. However, as I've explained, I find the majority (if not all) of the families there to be refreshingly normal, grounded, and NOT seeking a lifetime bubble plan.

    2. Mine haven't learned the lines to Star Wars, as George Lucas has no idea how to write proper dialogue. I could be sadistic, and teach Stephen all of Jar-Jar Binks' stuff, but that would be sufficient cause for CPS to take him away...

    3. That was me...Google treats my profile oddly...

  19. I think the bottom line is that our faith will be tested. Jesus said that to the Apostles. Regardless of how we were raised, some more piously than others, we will all have to face suffering, hardship, deceit, death, sin in a nutshell. The fallacy is believing that there is a magic pill out there that will innoculate ourselves from the world.

    1. JMB, it is that "pill" mentality that I fear. I see it out there, I really do.

  20. I'm skeptical too.

    Maybe I'm not completely understanding you but I have to disagree with you when you write " it's also true that such a path had/has never been available before." The bubble was Fortress Catholicism, the American RCC from around 1900 until it all fell apart in the 1960's. For many Catholics during this time, it was possible to live your life entirely within a Catholic world, especially in the big northern cities. The difference with today's bubble being that in the old days, a family had the full support of the Church and now today's orthodox families often find themselves sheltering their families from their parishes.

    Well we all know how that turned out and why should we assume that things will be any better this time around? Those people who taught us nothing in 1970's CCD all had good, orthodox Catholic educations and tossed it all out the window.

    But ultimately the problem as I see it is how can you choose tradition? Tradition by definition isn't chosen. It's what you inherit. Today's traditional Christians are making a choice available to us out of many options. But we who made that choice don't want our children to have the same options to choose. We want to choose for them and have them accept that choice.

    I also think it's awfully hard in this country to reject the cult of individualism which is like the American religion. Take homeschooling, for example. I plan to homeschool my DD so I certainly understand why families make that choice but earlier generations of Catholics built schools, something that would last for future generations. Homeschooling can be very individualistic. I know some homeschooling mothers who insist that they would homeschool even if their children had access to a good school. That concerns me. Can it produce a sustainable Catholic culture? I think some of these kids probably feel like they have the weight of the whole world on their shoulders because they've got to save the Church all by themselves.

    But overall, I think the talk about how the great JPII generation is going to save the Church is just wishful thinking.

    1. Hello Anna,

      I can't agree or disagree with your "Fortress Catholicism" comment because I wouldn't know. I'd be interested in you giving better example or substantiating that comment.

      As to the rest of your comment, I agree whole heartedly. Especially the part about these kids feeling they have the weight of the whole world on them in saving the Church. Except I don't think it's just these kids anymore - I think it now applies to a huge lot of grown adults, some with their own kids. We're talking at least two generations now that could be coined as "JP II" Catholics.

    2. By Fortress Catholicism, I was referring to the pre-VII American Church. I think it was the title of a book I read about a decade ago but now I can't find it so I might have the title wrong.

      Starting around 1900, American Catholics built a 'fortress' to protect their children from the greater Protestant culture. This is especially true in the large Northern cities. For example, in the South Side of Chicago, it was possible to live your entire life within a Catholic world. It was a mortal sin to send your children to a public schools. Everyone could afford to send their kids to Catholic school. They were dirt cheap because there were plenty of nuns who worked for nothing. And then there were plenty of *real* Catholic colleges. Hard to imagine but back in the 1950's, parents could send their kids off to Fordham or Loyola and expect they would receive a good, Catholic education. If the bishop said that you couldn't see a particular movie, nobody saw the movie. Mass attendance rates were almost 80%. There were plenty of vocations. On the surface it looked perfect.

      But then it all fell apart in about a decade. It couldn't have fallen apart so quickly if the seeds of destruction hadn't already been sown. Of course there were plenty of demographic changes in that time period too. A fortress mentality is hard to maintain if the group is prosperous and no longer feels like an 'other.' The children and grandchildren of poor Catholic immigrants were moving to the suburbs and wanted to be like everyone else. The American dream and all that...

      And an even better example are the French Canadians. They went from being the most religious people in North America to the least religious people in North America in about a decade. Now the beautiful old churches in Quebec are empty.

      I guess what I am getting at, in a clumsy way, is that it is very hard to protect your children from the larger society without completely separating from it. There are groups today that really do live separate lives, e.g. the Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jews but there are defections even in those groups. The Amish ensure that their children don't leave by making sure that they receive an inadequate education. Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is segregated from the rest of society. Go to a place like Boro Park in Brooklyn and you'll think you're in a different world. They have their own schools and social institutions.

      Can conservative Catholics mimic that? Especially given that conservative Catholics don't always have support for this from the hierarchy? That's why I think a lot of this is just surface gloss. The culture that should underlie traditional (little "t") Catholicism doesn't exist here anymore. And I don't think baking cakes on feast days and coloring pictures of saints is enough.

      But I guess that sounds really pessimistic, especially since I'm a parent.

  21. My first response to you is that nothing in the Church has ever been perfect and it won't ever be perfect. Life is always rough and those with much certainty will certainly have that certainty buffetted. But I think that at least they start with something to hold on to.

    I am a baby boomer who did NOT grow up Catholic. My mother was an ex Catholic and my father was a red diaper baby (his father was a Wobbly, Workers of the World Unite.) I was baptized in an Episcopal church at age 20 and became Catholic at 21 (in 1972). I was attending a classical liberal arts college,(a Great Books school) so I was more slanted towards what was old and lasting than towards what was new and trendy. Besides which, as someone who had been given not much guidance about sex and some of that misguided, I was really tired of the modern world already. I came into the church wanting Truth with a capitol T. Therefore I was not at all in the same place as my baby boomer contemporaries who
    grew up in the old church and had the new one break upon them at the same time as their teens.

    Since I was married already when I was baptized (I got married at 19) I did not marry another serious Catholic; I had married another person who grew up in an unchurched household. He didn't get baptized until our youngest of 9 children was in the later years of high school. (and then not Catholic, he is in a conservative Anglican church). So I couldn't raise my children in one of those super Catholic households. I would have liked to, but it was not possible. My children on the whole did not grow up to be Catholics. (One is Eastern Orthodox, which I am quite happy about.) They show all the issues of modern secular young people, including reluctance to marry, many relationships, divorce etc etc. On the other hand, I have a friend, 11 years younger than I, who also has 9 children; her youngest, my godson, was born around the same time I had my fifth child. All of her older children are married to Catholics and having numerous children. She already has 9 grandchildren. (So do I, but only one of them lives with both parents who are married to each other.) Will these young people have problems eventually? It is not likely that they will all avoid serious stress and strain on their marriages and families. But I really do think they had a better start than my children on having happy lives.
    (to be continued in next post)
    Susan Peterson

  22. I do want to point out that parents can both be religious Catholics and turn out unhappy children; I know a family like that too. The parents were really unhappy with each other, and both being serious Catholics and having family prayer was not enough to make them happy together. And it shows in their kids.

    I suspect what will make the difference in the lives of those kids raised in super Catholic environments will be whether their parents loved each other AND behaved that way to each other on a consistent basis. Adults can love each other and have a turbulent relationship with nasty words and things thrown and then making up, and the adults can survive and maybe grow towards a better way of handling issues as they get older, but this does not do well for children. I suspect a non-demonstrative mutual dislike with a controlled surface is just as bad. It is children whose parents genuinely love each other, and who can cooperate in making a peaceful family life who wind up emotionally healthy. I am willing to guess that they are more likely to stick with the faith, too, if that was important to their parents.

    Oh, and it isn't housework and tidiness and having everything pretty on the surface which does it either. My friend whose kids are turning out so well has a terribly messy house,(I think it is as bad as mine, although I had older houses with more cracks and corners to collect real dirt) always did and still does. One can't see order anywhere, although somehow they manage to get places on time and get homeschooling done. As far as I know, her husband never says a word, and speaks only praise of her. Somehow that visual chaos didn't seem to harm her kids at all.

    So as far as the kids are concerned, I think it is all about "love one another" with all the ramifications of that. That is what will make their faith and their marriages resilliant.

    As far as orthodoxy in doctrine goes, it is a good thing because it is true, that's all. Some people who adhere to orthodoxy are wonderfully healthy people, and some have all kinds of problems; some are rigid, some are emotionally unstable and use orthodoxy to hold them together; there are all kinds of possibilites. But we have to approve of orthodoxy because it is true. It has to be a well grounded orthodoxy; there are people who think they are orthodox who have an awfully simplified version what Catholicism is, without any historical perspective, without a sense of the differences in devotional styles or theological approaches which are possible within the bounds of orthodoxy. It may be difficult both to hold tight to the truth, and to be open to new (to us) aspects of truth, but the goal is to manage both.

    As for whether these people will "save the Church," no matter what the appearances, it isn't in danger of being lost.

    In the words of an old Anglican hymn : "Crowns and thrones may perish/kingdoms wax and wane, But the Church of Jesus, steadfast shall remain. Gates of Hell can never, gainst that Church prevail/We have Christ's own promise/ And that cannot fail."

    Now I don't know whether that was traddy of me to quote that, or non-traddy because a Protestant wrote it.

    Susan Peterson

    1. Susan,
      So what I'm hearing you say here is that the family/marital/parental dynamics play more of a role in whether or not a successful, authentic Catholic child is raised. I think you are more right than not.

      My problem is that I see loads of "good" Catholic parents living their lives as if they are just overgrown children. I think this is an epidemic problem in our society, affecting everyone, not just Catholics. This goes back to the previous post about "Cutesy Catholicism." I worry that there is a "show" going on in a lot of these homes - admittedly with orthodox teaching surrounding it. Am I right about this? Who knows? Like I said, only time can tell.

      I agree that many use orthodoxy to hold themselves together. I admit to a phase like that.

      But your vision of orthodoxy - needing historical perspective and knowledge of theological approaches, etc., that makes me nervous. Some people will never be capable of that, some people just want their religion to be simple. There is much wisdom in Christ's admonishment to enter the Kingdom like a child.

    2. I wrote a whole comment which somehow disappeared and did not reappear to "command z" the way it is supposed to. To summarize:

      Simple is fine if one is humble but if one is criticizing others, one needs the knowledge or one is a fool.


    3. Is common sense the same thing as knowledge? I used to be all about the knowledge. Lately, I see more wisdom in common sense.

  23. What do you mean by "living their lives as if they are just overgrown children"?

    I mean, the man who works to support a large family, the woman who raises a large family, is doing adult work. So I am not sure what you mean. A lack of exposure to the seedy side of life? A lack of contact with those who don't believe as we do? It seems almost impossible in the modern world to miss out on those things unless one lives in a closed community like the Amish, and even then it impinges.

    I am not really getting what you mean here.

    1. Susan,
      You and I are obviously operating in different worlds.

  24. By the way, my son is in grad school at U Dallas; which I had nothing to do with choosing. He tells me it is full of home-schooled serious Catholics. He is rather amazed by this, not having known such people before. (He is the one who is Eastern Orthodox). He finds them rather similar to the convert Orthodox he knows in their enthusiasm about their faith, and is not uncomfortable among them.
    Frankly, I wish my children were like them, and I wish I had been able to send my children to a school like that, so I don't make it as a critic.
    There is even an evil part of me who wishes the phenomenon to fail so their parents don't look so superior to me. Shame on me! Please let me not mean that!

  25. Charlotte, that sounds dismissive to me. Can you explain more what you mean? I don't mean to be obstreperous, I just don't know what you are advocating for.

    I don't know about common sense. It usually just means common among one group of similarly socialized people.

    After I had my third child I was nursing him in the transitional intensive care nursery, and the nurses got used to me and acted as if I were not there. A baby came in from labor and delivery and the nurse said "This baby was born half an hour ago. That doctor has been letting that mother hold that baby all this time. Common sense would tell you that a new baby belongs under a warmer!." It was common sense in her world. To me it is common sense that a new baby belongs in its mother's arms, absent medical problems which need urgent attention. But then I wasn't socialized about birth and babies as a nurse in the hospital.

    It is common sense among many peoples in the world that mothers will chew food and then give it to babies. It is common sense among American suburbanites that that is an unsanitary and even disgusting thing to do. It is common sense in some places for women to pull out their breast and nurse a baby whenever it cries, wherever they are. It is common sense in other places that a woman should find a private place to do this.

    All the examples which are coming to me are about babies, but this would apply to a huge number of issues. When I was young, it was common sense for mothers to tell their children to "go outside and play" and to not expect to see them again for many hours, until the dinner hour. It was common sense to expect children to roam the neighborhood, build forts in the woods, make campfires, dare each other to do things, get bullied and prove their courage by standing up to bullies, all without ever involving their parents. They also went to school and did or did not do their homework with minimal involvement of their parents other than on report card day. Common sense today seems to be never letting your children out of your sight until they are teens, driving them to numerous activities, and being intimately involved on a day to day basis with what is happening at school.

    I am sure there are similar oppostions of what is considered common sense on dating issues, and even on how adults handle money or share household responsibilites.

    So your "more wisdom in common sense" doesn't get me anywhere. I don't think there actually is such a thing in any absolute sense.

    Susan Peterson

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