Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Values: Addams and Otherwise

Folks said "family values" were important not all that long ago — by my standards. Sometimes the folks who said they were for "family values" even explained just what those values were. And that's almost another topic.

So many folks said "family values" were important that Paramount Pictures brought us Addams Family Values (1993).

Never mind "family values." I think family is important. More to the point, that's what the Catholic Church teaches.

Children and Parents — Respect Goes Both Ways

When a family is in proper running order, it's where children respect their parents, parents respect their children, and see to it that children learn about our Lord:
"The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood;16 this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents. The respect of children, whether minors or adults, for their father and mother17 is nourished by the natural affection born of the bond uniting them. It is required by God's commandment.18"

"Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2214, 2222)
Some folks don't come from families like that. This isn't a perfect world. (Catechism, 388-404, for starters.) And that's yet another topic.

Remember, by the way, that I've got the authority of "some guy with a blog." I strongly recommend checking out what the Church has to say about:
  • What a family is
  • How families should work
I put a few starting points under Background, below.

Family, Prayer, and the Education of Children

One more quote, and I'm just about done:
"The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. Based on the sacrament of marriage, the family is the 'domestic church' where God's children learn to pray 'as the Church' and to persevere in prayer. For young children in particular, daily family prayer is the first witness of the Church's living memory as awakened patiently by the Holy Spirit."
(Catechism, 2685)
So, does that mean that the Church doth saith, in yeolde Englishe:
"Thou shalt grimly force thy children to pray even as thous dost; bearing ever and forever a countenance most stern, even unto the fifth generation?"1
(From [utterly fictional] The Gospel According to Cecil B. DeMille2)
I really don't think so.

For one thing, the Catholic Church I know doesn't go in for 'Biblese,' in the tradition of Hollywood Bible epics.3

For another, I doubt that forcing kids to say a particular set of words daily is a good way to show them who my Lord is, and what He's like. Not for most folks, anyway.

That said, I think daily prayer is important. Very important. Which is why my family prays before meals. And goes to Mass weekly, among other things.

Not because there's something 'magic' about it: but because my wife and I take our Lord seriously. That means we think what He's said is important — and that makes a difference in how we live.

I think kids notice their parents — and often pay more attention to what their parent do, than to what mom and dad say.

So, for good or ill, many kids really do faithfully follow the family values they learn at home. The ones they notice their parents using in 'real life.'

Related posts:
Background: Catechism of the Catholic Church and
  • The Christian family, 2204-2206
  • Duties of children, 2214-2220
  • Education of children through daily prayer, 2685
  • Education of and respect for children, 2221-2224, 2229-2230
  • The family and society, 2207-2213
  • The nature of the family, 2201-2203
  • Also see "Family" under F in the Catechism's index
That isn't an exhaustive list.

1 Yes — I know about Deuteronomy 5:9, and that's another topic again. Topics.

I've written about the Bible, Tradition, the Magisterium, and getting a grip, before:
2 Cecil B. DeMille was an accomplished director — he's responsible for The Ten Commandments (1956). Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, and all that. I think it's very unlikely that Mr. DeMille wasn't trying to write an alternative Scripture.

On the other hand, I suspect that that both the old Bible epics, and newer movies, like The Omen (1976, 2006), have influenced how at least some folks think about Christianity. Just as Frankensein, The Swarm, and Steel Dawn seem to have affected policy decisions in America. And that's another topic. I've harangued about this before:3 You'll find words like "thy" and "thou" in some of the English translations. Which I think is okay because I'm used to it — and much more to the point, because "thy" and "thou" are still part of the English language.

Archaic, yes: dating from the 12th century in the case of thy, and before 900 A.D., for thou. But I think quite a few folks who grew up speaking English know what both words mean — and many who have learned the language.

I don't use either term in everyday speech: not too often, anyway, apart from prayers and parts of the liturgy. Given the mores of contemporary American culture, I don't need a formal version of "you" and "yours" — like "usted / ustedes" and "suyo (suya) / suyos (suyas)" in Spanish.

The only dialect of American English that has a plural form of "you," that I know, is Southern — as in "I'm glad to see you-all." It's often pronounced "yall," and that's yet again another topic.


Brigid said...

two in one: "Mr. DeMille wasn trying to write an alternative Scripture. On the other hand, I suspect that that entertainment like"

And this might not be an error, but it sounds funny, as in odd: "has influenced how at least some folks think about Christianity."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right! The first was a typo. The second - like you said, if sounded funny. Fixed both. Thanks!

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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