I recently watched the movie "Of Mice and Men" with my daughter. She had been assigned the book to read in her English class. Having never read the book, I was appalled by the choice of this grisly tale for classroom discussion.
The book's author, John Steinbeck, has cleverly contrived a tale in which the killing of a mentally deficient man appears to be justified. It is a perfect introduction to eugenics for young people from a secular humanist point of view. First a sick old dog is killed (euthanized), then at the very end Lennie is killed (euthanized) by his friend George.
I asked my daughter if anyone in her class had objected to the killing on moral grounds, and it appears that all of them seemed to agree that the killing was justified and the best possible choice for George given the circumstances. None of the students seemed to realize that the "circumstances" were complete contrived by the author in order to elicit a particular moral judgement from his readers.
Just today I was reading about a speech by Archbishop Chaput of Denver who has made a name for himself as a staunch defender of the Catholic faith. He was discussing the loss of a "moral vocabulary" in young people. He used as an example the reaction of some young students to a short story titled "The Lottery". This is a story about a fictional town where a "sacrificial victim" is chosen each year by way of a lottery. (My daughter's class was assigned to read this morally repugnant story a few years earlier.)
I was reminded of an article I had read recently about "values clarification".
Children learn to establish values through exercises in which they rank or compare items or opinions based on personal preference. To accustom students to reveal themselves, exercises generally begin with topics that are benign, such as arranging short lists of foods, sporting events, or vacations spots in order of preference. Ice breakers, typically used in (adult and student) retreats, in which participants must exchange benign personal information (who else wears glasses?, etc.) are a values clarification vehicle meant to accustom individuals to reveal themselves.You can see how stories like "Of Mice and Men" and "The Lottery" could be easily used as a way to initiate a conversation about values. This doesn't sound so terrible, except that the purpose of "values clarification" is not to teach children the difference between right and wrong; it is to encourage "critical thinking" with regards to morality. It encourages young people to believe that they should be their own arbiters of right and wrong; good or bad.
Once students are comfortable sharing their personal position, a barrage of moral dilemmas may be hurled at them, asking them if they agree strongly, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, disagree strongly, and to forth. As the exercises progress, the points become more controversial and more personal: Should children have the right not to accompany their parents to church? Should homework be abolished? Should teens be free to engage in sex before marriage? Is euthanasia a good idea? Students whose ideas differ from the majority are subject to awkward public scrutiny and ultimately may be pressured to abandon their convictions and to join the crowd instead.
Christians should note that Jesus never used values clarification. Jesus taught by moralizing. He clearly defined right, wrong and sin. Jesus described the Kingdom of God with clever analogies; creative parables containing references people could relate to. While his stories sometimes were confusing they never contained mixed messages that might put the listener in the occasion of sin. Jesus' goal, while developing well-formed consciences in his followers, was to spawn love for God and to generate understanding for the necessity of total obedience to God.When it comes to teaching arithmetic, we teach our children that there is an absolute right or wrong. When it comes to teaching English, students are taught how to spell correctly and how to right grammatically correct sentences. But when it comes to teaching values, our children are taught that there is no right or wrong. Everything is relative and the children are "free" to choose and decide for themselves.
Values clarification, on the other hand, works to slowly erode a child's well-formed conscience and Christian values in favor of personal choice. "A person's values are simply the personal standards or criteria he uses in decision making, and for that reason should not be dictated by another individual" (italics added).7 Values clarification teaches children to shun traditional morality and family rules. It is no wonder that even small children upon returning home from school are boldly telling their parents that they will run their own lives.
This promotion of a value-free society is no accident. This agenda is promoted by the secular humanists that have become increasingly radical in their demands that religion be abolished from public life - especially in the schools. The history can be traced back to John Dewey and the original "Humanist Manifesto". More recently there was the Frankfurt School which included Herbert Marcuse who was called the "Father of the New Left". He was the one that coined the phrase "make love, not war".
In an address at the US Naval Academy in August 1999, Dr Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret), gave a background briefing on the Frankfurt School, reminding his audience that it was the ‘foot soldiers’ of the Frankfurt School who introduced the ‘sensitivity training’ techniques used in public schools over the past 30 years (and now employed by the US military to educate the troops about ‘sexual harassment’). During ‘sensitivity’ training teachers were told not to teach but to ‘facilitate.’ Classrooms became centres of self-examination where children talked about their own subjective feelings. This technique was designed to convince children they were the sole authority in their own lives.There is an underlying hypocrisy in this so-called secular humanist "tolerance" which is recently becoming ever more apparent. The humanists only advocate a neutral value system as a way of attacking Christian values. Once their "humanistic" values begin to take hold in society, they abandon their neutral position and have no problem in attacking and condemning those with opposing points of view.
Atkinson continued: ‘The Authoritarian personality,’ studied by the Frankfurt School in the 1940s and 1950s in America, prepared the way for the subsequent warfare against the masculine gender promoted by Herbert Marcuse and his band of social revolutionaries under the guise of ‘women’s liberation’ and the New Left movement in the 1960s. The evidence that psychological techniques for changing personality is intended to mean emasculation of the American male is provided by Abraham Maslow, founder of Third Force Humanist Psychology and a promoter of the psychotherapeutic classroom, who wrote that, ‘... the next step in personal evolution is a transcendence of both masculinity and femininity to general humanness.’
This is a very far-reaching subject and I can only hope to scratch the surface in a short article like this, but I hope you can see how this begins to explain the powerful forces at work behind the scenes that are shaping our culture. At the same time, I hope you can begin to appreciate the subtlety of some of these methods of attack. They do not consist of a overt attack, but instead use a subversive method which aims at undermining the foundations of Christian culture.