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Catholic Education And The Totalitarian State

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By DONALD DeMARCO

Although the distinguished Catholic historian Christopher Dawson produced The Crisis of Western Education in 1961, his thoughts are just as relevant today as when they appeared in print more than 50 years ago. The reason for this is that the author is dealing with timeless factors: the education of man, spiritual values, materialism, technology, and the ever-constant threat of totalitarianism.
The education of the whole person, which includes the inculcation of spiritual values, cultivates the free man who shares the wealth of his knowledge with others in the community as he directs himself to his ultimate end, which is not exclusively of this world. Secularism, being bound to this world, is committed to serving the materialistic needs of its citizens and is, therefore, a natural enemy of a truly Catholic education. Secularism has its place as long as it is not dominant and suppresses the moral and spiritual values that are needed for the formation of a civilization.
“We cannot ignore the fact,” writes Dawson, “that every civilization from the beginning of history down to the modern times has accepted the existence of a transcendent spiritual order…and has regarded it as the ultimate source of moral values and moral law.”
The marriage of political liberalism with economic technocracy, especially in North America, has produced a closed system that serves the material demands of consumers but fails to furnish them with or distracts them from their spiritual needs. Goods are produced for which commercial advertisers create artificial demands. Consumers, in turn, furnish the incentive for the production of more goods. Spiritual values that center on higher aims are squeezed out of the picture. Without the education of the whole man, moral values appear arbitrary, allowing moral relativism to become the reigning ideology.
Moral criticism is discouraged, if not punished. A person can lose his job simply by defending traditional marriage or citing the Bible. At the same time, certain ideologies, such as that represented by the LGBTQ alliance, are given a certain immunity from criticism. The situation, once aptly described by José Ortega y Gasset as “the sovereignty of the unqualified,” becomes highly unstable and invites conflicts, protests, and even violence.
Refusing to be intimidated by the LGBT, and standing up moral values that are enshrined in the Torah, more than 200 orthodox rabbis in Jerusalem recently denounced its activities in very strong language (July 2018).
In support of Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the confraternity of rabbis infuriated LGBT supporters by accusing them of using “aggressive terror accompanied by non-stop media brainwashing,” in attempts to turn “perverts into heroes.” Any person employed in the secular world in North America would no doubt be fired for making such a statement.
The rabbis went on to state that they, along with “sane people,” would not be silenced by the LGBT group or turned into “delusional extremists.”
The confrontation between sanity and insanity can be, indeed, explosive.
The suppression of social criticism allows secular imperatives to go unchecked. The consequences can be calamitous. The “T” in LGBT stands for transgendered. The largest study of its kind ever done has reported that among 5,000 people who identify themselves as men trying to become women, the likelihood of their experiencing a stroke or heart attack increases by 80 to 90 percent.
In addition, they have a higher risk of getting blood clots from the estrogen. Dr. Darios Getahun, one of the authors of the study, told NBC News: “Doctors and patients need to be aware of the possibility for increased health risks for transgender women.”
That is an understatement. A report by Dr. Lawrence Mayer and Dr. Paul McHugh may be even more startling. They cite that among transgendered individuals, 41 percent have attempted suicide, whereas only 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population reports a lifetime suicide attempt. At the same time, in Fountain Hills, Ariz., a pharmacist has been fired for refusing to fill a hormone prescription for a biological man who identifies as a woman. Here, science bends to ideology.
A good education should triumph over an unrealistic ideology. Nonetheless, when an ideology is joined to consumer needs and technological wherewithal, it often takes a back seat. In Toronto, a plastic surgeon who identifies himself as a “leader in the LGBT community,” admits to performing double mastectomies on girls as young as fourteen who believe that they are boys. His fee is in the area of $9,000 per surgery. Pediatrician Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians has referred to the procedure as “institutionalized child abuse.”
So much for Canada’s campaign to stamp out this infamy. There are some 6,500 genetic factors that go into distinguishing male from female. They cannot be offset by surgery and hormone injections.
Morality is doing good and avoiding evil. This is fundamental and is imprinted on our hearts. But this fundamental disposition can be overridden by materialistic concerns and a powerful ideology. Citing Christopher Dawson once again, “a system of education like that of the modern secular state which ignores the spiritual component in human culture and in the human psyche is a blunder so enormous that no advance in scientific method or educational technique is sufficient to compensate for it.”
A realistic philosophy is better than an unrealistic ideology. Spiritual values are more important than material goods. A good education, Catholic or otherwise, cannot ignore these two points. The world is very much with us, and without a good education in moral values, we are ripe for being captured by the Zeitgeist.
The Catholic must be a living witness to the spiritual values that the secular world sorely lacks. In so doing, he represents a spiritual reality in which the human being finds his true reality.

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(Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus, St. Jerome’s University, senior fellow with Human Life International, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College. His latest book, Why I Am Pro-Life and not Politically Correct, is posted on amazon.com.)

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