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Why do some Catholic schools require students to read lousy, vulgar books?
Catholic World Report ^ | June 13, 2013 06:28 EST | Carl Olson

Posted on 06/13/2013 5:15:06 PM PDT by Diago

A reader recently sent an e-mail which opened with this question: "Has St. Ignatius High School never heard of Ignatius Press?"

The institution in question is a Jesuit preparatory school in Cleveland, Ohio. I know very little about it (I'm told that tuition is around $11,000 a year), but I see that the school's website features the following quote:

"The purpose of our education is to give a young man the tools whereby he can answer the question What does God want from me?" -- Rev. Robert J. Welsh, S.J., '54

Very nice. But, having read the school's required summer reading list, I wonder, "Does God really want teenagers to be reading books filled with numerous vulgarities, sexually-explicit language and references, and perspectives that are amoral and hedonistic?"

For example, the novel, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which is required summer reading for "English I" and "Honors English I", contains the following passage, uttered by the book's central character, Junior, a teenage boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation (warning: sexual language):

I spend hours in the bathroom with a magazine that has one thousand pictures of naked movie stars:

       Naked woman + right hand = happy happy joy joy

Yep, that’s right, I admit that I masturbate.

I’m proud of it.

I’m good at it.

I’m ambidextrous.

If there were a Professional Masturbators League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars.

And maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you really shouldn’t be talking about masturbation in public.”

Well, tough, I’m going to talk about it because EVERYBODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it.

And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.

Yeah, yeah, I get it: this is real teen talk written to engage teens who live in the real world and who want tough, straight, honest fiction that takes on controversial and difficult topics. That's the usual line trotted out in defense of such overrated pieces of fiction. Junior also expresses his anger at God and Jesus (after the death of his grandmother's death) by doodling cartoons that are stupid at best and certainly offensive. There is also the dubious revelation that Indians, according to Junior, used to be supporters of gay marriage--until their open-mindedness was corrupted:

My grandmother had no use for all the bay bashing and homophobia in the world, especially among other Indians.

"Jeez," she said. "Who cares if a man wants to marry another man? All I want to know is who's going to pick up all the dirty socks?"

Of course, ever since the white showed up and brought along their Christianity and their fears of eccentricity, Indians have gradually lost all of their tolerance.

If it was just one Catholic school, I might simply say, "Unfortunately, there's usually going to be a bad apple in the barrel." But Alexie's novel (based in large part on his own life) appears on the reading lists of numerous Catholic schools across the country. See for yourself. Why? Is it because it won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature? If so, then why not have the young teens read the 2004 winner, Godless, by Pete Hautman, in which the the main character says, "Why mess around with Catholicism when you can have your own customized religion? All you need is a disciple or two...and a god.'" (To be fair, Hautman's book is not, from what I can tell, actually antagonistic to religion; it might even be quite the opposite.)

And what to make of the inclusion of The Privileges, by Jonathan Dee? I read parts of it online, along with some reviews. It appears to be both repulsive and forgettable, filled to the edges with foul language and disagreeable characters, many of them seemingly hoping to be in a Camus novel but lacking the depth or focus to make the cut. I suppose it passes for what is now considered "sophisticated", what with the "f" bombs and narcissistic chatter. Goodness.

Looking at the summer book list for St. Ignatius High School, I noticed that none of those required for English classes was written before 1970, and all but one--The Hollow Hills, by Mary Stewart (1973)--were published in the past eighteen years. Do schools even bother with the classics anymore? Or has the push for being "relevant" gotten to the point that any book written before iPhones existed is relegated to the outer darkness?

It got me thinking of the books that I had to read for English classes when I was high school (a public school) in the mid-1980s. They included several plays by Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet), For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ivanhoe, My Name Is Asher Lev (a personal favorite), 1984, A Tale of Two Cities, and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I cannot recall reading a book that had been published in the just ten or twenty years before. Which is not to say that good fiction for teens isn't being written in the 21st century. Not at all. But I have serious doubts about The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. If I was a parent whose child was required to read that book, I would have some questions for the English teacher, beginning with this one: "Have you never heard of Ignatius Press?" And, as a follow-up: "Or of the Ignatius Critical Editions?

 


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events
KEYWORDS: sexpositiveagenda; stignatiushighschool
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1 posted on 06/13/2013 5:15:06 PM PDT by Diago
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To: Diago
Some of the books that were required reading in English classes when I was in high school:

Ninth Grade
The Odyssey/Homer
Julius Caesar/William Shakespeare

Tenth Grade
Great Expectations/Charles Dickens
Crime and Punishment/Fyodor Dostoevskii
Huckleberry Finn/Mark Twain
Animal Farm/George Orwell

Eleventh Grade
Moby Dick/Herman Melville
The Scarlet Letter/Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Red Badge of Courage/Stephen Crane
Our Town/Thornton Wilder

2 posted on 06/13/2013 5:32:17 PM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: narses; Coleus; Pyro7480; wtc911; informavoracious; vladimir998; Zetman; Diago; baa39; dangus; ...

A very interesting story from Carl Olsen at Catholic World Report. You need to see the cartoon from the book in question - it appears with the original article here:

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2328/why_do_some_catholic_schools_require_students_to_read_lousy_vulgar_books.aspx#.UbpdzUnD_IU

So many great Catholic books to read, what a shame. Since Olsen is involved with Ignatius Press and helps make available so many great works, you can certainly understand his outrage.


3 posted on 06/13/2013 5:32:37 PM PDT by Diago
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To: Diago
The Catholic Schools in the Cleveland area produce the most successful professionals in their careers, regularly.

Whereas they require READING of literature that is counter to church teachings, it teaches what the other side of the coin holds...as opposed to Cleveland Area Public Schools, which teach the Progressive Agenda, dependency on the Gubmint, etc., and produces the low-life inner-city tribal parasite mentality, with no redeeming social value to Society, in general (with Union Teachers that cannot allow skills/proficiency/merit-based performance testing for Union Members).

I would NEVER send my kids to a Cleveland Public School, even if I had to work 3 jobs to do so.....of course, there's NO WAY I would live in Cleveland, so that is not an issue. In suburbia, I would gladly have my kids in St. Edwards, St. Ignatius, Magnificat, etc.

4 posted on 06/13/2013 5:35:00 PM PDT by traditional1 (Amerika.....Providing public housing for the Mulatto Messiah)
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To: traditional1

My Summer-before freshman year reading list for Fordham Prep: Catcher in the Rye, The Oddyessy, Sagan’s Cosmos, to Kill a Mockingbord, Walden/ Life in the Woods, Grapes of Wrath.


5 posted on 06/13/2013 5:52:26 PM PDT by Madhattan
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To: Diago

Sounds like something that Andrew Greeley might have written.


6 posted on 06/13/2013 5:52:56 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro can't pass E-verify)
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To: Madhattan

Mockingbird! I didn’t know I had fat fingers then. Most people didn’t.


7 posted on 06/13/2013 5:53:51 PM PDT by Madhattan
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To: Diago

My sons’ high school (also Jesuit) assigned many great books for English in the late ‘70s, but I was alarmed when they assigned The Thorn Birds to the seniors. I went in to talk to the teacher (a lay teacher and the only woman my son had throughout his 4 years.)

Her explanation was that this was likely the last novel that our sons would read for the rest of their lives because they would become doctors, engineers, research scientists, etc. and most of their reading would be technical. She wanted them to want to turn to novels for pleasure reading. She also wanted them to know how to treat a woman (apparently the class discussions revolved around Meggie’s abusive and cold husband.)

I don’t know that I bought all that malarkey, but I could see that I wasn’t going to change it. My son grew up to be an engineer who has a knack for writing and who enjoys reading novels. Who’d a thunk?


8 posted on 06/13/2013 6:00:28 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: traditional1
The Catholic Schools in the Cleveland area produce the most successful professionals in their careers, regularly.

If they include/require this literature, I hope they're first on the horizon for the great chastisement and that it's a slow, painful, excruciating death followed by eternal agony via personally-assigned vengeful demons. And if the "most successful professionals" are in turn subjecting their progeny to this demonic rubbish, same to them.

9 posted on 06/13/2013 6:03:18 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not NurtureĀ™)
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To: Diago

My sons’ high school (also Jesuit) assigned many great books for English in the late ‘70s, but I was alarmed when they assigned The Thorn Birds to the seniors. I went in to talk to the teacher (a lay teacher and the only woman my son had throughout his 4 years.)

Her explanation was that this was likely the last novel that our sons would read for the rest of their lives because they would become doctors, egieers, research scietists, etc. and most of their reading would be technical. She wanted them to turn to novels for pleasure reading. She also wanted them to know how to treat a woman (apparently the class discussions revolved around Meggie’s abusive and cold husband.)

I don’t know that I bought all that malarkey, but I could see that I wasn’t going to change it. My son grew up to be an engineer who has a knack for writing and who enjoys reading novels. Who’d a thunk?


10 posted on 06/13/2013 6:04:30 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Diago

I remember being shocked by all the sex in Brave New World, but at least Aldous Huxley wasn’t a stooge for the sex positive agenda. In fact, judging by Brave New World, just the opposite.


11 posted on 06/13/2013 6:25:09 PM PDT by SoCal SoCon (Conservatism =/= Corporatism.)
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: afraidfortherepublic

Great novels

Theophilus about St. Luke
Father Elijah about end times by Michael O’Brien


13 posted on 06/13/2013 6:28:25 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Diago

Here is our Catholic ladies reading group’s list for this next year. We try to vary the genre. I want a Scott Hahn book on it next year, but one lady is vehement about him being too deep.

Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo

Odd Thomas: An Odd Thomas Novel by Dean Koontz

The Harbinger by Jonathon Cahn

Saint Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton

The Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien

How to Listen When God Is Speaking by Father Mitch Pacwa

Disciple by E. G. Lewis (book 2 of the Seeds of Christianity series)

For Greater Glory: The True Story of the Cristiada, The Cristero War and Mexico’s Struggle for Religious Freedom by Ruben Quezada

40 Days for Life: Discover What God Has Done…Imagine What He Can Do by David Bereit and Shawn Carney

Characters of the Passion by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Murder in the Vatican by Ann Margaret Louis


14 posted on 06/13/2013 6:31:26 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Fiji Hill
Add Pride and Prejudice, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Red Pony, The Good Earth, and more I am sure that I can't remember.
15 posted on 06/13/2013 6:31:52 PM PDT by napscoordinator (Santorum-Bachmann 2016 for the future of the Country!)
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To: A.A. Cunningham
Poor Father Greeley. /s

Greeley suffered skull fractures in a fall in 2008 when his clothing got caught on the door of a taxi as it pulled away; he was hospitalized in critical condition.[8] He remained in poor health for the rest of his life and died on May 29, 2013 at his Chicago home. He was 85,

16 posted on 06/13/2013 6:31:53 PM PDT by steve86 (Acerbic by Nature, not NurtureĀ™)
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To: All

Or about Father Kapaun POW in Korea — on the beatification list, I believe.


17 posted on 06/13/2013 6:33:20 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: SoCal SoCon

I thought reading Lord of the Flies was a bit much for 9th grade when we had to read it. There were some inappropriate stuff in it and I went to Catholic School.


18 posted on 06/13/2013 6:33:40 PM PDT by napscoordinator (Santorum-Bachmann 2016 for the future of the Country!)
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To: Madhattan
Yeah; I did the standard reads, too, back in the day.

Know the opposition, comes to mind when I see this.

19 posted on 06/13/2013 6:38:43 PM PDT by traditional1 (Amerika.....Providing public housing for the Mulatto Messiah)
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To: steve86

Exposure to the “dark side” to prepare to refute it is NOT, IMHO, a bad idea.


20 posted on 06/13/2013 6:39:27 PM PDT by traditional1 (Amerika.....Providing public housing for the Mulatto Messiah)
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