Saturday, 19 November 2011

Here we go again...

I had been following the saga at Bonus Pastor Catholic College with some interest, initially via James Preeces' blog, and subsequently via Bonus Pastor Exposed.

And then on Friday, Charlie came home to tell me that they'd started watching Keeping Mum in RE, as they were going to write an essay on the treatment of Religion in the Media. (see Bonus Pastor Exposed for clips showing how unsuitable Keeping Mum is - but beware: it is unsuitable! Alternatively, my letter below itemises why I disapprove.)

Charlie and Dominique are not at a Catholic School, as there is not one locally (and our experiences at the Catholic School the bigger girls went to before we moved would not make me rush to another - but that's another story...). Nonetheless, I feel it is incumbent on me to point out that we do not believe Keeping Mum is something he (or any other adolescents) should be watching at school.

To their credit, the RE Dept have been very understanding and responsive when I have raised concerns in the past (see here for my concerns and here for their response)

So here's the first draft of the inevitable letter:

Dear Mr X

I am writing in my capacity as critical friend to the RE department - and also concerned parent.

I have learned from Charlie that his class has just started to watch Keeping Mum, with a view to studying how religion is portrayed in the media.

I have serious concerns about this film being shown in school:

  • It blasphemes the Holy Name of Jesus
  • It makes repeated use of the F*** word (and does both of these in a context of casual irreverence)
  • It shows a young woman interrupted having sex in a van; showing her topless, and again being watched by a voyeur as she undresses, again showing her topless
  • It shows the mother being seduced by her golf instructor, including unedifying lines such as: ‘You want our First Time to be in a car: that’s the kind of thing my daughter does, for f***’s sake.’
  • It has an ethos of sexual behaviour that is casual and promiscuous (‘And I know why - you’re not getting any’ says the daughter to the mother.)

From our perspective as parents trying to raise our children to be virtuous, all that poses serious problems, breaching as it does several commandments, and the traditional practices of custody of the eyes and custody of the ears, which are how we train our children in the virtue of purity. In Catholic theology, human sexuality is sacred.

I know that ours is an unfashionable, and even counter-cultural, approach, but looking at our children, I don’t think it has damaged them too much: to be honest, I am proud of the way they are turning out.

I recognise that the children may hear this sort of language in the playground, though I lament the fact. I am sure that it would not be countenanced in the classroom, any more than a girl appearing topless would be. So I fail to understand why this is appropriate in a film shown to the students.

I have been told that it is a recommended resource for the syllabus; but that, in my understanding, does not make it either compulsory or desirable.

I suspect that if you asked other Christian parents whether they wanted their adolescent kids to watch blasphemous, profane and sexually titillating material, some others would have reservations.

But we were never consulted or informed, and perhaps that is my deepest concern. If the teaching staff really deem this suitable, their project for our kids is very different from ours: and I really don’t want to have to start quizzing Charlie and Dominique about what they’ve been taught in order to undo damage (as I see it) that may have ben perpetrated by well-intentioned but (in my view) misguided teachers.

I have every confidence that you will take our concerns seriously, and understand them, and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

I am confident that the response will be swift and courteous - and it may well be positive. It could scarcely be worse that Bonus Pastor's...


Frederick Oakeley said...

I'm not sure you are countercultural on this occasion. Most parents who feel at all would feel this approach to be wrong - particularly as anything shown in school has an authority not accorded to other communications. A good letter but I'm not sure we know enough about the Bonus Pastor case to go over the top in condemnation.

Richard Collins said...

I think we do know enough about Bonus Pastor to condemn this, it is unbelievable.
I thank God that I am now beyond the role of parental responsibilities and I pray for Catholic parents today.
Where are the Bishops when you want them?

Ben Trovato said...

FO - thanks for your comment; but I think there is an implicit contradiction between the two points you make.

RC - and thanks for yours. Episcopal support would be extremely welcome (and episcopal appointees' collusion with the enemy is most unhelpful), but this is primarily a battle for parents to fight: and for which we have the grace of state.

antonia said...

Why don't you home educate?

Ben Trovato said...

Good question, Antonia! I'll post I'm the topic soon.

blondpidge said...

Good luck. I shall be watching with interest!