The student congress at Harvard, America’s most prestigious “institution of higher learning,” as the euphemism goes, has voted to provide funds to a campus group promoting sadomasochistic sex. Members of the Love and Fidelity Network, a group promoting chastity before marriage and faithfulness within, voice their opposition, and are widely denounced and ridiculed.
A female professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in Ontario writes a book whose title asks us to consider why we should have any children at all. The word “marriage” does not appear in its index. “Marriage” is, however, on the mind of an obscene advice columnist named Dan Savage, who believes not only that a man may marry a man, but that a man can marry a man. He commends a loosey-goosey attitude towards adultery, and school districts across the nation commend him in turn, holding him up as a model of tolerance. At one school, this model spits out a volley of venomous abuse against Christian students, who leave the hall in protest, and thereby become objects of general contempt.
About four hundred unborn children have their lives snuffed out, in the United States, every day. That is not enough for Planned Predators, who issue a pleasant holiday card with the salutation, “Choice on Earth.” It boasts a dove with an olive branch, evidently a softening of the more appropriate vulture with a dead rabbit in its talons. A woman of no special intellectual attainment or moral heroism becomes a national celebrity for insisting that the Catholics at her university pony up the cash to defray the cost of her IUD or her boyfriend’s rubbers, as the case may be.
The President of the United States watches a live feed of an attack on American citizens, at an American consulate, and then sends a flunky out to announce to the press that the riot was a spontaneous reaction, on the anniversary of the September 11 massacre, to a wholly unknown anti-Islamic film made by someone in California. That person, an American citizen, is identified to all the world and haled away for police questioning.
In the Race for the Sewer Sweepstakes, the filthiest of the major television networks broadcasts a supposed comedy called The New Normal. To judge by the covers of magazines readily visible at every grocery store and drug store, the screenwriters are probably right. A young football player, who grew up without a father and who minored in Fighting Domestic Violence, “cheats” on the unwed mother of his child, murders her in a fit of jealousy for “cheating” on him, and then commits suicide in front of his head coach, who tries and fails to talk him out of it.
Bullets fly in Chicago. Whole sections of Detroit, once the boom city of the Midwest, are plowed under and returned to grassland. The nation’s Senate has not passed a budget in three years. The Supreme Court, a cadre of nine lawyers, is expected to tap into its collective philosophical, anthropological, political, pedagogical, and juridical wisdom to resolve cultural and moral questions, and this is somehow considered to be the nation’s highest form of self-government.
One out of every eight black men between the ages of twenty and thirty is in prison. One out of three black men will have done some time there. Seven out of ten black children are born out of wedlock. Nearly four out of ten white children are born out of wedlock. The use of psychoactive drugs to “control” the aggression and the restlessness of boys continues to rise.
A famous professor of psychology at Harvard declares that the whole concept of human dignity is, to use his technical term, “stupid.” Physicians must be listening. It is now accepted practice to “harvest” organs from still-living human bodies, on utilitarian grounds. Several people supposedly in a “vegetative” state emerge from their comas, one of them asserting that he had been aware of everything going on around him. Morphine is commonly used not to relieve pain but to nudge a dying person over the brink.
People look forward to the coming day when embryos will be manufactured according to specifications. Some young women decide to have their eggs frozen so that they will be able to bear children after they turn fifty. Cohabitation is now common practice, but dating is not. College students drink themselves into a stupor so as to dull the conscience for the “hooking up” that follows. The mechanical metaphor is apt.
A majority of those college students will engage in another form of cheating, too. There are whole businesses that do nothing but hand out papers on any academic subject, for a price. Tellingly, there are businesses that do nothing but scan the internet to nab the cheats. Professors at the richest institutions, in a show of deep concern for the working poor, farm out much of the teaching of undergraduates to graduate students and to adjunct professors, at about one fifth of their own pay, if that. College tuitions continue to soar far past the rate of inflation. The typical graduate will have learned next to nothing about the literature, the history, the philosophy, the art, and the theology of the West.
Atheist groups across the country continue to try to rub out the last trace of Christianity from the public square. They find a shill in my backyard, Woonsocket, to protest an old cross in a public cemetery. They find another shill in my backyard, Cranston, to protest an old banner among a lot of other banners, hanging from the high school ceiling and expressing a pious religious sentiment. They choose Advent for pasting a big billboard in New York City, featuring the face of Jesus and begging people to “dump the myth.”
The Pope writes a tender and deeply learned book on the infancy narratives in the New Testament, affirming their historicity and revealing the richness of all the Christian traditions surrounding those events. The press headlines call him a killjoy, and report his contempt for those traditions. An embittered old apostate queen writes a book portraying Mary as an embittered old apostate queen. This is hailed by National Public Radio as tidings of great joy.
Self-fulfillment, defined by the self, is the sole “virtue” remaining; that, and indifference, called “tolerance,” toward others fulfilling themselves. “Rights” multiply and responsibilities dwindle. People take for granted that law has nothing whatever to do with morality. Their schools proselytize young people for entry into this quaint phantasm of secular faith.
Common decencies fade; common language is vicious; chivalry is scorned. The nation sends women off to battle. The nation sends them and their brothers off to distant places, for no clear reason. The nation’s chief military officer is discovered to be a common adulterer, in a scabrous tangle of lies and stupidity. He resigns under duress. “Drones” kill targeted terrorists and others who happen to be in the vicinity, including children.
There are some three dozen venereal diseases coursing about, where there once had been but two or three. These are no longer called venereal diseases. They are not even called diseases. The new term is Sexually Transmitted Infections. They are not at all limited to the sexual organs.
A young man is shot to death by a community watchman. A major television network mendaciously alters a tape of his conversation with the emergency dispatchers to make him appear racist. The government peddles guns to the heads of Mexican drug cartels, in hopes that the inevitable murders, preferably of Mexicans, will spur the American nation to enact stricter gun control laws.
A crazed young man in Connecticut, three years after his father and mother divorce, and two years since he has last seen his older brother, takes three of the guns his mother bought to protect them in her now mostly empty house, and enters an elementary school, murdering twenty six people, most of them small children, before taking his own disgusting and miserable life. Some of the teachers give their lives to shield the children. Churches there, the following Sunday, today, are full. One of those churches, where I myself have lectured, has to be evacuated on another threat of mass violence. “My friend didn’t finish the job,” says the prankster. His sentiment, though not his action, would be approved by Hollywood, which hates the Catholic Church with a white hot passion. A program on one of the more squalid of the cable channels features Catholic priests and nuns in the sixties as sadists and perverts.
On the television, to which I glance idly to see the Giants lose to the Falcons, commercials commend the usual fare of fornication and slaughter, to jaunty music.
Editor’s note: The woodcut of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8) above by Albrecht Durer was produced in 1497-8 and represents war, famine, pestilence and death.