IT MAKES THE FLESH TO CREEP: Bill KellerÍs newly conceived son did not meet his standards for a life worthy to be lived, he reports in the New York Times. Something was wrong, although no one knew what it was. Despite this uncertainty, the doctors gave the worst prognosis (probably with the possibility of a lawsuit in mind):
the most explicit prognosis we could wheedle from the experts was that chances were high „ one was willing to say over 90 percent „ that the baby would be born dead or in a vegetative state. And carrying the child to term would pose some danger to Emma's health. Facing the prospect of a greater heartbreak, watching a child die or suffer inconsolably, or exhausting the emotional resources needed for two other children, we decided to end it.
After all, they could always replace him.
The doctors assumed that, of course, we would want to abort, as soon as possible. "We know you can get pregnant easily," Emma's obstetrician said. "Why risk an unhappy outcome?"
The sonograms had shown the child a boy, so they named him Charlie (the name of my second son).
The last thing Emma was aware of before surrendering to the anesthetic was Charlie kicking madly.
Poor Charlie; he just didnÍt meet their standards. Too bad for Charlie.
Keller is not insensitive, He feels bad about killing his son.
Two years later, past the mourning and the guilt and into the precarious hope of a new pregnancy, our experience at the intersection of science and parenthood haunts my thinking in ways I did not anticipate.
HeÍs not pro-life of course; aborting his child "has deepened my suspicion of moral clarity." But he is a little troubled about how the slightest imperfection (like being the wrong sex) is a death sentence:
For some parents, the abortion threshold is multiple sclerosis. For some, it's a cleft palate. Counselors who specialize in this say there are prospective parents who end pregnancies because they had their hearts set on the other gender." You get questionable news and you make the abortion decision," said Adrienne Asch, a Wellesley bioethicist who argues that prenatal screening and selective abortion have become too routine. "Anything else you do is viewed as stupid by your educated friends, by your doctors, by your genetic counselors."
Our government does not have an official eugenics policy; it does not need one. Social pressure is enough to guarantee that parents will get rid of those who do not meet societyÍs standards of perfection.
KeelerÍs wife sought ethical guidance. The Catholic hospital chaplain never returned her call, and a nun gave her the usual advice about doing whatever feels best:
"Think about what God would want, not what the church would want," the nun advised, with a wisdom that would surely disqualify her from Vatican office. "They are not always necessarily the same thing."
God, as we know, does not like imperfect human beings; he wants us to get rid of them whenever possible. They are so much trouble; they demand so much of us. Better they be chopped up and thrown out with the medical waste. At least thatÍs what KellerÍs God told him and his wife. I hope Charlie has found a better God.
LEAVING "THE FAMILY":
The Church of England Newspaper reported the following on June 27:
Twelve clergy and the wardens of nine parishes were given an ultimatum by the ultra-liberal Bishop of New Westminster last week to declare whether they wish to remain licensed following their opposition to this monthÍs vote to begin blessing homosexual ïmarriagesÍ.
They were told to reply no later than July 2 to the BishopÍs short letter, which appealed to them to remain in the ïdiocesan familyÍ but left no doubt that repercussions would follow any failure to meet the deadlines.
It is the appeal "to remain in the 'diocesan family'" that stands out for me, since the all-too-real bishop is using the word "family" in the same way that the fictional crime boss Tony Soprano would use it. One can imagine the scene, as Mr. Soprano barks, "Youse guys gotta do the crimes dat I tell ya to do, or you're outta da family."
And the bishop is demanding that the priests and people in question "do crimes"--to be specific, the crime of blessing perversion and the crime of denying both the Holy Scriptures and 20 centuries of Christian teaching on sexual morality. There can be only one boss in either the Jersey mob or the Diocese of New Westminister, and both Tony and the bishop have decided that God is not it.
Totalitarian structures are, by their nature, "crime families," whatever they are called. All the totalitarians want is absolute control of the minds, souls, bodies, lives, and consciences of their subjects. All they ever offer in return is the occasional sentimental claim that those in their power are their "families," both to rule and to ruin. Uncle Joe Stalin, Big Brother, the Godfather, and the present Bishop of New Westminster are fellow goons, and they are (or were) all in the same business.
SCHOOLS CONSPIRE AGAINST BOYS: This is the title of a National Post article. What every male who has suffered under our system knows is finally getting some attention from professionals: schools are designed for girls, not boys:
Dr. West says any environment that stresses order and quietness and control, as most schools do, are inherently anti-boy.
Boys express their emotion (and affection) physically:
As an example, he points out how boys will frequently reach out to touch other people, using a soft punch to the shoulder or a pat on the head as a way of connecting. Schools always curb this essentially social behavior by imposing all sorts of No Touch or No Contact policies, aimed at reducing violence.
''Boys can't sit still; school still requires that kids sit still. Boys want to be outside; school keeps kids inside.
''Boys have brief spurts of attention; school requires constant, steady attention.''
Dr West went out into the schools and saw that boys were everywhere but in the classroom:
As a result of what he had seen, he was not surprised when international evidence began to make the case that boys were not doing well in class.
Studies throughout North America and internationally have consistently shown that boys are being outperformed by girls across all grade levels.
Boys make up about three-quarters of the enrolment for special education and learning disability programs, are five times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit difficulties and prescribed medication for the problems, and are much more likely to drop out of school.
Girls have now surpassed boys in university enrolments, with female undergraduates making up almost 60% of the post-secondary student body across North America.
Boys like school only when it is not like school:
When he surveyed boys about when they actually liked school, it was always whenever school was not at all like school for them -- moments when they got to leave the classroom, or engage in debates and arguments, or participate in hands-on activities.
If boys donÍt like school, they donÍt get an education, and if they donÍt get an education, society is in for a lot of problems:
''If half the school population finds school a drudge, if half of it finds school a complete waste of time, then Western society is in for a great deal of trouble on its streets, in public places, in schools and in workplaces.''
We will be lucky if the result is only free-lance criminality. Moslem fascists are recruiting gang members in American prisons because these Americans are alienated from our society but can blend into it.
Feminists are reacting as if the failure of boys in school is good news. As men start drifting down the social scale, the gap between womenÍs and menÍs incomes will narrow. If men cannot provide for a family, they will be even less likely to marry. If women replace men in high paying jobs, they will not need a male partner to help with financial support.
We are carefully cultivating a situation which will produce large numbers of alienated, angry, unmarried men ¿ as our enemies prowl through our society looking for instruments to carry out mass murder. And the feminists see this as progress.
GRACED PLURALISM, ANYONE?:
From the Episcopal News Service (June 28, 2002):
Calling the next generation "an incredible gift," Griswold urged them to guide their elders in the practice of a "graced pluralism."
Comment: Amazing„the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church„is telling 20-somethings that he and other "elders" need to be led by them in the "practice" of something called "graced pluralism."
I don't think 20-somethings have any business leading elders in the practice of anything. Elders needing such guidance are a sorry lot. Twenty-something don't have such skills; I know; I was one myself once and I didn't know one Twenty-something that had them. Don't get me wrong„they have good questions, which should be taken seriously, as well as good observations often enough, which should be sought and evaluated and responded to.
But my guess is that Griswold's audience has no idea what he is talking about, unless they have read up on his notion of "pluriform truth," a heretical idea that leads to things like pluriform marriages (see entry earlier today by Lee Podles), pluriform sexuality, and pluriform worship. Lee Podles and others are right on about the Third World Christians, to whom belong the future and who know nothing of "graced pluralism," but that Christ the Incarnate Son of the Father is neither pluriform nor pluralistic. He is the only Savior given among men by which we must be saved, something Griswold would never say. Come to think of it, there are plenty of 20-somethings who would say that, if only Griswold would listen to them.
AFRICANS, ORTHODOXY, AND BRITISH COLUMBIA: Philip Jenkins, in his The Future of Christendom, claims that the demographic future of Christianity lies in Latin America and Africa. These third world Christians are conservative on sexual morality, and think that the West has gone nuts (there is much to support such a view). Africans are already trying to convert the decayed West.
CanadaÍs National Post reports (with some hostility) the efforts of Archbishop Kolini of Rwanda to maintain a semblance of sanity among Canadian Anglicans.
British Columbia suffers from the nuttiness that drifts north (like acid rain) from California.
The diocese became the first in Canada to approve gay and lesbian unions in a rite similar to a marriage ceremony. Although 63% of parish delegates approved the plan, priests and worshippers from eight conservative parishes walked out of a diocesan meeting in protest.
Kolini, who has been ordaining priests for orthodox Episcopalian parishes in the US (the Anglican Mission in America), has taken the traditional Anglicans in BC under his wing. He has appealed to the worldwide Anglican community (whose laity are far more conservative than the Anglicans of Canada).
George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the global Anglican Communion, has condemned the decision of New Westminster to bless same-sex couples, but has urged the diocese not to break apart over the issue.
As I am not an Anglican, I will not pretend to understand the church governance issues involve. But Kolini represents, according to Jenkins, not an eccentric cleric who, according to the National Post, seeks to ñactively meddle in the affairs of the self-governing dioceseî but the future of Anglicanism. The Africans to whom the Anglican missionaries preached the Gospel believed it. Their faith is sealed in blood ¿ the African church is supplying the first martyrs of the new millennium. The blood of these martyrs may be the seed of a new birth of Christianity in the West. The English missionaries who labored and often died in the tropics were unknowingly preparing a storehouse for the Gospel in the winter of secularism, so that the Anglicans of the twenty-first century could once again be fed with the bread of life
FEMINIST NOTICES THAT BOYS HAVE PROBLEMS TOO: Carol Gilligan, who has made a career out of showing how schools fail girls has noticed that they fail boys too. CanadaÍs National Post reports:
The alarming statistics about how poorly boys are faring in schools have drawn interest from academics, educators and politicians on all sides, and are just as likely to be supported by tax-cutting enthusiasts as they are social psychologists intent on reclaiming society's lost boys.
With an eye open for trends and publicity, Gilligan is studying boys:
During this next research phase -- the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology, Boys' Development and the Culture of Manhood -- Dr. Gilligan and her team began observing young boys
Her research also looks at how society has responded to the emotional and developmental changes boys face in childhood, and whether the extraordinary numbers of boys diagnosed with attention deficit disorders, involved in violence or failing in schools somehow reflect "a cultural crisis over the norms and values that have traditionally been associated with masculinity."
I suspect an attack on masculinity, a further attempt to make boys more like girls, but reality intrudes even on feminists:
But she sees it as positive that the newest wave in education has seen some public schools switching over to single-sex classes as a way to boost concentration, reduce distractions and even enhance student performance.
The DC schools (see previous blog) have discovered that too. Single-sex education is the wave of the future. Can home-schooling be far behind?
THE CHOICE: EDUCATION OR COEDUCATION: George Smitherman, principal of a DC school in a bad neighborhood quietly segregated classes by sex, and let kids know he expected them to study and not fool around. The result: A massive rise in test scores, the Washington Post reports:
The percentage of students scoring in the two highest categories -- "advanced" and "proficient" -- on the math portion of the Stanford 9 test had jumped in one year from 49 percent to 88 percent. On the reading portion of the exam, the percentage of students in the top two categories had shot up from 50 percent to 91.5 percent.
These poor kids are doing as well as the rich kids in the mostly single-sex schools in DC's Northwest.
The increases have put Moten, a Southeast Washington school where more than 98 percent of the students qualify for subsidized lunches, in the same academic league as schools in the wealthy neighborhoods of upper Northwest. Moten's overall math score on this spring's Stanford 9 test is the second highest among the 106 elementary schools in the D.C. system, and its reading score is the sixth highest.
Co-ed schools are good at increasing pregnancy rates, but not very good at educating. Boys misbehave to get the attention of girls, and girls are either afraid of the boys or flirt with them. Without the distraction of immediate sexual attraction, learning is easier. I suspect there may even be something chemical going on; the role of pheromones in human sexuality has never been fully understood, but they seem to play some role in increasing sexual excitement. Many private schools are single-sex; public schools should try that approach.
Single-sex education is not the only condition for good education, but it is helpful. Teachers must also not expect their students to fail and not make excuses for them. I donÍt think that native intelligence has much to do with race; poor, black kids are capable of learning, but if no one expects them to learn, and if attractive members of the opposite sex are in the same classroom, I am not surprised that the students donÍt learn.
COLLEGES WITHOUT MEN: Men have stopped going to college. The Washington Post reports:
At colleges and universities across the United States, the proportion of bachelor's degrees awarded to women reached a post-war high this year at an estimated 57 percent. The gender gap is even greater among Hispanics -- only 40 percent of that ethnic group's college graduates are male -- and African Americans, who are now seeing two women earn bachelor's degrees for every man.
The effects? Business needs trained employees, male and female. Women do not like to marry men less educated then they are.
Some researchers say the trend could herald a shift in the nation's social dynamic, with educated women unable to find mates of equal educational backgrounds.
The article does not point out one effect: Men, when they are not gainfully employed, also tend to get into criminal mischief. The higher crime rates among blacks are in part the result of lower educational achievements and consequent lower employment opportunities.
Why donÍt men graduate from college?
Some researchers believe women have learning styles that are more conducive to the college classroom. Some say men are more vulnerable to the lures of popular culture. Others say men -- particularly black and Hispanic students, who typically are from poorer families than whites -- feel more pressure than women to work while in school.
Feminism has been at work for several decades. Humanities classes especially are dominated by queer theory and feminist professors. Men tend to view the humanities as a luxury, and have little motivation to waste time in such bizarre academic labyrinths.
Feminists have also used the federal government to get rid of boys and men. I am not happy about the way sports dominated high schools and colleges in previous generations, but it had the effect of keeping boys and young men at least loosely connected to education. Student athletes had to make some sort of effort to attend classes to be eligible for teams. For decent students who were good athletes, scholarships helped men go to college.
The feminists used Title IX to get rid of menÍs sports. My alma mater, Providence College, went co-ed, then had a big majority of women students, and then cut back massively on men's sports, because it anticipated that the Federal government might require it to spend less on menÍs sports (It has not applied the Vatican document Ex Corde Ecclesiae with any such enthusiasm).
Men will stay away from colleges dominated by hostile feminist homosexuals, and silly courses. Colleges could emphasize science and engineering more, and require humanities courses that are not a constant insult to masculinity. Until this happens, men will not take college seriously. They can learn elsewhere. Two dropouts, Bill Gates and Alan Gerry (a high school dropout who sold his cable TV system for 2.7 billion) show that college is not necessary to success. But a decent education in the humanities (hard to get these days) can help businessmen understand how our civilization works, and not simply make money, but leave a lasting heritage of good behind.
SINNERS OR UNBELIEVERS?: Pedophilia is bad enough, but the behavior of some priests suggests that they view the priesthood exclusively as a means to get access to children, and that they do not believe in God, much less in specific Catholic doctrines about the sacraments.
I was on a talk show with a clinical psychologist, who suggested that many clerical pedophiles (like pedophile Boy Scout leaders) sought out the priesthood exclusively to get access to vulnerable children.
The psychologist was surprisingly sane. He said that child sex abuse (a term he preferred to pedophilia, which means the love of children) could be prevented only by fear of punishment. Abusers commit abuse because they think they can get away with it. If they know they would be caught and punished, they would refrain. Bishops' toleration of abuse therefore makes the bishops direct enablers of the abuse.
My winter parishes in Naples, Florida, St. WilliamÍs and St. AnnÍs, have both been hit by stories of abuse (before I and my children moved down there, to my relief).
St. AnnÍs suffers from a church in the round. Too many priests immediately succumb to the temptation this arrangement provides and adopt the Las Vegas MC persona, strolling around the church with mike in hand, waving to people, and generally behaving like fools. Some are worse than fools.
The Naples News reports:
As youth pastor during the 1975-76 school year, the sandal-wearing, straight-talking yet colorful Father Romero quickly won over his pre-teen charges.
His students claim:
"He used to lock the door and distribute sex education material," Holland said. "He'd count the pages before handing them out and then count the pages when he got them back. I just remember the ripples of embarrassment. It was obviously stuff we weren't supposed to see. ... We were instructed that he was progressive and the school was behind times."
ñDonÍt tell your parentsî is always a dangerous sign. My brother-in-law encountered it when his daughter was at an Ursuline school in Cleveland and was given dubious questionnaires.
Romero was up to no good.
According to several former students and St. Ann parents interviewed by the Daily News, Romero would force both boys and girls to undress in his rectory bedroom, saying prayers while dedicating their body to Father Romero.
The ritual went further:
She described an initiation ritual in which Romero would share wine from the chalice, offer the Host wafer and other Catholic Church trappings as he preyed on his students, escorting them one at a time into his bedroom, where they were told to get undressed.
"There was an offering of your body to be cleansed and received by God, and he was God's shepherd," Holland said.
Several scandals have involved sacrilegious behavior. A priest in Baltimore had boys dress as saints to enact sado-masochistic fantasies.
Do these men have no fear of God? Do they even believe that God exists and will punish evildoers? We are all sinners, but not all of us lead a total lie, pursuing a career as a minister of the Gospel to get access to vulnerable children to corrupt them. Nor do we use the appointed means of GodÍs grace as ways to lead the little ones down the path to hell.
Donatism thought that sinners could not administer the sacraments. The Church as a whole rejected this, because we are all sinners, and the grace of God depends not on our goodness but his power. However, can a man whose actions show that he does not believe in God be a priest? How could anyone believe in God and use the very tools God has given for salvation to lead innocents to damnation? How could bishops tolerate such men? Do the bishops not fear GodÍs wrath, or even worse, do they really believe there is a God? The church has long been troubled by secret unbelievers, who may even pretend to be shepherds for their own perverse delight.