Boys, Porn and Education: What Can Be Done?

Problems are oftentimes more obvious than solutions. In a recent article, I wrote on the obstacle that Internet pornography introduces to masculine education by injuring the sense of wonder and the sacred. I recalled how the effects of this “drug” were ones that my old boarding-school headmaster was reticent to allow into the culture of a Catholic academic community; and that, as a headmaster myself now, I am faced with the same concerns exponentially increased since, nowadays, virtually all boys have been harmed by pornography. But this is not to suggest that those who have been wounded are to be thrown to the wolves.

In response to several commentators’ queries on what can be done about the effects of pornography and its interference with an authentic education, I offer three measures that my teaching staff and I employ—strategies that work with boys who have been victimized by a society swallowed up in the swirl of sexual perversion. At the outset it should be acknowledged that some of these courses are extreme and difficult to practice—but extraordinary problems call for extraordinary solutions.

If the Internet Causes You to Sin…
One way to eliminate the lure and lull of Internet pornography is to eliminate the Internet. At our school, a policy of technological poverty is mandatory and unmitigated. Boys do not have access to computers or cell phones. Instead they read in books and write on paper. Though the general purpose of this rule is not simply to avoid the presence of Internet pornography, it does achieve that particular purpose. Disconnected from the web, boys do not encounter pornographic imagery as often as they may when they are online, and certainly the temptation to access it is eradicated.

Digital technology is designed to distract, and online pornography is chief among these distractions. Provide the young with retreat. Give students eternal standards and values by which they may judge material conditions and systems in an environment that does not have to compete with the cacophonies and temptations of the Internet. Let them learn the proper use of these devices after learning the proper use of their minds and hearts. It is better to foster natural faculties instead of losing them to bad and addictive habits—like pornography. Young people tend toward abuse. Therefore, give them the chance to fortify themselves in intellect, principle, and discipline by removing them from the sway of online evils.

Though the Internet offers a multitude of goods, it is not necessarily a tool that is appropriate for the young, especially given the popularity and prevalence of Internet pornography. The power of the virtual world is one that renders it especially dangerous to those who are not yet equipped to wield its power. The Internet is the chief source of information today, and the chief source of pornography. Sometimes the baby should go with the bathwater. A person must be properly formed before he can make proper use of the tools available to him. The art of education is about the mysteries of internal and external reality, making virtual reality best left out of the picture together with its aspects that retard education, like pornography.

Talk Porn
Silence on the subject of pornography is among pornography’s greatest strengths. Few feel at ease speaking about pornography, so it goes unspoken; which is how it goes unhindered. Comfort in conversation, however, is often within the control of elders when speaking to youngsters. So long as the adult is confident and comfortable, that confidence and comfort can extend to a young adult. In my experience, matter-of-fact dialogue about pornography with teenage boys is met with a kind of gratitude rather than grief. Pornography is a given in the lives of boys and, if treated as such without hesitation or fear, adults gain a rhetorical advantage in discussion by dispensing the need for awkwardness. Pornography is taboo, but not as a subject of frank debate with those who are targeted by it and have been tainted by it.

Just as parents and teachers generally do not hold back from talking straightforwardly to youth in their care regarding homosexual acts, abortion, and other wrongs rampant in our culture, so too should pornography join these topics; especially since young men are more likely to encounter and be drawn towards pornography than any other given moral corruption. To avoid it is a failure in responsibility and a denial of the condition that all boys are in: a state of damage caused by the widespread violation of human holiness. Pornography is high among the diseases of the day and it must be addressed, even at the risk of some embarrassment.

Pornography is, at its core, a lie; and a surefire way to combat falsehood is plain, honest truth. Conversation about pornography that is blunt and levelheaded can repel its affects more effectively than any parental filter. Given that everyone has been exposed to pornography, Catholics have a grave duty to expose pornography and take it on as the enemy it is by talking about it thoroughly and unapologetically, especially to the young.

Teach Wonder
The final measure to correct the contortions of pornography is, in a way, the most difficult because it involves restoring, to a degree, that which is unrecoverable. Pornography destroys innocence, the inherent tragedy being that innocence cannot be reinstated. Once it is lost, it is gone. Some of the qualities of innocence, however, can be regained. Wonder is one of those attributes, and one that is essential in the art of education. To an adolescent whose virginity has been broken by pornography, wonder can seem a foolish, foreign thing. Teachers must, by example and demonstration, teach wonder.

Adolescence is a restless age that burns like fire, where the truths of childhood are somehow lost. The adolescent feels suddenly estranged and filled with longings for that inexplicable something, that ultimate good that has not been reached. Beauty becomes inaccessible, the material of impossible dreams and desires. This is the vulnerability that pornography takes advantage of, casting souls into jaded despair or doubt.

Nevertheless, it is an age primed for wonder, though so often robbed of the possibility to experience wonder purely. The role of educators is to renew and reanimate the activity of wonder. Wonder is a way for students to cope with their inward contradictions and help them comprehend the mysteries they are drawn to contemplate through wisdom. Teachers must reintroduce the act of wondering, and assist in providing what T. S. Eliot called the objective correlative, giving form and meaning to things that are sullied through the experience of pornography. Teaching wonder involves a transparent reaction to the poetic, openly savoring the sublimity of creation and emotion. There arises in adolescents an appetite for principles as well as for pleasures. This double preoccupation is often an effort to discover who they are and how they fit into their surroundings. Wonder wrestles with realities, and as such, is the reverse and remedy of pornography’s unreal revels.

Editor’s note: The image above titled “Boy Writing” was painted by Albert Anker in 1908.

Sean Fitzpatrick

By

Sean Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and the Headmaster of Gregory the Great Academy. He lives in Scranton, PA with his wife and family of four.

  • St JD George

    Common sense but good wisdom Sean. I just watched Burn’s show on prohibition and I reflected again on how we as a society sometimes react with zeal at ann object and not the behavior and choices made. The Internet is a tool of course and not going away, but restricting along with frank discussion is the only way, including more than just biology but explaining Gods intended purpose for sex between a man and a woman in the Union of marriage. Included in the frank talk also needs to be a discussion both about cultural immorality of what I call soft porn they see around them every day.

  • RonCz

    Just use an internet filter, let the kids learn how to learn from the internet…Khans academy, faster searches then library, tutorials and most important in learning is the forum. Without using the forum you can not ask tough questions that even professors don’t have an answer. The sooner they start the better ahead they are…

    When I was growing up, my church had nude breasted women and men genitals on the ceiling (since taken down) and as a kid I realized we once lived in a society when beauty was looked at as God’s awesome work.

    • St JD George

      Good point about filters. I’m also amazed at our upside down society that embraces porn but wants to put a scarlet letter on a mother who wants and needs to breast feed her young child discretely in public. There is hardly a more beautiful act of love and yet many react as if they were terrorists with a bomb.

      • BillinJax

        Key word “discretely”. And I agree.
        The corruption of a young and innocent mind is a terrible tragedy as it results in an adult conscience void of modesty and respect for virtue.

        • St JD George

          I’ve never seen a young mother who wasn’t modest in that regard, mindful of her child’s needs yet aware of society’s attitudes. There is one who represents those who prefer Mom’s not so so they can get back into the workforce more quickly where they truly belong, but we beat that horse enough this week.

          • Martha

            Amen. I think that women nursing in public (discreetly, yes!) has redeeming qualities. My husband says that it reminds one of the purpose of the female ‘accoutrements,’ and shows women in the proper light of life-giving beauty and dignity.

            Concerning porn, as a mother who seems to be constantly nursing a newborn, I like to think that the older boys of the family have a different perception of the female body than the mainstream.

  • Mom of 4

    Last week, I read Mr. Fitzpatrick’s first article aloud to my 14-year-old son, and it sparked a good and honest conversation. I have been talking to him about pornography for years, and frank discussion has helped him tremendously. He sits at a lunch table every day with 8th grade boys who talk without shame about the pornography they watched the night before–while my son may not see it, he has certainly heard all about it. And all of this in a Catholic grade school, where the administration and teachers live with blinders about what is destroying an entire generation of boys (and girls, for that matter). What is saving my son so far is my extremely frank approach to pornography and my willingness to discuss and explain every foul thing he learns about. My heart aches for these kids today–they don’t stand a chance.

    • Mickey

      Amen. Mom of boys, here. God help us all.

    • zcastaux

      Why is your kid still in that school? And does the Head know about it? What do the P and C say? Are they watching it (the gross stuff) too? I met a mom long ago who had to get her boy out of a leading boys’ grammar school, Grade 6, on account of foul language every day (teachers powerless to stop it), and she chose a small Christian evangelical school, as having much better supervision of ‘values’. WHY is your boy still there?

  • Major914

    Truly, education of children is generally diminished by the internet. The medium itself is a very real part of the problem, and the absence of real barriers to publication is another aspect tending to lower quality substantially.

    Children benefit from being spared contact with the internet, and television–the idea that they miss out on anything of value this way is ill-judged.

    As to pornography, when it does become necessary to speak of it: emphasizing the great sadness and anguish of fathers for their daughters involved in the making of pornography, and the deep disgust and alienation of a husband toward his wife if it were to be discovered that she had participated in the making of pornography, are remedial points of view that should be held up to adolescent boys in danger of falling into pornographic temptation.

    • Cap America

      I agree with the above. My family has no TV set and we read for fun. Being TV-free is a major positive impact on kids and on the creation of family harmony.

      Being TV-free is really the one decision that’s flowered and blessed us in many ways.

      It’s not that hard to pop off the cord! Free yourself! 🙂

      • Major914

        I quit watching television 30 years ago, and I haven’t missed a single thing. The kids benefitted tremendously too–you’re right on!

  • Cap America

    A great article. I particularly agree with dropping the technology.

    Many years back, we were hyped up and sold a bill of goods about how “Technology” would make learning E-Z and effortless.

    Why study? The computer will do it FOR you. (Yeah, and sleeping on top of a book “osmossifizes” its contents into your skull cap!)

    Kids from grades K-6 have a tough enough time doing the basic things—and tying their shoes—without adding the complications of learning and fixing computers and software.

    READING is THE cornerstone; MATHEMATICS is its companion. And learning how to write and to speak well and express one’s self is vital.

    There’s time for computers in High School. AND REMEMBER, most kids on their own have an interest in bright, flashy computers and can teach themselves how to run the things.

  • cestusdei

    We could as a society decide to purge the internet of pornography and censor that rather then censor virtue which is commonplace now.

  • Paul

    As well-meant as this essay is, I am afraid that it is impossible to keep pornography from the children. One may have success at best in a school environment, however virtually every home has a computer or some kind (i.e. smart phones, tablets & laptops) and it is often in the secluded home-environment that children have access to adult, x-rated materials.
    Good, proper education of any child is a simultaneous, multi-prong approach. It consists of home, school and any extracurricular activities.

    • MamaK

      It is not “impossible.” We have a home computer, but it is in a very public place in our home. The kids use it mainly for school work and online classes (we homeschool) and an adult is always around when the computer is on. We do not have smartphones or iphones or tablets because it is not necessary (that’s the key word) for what we do and how we live. A couple of basic cell phones are sufficient and they are shared by the family. The laptop is used for my husband’s work and no one (except me) can use it without permission. No one gets his/her own phone or laptop until they go to college. We’ve opted out of extracurricular activities that are not monitored in some way or have definite structure (no dead time). This strategy has worked well so far for us. Of course, a lot of prayer for guidance goes with this.

      • ForChristAlone

        well done

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    Also applies to those who are not boys! Grown men are also in need of *wonder*. Above all a grasp of the true source and calling of masculinity.

  • grzybowskib

    At Wyoming Catholic College, the students are banned from using the Internet and cell phones. And students and alumni have said they’ve found it to be refreshing. Not just to have no access to porn, but to be rid of a huge source of distraction for many people.

    • Ladasha Smithson

      That wouldn’t work at any other college that teaches anything harder than liberal arts though.

      • grzybowskib

        They do have a very challenging liberal arts curriculum there though. It’s a classical liberal arts curriculum. So they’re getting into the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Euclid, learning to speak Latin, learning about Sacred music, etc. They also do a lot of outdoor leadership and safety training too. And you have to have a clear mind to work through all of that. So there’s no lack of a challenge there academically. 🙂

        • Just a lack of challenge in any skills that would count in engineering, medicine, or law- the only three professions that still pay a living wage.

          • Kaitlan

            Just wanted to say – mathematics is a liberal art, and engineering relies on it to live and breathe. I have my BA in mathematics and I have a worthwhile and lucrative career in the actuarial field. Limiting students to narrow fields is ignorant.

            • In mathematics, there is always a correct answer. In what way is that a liberal art?

              • Richard A

                Mathematics is one of the subjects of the quadrivium. Since the invention of the university, it’s been an integral part of a liberal education.

                • I would no more classify it as a liberal subject than I would classify physics as such. There is no liberty in the answer.

                  But perhaps that’s because when I see the word liberal, I see the abuse of liberty.

                  • julianmalcolm

                    Liberal Arts is actually a fixed term. I think you might be confusing it with liberalism or libertarianism or something American and modern I would guess. Richard references the quadrivium. That might be worth checking out for some background on how Liberal Arts works. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01760a.htm

                    • I even have a problem with that definition, thanks to the way freedom has been abused in the United States.

                      From that article: “The expression *artes liberales*, chiefly used during the Middle Ages , does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Latin *liber*, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the *artes illiberales*, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism.”

                      Those of us who are “artes illiberales” in America know what happens when you free the intellect from economic concerns: you also end up freeing the intellect from moral concerns.

                      The curse of luxury, the curse of being rich enough not to care
                      about economic concerns, brings with it a corruption that attacks all the other morals as well.

                    • zcastaux

                      Are you SERIOUS? Could you just go back to names such as Diogenes? (Too difficult?) Exactly WHICH leisured classes are you trying to attack? Are you actually aware that a whole host of medieval/ late Baroque saints were from leisured families? (I won’t bore you with the lists…) they often had to work hard to administer family estates (cf. St Magdalen of Canossa), but HONESTLY, I am beginning to suspect you are simply a badly-disguised Trotskyist, screaming about the evils of ‘inherited wealth’ as such…

                    • ” Are you actually aware that a whole host of medieval/ late Baroque saints were from leisured families?”

                      Yes I am, but I’m talking NOW, and the realities of working class families, not what some feudal lord needed to “work” at. I suspect that yes, whipping servants was quite hard work.

                  • zcastaux

                    I guess, politely, that you do not have any understanding of ‘pure math’, since it is the ‘freedom’ of higher mathematics that makes it so attractive to brilliant minds. It sounds like you stopped at grade-school math, somewhere. Along with a rather puritanical view of freedom as incredibly ‘dangerous’. And even more: nowadays teh only debate in HR economics ids how to make ‘knowledge workers’ (‘techies’, nurses, accountants etc) cheaper and more enslaved; how to replace them by robotics, outsourcing and more. So it won’t be all that m uch longer (several decades??) before the mid-range STEM jobs will also start to fade…

                    • Actually, I stopped with discrete math as that was all the higher I needed to go for software engineering. And I’d rather be a puritan than a slave to sin.

                      For now though- mid-range STEM jobs are the only thing somebody like me has to feed my family, and I consider the taxes I pay for research into making it go away to be counterproductive.

      • R. K. Ich

        “harder than liberal arts…”

        Liberal arts, as once taught 200 years ago, would reduce most self-important “grads”, in the current culture of degree-mills and reduced learning standards, to tears. In fact, most wouldn’t be able to pass entrance exams. Knowledge, character, virtue, facility with Latin and Greek: this was the stuff of higher learning.

        • These days, in the real world outside of academia, the ability to find a solution to a problem quickly and efficiently is far more valuable. Removing the internet will only create an entire generation of unemployable liberal arts degree holders, fit for no task greater than asking the question “you want fries with that?”

          • HigherCalling

            Some of the most horrible words in any language:
            practicality, efficiency, utilitarian, pragmatic, progressive…

            http://gkcdaily.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-revival-of-philosophywhy.html

            • Liberal….

              • Matt Alexander

                Sigh . . .

                If you had studied anything beyond utilitarian BS you would know that good “liberal arts” does not produce a “liberal”. Law is not a solid option unless you are at the top of your class (which is not possible without critical thinking and strong language skills, something a liberal arts education provides). No new medicine comes from people that specialize early (though they may or may not have a liberal arts background). As for engineers, my classmates are incapable of communicating or solving abstract problems — even in mathematics. Couple that with no English-speaking professors in most universities and you have a high demand and no supply for American engineering.

                As far as “finding a solution quickly and efficiently”, everyone has the internet. No one is going to pay someone because they know how to use an I-Phone to look up pictures of cats or videos from The Daily Show.

                • And yet every liberal I run into, especially in the church, touts their education in the liberal arts; especially those educated by Jesuits, as if they’re better than everybody else.

                  • Benjamin Warren

                    Again, the Morril Act, and ultimately democracy, ruined the Ivy League and all advanced education. Healthy societies are built on more social stratification than that found in a democracy of any age. Democracies are intrinsically hostile or slack in regard to excellence of all types, including academic excellence and the study of the liberal arts. Aristotle is not revered in democracy because he is a philosopher. No doubt you’re an excellent man, but if you dispute this, it is a sign that you are not advanced in the study of political philosophy.

                    • The Ivy League and social stratification is, ultimately, no more than welfare for the rich; the political reverse of Robin Hood.

                    • Benjamin Warren

                      Federal handouts for education, which apply to the Ivy League, are welfare for the upper middle class. Is that what you mean? Otherwise, it is hard for me to see the sense in what you are saying.

                    • Having men who are in luxury and do not produce, yields only a class of men that everybody else has to give up a portion of what they earn to support. We’d be better off without academics, who only seem to produce arguments against tradition anyway.

                    • Benjamin Warren

                      I’d be delighted if every education penny in gov’t spending were cut. This country desperately needs to have far fewer schools. That said, society will always have some intelligent people in it, and they will need knowledge of various types, even if it is a society like Cuba and the only subjects on offer are utilitarian.

                      A healthy society needs a healthy upper class. Not snobs, playboys, nor spoiled women, but an industrious, wise, and virtuous upper class. Beautiful people with virtue and intelligence are needed to guide the ordinary people in the ways of virtue and Catholicism. Without such, the poor will be wrecked. And democracy, as Plato, Aristotle, Wellington, and Karl Marx all agreed, is the road to socialism. That’s about as broad a spectrum as you can get without including little d- democrats themselves.

              • R. K. Ich

                … is a beautiful word. As the word gay is. The devil hijacks it and you drop it like a hot potato.

                Christian is also a hijacked word–shall we stop using it for ourselves?

                • I have. I am a Catholic, not a Christian.

                  • R. K. Ich

                    “not a Christian…”
                    That is truly an ignorant statement of the prime order. And a sentiment thankfully no educated Catholic has ever made. The army of Apostles, Church Fathers, Doctors, Divines, and Theologians of the Church Catholic would be crestfallen at such an assertion, as if Christian and Catholic were opposing terms. Every pope in the history of the Church would be astonished.

                    I was just thumbing through Hillaire Belloc’s “The Great Heresies” and noticed how often he equated the term Catholic with Christian.

                    I wonder: since Catholic is also a hijacked term, where to now shall you retreat?

                    I’m not trying to be antagonistic here, but Crisis Magazine usually harbors far more astute and perceptive Catholics — so I’m actually dumbfounded how you could say that.

                    • At this point I’m headed towards utter despair. If a year from now we end up with only 5 sacraments instead of 7 due to toleration of evil, I’m not really sure what I’ll do.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Truly non sequitur. I don’t know how you get “tolerate evil” from “being liberally educated”. If stupid bishops decide to reduce the sacraments, you stand as Catholic against them, the world be damned. You gird up your loins like a Christian soldier. That’s what you do.

                    • If you do not know where the Enlightenment has led, to a post-Christian world in which Christ himself is nothing more than the object for ridicule, and why maybe I might be a bit down on those who claim a liberal education can create anything other than more worshiping of liberty instead of worship of God, then no, I can’t help you other than to suggest you get out of your ivory tower and spend some time on skid row.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Funny you should mention that. When I was a young man, I spent significant time ministering to the destitute and drugged-out on the streets of skid row in California. Those poor souls were not a product of liberal learning, not even close. It’s far from the case that a liberal education and acts of mercy are incompatible or at cross-purposes.

                      As for the Enlightenment red herring, liberal education existed centuries prior to that catastrophe. Men can abuse knowledge; men can wreak havoc on the blessing that is leisure and forsake faith. But that’s not the fault of the knowledge. If they divorced virtue from learning, they didn’t understand what liberal learning was to begin with, or simply chose to ignore it.

                    • Those poor souls were the very object of liberal instruction- they were exercising their liberty to the point of their own destruction.

                      And it was St. Thomas Aquinas himself that recommended opening the brothels in Paris.

                    • R. K. Ich

                      Theodore Seeber recommends, because men abuse freedom, the destruction of Liberal Arts education; Thomas Aquinas recommends, for the hardness of men’s hearts, the state allow legalized prostitution.

                      You can empty brothels with training in virtue; you will fill them with its absence.

                      I hope you can see the irony here.

                    • The trouble being of course, that in the United States at least, liberal arts schools are well known for training in vice, not in virtue.

                    • Benjamin Warren

                      You have a point here. Obviously, considering the job market is flooded with cheap degrees like business and communications, liberal arts degrees are a hard sell.

                    • zcastaux

                      Indeed true.. “If they divorced learning from virtue…” Indeed they did not understand the purpose of a truly ‘liberal education’.

          • Simple & Plain

            Easy literature access is definitely a necessity. I guess if a post-secondary institution was going to do it right, they’d have an intranet with extensive journal database access, but no access outside of it.

            • That would be correct, and I’ve argued for it. Someday I’m going to build a netappliance for that; I think it could be done for less than $300 now.

          • Kate

            I really don’t think isolating people from the Internet for 4 years will make them forget how to google.

          • R. K. Ich

            “Removing the internet will only create an entire generation of unemployable liberal arts degree holders …”:

            Balderdash. Granted, not everyone is equally educable in the arts of free men. And it is true, the useful cogs of our society (engineers, techies, etc) have their place and can make a lucrative living; but let’s not pretend the weight of culture can be carried by mere technologists. It is the other class of men and women who gain a large view of their world, their society, and themselves at the root of their education (a term which arguably applies specifically to the liberally educated, not the technically trained), who will better perpetuate those things which endure.

            And they would be undoubtedly the best employees since their authentic education cultivated their clarity of thought, interdisciplinary acuity, temperament of soul, and facility in communication.

            • Freedom does not lead to temperament. Freedom leads to sin.

              • R. K. Ich

                Apparently Christendom and the New Testament has been working with a different definition of freedom than you are currently using.

                Freedom does not lead to sin. It is the house of virtue.

                God is most free, most Sovereign; Jesus was most free, most obedient, most virtuous; Mary, the hand-maiden of our Lord, was born in freedom and walked in liberty. All the justified are sons, not slaves.

                No liberally educated man, whether the naturally virtuous pagan or supernaturally virtuous Christian, will claim freedom is the cause of vice if he truly understands the word and its implications.

                • “No liberally educated man, whether the naturally virtuous pagan or supernaturally virtuous Christian, will claim freedom is the cause of vice if he truly understands the word and its implications.”

                  And that lack of imagination is precisely why freedom WILL cause vice. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing, and freedom is good men tolerating sin and doing nothing about it.

                • zcastaux

                  AMEN! ‘Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty’; Oh, that dear, misunderstood St Paul! Who, as soon as he truly understood freedom, gave it back to Christ as ‘slavery’.

          • Benjamin Warren

            The use of the internet is not much of a skill, and it can be taught under careful supervision. The Morill Act of 1862 deformed U.S. society by equating engineering and agriculture with philosophy and theology, which need a special honor in the structure of society to be widely respected. The solution is to stop calling the study of nursing, communications, and most of what passes for academia “college.” This would effect a partial revolution in society. Forbidding nurses, etc. from wearing the academic cap and gown is also very important.

            • There is no use left in academia. You can get everything in philosophy and theology from an internet search.

              The question is how to discern truth from falsehood, and give what we’ve seen in even Catholic universities, that is now a lost skill.

              • Benjamin Warren

                Not at TAC, UD, Wyoming Catholic, Christendom, etc. These are the true Catholic colleges, and even though some are much better than others, they are all leagues better than Notre Shame, Georgetown, etc. You can’t get everything in philosophy and theology from an internet search. No offense, but you don’t even know what you don’t know. If you haven’t read Aristotle’s definition of definition, you are a little bit ignorant, and it matters.

                The one thing I miss in America is an engineering/computer science school that is Catholic and relatively prestigious. Benedictine and Franciscan just are not up there in academics, and their programs are limited in number.

                • Aristotle is outdated and useless in a world that only prizes the material.

                  • Benjamin Warren

                    Aristotle is critical if we are going to get our society back on track. Whether that is possible is another story. Let’s be frank; America is still careening over the cliff.

                • zcastaux

                  I am not sure if you are aware that the destruction of Catholic education in some of the ‘harder subjects’, such as Medicine and Biology/ Physics, as well as in Law and many other social sciences, was largely and rapidly carried out in one of its major historical and intellectual centres, Paris (France), within a couple of years after the close of Vatican II. The destruction was TOTAL, and was sealed by the so-called May 1968 ‘revolution’: the Paris Catholic University schools/ laboratories had ALREADY been closed and the professors dismissed. Catholic ‘higher education’ as such then ceased to legally exist in France, just as ‘Catholic nations’ in the whole world also very soon ceased. It was therefore very easy to dismantle Catholic structures in education around the world, step by step; in Latin American universities, in Australian Jesuit colleges, and in the good ole USA…From 1965-67 in Paris, until now… On and on. Etc.

          • zcastaux

            Look, I really can’t take much more of this mindless, I mean, really thoughtless drivelling…. WHERE is your MIND actually located? What was Einstein doing in all those spare moments when he wasn’t dabbling with internet? (Got it?) Can you ask yourself, just for a minute… What EXACTLY does the process of COGITATION consist of? (You don’t know, right? Big words?) The thought process does NOT require you to hit buttons… but to THINK. Learning to think, away from button-pressing, did not drive Einstein into Macdonalds, or make him unemployable. You CAN, yes, you CAN think without a Spellcheck over-writing everything you do… Yes, you really can. Einstein could. Oh baby, Edison could, Pasteur could; you can, too.

            • Einstein and Pasteur did not have to deal with globalization of mass consumerism. We live in a time of poverty compared to them, for all our technical wizardry has done is make us slaves unable to afford to be dilletantes.

    • Charles Ryder

      As a completely orthodox Catholic who not only supports the Liberal Arts but who actually reads the Great Books, I have to say that this ban is a miserable idea. We need a better alternative to the mainstream Catholic universities than these “fortress schools” that think they can form young Catholic men and women by shutting out the world. This fortress strategy won’t work.

      • Meredith

        It’s not just liberal arts majors who find technology to be a distraction. There are plenty of elite tech people who take pains to limit the intrusion of the Internet into their lives. See this article about Steve Jobs, who wouldn’t let his kids use the iPad: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/fatherhood/11088973/Apples-Steve-Jobs-was-concerned-about-his-childrens-gadget-use.html

        Productivity gurus write article after article warning you not to check your email first thing in the morning: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/06/most-productive-people/

        I attended Christendom College, which did not allow internet in the dorms, but had it in the library. I was incredibly grateful that I had to walk to the library to go online – I had, and still have, a very hard time avoiding procrastination via the internet. My room became a mental haven where I could concentrate on my studies… if I was going to procrastinate, I could daydream, read a book or magazine, or draw, or write poetry, or talk to a friend, but I couldn’t go down the rabbit hole of reading Cracked or getting into a brawl in the comments on some lefty news site.

        • Charles Ryder

          I don’t have a T.V. I don’t have an IPhone, Blackberry or even a cell phone. But I do use the Internet for research and to get the news. For a college to ban access to the Internet to young adults is buying into fear, scrupulosity and retreat. This sort of cultural retreat not only smacks of cultism but it simply will not be successful. It’s a fortress mentality that doesn’t go with the New Evangelization.

          I don’t know how old Steve jobs kids were when he limited their access to the Internet. But limiting access is not the same as prohibiting it for young adults from 18 – 22 years old. Besides, If Steve Jobs thought the Internet was so intrusive, he shouldn’t have made money providing tools that access it. It reminds me of Madonna banning her kids from watching T.V. It was fine for her to get rich corrupting other people’s kids when she peddled her trash on MTV.

          • Meredith

            You know, I actually agree with you for the most part! And yet, I am unwilling to condemn Wyoming Catholic, whose combination of the liberal arts and nature immersion has always intrigued me. Look, I hardly think we’re in danger of having an entire generation of Catholic young people abandon STEM fields to learn to speak Latin, ride horses, and navigate through the wilderness. But if a young adult wants to voluntarily submit to a four year retreat from tech in order to get a certain type of education, who are we to judge? (to coin a phrase.) Besides, the school’s website says that the students have access to the local public library, so presumably it will not be impossible for them to use the internet if they really want to.

          • zcastaux

            Yes, you are just starting to get it… Some of the people who make big-time money out of this stuff DO know how bad it is… Yep, they DO ban their own precious kids from using it. You bet they do! So you need to be very very careful, and very very aware…

  • montanajack1948

    It seems to me that Mr. Fitzpatrick has given us a kind of triptych of moral formation appropriate for dealing with much more than pornography: intentionality, honesty, and a cultivation of wonder. Thank you for this article.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Indeed! Beautiful, helpful, inspiring article. I thank him for his articles on this pressing subject. Those students have a great, courageous man (Fitzpatrick) to call Headmaster. We Catholic Christians need more articles like these exposing the evils of pornography & the healing of the wounds it causes. Way too many suffering souls, including mine, affected by pornography. Christ the Light shines & exposes the darkness of sin. He has conquered sin & its wage (death). Thanks to our Savior, the slavery of pornography will see its own End.

  • Paul S.

    I couldn’t agree more. I went to a similar boys academy (St. Louis de Montfort Aacademy, Herndon, PA) and they made sure all of their computers for students were not connected to the internet. That’s the only way. You can talk to teenage boys until you are blue in the face about how bad pornography is, but the best way to fight against the sins of the flesh is to flee from them, especially at that age. I wish more schools understood this. St. Gregory’s is blessed to have such a good headmaster.

  • Guest

    I have taught high school students in both Catholic and public schools. Currently, I work in a public high school where cell phone use is rampant inside and outside the classroom.
    We offer no formation programs for the students. None. In fact, American progressives have ensured that no formation will ever occur because to them it smacks of brainwashing, authority, and is restrictive of ‘the child’s’ natural goodness.
    Ha ha!
    The kids are amazed that I, one of their role models, don’t slough off pornography or pre-marital sex. I think what is missing in many of our young men is a lack of teaching about how women should be treated: respectfully.
    “Barnes,” I say, “Go home and tell your mother you love her.”
    “Klein, be nice to your kid sister today.”
    “Well, kids, tonight I am going to visit my mom.”
    But, without any type of school wide formation program, there is very little real internal pressure between peers to avoid such vices. So, you have a leg up where you work. As for me, I tell the boys and girls straight up how Christian moral teaching promises us more than God’s blessings and promises of heaven or the threat of hell. No, they understand things like “This is how you will ruin your life. Let me paint a vivid picture to you.”

  • I like that this is preventative as that’s needed. So many men are addicted today that we focus on treating them and sometimes forget preventing addiction in younger teens and kids. (I’ve even blogged on the latter.) Thank you!

  • Vinny

    “Therefore, give them the chance to fortify themselves in intellect, principle, and discipline by removing them from the sway of online evils.” That gives them a fighting chance by knowing everything in life is a choice.

  • donttouchme

    What I think is missing is that the sense of wonder is cut in half and is one-sided. The first two solutions are good, but the third is woefully incomplete if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, which is that we should restrict knowledge about the mechanics of sex and of what women look like naked. That’s well and good, but if it’s not paired with a sense of wonder about men’s power and authority and therefore boys’ innate power and legitimate authority (which it never is) and it’s not paired with a sense of wonder in girls and women about men’s power and legitimate authority and a need for trusting obedience (which it never is) it’s just a recipe for vulnerability in boys to mercenary women who are probably too mercenary even to know that they’re mercenary and for weak fathers who don’t understand their own headship in their own families. In short, boys need a sense of wonder and blind desire about their own power and authority just as much as they need a sense of wonder about women. And girls need a sense of wonder and obedience to boys. Somehow I don’t see that being permitted.

  • Ryan

    Schools are finding that they can no longer maintain a safe learning environment. Kids are getting exposed to porn by other kids, on campus, due in part to the failure by parents to teach kids how to use the Internet properly.

    Subjectively, I believe fewer than 5% of Catholic families use Internet Accountability and/or Filtering software. It’s time for schools, parents, and parishes to partner. Watch this 4-min video to get a better idea about this. Visit http://www.covenanteyes.com/pip to learn more.

    Schools need to mandate Internet safety training for parents that attend their schools. Parents need to provide formation in virtue and act as better guardians for their kids. Parishes need to form parents in their vocation to love and provide resources and catechesis to parents, so that they have the tools to educate their children in chastity and human sexuality.

  • julianmalcolm

    teaching wonder…Anthony Esolen had an encouraging article not too long ago on this. He referenced the Humanities program at KU that John Senior, Dennis Quinn and Franklin Nelick ran. This sort of thing is a worthy endeavor.
    http://www.clearcreekmonks.org/_pdf/EOC-June-2013-IHP-Catholic-legacy-endures-born-in-wonder.pdf

    As for kids and the internet…they can’t avoid it for ever I suppose but there is something good about giving them a space that is free from those distractions and the constant demands for attention that it brings, even if it is only for a few formative years.

  • Jessica

    I have greatly enjoyed this and the previous article. This especially; ” To avoid it is a failure in responsibility and a denial of the condition that all boys are in: a state of damage caused by the widespread violation of human holiness. Pornography is high among the diseases of the day and it must be addressed, even at the risk of some embarrassment.”

    My husband and I are raising two boys, both too young to know what porn is yet but we are training them to help strengthen them against it and help them resist it even without having to talk about it.

    We came up with thirteen areas we are strengthening in our sons that we pray will help them resist this sin;

    http://www.jessicalynette.com/family-2/strengthening-our-sons-to-avoid-porn-while-they-are-still-too-young-to-know-what-it-is/

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