Part One of Two parts
To this day, I'm no good at math. I blame Vatican II.
In the spring of 1968, I was in fifth grade at Immaculate Conception Grammar School on Gun Hill Road in The Bronx. I was struggling with long division, as taught by the "New Math" imposed back then on all junior high school students. With "New Math," it was not good enough to get the answer right -- you also had to utterly understand the theory behind the answer. In fact, it was better to get the theory right and the actual answer wrong.
That was, by happenstance, also a very Roman-Catholic-church-way-of-thinking about nearly everything. It was an outlook that served the church well for hundreds of years -- until suddenly, with Vatican II, it did not. And in 1968, in the spring, Vatican II came to my working-class neighborhood in The Bronx. It would change my church and it would change me. Ultimately, it would keep us together.