Friday, April 30, 2010

When Parenting Becomes All About Thought Control

Spanish education course similar to 'totalitarian indoctrination,' says Cuban immigrant
Madrid, Spain, Apr 30, 2010 / 02:52 am (CNA).

A Cuban immigrant living in Spain stated this week that the Socialist government’s mandatory education course, “Education for the Citizenry,” reminds him of the indoctrination students receive in Cuba under the Castro regime.

Omar Rubio Garcia, who has objected to the fact that his daughter is required to attend the class, remarked that he found it unbelievable that 20 years after leaving Cuba he has had to confront totalitarian indoctrination once again. “Now I have to defend my daughter from indoctrination in the radical fascist culture of the left,” and ensure that it does not “undermine, manipulate or cast doubt on” the love, belief in God and upbringing Garcia has worked to provide for her. (In my own personal case, science courses provided most of the impetus to question the religious upbringing I received.)

Garcia recounted the harassment he and his daughter have received from school officials for being the only family to object to attending the course. He criticized the content of Education for the Citizenry as “provocative, morbid, anti-democratic and totalitarian,” and added that the course “divides parents and children.”

Garcia urged parents to resist the efforts by “ideological mercenaries and left-wing ‘fascists’ to manipulate without any moral or ethical scruples the relationship of love and formation between parents and children.”

Experience has taught him, he warned, that the failure to resist “these left-wing, fascist ideologues can be very costly, as our children will question us first because of our ignorance and later they will judge us for our lack of action.” (Someone's identity is really wrapped up in the notion that 'Father knows best'.)


The reason I posted this article is contained in the last sentence. That sentence could have been spoken by any number of bishops and Cardinals with regards to the laity. The implication is that children should shut off the information stream when it conflicts with parental belief, just as Catholics are being asked to shut down certain information streams when they conflict with Church teaching. Ultimately it's never a matter of which information stream carries the most truth, it's a matter of who has the authority to enforce their version of truth, and more often than not, it's who is enabled to enforce their version of truth.

In my own family, my father bent over backwards to enable my mother's version of the truth. The joke amongst us kids was that dad talked the Republican line around the dinner table, but probably voted Democrat in the privacy of the voting booth. Both my parents had this interesting ability to forgive disobedient actions, even when it patently enabled the behavior they were objecting too, but my mother especially, could not forgive 'disobedient' thinking. It was never enough for her to illicit conforming behavior. She demanded obedience to her world view. It was never our actions which specifically made us untrustworthy, it was our thinking.

It's obvious to me the very same dynamic is playing out in the Church. Clerical authority has always found it much easier to forgive egregious abusive actions than it ever has non conformist thinking. It's never mattered that those non conformist thinkers were frequently pillars of Christian living, conforming their actions to doctrines with which they disagreed. Just as it's never been hard to find forgiveness for abusing priests who thinking appears to conform to the prevailing hierarchical world view. The paramount issue is not behavior, it's conformance of thinking to a particular world view.

Catholics in the west are seeing this dynamic being played out in sexual morality issues. In an attempt to underscore the necessity for conforming one's world view to the official Catholic one, abortion has become not just an unthinkable issue, but also the unforgivable sin. Like heresy, it mandates automatic excommunication. There is a movement now to equate as many forms of birth control as possible with abortion, even though science does not support many of the contentions espoused by the hierarchy. The issue is not about scientific truth, it's about stretching the abortion doctrine to cover another issue. This is also why gay sex is forgivable, but gay marriage calls for bankrupting dioceses in order to fight the whole unthinkable idea of sanctified sexual relationships as opposed to sinful sexual acts. The Catholic world view does not view sex in terms of relationship, it views them in terms of acts.

The problem with all of this is that it compartmentalizes thoughts from acts. This in turn profoundly effects personal integrity. When any spiritual system encourages the separation of thoughts as distinct from acts, it encourages acts like bishops placing the forgiveness of the sins of abusive priests ahead of any thoughts of compassion for the priest's victims. The spiritual path is all about integrating thought and action. It's fundamentally about personal integrity. You must walk both your internal and external talk and they must all be congruent. Other wise you send a lot of mixed messages and mixed messages really under cut authenticity.

Lack of integrity also seriously effects one's spiritual communication. This is expressed in the notion floating around in spiritual circles that the higher one vibrates, the clearer and more powerful the spiritual communication. Frank Fool's Crow, the Souix Holy Man, taught that the goal of a spiritual life was to become a hollow bone through which God's gifts could pass unimpeded. In order to become that hollow bone, one had to be congruent in thought and action, and those thoughts and actions had to be oriented around unconditional love. If God is love, then our love attracts that Love as much as we are able to actually love. This essentially means the choices about our relationship with God are all ours. The integrity in our thoughts and actions directly determine the strength of the relationship. God doesn't change in His love for us. We change in our understanding of love. In this sense it's really not about obedience. It's about a willingness to change behavior and to act with more integrity, in order to increase our capacity to love and to relate.

Somewhere along the line my mother, like the father above, grabbed onto this thought that successful parenting meant raising children who replicated her thinking. Behavioral transgressions were just bumps which she could forgive and then use to point out the correctness of her thinking. That's a useful strategy up to a point. Eventually a parent has to let their child develop as their child's experiences and education influence that development. The parent has to learn that their own validity and authority as a person is not dependent on whether their children think exactly as they do. It is not infrequent that parents learn a lot from their children--if they are open to the thought, and wonder of wonders, the relationship deepens.

Pope Benedict might find the laity have a lot to teach at this particular moment in Church history, but in order for that to happen, he would have to continue to be a student. He's demonstrated a learning curve on the abuse issue, at least as far as abusive priests go, and the damage this has done to victims. The question is can he open himself up to the thought that the nature of the Church and it's priestly theology is itself a part of the problem? My guess is he can't, but if he could, he might find out that the relationship between laity and sacramental celebrants deepens enormously.


  1. Well Done, Colleen!

    I like your description of the Vatican trying to control "thinking" in addition to behavior. This is obviously why the Vatican condemns certain theologians, while covertly protecting perpetrators - so long as the perpetrators are hypocrites, spouting the party line, even endorsing celibacy, while violating it.

    So often I have thought about how Hindus and particularly Buddhists, along with almost any mystical tradition I might add, do not assert that "their way" is the one and only way. They say: Try it out in all sincerity. And see if a genuine effort to follow this path results in liberation, enlightenment, etc. Certainly this is also true of Christian mystical teachings as well.

    And the type of wisdom one receives through that mystical path does, in my experience, very powerfully help one to see and experience the truths Jesus taught - but in a personal way, which is so much more powerful than regurgitated dogmas swallowed whole.

    But the Vatican, the pope, the cardinals, the curia don't trust the laity! They instead insist on docile, obedient peasants, willing to toil in the vineyard without questioning or truly seeking anything - as if conformity with the magisterium is the purpose of life. Boy... what an empty purpose! What a pathetic path to hold out to the world!

    They must be going nuts - that their message is making little headway and indeed inviting not only criticism but outright mocking of their nonsensical pronouncements.

    But they seem unable to stop themselves - as their own thoughts are long-ago so "controlled" by "group think" that they can't even see that! What else can we conclude?

    Just this morning I was thinking how Aristotle so affected early Christian thought and later St. Thomas. But somehow... it's all been lost? I guess they entered the Dark Ages all over again. And simply have no scholars left who can be trusted to help them find their way out of the dark!

  2. And if memory serves me right, that is why Cardinal Burke says the dissenting nuns have no right to call themselves Catholic!
    In the local scene, the bishop here has told the priests there can be no excerpts from NCR in the bulletins, nor are copies of the National Catholic Reporter to be left in the foyer for people to take.
    Mind Control!

  3. Coolmom, did Malone really send letters to everyone in the Maine diocese to send him 6000 dollars because they spent so much on repealing gay marriage?

    If true that's really living in another world.

  4. Colleen,

    I love your comments and reflection related to this article. It is worthy all on it's own.

    The source article puzzles me. Google shows numerous links to the Catholic News Agency, and the right wing website FreeRepublic. I smell a rat. It seems too propagandistic. I haven't yet found the original article that explains exactly what he objects to in the curriculum. However, this is as close as I've come so far:

    I don't speak or read Spanish so I'm dependent upon Google Translate.

    It appears that the man objects to sex education!

    "...about sexuality is something to be explored, without rhyme or reason, until you reach the point of conceptual and carnal excitement either with them, they all together, scrambled, with animals, etc. is characteristic of fascist ideologies of the left, where the slogan is: "the man dies the party is immortal."

    "... The family is the heart of liberty."

    "...But yes, parents, I am always watching, ready to love my daughter, to protect academic uncertainty that we are no longer allowed to enter any ideology in the family, with God's help. Education is a matter of Parents, do not forget."

    Based upon what I've found so far the man seems like a right wing nut who objects to sex education etc. in his daughter's curriculum. The name calling is debated in the article and in the comments.


  5. CNA is most definitely a rightwing news agency. I frequently site them because their articles are consistently written from a rigid dogmatic bias and/or conservative political bent. They are closely related to Lifesite News and both agencies cite each other's articles.

    There was no question in my mind the man's issue was with the sexual teachings because the Church authorities in Spain are talking of little else.

  6. Thanks Colleen,

    Now that I know your commentary included awareness of source bias and the issue of sexuality I like it even more!

    I am so very happy to have found you, TheraP, and your other regular contributors.


    Now here's another serendipitous word verification:


  7. The word verification made me so laugh. I have noticed the spiritual path has it's own humor.

    TheraP don't you think controlling thinking is the whole shebang of most institutions. That's one of the things about the article that I found sort of funny. The father gets the use of this technique, and is actually afraid of it, when it comes to communist fascists, while at the same time he's totally incapable of seeing he's engaging in the exact same behavior.

    It seems to me life should be about more than who has the 'right' to control our thinking.

  8. I must say you are probably correct, Colleen. Freud, for example, cut off any disciples who began to think for themselves. Jung. Adler. (I have to think the "root" of that need to control is "insecurity".)

    So what is it that allows some groups NOT to put mind control first? I think this is important. This question interests me far more than its opposite. Because a group or institution that does NOT do that is actually allowing for itself to die out if need be. And... isn't that what Jesus was about in a way? The willingness to give ALL (including one's self) for the coming of the Kingdom. The willingness to let go and let God - as the trite phrase goes.

    So what qualities are we looking for here? I think humility is one - the way Andre Louf defines it. As "hitting bottom" in a sense, recognizing one's own limitations, one's own deepest inadequacy (what some would call one's sinfulness, but it's deeper than that). And thereby one's utter need for God's guidance. And what did Jesus ask of us, when He said: "Come to me, all you..." but to LEARN from Him. To learn what? - he stressed humility of heart. Which our modern world, as Andre Louf admits, views as being a wimp. But that's not really what it means, he says.

    Is it facing the world, your destiny, with empty hands and utter trust? And does that allow you to give up control of others?

    I'm sure we all need to dig down as deeply as we can within ourselves. For we too must face this crisis - which really affects all of Christianity in a sense - from this Virgin Heart as Merton called it, this place within us which belongs to God alone:

    How can any of us say we're REALLY there yet?

    For me at least, this is the task. And I bet that even solitary prayer, deep contemplation, is part of it.

    Is sanctuary the key here? It involves hospitality. It involves humility in welcoming the "guest" - and the guest is anyone and everyone and every being (as the Buddah would remind us).

    I'm more interested in what needs to happen within each of us - for that, it seems to me, is the future of the church, if it's going to have a future.

    An answer which cannot be given to you through "group think" - which is different for each us, given to us as a task within the very circumstances of our life, perhaps in ways which ask us to leave some things behind or set out into something we cannot adequately explain - for we are setting out in trust with empty hands.

    That's where I'm at - and doing it very poorly, I might add! ;)

    And honestly I think what I've written here so fits with the two blogs I posted at TPM on "santuary" just this past week.

    Here's the first:

    There's a synergy going on. We're part of it. Sanctuary. That's what's missing. And if I'm correct, that's what we're about - that's what the Kingdom of God points to.

  9. I agree that sanctuary is certainly a huge part of the equation. I hate using the term humility because it's got way too many cultural control connotations associated with it.

    I prefer openess and transparency and trust. You can't really practice any of those three if you are insecure because they threaten your insecurity issues. It's very easy in a caste type dogmatic system to practice the kind of humility which is all about keeping a low profile as exemplified in the clerical culture by all the bowing and ring kissing and the old notion of 'custody of the eyes'.

    One of the biggest examples I can think of which really demonstrates a profound trust in others is when Jesus left the Church in the hands of His gutless male Apostles. It also demonstrates a huge trust in what He taught and what He understood about creation and what he understood about the influence of the Holy Spirit.

    Ultimately He was trusting us, all of us, to get it right. That's pretty profound when you think about it.

  10. Of course fascism denotes government controlled or run by business, so Mr. Garcia begins with both a misuses and misunderstanding of the word. I began to critique Catholic belief while studying philosophy because there were so many illogical dogmas. The President of Marquette University addressed us Freshman and sincerely asked us to use the next four years to seek truth.

    After becoming a scientist, I began to loose patients with authoritarian demands by some clergy that seemed incapable of even giving observation of nature much of a hearing. When one knows THE ANSWER BY USING INFALLIBLE HISTORY, then there is no reason to listen to the mere theories of scientific minds. In the mind of an omniscient there is no reason to question, there is no reason to seek new truth, you already posses it or you have the exclusive right to be told TRUTH by a god that has promised by reason of title to enrich you. No reason to pay attention to the outside world.

    Colleen, I liked your comment about Father knows best. Maybe some comments about Sigmund Freud would be useful. Freud’s early thoughts expressed in Totem an Taboo center around something similar . That when a child asks a parent something that HE does not understand, Parents out of Fear develop an authoritarian answer that will always work. I agree that sometimes good parenting demands the parent be an authoritarian, but I think it best to say only because you are my child and my answer is final.

    Freud pointed out that societies (parents) make a God the Father so that they can have pat, black and white answers to keep order and assuage their own fear about loosing control. They create their own God. Freud himself when read today sounds very sexist but remember the times he lived and the fact that he promoted Anna to live a creative and productive life. All though I was not educated in a Freudian, but rather a Klienian school, the seeking mind must not fear change and relativity stated by so many to be the evil of RELATIVISM. There was a remarkable cover on time magazine in the early 90’s. It showed on a developing interuterine fetus. The caption underneath said, “there is only one true constant in life ---CHANGE. When one fears change and attempts to promote constants that can ONLY be relative, one develops an authoritarian mind state that is begins with fear- the fear of actually loss of existence or being annihilated. It promotes rigidity, opacity and deadens the ethics and creativity of a society. So I ask again, Are the Bishops especially the one in Rome even Christian?

    Colleen my thoughts about the use of the politics of abortion are very similar to yours. This is politics based not so much on the fear of ethical dilemma but the fear of being wrong as the 2 Vatican Commissions on Birth Control already described.

  11. Dennis, CHANGE, yes!

    Accepting that is so Buddhist. And leads to that trust with empty hands - which I'm willing to say is better than using "humility" any more.

    I'm pretty much in the Object Relations school, since we're talking therapeutic orientations here. But I can join hands with you, Dennis, as Kleinians as speaking to that as well, and have so assisted us in terms of the concept of Projective Identification. And for those to whom this is gibberish, I apologize. But ... Projective Identification is what allows those of us, who really resonate to the misdeeds and betrayals of the Vatican, to understand what's going on here. We can "feel" inside ourselves all that they want to project and disown.

    Dennis, as a Kleinian, I wish you had time to lay out for us what the issues are, within this current crisis, especially in terms of the hierarchy's role. It might be a great legacy you could give us. If you have the time and energy to do so.

  12. Colleen,
    Sorry to take so long to answer about your question re $6000/family.
    This I KNOW: The bishop has a campaign called "Strengthening the Heartbeat of the Church" and in our parish each family has been called and asked to give-if the priest comes for supper-$5000 to $10000 is asked for. If you are invited to supper at the rectory-$3000 to $5000. Everyone was invited to a group gathering at the parish hall and phone calls were made to those who did not give as well as cards being passed out at Mass every Sunday for weeks.
    Today's bulletin reports that 165 households were personally visited by a priest raising 1,517,000. More than 690 families pledged an average of 4,400. All together more than $3,000,000 was raised in this parish alone.
    We have a generous parish but a lot of people refused to give and I think of those who did, a lot of ill will was created by the strong arm tactics-put us in your will, give us your income tax refund etc.
    Our family-$0

  13. Wow, someone has spent way too much time at Republican fund raisers. For a dinner plate of 5000 a Republican expects, oh I don't know, maybe President Bush, but a parish priest? What is this a new indulgence scheme? What ever happened to pastoral visits. The free kind. The service based kind?

    It sure does look like the 'saved' Catholic in Maine is going to have to be lean, mean, and rich.

    Your family has my appreciation and my sympathy. And here I thought surving under Morlino was tough.

  14. Evidently, Bishop Malone hasn't thought that if the Church hadn't had to pay out money to settle sexual abuse claims and wasted money meant to assist with charitable works on fighting a campaign against gay marriage, maybe he wouldn't feel the need to strong arm the Catholics in his diocese or money. Colleen-this is exactly like the GOP fundraisers.

  15. FYI -

    CNA is owned by the Legion of Christ:)

    Anon Y Mouse

  16. To be honest, I couldn't remember if CNA was Legion or Opus. I do remember tracing out the corporate entanglement of Life Site News and the final link was a CIA reroute site. I thought that was interesting. I did get a different computer though.