Leviathan Groaning

capitol-police

On June 25, 2009, a seven year old boy was abducted at gunpoint from his terrified parents. They had just boarded a plane to fly to the country where the boy’s mother had been born, and where her kin still lived. They were leaving their own country for good, because they had grown weary of the harassment they suffered there from a syndicate of well-placed thugs. They themselves had broken no law.

The boy’s name is Domenic Johansson. He is now going on ten years old, and he has seen his mother and father only very briefly since. The thugs, officials of the Swedish government, have allowed the parents very little opportunity to visit. Domenic’s mother has suffered a nervous breakdown, and is now quite incapacitated. The foster-woman into whose care Domenic was given has informed the boy that she will never let him return to his mother and father, no matter what any court might say. Domenic, once a cheerful little boy, looks haggard, crushed, dull, as if the heart had been ripped out of him.

What was the crime committed by Christer Johansson and his wife? They did not run drugs. They did not steal. They did not cheat the government of its yearly right to a third of their corn, milk, potatoes, and apples – or whatever it is that the Lords and Ladies of Stockholm now exact from their tenant citizens. Or what was the moral sewer wherein they were raising their little boy? It could not have been a sewer of fornication; the Johanssons are married, and the Swedes have turned fornication into their national pastime. It could not have been the dry gulch of nihilism; Christer Johansson did not work for Swedish television. The crime was simply that the Johanssons, a devout Christian couple, had pulled Domenic out of the state school and were educating him at home. It was, we should note well, perfectly within their rights by the Swedish law then in force to do this. It was also within their rights as specified by the European Union.

The Swedish government has attempted to cover their tracks by finding Domenic’s father guilty of being “narcissistic.” Their evidence for this supposed narcissism is Christer’s stubborn insistence that he knew better than the thugs what was best for his son. Narcissism indeed – if that were a crime, or if that disqualified people from being decent parents, then the Scandinavian countries ought to get together to address an enormous crisis. They should run barbed wire around one whole country, say Norway, ship to that land of ice all the people in Scandinavia who look at themselves in the mirror too complacently, and turn Denmark into a vast orphanage.

What makes for such cruelty? I cannot imagine the black heart of a man (or, alas, a woman) who struts before a simple little family, and steals their child away. That person, we would say, should be hauled before a court of law and then be banished from civil society. He – she – should be granted plenty of spare time to think again about the cruelty, while staring at the blank walls of a prison cell. How much worse it is, however, when the abduction involves an entire social organism: the long arm of a dull-witted and compliant police force, the convoluted brains of a corrupt judiciary, and the seething metaphysical hatred burning in the heart of politicians, who cannot abide a single little reproach, not even in the form of a happy little boy, against their claims to know what is best for everyone. So far from repenting in sackcloth and ashes, the Swedish thugs have compounded their sin by breaking their own laws, denying the Johanssons their right to choose their own legal counsel. The Swedish education domina has even written, openly, brazenly, that all homeschooled children should be abducted.

Back in the days when Swedes were men, not sheep, they raided the coasts of Europe in their long ships, burning and looting. Oh for the Vikings of old! For when they had either loaded their ship with your tribute or razed your village to the ground, they left, to enjoy their spoils; and you could go on living your life without interference, with your cow and a couple of chickens, and a field for corn and potatoes, and children, whom you would love and raise by your best lights, as mothers and fathers have done since the dawn of the human race.

And now, from the far whale-road of the Northmen, and the wintry binding of the waves, my mind returns, with the cry of a sea-bird, to my own native land. And I see something like the same misshapen hulk I saw moving across the arctic fens, now battening in warmer climes.

There was a time when certain things were considered holy. The family was holy: it was a realm of order and authority and love, not to be burst into by marauding benefactors. “A man’s home is his castle,” went the saying, meaning that the home, for father and mother and children, is as an independent dukedom, with its own traditions, its laws, its bonds of loyalty, its wisdom, and its hard-won wealth. So long as no crimes against God and man were committed, that castle was to be honored; for upon such families the whole social order was founded. One would no sooner set spies in the home to rat on mother and father, as the Soviets did, than one would burn down a church. It is not simply that one would refrain from abducting a child, as the Swedish government has done. One would not wish even to associate with someone who could conceive of so vile a thing.

Conscience was holy, too; as were the churches wherein the consciences were formed. I cannot imagine George Washington intruding upon a Quaker meeting to conscript men. He would have considered it a blot on his sacred honor to do so despicable a thing. I cannot imagine even that progressive Puritan, Woodrow Wilson, prying open the gate of a Catholic school to compel the nuns to conduct courses in state-approved licentiousness.

But the Leviathan has no such scruples. Consider the case of the current administration, wishing to compel Christian employers to provide insurance policies for free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Even before we consider the sheer harm these things have done to the common good, what decent person would want to bring the churches to heel? What kind of soul must one have, to wish to cow every religious institution into submission, so that one may gain one’s will? The same kind of soul that is required, I believe, to order policemen to board a plane and remove a little boy, screaming and wailing, from his mother and father he loved, all because they dared to oppose the lovingkindness of the State.

Let us be clear here. The American Leviathan loathes everything that is not Itself. It does not want self-reliant people who can take care of themselves and their neighbors. It does not want people teaching their children in their own way. It does not want free associations, like the Boy Scouts, who actually do things like clean a park or build a bicycle path, things that benefit everyone, and for little or no cost to their towns and cities. It does not want private schools with their own curricula. It does not want private universities with their own ideas about what sports to sponsor, or what people they should hire. It will allow the shells of these things, so long as the “free” truckle to its will, and the “private” strip naked to its searching glare. Its pact with the little people is simple enough. The Leviathan will promote a false freedom, mere license, which helps to destroy every other social institution in existence, from the family to the neighborhood to the local school to the church. Then the Leviathan, having built a sufficient number of prisons, will come a-knocking on every door to help.

This is really the central meaning of the debate concerning whether the Catholic Church should provide for Fornication Protection Kits – for that is what we are talking about, though no one wishes to say so openly. The diktats from Levi come cloaked in the language of medicine, just as the diktats from Lotta and Lars come cloaked in the language of children’s welfare. But just as no one without a diseased mind can really explain why it is a benefit to children to be yanked out of their innocent mother’s lap and sent to live with strangers, just because mother and father wanted to teach them to read and write, so no one without a diseased mind can explain why it is a benefit to women’s health, or anybody’s health, to underwrite the sexual revolution.

The abortifacients and contraceptives heal no disease. They do not restore proper function to any organ or limb. They do not soothe chronic pain. They do not shield the taker from casual infection. If a couple were infertile, that would be a medical problem. It would require a remedy. That is why we call it “medicine.” But the problem with the fornicators is not that their reproductive organs are not working. They are working just fine. When people engage in a reproductive act, using their reproductive organs in a natural way, then reproduction is the healthy and natural and perfectly predictable result.

More than that: the sexual revolution itself is the cause of tremendous human misery. The problem with Pope Paul’s Humanae Vitae was not that the Holy Father was wrong in his predictions. He said that the sexual revolution – that is, the regime of Pill-popping – would result in more, not fewer, unwanted pregnancies and children born out of wedlock. The cognoscenti laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more, not fewer, abortions. The illuminati laughed at him, but he was right. He said that it would result in more divorces, and a debased view of women as mere objects of sexual gratification. The women’s liberationists laughed at him, and then proved him right themselves by turning men into those same objects. No, the Pope erred in not being pessimistic enough. Even he did not foresee that the reign of sexual license would destroy human communities and human culture. Even he did not foresee that the people of a once great nation would, as placid as pigs in a sty, give over their most precious civil liberties just to ensure a good roll in the mud.

Leviathan cannot brook a single opponent. The Johanssons learned this lesson, to their excruciating sorrow. We Catholics are learning it now.

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He is a senior editor for Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine. His most recent books are The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Press, 2010) and, most recently, Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). Professor Esolen has also translated Dante.

  • Vishal Mehra

    “Conscience was holy”

    A very dangerous doctrine, unless qualified and defined. They believe it too, you know, but in a Kantian way so paving the way for the Autonomous Man and thence to the American Freedom as defined by Justice Kennedy “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of
    existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human
    life.”

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Is “conscience,” in the modern sense of moral judgment a necessary category?  Well Aristotle did very well without it.  Perhaps, we should go back to speaking of “practical reason,” for my reason is myself and expresses itself in action.  Moreover, it is axiomatic that acts of the understanding are specified by their object, so this may serve to remind us that good and bad choices are no more equivalent than apprehension and misapprehension, truth and error are equivalent species of an identical genus; rather, bad choices are paralogisms (παραλογισμός = Unreasonable or fallacious).

      The good choice, “This – being such – is to be done,” is intelligible, because intelligent; the act of the bad will is a surd, ultimately unintelligible.  True enough, we can often trace its causes to instinctive or dispositional factors, but it remains logically incoherent.

  • Vishal Mehra

    The medieval Church did not believe in an unqualified freedom of conscience. The heretics were burned for asserting their consciences. Should a Hindu be free to assert his conscience that women be denied property?. Or a Muslim that he should be free to chastise his wife?

    The question must be of right or wrong and not of conscience per se. 
     

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Nor does the modern church.  As Dignitatis Humanae mkes clear, “Religious freedom, in
      turn, which men demand as necessary to fulfil their duty to worship God, has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.”

      This is a very important, and often overlooked, qualification.

  • http://twitter.com/amadeus8888 Amadeus Frison

    Fantastic piece. I certainly hope the world take’s notice. We are heading toward dangerous times for the faithful and Sweden is leading the way. Please keep the Johansson family in your prayers. 

  • Ulrikecvogel

     

    It is
    always sad and cruel if families are separated and no child should have to witness
    their parents´ arrest. However, from an article wanting to be taken seriously
    and claiming to be at least partly “academic”, I expect more expertise, dispassion,
    transparency and above all tact. My personal impression, based on a short
    research on the topic, having studied the EU and education (pedagogy as well as
    legal aspects of education) extensively and reading the article, is that this
    article lacks all of the above.

    I have to
    admit that my brief research on the Johansson family was disappointing to me,
    too. It is hard to find facts and objective articles. It was especially disappointing
    to me, that the author, being a Professor, did not include any reputable or
    reliable source himself. From what I learned reading and comparing sources, I
    conclude the following:

    The Johnson
    parents did simply refuse to send their child to school, or phrased in other
    words, denied him the possibility to go there. (This opens another argument
    about homeschooling I would like to leave aside for the moment, in order to
    focus on the facts.) Homeschooling is NOT legal in the entire EU, which is the
    first and I think for his argument very crucial mistake. In Sweden, it can be
    legal under certain circumstances. The main points are that it has to be
    requested and approved by the state and the content taught or way of teaching
    cannot contradict democratic values and basic human rights the EU and Sweden have
    agreed on. The Johanssons did not inform the officials and did not make an
    orderly request to home school their son.

    In order
    for a lot of non-European readers to understand this first mistake the family
    made better, I have to add that in the past 5 years, an increasing number of
    cases of child abuse or neglect were discovered. Tragic cases of children being
    locked in rooms for weeks, sometimes completely hidden from the outside world
    their entire short life. These could have been prevented if neighbors or
    officials like the school boards had asked questions. Questions like: Where is
    this child? Why does it not come to school? 
    In order to prevent horrible tragedies, officials are now more cautious.

    So the
    officials “caught” them not only breaking the law – another mistake in the
    article- but had a very understandable reason for looking for the child and
    also into the parents educational plans. The parents then did try to get the
    state´s OK for homeschooling, but were denied the approval because their
    educational goals were against the Swedish democratic constitution and values
    and, above all, included corporal punishment. Both and especially the latter,
    they refused to take out of their homeschooling concept for their son. At this
    point, they wanted to flee the country and were caught. They were arrested not
    for leaving Sweden, like the article puts it, but for fleeing from a legal
    charge they had been convicted of. (See above: Not informing officials about
    the homeschooling.)

    I am not a
    legal expert, but I believe that every western country stops convicted people
    fleeing from facing the legal consequences of their doings. Unfortunately I did
    not find a reliable source describing the arrest itself closer. I do however know
    that the child was not taken from them because they wanted to teach him different
    things than public schools do, but because they were arrested for several
    illegal acts and no child can be arrested with their parents.

    The rest of
    the article is, to put it in simple words, more than inappropriate. The author
    uses big words, complicated systems and complex institutions as examples but
    simplifies them to a point where it is not the truth anymore and furthermore
    uses them out of context. Throwing in random countries, like Norway or Denmark which
    are in no way related to the Johansson case, or inappropriate, politically
    highly incorrect and offending examples and metaphors like barbered wire around
    a country or historical lies, does not prove the author to be a very academic,
    well informed or considerate writer. He moves further and further away from his
    opening story and topic, and brings in various aspects, again often out of
    context, of his believe. Again, he (ab)uses terms like “Catholic Church” or “Christian”
    to get across his personal concerns and ideas, not considering he does not
    speak for the majority of “Christians”.

    Personally,
    I find his way of stating his opinion very shocking and offending. Who is he to
    tell me I am not a good Christian because I am not married. Who is he to
    demonize the women´s movement and liberation?  

    This is an
    article peppered with insults, wrong generalizations and, well, lies and lacks
    every aspect of good (academic) writing.

    • Meggie

      Ulrikecvogel, I have no doubt that there is more to the Domenic Johansson story and suspect that the Swedish authorities have information about the family that is being kept confidential for reasons of privacy. In general I am in favor of parents’ right to home educate, but there are certainly homeschooling scenarios that are not in the best interests of the child. Domenic’s case sounds tragic for both him and the parents. I would like to understand more about it. It is possible that Domenic doesn’t want to go back to his parents, but his opinions on that subject should be kept confidential. 

      • Angela Lessard

        And there are lots of classrooms and whole schools that are danger zones, and yet parents here would be held legally accountable if they didn’t send their kids to them. Parents should be given the benefit of the doubt.

        And Ulrikcvogel, the article was a cri de couer, not an academic article. Also, the idea that the EU, an entirely undemocratic body, has the right to dictate “democratic” educational values is laughable. They want to make good obedient, little bureaucrats out of European children, not democrats.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          It was Jules Ferry, the architect of the French educational system (and also the minister of Thiers during the repression of the Paris Commune and the theoretician of colonialism in Algeria) who remarked that the purpose of public education was “to stamp children, like the coinage, with the image of the republic”

        • Mii

          I would recommend not to make the exact same mistake as the author, to simplify and reduce a complex institution like the EU to the point where the statement is simply wrong and then “blab” that out like it was a true and educated comment.
          Cri de coeur or not, I have a problem with people (especially Professors) publishing lies and wrong stories, especially if they are about very sensitive topics and are as insulting as this one.

        • Meggie

          Angela, yes, there are good and bad classrooms. I appreciate and have made us of the right in the US to home educate. My family has also been successful in using public schools. Perhaps we’ve been lucky. However, my point was simply that there is almost certainly more to this story than meets the eye. We are getting information from unreliable and highly emotionally loaded sources. Some of it is demonstrably untrue. Most of it borders on the histrionic. Some of it comes from tabloid media outlets like WND and ideological organizations such as the ADF. ADF lawyers, like most other lawyers, are not always truthful. I don’t know all the details of the case, but I think it extremely likely that much of the information known to the Swedish authorities is being kept confidential because Domenic is a child. We don’t know what was going on behind the scenes or what he is being protected from. Perhaps he dreads going back to his father. Until we know the whole story, I will continue to reserve judgment. 

          • athelstane

            I know some of the ADF lawyers, and I have never known one to be untruthful, either in a courtroom, or outside of it. Without any substantiation, such a remark amounts to calumny.

            • Meggie

              Athelstane, I am familiar with a case in which the ADF took on a school district and complained that the Declaration of Independence was not allowed in the classroom and that a teacher was not allowed to mention God. In reality, the D of I  was plastered on the wall of every fifth grade classroom in the district, and parents were complaining that a teacher was trying to proselytize their children. This was the Steven Williams case against the Cupertino Union School District, that was eventually dismissed. You can google and read about it. 

              • athelstane

                I’d have to look at the brief they filed, Meggie. But I’d be surprised if they filed a blatant falsehood – not least because of the risk of sanctions from the bench or the state bar.  (Embroidery, or selective recitation, of course, is part of the trade, if done carefully enough.).  But I don’t think you’re representing Steve Williams’ dilemma accurately. 

                • Meggie

                  athelstane, they are indeed guilty of blatant falsehood. They issued a press release claiming that the Declaration of Independence was banned from classrooms at a particular school, which was simply untrue. You can read more about it (including the response of the parents) here:
                  http://www.stevenscreekparents.org/pr012505.htm

                • Meggie

                  They certainly perpetuated blatant falsehoods. Here is what a group of parents at the affected school wrote to the ADF:
                  http://www.stevenscreekparents.org/pr012505.htm

                • We the Parents

                  The ADF claimed that the Declaration of Independence was banned from the classroom, which was a blatant falsehood. Even Steven Williams denied that was the case. A group of parents from the school wrote to the ADF saying: “Your press release, which falsely asserts that our school has banned the Declaration of Independence from the classroom, was picked up by Reuters, and quickly spread via internet blogs, talk show radio, and, of course, Fox News. The school’s mailboxes, answering machines and emails were thereafter flooded with well over 3000 hate-filled messages from all over the country and abroad. Security, including sheriff’s patrols, was immediately heightened at the school much to the concern and distress of both parents and children.” That’s why the suit died on the vine.

      • http://twitter.com/amadeus8888 Amadeus Frison

        The parents have already released all the “secret” documents to the world so the government could not cover up the truth any more. They are plastered all over the internet for anyone to read.

        • Meggie

          Amadeus Frison, I do not believe it would be legal to “plaster” these documents over the Internet. Studies by social workers and psychologists that involve children are usually kept confidential. I know the president of social services for the Johanssons’ area stated that the case is not simply about the right to homeschool and there were other issues, but that he couldn’t offer any further explanation due to confidentiality laws. We’re only hearing one side, and much of what we’re hearing from that side is objectively false. It’s possible that the Swedish authorities have overreached. It’s also possible that the parents are unfit and that the little boy doesn’t want to go back to them. 

      • David Gray

         There are very few homeschool environments that aren’t safer than an elementary classroom in LA that has finally gotten attention after years of barbarism and debauchery.

    • http://twitter.com/amadeus8888 Amadeus Frison

      I have followed this case closely and find your assertion that tearing a family apart for not teaching “democratic values” to be as oxymoronic as anything I’ve ever heard.
      This case is an utter tragedy and to suggest otherwise makes me seriously wonder about where our society is headed almost as much as the fact that it happened to begin with.
      I find the commenter’s way of stating her opinion very shocking and  offending. Who is she to demonize homeschoolers and people whose views may be different from hers?
      Women’s “liberation”??? Please. Promiscuity is degrading and a social ill that should hardly be encouraged. Shame on you.
      The response to this brilliant piece is peppered with insults, wrong generalizations, and well, lies.
      Bravo to the author of this piece! The world needs to know. 

      • Ulrikecvogel

        I have to ask you to please read my comment again. I did not demonize homeschoolers, in fact I did not even say anything about homeschooling in general. “This opens another argument about homeschooling I would like to leave aside for the moment […].”
        Calling insulting other people and cultures brilliant is nothing but sad and will never lead to seccessful discussions.

    • tttt

      Ms. Vogel, methinks thou doth protest too much.  Your “personal” thoughts sound more like the vacuous ramblings of an apologist minion.  “Who is he…?”  A man who made his point well, while you rambled through a bunch of conjecture in your attack.  

      • Meggie

        tttt, there was a point? I gathered that the author felt that rape, loot, and murder by Vikings was worse than taking a possibly endangered child into custody, and then there was some effort to equate kidnapping with using contraception. The 30% of women who use birth control for health reasons are wrong. The pill doesn’t relieve them of chronic menstrual pain. They just get confused and think it does, but they’re only women so they wouldn’t know. And did you know birth control is only for fornicators? Married couples who want to space children or restrict the number of children they have don’t need it. I thought Ms. Vogel made sense and am disappointed by the ad hominems directed her way. 

        • Meggie

          ” gathered that the author felt that rape, loot, and murder by Vikings was worse than taking a possibly endangered child into custody,”

          That should read ” … was BETTER than taking, etc.”

        • chewinmule

          Like minds anyone?

    • Brian A. Cook

      Thank you for putting up with the attacks and trying to pierce the echo-chamber.  Thank you for asking hard questions.  Than you for trying to get at the truth wherever it is found. 

  • Pingback: THE HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POLINATION GRUDGE | PoliNation

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    To my critics: The Johanssens committed no crime.  They are not even accused of having committed a crime.  Failure to report to the authorities?  They did report; they had then been dealing with the authorities for years, harassed by the authorities.  So that is a non-issue.   It was not against the law then in force for them to educate their children at home.  The Swedes then passed a law outlawing it — a scandal in itself, that reveals exactly what their actions in the Johanssen case reveal.  I cannot imagine the kind of mind that would conceive of what they did, boarding the plane to pry him from his mother and father.  Homeschoolers in Europe are well aware of the harassment they face, constantly.  Your statement that the authorities refused to approve of their curriculum also reveals everything we need to know.  For you do not say that they had been refused because they were not actually going to teach him how to read and write, and so forth.  They were refused because they did not want to use the state-approved curriculum — well, what would be the point in that?  Presumably they wanted to teach Domenic at home because of their deep disagreements with that curriculum.   They believe what everyone in Europe used to take for granted, outside of the nationalist and socialist states, which is that a child belongs to his family and is not a ward of the State.  They refused to remove corporal punishment from the curriculum — spanking?  You must be kidding me.  THAT justifies the violence done to this family?  Saving Domenic from a spanking, by ripping out his heart?

    You prove my point.  You feed the Leviathan.  You cannot even conceive of true liberty, which allows for a wide variety of free associations of people, organized by themselves to promote the common good.  For you, it is a legitimate function of the State (and here I don’t distinguish between the tyranny of a single despot and the tyranny of a majority) to dictate the indoctrination of every child.  Again, there is no claim that the family were not going to teach Domenic history or math or whatnot.  The Leviathan declared the curriculum inadequate because it wasn’t the Leviathan’s.

    I should have been clearer on conscience: it is never to be compelled to act counter to its proscriptions.  That is, if I believe that a certain action is evil, I should not be compelled to engage in it.  We are not talking about allowing evil deeds that certain ill-formed consciences happen not to proscribe.  Here the British general’s response to the thugee-practicers is apropos.  When they said that it was their tradition to kill widows, the general told them to go ahead, and informed them that it was his tradition to hang people who killed widows. 

  • Fr. J

    Mr. Esolen, this is a bit off topic. Our local school is using the Da Vinci Code in English class. I know I know…I am working to stop it. However, do you know an alternative book from a Catholic or at least not anti-Catholic perspective? Or what book would you suggest in English literature from the last 50 years for high school seniors? Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Dear Father J,

    My gosh — that is appalling in so many ways!  First, it’s nothing but anti-Catholic bigotry.  To use Dorothy Parker’s famous line, every word in it is a lie, including “the” and “and.”  The guy is a complete dope.  He talks about “austere” Spanish church architecture — when Spanish architecture is flamboyant and baroque.  He talks about the frescoes in Notre Dame de Paris — there are no frescoes in Notre Dame.  He makes a big deal out of the number “sigma,” as if it were some kind of deep dark secret.  That’s like saying that “pi” is a deep dark secret, when every schoolkid knows about it.  You can’t get past one page without some howler.  Didn’t he own a — what do you call it — dictionary?  Encyclopedia?  Then too, from a literary point of view, it is sheer garbage.  The guy knows no history, and he can’t write.  Hey, what’s next?  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for history class?  Mein Kampf?  Mao’s Little Red Book?  “Stupid” hardly does the thing justice.

    If you had to go pop culture, you might counter it with Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy.  There they’d learn a decent amount of genuine history, and Stone is sympathetic to Pope Julius II.

    But where’s the real literature?  Does it have to be something from the last 50 years?  I’ve been asking my freshmen this year what they’ve studied in English, in high school.  I’m finding, to my astonishment, that many high schools simply omit just about everything written before 1900.  Students are telling me not just that they haven’t read Milton or Tennyson or Browning.  They’ve never even heard the names!

    Anyhow … last 50 years … kind of a desert land, that.  The short stories of Flannery O’Connor.  The Clown, by Heinrich Boll.  Father Elijah, by Michael O’Brien (who is a little heavy-handed).  If you can dispense with the time period, we could go back to phenomenal Catholic novels: Vipers’ Tangle, by Francois Mauriac; Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset (long, though) … They could read Dickens (have they?), or George Eliot’s Silas Marner, or Middlemarch; or Austen’s Emma or Pride and Prejudice, or Crime and Punishment … there’s so much.  And what has happened to poetry?

    • Fr. J

       Mr. Esolen, I certainly agree with you. I read through the whole dreary book for a second time and listed every page that contained an anti-Catholic lie. There are to many to count. I did not find one positive mention of the Church. I am challenging the book to the local school board. If that doesn’t work then we will look at a lawsuit for religious discrimination. I have several youth who have decided to refuse to read it on conscience grounds. The teacher is clueless and displeased. At least one Protestant pastor has joined us in protesting the book.

      She claims that it sums up the whole advanced English course. It makes me wonder what she is up too. Comparing it to Beowulf seems to me just obscene. I am looking for something to suggest as a replacement. Personally I would recommend any part of the Lord of the Rings. They would read it and enjoy it. If we could dispense with the 20th century requirement, she wants something modern, I would go back and have them read Dante. They would love the Inferno. I expect you would agree with me on that! I think they have read some decent books, but I am sure they could find something better then The Da Vinci Code. Thanks for your suggestions. We will keep up the good fight, win or lose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Another note on Sweden: If anything I have not been severe enough in my condemnation.  I have done more searching, and it seems that the Swedes have not only outlawed homeschooling except in cases to protect the child’s physical safety; they have mandated uniform curricula even in supposedly “private” schools.  Essentially, there is no such thing in Sweden as educational liberty.  The kind of people who would crush any school that does not truckle to the national will, are the kind of people who would board a plane and abduct a child on utterly bogus grounds.  There is a name for this: it is evil.  Although I believe that Ms. Vogel, below, has done her child a grave injustice by bearing it outside of the haven of wedded love — infinitely more grave than anything that Christer Johansson is even accused of having done — I would never visit upon her the cruelty that the social workers and the lawyers have visited upon this man and his family.  I would not be able to sleep at night.  I guess Leviathan has plenty of sleeping pills — or maybe it is just that Leviathan never sleeps.

    • Meggie

      Tony Esolen, you may be right that a bunch of evil bureaucrats have decided to create a lot of work for themselves by conspiring to make the Johansson family miserable as punishment for homeschooling their son. Personally I find it much more likely that there are details not being made public out of concern for the family’s privacy. The president of the local social services agency has said there is far more to the case than concern about homeschooling, but that he’s restricted from speaking about the situation due to confidentiality laws. Perhaps the social services people are concerned about the father pulling a Josh Powell on his son (which is what crossed my mind when I heard reports of the father being both narcissistic and depressed.) There are concerns about the mental health of the entire family, and we’re only getting one side of the story (and that from dubious sources.) Either way, this is a very sad situation. I find it significant that the Johansson parents, despite the mountains of legal assistance they’ve been given, do not appear to be making much headway in the courts. 

    • ulrikecvogel

      I am very garteful for your kindness, however I do not have a child. And if you are even kinder, you excuse my sarcasm here, when I say your source telling you I had a child must be as reliable and unbiased as the sources you use writing your articles. Or is it your careful reading of facts and sensitive choice of words that have lead you wrong again?

      • ulrikecvogel

         I am sorry for the confusion, I do not know why the programm gives me two different names.

  • Pingback: A better discontent « The Orthosphere

  • Pingback: A better discontent — cross-post « Throne and Altar

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Meggie, I don’t find their failure to make headway in the courts significant at all.  And who the heck would NOT be depressed, given what’s happened?  Please, no more excuses.  These people committed only the “crime” of not wanting to send their son to school.  The officials, covering their posteriors, can now whisper all they want about there being “more” to the case.  What is that MORE, that could justify what they have done?  Look — we have a Swedish educrat who has recently said publicly that she wishes that more homeschooling families could have their children abducted.  We have a Swedish government that has recently made it illegal to homeschool in Sweden for any purpose other than to remove the child from bullying — essentially, it is now illegal to act upon your disagreement with the government’s mandated curriculum.  We have a Swedish government that has driven homeschoolers out of the country — the head of ROHUS, the Swedish homeschooling organization, has had to emigrate to the Aland Islands to flee the persecution.  All of these are actions taken by the Swedish government, and they are evil.  They are evil in their execution, and they are evil in intent: the intent is nothing other than to make all children wards of the State, with parents allowed as caretakers.  How may I say this more clearly?  How about this?  IT IS A HUMAN RIGHT — NOT A STATE-GRANTED RIGHT — TO EDUCATE ONE’S CHILDREN BY ONE’S BEST LIGHTS.  This does not mean failure to educate, and it does not mean abuse.  Anyone who could support the elimination of homeschooling would be EXACTLY the person who could “justify” taking Domenic from his family, to strike terror — as it has done — into the hearts of everyone else who might consider teaching their children themselves.  You can deny the facts in the Johansson case.  You cannot deny the State’s utterly totalitarian laws against homeschooling and — by the way — against any education in a private or once-religious school that would veer in the slightest from the State curriculum.  Oh, and by the way — enough with the nasty Josh Powell reference — look at you, suggesting that a man who has committed no crime may be ready to murder!  This is a man whose family the STATE has torn apart, who wants his child to be reunited with him and his wife.  Send the boy to India already.  Evil, pure hypocritical evil.

    • Meggie

      Tony Esolen, please don’t accuse me of making “nasty” references while you’re glibly dismissing half the world as “evil” and “hypocritical.” You don’t know the facts and you’re waxing too histrionic to be able to process information anyway. You seem unable even to consider that you might not have all the facts, and you are being quite irrational about imputing motives to “the State.” Calm down and stop the ad hominems and absurd generalizations against more temperate minds.

      • http://www.savingourparish.blogspot.com/ Gretchen

        Meggie, you should calm down and stop accusing someone who has provided you a plethora of facts of being irrational and histrionic. Your willful denial of the facts and dare I say it, cooperation with evil by your accusatory comments, is tragic…for you. 

        Please use facts and a cogent rebuttal to Mr. Esolen’s statements.Waiting…

        • Meggie

          Gretchen, these are not “facts.” Tony Esolen, in the very first sentence, claims the child was abducted at “gunpoint.” “Gunpoint” means guns drawn and pointed. This was not the case. The Swedish police do carry guns in their holsters and accompanied social workers onto the plane, but their guns were never drawn. The family was asked to accompany the social workers and did so quietly and without drama. The OP gives the impression of a SWAT team surrounding the family. This is just the first sentence. What else is untrue or exaggerated? 

        • Disgusted

          Well I haven´t seen any facts or valid sources in his article. Come on, show me prove. As of now I haven´t seen a single line in his article that would stand to any legit academic standard.
          1) His “sources” are covered in mist as he seems unwilling to share his basis of knowlegde / information
          2) Meggie as well as “Mrs Vogel” have both been very respectful so far which I clearly cannot say neither about the author nor about most commentors here. All I HAVE seen so far are false accusations of a legit government, extremely inapproriate comparisons of historical events that already passed the point insulting a long time ago.
          I did not want to say this from the beginning but this article as well as this conversation is complete rubbish. Most professors at my university would have been kicked out, taken away their title as well as probably charged by the supreme court due to inappropriate use of loaded terminology and willing spread of so called facts that are actually lies.
          Well glad I´m so far away from all this and if you don´t mind I´ll tend to more important matters: my studies of real law!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    About social service agencies: they are notably corrupt.  Why?  They cannot be held accountable for their mistakes.  One cannot sue them for their ineptitude.  They are the dog that wags the court’s tail.  Mountains of legal assistance?  The Johanssons were denied the right to choose their own counsel!  That, my dear, is called here in America a kangaroo court.  No, the more one looks into the whole issue of schooling in Sweden, the fouler it appears.  I have not been too severe.  Christer Johansson is “weird”?  Well now, there’s a professional judgment!  Meanwhile, there is an idiotic school in Stockholm where the little kids are prohibited from using masculine and feminine pronouns.  Of course, it is a feminist dream — neutering everyone.  Now THAT is not “weird,” oh, goodness no.  You have a nation — we are not far behind — of children being raised without a mother and a father both, and yet you worry that this one father might be a little narcissistic.  Swallowing a camel, straining at a gnat.  Shame on you and your government.  Get some spines, like you used to have.

  • http://www.savingourparish.blogspot.com/ Gretchen

    An excellent cry from the heart. Your critics, Mr. Esolen, seem to come from one of  the following perspectives:

    A paid troll
    A pseudo intellectual
    A progressive mindset
    Ignorance

    Let us hope it is the fourth one, a state one can be freed from upon the insertion of the truth.

    The government animosity against homeschooling continues even in this country. It is far worse in Europe as evidenced by Dominec’s plight. Leviathan indeed. Your critics can reference the following articles/websites:

    HSLDA’s website for a litany of articles regarding homeschooling in Europe: http://www.hslda.org/hs/international/

    Here is another article from a couple years ago: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2009/november/Parents-Targeted-as-Europe-Cracks-Down-on-Home-Schooling/

    And another: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/28/home-schooling-losing-ground-all-over-europe/

    Here’s a 2006 article in which Belgian homeschoolers must sign a paper agreeing to educate their children according to the UN Convention on children’s rights: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/1121

  • Jack

    Mr. Esolen, it boggles the mind that anyone could criticize you for this article.  I guess that’s just further evidence of the depravity of our modern culture.  How, do you think, can we combat the Leviathan?  Is it even possible? 

  • Marksky57

    “Give me the youth, and Germany will rule the World” – Adolf Hitler

    • Anton

       This is exactly the kind of unacceptable comment I talked about eralier. I would like to aks you to please delete such a horrible allusion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    To all who are interested: Christopher Booker, of the UK Telegraph, has been writing about child-snatching in Great Britain for several years now.  He reports that about 900 children a month are taken from their parents, and he recounts many cases of what can only be called maddening cruelty on the part of Child Protective Services.  The details of these cases cannot be discussed openly in the UK, because the courts put gag orders on them.  Close friends of mine have watched in slow horror as Child Protective Services removed their daughter’s two daughters from her care and placed them with the ex-son-in-law.  I have recounted many of the details of this case elsewhere.  The mother is a well-respected elementary school teacher, beloved by her students and her colleagues.  The father has not held down a regular job in years, and is on the government dole.  The mother is a devout Catholic.  The father dabbles in satanism.  The mother does not sleep around.  The father is at present living with a woman to whom he is not married.  The mother was not the cause of their divorce; the father was; he has admitted in court to adultery.  The court doesn’t care.  The father has a history of drug abuse.  The father has been accused by his daughters of doing strange things to them, in a car with black garbage bags taped to the windows.  The father dabbles in pornography.  I have seen his notebook; hundreds of pictures of sadism and perversion, including two pictures of incest.  These were drawn by his own hands.  They were ruled inadmissible in court.  The sheer illegality and immorality of the court’s actions and those of the social workers are enough to drive a sane person mad.  But once they make a bad decision, they will move heaven and earth rather than admit their guilt.  Let it be absolutely clear here: the mother’s Catholicism was a strike AGAINST her.  The grandparents have a statue of Mary in their yard.  That was enough for them to be accused of being fanatics.  Needless to say, the girls are terrified that they will have to spend the rest of their youth with the father and the step-mistress.

    • Meggie

      Tony Esolen, bear in mind that the UK Telegraph is something of a tabloid with an anti-government bent. It may be that these stories are true; it may be that they are exaggerated. It may be that CPS overreaches; it may be that CPS reacted to protect children from abuse. I would be very cautious of accepting any story on face value without knowing all the underlying facts. Very often these highly emotional and indignant articles omit at least a few very relevant facts that change the complexion of the story completely. I am sure CPS makes mistakes on occasions, but the UK also has a huge problem with child abuse and neglect. Barely a week goes by here in the US when I don’t hear of some poor child killed or injured by his or her caregivers. Children are not the property of their parents. They are people in their own right and deserve protection from abuse and neglect. 

      To go back to the Johansson case, you imply the father’s depression was caused by the child being taken into custody. Well he apparently had a severe depressive episode prior to that and became addicted to antidepressants. His condition was severe enough that he was offered ECT. So the information you gave was at best slanted. As I’ve said, we’re only hearing one side of the story and even that has obvious holes and seems emotionally overblown. It may be that the Swedish government has overreached. It may be that it is too quick to react in borderline cases where the child may be only slightly at risk. It may also be that young Domenic was at significant risk, and social services are acting in is best interests. I don’t think any of us has all the facts needed to make a clear decision. 

    • Emil Hanson

      I have to agree with Meggie here. And if a remeber correctly, Mr Booker has been sued for quite a number of factual errors in his articles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Meggie, you are still avoiding the heart of the matter.  I am not talking merely about horrible mistakes here and there.  I am talking about the general assumption that the child belongs to the State, and not to the parents and the family.  That, right there, without going one step farther, is evil, and gives rise to subsequent evils.  The Swedish government has compelled those families who wish to teach their children at home to flee the country.  There is in fact a community of homeschooling emigres on the Aland Islands, under Finnish government.  Why?  Why should someone have to abandon his country, his friends, and his kin, merely to teach his child according to a curriculum that he, and not the State, has chosen?  I have no doubt whatsoever that if Christer Johansson had caved in and sent Domenic to school, none of this would have happened.  What the officials continue to do is to find ex post facto reasons for a decision that was simply reached out of vindictive spite.  If you combed Sweden up and down, how many parents would you find who were alcoholic?  How many living dissolute lives?  How many on antidepressants?  Hundreds of thousands, no question.  But they are not harassed.   You must admit this: if, in Sweden, I said to my child, “Son, sexual activities between two men are immoral, and destructive of the common good,” and the authorities found out about it, they’d be knocking at my door.  That is the very definition of a totalitarian state.  We don’t have to wait for the most flagrant abuses, as in Domenic’s case.  The status quo is already an abuse.

    • Meggie

      Tony Esolen, you claim that Domenic was abducted at gunpoint and that the parents had broken no laws — both untrue (the parents were fined for breaking the law.) What else is inaccurate here? When you exaggerate/misrepresent and label cultural differences “evil”, you raise doubts about the credibility of your claims and your ability to make objective judgments. One of my main concerns about young Domenic is that he might not have lasted long in India without his vaccinations. He probably should have had Hep. A and typhoid shots and been started on malaria pills. As others have pointed out, we don’t know all the details of his family life. His parents apparently believed in corporal punishment. We don’t know how severely this was applied in his case. I don’t think children “belong” either to their parents or the state. They are people with rights of their own and deserve protection from any sort of abuse and neglect. Sweden may have a lower threshold for intervention than we have here in the US, but judging by our child abuse statistics here that might not be a bad thing. Please note that I’m not judging the Johansson family one way or another. I would need to know a lot more before I could form an opinion about this case, and I’m sure there is information that is not available to either of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    More on Leviathan: Life Site News has an article up on the filth that Planned Parenthood exposes children to.  Cui bono devastatio familiae?  Bona tyranno.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Emil and Meggie, your assumptions are all statist — and your statist governments have done their best to undermine the family to begin with.  Unless we are to believe that English children two generations ago were in peril of their lives in the home?  In any case — I repeat — the Swedish interdiction against ALL DEVIATIONS from the State curriculum is simply evil.  It usurps the legitimate authority of the family, the locality, and the church.  I have just today learned that the same evil is being done in Quebec, where ALL parents and ALL schools, regardless of their faith, will have to use the same twelve-year-long educational materials instructing students in moral relativism, religious indifference, and sexual amorality.  That’s tyranny, people, plain tyranny.  There is not a single man among the American founders who would have put up with it for a minute.  Indeed if a George Mason or a James Madison had any clue that their experiment would end up this way, they’d have given up and gone back to their farms, and let the world go as it might.

    • Emil Hanson

      Doesn´t the bible teach us to not always pick the wide an even path? But this is what you are doing. Dismissing all argumentsand questions by calling them evil or the people who address them undermined by the statist, immoral and evil government. This is very easy. And to argue on your level of objectivity and respect: I could ask a well respected catholic theology professor to answer and agrue with you and you would accuse him of being undermined by the evil, in fact you would probably call the pope undemined and argue that just in this very discussion, where he might contradict or question you, he is not impeccable and the devil must have been talking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    And who protects the children from the State?  Here in America we can still at least wriggle free of statist education.  We can teach our kids at home (with phenomenally good results, I might add), or we can send them to private or parochial schools (at great expense).  Who’s to protect the kid from the acid bath of cynicism in the schools?  I have been asking my college freshmen about their reading lists in high school, just in literature.  Almost all poetry written before 1900 is abandoned.  Almost all the heritage of western civilization, likewise.  You can guess what is left: nasty third-rate feminist novels (The Awakening), slovenly teen-novels (Catcher in the Rye), slick nihilistic novels (Slaughterhouse Five), and even the downright stupid (see Father’s comment below: The Da Vinci Code).  Who’s to protect the children from the vilification of the Founding Fathers, so common now?  Who’s to protect the boys from the incessant drumming into their heads, “Your sex is just one big problem?”  Nah — Leviathan is warm and cuddly. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    To my critic who says that I have come up with an unverifiable story: I cannot “prove” the details of this story to you, because there is a gag order on them in the court, and the last thing I want to do is to hurt the woman who has had her family torn apart by Child Protective Services.  But I have been witness to the events for several years.  I know the people involved.  I have personally gone over the pornography (which was ruled inadmissible).  I have personally seen portrayals of father-daughter incest and sadism and perversion.
     
    Let us go back a little:

    1. Only the threat of peril to a child’s life or limb, or sexual abuse, or gross moral turpitude, can possibly justify removal from the home.  Nothing of the sort has been alleged in the Johansson case.  If you view Christer’s website, you won’t notice anything odd, anything of the sort that obsessive people cannot help but post.  AGAIN: Had they sent Domenic to school, nothing would have happened. 

    2. If I had written “with guns in their holsters” rather than “at gunpoint,” it would have been more accurate, but not less terrible in its effect.

    3. Does Sweden, or does Sweden not, have a law consigning the education of all children to state authority?  Kindly refrain from telling me that this goes “a little too far,” or that “it may be abused.”  It is already a colossal abuse.  We don’t have to get to Kristallnacht, do we?4. Have Swedish citizens who wish to teach their children by their best lights been compelled to flee the country, or have they not? 

    5. Is it true, or is it not, that a pre-school in Stockholm, run by feminists, forbids the children and the teachers from using masculine and feminine pronouns?  And you call Christer Johansson weird?  Is it not true that feminists in Sweden have been calling for the removal of urinals in boys’ bathrooms?  Is it not true that the Swedish minister of education has just called for broader powers to remove children from their homeschooling parents?  What more is needed here, a gun to the head?6. Do you or do you not believe in the God-given liberties of the family, the clan, the locality, and the church?  Do you remember that the officials of the state are the employees of these households, and not their rulers?  I spent some time in Sweden two summers ago.  It is a lovely country.  Over and over, elderly people would tell me, with sadness in their voices, that it was not the Sweden they knew and loved in their youth. 

    • Ulrikecvogel

       

      1.       1. I would like to remind everybody
      that we can only speculate what happened in this family. The term “corporal
      punishment” is a very broad field. However, the EU laws and guidelines, which
      have been spoken of already, do NOT include spanking in the sense of for
      instance a little smack on a child´s bottom who has done something wrong. So I
      think it is safe to assume that in this very case, it was more than just that
      little spank mentioned.

      2.      2. Yes, it does make a big difference
      if something happens to me at gunpoint or while the gun is secured (safety on)
      in a holster. If you approach a policeman for help, let´s say something simple
      like asking for direction, and he turns around and kindly points out the right
      direction, the gun is in the holster. The only reason why the gun is there is
      because he is a policeman and even if he goes out to write parking tickets, he
      hast to have a gun with him (in the EU this means with an extra safety on).
      Another scenario would be that you approach the policeman and he turns around,
      releases the safety and points the loaded ready-to-shoot gun in your face. This
      is “at gunpoint”. You, Mr Esolen, are suggesting that there is hardly a
      difference between those scenarios. Well, for me and probably everybody who has
      ever asked a cop for direction, I´s say there is a huge difference.

      3.      3. You are very right, that Sweden has
      a law (passed by a democratically elected government) which allows homeschooling only in very special cases. Now, I do not want
      to take sides here, since I personally do not have a problem with homeschooling
      if (and we can probably all agree on that) it is in the children´s best
      interest. By complaining and demonizing this law, you have contradicted
      yourself. You keep insisting that the Johansson family has broken now law.
      Well, to put it in simpler words: Homeschooling (in this case) was illegal.
      They did it, so they have broken a law! Whether you find this law appropriate does
      not matter when it comes to the legal side.

      Like a few others here, I would like to ask you to refrain from
      inopportune references.

      4.      4. Again, the family was not hindered emigrating,
      but fleeing from the legal charges. (Yes, you will contradict me here by saying
      that there were no legal charges, but I would ask you to read 3. Again.
      Breaking of a law à legal charges.)

      5.      5. In order to understand the gender
      policy of Egalia school, one has to know that in Swedish, like in many other
      Indo-Germanic languages apart from English, there are two articles. What is “the
      tree” in English is masculine in Swedish and other nouns are feminine, but it
      does not have anything to do with the natural gender. So when you say “the
      students” in English for instance, you are not specific about their gender. You
      are probably talking about boys and girls. Now in other languages, the noun
      student is masculine. So every time one mentions students, it is actually only
      the male students who are meant. Now, because it is faster to only say “students”
      and not “boy-students and girl-students”, many, on a colloquial level, have
      accepted it. In official environments, those countries, however, set value on
      being (politically) correct, for instance by addressing explicitly addressing
      both girls and boys.  Again, I am only
      describing and explaining, without expressing an opinion.

      The urinals, to my knowledge, were removed in many (elementary) schools
      because of hygienic reasons.

      The point, however is that you rant against an intolerant government for
      not allowing parents to raise their children differently, not according to
      mainstream or government values. Yet, you do not tolerate other parents who
      want to educate their children not according to mainstream if they do not share
      your opinion. So, to break it down, it is good to protest against and educate
      differently than the Swedish government if you do it according to the Esolen-way,
      but it is not OK to protest and educate differently than the Swedish government
      if you do it in the Egalia-way?

      6.      6. Liberties of the family are
      important, but they are not only the rights of parents, children are part of
      the families, too and they also have rights. Personally, I also think the
      liberty of the church is important. I myself went to a catholic kindergarten
      and enjoyed religion class all through elementary and high school. I am very
      grateful for growing up where I was able to choose this way. However, I do not
      believe the church (or more realistically one church or religious group) should
      force their views on other people.

  • Pingback: Obama Against the Church

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Dear Ulrike:

    The ban on homeschooling went into effect later on.  It hardly seems fair to charge Mr. Johansson with breaking the law, when the interpretation of the law then in efffect was precisely the issue.  Again, you are tacitly admitting that the decision to homeschool was the sole reason for this disaster.  If the Johanssons had sent Domenic to school — if they had capitulated to the State — we would never have heard anything of them again.

    Children do not belong to the State, at all.  They belong, in the first instance, to their parents; they are not, and cannot be, autonomous individuals.  Obviously the parents are not to be tyrants; if they put their children at risk of their lives or their limbs, or expose them to gross moral turpitude, as I’ve said, the parents have ipso facto abrogated their rights as parents.  But aside from that, no, I do not believe that the State has any business intruding itself into family life.  It is an intimate part of the good of marriage that one be able to raise the children born of one’s love, and to raise them to carry on that vision of the good that one has been granted.  I am a Roman Catholic; I have a right to raise my children accordingly, because that is inextricable from my dignity as a human being, even before it is a matter of religious liberty.  The children too have a right to such embeddedness in the community of the family, extending through the generations, and the Church. 

    No, I do not agree with your statement that parents should be allowed to teach their children at home only if it can be determined that such is in the best interests of the child.  You are again making the statist mistake, separating the interests of the child from the good of the family and the prescriptive rights of the parents.  No such separation can be made.  We are not talking, here, about the utter negligence, failure to teach the children at all — since it cannot be seen how that failure could possibly be to the good of the family.  We are talking about different visions of what is good, and about good things that are incommensurate with one another.  No government official, whether sent by a tyrannical monarch or by a tyrannical majority, has the right to judge between these visions.

    No, I do not believe that children should be educated according to my way.  I have written copiously about these matters.  I come close to believing that there should be as many curricula as there are schools and homes.  I find a government-mandated curriculum, even apart from the question of homeschooling, detestable.  It also violates the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.  If the people of Sundsvall want to teach a certain curriculum, so long as the general subjects of study are covered, Stockholm should have nothing to say about it.

    The school in Stockholm mandated an unnatural avoidance of masculine and feminine pronouns as applied to PERSONS, like doctors and teachers and suchlike, and also to one another.

    Hygiene was used as an excuse for the removal of urinals, but the real (and admitted) reason was that the feminists didn’t want the boys to learn “dominance”.  Of course, the bit about hygiene was simple nonsense.  When boys use a urinal, no part of their bodies touch anything. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    To Emil: I believe all the things which my Church teaches, because God has revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Those teachings include what I have been trying to affirm about the good of the family, and about the parents being the principal teachers of their children, who may, if they so choose, hire teachers for a portion of the task. 

    I am saying that any law which seizes from parents their right to teach their children by their best lights is evil.  It is already tyrannical.  It astonishes me that you cannot see the tyranny involved.  If anyone can point to a single one of the Founding Fathers who would agree with you and not with me, I’d like to hear of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    I have been thinking more and more about this.  The new Swedish law specifically rules out homeschooling for “theological and philosophical reasons.”  In other words, if a Catholic family lives where there aren’t enough people to form a parochial school, that family will have to send the children to the aggressively secular state school.  So the law specifically intends to crush freedom of religion, just as our horrible Secretary of State wishes to do — to crush it into a nice neat little box called “freedom of worship,” limited to church services.  By that standard, there is “freedom of worship” in Saudi Arabia.  Quebec is doing the same damned thing, and we homeschoolers in the United States — we who have long memories for such things, for obvious reasons — know quite well that there are secularists (Rep. George Miller, anyone?) who would cheerfully outlaw all homeschooling, and would make all private schools conform to the pattern of the state schools in all things, including curriculum.  Does anyone believe in liberty? 

    • William

      I am in favor of home schooling, but I think it’s the responsibility of the wider society to make sure ALL children are safe, whether at home or at school. I would be concerned about children being home schooled within a cult such as the David Koresh cult. I’ve tried to learn more about the Domenic Johansson case. One of my main concerns is that he was being taken to India without vaccinations (I don’t think the parents believe in immunization) and might well have died there. It’s one thing to be unvaccinated in Sweden where many deadly diseases have been all but stamped out, but quite another to be unvaccinated in India. I found this temperate quote on another discussion (I think the author means the “Maranatha” movement, which has been disbanded, but continues under other names):I posted the first thread a year ago – I was outraged when I read the original case and I still don’t believe that it was right for the police to storm the plane and remove a 7 year old in the way that they did – however some of the stuff I have read since makes me wonder whether the homeschooling aspect may have been a red herring and that there was more to this case than met the eye.I read later on that the parents are strongly involved in the Marantha movement (many would call it a cult) and the ‘charity work’ was a move to one of its closed compounds in India where they believe strongly in “biblical corporal punishment” which is a part of their education process as well as an education based on the literal interpretation of the Bible. The group were banned from home schooling in 1998 in Stockholm because of physical abuse and refusal to follow the national curriculum . I think that the possibility of the child being taken to a cult-like compund where children may be physically abused – may have given groundsI remember reading Dominic’s father’s blog online where the family presented their child as having special needs and unable to cope with the “stress” of mixing with other children in school. This was the reason I beleive that they gave the kommun for homeschooling. Yet the parents had never had their child assessed of diagnosed with any special needs – and in addition the subsequent assessments since he has been in foster care not not show any special needs or disability. He has been attending school without problems and doing well according to the reports from the court cases. I think this was taken up in the County Court case. In many ways this was not a ‘normal’ homeschooling family – most homeschoolers make a big effort for their kids to mix with other kids – yet this child had little or no contact with other children. I believe that the parents’ insistance that he should not mix with other children also possibly gave Social Services social grounds.I also read that both the County Court and the Court of Appeal have upheld the decision to take the child into case – the parents with suport from some US homeschooling associations has brought in some ‘big hitter’ lawyers and are in the process of taking their cases to the Supreme Court in Sweden.It was also in the news in April this year that the parents and their US lawyer attempted to storm the school that the child currently attends – I am not sure that the parents/ lawyer really helped their case by taking this action at the school in front of the other children to get the boy in April.So I think there is possibly a lot more going on here.

      • Suzanna

        Please take another look at the David Koresh cult. The allegations of child abuse were the baseless rant of one disenchanted woman. And the compund was an irritant to the local Southern Baptists who do not drink or dance. Essentially the situation allowed Janet Reno to take out a Church and no American did a thing. It was practice for Leviathan to take out other Churches, maybe yours next.

        • Wtkm77

          Suzanna, abuse of children by the David Koresh cult is well-documented and is based on the accounts of the children themselves and other cult members. It is certainly not something manufactured by Janet Reno. Children were subjected to 15 minute beatings and sexual abuse. The Johansson parents are members of Christopher C. Warren’s cult, the New Covenant Church of God (it has been know by many names over the past several years.) While abuse in this particular cult at least appears to be less severe, Warren has several “wives” and “married” one when she was 15. This same woman describes being made to wear only a skirt when she was with Warren at the age of 12 to 14. The “wives” are encouraged to indulge in odd sexual behavior that supposedly leads them to see Warren in one another. The behavior is similar to young Domenic’s behavior with other children. 

  • Fr. J

    Professor Esolen, I was recommend the book The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau as an alternative to the Da Vinci Code. It appears very Catholic and we are the good guys for once. It begins with a Catholic being burned at the stake for her Catholic faith. The heroine is a Dominican nun. So far it looks good. Do you know anything of the book or author? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

      Hi Father — No, I don’t.  My sense is that most contemporary fiction is pretty thin and lame stuff.  But how about the books by Marilynne Robinson?  She is a genuine writer — a devout Presbyterian living in Iowa.  I’ve taught Gilead, which I recommend very highly, and I also recommend Home.  She has not a feminist bone in her body; the books are not political, but deeply human, and very well written.  The main characters in both books are male — and she is one of the few women writers who is superb at drawing male characters (Sigrid Undset, Willa Cather, George Eliot, Jane Austen).

  • William

    Does anyone have any information about the kid whose parents named him “Adolf Hitler”? He and his three younger siblings have all been taken into care. His parents also planned to homeschool him.

    • Fr. J

       So all homeschoolers are Nazi’s? Ridiculous.

      • William

        Hardly. So not all homeschooled children taken into care are “kidnapped” simply because they’re homeschooled. 

        • Fr. J

           So how many unjust kidnappings does it take before you become concerned?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    William: You’ve got a lot of maybes in your posting here.  Maybe this, maybe that … Yet there is no doubt that if the family had sent the boy to school, they would never have taken him from them.  They had to make an example of the Johanssons.  If the immunizations were all, they would have said to the family, “Give the boy these shots, and then you’re free to go.”  No, I think that the OTHER issues were red herrings — they sure do smell like red herrings.  If there’s a real reason that people would respect, you give it; you don’t bother pointing out moronic things like the boy’s cavities in two baby teeth.  It is also telling that the country has outlawed homeschooling — and I say we don’t have to look much farther than that, to assess the motives of the government. 

    It is not possible to ensure the moral and physical safety of every child.  Frankly, our public schools in the United States are breeding grounds of moral and physical hazard.  What counts as “safety” for the secularist, I find soulless and destructive.  So we return to the prescriptive rights of the parents — the family — to seek the good for their children as they see it.  The moral harm occasioned when the State intrudes into these matters is vast, because every family then is compromised; in fact the proper relation between the family and the State is reversed. 

    There are, of course, more important things too than safety — every virtue ever known is more important than safety.  When I was speaking at Yale a couple of weeks ago, I tried very hard to introduce notions of sexual virtue to a couple of libertine students.  One of my interlocutors ended our discussion by calling out, “Safe sex!”  Which has been a most dangerous saying indeed.

    • William

      Tony Esolen writes “William: You’ve got a lot of maybes in your posting here.  Maybe this, maybe that … Yet there is no doubt that if the family had sent the boy to school, they would never have taken him from them. ”

      You don’t know that. You’re wildly speculating while claiming an absolute certainty about the situation that you cannot possibly have. Social services cannot tell the world anything at all due to confidentiality laws protecting the family. You are only hearing what the parents choose to make public. There is no way that either of us knows exactly what the real concerns are. I have a hard time believing that home schooling alone was the root of the problem. It has been suggested that the parents were members of a cult that practiced harsh physical discipline. Some of these cults deny medical interventions and isolate members (for example, by home schooling children) from the wider society so that cult members can be continually indoctrinated. If this is the case, the home schooling and lack of vaccinations (even when going to a tropical country?) would be symptoms of cult involvement, rather than stand-alone reasons to take the little kid into care. My view that there might be details unknown to us is a lot more reasonable than your unrestrained claims that the entire state of Sweden is involved in a vindictive conspiracy against this unfortunate family. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Dear William: But the entire State of Sweden has just made it illegal to teach your child at home for philosophical and theological reasons.  That’s a tremendous evil in itself.  A State that would do that is certainly capable of cruelty to this individual family.  I’ve tried also to point out that when it comes to weirdness, Swedes seem perfectly capable of advocating a lot of it in their state-approved schools.  And no, I emphatically do not believe that a child should be removed from his parents for any cause other than physical abuse or gross moral turpitude.  I daresay that anybody could concoct a case for some vague “harm” that might occur — on those grounds no one’s child would be safe. 

  • Pingback: Ruth Institute Blog » Leviathan Groaning

  • Pingback: et cetera 20 | SallieBorrink.com

  • Joshgertin

    True Horror 101

  • William

    The Johansson parents are members of Christopher C. Warren’s cult, the New Covenant Church of God (it has been know by many names over the past several years.) Warren has several “wives” and “married” one when she was just-turned 15. This same woman describes being made to wear only a skirt when she was with Warren at the age of 12 to 14. The “wives” are encouraged to indulge in odd sexual behavior that supposedly leads them to see Warren in one another. The behavior is similar to young Domenic’s behavior with other children. 

MENU