Thursday, November 17, 2011

What the Penn State scandal shows....

In a post published back in April of 2010, and which may be found here, I asked the question, "When will the media acknowledge the fact that the sexual abuse of children is not a 'Catholic problem'?"  This post highlighted the fact that the sexual abuse of children is a far greater problem outside the Church than within it and that children are in fact much safer with a Catholic priest than with males in the general population where the rate of sexual abuse is much higher.  Statistics do not lie.

Many in the media who have largely ignored this fact are deeply shocked over the Penn State scandal.  But why is this so?  Why are so many Americans outraged over what happened at Penn State when they have been (for the most part) uninterested in the sexual abuse which has occured in the public schools?  As I said in my post last year: In her report prepared for the U.S. Department of Education entitled "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature," Charol Shakeshaft explains that, "This analysis indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted." (p. 25). And then Ms. Shakeshaft puts this percentage in a proper perspective: "To get a sense of the extent of the number of students who have been targets of educator sexual misconduct, I applied the percent of students who report experiencing educator sexual misconduct to the population of all K-12 students. Based on the assumption that the AAUW surveys accurately represent the experiences of all K-12 students, more than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. Possible limitations of the study would all suggest that the findings reported here under-estimate educator sexual misconduct in schools." (p. 26).

Full Shakeshaft report may be found here.

I believe the answer is that, for many, sports has become a religion.  Dr. Leon Podles, in his book "The Church Impotent," explains that, "Because sports provide an initiation into masculinity, they can easily become a religion.  Sports are often the way the boy puts away the soft, sheltering world of the mother and her femininity and enters the world of challenge and danger that makes him a man...For modern men, team sports are more transforming than religion because they provide a greater escape from the self.  Paul Jones, a Dulwich boy who was killed in World War I, claimed that in the attempts to develop team spirit, 'Religion has failed, intellect has failed, art has failed, science has failed.  It is clear why: because each of these has laid emphasis on man's selfish side; the saving of his own soul, the cultivation of his own mind, the pleasing of his own senses.  But your sportsman joins the Colours because in his games he has felt the real spirit of unselfishness, and has become accustomed to give all for a body to whose service he is sworn.'  Sports on this view are a better school of charity than religion, for the ultimate test of charity is the willingness to die in war...Although most players and spectators would not seriously call sports a religion, it nevertheless functions as one for them.  It is 'a secular means for tapping transcendental sources and powers, or restoring some fleeting contact with the sacred, or testing whether the gods are on your side or not.'  Michael Novak regards sports as a natural religion.  Charles Prebish also thinks "sports is religion for growing numbers of Americans.'  Religion enables man to transcend the secular, ordinary world; sports are the way that many men attain this transcendence, whether directly as an athlete or vicariously as a spectator.." (The Church Impotent, pp. 168-169).

Many men no longer go to Church because they regard any involvement in religion to be unmasculine and even effeminate.  And normal, healthy men want to be masculine.  Many of these have embraced sports as a substitute religion.  The Penn State scandal is, therefore, all the more shocking to those who have distanced themselves from churches which have been dominated from feminism and homosexual propaganda and which have been largely effeminized.  The idea of a football coach showering with boys and performing oral sex on them cannot be reconciled with the masculine ideals which are an intrinsic part of sports.

Dr. Podles notes in his book that, "Christianity revealed that the masculine identity was open to all: in Christ there was no longer male or female all could become sons of the Father by the grace of adoption.  In the first millennium the masculine character of Christianity was clear.  The church of the martyrs gave way to the church of the monks, but it remained clear that to be Christian involved a profound and heroic struggle, which was perhaps more natural to men, but which was also opened up to women.  Men have a natural understanding of the process of and the need for conversion.  They know from their childhood experiences and their inculcation in the ideology of masculinity the importance of dying to the old self and being reborn as a new self....Conversion can lead men into the Church, but the Church they enter must also have a spirituality that allows them to be both men and Christians - they cannot be real Christians unless they become real men.."

The Christian churches must offer men a spirituality which allows them to be men.  Until they do, many men will continue to pursue masculine ideals elsewhere.  But what the Penn State scandal has shown us is that even the "religion" of sports - the natural "religion" which so many men hold dear - is not immune to the problems which have surfaced within certain segments of the Church.


Jonathan said...

No segment of our society is immune from child sexual abuse. And, as you have so meticulously documented here, there has been much less of it in the Catholic Church than in the broader population.

Men who prey on boys (and most of this has been homosexual in nature in the Church) are a very real societal problem and must be dealt with.

Stewart said...

It also shows us how a culture of secrecy can - and does - exist in ANY environment. The secular media still refuses to address the full scope of the problem. Why else do they IGNORE the data pertaining to the incidence of sexual abuse in the public schools?

Until the secular media takes an honest look at the child abuse problem in the public schools, I just don't trust them when they cover abuse which takes place in the Church.

Tom Cormier said...

Don't expect the anti-Catholic bigots in the MSM to acknowledge the full scope of child sexual abuse in America, particularly in the public school system. It's not convenient.

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