Conversion: Reflections Across the Tiber

by Andrew Simmons                                                                           Friday, Oct 25

Conversion: Reflections Across the Tiber

“In that part of the book of my memory before which little can be read, there is a rubric that says ‘Incipit vita nova’ (Here begins the new life).” –Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova, I

Luther before the Diet of Worms (the trial for heresy) committee.

            Since my baptism in 2010, my experience as a convert has been one consisting of many questions. There seems to be a stereotype that views converts as being more informed than there cradle Catholic kin. While certainly true in some cases, I believe something is lost in the self-pitying of cradle Catholicism. At least the cradle Catholic was born within their worldview and has some sort of experience in living it out. The convert is mainly coming from a worldview that is different from Catholicism and, as such, I certainly believe there is a conflict of identity. As someone who definitely is a product of the modern age, I am no exception to this rule. From my experience with other converts, the conflict of identity is dealt with in varying ways. Considering the 31st is Reformation Day and I am a former Protestant, it is time to once again assess just how much my life has changed since 2010. A convert always carries baggage that must be returned to for the sake of closure. This certainly is not a moment of closure. What I am addressing is the reality that the end is usually found in coming to terms with one’s beginnings. In this return to one’s roots, the notion of utter annihilation becomes substituted with the statement that grace perfects nature.

A trend that I commonly find in new converts (myself included) is the tendency to burn all the religious bridges. This is not exclusive to Catholic converts I know, but is something noticed in any religious change. For me personally, this manifested in a rather zealous streak of Catholic apologetics on the morass that is the internet. I will admit that this was in some cases influenced by the antagonism from individuals that I know who asserted that I had absconded with the anti-Christ. The proverbial shove was met in kind. Lex talionis, however, does not make for a sound spiritual life. I do not wish to put down apologetics. It is a great and important branch of the ministry. The problem is when the ministry becomes a source of bitterness, and the pursuit of truth becomes more of a Manichean struggle as opposed to evangelism. Copy and pasted arguments from either side does not prove that either is correct. It just makes me, and anyone else, feel like they wasted a lot of time.

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The fact of the manner is that the convert probably still has aspects of their former life that still is present in their new found faith. I know I grew up with a sense of Scripture considering that I am the son of a pastor. Church (ahem….ecclesial assembly…) life was something I simply grew up with within a Protestant context. That appreciation of Scripture continues still within Protestant converts to Catholicism. I could say the same about Catholic to Protestant converts who still like vestments and other liturgical aspects not commonly seen in an evangelical assembly. If one employs a scorched earth policy on their former convictions, there is a possibility that even the good becomes thrown out with the rest.

What I believe the Catholic convert should recognize is that the good of their roots is perfected by grace. The Catholic worldview generally realizes that grace perfects what is good so that it reflects the Good, the Beautiful, and Truth found within God. In regards to ecumenism, there is recognition that other Christian traditions do possess a good which makes them attractive. It is for this reason that documents concerning Catholicism’s relationship to other Christian groups generally refers to them as possessing an imperfect reflection of the truth. I appreciate the good that I was taught and the kindness of those who were not critical of my conversion. While I do not prescribe to this Manichean notion of the “other” as the arch-foe, I am no longer Protestant for a reason. What was good then has been continuously perfected by grace, and what was bad has certainly passed with time.

Andrew Simmons is currently a senior at Aquinas College. He is working on a double major in History and Theology with a minor in Catholic Studies. In 2010, during his freshman year, he converted to Catholicism. He entertains the notion of nailing his own 95 thesis on the door of the local Lutheran assembly. 

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Conversion

By Chelsea Wojes                                                                                       Reformation Day, 2013

It’s Reformation Day, and in somber remembrance of that great and tragic fracturing that began when Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis, The Porch will have a special two-part series reflecting on conversion. The first comes from Chelsea Wojes.

It’s been two years and several months since I officially became Catholic. Go me! Exciting as it is, and as incredible a journey as it has been, I must say I feel a little lackluster in the tale of my conversion.

Why?

Perhaps because the several years I spent searching for Truth, Love, and Hope were marred with confusion, despair, and affectionate trouble-makers. Or, perhaps it’s because God didn’t smack me upside the head with any big “ah ha!” moment. Or, maybe I am the Grinch and my heart is two sizes too small… Okay, it’s probably not that last one. In any event, here goes my tale of how Jesus found my heart and won me over for all eternity.

As a little girl, I had some troubles, by which I mean I had bone cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma) at age four and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, physical therapy, braces, x-rays, doctors, blood drawings – the “whole nine yards,” if you will.

Previous to this early event in my life, my family went to the First Congregational Church in Traverse City. There we listened to the wonderful preaching of Dr. Gary Hogue. When I was diagnosed, however, we stopped having time to go to church and I really didn’t end up going back there until I was able to drive myself. Still, shortly after the doctors at Munson Hospital told my family the news, Dr. Hogue baptized me in our home (a precaution, my mother once said) and I didn’t know that was an unusual circumstance until I was about 15.

That was when I met a new friend, Lauren, who went to a weekly youth group at a church near my home, and she invited me to come with her one day. I liked it. I really enjoyed learning about faith, and I also happened to find a cute boy at the church. I went for several months, and I learned words like “meek” and “humble.” At some point, however, I drifted off from the youth group bandwagon. The closest worship activities I came to in the next couple of years were when our choir Christmas concert performed at the First Congregational Church (it’s a small world after all…). I tried getting my parents to go with me, but they just weren’t interested.

During my first two years of college, I had a lot of ups and downs. I met some really cool people who had some interesting connections to and beliefs in their God, and decided to try something new. I went to the Ash Wednesday service at a Catholic church one year, I went to the church of Latter-Day Saints one Sunday, and I hit up various other denominations, including some which were just labeled “prayer services.” It wasn’t until the end of my third year in college, when my life was actually heading in an extremely wonderful direction, when I said “You know, I’m very happy with life, but there’s just something that’s missing. I think it could be faith related.” Until that time, my church shopping experience had left me null and void. Nothing made sense to me and nothing called to my heart; who and where was God? It seemed hopeless.

I transferred to Aquinas College in the fall of 2008, and I remember thinking “Well, Dad was Catholic and here I am at a private Catholic college… Maybe God has a sense of humor?” I decided to have hope and try again. I went to a Catholic service, but once again, I didn’t find it a fit. A handsome young man then invited me to his church, across the street from the Catholic Church I attempted. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I began to form a couple new friendships with some parishioners and I eventually found refuge there when the romance with the handsome young man didn’t work out. I could sit there and cry and pray and pray and cry, without anyone bothering me or asking why I was upset. I felt safe there and I found God was answering my questions and healing my hurts. During the spring of the next year, I met another friend, Emily, who was very Catholic. She started introducing me to some aspects about the faith, and by the fall of 2009, I went to Mass at Bukowski Chapel on the Aquinas campus. I loved it. I didn’t understand I wasn’t supposed to receive communion (sorry, Jesus), but I loved the music, the prayers, the readings, and (once again) I really liked this one boy who was altar serving…

Almost a year later, and after I had experienced dozens of Catholic Masses, adoration times, a rosary or two, and a few other Catholic interests, I decided it was time. I woke up one fall morning, said to myself “I think I’m going to become Catholic,” and felt my heart beat at peaceful pace. It felt good to say it out loud. It felt even better to talk to the RCIA director about converting. Every time I spoke with an RCIA leader, it became clearer and clearer that this was a calling. I found out how much I loved the rosary and how incredibly important Mass is. I struggled with not being able to receive Jesus, but I knew my time would come; and it did on April 23rd, 2011. I was nervous, a little tired, and fighting a terrible cold. But I chose my confirmation name (inspired by Saint Rose of Viterbo), and soaked in that chrism oil like a desert soaks up water. I cried tears of joy after receiving Jesus and for weeks, I cried after every Mass. I was so grateful to everyone who got me there, and to everyone who supported me. Looking back, I realized I was searching for a place to call home and here it was.

“Adorned in masters’ loving art, she lies. She rests at last beneath the starry skies.” The starry skies of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, where I am a parishioner. The beautiful painted stars on the ceiling remind me to “check my compass” and make sure it’s always pointing north; pointing home to God.

Chelsea Wojes – A professed Catholic convert and Aquinas College alumna, Chelsea hails from Traverse City but has found her home in Grand Rapids. She works for St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and confesses to working towards homesteading and using social media for good, not evil. 

Death Panels and Playing God in Canada

by Christian Ohnimus                                                                         Wednesday, October 30

Canada has death panels and that’s a good thing – or so says Slate writer Adam Goldenberg.

Goldenberg outlines last week’s Canadian Supreme Court decision which ruled that 1) doctors cannot act contrary to the consent of substitute decision makers (usually family) and 2) that, while doctors cannot, a government-appointed tribunal can overrule the family’s decision and make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient, even in matters of life and death. These tribunals then are “death panels” and thank goodness for them too. Without them these disputes would go to court and can last months or years. The tribunals can act with unilateral discretion and that is efficient.

Because, ultimately, Goldenberg’s argument on why death panels are a “good thing” boils down to efficiency. These “(technically) alive” people are taking up valuable hospital beds and, since their life is merely a technicality anyway, aren’t we all better off with a quick decision that can get them out so the next sick person can roll in? This too is also in the patient’s best interest of course. As Goldenberg puts it, “prolonging his life would entail the risk of infection, bedsores, and organ failure. When recovery is out of the question, in other words, there may be fates worse than death.” It’s a win-win for everyone.

Really though, much of what Goldenberg says makes sense and yet something just doesn’t feel quite right. When doctors and family members are in irreconcilable dispute shouldn’t some third-party become involved to help settle the matter? Shouldn’t we ease patients’ suffering and not prolong their death? The answers are yes but Goldenberg’s perspective is wrong: he is preoccupied with death and efficiency when he should be concerned about the person. Goldenberg seems to almost overlook the patient in his affirmation of his so-called “death panels.”

How we deal with death is a moral matter and the “morality” that Goldenberg appeals to is efficiency, which is to say utilitarianism. Mere utility, however, is nothing more than the absence of any moral system. In the absence of a moral code it all just becomes numbers. Instead, we must judge the decision-making process not by its speed but by its ability to do what’s best for the patient. Instead of seeking to reach a decision quickly for sake of efficiency or deciding that death is somehow desirable because living is “worse”, decision-makers must weigh each situation and choose that course of action which is best for the patient. If it is determined that recovery is impossible the goal should not be to save the patient from life but to allow them to die while making their last moments on Earth the best possible. In healthcare we call that palliative care and, with appropriate pain management, good hygiene, frequent re-positioning, and all around high quality nursing care far more can be done for the sake of the patient and their family to bring them peace. If tribunals approach patient cases with the dignity of the human person in mind then we would hardly be able to call them death panels. It means that no one’s death will be hastened but it also means that they will not be forced to suffer needlessly with inappropriately aggressive treatments or through neglect.

Goldenberg’s final paragraph includes the following, “Modern medicine increasingly allows us to extend life indefinitely, and so the question is no longer whether we can “play God,” but when, how, and who should do so.” I give him marks for being bold because his statement is so blatantly false. We cannot extend life indefinitely and we cannot be like gods who control life and death. Everyone dies and it’s not usually planned. Our job as healthcare professionals is not to be the masters of life and death but to take each patient where he or she is at and provide the highest quality care possible. Sometimes we can save a life and, when we cannot, it is our solemn duty to make our patient’s passing as dignified and peaceful as possible. We cannot preoccupy ourselves with abstract conceptions of Life and Death divorced from the patients involved. After all, there are people to care for.

Christian Ohnimus is a registered nurse in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Franciscan University. He is a contributor to The Porch and The Catholic Renaissance.

The Halloween War

Of all holidays, Christmas deeply reminds us of the humility of God, Easter demonstrates the Love of God, but my favorite holiday season is from October 31 to November 2.

 

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, with gushing blo...

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, with gushing blood, detail of the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season is centered around all Saints Day (November 1), the day that we celebrate the victory that our brothers and sisters who have won the battle for their souls are now in communion with God. It reminds us that the war is not hopeless that it is possible for each of us to enter heaven, and that it is possible for each of us to become a saint. This is a holiday of hope. In reflection on All Saints we ask our older siblings who have made it to heaven to pray to God for us. All Saints is the celebration of the Church Victorious.

 

The day after is the memorial of All Souls. On this day we pray to God for our older siblings who have won the war, their battle, but still suffered grievous harm to themselves and their relationship to the body of Christ. The souls in purgatory, that place of mercy God provides for those not perfect upon death, are by God’s judgment able to receive his mercy to enter heaven. I imagine the suffering in purgatory would be like the suffering experienced if there was a great party happening and you couldn’t go because you were down with the flu. You know that there is a party going on. You could’ve been having a good time yet you aren’t able to go yet, because you are not healthy to attempt attend. Reflection on the spiritual triage unit of the afterlife reveals that All Souls is a holiday of mercy.  The memorial is for the Church Suffering.

 

Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of ...

Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of J. Allen St. John’s The Face in the Pool, published 1905. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In heaven resides the Church Victorious, in purgatory resides the Church Suffering, but what about us on earth? Those of us still on earth are called the Church Militant. Named that way because we are still fighting the battle for souls. But there isn’t a feast to celebrate us, and you might be a little bummed about that. In fact you might even be more bummed when you consider that Halloween which is the eve of all Saints, seems to have been taken over by the world and become a secular holiday. But isn’t that perfect? We are supposed to in the world and not of it after all. And Halloween is an excellent time to reflect on ourselves as the Church Militant. Halloween is the time where we can step out of ourselves and out of our surroundings and look at the world full of monsters and heroes. A world where both good things (treats) and bad things (tricks) happen seemingly indiscriminate of who they are. Now some may still find it evil or worldly, and attempt to banish the darkness by dressing up only as saints or banish the holiday altogether. Ignoring the existence of the dragon. A reversal of the world which seeks to banish the knight. But reality like fairy tales have both.

 

Joshua Fahey is a Chestertonian Catholic with a bachelors in software engineering, and hasn’t dressed up for Halloween in years.

 

The Funniest Stumbling Block Ever

By Karen Mannino                                                                              Monday October 28th 2013

The passage in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans where he asks them not to set a stumbling block before a brother comes to mind often these days as cultural discussions of our time heat up. The debate over hot button issues, I have found, are full of stumbling block. Heck, we don’t stop at blocks we’ve got walls up to defend our convictions that anyone discerning a change of opinion must actually scale at his peril before he can join us. Getting down just to negotiate is at least as hard. Why do we do that, anyway? But then, the sorts of stumbling blocks I see most often are not easy to decry, because they are so much fun.

Laughter, my friends, can be a stumbling block.

Paul talked about Intimacy a few days ago. In every social situation, I am hoping for intimacy. When others respect me, and even reach out to find out who I am, that is a friendly place where intimacy can exist. Laughter is often a way to create this atmosphere and make everyone relax and open up. Misused, of course, it can have the opposite effect

We are all having a good time at a social gathering, when James asks an innocent question of Brian. Brian feels that the plain answer is a bit socially risky for one reason or another, or he doesn’t really think he owes James an answer, so he makes a joke of it. He answers with an exaggerated opposite of the truth and waits for James to catch the subtle sarcasm in his tone. He gets a general chuckle from everyone who catches it, and James even smiles, acknowledging that he has been had. Suddenly, there is a change in the atmosphere. Now everyone is listening for openings in the game. James “walked right in to that one” and Brian “couldn’t let it pass.” A fascinating game of hide and seek draws everyone in. We are often drawn to sarcastic characters in dramas. (I always think of House. I don’t know anyone who can do sarcastic quite as well as Hugh Laurie.)

If you believe me, it just proves out stupid you are.

If you believe me, it just proves how stupid you are.

Sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt. That’s the definition in my little dictionary app. I think people often mistake irony for sarcasm. There is a difference. It is in how it is used. It’s rather rare to find sarcasm used without some malice. That’s what the game of hide and seek really is. But we are laughing so we think we are making friends.

I often see, in our cultural discussions on a wide variety of topics, that when people disagree, they tend to mock each other. Instead of engaging the opposition, the culturally accepted response is to turn to the people standing by on your own side of an issue and parody the opposition for laughs. The temptation is great. I guess we all argue from a set of values, and an argument on a different set of values comes across as pretty ridiculous when I try to make it fit with mine. Straw men are funny. The argument might have bones, but we would have to actually talk to, and take our opposition seriously to find out what they are.

And here is where we stumble. You can’t have sarcasm and vulnerability at the same time. And guess what is necessary to intimacy and love?

When all the laughter dies away, we are not friends, we are people who have mocked each other for amusement. I don’t know anyone better than I did before. I certainly don’t understand the people who disagree with me. If I want to be understood, I have to seek and reach out to people I don’t understand. If I have been mocking my opposition, using sarcasm to heap scorn and getting laughs from all watching, what are the chances that I will be able to drop it all and ask “why do you believe this way?” To seek intimacy after wearing so thick a mask would mean that I would have to open myself to the sarcasm and scorn of everyone around me. After all, whoever drops their mask first loses. It is very hard to call off the game.

And the person I want to understand, to know as a person, will find it difficult to trust me after I have torn her convictions from their foundations, stuffed them with straw and set them on fire for the amusement of my friends. On top of it all, if I manage to open myself up to her, trying to explain why I believe the way I do, she must first step over the large block of my scorn before she can even hear me. We all know how hard it is to swallow pride. Why make it harder?

Karen Mannino holds a BA in studio art from Aquinas College. She lives in Washington State.

Understanding Modernity

by Andrew Simmons                                                                           Friday, Oct 25

Understanding Modernity

“I define postmodern as incredulity toward meta-narratives” –Jean-François Lyotard

            As a convert to Catholicism, it became apparent that I was not entirely prepared to discover the whole conflict over Vatican II. In fact, I learned about it the most abrupt and not-so-subtle way which actually put me into a slight existential crisis mere months after being baptized. But that is another story altogether. One particular topic concerning the whole discourse is the notion of modernity and what it means for the Church. Modernity is simply defined as the pursuit of being “modern”. In conciliar discourses that can span from Nicea, Trent, to Vatican II, the notion of modernity becomes slightly more strenuous given that each essentially dealt with its own notion of “the modern”. My general question is whether or not the notion of modernity has been lost amidst anachronisms, nostalgia, and naïve progressivism. While certainly this topic can be revisited, this is a contemplation on what really connotes the modern condition in the wake of Vatican II. The definition of modernity needs to come to terms with post-modernity.

Frequently, when I hear Vatican I being contrasted to Vatican II, the notion of modernity (especially in regards to Vatican I’s statements concerning modernity) seems anachronistic or misappropriated. It generally leaves me wondering whether or not the meaning of modernity has been lost in translation. Considering the context of Vatican I, the notion of modernity revolves entirely around the assertion that the Church (and revelation in general) is to be confined to the Ancien Regime.  The philosophical currents at that time were concerned with the pursuit of truth by materialistic and idealistic means. It did not entail the abandonment of the concept of objective truth. Certainly, Marx viewed his metanarrative of the proletariat utopia as objective; Hegel viewed the liberation of the Geist as certain; Spinoza thought that all material reality was simply a mask for the divine in his pantheism. Faith was viewed as old-fashioned in light of reason. Man was no longer viewed as needing the light of revelation to inspire the intellect, but could simply come to absolute knowledge via his own ideals and natural reasoning. What Vatican I condemns is the notion that one can come to knowledge of the truth in its totality without God. It attacks the division of faith and reason. Also, like every council throughout the Church’s history, Vatican I did not preemptively condemn notions that were beyond its current predicament. Nicea did not condemn Apollinarius, the First Council of Constantinople did not discuss Nestorianism, and Vatican I certainly did not speak about the post-modern condition.

Postmodernity bases itself on the rejection of all meta-narratives. It is not the assertion that there is a truth beyond the confines of the Church, but that there really is no greater truth to ascend to. While immersed in the Enlightenment, Nietzsche looked at the modernist condition and warned that it could only lead to nihilism. Much like his rendition of Zarathustra, Nietzsche was ahead of his time and the modernist world continued on without fully realizing Nietzsche’s “most gruesome of all guests” (Nietzsche 3). The world is now fixated on the post-modern condition (I refuse to call post-modernity the new “modern” because it appears so contradictory). Sartre wrote on the relativity of one’s essence. Heidegger was uncertain about the meaning of being. The topic of theology has also been affected. Slavoj Zizek asserts that Christ was the nihilistic union that brought an end to the divine and human nature in God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse. Gianni Vattimo proposes that the death of Christ saves one from the burden of objectivity in his A Farewell to Truth and After Christianity. If anything, the Church has been tasked with the responsibility of resisting the current issue of nihilism. It needs to be a bastion of truth  in a world that frankly rejects it. It is the generation following Vatican II that acts as an opponent of the catatonic ennui within the phrase “that is your opinion”.

The post-modern condition needs to be assessed before the word “modernity” is liberally used in Church discourses. Vatican I and its struggles with modernity were punctuated by an assertion that the Church was not made irrelevant by the powers of rationalism. The world that emerged around and proceeding Vatican II is far different than its modernist predecessor. Meta-narrative has been lost amidst the existential pursuit of expression and relativity. Doubtlessly, this topic will be brought up again, but the main goal of this entry was to provide the importance of contextual information. A council does not preemptively deal with fallacies that are beyond its time. As history continues on, the Church might find itself, once again, convening in order to deal with a great and present concern. What that might be is certainly beyond the scope of Vatican I and Vatican II, but that neither invalidates the preceding councils nor makes any future one’s unnecessary.

Quotation References:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism/
Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Will to Power. (New York: Barnes and Nobles 2006)

Andrew Simmons is currently a senior at Aquinas College. He is working on a double major in History and Theology with a minor in Catholic Studies. In 2010, during his freshman year, he converted to Catholicism. He has been an existentialist suffering from a Catholic crisis ever since. 

Why Women Can’t Breastfeed in Public

By Paul Fahey                                                                                        Thursday, October 24

This probably won’t be a huge surprise for many people, but, quite simply, the western culture that we presently live in is over-saturated with sex. From the rampant consumption of pornography to the primetime objectification of women for profit, sex pervades nearly every aspect of our media. As a culture, we are obsessed with sex, period.  Take my regular Thursday post for example.  Like Miley Cyrus’ YouTube page, all I had to do was add sex to the usual act and my page views went through the roof.

Ironically enough, two of the main consequences of this sexual over-saturation is a newfound prudishness with regard to the human body and an inability to be intimate. Concerning the former, as a culture, we have become nudity prudes because we are unable to view human beings as anything but sexual beings. Don’t believe me? Just look at the controversy over public breastfeeding (even in churches). We just can’t wrap our heads around the idea that a woman’s breasts can be used in a completely non-sexual way. Even The Oatmeal understands this newfound prudishness. More so than the generations previous, this generation feels really uncomfortable with nudity because we cannot imagine the naked human body as being anything but a sexual object. We have been so steeped in the objectification of the human body (particularly the female body – largely through pornography) that nudity scares us. Christians are especially afraid – afraid of being used as sexual objects and afraid to use others as sexual objects. This is so much the case that instead of recognizing sex as a good and beautiful thing to be cherished, we just shout “immodesty!” and “abstinence!” in reaction to any discomfort. We have embraced a new puritanism.

Your problem – not hers

A second consequence of sexual over-saturation is a lack of intimacy. At first glance this seems silly. More sex = more intimacy. Right? That is precisely the problem. Believe it or not, physical intimacy doesn’t necessarily mean sex. We are embodied souls, so our innermost being expresses itself through our physical body. Thus there is a whole spectrum of physical actions that express a deeper intimacy. Because, as a culture we have equated sex with intimacy, we have forgotten how to actually be intimate. No longer can we traverse the spectrum of human intimacy, rather, we jump from hugging to having sex (so no wonder everyone is just having sex!). A life that is void of physical actions that sincerely express intimacy apart from sex is severely impoverished. Why? Because sex doesn’t create intimacy, it simply expresses it.

And that is where we find ourselves: in a culture with an overabundance of sex, but no genuine intimacy; where nudity abounds, but we’re afraid of the human body. Since the great revolution from all sexual mores in the 60s and 70s, we have created a monster that we do not understand and certainly cannot control. We have embraced a hedonism that worships our own sovereign will. Whatever makes us feel pleasure is Good, and whatever makes us feel pain (or simply a lack of pleasure) is Bad. Thus sex and food have become our highest goods. However, because neither of these things will truly satisfy, there is an insatiable desire for more sex, better food, greater pleasure. This unquenchable desire for sex leaves in its wake a society that in the past 50 years has seen an unprecedented rise in divorce, broken homes, children born to single mothers, abortion, AIDS, adolescent sexual assault, pornography, sexual abuse, STDs, and the list goes on. We view absolute personal sexual liberté as a sincere good, something worth fighting for, something worth the collateral damage.

How do we reverse this? We begin by ceasing to view sex as a right, a need, and an entitlement.  We must start recognizing sex as the good and beautiful gift that it is. We must stop viewing the human body as a toy, a tool, a means to an end, and something divorced from the infinitely valuable human person. In other words, we must give up this grand charade and start seeing reality as it truly is. At the very least, we can recognize that when we get upset with women breastfeeding in public, it’s our problem and not hers, because she’s not the one playing pretend with the human body.

Paul Fahey is a husband, father, and catechist. He has a BA in Theology with minors in History, and Catholic Studies and is currently studying at the Augustine Institute for a MA in Theology.