Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: March 1999

March 1999

Educational Quackery

Ellen Chris Fanizzi’s penetrating discussion (“‘Ed Speak’ Invades Catholic Schools,” Dec.) of the damage done to first-rate Catholic schools by the philosophy that dominates the U.S. public education establishment gets to the heart of the matter. The disastrous decline of public education has been blamed on poor teachers, too much television, too few computers, insufficient funding, and so on. Fanizzi discerns the true culprit (now sneaking into Catholic education as welb* the John Dewey-inspired philosophy of social adjustment and non-intellectual schooling purveyed by our Doctors of Education.

She is exactly right that administrators and faculty with degrees in an illegitimate field known as “education” have been replacing objective learning with gimmicks and fads, promoting self-certifying phony theories such as “multi-intelligence.” By awarding themselves degrees in a field with no content they become “academic experts” to the neglect of competence in true academic disciplines. They then swell the ranks of the semi-literate bureaucrats who control certification, administration, and educational organizations such as the power-hungry National Education Association. And they make any real reform of our educational system impossible.

The Jesuits, whom Fanizzi characterized as extraordinary teachers for four centuries, have been great teachers because of their great competence in genuine academic fields, not in non-fields. It is time to require in our public schools that all teachers and administrators have majors in legitimate academic subjects and that they be certified by professors and fellow academics with degrees in their teaching fields. Unwary students may prefer therapist-like faculty with their soothing psychobabble, but truly qualified teachers will command their attention far better in the long run.

Philip Kiely

Latham, New York

Reading Fanizzi’s fine article, I was reminded of my experiences in Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education close to four decades ago. Even back then, all she writes about today was true. I was struck particularly by the consistent and relentless attempt of our instructors to sow seeds of doubt in us about American society and its values. They insistently questioned “middle-class values” and “Judeo-Christian values.” (When asked what values they would put in place of these, the reply was always along the lines of, “Why, we have no agenda, we just want to hold all values up to the light of reason. If they are valid, they should be retained. If not, perhaps there are values that would better serve society’s needs.”)

They also called into question our institutions: government, academia, marriage. Marriage, they discerned, was failing as an institution, as shown by the number of divorces. Did they have no agenda? They certainly had suggestions: Why not try “contract marriage,” with a limited term and an option to renew; or “open marriage”; or “group marriage”?

I have long since concluded that the instructors did have an agenda — in fact, a faith. Their faith was secular humanism, and the School of Education was one of its seminaries, from which (they hoped) young teachers would go forth to proselytize the coming generations, making our public schools (and some private schools) the Sunday schools of the new religion.

William E. Kerrigan

Apopka, Florida

The Next Perversion

Joseph Collison’s article on sex education (“Teacher’s Dirty Books,” Jan.) reminded me of what I learned last year when my wife and I attended a conference at Princeton University. Sponsored by Concerned Women of America, the conference was on Alfred C. Kinsey, the father of modern sex education in America, and featured Judith A. Reisman, author of Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences (Arlington, VA: Institute for Media Education, 1998). Reisman told the truly shocking story of how a revolution based on deceit and lies — under the guise of “science” — was able to overturn traditional sexual morality in America in a short time.

Prior to Kinsey’s publishing Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948, sex education was a legitimate field. It was based on facts. Its focus was on health and biological matters. It fell within the province of the medical profession, and it respected and supported Judeo-Christian values. But then came Professor Kinsey from Indiana University. With money and massive support from the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, this man invented a new field called “sexology.” Sexology was not based on science. It was constructed with sloppy personal interview data and deceiving statistics, which happened to be used by Kinsey to rationalize his own sexual perversions.

Scrape away its pseudo-scientific jargon, and sexology can be seen for the horror it is. It’s no more than indoctrination designed specifically to do away with all restrictions on sexual behavior. As this is exactly what the modernistic elites wanted, they put their muscle behind Kinsey’s work and, presto, sexology became the foundation for today’s sex education programs. The true intent of Kinsey’s sex education was never presented to the general public; the thinking was that the oafs would rebel. But the elites understood. And now there can be no doubt about the immoral agenda underlying sex education, for its results are all around us.

But the sexual revolution is not yet complete. The next perversion the sexologists are planning to integrate into the mainstream culture is pedophilia. The intellectual and “moral” framework for legitimizing man-boy sex is now being actively built up. And when the time comes, the justifications for this evil will be widely disseminated, to great effect. Pedophilia will then be ready to be codified into law and public policy by decadent ruling elites in the universities, schools, foundations, media, and judicial system.

Pete Skurkiss

Chester Township, New Jersey

Roman Anabaptist?

I’m not Catholic, I’m of the Anabaptist persuasion, though I’m between churches now. Reading the NOR, I’ve been amazed at how close various orthodox Christians are, so far as our core beliefs go. I thank the NOR for its articles on abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and other issues I’m very concerned about. Actually, I feel much closer to conservative Catholics than I do to those liberal Mennonites with whom I go to church.

Margaret Fox

Latrobe, Pennsylvania

Top Dollar

I was amused by those portions of cradle-Catholic Robert C. McCarthy’s letter (Jan.) in which he asserts that converts to Catholicism appear to him to be too timid to criticize the current devastation in Holy Mother Church. The converts of McCarthy’s acquaintance must be of a very different stripe from most of those whom I know, at least those of us who came into the Church before the Second Vatican Council. We are not about to have the Holy Faith that we embraced stolen from us by the tepid American hierarchy or the “Father Flapdoodles” who now proliferate in the Church. Many of us have purchased this pearl of great price at top dollar, sacrificing friendships and family ties to attain it. If, as McCarthy asserts, we are easily led, we’d still be Protestants.

Those who accept “what Father says” as the last word are, in my experience, usually the cradle Catholics. We converts can recognize Protestantization because we’ve been there. And, sadly, what Father says these days is very often of dubious orthodoxy.

Kenneth E. Mick

Morrison, Colorado

Worse Than Just a Bad Day

I read with interest the letter from Robert C. McCarthy and the NOR Editor’s reply (Jan.). I should like to respond to both.

McCarthy wrote that while the NOR’s ads “roar like a lion,” the NOR itself “meows like a kitten” because it is a “convert magazine.” This explains, says McCarthy, the NOR’s reluctance to criticize the Second Vatican Council or the present pope. Urging the NOR to “stand tall, not as timid converts, but as confident Catholics,” McCarthy exhorts NOR to “have the courage” to challenge both Vatican II and the present Holy Father, implying that each bears some responsibility for the present position of the Church.

In response, the NOR Editor declared that the NOR will not challenge Vatican II or Pope John Paul II. According to the Editor, the NOR is “trying to prepare the faithful” for a “great showdown” that is “looming in the Church,” and the faithful can only face that showdown confidently if they have “confidence in the papacy and the councils of the Church.”

Like many of NOR’s readers, I am a convert. When I first entered the Church, the last thing on my mind was criticizing the Pope or Vatican II. I wanted only to venerate Il Papa, to prostrate myself before him, to kiss his ring and implore, “Holy Father, tell me what I must do.” I was not very scandalized by “liberal Catholics” — they were, and are, predictable enough. What scandalized me (well, one of the things) was the outspoken and often strongly negative assessment of Pope John Paul II by traditionalist Catholics.

McCarthy would have called me a “timid convert,” and perhaps I was, although “naive and uninformed” might be more accurate. My initial reaction to the so-called traditionalist Catholics who were so opposed to John Paul II and the Council was that they were no different from the liberal dissenters, unless they were more ridiculous — imagine, traditional Catholics opposing the Pope and a Council!

The simple mistake I made was associating Catholic Tradition with the Second Vatican Council and the conciliar popes. I dismissed the traditionalists as an absurd contradiction because I knew nothing about Catholic Tradition. I was determined to avoid the twin pitfalls of liberal and traditionalist dissent, but my good intentions quickly ran afoul of the altar girl decision. Then I found out that John Paul II had not only organized the Assisi affair, but countenanced Buddhists placing Buddha on top of the tabernacle at St. Peter’s Basilica (in Assisi), and afterwards proudly attributed the whole abomination to the Second Vatican Council.

Perhaps some readers are thinking, “Well, anyone can have a bad day.” True enough, popes are no less human than anyone else. The problem, however, is that the above mentioned incidents are not isolated. Theologians more learned than I have noted that John Paul II’s favorite passages from the Council are precisely the ambiguous sections, upon which he bestows a neo-Modernist interpretation. His Redemptor Hominis is a good example of this.

If some NOR readers are like me, grace was required to accept Church teaching and authority without pre-empting it all with “private judgment” or the wisdom of the world (how’s that for an oxymoron!): Wouldn’t our criticizing of the Pope or Vatican II be nothing more than a lamentable relapse to our pre-Catholic errors? With all respect to Mr. McCarthy, such a dilemma contains more anguish than timidity.

With all respect to the Editor of the NOR, however, those faithful who believe that Vatican II and the present Pope are beyond substantial criticism — or are unquestionably orthodox — are likely to be blindsided at the “great showdown.” I say this joylessly. I would much prefer to be able to defend Council and Pope, tooth and nail, against all comers, but it would be dishonest to do so. Does this mean I have no “confidence in the papacy and the councils of the Church”? I have firm confidence in both, but this does not extend to the “weasel words” in the documents of the nondogmatic Vatican II, or to certain prudential decisions of conciliar popes which have not only been erroneous, but dangerously corrosive to faith and morals.

To fellow converts I say: The Church may seem more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but — and this is something NOR’s non-Catholic writers should consider — outside the Church there is no salvation.

Mark Fellows

South St. Paul, Minnesota

Married Priesthood: What About Higher Clergy?

Patricia Dixon’s article “Why a Married Priesthood Won’t Remedy the Priest Shortage” (Jan.) makes many valid points. Like most discussions of the subject, it deals with parish priests and their relation to the laity. Also to be considered, however, is the question of the higher clergy.

Even the most enthusiastic proponents of married priests must realize that the probability that the Catholic Church would allow married bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes is negligible. Take a look at the Russian Orthodox Church, especially before the Communist Revolution of 1917. Russian Orthodox priests could marry, and to support their wives and children many worked side by side with the peasants in the fields. This brought the priests closer to the laity, for both good and ill. Perhaps they understood the daily problems of the laity better, but at the same time their separateness and therefore prestige were diminished. The larger problem, however, was that bishops, archbishops, and metropolitans had to be celibate. A small number were chosen from among widower priests, but most were selected from monasteries.

What did this mean? First, a parish priest, no matter how worthy, had little chance of elevation to the higher clergy. This must have acted as a disincentive for priests to excel. Second, a gulf existed between the priests and the higher clergy. If a priest had almost no chance of elevation, why should even an exceptional priest be treated with special regard by either his parishioners or superiors? Of course, it would be preferable if everyone were treated according to his own merit. But human nature being what it is, would an army lieutenant be respected by his superiors or subordinates if it were known that he would never make captain? Third, and worst, think about what kind of higher clergy monks would be: Study and contemplation in a protected environment may be good training for scholars and mystics, but not for leaders of an institution beset by serious problems and powerful enemies.

The additional understanding of everyday life that married priests might possess was more than offset by the lack of such understanding in the higher clergy who made all the decisions. Imagine for a moment that John Paul II had not grown to manhood living with his family in a town, had not attended the local high school, had not gone to a Yom Kippur Eve service with a Jewish friend, and had not served as a parish priest. How could he understand so well the problems of ordinary folk and parish priests? How could he have continued the rapprochement with the Jews begun by John XXIII, who himself began as a parish priest? How could John Paul II have known how to play a major role in the fall of Communist tyranny if his early life had been sheltered from it?

In the Russian Orthodox Church, the disconnection of the higher clergy from the parish priests facilitated the co-optation of the higher clergy by the Tsar and his autocratic regime. Many Russians saw the Church as headed by remote figures with whom they had little in common, and whom they viewed as willing or unwitting allies of an oppressive autocracy. While some may view a married priesthood as a step into the future, it might well be a regression to an unpleasant past. Granted, America and western Europe do not resemble Tsarist Russia, but some parts of the world do. And even in the West, a hierarchy separated from parish priests and laity by a wide gulf would not make for a vibrant and healthy Church.

David C. Stolinsky, M.D.

Los Angeles, California

A Little Latin Is Enough

In the October 1998 NOR you printed a letter from me (much shortened, and under the heading “Latin, Schmatin”) which drew heated letters in the December NOR. Was it the arresting editorial heading you gave it? Reader Charles Taibi seems to suspect me of wanting the Latin Mass banned. No! I fully appreciate his liturgical desires and wish him much spiritual solace in the Latin Mass. My beef was with Fr. Peter Stravinskas and his article “Rebuilding Our Liturgy & Civilization” (NOR, June 1998), which seemed to favor all of us getting back to Latin in order to restore the “mystery” in our worship. I’d call that the tail wagging the dog.

Fr. Don Kloster’s letter notes that some people take Latin in school. True. But asserting that millions know Latin is stretching it. He is right that the old Latin Mass missal includes English translations. I treasure my old Latin Mass missal — given me by my parents in 1955 for my 21st birthday — but it is definitely a treasure from the past. For instance, looking through it I am reminded that it has only one Canon (one Eucharistic Prayer), whereas today we have several to choose from, including three specifically for children. Surely the fact that we have liturgical choices does not make the liturgy a matter of factionalism, as Fr. Kloster suggests.

Joseph Schonberger charges that the Latin Mass is hated. I don’t hate it. But for me, a little Latin goes a long way. When I hear the Agnus Dei or an old Latin hymn sung at Mass, it sends warm shivers through me. And that’s enough! I have no quarrel with those who wish to hear Mass in Latin. Just don’t force it on me — as Fr. Stravinskas would seem to be recommending.

Deacon Patrick J. Hogan

Poughkeepsie, New York


For years I’ve been amused by your ads in National Review. But I was shocked by the recent one about “Father Bozo’s” three-ring antics entitled “When Will Father Bozo Go Back to the Circus?” I said to myself, “Yes, there are some liturgical abuses going on, but this ad is a wild exaggeration.”

Then, this past weekend, I sat in horror as a grotesque liturgical dance was performed by a seven-year-old girl atop the altar where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated. It was then that I realized I was witnessing, precisely, three-ring liturgical antics. Enlist me in the cause, and together we’ll send “Fr. Bozo” back to the circus.

A New Subscriber

El Cajon, California

Ads Quoted From Pulpit

For thirty years I have been the Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in El Cajon, California. I have always considered myself an evangelical. I believe myself to be ecumenical, but not in the “mush-headed” way you mentioned disapprovingly in your ad in the December 31st National Review.

I have on many occasions considered you folks among my allies. I have quoted your ads from my pulpit. However, I have somehow managed to avoid subscribing. But when you quoted me (obviously without knowing it!) in that ad in National Review, I was hooked.

Herewith find my check for a two-year subscription. I see that your ad warns me not to expect your magazine for a period of from two to eight weeks. I suppose I must be content with quoting from your ads in the meantime.

Dr. Robert E. Winterton

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