The purpose of this website is reform of the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) English Department. The English Department’s requirement that all incoming freshmen read a vulgar and anti-Catholic book called The Handmaid’s Tale manifests this need for reform. Please participate in this call for change by signing the petition, and by writing a letter to Fr. Dease and copying both archbishops.
What we seek:
1. Removal of the The Handmaid’s Tale from the core curriculum.
2. An apology from the English Department to students, parents, alumni and benefactors.
3. Reform of the English Department and its curriculum so that this never happens again.
Quotes from The Handmaid's Tale
WARNING: GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT
In the English Department, there is little uniformity in the books, or “texts” required. The faculty therefore, votes on a single book that they will use in all sections of freshman English. That "Common Text" this year is The Handmaid’s Tale. (See Common Text selections from past years).
The book is about a future takeover of the U. S. Government by the “religious right.” While the totalitarian “regime” is not specifically Catholic, it looks in many ways like the Catholic Church:
The “regime” doesn't permit abortion or contraception.
The regime is "patriarchal," like surprise, the male hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
The most oppressed women in the book must dress in habits, like Catholic nuns.
The regime espouses “traditional morality” and “family values.”
The regime does not recognize homosexual acts as healthy sexual development.
The regime does not recognize divorce. (Is there any non-Catholic denomination that doesn’t recognize divorce?)
The regime doesn’t allow artificial insemination or fertility clinics.
The regime does not allow pornography, or fornication, or sanction prostitution.
The despicable Aunt Lydia is described as “like... the saints, of darker ages… angular and without flesh.”
There are “Soul Scroll” stores where prayers are purchased for various purposes, a mockery of the free will offering given while lighting a votive candle, or of the stipend given a priest for saying a Mass for the dead.
It seems if one just substitutes “Catholic Church” for “regime” in the above cases, the shoe, as they say, fits. That is the intent of the author.
The regime lynches abortionists, homosexuals and pornographers. Women can’t own property, read, or receive an education. They are only valued for their ability to bear children. For some unexplained reason, most women are infertile. The men with the power, the Commanders, are given “handmaids” (fertile women dressed in nun’s habits). A commander, after reading from the Bible and praying to God for help, ceremonially rapes his handmaid, in hopes that she will “bear fruit.” A Catholic priest is killed by the regime for some unexplained reason. This “martyrdom” of the priest is held up as “proof” that The Handmaid’s Tale is not anti-Catholic.
Perhaps this anti-Catholic/anti-Christian animus would become clearer if one adapted the plot:
In this version, the United States is taken over by a phallic cult of male homosexuals. Young pubescent men are held captive, and ceremonially raped by their masters. Catholic priests who speak out against this are lynched with the verse of Romans 1:27 pinned to their chests. A few homosexuals are killed by the regime as well.
Would the English Department have required this book? Would the Department say “…we did not choose this book for its shock value, but because the novel’s challenges would generate valuable conversations about important issues.” Would they have invited the author to speak on campus? Would they accept the citing of the “martyrdom” of a few homosexuals as “proof” that the book is really not “homophobic” at all? Would there be discussions on “Could it happen here?” Or would they more likely simply omit the book from the curriculum?
The book is objectionable on several different levels:
First, the book is insultingly vulgar, boorish and obscene. It is an abuse of faculty authority to require students to read such obscenity. See Quotes , for examples.
Second, The Handmaid’s Tale is not great literature. It is politically correct agenda-driven literature that was chosen for its anti-Christian/anti-Catholic indoctrination value.
Third, reading and analyzing this book is a profligate waste of the parent’s or student’s money, and a waste of the student’s time. It cheats the students of a truly quality education that includes great Western literature by Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Chesterton, etc.
The Chairman of the English Department, Andrew Scheiber, was written September 4, 2007, and made aware of objections to The Handmaid’s Tale as the Common Text (letter here). Professor Scheiber forwarded this note to other members of the faculty, and to Dr. Rochon, Chief Academic Officer. Dr. Rochon then discussed these objections with Father Dease, President of St. Thomas. Father Dease said he would not intervene. Right now I, Michael Bird, am seeking the opportunity to make a presentation on this matter to the UST Board of Trustees.