Thank you all for the responses. I thought this thread had been deleted since I rarely check anything outside of the philosophy forum. I originally posted it there, but it was moved here unbeknownst to me.
So, what I am gathering is that “poor catechesis” is a good explanatory tool. There have been some suggestions that Catholic education has been purposely sabotaged sometime after Vatican 2. How common is this theory? Does it seem likely that “enemies of the church” conspired to destroy Catholic education in order to seriously undermine the Church? Who are these enemies, and how did they get such vast influence?
I hate to give away my age, but let’s just say I didn’t exist before Vatican 2, and the Catholic education I received (formally) was laughable. From a very early age a trust was broken. I didn’t believe my teachers had any idea of what they were talking about because we would do nothing but watch silly cartoons and color pictures of multi-racial children giggling with Jesus. I would ask simple questions and get silly nonsense answers. Lots of guitar strumming, lots of imagining I’m cuddling with Jesus, etc. I’m sure others have had similar experiences. I wonder if this broken trust is the real problem at the root of “poor catechesis.”
Later, I used to read the newer (1993) Catechism every night before bed and every morning upon waking up (along with the New American Bible). I did that for about 3 years. I’ve also spent considerable time with Aquinas, Trent, Augustine, Ligouri, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Kempis, Newman, Anselm, Basil, and many others. I believe I have a solid “DIY” amateur Catholic education. Of course, it has been conducted entirely according to my own biases and interests. It is also far from comprehensive or balanced.
Still, though, how much should I have to know in order to believe? For me, the more I studied and meditated upon what I was reading, the less I believed. I sometimes wonder if an “ignorance is bliss” attitude is prevalent among contemporary Catholics, and I wonder if it is the right attitude. Not anyone on this forum, obviously!! However, the average church goer (in my experience) seems reluctant to study too hard or look too deep. Maybe this apprehension is the real problem, or maybe it has kept “butts in seats” for lack of a more elegant expression? I’m all questions and no answers.