Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Will Lead the Fight to Catholicize the Summer Reading Lists at Catholic High Schools?

Over at the Culture of Life Review:

Who Will Lead the Fight to Catholicize the Summer Reading Lists at Catholic High Schools?
Last summer, Carl E. Olson at Catholic World Report, exposed the horrendous state of Catholic high school summer reading lists by highlighting one particularly smutty and ludicrously vulgar novel assigned to incoming freshmen at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.  And St. Ignatius wasn't alone - a quick google search revealed that dozens of other Catholic schools had assigned the same poorly written piece of garbage. 

We really don't want to revisit here all the gratuitously lewd, crude and lascivious passages in this very unfortunates selection for teen reading. But for purposes of background and so that others can grasp the gravity of the problem at hand, we encourage readers to review Carl Olsen's important article in Catholic World Report, Why do some Catholic schools require students to read lousy, vulgar books?, the Cardinal Newman Society Report on the situation,   "Jesus Burpeth" is Catholic School Required Reading?, and the College Fix article, Catholic Schools Assign Vulgar Books As Required Reading.    There is also an interesting insider's account at Est Quod Est, Eternal Vigilance.

It is simply a fact that most Catholic high school summer reading lists contain drivel and frequently anti-Catholic drivel.  So what do we do?  Olson's article last year created a minor stir in Catholic blogoshere last year (here, here, and here), but it is doubtful that many Catholic parents are aware of the problem and it is likely that Catholic students will once again be assigned to read garbage this summer. 

It is time to fight back.

Can one obscure Catholic blog like ours make a difference?  We don't really care.  We are simply fighting back because it is the right things to do.  If you would like to help as well, because it is the right thing to do, we have a couple of ideas.

One of the saddest and most mystifying aspects of this whole thing is that Catholic students are being assigned to read drivel when there is such a rich treasure trove of Catholic literature out there.  As Olson noted last summer:


If I was a parent whose child was required to read that book, I would have some questions for the English teacher, beginning with this one: "Have you never heard of Ignatius Press?" And, as a follow-up: "Or of the Ignatius Critical Editions?
Why would a Catholic school not assign a summer reading list chock full of inspirational books about the lives of Catholic saints and heroes?  In twenty lifetimes, one couldn't read all the great Catholic books out there.  Do Catholic schools really prefer books about cynical perverted punks over The Ear of the Heart: An Actess' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows or Father Damien and the Bells?

If you have a child or grandchild at a Catholic high school, don't wait any longer.  Most high schools have their reading lists on their website.  Review the list for questionable material.  Contact their high school today with some suggestions.  Ask why more Catholic books are not included.  And it bears repeating, provide them directly with a list of wonderfully positive and inspirational books about Catholic saints and heroes. 


And how about adding a prolife book or two to Catholic school summer reading lists?  The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion doctor who changed his mind, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, is a gripping page turner that should be a must read for every high school student.

We at The Culture of Life Review would love to see  Priests for Life, Human Life International, American Life League, National Right to Life, Life Dynamics, or even Lila Rose and her great organization Live Action help promote this cause.  And how about the fast growing and tremendously energetic organization Students for Life ? What a great cause for them to pursue. We urge these outstanding prolife organizations to publish their own summer reading lists for students and to get these lists into the hands of decision makers at Catholic high schools.  A truly low cost way to win hearts and minds.

This battle will not be won over night.  Please pray that all Catholic schools will realize the importance of their mission and begin to pass on the Faith to our children.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our oldest son was signed up to attend a Catholic school as a freshman this fall. That is, until we saw his reading list. When I spoke to the teacher regarding the book choices and the objectionable material in both, he just kept telling me that I really needed to read the books in their entirety before I judged them. He told me that they don't believe in censorship and that the boys can't live with their heads in the sand. So then is nothing off limits or inappropriate? The books were John Green's Paper Town and Sherman Alexie's Absolute True Diary of a part time Indian. We have since decided to pull our son from the school and send him to another Catholic school. The new school reading list consists of classic literature and their summer reading book is about Coach Wooden.

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