How the Sensitivity Movement Desensitized Catholics to Evil

Remember bell-bottoms, beads, and tie-dyed shirts? Remember encounter groups, Esalen, and trust falls? Remember “self-esteem,” “risk-taking,” “self-awareness” and the other clichés that were born with the human potential movement?

Both bell-bottoms and human potential psychology became popular in the mid-sixties. Bell-bottoms, however, eventually went out of style. Human potential psychology never did. If you don’t notice it anymore, that’s because it’s become a fixture of modern life. It’s no longer necessary to seek out a sensitivity group, because the culture itself is now one large sensitivity group. The assumptions, vocabulary, and techniques of the sensitivity circle have found their way into business, schools, churches, and popular entertainment.

For example, college orientations for incoming students usually include heavy doses of encounter-group exercises—typically followed by four years of learning to be sensitive to differences and non-offensive to a myriad of minorities. Not surprisingly, the punishment for insensitivity is more sensitivity. Most of us know of cases where students, school personnel, sports stars, or businessmen have been sent to sensitivity training for the purpose of thought adjustment. The sensitivity movement was meant to liberate human potential, but it now serves as little more than a tool for enforcing conformity to the codes of political correctness.

One of the first institutions to embrace humanistic psychology was the Catholic Church. During the 1970s, self-awareness psychology became an integral part of life at Catholic seminaries, colleges, and grade schools. Religious studies textbooks were rewritten to include a generous serving of the wisdom of pop psychology gurus such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. For example, in the Conscience and Concern series’ book on the sacraments, about four-fifths of the chapter on marriage consists of a lengthy excerpt from Carl Rogers’ book Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives. What might those alternatives be? Well, basically, whatever makes you feel good about your self. According to Rogers, the governing priority in any relationship is not fidelity but self-growth.

The influence of psychology even extended to the textbook illustrations. Book Seven of the Benziger series used in those days contains 300 photos and illustrations, but only one depiction of Christ on the cross. Book Eight has no crucifixion scenes. Nor do the books for grade levels Six, Five, Four, and Three. Presumably the sight of Christ suffering and dying for our sins might remind us of our sinfulness—and that, from the humanistic viewpoint, might be an unhealthy blow to our self-esteem.

Whenever a Catholic doctrine, such as human sinfulness, collided with a psychological doctrine, such as human goodness, the tendency was to sweep the offending Catholic doctrine under the rug. Catholics were given the impression that salvation was bound up with self-awareness and self-acceptance. Self-acceptance, it was believed, would automatically follow self-awareness, because the more you learned about yourself the more you would discover about the wonders of your inner self.

One of the things that a great many Catholics discovered almost simultaneously was that they were—to use the lingo of the day—OK. Convinced of their own self-worth, many Catholics abandoned the sacrament of Penance. Almost overnight, the long lines at the confessional disappeared. Catholics had been so well-schooled in the gospel of self-acceptance that they couldn’t think of any sins they needed to confess.

During the “me decades,” priests, nuns, and laity abandoned the Church in droves in order to find personal self-fulfillment. One particular incident in the late sixties stands out as emblematic of the new mood that was sweeping through the Church. In 1967, the Immaculate Heart of Mary order of teaching nuns invited Carl Rogers and his colleagues to carry on an experiment in “educational innovation” within their extensive school system in Los Angeles. What followed was a two-year program of intensive encounter groups. The end result was the collapse of the teaching order and along with it the school system they ran. As I wrote several years ago:

The sisters, who had initially been enthusiastic about revitalizing their schools, became absorbed with questions of self-actualization. Teaching took a back seat. Many lost their faith as well. The order secularized itself and broke its ties with the Catholic Church. The schools were shut down. Coulson, who was project coordinator, later wrote, “When we started … there were six hundred nuns and fifty-nine schools…. Now, four years later, as I write, a year following the formal completion of the project there are two schools left and no nuns.”

The effect of inviting Rogers and his self-esteem crew into the school system was not unlike the effect of inviting the devils into the convent at Loudon. Things fell apart. And all the confusion and disorientation that resulted from the Los Angeles project soon spread to the rest of the society as more and more individuals and groups jumped onto the human potential bandwagon.

The damage occurred first in the schools, where the sensitivity group soon became the model for classroom activities. Students learned to feel good about themselves and—through pop psychology programs such as Values Clarification—they learned that values are no more than personal preferences. Meanwhile, their teachers learned to be accepting and non-judgmental. They quickly learned that they had no right to impose their own values or society’s values on students. Free to choose their own values, students in alarming numbers opted for drugs, alcohol, and sexual experimentation. Not surprisingly, the schools responded to these problems by instituting “values-free” sex education and drug education programs which only served to magnify the problems.

Soon enough, the parents of these children launched their own self-development projects. How, they asked themselves, could they love their children unless they first loved themselves? By cultivating their own self-growth and seeking their own self-actualization, they would become better parents and better spouses. Anyway, that’s what they were assured by numerous self-help books and growth gurus. It didn’t work out as planned, however. Divorces skyrocketed while illegitimacy soared.

The social problems engendered by the self-growth mania affected Catholics as much as it did the general population. Church leaders took note of the carnage and many of them correctly saw that relativism was at the root of it. I’m not sure, however, that many of them made the connection between relativism and the self-esteem movement. One of the premises of the movement is that right and wrong are entirely subjective. What’s right for me is what feels right for me. As for your opinions about right and wrong—well, who am I to judge? Through Values Clarification and through non-judgmental sex and drug education programs, this relativist notion of right and wrong entered the schools and the schools, thereby, became one of the chief conduits by which relativism entered the general culture.

The Church has repudiated the philosophy of relativism, but I’m not aware of any similar repudiation of the human potential psychology that made relativism so popular. I would guess that seminary classes are no longer conducted like encounter groups, but it does seem that the encounter mindset still lingers in the Church. Perhaps the biggest hangover from the self-esteem era is the loss of the sense of sin and evil that comes from too much exposure to me-centered psychology. You will get a much better sense of the reality of evil by reading a single Dean Koontz novel than by listening to a hundred Sunday sermons in an average Catholic parish.

These days, reminders of the presence of evil are everywhere. If you’re not a Koontz aficionado, you can simply switch on the nightly news and learn about the latest beheading. Or—something I don’t recommend and would not do myself—you can search the Internet and find videos of the actual beheadings. According to a FrontPage article by Dawn Perlmutter, the latest of these—a slickly produced video of the beheading of 19 Syrian military officers—presents the beheadings as a solemn religious ritual: “a ceremonial rite of purity” by which young Mujahideen warriors are initiated.

Needless to say, beheadings were not among the potentials psychologists envisioned would be released once people were liberated from their inhibitions. Freud, with his more gloomy view of human nature, would not have been surprised, however; neither should anyone who understands the meaning of Original Sin. It took a while for those of a secular mindset to adjust to the brave new world of beheadings, crucifixions, and sex slavery, but after a while even they began to see it for what it was. Even President Obama described the latest beheading incident as “pure evil”—although he went on to assure the world that the actions of ISIS “represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith.” Other world leaders have also used the word “evil” in response to recent atrocities. So have some Church leaders. Unfortunately, however, thanks to having imbibed so deeply of the cup of human potential theory, evil is not a word that springs readily to the lips of today’s prelates. Many are still locked in the non-judgmental mode, and many subscribe to the therapeutic view that the root cause of jihad is a lack of self-esteem caused by poverty and oppression. The idea that evil deeds might be rooted in evil hearts is as foreign to them as Catholicism without crucifixes would have seemed to a Catholic in the 1940s.

Up to now, the official Catholic response to the global jihad has been nothing more than continued calls for dialogue. But the dialogue process itself sounds suspiciously like something out of the bell-bottom-encounter group era. Not that the dialoguers stand around in circles and hold hands—I presume that they do not—but that they carry over into their discussions many of the assumptions of that period. When Church leaders speak of dialogue, they tend to use language uncomfortably reminiscent of the heyday of the human potentialists. Calls to dialogue are replete with phrases such as “risk-taking,” “releasing creativity,” “mutual understanding,” “encounter,” and “respect for the other.” Moreover, today’s dialogue advocates seem to share the same optimistic assessment of human nature held by encounter enthusiasts. They operate on the assumption that once you get to know the other fellow, you’ll invariably find that, underneath it all, he shares the same worthy values and goals that you do. As a recent USCCB statement on dialogue with Muslims puts it:

Perhaps most importantly, our work together has forged true bonds of friendship that are supported by mutual esteem and an ever-growing trust… Through dialogue we have been able to work through and overcome much of our mutual ignorance, habitual distrust, and debilitating fear.

In other words, we can trust the other. We only fear others because we don’t know them. And once we know them, we’ll realize that there was never anything to fear.

Unfortunately, this trust in the power of trust seems to have rendered the USCCB dialogue participants unable to grasp the possibility that their Muslim dialogue partners are not motivated by the same vision which inspires them. That their main dialogue partner—the Islamic Society of North America—is a spinoff of the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be of little concern. That their counterparts may simply be using the bishops in order to gain respectability for their main agenda—which is to introduce sharia law to America—does not seem to have entered the prelates’ minds. Nor does the possibility that the whole dialogue process is a way to ensure that Islam itself will never be implicated in the crimes of Islamists. After all, once you’ve invested so much time and energy in forging “true bonds of friendship that are supported by mutual esteem and an ever-growing trust” it becomes rather difficult to find fault with your friends or with the religion to which they belong. For the sake of fellowship, it becomes incumbent on you to take your trusted friends’ word for it that Islamic aggression has nothing to do with Islam. It would be unseemly to check it out for yourself.

Back in the seventies, the trust fall became a standard feature of encounter groups, summer camps, and college orientations. In one version of this trust-building exercise, one person stands in the middle of a circle of his peers and falls backward, relying on the others to catch him. In the controlled environment of a camp or college orientation, it’s reasonable to assume that the others won’t fail you. It might not be wise, however, to bring this assumption into other realms—such as nuclear weapons negotiations with Iran and interfaith dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood organizations whose Mid-East brethren seem intent on eliminating Christians rather than dialoguing with them.

Contrary to human potential psychology, the world is not a giant safety net, and human nature is still fallen. This has always been a fallen world, but right now, thanks to the denial of that fact by the spiritual heirs of Carl Rogers, the world is a far more dangerous place than it might otherwise have been. The sensitivity movement desensitized us to the reality of evil. And many are now paying the price for that naiveté.

In 1967, smiley-face assumptions about human nature led to the collapse of an order of nuns and a district-wide Catholic school system. Unless we manage to discard our trust-fall fantasies about the human condition, we seem destined to experience a fall of much greater magnitude in the not-too-distant future.

William Kilpatrick

By

William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com

  • joebissonnette

    And yet the probing earnestness of the actualized is not without its charm. They are like preternatural beings among us, emotionally naked but without shame. Or maybe they are more like a different character from chapter 3.
    Years ago I had a tutorial at a professor’s home. He sat on the floor, I chose to sit in a chair. His jaw tightened, his face reddened and the vein over his temple became prominent. My unwillingness to thrown off the constraints, the gravity of repression, and swim freely as my true self was a real buzz kill. Then and there I became the enemy.
    How did the self-actualization wrecking crew destroy thousands of vocations and mislead millions of laity? Many people slid right in on the slippery slope of the playfully subversive. and for the few who didn’t, there was a wrath that knew not the constraints of civilization and self-control.

    • St JD George

      Another testimony to the sad irony of the liberal tolerance movement … not too tolerant of those who are grounded by their faith.

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  • Yes, and this is largely why I say much of what I say. Trust failed me, Original Sin still exists, and we need a redesign of our economic and sexual systems to take that into account

    For the sexual symptoms, this means a return to traditional Sacraments. For the economic, it means a return to guilds.

    • The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

      F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

      What the he** is a “sexual system”?

      • Hayek never discovered the truth about economics- that at its root, it is a technology, not an art. It does not arise naturally, but has to be brought into being, and is a tool used for a purpose. When used to support the family, that purpose is good. When used to attack the family, that purpose becomes evil.

        Likewise for state support of sexual virtue, or as we have been experiencing it in the last 50 years or so, the lack of state support of sexual virtue. At one time in Western Europe, The Sacrament of Marriage was used to control human sexuality and provide for the responsibilities of paternity, but that all changed when we disconnected sex from procreation. That’s the good use of sex. We see around us the chaos that occurs when that is abandoned for the easy pleasures of contraception, no fault divorce, and abortion.

        In both of these cases, economic and sexual, those abandoning the systems so carefully designed appeal to the concepts of liberty and freedom to do so. But only when the system follows the rules, only when the system supports the family, can it be called good. Abandoning the rules, abandoning design, results only in chaos and evil.

        • Had you read Hayek’s 1974 Nobel Prize lecture, “The Pretence of Knowledge”, you would not have written the first sentence in this post.
          Had you read my post, you wouldn’t have written the rest of the post, or at least you would not have written as a response.

          • I have read it, but still stand by my initial sentence, which is MY primary critique of economics-as-science in general and the lack of basic understanding of humanity I see in economic theories, whether from Hayek, Marx, Friedman (either one) or von Mises.

            Original sin exists, and therefore, anarchy will never be stable.

            None of them seem to realize that money, especially fiat currency, is a tool. None of them seem to realize that the only purpose of a market is to support families, and that when the market fails to support individual families, we need to abandon the market.

            Same with sexual freedom. Any form of sex that does not lead to a mother and father staying together in a single household for life and raising children, or supporting that structure externally, is not a freedom we need to support.

            Liberty and freedom have a *PURPOSE*, and when we stray from that purpose, we get into trouble.

            • Liberty and freedom have a *PURPOSE*, and when we stray from that purpose, we get into trouble.
              Like everything else in this world. I’m not an anarchist, and haven’t promoted or defended anarchy, so I have no idea how your assertion about the instability of anarchy relates here, other than you see the world in binary extremes.

              • An excess of liberty is anarchy; libertarianism is about anarchy in the marketplace. You keep quoting Hayek, but you never realized he was an anarchist?

                Economics, and everything that goes with it, is not about human beings. It’s about the invention of property and how property is moved. When it serves human beings it is good, when it fails to serve human beings it is evil. There can be no science behind it because everything about it is virtual- a made up story to explain man’s inhumanity to man.

                • Anarchy is not an excess of liberty, it is lawlessness (a-without; arch law) and license. Words have meaning, consider buying a dictionary and consulting it before you write.

                  • Liberty from my point of view is lawlessness and license.

                    • Words have meanings, and you don’t get to make up meanings. The word you mean is license.

          • “There isn’t a person on this earth that doesn’t naturally seek to produce and aquire goods for their use and even the most primitive societies engage in trade. Kindergarten kids trade baloney for peanutbutter.”

            I do not consider that process natural in the least. Quite often even in those kindergarten trades, bullying is involved, as well as much more complex interpersonal relationships, and yes, even original sin.

            It is possible to design a trading system that has better information using modern technology, but it must be centered first on the family, or else it will fall prey to the same original sin scenarios that plague the free market.

            It is freedom itself that is the issue, because where you allow freedom, you create the opportunity for sin.

            • Just stop. Kids trade without coercion everyday.

              Here’s how this works. When you write something on here it is subject to dispute. Your disputant may be far better informed than you.

              At that point, you just stop. You don’t write an indefensible ipso facto “I don’t consider that a natural process in the least”, and then treat the exceptional circumstance of coercion as normative and just proceed to

              I realize you have an impairment that makes social relations difficult to understand. We all have weaknesses. I don’t argue thinks like music or art; I have no aptitude or skill in those fields. Your weakness is understanding how the economy works. Humility demands we recognize our weaknesses.

              “because where you allow freedom, you create the opportunity for sin.”
              This is quite frankly, stupid. Sin exists everywhere, but where there is no freedom there is MORE opportunity for sin. Only a fool would assert there’s less sin in places like the Soviet Union or Saudi Arabia.
              Look, if you are a closet statist, that’s fine, but be honest about it.

              • The economy, arguably, does not work, and hasn’t worked for quite some time.

                Likewise, there is certainly less homosexuality in the former Soviet Union AND in Saudi Arabia.

                All the rest of what you wrote is nothing more than stupid insults, and thus can be disregarded as being anything real.

                • No, “the economy” is not perfect, and it certainly doesn’t work according to your dictates; but the very fact that we are trading barbs on a medium that didn’t exist two decades ago, rather than shivering around a fire in a cave wrapped in furs, hoping some that some large herbivore happens by so we can eat tomorrow, IF we can kill it, shows it works.

                  If you or I were responsible to PRODUCE our own food, clothing and shelter, we’d be naked, hungry and unsheltered.

                  “Likewise, there is certainly less homosexuality in the former Soviet Union AND in Saudi Arabia.”

                  No, it’s not “certainly” and even if there is less PUBLIC homosexuality, the former Soviet Union is a hotbed for pornography, prostitution and alcoholism. Perhaps you find those SINS less objectionable, but they are still sins.

                  Saudi Arabia makes a heresy mandatory and violently represses Christianity, it is misogynistic and we never hear of the morality police tagging members of the royal family, so there isn’t less SIN. Not to mention the filthy lucre they have from oil.

                  Monarchism? Too bad we can’t send you back to England, circa 1530.

                  That you feel insulted is your problem. My late grandmother used to say, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

                  • I do not feel insulted, I just recognize that the man who throws insults does so because he has lost the debate and has nothing of value to add.

                    Expect the return of the Metropolitan of Moscow before the return of the KGB, but given how Russian Revolutions go, that just means the return of the morality police.

                    Heress in Islam is all the more reason for a new crusade.

                    And 1520 is too late, give me 500.

                    • Part of the problem is that you think this is a debate. A debate is held between individuals who are more or less similarly situated and can capably argue facts, circumstances, nature and meaning.
                      The discourse between you and me follows a familiar pattern. You protest the way the world is, insist (with copious doses of Luther’s indignity) that it is inherently and thoroughly corrupt because it doesn’t meet your fantastic ideals.
                      I point out your errors and miosconceptions and then you post endless protests filled with pseudoterminology and pseudo-hyperorthodox posturing.
                      There is no shame in not being particularly erudite in some matter, most of us are know very little about very little. The shame is heaping scorn and accusations of doctrinal inattentiveness to those that know a little something.

                    • And the other part of the problem is that I do not accept either your expertise nor your assumptions about how the world works. I simply don’t see any truth whatsoever in your view of “the way the world is”- the tolerance for evil is astounding, the insistence that we *need* to tolerate evil is something I simply cannot fit into any framework of morality.

                      It does not matter if the issue is sexual or fiscal; sin is sin and sin must be opposed.

                    • “And the other part of the problem is that I do not accept either your expertise nor your assumptions about how the world works.”

                      Too bad. Your loss. Your life would be better if you weren’t so prideful if you solicited (and had solicited) the advice of an expert, rather than doing the equivalent of reading Prevention magazine and rejecting doctors and inept and corrupt.

                      And stop putting words in my mouth, I never said tolerate evil. I said stop imputing evil to things because they are imperfect or don’t meet your delusions.

                      Now do whatever it is you need to do to end your tantrums.

                    • Been trying to. Of course, your own OCD isn’t letting me.

                      What I need to do to end the discussion, is come to some understanding that there is good in imperfection; right now, I’m not seeing the good. I’m seeing only a vigorous defense of mortal sin, and a plea to tolerate it.

                      You are very good at defending greed and denying generosity. Perhaps if your type started defending generosity and denying greed, we wouldn’t have a physical need for a welfare state that keeps people in slavery.

                    • You are very good at defending greed and denying generosity.
                      And you are very good at imputing your caricatures into uncharitable and baseless accusations.
                      You have no idea how generous I might or might not be-and inline with doing your good deeds in secret, I’ll make no assertions of my generosity.
                      As I wrote to another delusional PHO, wanting to help relieve my Church of its construction debt that required an extension of it’s capital campaign rather than paying idle I-Phone wielding parasites to eat well when they do not work, isn’t a lack of generosity, it’s a rejection of a tyranny that encourages sloth and denies me my right and responsibility to put God first.

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    My primary “theology” text at my Christian Brothers high school in the 1970s was a work of pop-psychology entitled “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Four years with the Brothers and their transactional analysis left me (and everyone else I knew at the school) a committed agnostic. And they wonder why their order has no vocations!

    • St JD George

      I’ve never read it, but I have a vague recollection of that book being hailed as a great literary, or pop-psychology as you say, sensation in it’s day. There’s a part of me that is curious to pick it up and see the rubbish that helped fuel this idiocy movement, but the better part of me realized that there’s too little time to waste and more important matters to attend to.

    • NE-Catholic

      Another example of a VERY popular book in the world of self-identified ‘intellectuals’ and motivation ‘experts’ was ‘Who moved my Cheese?’. It was one of the most worthless and inane pieces of pseudo-intellectual garbage every produced.

      • I seem to recall that being popular about the time “Reengineering” and “The Goal” became popular, just before “diversity” became the current flavor of corporate astrology.

      • samharker

        True that!

      • Desert Sun Art

        I remember my pastor back in Florida talking, praising that book in a homily once. Never heard him praise John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and the many, many other good, holy authors of much spiritual wisdom. But “Who moved my cheese?” ??? oh, yeah.

    • steve8714

      And we incorporate this into our liturgy with the kumbayah music and the hippy dippy Sign of Peace.

      • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

        Oh my gosh Steve thank you for the LOL of the day. Hippy Dippy indeed! Our Lady of Sorrows, Ora Pro Nobis!

    • guest

      I agree. I was in College (public) in the 80’s and even though I went to Mass every day..the Priest that I often spoke/confided told me that as long as I was a good person with a good heart God would not punish me for my sins. Love was love no matter who with. It was a huge wash job and took years to get myself back fully in the Church and understand the TRUTH. But even today, in my current Parrish this belief continues and I am looked at funny for my “conservative” (although I say Catholic) beliefs.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Dr. Williams, no vocations? Are you sure? Many young men are willing to completely commit their whole lives to great personal sacrifices for the great cause of spreading the “I’m OK, You’re OK” message the weary world is desperate to hear; they would even die as martyrs for that cause. Oh, wait, yeah, on second thought, that does not sound so exciting. They should have stayed faithful with the eternal message of Christ Crucified. Why did Christ die? Because of our sins (I can hear the tingling horrors it causes on the ears of Modernists). If we were all Okay, there’d be no need for Christ Crucified (nor His glorious Resurrection). How boring are these “I’m OK” people. What boring worldview & message. It literally has nothing to offer.

    • John O’Neill

      It appears that the Francis church which is now in ascent has gone back to the pop psychology of the sixties and its sense of all you have to do is be cool and non judgmental like the bishop of Rome (who am I to judge); maybe traditional Catholics ought to take a page from the Amish book and sit back with our cherished beliefs and let the English do what they want to do. After all this too shall pass and when “the shouting and the tumult dies and the captains and the kings depart, still stands thine ancient sacrifice , a humble and a contrite heart, Lord God of hosts be with us yet lest we forget, lest we forget”

  • Scott W.

    “The twentieth century has seen many attacks on Christianity, but the frontal attacks of militant atheists, Marxists, and Nazis have not resulted in as much lost ground for Christians as the more insidious attacks of the therapeutic culture. The sense of guilt, the sense of sin, the sense of the sacred, the sense that there is another order of authority by which we are judged—these have not disappeared entirely from Christian culture, but they have been eroded. If this is difficult to see, it is because of the fog that the culture of therapy emits—an empathic fog which surrounds us and confuses us and prevents us from seeing life clearly. We wander around in this fog thinking our enemy is our friend because he is so exquisitely concerned with our health.”

    Source: http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9902/articles/kilpatrick.html

    • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

      Philip Reiff called it Therapeutic Man. He understood that the assault is on ‘authority’ itself.

      • And Thomas Szasz (who unfortunately buried a few choice grainsof great wheat in mountains of chaffe); called it the “therapeutic state”, but he say it as the invention of a new and pernicious authority.

      • Gail Finke

        I read that about 10 years ago, it’s a very sobering book. However, psychologists don’t read him today because, unfortunately, he was nuts. A big believer in “orgone energy” and using it to help people. Look it up.

  • suziwan

    Now I know why what Mr. Rogers used to say all the time “I like you as you are, I wouldn’t
    change a thing.” always bothered me!

    • His audience was largely innocents; he was an avuncular guide to “The Land of Make Believe” what is appropriate for children isn’t appropriate for adults.

      Of course what’s peddled as suitable for children today isn’t really suitable at all.

      • Martha

        Oh, like all the ‘follow your dreams’ movies: Barbie, DIsney Princesses et al. Puke. Of course, my daughters love Barbies and princesses, so what’s a mom to do? Have an encounter group afterwards explaining the selfishness of Barbie, and her non-compatibility to the Catholic value system. In your face, Mattell. ;D

        • St JD George

          I guess they need a Mother Theresa doll, but you’ll have to go to the church store to get one, though it probably won’t have movable arms and legs, and probably not interchangeable outfits either.

          • And certainly no Malibu beach house or Ken.

        • The difference between Barbie and Mr. Rogers is best illustrated by the existence of the 1997 song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. Mr. Rogers was never that effectively parodied.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyhrYis509A

    • John Byde

      Who was he talking too, Hitler or Pol Pot? 🙂

  • St JD George

    I can’t help but think about Satan as I ponder events in our modern world including over the past few decades. He is the master of lies, deceit and obfuscation is he not, and his fog machine has been working overtime to confuse our sensibilities. A full frontal assault would be obvious and repelled so instead he slowly boils us in a pot with sweet sounding words until we are turned to a mushy stew. In a way it is a form of cultural Taqiyya as he has been playing the long game while we have largely been unaware, or unwilling to do anything about it, and he has built his dominion on earth through indoctrination of our kids in school and through our institutions of culture and entertainment. I would argue that now that there is a feeling of empowerment manifested in an administration who feels impunity from the citizens and is attempting to coerce acceptance of immorality though the strong arm tactics of selective enforcement of laws. Read for yourself how many times Cecile Richards has visited the WH, much more than many members in official capacity. Way too many for casual conversation, obviously she has influence and is Satan’s accomplice in my opinion.

  • Glenn M. Ricketts

    How many times have I – and others here – heard priests explain the absence of explication or defense of the Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage or sexuality in terms of “not wishing to offend anyone?” It’s much easier – and a lot more fun, apparently – to attack capitalism, sexism, racism, homophobia or ‘bigotry” of some kind. Or simply to say nothing at all and ask everyone to give thanks for such a beautiful day. Not always, but often enough.

    • It’s much easier – and a lot more fun, apparently – to attack capitalism, sexism, racism, homophobia or ‘bigotry” of some kind.

      What’s the old saw about any jack*ss being able to kick down a barn…

      • St JD George

        Isn’t there another saw about how any jack-a-hoo can get elected promising to give you something for your vote taken from the sweat of someone else’s labor without their consent and under false pretenses while telling you that you didn’t build that.

        • There’s a lot of them.

          The first aw of economics is everything is scarce, the first rule of politics is ignore the first rule of economics.

          Politics is the art of conspicupous benefits and hidden costs.

          and my personal favorite:

          Panem et Circenses.

          (Today it’s foodstamps and government subsidized and financed municipal stadiums.)

          • St JD George

            Your channeling your inner Cruz with that Cicero era analogy. One can’t help but think “um, that’s eerily similar”.

            • I thought Panem et Circenses was Juvenal. Am I mistaken?

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                It is, indeed, Juvenal, from Satire X, speaking of the Roman mob

                “ iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
                uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
                imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
                continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, 80
                panem et circenses

                They shed their sense of responsibility
                Long ago, when they lost their votes, and the bribes; the mob
                That used to grant power, high office, the legions, everything,
                Curtails its desires, and reveals its anxiety for two things only,
                Bread and circuses.”

                • Thank you for the citation.

          • TommyD6of11

            Actually, one of the biggest forms is cross-subsidies. For example, requiring insurers to cover existing conditions. Politicians love this scam. They get to claim they gave you something. And, when the insurance company is forced to raise rates, these same politicians get to attack the greedy corporations on your behalf.

            It is really taxation without awareness … which is ultimately the same as taxation without representation … they’re just not in your face about it.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        A barn that’s usually taken a while to build, too.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    The story of the swift and almost biblical destruction of the Immaculate Heart Sisters is so jaw-dropping that I put your original article in toto in my personal Commonplace Book. What was most instructive is how ecstatic and ‘liberating’ and ‘wonderful’ the experience was for those in the encounter groups. Self worhsip is intoxicating at first. “Catholic truth, quite simply proposes God as the object of thought and the goal of desires.” As Kenelm Digby said.

  • GracieZG

    Finally. A bit of truth sees the light of day. It would be interesting to hear the entire history of psychology. My great grandfather wrote a book in 1908 about the coming of psychology to America. He called it “Am I Responsible?” He was decrying what he could see as the diminishing of personal responsibility by the movement. My readings of very early psychology show that psychology simply removes the possibility that man is a spiritual being, except as a delusion. If that is true, then we aren’t innately responsible. It is all brain chemicals and environment. And all psychological methodologies do, ultimately, extend from that premise. But if the premise is false, then the methodologies are false. If we embrace them as truth, we end up with the chaos that is civilization today.

    • “He was decrying what he could see as the diminishing of personal responsibility by the movement.”

      And yet this is but one limb on body of the modern secularist, collectivist, atheist & statist enterprise that diminishes the individual, another one is Barack Obama telling us with that sneering condescion of the lifelong pseudo-intellectual parasite, “you” didn’t build your business -“somebody else” did.

      Where there is no accountability for failure or recognition for acheivement, there is the pretext for the depersonalization that the modern statist enterprise must have in its pursuit of temporal nirvana. People must be depersonalized treated as fungible and inanimate and passive, those that don’t follow the plan will be incarcerated as deviants; if they became to much of annoyance to the oligarchs; they will be sent to the concentration camp or the gulag.

      • GracieZG

        Yes. That is the potential outcome. Your response seems apocalyptic, except that I have read “Wild Swans–Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang, about the devastating effects of Mao’s revolution and the horrors that the Chinese people lived through, and it confirms what you say. My point is that the psychology philosophy is the “science,” born in Leipzig, Germany, used for corroborate the reduction of mankind to matter without spirit. It becomes the state religion that justifies totalitarianism.

        • That’s twice today I’ve had my comments called apocolyptic. Hmmm…

          • ColdStanding

            Don’t worry, the daily mass readings in the novus ordo are, of late, from the Apocalypse of St. John. Its probably just on everyone’s brains.

            • So that means I shouldn’t short the S&P 500? Here I thought I was having some sort of subsconcious prescience.

              • ColdStanding

                At least you didn’t say “So that means I shouldn’t have (past tense perfect) shorted the S&P 500?”

                • I stand, I think corrected. I never really did get that stuff.

                  • ColdStanding

                    No, it was not a correction.
                    Your comment “So that means I shouldn’t…” indicates that the deed is not yet done
                    My comment “So that means I shouldn’t have…” indicates that you already have done.

                    Which is a long way of saying, “Good thing you have yet to short.”

                    It is a poor joke that needs explanation.

  • kdlaz

    Nailed it.

  • Tamsin

    No “trust falls” with Muslims, thank you very much! Great image.

  • St JD George

    William, when I came back again I was struck by the picture you used to frame your article, a brilliant choice I might add. Funny how a simple image can capture so much. Of course, I can imagine Jesus walking among the masses of unhappy unbelievers with his divine nature shining on them from his aura. I guess Islamists can see Muhammad (oh wait, they can’t, that would be blasphemy) and the humanists can imagine themselves and their egos in it too though.

  • Ruth Rocker

    This is the same nonsense that seeks to make homosexual relationships as normal as apple pie. After all, if I’m ok and you’re ok, then everything we do is ok. Idiots abound!

    • St JD George

      Bingo. They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere, but there’s no running away or disengaging them.

      • The love that dare not speak its name won’t shut the hell up.

  • M.J .

    There is hope , in the new focus on deliverance ministry and family healing , which finds its strenght , in looking for areas of the hidden darknesses and brokenness that need to be brought to light and dealt with ;
    having trust in the armaments at hand , persons hopefully would not shy away from searching deep in and far back , hoping to plead in God’s grace and mercy , into hurting family lines and break up , by the sword of The Spirit , the enemy strongholds !

  • ColdStanding

    Who here as actually met an exorcist? Do you know who the exorcist is for your diocese? Does your diocese have any information on how frequently exorcisms have been performed?

    Exorcisms are for casting out devils. If there are no exorcisms or worse yet no exorcists in your diocese, then we may reasonably conclude that either there is no demonic activity or someone doesn’t believe that there are demons.

    The uptake of and adherence to the Catholic faith is far, far weaker than we care to admit.

  • Generating mistake must stick to people of which any of us usually do not do this soon after we produce. It is very necessary for you simply simply because we have been relevant to the actual creating besides we’ve got to stick to your own better take note of besides stick to your position alterations that is particularly necessary for people. Cheers a whole lot companion created for providing you with your own better submit.

  • Fred

    The “Global Jihad” is a hoax of the CIA and Israel so that they can use mercenaries on their payroll to destabalize countries that are in the way of U.S. empire and Israel’s “Oded Yinon” plan.

    ISIL claims to be a Muslim liberation movement – yet it never attacks Israel or its supporters. Instead, its fighters are treated in Israeli hospitals and visited, complete with accolades, by the likes of Netanyahu.

    Why would Jewish State (JS) support Islamic State – and vice-versa?

    JS is occupying and ethnically cleansing Muslim holy land. JS launched a global war on Islam with the 9/11 coup d’état. JS is obviously the prime enemy of Muslims. In fact, the struggle to liberate Palestine from the JS extremists should be the top item on every Muslim’s political agenda – the one thing that brings all Muslims, everywhere, together. (Alongside all fair-minded people from all faiths and outlooks.)

    Yet IS’s top priority is fighting the Axis of Resistance of Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria – the most capable and competent Islamic resistance movement against JS. And they’re destabilizing Iraq in service to the Oded Yinon plan to smash that country into pieces.

    What kind of “Islamic resistance movement” is this?

    It’s either a false flag group or a bunch of idiots…or some combination thereof.

    Virtually every reputable Islamic scholar on earth, as well as all Muslim political leaders, have condemned IS. Yet the group is not without some popularity on social media, and hundreds of Muslims, mostly young and unsophisticated, have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the group.

    What explains the (limited) appeal of IS?

    VT Senior Editor Gordon Duff says the young men who join IS are in it for the “jihadi brides.” Somehow I don’t think that’s a full and complete explanation. There are easier ways to get l- – I mean, married.

    Eric Walberg is closer to the mark. Eric writes:

    “The caliphate project, implementing sharia, the determination to overthrow the Saudi monarchy, the rejection of fiat money–these are legitimate goals and deserve serious analysis.”

    Indeed, all four of these goals are widely shared by Muslims all over the world. Many Muslims would be tempted to follow Attila the Hun or Charlie Manson or Jack the Ripper if that individual said “la ilaha ila llah” and proclaimed a caliphate that would implement sharia, overthrow the Ibn Sauds, and reject fiat money. The Muslim world is more than ready for a new Islam-based social order, and any group that looks like it is having any success whatsoever at achieving it is likely to win a fair amount of support. So it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that such a flawed and dubious group as IS is able to drum up some followers.

  • Fred
  • Fr. Michael

    Your chain of causality in the case of nuns leaving the convent is circumstantial at best. You assume that being a nun is somehow intrinsically good – it is not. Next you’ll be resurrecting the nonsense that the “sexual revolution” caused priests to abuse kids.

    Acting out under the burden of the absurdity of, extra biblically, mandating celibacy of any human being has been biting the church in the ass for centuries.

    I graduated from a catholic seminary. Several in my class alone were offenders – and not one of them was gay. It was the evill burden of being cut off from the potetial to be fruitful and multiply that contributed to the or crimes.

    Those that recognized this dilemma and left did a morally responsible thing.

    Evil isn’t the wholly owned subsidiary of one religion, whether they support Israel or not (Mr. Kirkpatrick is funded by one that does), nor are they exempt from it just because they celebrate Passover or recite the rosary

    It is the dehumanizing, dogmatic lack of sensitivity towards our fellow humans that is the fountain of real evil – and most religions are guilty of it.

    • Tony

      The nuns drank from Rogers’ bottle and then keeled over. That is not “circumstantial.” They attempted to justify themselves by appealing to Rogers’ psychology. That is not “circumstantial.”

      You seem to suggest that it is evil to be unmarried and to be required to be chaste. The priesthood adds nothing to that; the priest must be what every single person must be, no more and no less. You say that this is extra-Biblical. Tell it to Saint Paul. Aren’t you putting an unusual stock in sexual activity? WHY should everyone have to be sexually active?

      Opus Dei boasts many thousands of single men and women who have promised to lead a celibate life. All of the ones I have met are confident and happy. Are they out of their minds? I know dozens of priests who have kept their vows and are among the most joyful people I ever meet. Are they too out of their minds?

      Are you suggesting that single people are not “fruitful,” simply because they do not beget children? Have you not considered that while the ordinary man can be a father to four or five, the priest can be a father to a thousand? Doesn’t spiritual fatherhood mean anything to you?

      You blame “dehumanizing, dogmatic lack of sensitivity” for the evils in the world. What do you mean by that? Do you mean that the Church teaches evil? What evil? I should rather have thought that evil stems from pride: which is another way of saying that it is a failure to love the Lord God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. Tell me — what has happened to all those lower-income children who once enjoyed a good education from the thriving orders of sisters in America? And what is now happening to all those children who suffer the miseries of families blasted to smithereens by the self-actualization of their divorcing parents?

      Since when is religion the locus of evil in human existence? Are people who disdain the church and her sacraments not also guilty of pride, envy, avarice, sloth, wrath, gluttony, and lust? If you are walking down a dark alley in Baltimore or Detroit or Chicago, and a knot of shouting young men approaches you from the other direction, you really mean to tell me that you’d be happy to learn that they’d just come from an orgy and not from a Bible study?

      Have some sympathy for the families destroyed by this philosophy of selfishness.

      • Fr. Michael

        Tony, there is nothing in the article about a bottle. There is nothing in the article about keeling over. Why wade through all the remaining hyperbole and sentimentalism?

        But I will share this – there is no such thing as an “ordinary man” to a christian. The incarnation of God into humanity was complete, indiscriminate and knows no creed. That’s in the second Vatican Council – and the foundation of the good news.

        As far as the cult of Opus Dei – Hans Urs von Balthasar pretty much nailed it.

        • Hi Hombre. Different name, same heterodoxy, so easy to spot, even with the contrived misspellings.

          • Fr. Mike

            “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

            • So you find being thought to be Hombre a scurrilous charge?

              Fascinating.

              A real Disqus ID would go a long way to establishing distinction.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        “The nuns drank from Rogers’ bottle and then keeled over”

        Indeed, which does raise questions about their formation and their spiritual directors

        There was a glaring weakness in theology of the period, highlighted by Maurice Blondel at the beginning of the 20th century: “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined.”

        Small wonder they fell prey to the first charlatan they encountered.

        On celibacy, I agree with you.

  • Ana

    What is the point of writing such a negative and depressing article without including all the good that the church is doing to combat it or without any analysis on how and why it got this bad. In my opinion the culture of the Church prior to the 50’s was to beat up oneself in unhealthy guilt and fear mongering. Is there anyone listening to all those who claim to be recovering Catholics? they are recovering from the faith was misrepresented in an unbalanced way. Now it is unbalanced the other way. Sin and evil are clear. What is right and wrong is clear, but when one struggles with addiction to sin, one ought to rely on the mercy of God. Clearly turn away from sin and believe in God. Sensitivity training is better worded, not as “self-awareness” rather, than awareness of another’s pain. If you are sensitive to the plight of systemic racism, sexism, discrimination of any sort then you will enter into another’s pain just like Jesus entered into our human misery. That sensitivity could also heal much of the self hatred and self loathing that can come from scrupulosity, or woundedness from injustice or simple plain lack of faith. It matters not that we are sinners, what matters is that through Jesus’ stripes we are saved. That is the Gospel. If you wonder why people act against themselves is because there is so much self-loathing. Certainly, the answer isn’t a pop psychology of “self-esteem”. The answer is in our God given dignity, that he created us for Himself. That he has given us the power to be the children of God. This article is written in such a tone deafness, it is very disheartening. I shouldn’t get disheartened, because God is got it all in control.

    • Tony

      Ana — is that your opinion? Where did you get that opinion from? Have you actually read the works written by and for Catholics before Vatican II? See — I have. I’ve read Sheen, Guardini, Marcel, Mauriac, Chesterton, Belloc, Claudel, Adam, De Lubac, Undset, Waugh, Von Hildebrand, Scheler, Bloy, Peguy, et alia. And I’ve read devotional materials too, and I have some idea of what parish life was ACTUALLY like, as it was filled with groups of active laymen — the Holy Name Society, the Altar and Rosary Society, the Knights of Father Mathew, The Knights of Columbus, sodalities for boys and for girls, thriving parochial schools, and so forth.

      People with the greatest sense of their own dignity are often the most insufferable. That’s called PRIDE. We are not taught by Saint Paul that we are to esteem ourselves. He teaches us to esteem others as BETTER than we are. We are not taught by Jesus to think well of ourselves. Jesus teaches us to say, even after we have done well, “We are but unprofitable servants.” Saint Francis, that most cheerful of saints, changed the world, and not one day went by in which he did not beat his breast for his many sins.

      The nuns who abandoned the faith have hurt the poor most terribly, because it was the POOR among us who most needed the Catholic education that those nuns had been providing, and would provide no longer. Then they hurt those who were weak in their faith, because the WEAK among us most needed the testimony of the nuns’ complete self-giving, and those nuns would give that testimony no longer. God have mercy on them — they have a lot to answer for.

  • Gail Finke

    My only encounter (pun intended) with sensitivity training was about 25 years ago, when I was hired to write a newsletter for a large municipal agency. One of the stories was to be about the new sensitivity training program so I interviewed an African-American man who taught the classes/ran the programs. I was young and idealistic and it sounded good to me. So I listened to him talk about respecting cultural differences and not making any assumptions about others and I thought he meant learning to be kind and respectful to everyone, and I said, “so I might share that you can’t tell it just by looking, but I’m part American Indian, so much that my cousin got a college scholarship for American Indians.” I thought this was an interesting example of not judging by appearances and the diversity of the American workforce and the kind of thing that the class would have people talk about. But the man immediately became angry at me. That was not what the program was about, he said in so many words, it was really about how white people oppress black people, often without knowing it. I don’t know if they still have such programs now (judging from what my daughter is taught in college, YES) but it was at least intstructive to have things spelled out so clearly. Understanding everyone and learning that we have diverse backgrounds was not the point, telling one group of people they were the oppressed and everyone else the oppressors — even though they were fellow employees and presumably considered equal enough to be coworkers in a very integrated workforce — was the point.

  • Ed

    Excellent article by W. Kilpatrick on the Sensitivity Movement, but to include mention of Dean Koontz and his X-rated writings is horrendous. For example, get a copy of his book, “The Hideaway” to understand what I’m saying. One doesn’t need to read of chaining to a wall to rape, torture, and murder to know it’s evil.

  • littleeif

    Your article touches on some areas prominent in my thoughts lately. I would ask are there people in hell who didn’t think they were going there? And the question called to mind the parable of the two sons and which actually did his father’s will – the one who refused but went or the one who assented but didn’t go? In jurisprudence, the state of mind definitely bears on culpability, and so metaphysically to what extent does intention effect the reality of sin? Conversely, can temptation or imagination comprise a sin for an act not committed?

    I wonder to what extent I truly admit my motives in the acts I commit, and to what extent I have hidden in the mist of rationalization. If God judges the acts themselves, irrespective of my supposed motives for committing them – if God does not honor or credit my rationalizations – then what? What if God judges me solely on the reality of the acts I have committed, their victims and their products?

    It is a concept so foreign to us today as to seem unjust. This is not the God we envision. But perhaps it does explain another concept alien to us: fear of God. After all, Jesus himself said he doesn’t dance to our music. Rationalization is communicable, acquisitive, digestive, progressive. Our world in its mobility and inter-connectedness, in its media and telecommunications, seems the perfect petri dish for the growth of the subjective. You have traced some of that development for us.

  • John Albertson

    The watering down of Christian pedagogy is a sure recipe for failure. In the Archdiocese of New York, the Common Core curriculum has been imposed without any consultation of the parishioners, and now the Archdiocese has taken on the Universal Pre-K program, accepting government funding but agreeing to avoid religious instruction, and covering crucifixes and other religious symbols. The result? Plummeting school enrollments, and more families doing home schooling. Perhaps it is no coincidence that applications to their seminary is also disastrously low.

  • cyberkoala

    THANK YOU! Great piece of writing! Magisterial.

  • realist

    I still remember way back in the 60’s when I was a little kid in catholic school in the San Jose CA area they brought in politician John Vasconcellos to give a speech on self -esteem to all us kids. I remember thinking back then this was all just a bunch of grown-up dribble, but at least it got us out of class. My thoughts haven’t changed on that.

  • TimRohr

    I sat in one of the Los Angeles Catholic School classrooms when “the experiment” began in the 1960’s. I was in the 6th grade. We were told one morning to place our Baltimore Catechisms on our desk. We did. They were picked up and put in a box, never to be seen again. They were replaced with “the purple book”: a sterile thing with stick figures, our new “religion” book. I had a feeling that something had just gone terribly wrong. And from then on, everything was…terribly wrong. I wrote about it for a local paper about a year ago. My apologies if I am transgressing by sharing it here: Catholic School: An Alternative Memory: http://www.themassneverends.com/2013/02/catholic-school-alternative-memory.html

  • How did an idea with all its “smiley-face assumptions about human nature” that was so discredited historically, so absurd factually, so contrary to common human experience, and so contrary to the Catholic Faith, find acceptance and embrace among so many Catholics? And the acceptance persists, and is deep and high in the institutional Church.

    I find the troubling answer here:

    2Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders,
    2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
    2Th 2:12 so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    I find the right response to the problem in the same book: preach the Gospel. There still remains a place in the human heart that only God can fill. Only His eternal Truth can respond adequately to the “pc” lies that are becoming the new norms of the culture.

  • James

    Well the push for sensativity is bringing us even more abomination.
    http://www.swlaw.edu/pdfs/lr/43_2friedman.pdf

    The incremental agenda of self acualization and self esteem vhas brought us the movement to be sensative to pediphiles. Like the laws being created to “help” humanity under the dialectics of relativism, slightly changed in little words that shift them entirely to enslave humanity. So does the effort in the link above seek to further the aid for “esteem ” toward pedophiles.
    The pathological self esteem inherent in the child molester has emboldened that evil to epidemic peoportions in schools as well as all religions.
    Be very afraid as huffpo, gawker, nytimes, atlantic mag and more have articles trying to prop up the quack junk ” science” of the pro predator professors who believe among other tripe that we all deep down desire to molest children.

  • Ben

    Why we need to return the Ordinary Form mass to the actual intentions of the Second Vatican II. Let us return to our fasts, chants, our ancient traditions, a sense of the sacred. We desperately need a counter-culture reform within the Church.

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