Ferguson Highlights the Neglect of Boys

A couple of years ago, a fellow professor at my school, not indicative of the quality of the education we provide, began her course by informing the students that if they were white, they should be ashamed of themselves, if they were male, they should be ashamed of themselves, and if they were American, they should be ashamed of themselves. To which one brave lad replied, “I’m all three, so where does that leave me?”

It never occurred to the professor that she too should be ashamed of herself, since all have sinned, and all have fallen short of the glory of God. She didn’t even feel what I’d like to call the qualms of reality, that quiver in the belly when we know we have failed. Perhaps we lacked the heart to put our good intentions into action. Perhaps our intentions were not so pure, or were mistaken from the beginning. Perhaps we ignored warnings we should have heeded. Perhaps we overlooked something human and needful.

Perhaps our charity was pride decked out with ribbons. Perhaps we pressed forward with our plans to gain an edge over our political enemies. Perhaps we cared more for our caring, or our pretense of caring, than for the people upon whom we bestowed or imposed our care. Perhaps we were right, but weak, or stubborn, or shortsighted, or prey to any of the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Perhaps we gave all we had to the poor, and even gave our bodies up to be burned, but had not love. Perhaps we were nothing. Perhaps we were human.

It’s a fearful thing to face your conscience, that stern monitor. I don’t mean the film of the false conscience, that coats and suffocates the soul like a membrane of diphtheria. Its white is the weakling white of disease. I mean that steady and penetrating gaze, that persistent and merciless whisper. You can remove the Ten Commandments from every park and school and courtroom in the land, but you cannot remove them from reality and from the human soul, and the more you try to ignore them from without, the less clemency can you expect from their inexorable testimony within. I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me.

As I write today, I am noting a scene of colossal failure, the riots in a town in Missouri. As happens every day in our nation, a young black man died of gunshot wounds. More often than not the bullets come from a gun wielded by another young black man. This time they came from the gun of a white policeman. I was not there. I don’t know why the victim, who had just robbed a store, decided to charge the policeman after a short struggle for his gun and a sprint away, and I don’t know why the policeman fired more than once.

I do know, we all know, that more than seven of ten black children in America are born outside of the haven of marriage. That is only the most obvious mark of the failure. We then must consider divorces before and after, half-siblings, the series of males moving in and out of the boy’s life, the absence of men of probity in the neighborhood, the daily dose of squalor and savagery and stupidity from television, radio, and the internet, and the females—mother, teachers, nurses, social workers—in unstable authority to which the boy submits in surly acquiescence and against which the child-man rises in resentment and contempt.

You can say all you want, “Boys should be taught to respect women.” What a discovery! And what exactly in a life of shameless hedonism, such as the wealthy and the indigent in our country alike pursue, is worthy of respect? And who is to teach them? It isn’t culture that makes the boy a head taller than his mother. It isn’t politics that sets his adrenal system on a hair trigger. It isn’t education that thickens his bones and deepens his voice and hardens his muscles.

What I’ve said applies to all boys, of any race, and of any economic group; though whenever an elite with tremendous power is intransigent in its stupidity, the poor will suffer first and most. So I ask, forgetting about my colleague, her statism, and her institutional protection against hard reality, “What are the ten most prominent things that my Church, in America, has done for young men specifically, especially the poor, in the last forty years?”

Granting the exceptions provided by brave individuals here and there, I think the answer to that question is implied by the feminist idol to which our leaders have paid obeisance. The top ten are these:


There are a few things that warrant Honorable Mention: ditching schools for boys; turning Mass into a liturgical slumber party; paying more attention to professional women than to working class men; accepting no-fault divorce with nary a peep; and shrugging with a wink and a smirk when evil boy-lovers sought their victims. They’re only boys, after all.

Now, please, my leaders, don’t mistake me. I have plenty of sins of my own to atone for, and don’t wish to suggest that yours cast any greater a stench towards heaven. But let’s face facts. Everything we have done to boys, especially those coming from the working class and the now perduring underclass, has been a colossal failure. We’ve been fooled into forgetting that they have bodies and a nature, and that we can no more help them become men by ignoring their boyishness than we can glean figs from thistles or build cathedrals on sand.

My colleague can go complaisantly along from foolishness to foolishness, because she has substituted a political program, one that is up-to-date and therefore already moldy and obsolescent, for the truth of the faith. That is what politics is for, in our day. It is the substitute for faith. If you can say you “support” the items on a list of political desiderata, a “support” that is mostly notional, involving not much more than words—hardly ever wrestling with the stubborn human realities of sin—then you are “justified,” you are “saved.” You are like the pagans of old, who believed that they could stand in good favor with the gods if they enacted the right rituals. They needn’t worry about their personal cruelty, hardheartedness, debauchery, or avarice. They needn’t fear what Newman called those giants, the pride and passion of the human heart.

But we, my leaders, preach Christ, and Him crucified. We cannot be content with this failure.

So we must clear our heads and begin again. It won’t be the first time in the history of the Church that she has had to clear her head and begin again.

The world is willfully confused about boys—whether they even exist, and if they do exist, whether we’d be better off without them. We are not allowed to be so. The world can pretend that they are only girls with sharper angles. But there are a few things we are supposed to remember about the world. The world is old, and stupid. And Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

I’m not going to ply you with plans, my leaders. The first thing I beg you to do for boys growing up without fathers is to notice that they exist, and to have a heart for their confusions and despair. The first thing I beg you to do for boys who will not be going to college is to notice that they exist, and to have a heart for the families they must find a way to support, with work that is necessary for the more comfortable among us and that will be done or can be done only by such men. Perhaps our seminary courses in pastoral care can be replaced by a year of sawing planks, nailing shingles, laying pipes, and painting bridges?

Those in political authority whose policies have riddled the family like termites will not feel shame or even shame’s salutary predecessor, embarrassment. They answer to a convenient god. We answer to the Crucified.

Anthony Esolen


Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • ForChristAlone

    What Professor Esolen has written is, as usual, prophetic. These are words that should strike the heart, mind and soul of each of us but most especially our bishops. Rather than marching out the leaders of CRS, CCHD and the like at their semi-annual meetings, the bishops ought to have the moral courage to march out someone as prophetic as Tony Esolen at their next meeting so they can hear how the Church has failed boys – but especially boys from broken and impoverished families – miserably. If the bishops really want to rectify the damage done to the Church by the homosexual clergy who used boys as objects to satisfy their lustful desires, they should take note of what Esolen has written and begin caring for boys as only men can do. Then we will will truly have the answer to our Ferguson dilemma.

    • St JD George

      Well, I don’t know about being the answer to the dilemma but it would certainly be a terrific way to start.

  • joebissonnette

    Anthony Esolen clearly points out our failure as a culture and as the Church to help in the formation of boys. We have abandoned them. But it may be even darker than that. As a teacher I am often conflicted when students are rebellious – I want them to be orderly but at the same time I’m glad to see that some of them haven’t been drugged into passivity.
    Steve Pinker and others have been writing about the declining incidence of crime, including rape and murder, and its easy for some to cite this trend as evidence that things are improving, but in a perverse freakonomics way it is like imposing marshal law and then claiming to have created peace. The decreased rate of crime is not merely coincident with our indifference, it is the result of our systematic destruction of the souls of our boys and young men.
    We drug young boys at spectacular rates. In many high school classes one third or more of the boys are on prescription medication to make them more passive. Then there is the communication technology which is moving all of us further and further from engagement with the people around us. This is not peace, it is cold indifference. But the most spectacular betrayal of longing, self mastery, hope and romance is pornography. a healthy young man has an intense longing for the opposite sex. The repression and sublimation of this desire has been the engine which has driven young men to greatness throughout history. But today sex is drained of its beauty and mystery and power and young men are increasingly passive.
    Anthony Esolen is right that the events in Ferguson are yet more evidence of our failure of young men, but if Pinker and company are right, the types of things seen in Ferguson will happen less and less. Pinker and others will claim that we are becoming more civilized, but in fact, it will not be the result of increased public spiritedness, but rather the opposite.
    What looks like peace on the horizon stinks of death.

    • St JD George

      Prophetic “what looks like peace on the horizon stinks of death”. Know peace, know Jesus; no Jesus, no peace.

  • Dan

    A great failure of our Catholic School system has been the near abolition of all single-sex schools. In an all boys school, boys can be formed into authentic men. With good mentors, even boys with absent fathers can discover their true masculinity.
    Now, sad to say, even in the “best” of our Catholic schools, young children in the primary grades are pressured to flirt with the other sex in the degrading ways they witness every day in the media.
    Rather than boys having the freedom to be formed into authentic men, and girls given the freedom to be formed into authentic women, children experience a degrading “3rd grade hookup culture.” If children fail to live up to the “standards” of this “hookup culture”, they will be labeled as gay or lesbian by their peers, a label that may remain with them the rest of their lives.
    Let us storm heaven with prayers and plead with the leaders of our Church to swim against the tide and to establish numerous single-sex schools that provide children with a time-tested Classical Catholic Education.

    • emd04

      I never experienced “Pressure to flirt” in the Catholic School I attended. I’m not even sure what you mean by that. There were and are quite a few faults with most Catholic schools in America, but I’m not sure we can place this at their door.

      • It isn’t just Catholic schools, all schools seem to have abandoned any sort of training for boys to become men.

        • Next stop: Pamela Sargent’s Dystopia “The Shore of Women”.

        • kilbirt42

          Yes. I could not agree more. This is particularly important now as so many young men come from broken families.

    • kilbirt42

      Right on the money! I was terribly shy. If there had been girls in the class, I might never have said a word. Four years in an all boys High School gave me time to find my footing. By the time I went to Columbia the presence of women in the class was a non issue. Another point: classes dealing with sexual issues were much more relevant as they were about male sexuality. I think the sexes are different, a view that may seem radical today.

  • M.J .

    Agree with some of the points in the article ; yet , we need not see only the darkness either ; ‘ ‘what is worthy of respect ‘- many of these families also have rather good faith life and the dignity that comes with same .
    True, more can be and need to be done ; training in carepentry , lawn care and other manual type of skills sound good .
    Well, the Holy Spirit might surprise us and even use Cardinal Burke , to start a ‘ Crusader ‘ sort of army , also focused on deliverance ministry and humanitarian missions including focus on family healing themes , which would include pilgrimages etc too .
    Hopefully the Gates etc ; would be liberal enough with funds, to even may be atone some for any blasphemous actions against the poor through use of contraceptive /abortion inducing vaccines etc !
    Learing from the Mormons, even the Seventh Day Adventists and training some or many of the young ,to be street ministers , after an intense 5-6 month residential program – thank you for being given an occasion to dream and pray about all that could be possible !
    Thank you to all the Bishops and priests who have ‘shown The Father ‘ , in more ways that we laity appreciate at times , in turn helping to wipe away through repentance and sacraments , what could have been detsrucive guilt , which might have been what
    Mr Brown too was dealing with and chose for himself what he or rather the enemy to whom the reins might have been given over , chose to go for !
    Thank you too , to all those in Fathelry role and authority who break the curses that get uttered , by unthinking angry feminist Professors , frustrated parents or who ever – another area that both the young and the old also can get reparented in, by The Crucified One and His Spirit !

  • JP

    There is one religion that appeals to the masculinity of young males (even though it warps and distorts it) – Islam. The same can be said for females and Islam (even though Islam warps and distorts femininity). At the very least, Islam gives satisfaction to the natural impulses of being male or female. Yes, Islam deforms Nature by turning Nature in on itself in a constant jihad of all against all. But, we cannot ignore its appeal to both young men and women worldwide.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Where feminized Christianity is failing our young and old alike. But, especially our young.This morning I heard a priest implore parents to take up the education of their children even if it goes against what they are learning in parochial schools. I understood where he was coming from, but his comments begged the question as to why parents are sending their children to Catholic schools in the first place. A system like ours cannot last long. If we are not careful, Islam will fill the vacuum.

    • Islam will not fill the vacuum, it will invade, conquer and subdue it.

      • St JD George

        And it is already as we speak and breath.

      • JP

        It’s doing a pretty good job in Europe. And if Islam does spread in the US it won’t be via violence. It’s slow but steady spread in certain Latin American countries has occurred without a shot being fired. Elizabeth Scalia posted an interview with an educated South American woman who converted. Islam challenged her spiritually and intellectually the way the Catholic Church used to do. She is not alone down there. Islam slowly is growing in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other nations down south.

        • St JD George

          What challenge, because it’s something new to learn? Or is the challenge adapting to her new status as a 2nd or 3rd class citizen? Having said that, I had not heard before about the spread through Latin America (only from Catholicism to Evangelical) but I don’t doubt it. One need not look that far to see it though as it is growing rapidly in our own garden.

          • JP

            Islam has daily call to prayers; it demands that the individual fight his/her own personal jihad through abstaining from alcohol, certain foods, and tobacco. It is also big on alms giving, taking care of the extended family, as well as honoring one’s parents and elders.

            You can knock the power of Islam and its ability to grow organically. But, the numbers do not lie. Catholicism used to do all of the above and more. But, those practices are now considered disordered by many a theologian. And the so-called Rad-Trads are a small fringe minority. Young people want to be challenged personally and spiritually. The Church really requires little of Catholics today and it is embarrassed by its past. No need for piety when one can get self-help and work one day a year in the soup kitchen.

            The more our society devolves into this secularized cesspool, the more the RCC embeds itself in said cesspool, the more appeal Islam will have to the young and lost.

            • St JD George

              I’ll give you it does have its demands, and that there is some appeal to an ordered life for those who are undisciplined and trying to find order or purpose. I find it humorous to read to the stories about those in the west who rush in out of a sense of glory, self hate and loathing only to get there and find that the carnage isn’t like the video games they play, it’s quite real, revolting and primitive like nothing they could imagine and they cry to come home, those that can escape.
              I agree with you that over time church’s have relegated much of the dirty work of caring for poor to the state and have comfortably accepted their role as another NGO. Much easier to pay your taxes then go about your business and let someone else deal with it even if horribly inefficient and largely uncaring. Thanks for lumping me in with the young (I guess I am at heart) as I crave to be challenged both personally and spiritually too, but I’m not looking to the East.

            • Paddy

              True. Islam adheres to an interpretation of the Natural Law that is powerful, and unchanged over the centuries. The former West has eliminated the Natural Law and with it, Hope. Let’s just sing, “Anything Goes”.

          • And as that weed emerges; we are told it is an orchid.

        • You mean a credential woman. No EDUCATED woman would convert to Islam.

          • Paddy

            After the second beating, she will. Norah O’Donnell is even suggesting that the police mirror the population so there’ll be Muslim police in Dearborn and Russian cops in Brighton, NYC.
            When the cop follows the imam’s commands, we’ll have Sharia.

            • Norah O’Donnell is a special kind of idiot.

    • RonCz

      Islam is most misunderstood by Muslims who simply follow their Imam. Most don’t even read their own Arabic writing.

  • publiusnj

    So, the Church is at fault for Michael Brown’s last Charge? Hardly. The overwhelming bulk of blacks are not Catholic and like most Protestants, black protestants are often taught to hate, or at least laugh at, Catholicism. The black boys who do go to Catholic schools often learn a better way (even off to top schools like Yale) but then they have to go back into a culture that laughs at black men who are too white. See, e.g., the recent book: Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. Not only did Mr. Peace get to go to prestigious St. Benedict’s Academy in Newark, but a leading benefactor of the school made sure the bright and talented Peace got into Yale. But then the siren voice of the ‘hood or of the hood’s denizens seduced Mr. Peace into a life of drug dealing.

    There are a lot of reasons that black youth are murdering at rates that are off the charts, but it has little to do with the Catholic Church. The real reason is the whole Welfare State and its rules that favor single “heads of households” while married couples are treated less favorably. Government sees little reason to combat the breakdown of the Black Family because its breakdown makes for a vulnerable dependent source of votes.

    One of the unfortunate repercussions of universal suffrage is that politicians do not see men and women and families. They see votes that need to be sliced and diced into groups that can be appealed to with “programs” tailored to cost as little as possible while maximizing votes from dependent people. Since “two can live as cheaply as one” but can earn twice as much and therefore would be less susceptible to the Government’s “benefits,” the Government is looking for ways to keep men and women from marriage. The Government therefore gives “single but heads of household” better tax rates and better Earned Income Credits that actually incentivize men and women to stay unmarried. RESULT: dependent and grateful voters who have been bought fairly cheaply.

    If that means black boys have no role models in fathers (or increasingly grand fathers), the Governement can always find someone else to blame. Or something, such a the lack of body cameras on cops’ bodies. And just think: that camera program would mean a government contract that can be given to a supporter!

    • Tony

      Dear Publius,

      I agree with you on all counts, but I’m noting here a sin of omission. The Catholic Church in the USA has done precisely nothing to ameliorate the horrible situation that boys are in. It has not risen to their attention. I except certain brave individuals here and there — but has the plight of boys EVER been discussed at a meeting of the USCCB? We aren’t to blame for the libido delendi that fuels the Welfare State. But we are to blame for not even bothering to notice the victims it has hurt the worst.

      Yet what do we hear from our leaders? Feminism is the default position.

      • publiusnj

        My difficulty with using “Ferguson” as an opportunity to discuss Catholic boys’ issues is that “Ferguson” is quickly becoming a Rohrschach Test for everything but its reality. A good man–formerly a boy–Darren Wilson has been maligned as an evil racist killer and turned into an unpaid scapegoat so that our racist President, his racist Attorney General and a bunch of racialist hucksters can make some “bigger” points based on a false re-writing of the facts of Ferguson, while saying the facts of Ferguson are not all that important. Bringing in other irrelevant “Catholic” points into the Ferguson narrative only exacerbates the injury to the truth.

        Let’s keep Ferguson focused on truth, not political agendas. The real lesson of “Ferguson” should be that people who think the cops are too “p–sy” to shoot them are likely to find themselves dead if they unsuccessfully rassle for a cop’s gun and thereafter charge him, even though he had retained possession of his gun.

        • Augustus

          I see no reason why both positions can’t be true at the same time. Why do you insist on only one takeaway when historical events normally produce multiple interpretations and lessons, most of them plausible? We can say that some interpretations are more persuasive than others but that does not mean that we should insist on a narrow range only. Michael Brown came from a dysfunctional home and his criminal behavior can be linked to that. The statistics are all too clear that the black family is in crisis (and has been for some time) and the resulting crime is predictable. This is happening in Hispanic and white families too but to a lesser extent. It produces all sorts of social ills which the social justice wing of the Church likes to talk about but are more inclined to see welfare as a solution rather than strong families. (The upcoming synod on the family should provide an opportunity to address this, if the bishops get their act together.) While we can justly criticize the phony civil rights establishment and the politicians who collude with them (and the public policies they support that help perpetuate the crisis), there is no reason why we can’t learn our own lessons from this too.

          • publiusnj

            If your point is that we didn’t need Ferguson to know that there are problems in the American Family and in particular problems with our society’s treatment of boys, I agree. Here is a Maggie Gallagher article from the last century making the point that Fatherless Boys Grow Up Into Dangerous Men: http://www.fathermag.com/news/2770-WSJ81201.shtml

            So why do I seek to focus the discussion on Ferguson on the issue of the guilt or innocence of the maligned Police Officer? ANSWER: I have a devotion to the truth. It is getting lost in all the talking head mumbo jumbo we have been hearing for the last eight days. Mr. Esolen’s contribution does nothing to clear up the mumbo-jumbo; it adds to it.

            • Augustus

              Dr. Esolen’s piece was not intended to clear up the mumbo-jumbo you reference and it would be unfair to blame him for failing to do what he had no intention of doing. He is simply providing a perspective that has not been sufficiently discussed. Ferguson is simply a launching off point to a larger discussion of the neglect of boys; it is only a small part of the column. What you say about Ferguson is true but I suspect that you will not get much disagreement here. The piece simply addresses a long standing problem from a different angle. Dr. Esolen is devoted to truth just as much as you are. He simply chose to address a different aspect of it.

              • publiusnj

                Augustus writes: “Ferguson is simply a launching off point to a larger discussion of the neglect of boys….” Bad choice of jumping off points because the “boy” was not a victim. He was a perpetrator. The victim was the man the “boy” thought too much of a “p-ssy” to shoot. So, the article’s choice of “launching point” may have been topical (I am sure Ferguson means lots of extra hits) but it just adds to the confusion of facts and is a disservice to a man who deserves better from Firsty Things.

                • Augustus

                  I’m afraid you are not hearing what I’m saying. I nor Dr. Esolen are condoning criminality. But if you are not interested in discussing the CAUSE of it, then the injustice you complain about will never be addressed.

                  • Ruth Rocker

                    The cause of the criminality was that Michael Brown, who was legally an adult at 18 (not a boy), decided of his own free will that robbing the convenience store, ignoring an order by a law enforcement officer to walk on the sidewalk rather than in the street and then attack and beat that same officer was the course of action to take. NO ONE forced any of this on him. Yes, I’m sure he came from less than ideal circumstances, but so have a lot of other people in this country who chose a different path. Giving criminals a pass because of their upbringing doesn’t do anything to address the issues, either. It’s long past time that the responsibility of the crime is fixed on the perpetrator!! Not the community, not the police, not aliens, etc. but squarely on the shoulders of the human being who decided that what he/she wants is more important than anyone else’s rights. Is more important than obeying the civil law that lets social interaction happen. More important than the law of Christ which is to love one another. I didn’t see a whole lot of love emanating from Ferguson, did you?

                    • Augustus

                      You did not read what I wrote either. I did not excuse what Brown did. I was simply stating an obvious fact that children who do not receive moral formation from their parents that is reinforced by social institutions end up in prison or worse. If we want to reduce the crime rate, we can start by promoting healthy families. Do you want to reduce crime or not?

              • publiusnj

                See my comment above beginning “oh” which should have been placed here.

          • publiusnj

            Oh and another proof of the absolute injustice of treating “Ferguson” as a pin cushion for whatever bothers one is supplied by the interview I just saw tonight of a well-spoken, long suffering immigrant shop keeper in Ferguson, named Mamtuz Lalani, who once was a boy but is now a very weary older man and whose store has now been looted three times by “boys” (primarily) on Aug. 9, Aug. 19 and Nov. 24, 2014. I bet the looters got told tales of the Mike Brown-Darren Wilson contretemps that had as little nexus with Ferguson’s truth as this article but were effective because the stories inflamed the looters and got them on the warpath of destruction that led to the repeated victimization of Mr. Lalani.

            The USCCB can convene all the conferences it wants on the neglect of boys but if we allow the lies about Ferguson and about Sanford, FL to continue to be told, the looting will continue to go on.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Surely, one question is what sort of society allows its police officers to carry firearms on routine patrol?

          Following Britain’s example of only using firearms officers to deal with a specific and clearly identified threat would lead to a culture of policing based on management and negotiation, rather than conflict and confrontation and woud go far to eliminating this sort of tragedy.

          • publiusnj

            Surely NOT. You obviously know something about Scotland and about Civil Law/French History, and I respect your erudition in those regards, but this shows an ignorance of American urban realities on your part.

          • If we wanted to follow Britains example; we wouldn’t have thrown them out.

            • slainte

              If the viewership numbers of Downton Abby is any indicator, I think we invited them back in. : )

              • Yeah, and there’s apparently some dufuses that think we need a second son from the same family to succeed the father as President to make it a hereditary pseudo-monarchy.
                I will crawl over broken glass to vote against Jeb in the primary. If George 41 gave us Bill Clinton as a successor and George 43 gave us Barack Obama, then Jeb will surely give us triple-six.

                • slainte

                  I am in agreement; I was taken aback when I realized that Jeb Bush was considering running for President. I don’t think it is beneficial for the well being of the republic for three members of the same family to occupy the highest office in the land.

                  We need new blood and new ideas from individuals of proven integrity who don’t want to be career politicians but are willing to sacrifice themselves to faithfully serve the people for a short period. A public servant with integrity will honor the Constitution, adhere to term limits, and will vacate political office at the end of his/her term for a role in the private sector unrelated to political lobbies or think tanks.

                  I hope that among our citizens are the rare and honorable men and women who, as President, will incorporate the Beatitudes into running the republic.

                  We can only pray that God will guide the process by presenting us with honorable candidates.

                  • ForChristAlone

                    How about some men and women of character with ample evidence to back it up?

                • ForChristAlone

                  I for one am sick and tired of the Bushes. They are elite pretenders to American royalty. I cannot get over Momma Bush’s support of abortion. Liberals masquerading as Republicans.

                  • And the Kennedys and the Caseys and all the other lineages that make politics the family business and then tell us with that contrived solemnity about their commitment to “public service”.

          • Vienna64

            Clearly identified threat ? Not in the streets and not when your life is at stake. Remember the soldier who was hacked to death in Britain? Most threats lurke behind one’s back and time to identify them is very limited.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Crime is inevitable and any policing policy will necessarily aim at containment, rather than eradication.

              A certain level of street crime is the price paid for not alienating social partners, particularly in the minority communities.

              In this way, overall levels of violence are reduced and incidents like the murder of Lee Rigby are, accordingly, rare.

              • publiusnj

                It is disappointing that you are continuing to offer up this comment that ignores American realities. So the British consider a few extra deaths among their soldiers an acceptable price to pay to keep their Muslims from waging unlimited jihad, and think we Americans should allow more deaths among our cops to keep our “social partners” from unlimited war too? Darren Wilson as sacrificial victim? The problem with that solution is that he probably would never have taken the job on that basis. I think it would be hard to find many cops willing to patrol unarmed in most “urban” neighborhoods in the USA.

                In truth, of course, even the British are not so detached from reality as to leave all cops unarmed. The British have now armed all cops in Northern Ireland, which purportedly is part of the United Kingdom (at least until the Catholics outnumber the Protestants, a day that is on its way).

                • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                  Unlike the UK mainland (and, one imagines, the United States), police in NI face an elevated threat level from armed paramilitary groups and this in a province that was, effectively, under martial law for 30 years

                  Perhaps more significant is that no one suggested employing firearms officers during the August 2011 riots in London and other cities, following the police shooting of Mark Duggan, when parts of the capital burned for days. No one wants to see the kind of inter-communal disturbances that occurred in India on the eve of partition

                  • publiusnj

                    Your “imagination” about the US is just that. You really don’t know what you are talking about, but you nevertheless keep writing. Oh well.

                    • slainte

                      It’s curious that with surveillance cameras appearing to be everywhere present in U.S cities that the events which gave rise to the riots in Ferguson were not recorded and made available to law enforcement and the public.

                      Seeing is believing.

                    • publiusnj

                      A surveillance camera did capture Michael Brown’s theft of the cigarillos and then his pushing and later charging at the store clerk who was protesting the theft (the assault on the clerk transformed the theft into a robbery, btw). The two thieves then walked off and found themselves in a residential neighborhood when they had their encounter with Darren Wilson. There is much less reason to put cameras up to cover the street in residential neighborhoods.

                    • slainte

                      Street cameras atop traffic lights are very much present in northeastern American cities (as they are in Belfast in the north of Ireland)…if they were present (and in workable order) in Ferguson Missouri, they may be able to shed some light on the encounter between Brown and the police.

                      I suspect the reason Britain’s police remain unarmed is the psychological effect on a civilian population of cameras everywhere present. Those who might be inclined to commit crimes may have second thoughts if they understand their actions will be recorded. Further, in the event a criminal act does occur. cameras permit law enforcement officials to more easily identify, track down, and prosecute wrongdoers.

                    • publiusnj

                      I should think that an exhaustive search for surveillance cameras that could have shed light on the goings on on Canfield Drive (See Wilson Testimony, p.206, line 25-p.207, line 3) that August day was undertaken BEFORE the Grand Jury completed its deliberations. There certainly were a significant number of eyewitnesses; so it is reasonable to conclude that the area was almost certainly thoroughly canvassed for camera captures too. Remember there were FBI agents as well as Ferguson, St. Louis County and Missouri State Troopers involved in the investigations.

                      I don’t know if you have taken the trouble to look at Canfield Drive’s location on a street map but it is in an area that is almost certainly semi-suburban and dedicated to a garden apartments complex. Pictures of the Canfield Green Apartments confirm the presence of low lying multi-family dwellings that were surrounded by off-street parking lots. Were there any surveillance cameras on those buildings, I should think that they would have been focused either on the entrances to the houses or on the off-street parking spots rather than on the middle of Canfield Drive where the decedent and his buddy Dorian were walking when they encountered Off. Wilson.

                      Now, it is possible that the apartments did have surveillance cameras, but they are not mentioned in the Apartments’ amenities listed on their website. See, http://www.canfieldgreen.com/amenities.asp

                      In a website on apartment reviews, moreover, the amenities listing for the Canfield Green Apartments again did NOT mention surveillance cameras. The apartments are apparently “income restricted” which suggests they were not particularly lavish in their amenities.

                      My best guess after doing appropriate due diligence is that it is just a fond hope that surveillance cameras could shed some new light on this very investigated encounter.

                    • slainte

                      I haven’t read the Grand Jury transcript in the Brown matter so I don’t know whether the prosecution introduced evidence relative to public surveillance cameras.

                      While it appears that the prosecution did a very thorough job presenting exculpatory evidence and witness testimony in pursuit of truth, some protesters allege that he tried the case rather than meeting the minimum standards for a grand jury indictment.

                      The prosecutor can’t win for losing.

                    • publiusnj

                      I haven’t read the whole trancript. Just Wilson’s testimony. As for the protestors’ complaints about the prosecutro, one of the “best” is that he should have disqualified himself because he was was a white person whose father had been killed by a black. Huh?

                      In truth, the complaint that the prosecutor did something wrong in presenting more than a bare-bones case blinks the reality that every prosecutor has a duty not to pursue trials if he doesn’t believe there is a case. That doesn’t mean that he should not pursue a full record in the GJ because if he hadn’t, claims would have been made that he was hding stuff. So, he made a complete presentation and left it up to the GJ.

              • ForChristAlone

                Michael, when you have finished a five-year stint as a police officer on the streets of Chicago in the worst of the ghetto “hoods”, let us know how the negotiation approach worked. If we don’t hear back from you, we will have surmised your fate.

          • slainte

            How did the police resolve the riots in Brixton which occurred some years ago?

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Imposed a cordon sanitaire around the area, then let the the disturbances (and the buildings) burn themselves out.

              Police then used CCTV footage, facial recognition software, cellphone intercepts supplied by GCHQ and human intelligence to arrest a number of looters, in the days and weeks that followed.

              • slainte

                It’s telling that surveillance vehicles once used as a military response to terrorism are now used to police civilian populations.

                I am not convinced this is a good thing notwithstanding that some of its effects appear beneficial in the short term, ie., resolution of the Brixton riots.

                The expansive growth and use of surveillance devices intrude upon the lives of law abiding innocent folk, as well as wrongdoers, and in the interest of increased safety we seem willing to turn a blind eye to further erosion of personal liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

                Perhaps an armed policeman might constitute a more proportional and less intrusive response to crime and civil unrest than the sort of surveillance devices you reference.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    I have great respect for you Dr. Esolen and so I am a little disappointed to hear you use the ‘F” word. Ferguson.

    • St JD George

      Why, I think it’s hugely relevant. F may be the most recent in the news cycle, but the history is riddled throughout the alphabet. Though this group may not have been traditionally Catholic, they were at one time raised by and large with strong Christian values. Sadly many abandoned those roots and put their faith in the God of the State who really cares little for them because they are not deep pocketed donors, so they’ve become slaves to a welfare system that could care less about their advancement and only eager to reacquaint with them during an election. This whole white privilege garbage makes me sick to my stomach to hear. I know it’s a complicated subject and volumes could be written about it, more than a blog should bear, but it seems to me that we’re afraid to say the emperor is wearing no clothes here. Are we afraid of being called racist for speaking the truth? David Clarke, the black chief of police in Milwaukee could not have said it any better in describing the situation.

    • Tony

      LOL! But I didn’t. The editors choose our titles ….

    • Crisiseditor

      In my own defense, I was simply demonstrating how the column was relevant and timely. The result is that more people will read it. Most people don’t have your aversion to current events. Our success depends on reaching large numbers of readers. Academic publications and websites are business failures which is why they are heavily subsidized by the sponsoring institution. They have a place but we don’t have their deep pockets. Furthermore, we are not content to reach a small group of people. We want to make a difference. (And, of course, Ferguson was referred to in the column so the title is not inaccurate.)

      • FW Ken

        Well, your title grabbed me, and I’m glad it did. I thought he was going all around the block, but in my mind the whole reading were images of looters, mostly boys, so the connection was made, at least for me.

        You can quibble about the relevancy to Catholic life, but in fact there are 2 Catholic churches in what appears to be the immediate area, maybe more (relying on Google maps here) and joining with the predominantly black churches in the area, they could be a healing force both in the short and long terms.

        Brilliant essay.

      • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

        I was speaking tongue-in-cheek as in “If I here that word one more time (Ferguson) I will SCREAM”) . Philip Rieff got it just right – authority is disintegrating and we are collectively forced to ‘invent’ ourselves daily as ‘news’. ‘News’ is neither true or false – it is a story we tell ourselves about ourselves as a kind of ‘therapy’ in the absence of true authority (i.e. God).

  • ColdStanding

    This book is remarkable, comprehensive, Catholic, and focused laser-like upon the cultivation of virtue in youth. I have been reading through it a meditation at a time with the young’ns and I see the awakening of understanding register upon their visage.


  • And now that you’ve seen the arrogance of the superstate, expressed by one of its high priests, Jonathan Gruber, see its sacrifice. MIchael Brown. He lived in a cauldron of the lack morals that ALWAYS accompany the welfare state and now.

    No doubt however the cheerleaders among the Episcopacy will convene some “social justice” committee, standing or ad hoc, to decry “racism”, “inequity”, “marginalization” or any of the normal vaccuous boogeymen that are trotted out as the new devils.

    It won’t matter that the proximate cause of young Mr. Brown’s death was his aggression and incivility or that thousands of young black males are routinely slaughtered by each other without a single stupid and futile gesture by the Rams. It is of course fascinating to see Roger Goodell stand down for this, as the Pilate of the same league that penalizes celebration.

    • Objectivetruth

      I remember Tim Tebow’s prayerful dropping to one knee (or “Tebowing”) in the end zone was strongly dissuaded and frowned upon by the NFL. If the NFL is such a becon of free speech, perhaps coach Jeff Fisher of the Rams or Comish Roger Goodell would have the same respect for players charging the field wearing “Ferguson Police Department” baseball caps?

      Indulging me in a tangent, former NBA star Charles Barkley has been publicly slamming the protesters in Ferguson, saying the police department was in the right. Of course, nothing on this from the atheistic faux news outlets CNN and MSNBC.

      • St JD George

        If you would prefer someone with a little more credibility who is black, listen to the Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. He has a little more credibility in my opinion and also happens to be a black male – and is not afraid to speak the truth.

      • Oh hell, the NFL was quick to hand out fines when somebody dared to tweet about Michael Sam.. yeah Michael Sam, not exactly headed for the Pro-Bowl….

        • Objectivetruth

          Excellent point!

  • Tamsin

    Perhaps our seminary courses in pastoral care can be replaced by a year of sawing planks, nailing shingles, laying pipes, and painting bridges?

    I think my boys learned more about solidarity with the poor in their summer jobs — washing cars at a dealership, assembling boating gear for a manufacturer — than in four years at a Jesuit high school. Where the highest expression of solidarity with the poor culminates in lobbying government to provide more services.

    For their Christian Service Project, I would have preferred that my boys picked blueberries alongside migrant laborers.

    • St JD George

      Lobbying government to redistribute the fruits of others labors is a sterile enterprise where one can feel good without ever getting dirt under ones fingernails, except for backscratching to claw one’s way to the front of the handout line.

      • Back in the days when “homelessness” was an issue, meaning when it didn’t exist in the same numbers as it does today, but it was a political cudgel, the students from the local Holy Cross College (Jesuit wannabees) used to spend a night outside to show “soliditarity”, with the “homeless”. It didn’t matter that this was a charade, planned for and temporary, and either forgotten or bragged about at the following weekend’s kegger.
        Nothing quite like walking ten feet in another man’s shoes. Almost like like when like when some celebrity would go to the homeless shelter, scoop enough gruel on the trays to allow for a dozen SLR exposures and disappear.

        • St JD George

          A celebrity, you mean like our president?

          • Sort of.. the ones I was thinking about had a modicum of talent.

            • St JD George

              Oh, he has plenty of that in doing things the Chicago Way, just not in leadership, grace, honesty, unifying, transparency, and many other things he duped much of the country into thinking he had.

    • “Perhaps our seminary courses in pastoral care can be replaced by a year of sawing planks, nailing shingles, laying pipes, and painting bridges?”

      Indeed, more carpenters and fisherman, it would be good for some of the clergy to be drawn from people acquainted with hard and unpleasant work.

    • Tony

      As did I, I think, when I spent a couple of summers working in my uncle’s factory, doing whatever needed to be done that day, like packing the shirts and blankets they made there, loading trucks, stacking enormous bolts of fabric, cleaning up, etc. — and I had the good job, because I wasn’t tied down to a single machine.

      There’s a certain patronizing contempt, in the Pelvic Left, for hardscrabble men who have to work with their backs, and their wives who do all of their scrubbing and cooking; yet without such people, we would be starving in one month.

  • Siwash

    Good God! Enormous high impact item, Tony. As you know, Moynihan was crucified for daring raise this notion. . . and single motherhood is endemic to our society in 2014.

    It’s the biggest untalked-about issue there is! I run into single mothers all the time, struggling and struggling and struggling. I suppose this is why I’m up for raising the minimum wage.

    I also suppose this is why I think kids should (themselves and with the help/encouragment of others) refrain from sexual intercourse at a young age.

    The real order of business here is to (a) fix the Democratic Party, so that it can better see American reality, and (b) encourage black leaders who aren’t self-absorbed and merely loud critics. Who, really, takes Sharpton and Farrakhan for real? These are propagandists.

    • “fix the Democratic Party”
      Too late. It sold it soul to the devil a long, long time ago at a discount. The Republicans are listening to the same offer now. They’ll sell at a deeper discount.

  • Siwash

    Tony, I really wish we could do a better job of getting your writing into the hands of national policymakers.

    • St JD George

      Why, so they could shred it? I would be more inclined to wish it into the heads and minds of our so called leaders, i.e. with an indelible marker or permanently etched.

  • ColdStanding

    The most important thing that we need to bring before our mind and keep their at all times is that almost everything that we encounter in our lives is the way it is because it has been upended by revolution.

    The other day someone chanted an ancient prayer in the original Latin. It melted away the modern world from my nervous system. Yes, your own nervous system has either been upended by revolution or is dealing with the pressure being that is being applied to effect the expansion of the revolution.

    I believe that the best attitude to deal with this condition is the patient, benevolent, but firm determination to show the purveyors of revolutionary ideas the door. Cleaning house begins at home.

  • emd04

    Great writing, as always. I wish more people felt this way.

  • RonCz

    Single moms can raise good boys without a father it’s no excuse for violence.

    • St JD George

      Amen, but it still touches on the points Tony has raised about failing our young men. Through SVDP we see many women who for whatever reason had children with boy-men or suffered abuse and moved out/on to protect themselves and their children. Granted their situation is usually made quite difficult but they and their family are better off for the decision. Families can take many forms, but true suffering of despair comes to those who will not accept Christ into their lives.

    • ForChristAlone


    • Single moms or unwed mothers?

      But do tell us more Murphy Brown.

    • Beth

      Do you mean ‘widows’ can raise good boys? If not, well, good luck.

    • RonCz

      Well I mean they can but a father would be better. The best situation for kids is a mom and a dad, not a dad and a dad, or two moms or a dad and an uncle. However no matter what the environment a child can learn to do the right, moral and humble way of living despite their situation. It is all on the parent to surround the child with good people to mentor and advise them.

      • Beth

        The grace of the sacrament is paramount in raising children. If the spouse has died, the grace is still there. That’s my point. It’s obvious that two men or two women cannot raise a child. A single women implies a lack of the grace of the sacrament.

        • RonCz

          No for most of the black youth their fathers have left them or were boy friends, a lot grew up without fathers. So can such a child be raised still to be respectful, kind and courteous?

  • Bucky Inky

    I will probably be excoriated by the “exception proves there are no rules” crowd for saying this, but there are too many women in high places of authority in our society (churches, schools, government, workplace) for the problem that Dr. Esolen so skillfully diagnoses in this article to begin to be solved. Since I already have nothing to lose diplomatically, I will say that this extends to the franchise being extended to women, as it appears to be the same philosophy undergirding it. Women, as a general rule, in spite of their good intentions and will to do so, are not able to imagine what policies on a societal level are good for men as a sex. It apparently does not occur to them (judging by those women who are in power) that a society even has an occasion for polity that specifically addresses the needs of men, or indeed that men of a society might even have specific needs that would require the address and treatment of polity. As a result we have a government that has an entire bureau addressing every conceivable plight that a woman might face, and an entire society that buffoonishly drapes itself in pink every month of October.

    The monstrous complement to this is that men, in spite of what may be their own good intentions, are not fit to exercise authority among a group of women who are their peers. They will always play the role of pleaser and appeaser (if they don’t just abdicate altogether) to their women-colleagues and women-constituents, and damn their own sex in the spineless effort to keep up the role.

    I do not lay the blame for this at the feet of women or men as a sex, but at the feet of a society, made up of men and women, that has demanded women be placed in positions for which they are by-and-large not suited, all in the name of equality.

    • Tony

      There is a reason why the word for “man,” in many languages, signifies both “adult male” and “human being,” but the word for “woman” never does so. It is that man is the generic and woman the special; and there is nothing special about being generic. But the implication of THAT is that the special does not embrace things that are outside of its boundaries; the special is not the generic. Women are interested in their children; they are interested in their husbands; they are almost never interested in boys in general; and they are absolutely never interested in men in general, as men. Women’s Studies, anyone? Its very existence testifies to what you have said.

      • egalitrix

        You are looking too far into a slight bias of assumed maleness in most language.

        • Tony

          Privileged, as were my grandfathers, to go down a hundred feet below the earth, to stoop over and hack at walls of coal with a pickax? My father’s father broke his neck in an explosion there, but did not die; he lived in continual pain ever after. My mother’s father worked there for fifteen years till he suffered a nervous breakdown, and was never fit for gainful employment after that.

          Most human beings in the history of this world have not had the luxury we enjoy now, to dabble in things like Women’s Studies or Gender Studies or whatever. They had to get food on the table, a dry roof over their heads, and warm clothes on their back. They worked all the time. And there had to be a pragmatic division of labor between men and women, for the sake of survival first, and then for the sake of a life becoming to human beings. I believe it is utterly prejudicial to look back upon every other culture besides our wealthy one, and say to them, “Oh, you barbarians, you were really miserable to your women, weren’t you?” Especially when most of US don’t have to clear fields of trees and, worse, stumps, or level hills, or hack away at rocks, or tame and manage large domestic animals, or hew and plane planks for a house, and so on, and so on. It’s this cultural smugness and complete obliviousness to the need for hard manual labor that strikes me as really absurd, not to mention ungrateful.

          My point is that this remarkable linguistic phenomenon is evidence of a universal anthropological fact, one to which feminists themselves unwittingly attest. The man is only generic; the woman is special.

          • egalitrix

            You are reacting as if I somehow implied men never suffer, or have had it worse off than women in certain circumstances. You can not deny though that for many cultures, women have had less legal freedom, something that could lead to women’s studies being a thing. That wasn’t my point though, most of what you say about women could easily be said about men “Men are interested in their children; they are interested in their wives; they are almost never interested in girls in general…” and there is nothing to link the linguistic phenomenon to female “specialness” coming from women themselves.

    • zoltan

      Great post.

  • cestusdei


  • chrisinva

    When he was USCCB president a decade or so ago, then-Bishop Wilton Gregory observed that the American priest population comprised an inordinate number of homosexual men. That model of an “alter Christus” has not served well to form young Catholic men in the past fifty years or so.

    In that same time period, the bishops have embraced government funding by the billions to replace the money no longer donated to their charities by Catholics who have either departed the pews altogether or have directed their voluntary giving elsewhere (since our taxes already support the USCCB).

    When our bishops turn the church into what Pope Francis has called “just another NGO,” it’s hardly inspiring to young men who seek to lead noble and virtuous lives but can find no heroes.

    The bishops, as Cardinal Dolan put it a year ago today, want to be Obama’s “cheerleaders.” So they haven’t taught Humanae Vitae (Dolan March 31, 2012, WSJ) or (with rare and welcome exceptions) encouraged young men to quit the porn habit, or married men to quit the contraception habit.

    Some leaders. some spine.

    Lastly (for now): in return for all those taxpayer billions, the bishops will not condemn the pro-abortion politicians or the welfare-state programs they sponsor (in order to produce more votes). In business it’s called “Golden Handcuffs” — and, as Eric Hoffer points out, a good cause soon turns into a business and winds up as a racket.

    Draw your own conclusions about where the USCCB fits in. And as for rescuing boys from the feminized grotesquerie that our age calls “culture,” it’s the age of the laity, folks. Our bishops have, alas, abdicated their authority by staying on when the majority of their number covered up for crimes against – you guessed it – boys.

    Fraternal Correction, call your office!

    Cardinal Dolan again: “Who’s gonna listen to us?” Bp. Conlon: “Our credibility is shredded.”

    Pray for our bishops. They, not we, are the ones going to Rome to talk about the family. God help us.

  • Laurie

    What should churches do? What should society do?

    • ForChristAlone

      Easy: No sex outside of marriage; get rid of no-fault divorce laws making it more difficult for marriages to end; get rid of government funding that supports unwed mothers, fathers who are not held accountable for the full support of the children they father. Th Church should make an extra effort to mentor boys who are growing up fatherless – especially within the poor Black and Hispanic communities. The Church should sponsor male-only Catholic schools in inner city neighborhoods. That’s just for starters. I am sure others here have better and more encompassing ideas. But let’s turn it back to you, Laurie: What do YOU think should be done?

      • Laurie

        Well, it’s generally easier to decry a problem than it is to solve it. I’m not sure I have the answers, especially because many of them seem to involve political implications that I don’t see the will for. I do think churches could at least be aware that their are more pressing issues than the ones the culture war presents as the “most important”. I don’t necessarily see a lot of individual responsibility emphasized in these articles. Unfortunately when society goes in a bad direction it ends up leaning too heavily on individuals to chart their own course. However, the two people involved in marriage might work harder at maintaining their union and try to surround themselves with a supportive network. In neighborhoods where not a lot of good models exist, I absolutely think a Christian thing to do might be to move in to that neighborhood and model a different way.

        • Laurie

          How to help people live lives of generosity, self-sacrifice, and love is always a good question. The ability to remain married relies on the development of at least some of these qualities, it seems to me.

      • Tony

        Yes, absolutely yes!
        It is hard to penetrate the consciousness of people who have been breathing sex-neutral nonsense and feminism all their lives. Boys need things specifically aimed their way, as BOYS, not as children, so that they will become MEN, not merely adults.

        So: GET THEM TO THE ALTAR. We know what will do this. Do it.
        Trade schools.
        Single-sex schools.
        CYO sports.
        Mentoring programs that have not been feminized (and therefore that are only fit for small children)
        PUBLISHING again books for boys

        And we might think of a few things regarding hiring fathers of families, in those areas where we have the opportunity to hire.

        • Objectivetruth

          More men teaching in Catholic grade schools and CCD/PREP programs, if I may add. I find it beneficial in my class that the male perspective on the fruits of the Holy Spirit for teenage boys gives them real world application.

        • Laurie

          I agree with the heart of your articles, Mr. Elosen, but I do wonder about some of descriptions of women. I am a woman, and I am not solely interested in mentoring small children, although I do like them. When I had male students in college I was interested in them as people, the same as the girls. Part of their experience was their maleness or femaleness, but they were all individuals. I myself like intellectual discussions, and I enjoy reading theology. I tend to get alone quite well with men, especially men who enjoy intellectual pursuits. In another world, I would have just been an “unsexed woman”, but luckily in this one, I was educated by my father who supported me wholeheartedly, and not put down for those interests. I would say I’m more like my father than my mother.

          The descriptions of feminism as a conspiracy of evil secularists hell bent on destroying the natural order seems overwrought. The pendulum may have swung away from the development of boys into men, but for a long time the development of women seemed pretty limited, to say the least. Some of the commentators on here pretty much justify the reaction of feminists, that is, without feminism men are basically the only people who end up being capable of a whole range of experiences that women can actually do. Jesus seemed to think they were worth spending time with, at a time when his disciples considered them beneath their dignity.

          • Tony

            Dear Laurie — I appreciate your concerns. I must tell you, I don’t accept the feminist interpretation of what life was like for women before the feminists came around. I do too much reading to believe that. So I can’t accept that the development of women was “pretty limited.” Consider that until the Industrial Revolution, the pressing concern for almost every human being alive was how to get enough food for the table, how to keep the house warm and the roof dry, how to keep good clothes on your back, and how to save a little extra for the sweeter things in life. Both men and women, then, engaged themselves in a far more baffling variety of things-to-do than they do now, precisely because of those pressing needs. Every man had to be his own carpenter, and every woman her own seamstress.

            Even after the Industrial Revolution, these things remained the case. What we’re now looking at, though, is a post-industrial assumption that the heart of any human life is a professional career. I believe that that is wrongheaded and reductive. I also believe it is itself remarkably restrictive. The jobs that most people do outside of the home involve them in a far narrower array of things to do, using a far narrower range of skills, than what my grandmothers experienced.

            I believe that the basic assumption of feminism is wrong. It is that men are not for women, and women are not for men, and men and women together are not for the family. The family, and not the individual man or the individual woman, should be the focus of all of our social efforts and all of our political measures for securing the common good.

            Anyway, when men say that they find the company of other men different from the company of men and women together, and when they say that there were times, when they were boys, when it was necessary for them NOT to be with girls or women, I don’t see how a woman can dismiss that testimony lightly. Jesus certainly did find it worth while spending a lot of time with women. Jesus also found it worth while, note well, spending a lot of time with his brothers-in-arms, when no women were around. There was nothing wrong with that, either.

            • Laurie

              “It is that man is the generic and woman the special; and there is nothing special about being generic. But the implication of THAT is that the special does not embrace things that are outside of its boundaries; the special is not the generic. ”

              But what is not common to woman that is common to man? Certainly writers like Flannery O Conner were interested in religion, culture, geography, etc. Dorothy Day was interested in politics, class issues, social justice, journalism, etc. Were these interests outside of woman’s spheres? I just feel like narrow stereotypes of what men and woman can do produces stultified people. The Catholic religion has always had such a rich intellectual heritage to choose from, it seem a shame to limit it to generalizations about what men and women are “really” like.

              Also, while its true that life before industrialization may have focused more on the bare necessities, people still thought about the roles of men and women. “In the 1920’s when Eleanor Roosevelt’s daughter Anna enrolled for one year in Cornell’s School of Agriculture, her grandmother complained that “Girls who went to college were very apt to be ‘old maids’ and become ‘bookworms.’…a dire threat to any girl’s chance of attracting a husband.” Henry Adams, writing about women’s intellectual ambitions for higher education, commented on “…the pathetic impossibility of improving those poor little, hard, thin, wiry, one-stringed instruments which they call their minds.” We couldn’t vote for quite a while, since women were not considered to have the ability to be political. If shows like Mad Men are at all accurate, when men were married more frequently, that didn’t mean they were always faithful.

              I agree that the family is the basic structure of society, but since humanity can be corrupted, then the family can also be. I worry that the pressure placed on it in reaction to modern living arrangements is a lot of pressure on the family to be all things to all people. Paul and Jesus seemed to do all right being single and faithful. Not everyone is going to have the sort of family life pushed for by religious ideals, but many people still have to shoulder on doing the best they can. It seems like a heavy burden for all those who for various reasons cannot then find that sort of domestic bliss to then read that they are sinners outside of the flock.

              • Laurie

                Also to add, I do think people live not just for themselves, but for other people as well. I still think channeling it all into the family can produce its own tensions and frustrations, as no institution is capable of all our longings. The family can become an idol, as all happiness will somehow be contained by having 2.5 kids and trophy wife/husband.

              • Bucky Inky

                But what is not common to woman that is common to man? Certainly writers
                like Flannery O Conner were interested in religion, culture, geography,
                etc. Dorothy Day was interested in politics, class issues, social
                justice, journalism, etc.

                How many people, Laurie, women or men have anywhere near the vision of a Flannery O’Connor or a Dorothy Day? They were exceptional women, not to mention exceptional human beings. A sane society, which I believe our nation (U.S.) was closer to being back when O’Connor and Day lived than it is presently, recognizes exceptions, but does not suppose that it means everyone should be (or can be) like the exceptions. It recognizes that, in spite of a few anomalous examples here and there, a woman is naturally more concerned with (and physically designed for) matters domestic, and finds her fulfillment there; that a man is naturally more concerned with (and physically designed for) provision for and protection of his family so that the family has a reserved space cut out for itself in which to conduct its important business.

                A sane society will order itself in such a way as to foster and encourage the majority of women and men to follow the ordinary path that differentiates the roles of women and men in a family. The sane society will do what it can to make this path as easy as possible because the majority of women and men are ordinary, not exceptional like O’Connor or Day.

                • Laurie

                  Not disagreeing with you necessarily, but I think many men and women have interests and abilities outside of rigid gender lines. The United States, for better or worse, has always focused on helping individuals achieve at their abilities. The overemphasis on individualism is a whole other post, but it seems difficult to get people to focus on developing men as men and women as women when what those entities are cannot really be completely grasped.

    • Objectivetruth

      I personally do see attempts by the Catholic Church to help young boys become good men in black communities. It’s actually done in a quiet way, you’d have to look for it. As a Lay Volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity, over the years we’ve run summer camps and after school homework help programs to the grade school kids. It has helped some of the kids, but the problem is by the time you get a chance to mentor or help a 9 or 10 year old, there’s been significant “damage” done by the life they’ve led. Almost all of the boys come from a poor home where there is no father, and the mother has her own problems and is so overwhelmed and isn’t sure what to do. This 9 year old boy has no idea what right or wrong means. At this point the challenges of trying to teach a young boy what a Christian virtuous man looks like are huge. The obstacles are sometimes overwhelming. And the environment these boys have been brought up in is horrific. All they know in their young life is drugs, theft, domestic violence. Without sounding defeated or cynical, but you can’t help them all, it is sad. It’s tough, dirty work. It sometimes truly does come down to whether the parent(s) of this child wants them raised in Christ, or not. Because they can spend an hour of the day learning about Christ, but the other 23 hours of the day they live in hell.

      But as Catholics, we try. Sometimes you can only plant seeds of what Christian virtue is, and hope and pray that seed will grow

    • Objectivetruth

      And also, it’s not what “should churches do.” It’s what each of us as individual Catholics should do. Find the poorest, most crime riddled area near you. Trust me, you will find the Catholic Church and Catholics there quietly and without fanfare doing the stressful, sorrowful, dirty work of Christ. Knock on their door and join them. They will be thankful you came and will give you a job to do. Even if you can only give them 2 hours a week after work, do it. The upside and grace you will find is your eyes will be opened, and you will see Christ’s face in “the distressing disguise of the poor.”

      • Laurie

        I actually do participate in several churches (although they are not Catholic). However, I agree with Mr. Esolen that the formation of men and women is more heavily influenced by contemporary culture than by church leadership. Tolkien once said “I imagine the fish out of water is the only fish to have an inkling of water.” Perhaps our current crisis will lead more and more people to realize the importance of a family life for a stable society.

  • Vienna64

    Mr. Esolen,
    You are part of that Church, which you are accusing of doing nothing for those boys. What have you done to change things?

    • CR89

      He writes intelligent, thought-provoking, conversation-inducing articles like this to help get the ball rolling so we can ALL change things. Wake up.

      • Vienna64

        Less talk and more work. You are right. I need to wake up . This article put me to sleep.

    • ForChristAlone

      No comma needed after the word “Church” in that first sentence.

    • Daniel P

      He’s done what we all should be doing, at the very least. He’s noticed various lost boys that come into his life, and he has helped them find their way out of Neverland. And he’s written that others should do the same.

    • Tony

      Pretty snide. All right — I ran a men’s group on my campus for eight years, until the powers asked me to give it up. But as a result, the boys themselves began a vibrant group on their own, for which I was an informal advisor, and gave talks on occasion. They have now combined with a full-to-bursting Knights of Columbus chapter. I’ve been a mentor for many young men who have come through my college. I’ve been a public opponent of one of the direst threats to healthy boyhood and manhood, namely the rage for same-sex pseudogamy.

      I’ve given aid and publicity whenever I could to Catholic boys’ schools — hoping also to bring donors their way. Most recently, I’ve visited a tremendous educational initiative for boys in Illinois, which I have written about at Crisis, and which I’ll be writing about again in the next few weeks.

      I’ve written about these issues for the better part of ten years, and spoken about them, in a variety of venues. But I cannot teach masonry, plumbing, carpentry, electronics, farming, hunting, welding, and so forth — and I cannot be a CYO basketball coach, nor do I have the authority or the wherewithal to begin or to resurrect a CYO league. I don’t have diocesan property at my disposal. When I was the head of our state homeschooling organization, I did manage to get fathers together for organizing football and baseball for the boys, and that went on for a good six years or so.

      What would you like? I am not the principal of a Catholic school, who might hire a master carpenter to teach the boys a trade. I am not the bishop of a diocese, who might urge his priests to make an extra effort to enlist boys to serve at the altar. What I can do, I do.

      • Vienna64

        The point of my post was that actions speak far louder than the words. You are a healthy member of the Church and this is all that matters. Shortcomings of others maybe disappointing but should not distract the rest from their good actions.
        I could only respond to what was written. I was not making a judgement of your character or questioning your faith.Being snide was not my intention. If my comments came across as such, I apologize. What is Church? I would say after Johnne Donne:No man is an island entire of itself; every man
        is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
        if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
        is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
        well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
        own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
        because I am involved in mankind.
        And therefore never send to know for whom
        the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
        Thank you for your reply.

  • Paddy

    Benign neglect, as suggested by Sen. D.P. Moynihan, is the only cure for repairing the fundamental building block of Western Civilization, the family. No meetings, or conferences needed, thank you!

  • Jo Joyce

    I believe we can look at events like Ferguson, and compare it to 911. If Only Clinton had killed bin laden back then, all those people would have lived. But it’s long past, move on and do what we can to improve our world. With Mike Brown, who is to say what his life May have bee had he lived? We all pray he is being purified and someday will see Jesus. But suppose he had grabbed Wilson’s gun successfully, shot him, emptied the gun on all nearby, grabbed the rifle or shot gun and extra ammo in most police cars, used up all that… Not only would all who have pointed fingers at police, etc, be of different views, BUT WOULD MIKE BROWN HAVE THE SAME CHANCE TO SEE JESUS?

  • Vienna64

    Church has done and is doing a lot for these boys. Consider the work of Benedict Groeschel, and countless others, who have dedicated their lives to the cause. They are the Church, living and evangelizing through their work.one does not need to wait for an official edict from Cardinal Dolan to roll up the sleeves and get to work. The statement that Church did nothing is arrogant and ignorant.

    • Tony

      Excuse me, but I did say that I was making an exception for brave individuals here and there. That said, the saintly Father Groeschel did not have a special vocation for the welfare of boys. His special vocation was for unwed mothers. Why is this so hard to see? Father Flanagan had that special vocation for delinquent and orphan boys. There is, however, no more Boys Town. It is Boys and Girls Town, as there are no Boys Clubs, but Boys and Girls Clubs. When the Boy Scouts were trying to defend themselves against the pressure of the Pelvic Left, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America did absolutely nothing to assist them.

      Please, Madam, keep to the specifics. What has the church, in America, as a whole, done for the welfare of boys AS BOYS? Nothing, nothing, nothing. Otherwise we would see Catholic trade schools for boys; Catholic sodalities for boys; Catholic bishops supporting rather than undermining boys’ schools; bishops calling for the rights of fathers to be respected …

      • Vienna64

        I have already reply to your comment. I would like to simply point out that the catholic church is more than the hierarchy, which I agree with you may be disappointing at times. At least that is my personal opinion.
        Sometimes words may be misleading despite the best of intentions(behind Vienna64 lies XY chromosome and the battle my family ancestors fought a long time ago:).
        I do read your articles and like them very much. This one paragraph just did not sit with me well.

      • Guest


        You can’t expect “fathers” to act like real fathers when they have no children.

        When you add the insanity of mandated in ability to marry, under the guise of “perfect and perpetual chastity”, there is no chance anything truly “father like” will result.

        Richard Sipe best describes what does happen:

        “Clerical culture molds an attitude toward sexuality that often leads to a double life where a bishop or priest is publicly attentive to his church duties at the same time he maintains a private sexual life. Sometimes this secret life is with a consenting woman or man. But a proportion of clergy who cannot establish adult relations “fall in love” with minors, take advantage of them and do great harm at the same time they are committing criminal acts. All that is secret. Priests who get sexually involved with minors frequently receive tacit permission and easy forgiveness for their behavior from superiors who are or have been sexually active. Those men are not in any position to correct the offending cleric; they tend to cover up behavior of a brother priest even when it is criminal “for the good of the church”.

    • M

      I agree. WE, the laity, are the Church as much as the priests and bishops. The Church has always encouraged us to reach out to the disadvantaged. A good place to start might be fostering unwanted black children (both girls and boys,) and doing our best to ensure that policies are in place to ensure that black children have health care, education, and are safe in their homes.

  • RufusChoate

    Excellent interview of Professor Esolen on Catholic Answers Live.

  • zoltan

    Hearty applause!

  • James45

    To smarmy for his own good, he poked himself in his own eye – tough to get cut off on Faux News for being too psychotic.


    • Tony

      Smarmy? That means “wishy washy.” The interviewers were supposed to have been informed about the general idea of the book and its ironic “recommendations.” The person interviewed cannot see their faces, and so cannot be aware that they have missed the irony.

      And what exactly does this have to do with the question, “What should we do to help boys, especially those from the lower classes, become responsible and courageous men?” Nothing.

  • Todd Flowerday

    The neglect of boys? Sure, I can buy into that. Consider that unlike Michael Brown, about 250,000 boys (plus a like number of girls) are in foster care in this country and have neither mother nor father to guide them in their young lives.
    If culturewarriors and conservatives really cared about the “right” to a mother an a father, they would change their tune on any number of unchristian, unbiblical practices they espouse to support their sacred cows. Rather than fuss about the occasional gay couple adopting, or how badly men are treated to earn about $1.20 for every woman’s dollar, they might at least promote adoption as a viable alternative. Even if they aren’t in charge of it.

    • You might be a prime example of what concerns us.

      • Todd Flowerday

        Indeed, if you are more concerned about your own warmth and comfort than real boys in the real world. Preach on, my pseudonymous friend.

        • Objectivetruth

          You, my liberal atheist friend, are more concerned with giving free money to women to have babies out of wedlock, thus making the father obsolete and destroying marriage and the family which led to the tragedy in Ferguson.

          Yes, Wormwood…….you have succeeded in destroying the family and thus destroying the culture. Satan is very proud of you, very proud.

          • Todd Flowerday

            Your comments are silly and amusing.

            • Objectivetruth

              Your beliefs and ideology are frightful and destructive.

              • Todd Flowerday

                lol. You don’t even know me.

    • Objectivetruth

      Your efforts to destroy marriage and the family have led to these boys being in foster homes. As always, it’s up to the Catholic Church to come in and perform cleanup operations after you and your satanic liberal, “progressive” cult have burned their houses and lives to the ground. You, Todd Flowerday, and your atheistic way of looking on the world has destroyed our society.

      • Todd Flowerday

        No, your commentary still pretty much suggests an adolescent sillyhead is behind it. Clearly, you cannot sign a real name that would embarrass you to your parents and your high school teacher and your boyfriend.

    • Objectivetruth

      No….Toad “Wormwood”…..no…….

      What we saw on that Monday night in Missouri was your successful operations started by your patron saint, Margaret Sanger, to destroy blacks in America. You have been extremely successful in targeting this racial group (which you’ve deemed subhuman) through abortion, contraception. But that was not enough. But this was not enough for you and your eugenics loving demonic tribe, you had to take away their fathers.

  • M

    It’s not clear exactly what happened in Ferguson as eye witnesses (always notoriously unreliable) told conflicting stories, meaning that reasonable people may disagree as to exactly what happened. Darren Wilson was not exonerated. The real issue was, unfortunately, that there was not enough evidence available to try the case, and, as so often in this cases, one of the two people who knew exactly what happened was dead. In addition, there are circumstances surrounding the Grand Jury investigation that are troubling to the black community (and others.) Jurors were told (incorrectly, according to the Missouri AG) that all that is required for an officer to use deadly force is “reasonable belief” that a threat exists. Clearly this belief may be largely subjective and strongly influenced by the stereotype of the “large, scary, black man.” Also Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis district attorney, helped raise money for Darren Wilson and has strong family and personal ties to the St. Louis police force. He should have recused himself from the case.

    The case of Eric Garner was different because the incident was caught on video, so ambiguity about exactly what happened is removed. The video shows an unarmed man being put in an illegal chokehold by an officer with known difficulties on the job. Garner is clearly pleading that he can’t breathe. After he lost consciousness, nobody tried to revive him for seven minutes! So far the only person charged has been the video photographer. I can certainly understand why some people feel that black life is being devalued.

  • NeilPostmanAlwaysRingsTwice

    This is the same Anthony Esolen who remarked about the Million Man March that he was surprised so many black people were out of prison. He’s a racist schmuck, and insufferable in person.