Previous posts in this discussion:
PostI Studied with the Jesuits, and I Still Believe (Edward Jajko, USA, 05/07/19 11:17 am)
JE mentioned that he hasn't met anyone who was educated by Jesuits who didn't become atheist or agnostic.
Yo, John, over here! Remember me?
I went to a Roman Catholic parochial school for nine years (kindergarten plus grades 1-8), then Jesuit high school/prep. I went to an Ivy League university--two, in fact (Penn and Columbia), and the American University of Cairo. No, three, if I can count an eight-week course in second-year Chinese at the Yale Summer Language Institute. I remain a practicing Catholic and a weekly communicant. I have many complaints about my Church--I have at times told some of my fellow Catholics that the longer I remain in the Church in which I was baptized as an infant in 1940, the greater my admiration for Martin Luther--but it is my Church, I have a lifetime's investment in it and believe in it and its truth. On a practical level, I serve as a member of my Parish Advisory Council.
I can't understand John Heelan's apparent objection (May 4) to "indoctrination," that is, the instilling of teachings. Any upbringing involves "indoctrination" of one sort or other. Would John prefer the wild or feral child, raised by animals and without language? (Medieval Islamic authors wrote works of imagination on such children, living alone on remote islands, and they came to the conclusion that such wildlings were of course Muslim, since Islam is the natural condition of man.)
Or is John's objection to the Roman Catholic "indoctrination" from which he has been "enlightened"? Did I misunderstand him?
In any event, I am a product of Jesuit teaching who remains a faithful, if somewhat grumbling, Catholic. And I know many more.
JE comments: Ed, I've long admired your faith and conviction, but I didn't know you studied with the Jesuits. (!) Forgive me!
Ric Mauricio Reflects on Indoctrination
(John Eipper, USA
05/08/19 6:34 AM)
Ric Mauricio writes:
Oh, there is obvious indoctrination in the world. Boys play with boy things and have boy colors. Girls play with girl things and have girl colors. If you are born into the Muslim world, you are educated in Islamic doctrine. Likewise for the Christian world. And more so, the Catholic world. And of course, Jewish and Hindu and the myriad of other religions.
I attended Catholic elementary school from the 6th grade to the 8th grade and Catholic high school from the 9th to the 12th, educated by the Marianists. And yes, I was an altar boy, but I was lucky to not have met any priest who made untoward movements towards me. Oh, would I have been excommunicated for clobbering a priest?
Today, I call myself more spiritual than religious. So neither agnostic nor atheist. In fact, I find that atheists can actually be as religious in their beliefs than religious people. They avoid or ignore evidence just like those brought up in a "religious" upbringing, aka indoctrination. They indoctrinate themselves by only listening to other like-minded people. Oh, isn't this very similar to those of particular political persuasions? Once again, there is the indoctrination: people listening and thinking to viewpoints that only support their own viewpoints. Oh, it is so easy to manipulate people. Ah, sounds a bit like Star Wars, doesn't it? Yeah, George Lucas was pointing that out, wasn't he?
Some bits of religious logic that confound me: If one is very happy in heaven, how does one reconcile that someone they love went to the other place and still be happy? If one doesn't rebel against leaders because they are God-chosen, as the apostle Paul teaches, then one should not question the leadership of a Mao, Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot. So logic says that God has enabled evil by choosing these leaders. It just goes on and on.
One, of course, will follow a certain religion, because they want to belong. Also, peer and family pressure comes into it. Gotta reeducate this person because they are straying. And, of course, some go along because it is so much easier not to think. Like electricity, they follow the path of least resistance. It's only natural.
JE comments: This is not Ric Mauricio's point, but pink for girls and (light/sky) blue for boys is not as timeless as we would assume. The "rule" was only codified in the 1940s. The Ladies' Home Journal in 1918 argued exactly the opposite--that pink is a strong, masculine color, and blue gentle and dainty:
Reading "Das Kapital" in Secret
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
05/09/19 3:44 AM)
Regarding our discussion on indoctrination, I would like to relate a personal experience.
When I was 16 I was in an Oratorio and a new priest arrived. He was quite a character, ready to fight for his beliefs. As a seminarian in 1948, he joined the Catholic armed forces in hiding, ready to fight against the Communists had they taken over after the 18 April 1948 elections. The communists were stating that one way or another they would have wiped out the Church and all anticommunists. At that time the menace was real and the communists still had a great deal of arms in hiding. A couple of years ago a large cache was found in a cave near my town (Savona).
Anyway in 1952 after he became a priest, we became friends. By the way, he is still in very good shape and we are still very good friends.
Anyway he was rather strict. At that time I decided I wanted to read Karl Marx's Das Kapital. It was a blow for him and we quarreled a lot, as he did not want me to read such an ill-famed book (for the Catholic Church at that time; now the priests have, unfortunately, changed a lot).
I risked being sent away but I stuck to my plan; I got the book and read it. Of course I judged Das Kapital to be BS from my point of view, as there is no homo oeconomicus alone, but both homo oeconomicus and homo spiritualis. Poor Karl did not understand such a clear truth while someone else had clearly understood it.
JE comments: "Cited by many but read by none": this is the common summation of Das Kapital. Eugenio Battaglia is an exception! Probably the best way to motivate young folks to read any book is to forbid it.
I've already mentioned to WAISers that my mother-in-law in Chruslanki found the perfect use for Kapital: as a doorstop in the warmer months. Kapitalism in its purest form?
Eugenio, what more can you tell us about Italy's Catholic militia in the postwar years?
Italy's Post-WWII Catholic Militia
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
05/11/19 4:30 AM)
Commenting on my post of 9 May, our esteemed moderator asked, "Eugenio, what more can you tell us about Italy's Catholic militia in the postwar years?"
Really I do not know much. My friend never wanted to talk about this militia, which under the direction of the "Carabinieri" was ready to fight any communist insurgence.
We had the beginning of an insurgence following the attack on the Italian-Russian leader Palmiro Togliatti on 14 July 1948, when he was badly injured. This tentative insurgence resulted in 16 deaths and more than 200 injured.
In spite of the thirst for a bloody revolution among the Communist base, the Party leaders realized that the chances of success were slim following their recent electoral defeat, which showed the great strength of the anticommunists, as well as the Yalta Accords and the presence of US troops. Therefore they cooled down but then tried, with success, to dominate "cultural life"--schools, media, the arts, and the judiciary system. This is still the case today.
The Catholic militia was later absorbed by the "stay-behind" and Gladio organizations which unfortunately were completely under the command of the CIA. They therefore were not necessarily working in the interests of Italy. There are rumors that the terrorist acts during the "anni di piombo" (lead years) 1968-1988 were directed by the CIA.
JE comments: Eugenio, I cannot let this one slip by. What interest did the CIA have in promoting terrorism in Italy? And do the rumors suggest there was a Mafia connection as well?
A "stay-behind" organization refers to the contingency plans in place in the NATO countries, in case of a Warsaw Pact takeover. I know very little about them, but we've just found a great topic for WAIS discussion.
- Reasons for My Agnosticism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/09/19 8:54 AM)
I also studied in Catholic schools but their efforts at religious indoctrination were not the cause of my current agnosticism. My religious questioning is a product of several other factors.
Perhaps the main causes were my intellectual and scientific curiosity and less-than-spiritually inclined character. Another factor is my friendship with many people of diverse religious inclinations--Jews, Muslims, and Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, and of course atheists--as well as people of different philosophical and political ideas--liberals, republicans, monarchists, socialists, communists, nationalists, and activists of different stripes.
In my search for spiritual inspiration I had discussions with religious people and read widely, the Bible of course among them, as well as Oriental religious texts. Despite the strong faith people showed to me, or not, they made me think that there are not enough conclusive reasons or feelings to believe (or not) in God or any other divinity. Nevertheless, ideas and beliefs in this regard should be respected. I concluded long ago that the question of God was not of concern to me.
Political ideas are totally different. They have been always a concern of mine. When I was young I read everything I could on politics, not always with the proper understanding of course. My indoctrination began with readings by Hegel and the works of Bertrand Russell; Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, by Marx, or one of the best books I ever read, the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State by Marx & Engels, as well as What is To Be Done? by Lenin and Mao's Little Red Book.
The fact is today I firmly believe those works are purely for intellectual satisfaction or curiosity.
JE comments: You tackled the political classics at a tender age, Nacho! I doubt many youngsters today can make the same claim.
How about an informal WAIS poll? What's the greatest political treatise of all time? My vote is for Machiavelli's The Prince.
- My Experience with Catholic Indoctrination (John Heelan, UK 05/10/19 4:06 AM)
Ed Jajko--whose comments I always admire--asked me on May 7th: "Is John Heelan's objection to the Roman Catholic 'indoctrination' from which he has been 'enlightened'? Did I misunderstand him?"
As usual, Ed is right on the ball. My objection is directly aimed at the classic RC indoctrination (in my case, 2 years in a convent, 6 years being taught by priests, 30 years or so as a parishioner and altar boy--I can still remember the Latin responses). I recall attending an RC primary school but still being compelled as 10-year-old to attend a "mission to save our souls."
My underlying objection is the international hypocrisy exhibited by RC clergy from the Vatican down. For several years I lived next door to a famous public school and RC monastery with friends among the brothers. I soon became aware of frictions between the brothers, ranging from "holier than thou" attitudes to more libidinous activities resulting in some brothers being expelled from this famous teaching order.
So atheist or agnostic? Agnostic I suspect, as I just don't know how to reduce the influence of a lifetime's RC indoctrination.
JE comments: The news this week from the Vatican: Pope Francis issued a worldwide law requiring Church officials to report accusations of sex abuse to their superiors. This is seen as a move to bring accountability to bishops and to prevent future cover-ups, but it stops short of requiring officials to inform secular authorities.
Has the Church turned the page on its biggest crisis of modern times?
- Reasons for My Agnosticism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/09/19 8:54 AM)
- Italy's Post-WWII Catholic Militia (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/11/19 4:30 AM)
- Reading "Das Kapital" in Secret (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/09/19 3:44 AM)