“The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated… Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate.” (Pope Benedict XVI, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 64)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome to 1984

There are many reasons for homeschooling. It’s a very useful means to pass along the Catholic faith and a sure means of avoiding the leftwing indoctrination towards relativism, diversity, environmentalism, and sexualization. For those who don’t have the means to homeschool or send their kids to a private school that won’t push such nonsense, parents have a responsibility to de-indoctrinate their kids at home, and thankfully many parents are doing this.

When asked about our reasons for homeschooling, Mrs. Jack’s primary response is that we want to provide our kids with a classical education. Along with mathematics, art, science and faith, it is very important to us that our kids are well-grounded in the classical trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). This is the learning style that built Western Civilization. That same civilization that has dominated the earth for the last 2,500 years. There was sound reasoning behind this style. Our modern schools for the most part have shrugged this in favor of a style that is primarily indoctrination and secondarily k through 12 day-care.

It’s one thing to be Catholic. Yes, we are weird. For good reason, we’re peculiar. That’s understandable, and it has always been so from the birth of the Church nearly 2000 years ago. But here in the United States, natural human reason is now a rare commodity. The history of mankind has been best characterized by “might makes right”. But in our grand experiment here in the United States, the respect for the God-given freedom and sovereignty of the individual has allowed for us as a nation to actually be right most of the time. Though we’ve gotten some things terribly wrong (slavery comes to mind), peoples’ pursuit of happiness generally leads them closer to truth. But if we dismiss our educational inheritance, we will become pawns of our passions and easily manipulated by those whose passion is power. The United States of America could very possibly slip into tyranny.

Mrs. Jack has seen this first-hand, as she has instructed and assisted at university classes at a major state institution. This is a center of learning with a respected academic reputation in this field, yet to witness it from the inside, Mrs. Jack wonders how bad it must be at the mediocre universities. Students are only concerned about memorizing what they need to for the tests. And instructors are all-too eager to spoon feed these students what they want them know. Students receive a very narrow education, so narrow and manipulative that in some cases, they actually leave the class less intelligent than when they entered. The idea of learning wisdom from the great minds and works of a chosen academic field is lost. What its been replaced with is learning the various agendas of the instructors just enough to score well.

I think all of us have seen the loss of honest debate. We used to have a news media that would prevent people from telling lies. If some major figure lied to the country, he ran the risk of being exposed as a liar and ruining his reputation. That didn’t completely prevent people from lying, but it has at least held our civic leaders somewhat in check.

People who are younger than me may not remember what it was like to have a somewhat honest media. They have always been liberal, but they did a better job giving our people the whole story than they do today. What we’ve seen in the last few years has been steady progression towards an altered reality.

Most people can remember in the 2004 presidential election, when bloggers and swiftboat veterans were questioning Candidate John Kerry’s account of his service record and clearly caught him in a lie. The main-stream media avoided the story, either pleading ignorance, or dismissing the bloggers and veterans as nut-jobs and liars. On the other hand, they couldn’t wait to trash President Bush’s service record, so anxious that they ran with documents that were obvious forgeries. In fact, President Bush’s entire eight years, minus a short 9/11 honeymoon, was under constant fire from a press that would gin-up stories and keep him under relentless attack.

Now it’s even worse. Barrack Obama, who’s past was carefully hidden by the same media that left no stone unturned when it came to a conservative vice-presidential candidate, became president, and the Whitehouse press corps was transformed from rabid vermin to parrots and pack-mules.

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, his protagonist works for the Ministry of Truth, the official government agency that delivers the news to their people. This is the key to the control of the people. With the exclusive authority to deliver information, the citizens of Oceana are manipulated in any way the state deems it necessary. 1984 didn’t introduce this concept. We have already seen this played out throughout history. The United States and other places that take their God-given right to a free press seriously are truly the exception.

But what if? What if the free press voluntarily decides to support one side? What if, in mass, all the various private agencies that deliver the news decide that they are going to support a specific agenda? Could the same propaganda effect of 1984’s Ministry of Truth be accomplished through voluntary compliance?

We are certain to find out if we watch for it, because that is exactly what is evolving right before our eyes. It has been in the process for many years. For instance, how did Senator Ted Kennedy get away with his baseless screed against Judge Robert Bork in 1987? And how about that “crisis” of the government shutdown in 1995? In both cases, the media failed to report the whole story, but propagated the lies of the liberal agenda toward a successful outcome. But as time has gone on, past attempts of the media to manipulate public opinion look modest by comparison.

Take President Obama’s Town Hall this past Tuesday. In public and on the record, he took a room stacked with supporters and told lie after lie after lie after lie (Imagine Bush attempting something like that?). We have the black and white text of the bills running through the House and Senate, but Obama won’t address the specifics, continually addressing generalities which are contradicted by the language of the bills. The news media, rather than call him out for that, continues to run with these lies as if they are the truth, and tries to portray those who point out the lies and the real agenda behind Obamacare as kooks.

It’s gotten to the point now that they go after a Senator that gives veiled credence to the possibility of a “Death Panel”, suggesting that he should be censured.

Has it really come to that. A Senator is to be censured for admitting what is obviously in the bill, while the media angrily insists it is not?

The Granted, these two fools are liberal commentators, but in a forum of honest debate, they wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a respectable news outlet.

We have a media that promotes lies and selectively covers stories to provide their viewers with an altered reality, specifically designed to promote the same left-wing agenda as the current administration. Unlike 1984, there appears to be no central authority controlling this. Neither is there a central authority filling our universities and entertainment media with left-wingers. This has simply happened as a matter of natural progression. How? Well, a qualified and honest sociologist might be useful to present a theory. But thanks to the deterioration of the academics, good like finding a sociologist without an agenda willing to take this question on. But while I’m at a loss as to how to explain how it happened, I can easily answer what enabled it.

If you sent your child to a university and found that they were teaching him insane ideas, and they were training him to be an imbecile, what would you do? Of course, you would stop wasting your money on an institution that was wasting the intellect of your child. But universities spent centuries developing public trust. With that trust in hand, who are we to question it? In the past, instructors would have to defend their teachings in public, before all to hear, and they had to adhere to logic, rhetoric, and the scientific method. And that defense was not a one-time deal. It could occur at any lecture or public forum, and could happen at any point during a career. Instructors who couldn’t adhere to these principles didn’t last. Nowadays, defenses are conducted in limited circles, and if you find a circle of fools, you too can be a respected scholar.

That’s the problem. We don’t even know how to defend common sense, let alone complex issues. As our society has drifted from the model of a classical education, we now no longer have a capacity to debate issues. Passions now drive the masses. We begin with a conclusion based on feelings, and we need not reach it with sound logic, nor defend it with sound rhetoric. Respect for differing opinions is dead because those opinions either aren’t presented well or, when actually well-presented, they aren’t heard. All that matters is how we feel.

Feelings are very important. They are there for a very important reason – to act as a check again faulty reasoning, or to take-over when the time is not there to think things through. But they cannot replace thinking. There once was a time when serious debates took place. People put their feelings aside, listened, and respect both. Now when a serious debate takes place, it’s a game of how many lies you can tell, worried not that a compliant media will expose you after the debate.

We continue, in more rapid fashion, drifting towards Orwell’s 1984, even if it is not in the way Orwell supposed. In the past, I believe our grounding in a classical trivium allowed us to separate truth from lie and prevent this oligarchic team from forming. Now, without that grounding, education is no longer a passing of wisdom and the tools to grow. Instead, we are used to being spoon-fed how to think. And now, who are we to question what we are being told?

I am encouraged by current events which show that people are standing up to the lies. We haven’t entirely forgotten our American instincts. However, our current state is so bleak, I don’t know if we will always be able to walk away from totalitarianism unless we reclaim our educational inheritance.

That is why we homeschool. And while we do it, we also need to evangelize this priceless gift from the past. Future generations depend on our society reclaiming a classical education.

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