"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The pelvicists are at it again

As part of a magazine article I plan to make out of one of my posts, I pointed out: That it is “the pelvic issues,” more than any others, which corrode faith among Catholics today has become such a media commonplace that it is no longer the embarrassment to the bishops that it should be. It should therefore come as no surprise that the media resume harping on that theme as the Roman Synod on the Eucharist gets underway. After all, what else is there to talk about? The Eucharist? ZZZZZZZZZ...... Catholics only believe that it's the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ and that the liturgy wherein he is thus made present is the "font and summit" of the Christian life. What is that compared with sex?

No media attention has been given to what the Pope actually said in his homily for the opening Mass. I can't even find it at Zenit yet, though it will doubtless be there shortly. Here's what they're talking about instead: During the three-week synod, bishops are expected to discuss a range of controversial issues with the new Pope. Church attendance, divorce, celibacy and abortion rights are all expected to feature on the synod's agenda. OK, only three out of four of those issues are about sex, marriage, or procreation. I've got to credit the reporter, if not for her originality, at least for having a more-than-one-track mind. Other stories on the Synod that I've seen, though, don't bother mentioning any non-pelvic issue. They simply assume that, whatever the ostensible topic, it all comes down to the Church's attitude toward sex and directly related topics. I'm reminded of the Jewish joke about how civilization has, literally, declined: "Moses seemed to believe that life is all about what's in the head. Jesus taught and acted as though it's all about the heart. Marx thought it was all about the belly. And Freud thought it was all about the genitals." And that's pretty much where people stay focused. Of course we could go down further to reach the feet. But we won't, because feet aren't as interesting as genitalia—unless you're a foot fetishist, in which case it's mostly about the genitalia anyway.

This sort of preoccupation illustrates a paradox I've discussed before. The more people think of freedom as autonomy rather than as the healthy exercise of a faculty within the limits of the divine and natural law, the more enslaved to their passions they become and thus the less free they become. The less free they become, the more they insist that the Church respect their freedom by allowing lots of sex with few inconvenient consequences. Hence the demands to end the celibacy requirement for priests, for giving the Eucharist to the divorced-and-remarried who haven't bothered with the "hypocrisy" of annulment, for the distribution of condoms to teens and promiscuous adults, and of course for the rock-bottom option: legal abortion for those embarassing occasions when contraception fails.

The result is what John Paul the Great termed "the culture of death." We're not talking just about abortion, which kills millions of human beings each year. We're talking about the slow suicide of the West generally. The more sex is detached from marriage and procreation, the less life-giving it becomes—biologically and spiritually. Not only is the birth rate now below replacement level in all "developed" countries; people find it increasingly difficult to see sex in particular and life in general as having any purpose other than self-gratification. For the majority, that means physical self-gratification. Consequently, we are becoming fewer, richer, fatter, and incapable of countering the spiritual energy of militant Islam. Western humanity is becoming a maladapted species. If we don't change, we will die—and deservedly so.

The antidote is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man. He gives himself to us, literally, in the Eucharist. Catholics at least should be able to appreciate that and follow the Synod accordingly.
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