Solzhenitsyn famously defined the principal trait of the twentieth century in four words: “Men have forgotten God.” So far, the twenty-first century might be summarized in six: Men are at war with God. Awakened from agnostic slumber by new forms of temptation, chiefly the sexual revolution, humanity is at war with God over a question that reaches back to the beginning of time: Who, exactly, should have power over creation?
Christianity and Judaism teach that the answer is “God.” The culture dominant in the West today teaches the opposite. It says that the creation of new life is ours to control—more precisely, that it is woman’s to control. It says that we can dispose of life in the womb for any reason whatsoever, from simple whim to a preference for a boy rather than a girl. It goes further, saying that we can erase life on the basis of rationales that continue to expand.
How did we reach the point where our society repudiates creation? Let’s begin in the present. Many voices, both supportive of and opposed to identity politics, have discussed what this new code of conduct is doing to us. We need to ask a different question: What is the nonstop obsession with identity telling us—about ourselves, our civilization, and the wounds that our complicity with the sexual revolution has caused us to inflict on ourselves?
By way of answer, consider this syllogism. The sexual revolution led to the decline of the family. This weakening in turn has fueled the decline of organized religion. (I lay out why this is the case in How the West Really Lost God.) Both of these losses have left elephantine holes in the Western sense of self. As a result, many Western people now scramble to fill those vacancies with something else.
The revolution robbed many of a familial identity. By spurring secularization, it also robbed them of a supernatural identity, which is why swaths of the materially advanced societies once rooted in European civilization now suffer unprecedented uncertainty about who they are. This is especially true among the young. They are racked by the compound fractures of what is now a sixty-year experiment, motivating frantic, often furious attempts to construct an ersatz identity. We are told to see ourselves as members of political collectives based on race, ethnicity, gender, and the rest of the alphabetized brigade. This divisive project has in turn given rise to today’s sharply politicized turns of public discourse, street unrest, and the rancorous, unforgiving tone of much of our politics.
Famous experiments on animals demonstrate that artificial isolation from their own kind produces dysfunction. We need to understand that humanity is running an analogous experiment on itself. The revolution ushered in facts of life that had never before existed on the scale seen today. Abortion, fatherlessness, divorce, single parenthood, childlessness, the imploding nuclear family, the shrinking extended family: All these phenomena are acts of human subtraction. Every one of them has the effect of reducing the number of people to whom we belong, and whom we can call our own.
Full story at FirstThings.com.
Cardinal George Pell spoke at San Francisco’s Star of the Sea church for 34 minutes on December 8:
“The best commentators on faith and morals have been in this country…. Previously there were great Catholic writers in England – Belloc, Chesterton, Tolkien. There were great writers on the continent. Especially at the time of the Council. They’ve all gone except for Joseph Ratzinger, our much loved Pope Benedict.
“So here in the United States we’ve got writers like George Weigel, Father Raymond D’Souza from Canada, Ross Douhat from the New York Times, Rod Dreher with his Benedict Option, and perhaps the most perceptive of them all, Mary Eberstadt. I recommend her book Adam and Eve after the Pill.
From CalCatholic story Cardinal Pell speaks in San Francisco