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Seeking An Alternative To The Boy Scouts

September 29, 2015 Frontpage No Comments

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By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

The decision by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to permit open homosexuals to be active as members and leaders of local troops has forced many parents to make a difficult decision. Some parents may decide that their children’s troop is unaffected by the new policies and that there is no reason to remove their children from the group. No doubt there are many Scout troops and Scout leaders who remain faithful to Scouting’s heritage.
But what should parents do if they do not feel that confidence in their local troop, or if they do not want their children to be part of an organization with a national leadership committed to the homosexual agenda? Are there youth groups that can provide an alternative to the Boy and Girl Scouts of today?
C.M. writes to recommend that Catholic parents examine the Federation of North American Explorers. The group has 25 chapters in Canada and 16 in the United States. Founded in 1956 by French and German leaders, the group sees itself as an effort to practice the original principles of Scouting in a Christian context, stating specifically that the “movement was, and remains, Catholic in character.” It lists among its objectives encouraging “our boys to embrace their faith in their everyday life as they grow ever stronger in their faith.”
First Teachers has no firsthand knowledge of the activities of the group, but its web site northstarexplorers.org gives a favorable impression of its purpose and activities, and is worth consideration by parents unhappy with the direction that the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are taking in the United States these days.
On another topic: D.J.M. of Denver writes to add his perspective to the topic of the ongoing loyalty of many Catholics to Notre Dame football, even those with no connection to the university, discussed in the July 16 edition of First Teachers. It is an issue that continues to interest our readers. Football season is upon us. Fans of the “Fighting Irish” might not want to hear what D.J.M. has to say. But he has a point.
D.J.M. counts himself among those who have “fallen off the Notre Dame bandwagon.” He says he made that decision “when Notre Dame accepted a boatload of money to allow Obama to talk and receive his unworthy doctorate. I believe this was one of the first indications that Notre Dame was more about football than graduating superior people grounded in the Catholic faith. This means that Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic school but just another institution attempting to excel in making money.”
Does First Teachers take a stand on the wisdom of Catholics in the United States continuing to view Notre Dame football as part of what some call the “Catholic Thing,” a term used to describe the shared experiences of growing up a Catholic that so many of us find an enjoyable common bond?
I have friends and acquaintances who chide me for my continuing loyalty to Notre Dame football. They tell me that I have been taken in by a con job designed to play on the memory of Notre Dame’s Catholic past, no different from any advertising agency’s scheme to sell a commercial product.
Those who tell me that may be right. I know that. Still, for now, I see nothing wrong with enjoying the Notre Dame hoopla on game-day, even if “touchdown Jesus” and the Holy Cross priests on the bench mean more to television viewers than to the student body and faculty of the university. We accept that enjoying a work of literature or film requires a “willing suspension of disbelief.” Is there anything wrong with employing the same technique with Notre Dame football? Rooting for any sports team involves a degree of fantasy. It is usually a harmless diversion.
I can see why some may disagree, insisting the Catholic veneer added to Notre Dame football is a calculated stratagem used by the university to gain financial support from Catholics, while the school’s administration goes about its effort to transform the university along secular liberal lines. I hope that is not the case. I don’t want to have to follow D.J.M.’s lead.
One last thing: There was a time when I was a young man when I thought that it was a fellow parishioner who came up with the term “edifice complex.” He was a clever guy so it was not implausible. He used it to describe new pastors — we had had about three of them at the time — who would always come up with some building project, and a fund-raising drive to finance it, shortly after being assigned to our parish.
I learned in due course that my parishioner had not coined the term, though he remained a clever fellow. Here is the definition from a website called The Urban Dictionary. It says it well: “An Edifice Complex is a serious budget-busting illness that typically manifests itself on modern college and university campuses. Soon after their inauguration, an incoming university president will frantically and feverishly fall all over themselves to relentlessly badger wealthy donors and students for the purposes of leaving a mark with their name on it on the campus by constructing a new, overpriced” building of some sort, whose main purpose is to “grace the cover of university brochures and websites.”
Maybe some clever wag can come up with a comparable term to describe Republican politicians in regard to the Department of Education. In spite of the clearly documented failure of this federal bureaucracy to improve education in the country since it was signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1980, the Republicans make no sincere effort to abolish it, no matter how large their majorities in Congress, preferring instead to come up with something new and “better” that they can point to with pride as part of their legacy.
Check the record. When George W. Bush was in office he proudly announced his “No Child Left Behind” program, further entangling the federal government in public schools. It did no good. And what are the Republicans doing now that they hold majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate?
They are coming up with another grand educational reform to prove that they can get it right. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, is sponsoring a bill he calls the “Every Child Achieves Act.” It would make a good Saturday Night Live skit.

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Readers are invited to submit comments and questions about this and other educational issues. The e-mail address for First Teachers is fitzpatrijames@sbcglobal.net, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 15, Wallingford, CT 06492.

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