Thursday, August 15, 2013


It is time to return to the ancient craft of thinking.  We have handed over so much of our thinking to remembering devices and calculating devices, and instead of freeing up our brains for more lofty endeavors, have mindlessly given over that time to other devices that whittle away life for us while we put thinking on hold aside from wondering who might get kicked off of the island next.
As a counter to this a book was recently suggested to me: Peter Kreeft’s, “Socratic Logic; A Logic Text Using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles.”
There’s a winning title.
And I will admit, as admirably as Mr. Kreeft tries to make it a fun exercise, it is a lot of work learning how to think.  But the pay offs are magnificent.  Like learning another language, if you can put up with the long fuse, the boom at the end is well worth it.
I would love have a course like this taught in our parish school and even open it up to the rest of the parish.  (We shall see.)  This is for two reasons: first, it would prevent people from embarrassing themselves writing mindless drivel as Mr. Richard Kunkel did in his letter to the editor in the Akron Beacon Journal on Wednesday, August 14th concerning abortion, and second, it would help students to see mindless drivel when it appears before them.


There is so much to write about in this letter I doubt I can do it in one post but here are some high – er – lowlights.  After stating that a recent letter to the editor really made him think, he wrote, “Suppose Honda had a bad model, and it was recalled.  Should we make a law forcing Honda to close?  Or how about a law that would close every automaker in the state?”  Is this a fair comparison?
To begin with, Honda does not design anything that is intended to kill anybody.  Their products are supposed to be convenient and safe.  Therefore, if something goes wrong, we make them fix their product and make them safe once again.  Abortion is not designed to keep a person safe but to kill them.  If we don’t want people killed, then yes, we do shut them down.
Further, the product that Honda makes does not affect the morality of a nation, the family structure, religious freedom, or health care.  It is a false example.  A better one would be independent brain surgery clinics (if such a thing existed.)  If they were in violation should we keep letting them perform brain surgeries and work with them in eventually coming around to being a safer clinic?  No.  I would say stop all surgeries now.
Mr. Kunkel also states that the only problem here is that one group doesn’t want abortion so therefore it should be legal.  Really?  There are (essentially) three groups out there: those who want abortion, those who don’t, and those somewhere in between.  In a democracy such as ours that is always the case and we vote to see what we should do.  For example, there are a great number of people out there who enjoy smoking.  There are those who think it should not be done in public, and the somewhere in between group.  I could use his same argument to say that only one group wants there to be no smoking in our country – therefore the rest of us should be able to smoke next to him at his favorite restaurant.  Bet he doesn’t buy it.  (All of a sudden his call for tolerance disappears.)


Ah!  See?  I’m already going too long.  But I can’t stop.  “If you don’t want abortion, don’t have one,” is another tired and silly diatribe.  He likens it to, “If you don’t like alcohol, don’t drink,” as if it were an equal case.  How about this better one: If you don’t like racial prejudice, don’t use racial slurs, but don’t trample on the rights of those who want to use them or burn crosses on public property as long as they have a permit.  But that hardly solves the problem.  (And really, there is only one group that wants us to get rid of racial inequality – right???)

And he calls this a “war on women.”  Switching the conversation to women’s health and rights is a clever way of covering over what is at the center of this debate: another innocent human being.  It is a war on humanity and the rights of the weakest and least politically connected among us.  And as we become a nation that takes the throwing away of human life more and more easily, we become less human, appreciate all human life less, and take another step backward in the advancement of human dignity, worth, and love.
Last point and then I will try to stop.  Mr. Kunkel states that we should be able to do whatever is legal and not be unfettered “by my or anyone else’s dislike.”  The tyranny of tolerance.  Of course what I want to do may be in direct contradiction to what you want to do.  Who gets to win?  My Aunt had a neighbor who put in a chimney that met code but only caused smoke to be trapped between the houses and forcing smoke into her house, leaving an odor and making a mess.  Yet it was legal.  Was the neighbor therefore morally in the right because the city said they had their hands tied because he was up to code? 
And once again (I know, I said I would stop) we forget the idea that there is a human person in the womb.  He was a human person at conception, as he develops he is a human person, and he will only ever be a human person as he develops.  He struggles for life and will be born and grow if we let him.  I would say these are signs of what this human person wants.  But we silence him so that he does not have a say and we can do away with him without giving him any real consideration.  It is legal after all and therefore must be morally right and good for us as a nation.  Right?


Anonymous said...

Regarding the lack of thinking skills..."We have met the enemy, and he is us." This nation's downfall will be its intellectual laziness.

Anonymous said...

Amusing ourselves to death.

MaryofSharon said...

Do it! Get a logic curriculum into your school. Or it can't be squeezed in, perhaps an "Art of Thinking" course would fit into the School of Arts and Culture? Having taught my own children the subject, I have lots of ideas for teaching logic to young people and Elena L. is an expert on this subject! A popular homeschooling catalog lists hundreds of products for developing critical thinking skills.

Anonymous said...

I second Mary of Sharon's idea. Children want to be challenged. Memorization has its place--but it should be balanced with more thoughtful courses in order to help young people grow into themselves.

- Kathryn O.

Unknown said...

To begin, Father, I used the Logic course by Memoria Press when
homeschooling my two youngest children: what a challenging and rewarding experience! Next, since the day I first learned of the legalization of abortion I have had a number of passionate discussions with proponents, many times walking away disheartened by the faulty logic they employed. My best friend through high school only came to me AFTER she had an abortion, explaining she knew I would be able to talk her out of it so she chose not to give me the opportunity. So much of that echoes society's position: no matter the logic that stares them in the face, this comes down to selfishness, as well as a lack of responsibility. My Catholic grade school Principal, Sr. Gabriel, instilled this thought into each student: With every freedom there comes a responsibility. Those words would serve everyone well, however, they would also inconvenience many in this "instant gratification" culture.

Anonymous said...

"your freedom ends when it imposes on someone's rights" This stuck with me when I first heard it in hight school in our political science class.

Anonymous said...

A little late to respond, but I'm going to anyway....MaryofSharon would be EXCELLENT in the capacity of class instructor.. ALSO, Elena L!

And it shouldn't be just for the kids. I think "old dogs" can still learn a trick or two!

Father, I hope you write a letter to the editor in response to Mr. Kunkle!!!!!!! You've already written here on the blog.