The Cultural Transition and the Attitudes of Polish Immigrant Families Towards Divorce and Parental Authority in the United States, 1931-1940
The Cultural Transition and the Attitudes of Polish Immigrant Families Towards Divorce and Parental Authority in the United States, 1931-1940Fr. Stanislaw Hajkowski, S.Chr.Director: Leslie Tentler, Ph.D.Preaching the Gospel to the poor has always been emphasized by Christianity and the development of the radio at the beginning of the Twenties created a new, powerful tool to use for this task. Many leaders of religious communities noticed in the new invention an opportunity and used radio broadcast to both convert the unbelievers and provide teaching and support to faithful. The historical literature on early twentieth-century radio preachers in the United States includes numerous studies on Protestant and Catholic radio preachers; for example, a Protestant minister, S. Parkes Cadman began using radio broadcasts in 1923 and reached an audience of five million and in the 1930s, a famous radio evangelist, the Roman Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin, had forty million listeners tuning in to his programs.In English historical literature very little attention has been given so far to Father Justyn Figas, a Conventual Franciscan, who began his broadcasting career in 1926 and, by the end of Thirties he had an audience of close to three million listening to his broadcasts. Father Justyn's programs, delivered in Polish, were addressed mainly to the Polish immigrants in the United States. This dissertation examines Father Justyn's radio talks and questions from the listeners to show the change in the attitudes of the first and second generation of Polish immigrants in the Thirties towards marriage unity and parental authority, the key values of the Christian family. In the new social and cultural environment the immigrant family acted like a sensitive barometer registering the social, cultural and religious pressures of the time.After analyzing the materials available in the Archives in Athol Springs, New York about Father Justin's Rosary Hour, this dissertation concludes that the immigrant family, often based on the patriarchal authority of the father supported by society and the Church, had no chance of surviving in the liberal American cultural environment. However, the values of parental authority and marriage unity were still practiced by these immigrant individuals and families who absorbed into their value system an appreciation for "wise" enculturation into the new society and education.
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