Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What went wrong with the American Experiment?

Adrienne at Adrienne's Corner asked other bloggers to comment on the question, and link to her blog. She provided two links, and I read the posts, and they're both good, so I'm not going to try to duplicate them. I'll just add some of my own memories of the 1960s, with background.
I graduated from St. Bridget's Grade School in north Minneapolis in 1958 (when Pius XII had "always" been Pope, and Eisenhower had "always" been president). I went to De La Salle High School (one of the De La Salle yearbooks was themed "The Soaring Sixties"), and graduated in 1962, when John XXIII was Pope, Kennedy was president, Vatican II had not yet begun, and no one I knew had ever heard of the Beatles.

I began school at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in the fall of 1962, in civil engineering, and I remember one prof telling us that they intended to be tough on us and wash out as many of us as they could, because they wanted only the very best getting degrees from the U. It was tough; I lasted four quarters, and had to change colleges.

All this took two years, because I occasionally dropped out of school to work enough to make enough money to afford another quarter. It was risky to drop out of school, because there was a draft then, and (as I recall it) as long as a guy was in school he would have a 2-S student deferment; otherwise he was 1-A and liable to be drafted. So it wasn't until the fall of 1964 that I found myself back on campus, and I noticed things had changed.

The most noticeable change was that the kids born in 1946 were at the U as freshmen. One other thing I noticed, which didn't affect me then bout would some later, was the beginning of the "Weekly Silent Vigil to Protest the Vietnam War." The protestors stood on the sidewalk in front of the University Armory, just across University Avenue from the Newman Center, where I hung out a lot.

The most annoying change was the time I went to noon Mass at Newman Center sometime that fall. During the Mass they sang the "Gelineau Psalms," which I took an immediate dislike to, because they sang the word "YHVH" in full, out loud. I was twenty at the time, and had been interested in Judaism and Yiddishkeit for four or five years. I knew that a pious Jew will never utter that most holy name of God; in the "prayer of prayers," the Shema Yisrael, whenever the text has the four Hebrew letters, the word Adonai, "Lord" is substituted.

This was the beginning of the era of ecumenism, interfaith dailogue and sharing, and I figured it was entirely possible that some Jewish kids from the Hillel Foundation down the street might come in and see what the goyim were up to. So after Mass, I went to one of the singers, a guy I knew from De La Salle, and explained to him why I thought we should not say the name of God out loud. And he said to me, "This is the way it's going to be around here. If you don't like it, you can get the hell out."

This was my first brush with "progressive" thinking; it wouldn't be the last.

And this was after the assassination of John Kennedy and the coming of the Beatles to the States.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sex Education and Physics

And I bet you're saying "Whaaat?!"

When I was in Physics 1 as a freshman engineering student at the University of Minnesota, one of the topics of study was falling-body problems. (No pun intended.) An object dropped from a height will cover distance downward according to the formula

s = (1/2 * g * t^2) where g is the acceleration due to gravity (and * means times, and t^2 means t-squared)

and the velocity of the object will be

v = g*t

To make things more interesting (read: complicated), the downward acceleration is independent of any forward motion the object might have, such as if the object were dropped from a moving airplane. Thus both downward and forward motions need to be analyzed. The math will show that a falling body in motion when dropped will follow a curve called a parabola, and its point of impact can be easily calculated.

But it's not as easy as that. There is air resistance, which increases proportionally to the mass and shape of the falling body, and (to make things even more interesting) changes the path of the falling body from a parabola to a cycloid.

So I asked the professor, "When do we get to figure air resistance?" and he replied, "Come back when you've had about five quarters of calculus."

Translated, this means: "You don't have the need or ability to understand that yet."

So with sex education. Little kids don't need to know about the "mechanics" of sex, because they don't have the need or ability to understand it (and though I'm not a parent, I would bet all my blog dollars they don't care either.)

I would venture to say that almost all little kids, when asking why Mommy's belly is getting big, being told that their little brother or sister is growing in there, will ask "Well, how'd he or she get there?" Parents correct me on this one, but I bet it will be quite enough to tell a small child, "God put him / her there."

Parents can tell their kids the equivalent of what the physics prof told me.

And I cannot state strongly enough that it's nobody's business but the parents' to give the child any more information, because the parents know their child better than any teacher possibly could, and they know when the child is able to absorb and assimilate the information.

(This applies only to ordinary kids in ordinary families, of course. The "special cases" are something else entirely.)

Great video from Michael Voris

I just saw a video posted up by the Facebook group "Traditional/Conservative Catholics" and commented to its main contributor as follows.

I noticed the emphasis Michael Voris gave in that excellent video to the point that the Mass is not about us, or the priest; it's about Jesus Christ, Who is the real celebrant, and in Whose place the priest acts. In the Ukrainian Byzantine liturgy (from St. John Chrysostom) there is the following prayer by the priest of which this is a short excerpt:

"Bending my neck, I approach and I petition You: turn not Your face from me nor reject me from among Your children, but allow these gifts to be offered to You by me, Your sinful and unworthy servant. For it is You Who offer and You Who are offered; it is You Who receive and You Who are given, O Christ our God, and we give glory to You, together with Your eternal Father and Your most holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen."

I might add that Ukrainian preserves the formal / intimate usage in pronouns and verbs, and that in all the liturgy, God the Father, Son, and Spirit are addressed as intimates. Which Latin used to do. The fault, of course, is with the English language for having lost the distinction.

Best wishes to you, and keep the commentaries coming!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mainstream Media Memory Manipulation

My local paper ran a story on Jane Russell today; it said in part:

"She wrote in her 1985 autobiography, 'My Paths and Detours,' that during high school she had a back-alley abortion, which may have rendered her unable to bear children."

The experience, which she says nearly killed her, led her to become outspoken about abortion, denying that any circumstance - rape or incest included - justified taking the life of an unborn child.

No mention in my paper of what she did about it. She became a passionate pro-lifer and adoption advocate -- which a couple of honest blogs (Fr Longemecker andf Life Site News) mentioned.

I wrote a comment to the paper and pointed this out, along with a statement attributed to her: “People should never, ever have an abortion. Don’t talk to me about it being a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death.”

The paper printed my letter. I'm very surprised they did.