Just for fun

Wisdom from the Book of Wayne

No tender snowflakes allowed.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    Saint Juan Wayne perhaps.

  2. un-ionized says:

    Saint Juan Wayne, patron of the drowned

  3. liebemama says:

    That’s the way my dad taught us!

  4. jdt2 says:


  5. chantgirl says:

    Don’t try this at home :)

    Actually, this is exactly the way my mother describes her father (who would swim for miles for fun) teaching her to swim. Maybe he saw this movie ;)

  6. floppy2 says:

    This is as it was when I was young. If you did not know how to do something…LEARN! No excuses!

  7. Liz says:

    Refreshing! (in more ways than one!)

  8. PTK_70 says:

    This is a pretty good way to drown a kid…..unless of course you get in the water to prop him up when he invariably starts to go under.

    Maybe this is how Pelagians teach their kids how to swim.

    All that said, the refreshing thing about this clip is that, instead of a complete oaf for a father figure, we see a seasoned fellow who has a thing or two to pass on to the young’un. The “father figure as lunkhead” motif has been du jour in the entertainment industry for too long.

  9. un-ionized says:

    Ptk, glad you know this. My father almost drowned when his father threw him off a dock, requiring doctor treatment for water in the lungs. He never forgave him as long as he lived. This “father figure” is an oaf to me. A curse on child abusers. May they fry in hell.

  10. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I have offered funeral Masses fot children who have drowned, so I’m not feeling this. I fail to see the humor, unless there is something funny to be found in drowning children. If that were my kid, hero Wayne would get be slowly tortured to death, and then fed to the vultures.

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    Fr Sotelo, there is a big difference between kids wandering into a pool/ pond/ lake area unsupervised and throwing your kid into the pool/ pond/ lake area and letting them work it out. The key difference, of course, being that they are supervised in the latter scenario.

    I threw my son, now hard-identity Catholic Seminarian, into the lake off the dock in just such a manner. He is an excellent swimmer.

  12. Cantor says:

    And sometimes a parable is just a parable. Geesh!

  13. Grant M says:

    At the risk of sounding like a snowflake, I’m glad my primary school gave us proper swimming lessons…

  14. un-ionized says:

    Know the signs of dry drowning.

  15. Mary Jane says:

    I was once a competitive swimmer and lifeguard and I have given swim lessons to children and once to a very terrified adult who never learned to swim, so, here is my 0.02, for what it’s worth:

    I would not recommend doing this to a child (or adult) with the intent of teaching the child (or adult) to swim. I do appreciate the “non-coddling” example to be learned here–it’s great–but I agree that this is a “don’t try this at home” method.

  16. jflare says:

    Well, we definitely do not have the cultural underpinning implied by the clip, do we?
    I am well aware of the risks of drowning, but I still got a good chuckle. I especially enjoyed the reaction from the mother at the end. Bear in mind, this was not intended as a how-to video, nor does anyone expect that a Hollywood notion would ever be the norm.
    …Also bear in mind that the boy in the clip never appears to be even nervous, but is jubilant at the end, while the man is implied to know quite well how to swim. I would expect the man knows very well what the boy is capable of doing and doesn’t waste time with a whole bunch of worrisome detail about the dangers of rivers that the boy need not yet worry over.
    Let’s also remember that most people do not learn to ride a bike without some scrapes and bruises. As with swimming, sooner or later, one must simply DO it.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Interesting discussion, and the point about recognizing dry drowning is well made. Grant M, I too was glad I learned to swim in a methodical manner, but then the day arrived as a Marine lieutenant when I wished I had just been chucked into the water at age six. So I’m agreeing with Sonshine135, floppy2 et al on this one. If I could explain with an anecdotal tale. (First, hearty Congratulations to Sonshine135 and his hard-identity Catholic seminarian son.)

    Before a Marine battalion loads up on Navy troopships for months at sea, they undergo something called “Helicopter Underwater Egress Training, ” or “Helo Dunker.” There are videos of this on YouTube (some are early in the training, some later etc.). Marines who had previous stressful experiences in water did notably better than methodical and/or good swimmers.

    Two points about these videos for clarification. After the helicopter cabin flips over and the Marines- wearing gear, helmet, and holding a rifle- are inside, underwater, and upside-down, you will notice a 5-10 second pause where not much is going on. This pause allows time for the rotors to stop spinning- a very good thing. Second, you may hear someone say “reference points” or simply “hands” as the cabin descends into the water. This means that one or two lads are forgetting to “orient” themselves before the helicopter hits the ocean and flips over. This flip is disorienting, and gripping a reference point with the non-rifle hand allows one, after the rotors stop spinning, to egress the cabin up towards the surface and not sideways or down. No really, it’s important, particularly at night.

    Then, when the entire helo team is deemed worthy, not just an individual Marine or two, the entire process starts over. This time the scenario is ocean crash at night. Everyone is either blindfolded or wears blackened goggles.

    Good times. Then, off to the chow hall for a huge meal, as doing this training on an empty stomach is the preferred method.

  18. Cosmos says:

    Whether it would have worked or not then (and the context would have been important–is that a 12 year old in 4 feet of water in the summer? or a 5 year old in 5 feet in the fall), it would send someone over the edge in our society. They would hate you for it, for sure.

    All my relatives were spanked with switches, they love their fathers. But if I did it to my children (which I would never do, and have no desire to do) many would convince them that they had been abused, emotionally scarred, and that their father deserved to be hated. No doubt, some fathers and mothers that used switches did deserve to be disliked, but many different. No distinction would be drawn these days.

    We have to recognize the limits that our society places on us, we’re social animals.

  19. LovedSinner says:

    Tender liberal snowflake here.

    My mother told me that her father did the same thing to her when she was a child. He threw her in to teach her to swim. Now he was a good man and a devout Catholic.

    But her story goes like this. She went up and under a few times and her father refused to rescue her. After a while she we went under for good, and stayed under for quite a while. Her brother, my uncle, who was also there, got very worried and dove in. But he couldn’t find her.

    Meanwhile my mother told me that she had a near death experience, with the tunnel and the light. She said she saw Jesus and she had a review of her life and her sins. It was not a review of all her sins, since she lived, but a sampling.

    My uncle meanwhile started to pray fervently and could not see anymore as she has sunk so deep underwater. But as he began a prayer, his hand blindly found my mother’s hand and she was saved.

    My uncle told my mother decades later how worried he was.

    This video makes me so angry because my own mother was nearly killed by this exact thing. Toughness conservatism or “muscular Christianity” is not official Church teaching. It is acceptable in parts sure, but your Gold Star commentator is wrong: grown men are sometimes wholly blind of the dangers they do.

    [In time you’ll come to see the difference between a movie and individual concrete circumstances under the guidance of prudence.]

  20. LovedSinner says:

    Thank you for your comment Fr. Z. I reacted strongly because it was about my mother.

    It is funny that you mention prudence, because that is a distinct weakness of mine. My other big weakness is separating fictional scenes from reality. Unfortunately I am working as a fiction writer now, but I am always looking for new opportunities.

  21. Grant M says:

    Thanks for the video, Father. It WAS fun.

    The Nike philosophy is wonderful, but does not preclude careful instruction- essential if you are learning to land a commercial jet, not so essential if you are learning to play simple tunes on the guitar.

    My father climbed mountains with Edmund Hillary (whose autobiography is entitled “Nothing Venture, Nothing Win”) and didn’t raise us to be snowflakes. But he knew the difference between adventure and suicide.

    NZ rivers demand respect and when I was 16, two classmates perished in a swollen river. I once aborted a river crossing, waist deep, arms locked with my companion, because I feared the same thing would happen to us. There is always a balance between boldness and prudence.

  22. jflare says:

    I would not be too quick to point out how men may be unaware of dangers. That’s a dangerously broad brush. Women may view hazard and risk differently, but this does not mean that men take needless chances as a matter of course. Some do, not all.
    It would be helpful if we would cease trying to impose “modern feminist” sensibilities on everything. Our faith does not need to be limited to whatever “soft Christianity” you might prefer. Such is not official Church teaching any more than the “muscular Christianity” you seem to dislike.

    I think it would also be wise to recognize that people do assess each others’ talents–demonstrated or potential–as a matter of course. In this clip, the man and boy seem to know each other fairly well. I’d say the man has cause to know what the boy could do if needed. …And the boy does not appear to struggle so much as you might suggest.
    As I said, he’s jubilant at the end. I might prefer that the boy learn to float first, the better to understand how to situate himself for swimming. Again though, we’re dealing with a Hollywood story, not an instructional video.

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