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Sunday 18 March 2012

On making boys into men

As a strong female with character, and growing up in a family and extended family of mostly boys, I have been around young men and older for years and years. I have taught all boy classes in the past at several schools and colleges. I like being with men, as I am a healthy woman, with a brain. However, at this point in history, many of my friends, who are single like I am, are asking, where are the men? What I am concerned about is that now we have in education boys teaching boys, rather than men teaching boys. What do I mean?

To be an adult human being who is male can be quite a challenge in the overly feminized Catholic Church and in a society which has systematically undermined the role of the father in marriage and the role of the masculine man in a culture of which eschews leadership.

The subject is much more complicated than what I can cover here in a short post, but I want to highlight a few points. As I have written on this before, especially in my previous blog, I can point to some of the same problems which were obvious in 2007.

That men are afraid to be men, as there is so much criticism about real men, I can understand. Many are put down by either females, who are feminists, for being too patriarchal, or for being less than "sensitive" or "vulnerable".  That men are hesitant to be like old-fashioned, strong men, is a given. How can we encourage those who naturally are leaders and want to be leaders in a family or relationship. These good men need to be encouraged.

From another point of view, men not only to be encouraged, but trained. How we train boys to be men is not obvious anymore. One way is to give young men responsibility at an early age, with rules, and let them do hard things. As one who has raised a boy to be a good and responsible young man, I can say that discipline and consistency are key. Boys are actually somewhat easy to raise if a parent is clear and fair; that is, if boundaries and rules are taught within a framework of Christianity.

On top of discipline and consequences, one must train a young man in practical skills, even if later on he chooses a profession, such as a doctor or lawyer. Learning to do basic things gives a young man confidence and a sense of self.  A parent must have a set of chores and set guidelines and consequences for the lack of fulfillment of such chores. Many mothers and even fathers over protect their children by not letting them do things, such as sailing, cooking, climbing, camping, fishing, and other skills in addition to sports. Sports are good training for leadership skills, but not the only ones. Boys learn from other boys. I think, for example, that the Boy Scouts in England and in France have proved to be excellent training grounds for young boys learning life-skills.

In the overly feminized world of academia, some of the relationships which occur and some of the courses which are offered now exclude men from serious consideration. The entire idea gender-studies has created a marginalization of men. In my previous faculty position, the vast majority of instructors were women. New appointments of young academics were most likely women. But, that is another question to consider in another post. The real point is that more girls are getting degrees than men, and the statistics show that more minority girls are getting exams than even white boys. This creates a leadership problem. The leaders are going to be the women who have higher education than the men.

Boys must be given opportunities for leadership skills to develop. The mixture of girls and boys on teams does not help, as we all know that boys take a back step to girls in those circumstances. One can see that the parishes with altar girls, which is the one of the worst decisions of the former Pope. Boys do not want to be in groups with girls at a certain age and should not be. To be continued..

If there was a war, would anybody come....?

We have a generation of Americans and possibly British and even Irish youth who may not ever volunteer to fight a war. Why I mention this is that the Catholic Church has held a competent theory of  "just war" throughout the ages, which clarifies the use of violence for certain reasons. Before going into some of those reasons, I would like to note that the neo-pacifists are not merely against a particular war, such as that in Afghanistan, but are against all wars. This has never been the Catholic position on war; that is, that all wars must be prohibited and only pacifism allow to the Christian.

Why some youth would never fight is that they have lost any type of good or holy allegiance to anything. If one has no fidelity either to the Catholic religion, or to a particular nation, or people, one would not defend either a populace or land.

What is lacking is the strong commitment  which forms a person's soul into wanting to defend righteousness. If a young man, especially a single man, has no alliance to any person or place, he is most likely not to be patriotic either. I suggest that a socialist and communist political philosophies undermines healthy patriotism, which is a minor virtue in Catholic teaching.

However, the Catholic Church, and to Aquinas, there are certain rules for war which are legitimate. There are rules for engagement. One can check the Catechism for these points:
  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power as well as the precision of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

It is important for students, even in home schooling, to learn these guidelines and the more complicated issues from Aquinas. The main reasons for this teaching, which some had a long time ago, basically comes down to a few succinct points. The first point is that there has to be a just cause, that is, like someone invading one's country. Defense is a reason which would be a just cause. The second point is that there must be a proper authority. Why this is important is that only nations which are sovereign can represent the people. Groups within a country cannot represent a people, such as in Palestine, for example, which is not a nation, but a geographical area of several groups of people. Third, the intention must be just, again such as defense. A pre-emptive war is never just, such as the recent wars in the Middle East. Such differentiation in making important distinctions in deciding when a war is actually just may seem foolish or like casuistry to some, but the rule of law demands such clarity. In a country which is ruled by law, such decisions should be made in retrospect, rationally, and not be mere reactions to something. Four, there must be some reason for absolute surety of success. This means that a war should not be started if it cannot be finished, or done with the possibility of a new and reasonable governance. Proportionality is the next point, number five. This means that the amount of resources and violence used must be in proportion to what is necessary and not overly so. For example, in the Battles of Vienna and Lepanto, many soldiers and sailors were necessary to stop the take-over of Europe by the Muslims. The entire continent was praying and fasting as well. The last point, six, is last resort, which means that all diplomatic resources have failed.

In addition to the above, Christ, as both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas state, never condemned either war or the role of the soldier. In fact, he told soldiers how to behave fairly and not complain about their pay. In addition, when Christ returns in the Second Coming, He is pictured with a sword in Revelation, and with an army. 

There is a modern tendency for the sin of presumption; that is, that God will take care of one if one merely trusts in Him, and that there will be no future trials, wars, or even martyrdom. This is nonsense and irrational interpretations of Scriptures. It is the modern tendencies towards pacifism and quietism which deny that war is ever a necessity or even a possibility for Christians. However, it is. Nations must be concerned about justice and the rule of law, which sadly are both ignored. There can even be a case made for war in order to preserve religious freedoms and rights. To be continued...