Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shop Class, Home Ec, and Being Catholic

My wife is one of seven children.

'Well, you know what those Catholics are like.'

Or, maybe not.

'Did You Know That Your Daughter Wants to Take Shop?!'

In my household, I'm one of the writers and artists, and my wife's the one who likes power tools. That's not surprising, considering the families we came from.

Back around the sixties, one of my wife's sisters was in high school. Their father got a phone call from a terribly serious and concerned councilor at the school. The councilor asked this small-town father of seven, 'did you know that your daughter wants to take shop?!' My father-in-law-to-be replied, 'So? Let her!'

One of my wife's brothers took home ec in high school. He was the only boy in the class full of girls. The next year, a lot of boys took home ec. My late mother-in-law raised no fools.

A Nice, Small-Town Catholic Family

Did I marry into a rebellious family? Revolutionaries battling the stultifying conventions of an oppressive society?

Not really. My wife's parents raised a nice Catholic family in a small town in central Minnesota. They also didn't see why their kids shouldn't take shop; go to home ec class; become a radiologist; or, in the case of my wife, earn a degree in computer science.

A Catholic family?! Doesn't the Catholic Church say that women should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen?


That's more of a cultural thing - and maybe due partly to reading just Ephesians 5:22, instead of Ephesians 5:21-30. I've written about that weirdness before. (September 24, 2009)

I think it helped, that my wife's parents hadn't just been baptized in a Catholic church: They'd made a point of learning about their faith. My father-in-law eventually became a deacon (with his wife's permission: another topic), and is one of the more solidly Catholic men I know.

Isn't the Catholic Church, You Know, Conservative?

American news media seems to like short, catchy phrases. Like "social conservative." The Catholic Church's stand on human life issues like abortion show, as the papers would put it, that the Church is chock-full of "conservative" values.

That label fits, as long as the topic is abortion or marriage.

When the Pope asks a country to not impose the death sentence - things can get confusing. (October 27, 2010) Opposition to the death penalty is, for America's dominant culture, a "liberal" value.

The Pope and other bishops regularly call for the commutation of a death sentence. That's "liberal" behavior, in the context of today's American culture. But the Pope and other bishops also say that abortion is morally wrong. That's "conservative" behavior. Again, by current American standards.

What's at issue with both abortion and the death penalty is what the Catholic Church teaches about life. Basically, that being alive is important. (November 2, 2008) The Church approaches abortion and the death penalty differently, since one involves killing someone who's helpless and inconvenient - and the other concerns people who aren't babies any more. Yet another topic. (October 5, 2010, October 2, 2008)

Being Catholic, Looking at the Big Picture

Catholic teachings make sense. But only for someone who accepts the idea that the only possible philosophical stances regarding social issues are not limited to contemporary America's "conservative," "liberal," and "moderate" systems. (May 12, 2010, November 3, 2008)

I don't have a problem with that idea: in large part because I embraced the idea of 'multiculturalism.' Which led to my becoming a Catholic. (July 14, 2010)

Seeing no problem with a young woman in shop class and celebrating the wonderful differences among the world's cultures is, I think, part of being Catholic. We're not supposed to all be alike - and that is yet again another topic. (August 26, 2010)

Related posts:


Brigid said...

I think one of the vowels in here might be the wrong one: "He was the only boy on the class full of girls."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Right you are: Thanks!

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.