Letters September 28, 2008
BY The Editors
September 28-October 4, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/23/08 at 1:10 PM
The School Debate
I would just like to comment on “What’s in a Child?” (Aug. 31), regarding the value of children and home schooling. I am in full support of the home-schooling movement (having home-schooled up to five children at a time myself). I love my children and enjoy just spending time with them. But even as an enthusiastic home-schooler, I used to feel uncomfortable with some of the prideful tones that articles and speakers at home-schooling conferences would take. Yes, very often home-schooled children are quite polite and articulate, and they know their faith well. The families are close and loving. However, to say that this can be found only in home-schooling families is untrue. We all know many faithful families of all sizes where the children attend school but do not fit the stereotypes Mrs. Selmys seems to want to paint these families as. The mothers are caring and loving and are not just counting the days until school starts again. The children are polite and articulate, and they help younger siblings at home. They are not necessarily being chauffeured from one expensive extracurricular activity to another, and they are definitely not “domesticated monkeys.”
I have always felt that those of us who have been called to home school should not foster an “us against them” mentality. For many families, home schooling is the best choice, and the children thrive. But there is not one fool-proof way to raise bright-eyed, faith-filled children. I have known many home-schooled families where children do things that are supposed to be typical of those (gasp!) school children. In other words, they complain about doing chores, they are impolite to adults, and exhibit bullying tendencies at home-schooling gatherings. I have even known home-schooled teens to rebel against what their parents have tried to teach them. None of this should surprise us — or make us want to throw in the towel. I just believe that a little humility goes a long way.
How a child ultimately turns out is so much a matter of God’s grace and is such a mystery that it would be foolish to suggest that one method of education (home-based or school) is far superior to another. Raising children for God’s Kingdom is so much more than a certain formula or method. Let us stop drawing lines in the sand that pit home-schoolers against those who send their children to school.
More Than One Issue
Donald DeMarco had “A Dream of Obama” (Sept. 14). I had a dream about a Republican president who sent sons and daughters to war. Then another Republican president came along and sent more sons and daughters to war. Many sons and daughters did not come home from the war.
I awoke from the dream and realized that I wasn’t dreaming. My son, Joe, was one who didn’t come home from the first Republican president’s war.
I realized — not in a dream — that the upcoming U.S. presidential election is not a one-issue election, as DeMarco implies.
Joseph P. Nolan
A Return to Chastity
I read with interest a letter from Matt Leachman, Iowa Park, Texas (“Detrimental Divorce,” Aug. 31), wherein he commented on the practice of using quote marks around the word “marriage” when referring to same-sex “marriage.”
He touched on a subject that I think has been largely ignored: chastity. I think the discussion regarding homosexual “marriage” would bear more fruit over the long run if the central issue was addressed first. Similar to the abortion debate, we should start at the beginning — and work forward. The argument against abortion starts at conception and works forward in a very methodical manner, which seems to be finally resonating in our culture. People are beginning to find the fact that life begins at conception reasonable and compelling, and that if you don’t defend life at its earliest stages, you weaken defense of life at all stages.
The focus on the disorder of same-sex attraction generally fails to address the central issues of chastity and sanctity. I would like to suggest that beginning at the beginning may yield better long-term results over time.
Mr. Leachman is correct. “Marriage” between people in general, and Catholics in particular, before a justice of the peace and not before God is not a sacramental marriage — any more for them than it is for homosexuals. Failing to focus on this makes it easy to sidetrack debate with challenges of Church prejudice against homosexuals and charges of repression, etc. While these charges are groundless, they still distract from the reality: There is a general failure of respect for chastity. The general attitude toward acceptance of premarital sex in our society simply opens the door to experimentation of all sorts, and that, of course, can lead people to explore deviant sex of all types, including with the same sex.
Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body is the basis for this discourse. The nature and sanctity of the sexual relationship between man and woman should be as urgent a topic of discussion as is the abortion debate. In fact, a return to chastity would do more to prevent abortion than any legislation.
True Family Values
The letters by Connie Derrick and Matt Leachman are good, thoughtful commentary on the defense of marriage that advocates need to ponder (“Detrimental Divorce,” Aug. 31). As all good Christians know, same-sex behavior is condemned as an abomination in the Old and New Testaments. Likewise the Scriptures condemn divorce and remarriage as adultery in regard to male and female sexual behavior. With all this condemnation of immoral variants of family or interpersonal activity, one wonders whether the practitioners of one or the other behavior end up in a deeper state of perdition.
Advocates of pro-family values and the defense of marriage seem to focus a lot on the abominable behavior and not much on the adulterous behavior. But statistically, adulterous activity is far more common and seems to have many more negative consequences for society, due to the inevitable destruction of biological family bonds and the psychological dislocation of the offspring involved.
Has it ever occurred to your readers that the political party most associated with the family-values crusade has had divorced and remarried champions as its core leadership? A former movie actor and president from California and a current senator and candidate for the presidency from Arizona seem to be strange champions of Bible-based family values. Perhaps there is a little hypocrisy here regarding these politicians and their pro-family supporters?
Maybe the meeting some weeks ago of Archbishop Chaput of Denver with John McCain had the marriage status of the candidate as the first topic of moral concern. With the wise counsel of the archbishop, we can only hope that John can see the error of his ways and return the good grace of his first and non-sinful marriage for the sake of his salvation, the good of society and the preservation of traditional marriage.
When the bishops finally get on board with a constitutional amendment to ban divorce and remarriage, we know that they will be fully enforcing the teachings and doctrine of the holy Roman Catholic Church regarding the full spectrum of family morality and values as binding on all citizens of the nation. Praise God!
Brother Terrence Lauerman, O.Praem.
St. Norbert Abbey
De Pere, Wisconsin
As a parent who hopes to watch her children grow up to be tattoo-less adults, I read the article “Tattoo Taboos” (Sept. 7) with interest.
I wanted to share something a dear friend pointed out to me a few years ago while our children swam together. My little ones were adorned with temporary tattoos they had received at a parade. My friend asked them why they would put them on their bodies, and she then remarked how a temporary tattoo can be a baby step towards a permanent tattoo. That made sense to me! We have never used a temporary tattoo since.
Mary and Christendom
I write in praise of Joseph Pronechen’s piece, “The Meaning of ‘Mary’” (Sept. 7). Many times throughout Western history, Mary has been credited with greatly aiding in the defense of Christendom. One is reminded of Charles Martel beating back the Moors at Poitiers, France, in 732, Don Juan and his unlikely naval victory over the fleet of the Turks at Lepanto, Greece, in 1571, and then the gates of Vienna, Austria. Defending the outskirts of Vienna, Jan Sobieski, vastly outnumbered by the Islamic forces of the Ottoman Empire, saved Western civilization and Christendom from near-certain extinction. This was the last Islamic siege of the West until Sept. 11, 2001 — which makes the author’s dating of this event so puzzling.
Hilaire Belloc in The Great Heresies, writes of Sobieski’s valiant defense as occurring on Sept. 11, 1683. Belloc wrote this in 1938, and in that monumental essay on “Mohammedanism,” he presciently stated that Islam would rise again. He was singular in this opinion at the time, and he has been proved correct. Some historians argue that Sobieski arrived on Sept. 11, and the battle ensued in the early morning hours of Sept. 12. Apparently, the Islamic warriors of 9/11 also thought their last great humiliation at the hands of the West occurred on Sept. 11, or they would not have chosen this hallowed date for meting out their vengeance. Perhaps they were operating off of a different calendar, but Belloc was not alone in choosing Sept. 11 as the correct date for this momentous battle. He was the lone sentinel warning of Islam’s resurgence against the West.
Hilaire Belloc Society
A front page article about a ballot initiative in Connecticut that could help protect traditional marriage (“Connecticut Marriage Politics,” Sept. 14) misidentified a Quinnipiac law professor as William Duncan. His name is actually William Dunlap. The Register regrets the error.
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