A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany Principles Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
And there was the column about required church-attendance, arguing that "IT RUINS THE PROPER ATMOSPHERE FOR PRAYER AND WORSHIP TO HAVE THE CHURCH—ANY CHURCH—FULL OF RESTLESS ADOLESCENTS WHO WOULD RATHER BE SLEEPING LATE OR INDULGING IN SEXUAL FANTASIES OR PLAYING SQUASH. FURTHERMORE, REQUIRING ATTENDANCE AT CHURCH—FORCING YOUNG PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE RITUALS OF A BELIEF THEY DON'T SHARE—SERVES MERELY TO PREJUDICE THOSE SAME YOUNG PEOPLE AGAINST ALL RELIGIONS, AND AGAINST SINCERELY RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS. I BELIEVE THAT IT IS NOT THE PURPOSE OF A LIBERAL EDUCATION TO BROADEN AND EXPAND OUR PREJUDICES." (6.202)
It's interesting to see Owen take such a strong position on not attending church. He's incredibly religious, but, more than anything, his faith stems from the fact that he has such a strong personal belief in God and not merely any organized religion. He thinks that religion should be a personal choice and not something that is forced on people.
Once again, The Voice put us in our places. "IT IS HARD TO KNOW IN THE WAKE OF THE DISTURBING DANCE WEEKEND, WHETHER OUR ESTEEMED PEERS OR OUR ESTEEMED FACULTY CHAPERONES SHOULD BE MORE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES. IT IS PUERILE FOR YOUNG MEN TO DISCUSS WHAT DEGREE OF ADVANTAGE THEY TOOK OF THEIR DATES; IT IS DISRESPECTFUL OF WOMEN—ALL THIS CHEAP BRAGGING—AND IT GIVES MEN A BAD REPUTATION. WHY SHOULD WOMEN TRUST US? BUT IT IS HARD TO SAY WHETHER THIS BOORISH BEHAVIOR IS WORSE OR BETTER THAN THE GESTAPO TACTICS OF OUR CHAPERONES." (6.229)
Owen has some pretty firm principles when it comes to sex and women. He always comments on how degrading it is to treat women like sex objects. Here, he takes on two issues: first, he thinks that a lot of guys behaved inappropriately towards their dates at the school dance. Second, he thinks that the chaperones cracked down a little too hard on the guys and interfered in areas that were none of their business.
There was more, and it was worse. Owen suggested that someone check into the admissions policy at the small private day school in Lake Forest; were there any Jews or blacks in Mr. White's school? Mr. Early, in his capacity as faculty adviser to The Grave, killed the column; the part about the faculty being "TYPICAL TEACHERS—INDECISIVE, WISHY-WASHY" […] that was what forced Mr. Early's hand. Dan Needham agreed that the column should have been killed.
"You can't imply that someone is a racist or an anti-Semite, Owen," Dan told him. You have to have proof." (6.384-385)
Here, we see a principle invoked by somebody other than Owen. Dan insists that you can't make claims against someone else without having a strong basis for them.