How do I defend against using the obscene to teach a truth in my son's English class?

My son is a senior at a Catholic high school. He was assigned the book “The Stories of Eva Luna” for his English class. Several of the stories are obscene and grotesque in their sexual imagery. One story involves a pre-pubescent girl masterbating in the bed of an adult male and then later crawling into his bed to masturbate him while he sleeps. Another story is about a prostitute who offers her sexual exploits as a prize to those who can win the game of tossing coins into her vagina while lying on a bar room floor. The school is arguing that the stories, while “seemingly” obscene or grotesque on the surface, are really about the “exaltation of women”. I want to be able to argue that you can’t teach a truth from something so grotesque and obscene, especially to teenage boys. My angle would be something like “you can’t separate truth from goodness and beauty”. But I don’t know how to articulate my argument. What is the difference between the horror of something like the “Passion of Christ” movie and the truth that it teaches, as compared to the horror of these sexual perversions, and the truths that they claim to teach?
Thank you.
Peace and all goodness.


I wouldn’t go the truth and beauty route. The “Passion of the Christ” showed evil to be what it is and did not glorify it or use it in a way that could put tempting fantasies in the minds of the beholder. This does not seem to be the case with your son’s class. You need to address the school on this issue. If you aren’t satisfied with what you are told, then send the description you have written here to your bishop. You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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