Inside The Christian Right
Why Democrats Are Turning Red
Growing Up In a Liberal Home
Up until I gave my life to Jesus Christ when I was 18, I was at war with my mother. She was one of the kindest persons I ever knew, but she also looked down on the sin that controlled me, so we were naturally at odds.
She considered drinking soda pop a money-wasting extravagance. When we were young, my two brothers and I were only allowed a few bottles a year. We almost never went out to eat. Once a year, we ate at one of the first McDonald's restaurants. (15 cents hamburgers.) It seemed like my parents sent all their extra income to support Catholic Charities. Once they took us kids to the slums of New York City to see the suffering poor. I think I was supposed to feel guilty because I never went to bed hungry. That's what it meant to me growing up in a liberal home.
Not that my parents were perfect. Far from it. My father was an incurable alcoholic. All his high ideals were at odds with the fact he got drunk and couldn't keep a job. He grew up in the South when social drinking was as important as wearing the right clothes. My mother found out about his "problem" only after they were married. His drinking was the most important fact of our lives until he died when I was 12. He was A brilliant man, (a genius really,) extremely capable and pleasant. He just couldn't stay sober.
I remember waking up one night when I was 12. I heard my mother pleading with daddy to not go back to a staff party. He had kept his job as a university professor for about a year, and she was terrified he would lose his job. It's funny. There's a fine line between a social drinker and an embarrassing drunk.
My mother and father helped start the first Montessori School in America since the 1920's. It was called Whitby School, and still exists in Greenwich, Connecticut. Many of the famous liberal ruling families sent their kids there. Since my parents were employed at the school, my brothers and I got free tuition. We were three guinea pigs for this education experiment. My mother developed many of the remedial reading materials that were later used by Hooked On Phonics. Freedom was the hallmark of Whitby, and perhaps my mother was a little more structured than some of the teachers. (She told me Doug Henning, creator of the Muppets, pulled his child out of Whitby because he thought her too strict.)
Before they married, my parents worked together at a Catholic charity called Friendship House. This Chicago slum ministry helped blacks long before the civil rights movement became fashionable. Both my parents were idealistic civil rights workers. Daddy was a cultured man of the world, but Mom was innocent in many ways, having absolutely no "street smarts."
My mother was oblivious to what people looked like. She was incapable of understanding racism as anything more than an abstract concept. She once told me about a staff meeting at Friendship House when she was the only white person there. A string of petty thefts had occurred, and they were discussing what to do about it. While trying to make her point, she blurted out, (quite innocently,) "I think there's a nigger in the thatch," only then noticing she was addressing a room full of blacks.
During World War 2, she served as a cryptographer under Macarthur in The Philippines and New Guinea. After the war, she served in Japan and Korea. Although She dated many GI's as part of the war effort, she remained innocent through it all, never compromising her Catholic beliefs but once she came close.
Once in the Philippines, she was just finishing her shift when a garbled message came over the cryptography machine. Not knowing if the message was urgent, she stayed way into the night trying to figure out the errors made by the sender in order to decode the message. After toiling away selflessly for many hours, she finally had it a request from a field commander for prophylactics. She discretely slid the garbled message in the middle of the stack for a less spiritual WAC to decode.
Catholic and liberal
There was no inconsistency in my parents being good Catholics and a good liberals. They met and fell in love while serving God in the service of their fellow man. Catholic morality is completely consistent with traditional liberal principles. The antislavery and civil rights movements were Christian movements. Hippie Liberalism of today has very little in common with the Traditional Liberalism of my parents. Traditional Liberalism was selfless at it's core. Hippie Liberalism is selfish at its core. Traditional Liberalism was based on traditional morality. Hippie Liberalism is based on the tolerance of immorality. Traditional Liberalism encourages higher morals. Hippie Liberalism encourages selfish immorality.
Many of us who grew up in Traditional Liberal homes, watched as Hippie Liberals took over the Democratic party and deconstructed the moral foundations of our childhood. Now, as we teach our children and grandchildren to stay out of the moral cesspool of American culture, Democrats are turning red.
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