So how badly off is our culture, really?
Yesterday, Sunday morning, I was sitting outside, reading and smoking a cigar, minding my own business. Some two hundred feet away, across a very busy street, is a Catholic school physically attached to a Catholic church.
Some young children were hanging out of an open classroom window, shouting insults at passers-by. Then they spotted me. Here is some of what they yelled at the top of their lungs.
“Smoker! Smoking man! Ewww! Cough-cough! He’s trying to kill us with his smoke! He must be a homosexual! Hey, homo! Hey, homo man!” And so on, for a good ten minutes.
I couldn’t help thinking of II Kings 2:23-24, in which a crowd of “little children” mock the prophet Elisha, and he curses them, and a couple of bears charge out of the woods and chomp down on 42 of them. (The Hebrew word for “children” in this case denotes boys or girls up to 17 years old.) Not that I wanted that to happen; but I would’ve been pleased to see a nun come in with a yardstick and hand out a few good smackings.
The children I had the pleasure to teach at another Catholic school never showed any sign of being capable of behavior like that described above. It would not have occurred to them. But that was years ago: it was even in another century.
We have had a good 15 years to make our popular culture more debauched, more depraved, and have taken full advantage of it.
Still, these kids were actually inside a Catholic school, a religious school, when they did this: on a Sunday morning, with services being held in the adjacent building. And I wasn’t their only target. Anyone who passed on the sidewalk got insulted.
Kids, if left to it, will get up to mischief. Families and churches have the responsibility to teach them better.
It distresses me to think a Catholic school can do no better than what I saw that morning.