by Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
A reader recently sent an e-mail which opened with this question: "Has St. Ignatius High School never heard of Ignatius Press?"
The institution in question is a Jesuit preparatory school in Cleveland, Ohio. I know very little about it (I'm told that tuition is around $11,000 a year), but I see that the school's website features the following quote:
"The purpose of our education is to give a young man the tools whereby he can answer the question What does God want from me?" -- Rev. Robert J. Welsh, S.J., '54
Very nice. But, having read the school's required summer reading list, I wonder, "Does God really want teenagers to be reading books filled with numerous vulgarities, sexually-explicit language and references, and perspectives that are amoral and hedonistic?"
For example, the novel, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, which is required summer reading for "English I" and "Honors English I", contains the following passage, uttered by the book's central character, Junior, a teenage boy growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation (warning: sexual language):
I spend hours in the bathroom with a magazine that has one thousand pictures of naked movie stars:
Naked woman + right hand = happy happy joy joy
Yep, that’s right, I admit that I masturbate.
I’m proud of it.
I’m good at it.
If there were a Professional Masturbators League, I’d get drafted number one and make millions of dollars.
And maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you really shouldn’t be talking about masturbation in public.”
Well, tough, I’m going to talk about it because EVERYBODY does it. And EVERYBODY likes it.
And if God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, then God wouldn’t have given us thumbs.
Yeah, yeah, I get it: this is real teen talk written to engage teens who live in the real world and who want tough, straight, honest fiction that takes on controversial and difficult topics. That's the usual line trotted out in defense of such overrated pieces of fiction. Junior also expresses his anger at God and Jesus (after the death of his grandmother's death) by doodling cartoons that are stupid at best and certainly offensive. There is also the dubious revelation that Indians, according to Junior, used to be supporters of gay marriage--until their open-mindedness was corrupted: