How ESPN makes Uncle Screwtape happy
Anthony Esolen is always worth reading. He hits nails on heads. And he comes at his targets from unexpected angles, so that the point is pounded home almost before the reader can see where it’s going.
A professional football star is charged with subjecting his child to pitiless physical discipline. The offense is real Esolen acknowledges, and deserves condemnation. Yet the level of public outrage is odd. We rightly condemn a father who is cruel to his children. But we ignore the much more common phenomenon: the father who deserts his children.
If the football star had walked out on the child, and the child’s mother, he would not be the focus of public obloquy. A thrashing leaves welts, Esolen remarks, but they will heal. “Abandonment opens a wound that never heals, and it is a wound not upon the skin of the legs, but in the heart.”
Esolen quotes from The Screwtape Letters, in which the veteran demon explains to his nephew:
We direct the cry of each generation against those vices of which it is in least danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic.
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