Saturday, March 03, 2012

The fruits of a poor Catholic Education

Back in the late 60s, early 1970s, the powers that be in Diocese of Lansing determined that the Catholic High Schools in Flint, Michigan should be consolidated into one great super high school.  So they did.  The result was Luke M. Powers Catholic High School. 

(as a side note, Father Powers was the priest that convinced my mom to go through the wedding to my father when everyone else thought it was a bad idea. And anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows my mom ended up leaving my father when she was pregnant with my sister, holding my little toddler hand! It was a mess. So there's that.)

Back in the 70s there was a big push to build the building and pay off the debt.  My mother and Mr. Pete's parents donated generously of their time and money to make this happen and they did it because they thought we would be getting a top notch education as well as a great grounding in our Catholic Faith.


This is what we got:



It was about the people - God? Not so much. In fact he's not mentioned once.

Back in 2006  I wrote about my Catholic High School experience and how it prepared me as an adult Catholic.


I grew up in the 1970s, came of age in the late 70s and lived my early adult ife in the 1980s. We had all of the touchy, feely, "spiritual," experiential crapola that passed itself off as religion class masquerading under "the spirit of Vatican II." It didn't make us strong Christians or keep us in our Catholic faith. Instead we subscribed to the Jesus is my buddy, I'm OK, You're OK, lukewarm deadness that went with a faith that we weren't prepared to understand and had no clue about how to defend, let alone live. My sister left the church for a time, many of my classmates left too. I read my alumni news letter and I am not even clear any more if it is a Catholic School any more, if it ever was. I've met more than my share of bitter ex-Catholics on the internet and in real life. It doesn't take more than a few minutes to determine that their Catholic faith died because it wasn't taught logically or intellectually and most of them never saw it lived, not really. Not authentically.


And now I have proof that it wasn't just me and my sister and Mr. Pete that didn't get proper catachesis. My sister sent me this to rebutt - it came from an e-mail loop of people from her graduating class and I assume it is in response to the contraception controversy that is in the news.

Guys,


I'm not going to pretend that you guys do not know where I stand on religion in general - but lets use some critical thinking skills and think about this for a moment. If "god" wanted women to become pregnant every time they had sexual intercourse - then he would have made that possible by making an egg available 30 days each month. Since "god" made women capable of being impregnated only roughly 7-10 days per month (lets call it 1/3rd of the time) and at the exact same time "god" gave people a sex drive that was "on" more or less the entire month (until marriage and kids that is) then one would have to assume that "god" did not care if people had sex when it did not lead to conception. Something as simple as a rash could have easily signaled that a female was fertile. But no - none of this was designed into humans. Men are driven to have sex virtually all of the time and women - while generally more interested while fertile - are also interested in sex even when not ovulating (possibly save the married and kids portion of life as mentioned above).


It seems very clear to me that we humans are designed to have sex. I suspect the reservations against pre-marital sex were originally to protect the offspring and to ensure that they would be cared for by a family rather than a single (i.e. 1/2 the resources) parent. Later - I suspect that having as many children as possible was simply a way to increase a churches membership numbers and maybe the amount of money that people would tithe to the church.


Having sex for enjoyment - without the likelihood of conception is a wonderful thing. I recommend it to all of you as often as possible. I suggest that you might want to free yourself of the ridiculous idea that sex is only for creation - because we all know that that is not truly the case. Besides - most of us are Catholic and may believe this way why? Simply because we were born into a family that was Catholic. No real conscious decision was made by most of us (Marja is a notable exception and while we seldom agree - I admire her for making a conscious decision about her religious affiliation) - and yet some of us will defend (to the death) the notion that by pure chance - they were born into the "true" and correct religion. A one in two thousand chance that some members of all 2000 religions are convinced of. Think about this with an open mind. That is what Powers taught us to do......


Now go have sex - and don't forget the contraceptives....


Nice huh?

My rebuttal I sent sis:

Here is how I would reply -

I realize that our Catholic education at Powers in the late 1970s was sorely lacking. The bishops of that era will have a lot to answer for - the lack of catechesis and the lost generations that came after that will be one of them.  

Fortunately in the early 90s the church finally got it together and came out with the Catechism of the Catholic Church - which as the late, great John Paul II said, "is the sure norm" for Catholics. In other words if you want to see what the Catholic Church really teaches, it's in the Catechism.  


Yes you are correct about the sex drive and sexuality.  God designed sex to be enjoyable and to be the ultimate expression of love and unity between man and wife.  God also designed that union to be generous and life giving - just as God himself is generous and life giving.  Yes, the man and the wife are to desire one another and express their love to one another in a generous and fully self-donating act of making love.  And that love is to be so totally complete and life giving that a child may come from it - absolutely!!

If we are images of God, and if our goal is to be perfect as the Father is perfect and to be with Him someday in heaven, then it follows that we should try to view our sexuality as God does and to use it the way God intended - for the union of man and wife and for the begetting of children.  And not just to fill up the church - but to fill the earth with people who know God and Love God and by extension love each other.   And this was so important to God that he not only gives this command to our first parents, but reiterates it to Noah and his family after the great flood. 

The Catholic Church - the defender of the faith and the deposit of the teachings of Christ - does not teach that sex is just for procreating children. Remember it teaches against many fertility treatments as well since that too is a distortion of the marital act.  


You know, food is delicious and good for you too and most of us could eat anytime, anywhere as much as we want.  That's called gluttony and it's a distortion of the purpose of food.  Likewise sex acts that deliberately divide the pleasurable aspects from the unative and procreative are also distortions.  

Lastly not all of us "cradle Catholics" went mindlessly into our adulthood, going to church simply because our parents did.  Some of us spent some time in the wilderness, looking for something that made us feel better or seeking the truth about God and spirituality, only to find that we had it right from the start in the Catholic Church.  If I ever found a truly compelling, persuasive and impeccable  case against the Church, I'd leave  - but so far everything I have heard or read has driven me closer to the heart of the church. So I guess I should thank you for that. 





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11 comments:

  1. Clapping wildly, bravo bravo, Elena!! Love your answer....what a dipstick that person is, loose morals, renegade mentality, where that came from is just plain sad....Not even Powers gave them THAt attitude!!

    Great answer!

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  2. Standing ovation!!!!!!! I am the last practicing Catholic in a sibling group of 7. My mother frequently wonders what went wrong, as she and my father paid plenty for our Catholic educations. I will pray for your sister. Please pray for my sibs and my adult daughter.

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  3. I've met more than my share of bitter ex-Catholics on the internet and in real life. It doesn't take more than a few minutes to determine that their Catholic faith died because it wasn't taught logically or intellectually and most of them never saw it lived, not really. Not authentically.

    In my family's case we are all ex-Catholics (with the exception of my 98 year old grandmother) due to the systemic and vicious abuse and rape my family suffered directly at the hand of the catholic church. We were denied the use of our true language and customs and my father and uncles were beaten and raped without any protection from the church whatsoever. I cannot belong to any organization that would rather move perverts from place to place to protect them rather than protect children.

    I think you sometimes underestimate the impact the rampant sex abuse has had on people's faith. I am glad that it has seemed to avoid harming your family. Many of us are not so lucky.

    I truly would be interested in reading a post regarding your thoughts and feelings regarding why (or unthinkably, if) you think the church has so clearly mishandled the scandal in the past.

    If the church were to offer a true and heartfelt apology as well as show some real progress to rooting out the perverts and sending them to jail, I believe that faith in the church could be restored for a lot of people. Not for me, as I can never be given back what was stolen from my family by the church and its agents.

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  4. Well, it looks like you have your work cut out for you on that comment. :)

    I wanted to say I feel for you as I too have at least one wayward sibling. Somehow I know though that he will come around, with a lot of faith and a whole lot more rosaries! "Faith, Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is Love". It has taught me what real love is though. Loving him where he is right now.

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  5. Thanks ladies. Just to clarify, my sister is back in the church. These comments were from someone in her graduating class that she was having a discussion with in her e-mail loop and it was bothering her.

    Linds, there are imperfect sinners in the church - in the laity and in the clergy. Even Jesus had Judas. And until there is heaven on earth, it will always be that way.

    Beatings, rapes, violence -those are all against Catholic church teaching. Whoever did that to your family was sinful and not showing you authentic Catholic teaching.

    The moving of offenders around is more difficult to explain. In the 60s and 70s psychiatry was telling us that pedophilia could be treated and cured and that's what many of the bishops believed - that an offender could be treated, cured and then given another chance. We now know that was wrong. Even I don't totally fault the bishops for that.

    For a more complete understanding of the sex scandal I found the book Goodbye Good Men to be very helpful as is What Went Wrong with Vatican II. I think both are still available on Amazon.

    In my diocese I have seen real progress. All volunteers must take Virtus training and undergo background checks and fingerprinting. We have two of the younger priests at my parish and they are very good priests - they are very traditional though and I think that has a big part to play.

    I'm so sorry for your family's experience. But it seems a lot like writing off dentistry because of some bad and painful dentists. Maybe some of you should ask your grandmother what she still loves about her Catholic faith - her answers might surprise you.

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  6. I've asked my nanna about why she goes to Mass still and she told me it was because she was terrified of hell. Which isn't at all about love, it's about fear and manipulation.

    I find your analogy regarding dentist, to be lacking in the sense that it doesn't accurately compare the vast scope of the sex abuse. It would be more apt to say, what if the entire American Dental association conspired to move dentists to Argentina after they broke a patient's jaw not once by many times.

    Truthfully, you have seemed very glib and not at all horrified by this scandal and I find it odd that you have never directly addressed it. I think that because you grew up in a white, safe church in America you can never really understand how deeply this has shook not just my people but the people of Ireland, Belgium, and Canada. I don't think that any sort of appeal to "the true teachings of the church" could ever restore anyone's faith in the Vatican or the moral authority of the RCC

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  7. Ok I just read the preview of Goodbye Good men and you have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Is there anything you won't blame liberals for? Did you know that the majority of the abuse and degredation among First Nations by the RCC took place in the early 20th century 50 years before Vatican II? Or that the epidemic of abuse in Ireland occurred at least as early as the 1930s but most likely spanned at least a half century earlier.

    At first I thought maybe you lacked understanding about the sex abuse but now I see that you really don't think about it at all. To you this is the sort of thing that can happen anywhere and the various diocese and the Vatican really share no blame. When in reality while there are good parish priests and good nuns, the church is rotten from the top down. They moved those priests to protect their own interests, namely insuring that those impoverished and abused families made sure to keep the collection plates full on Sunday and to keep renting church land and holdings.

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  8. "I've asked my nanna about why she goes to Mass still and she told me it was because she was terrified of hell. Which isn't at all about love, it's about fear and manipulation."

    I'm sorry your grandma has lived her entire life as a Catholic and that's all she got out of it. What a shame. That's probably one of the last reasons I go to hell. It has more to do with having a relationship with Jesus and wanting to be in a fuller communion with him in the Eucharist and also listening to and praying with the Word.



    I find your analogy regarding dentist, to be lacking in the sense that it doesn't accurately compare the vast scope of the sex abuse. It would be more apt to say, what if the entire American Dental association conspired to move dentists to Argentina after they broke a patient's jaw not once by many times. "

    But wasn't the entire Catholic church - not even close. In the US it involved only 4% of the priests. 96% were not involved.


    Truthfully, you have seemed very glib and not at all horrified by this scandal and I find it odd that you have never directly addressed it.

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2004/05/outstanding-comment-on-bishops-and.html

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2005/04/father-joseph-fessio-chancellorprovost.html

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2011/11/one-post-vatican-ii-catholics-rant.html

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2006/10/keeping-kids-catholic-dreher.html

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2009/02/age-doesnt-necessarily-matter-to.html

    http://www.mydomesticchurch.com/2010/04/fisking-dowd.html

    Linds I think you forget that I am at a disadvantage here - you know all about me and I know almost nothing about you, where you came from, who your people are, nothing. I'm assuming you want to keep that private.

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  9. OK Linds, send me some articles, links, resources or book suggestions and I'll look into it.

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  10. Thank you for those links, they somewhat answered a few of my questions. Although few of them directly address the issue at hand

    In answer to yours I am a Canadian who is part First Nations and part Newfoundlander. Nearly all my First Nations family has been scarred by residential schools started and run by the church http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system.

    My Newfoundland family was subjected to parochial school's culture of abuse. My Grandfather was tortured and raped here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Cashel_Orphanage.

    I myself was physically assaulted unprovoked by a priest when I was 10 and when we reported it to the diocese he was simply moved to another school. Not to an administrative job but working directly with the children he so clearly loathed.

    I just cannot see how this epidemic was not caused directly by the traditions and culture of the church. Of unquestioned moral authority, of suppressed sexuality and and a compulsion to protect the church and its priests and nuns at any and all costs. The level of power the Church had in Newfoundland during my father's childhood was all encompassing and you cannot expect that an illiterate farmer to know that the priest that beat his children "was sinful and not showing you authentic Catholic teaching.

    There is a certain detachment in you when you talk about all this. I'm actually grateful for you and your family that this is so passionless for you. But it was not Vatican II that took us away from the church, it was its own perversion, greed and secrecy that did it.

    Think about the exodus church for some of us to be not theological or catechismal (is that even a word?) in nature but human, we are angry hurt and betrayed. And I think that no amount of reassurance about the true teachings of the church could heal that.

    I think that we could never possibly see eye to eye on this as its so distant to you and so near to me. But thank you for the opportunity to discuss it. You've given me a few things to think about and I hope I've done the same for you.

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  11. Linds, why don't you start your own blog to talk about it? I'm sure you would get readers fairly quickly and it would give you the outlet you seem to need. It's pretty easy with Blogger and I would high recommend them.

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