Thursday, March 13, 2008

A follow-up on "Catholic" education

Hoosiertoo offers some good thoughts which deserve a response:

Actually, Catholic education needs to be expanded. Having sat in CCD classes, I see the biggest need of Catholic youth is to be evangelized and discipled. This is impossible to accomplish in a public school setting and a Catholic school that buys into all the assumptions and methodology of the educracy won't cut it either.

That's probably true. Some folks from the St. Paul area--whence I hail--are starting a school called Chesterton Academy. What a name! Anyway, they seem to be attempting to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of Catholic schooling. They're keeping things small, trying to involve the parents, and refusing to regulate Catholicism to a religious ghetto. I wish them luck.

I think you're right in highlighting the erroneous assumptions bought into by too many Catholic institutions, but I'm not exactly optimistic about the chances that we can discard decades old mistakes, at least quickly.

Setting aside the curriculum, and stuck with students who come from less than Catholic homes--the one redeeming accident of my education--what would you attempt to do with a school? My suggestions regarding Catholic literature represented an attempt to plant a seed, which might blossom later. As is, most of these kids are going to abandon the faith. But maybe they'll stumble upon Brideshead Revisited in some used bookstore somewhere, vaguely remember reading it, and decide to pick up a copy.

Homeschooling will not happen for more than a very small percentage of Catholics who are by and large thoroughly indoctrinated - as is indeed the American church - in the culture. In fact, the American bishops collectively are a large part of the problem, as parents aren't going to feel the urgency to change if the hierarchy is content to live with the status quo, if indeed they aren't, like Mahoney in LA, actively engaged in pushing the envelope even further.

That's an excellent point regarding the Bishops. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the New Oxford Review; they're a conservative, orthodox Roman Catholic monthly periodical. Try to pick up an issue or two if you can find it; heck, subscribe. In one of the recent issues, they discuss the voting guide approved by the Catholic Bishops. It's a cacaphonic disaster, insinuating that abortion and racism are on the same moral plain, and offering nothing cogent in the way of advice for how to handle politicians who insist on waging unjust wars.

Infected with the "spirit of Vatican II", many of the seminaries became hotbeds of liberal Catholicism--see NOR writer Michael Rose's Goodbye Good Men. It seems we've finally started to correct the problem. The hope is that holy and courageous young men answer God's call to the priesthood, and again give lay people examples to follow.

Since the Church is hierarchical, the initial push for reform must come from the top down, and the top-o-the-heap is B16. It should be noted that "libertarian" and "Catholic" is considered an oxymoron by the vast majority of Catholic thinkers. Those of us who are libertarian and Catholic are on the fringe of the Church, not the mainstream. This is hardly a surprise when you consider the communal nature of the Church and the fact that in the past Church and State were much more in tune.

I justify my libertarianism because of the heterogeneity of the American culture. A strong state makes a certain amount of sense in a homogeneous society, but it's worth mentioning--not to you, since you're well aware of this--that Kings were far less powerful than governments are today. If the state was remotely Christian, I might tolerate it, but when abortion is legal and we routinely invade other countries--or just conveniently bomb them from the air--it's time to call for a drastic reduction in the size of the state.

The social gospel Church cannot thrive in a secular state; you cannot serve two masters.

Another excellent point. If the Church took care of the poor, the state wouldn't have impetus to do so. To a certain lamentable extent, the rise of the state was due to a failure of Christians, not only to live like Christ, but also to refuse to give the state a role for which it had never been designed.

I've tossed around the idea of writing a book about Catholicism and libertarianism, but I'm far too distracted with other things. Seems like something someone would hav

There is a solution to the problem, I think, and I'm not sure I can articulate it, but I'll try in a later post.

It'd be nice to set up these discussions in a forum format rather than burying them in blog comments.

If you'd like, I could let you post things over here on my blog, if only for this particular topic. If you have any other suggestions don't hesitate to let me know.

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