Raising the Stakes

Recently I caught ten minutes of a ghastly television show called House.  It’s a medical drama whose scripts, filming, direction, and acting cover the spectrum from dour to grim.  The doctors were attempting to determine why an eighteen-year-old girl was suffering life-threatening convulsions.

One guess was that they were severe reactions to an allergen.  “But she shows no signs upon her skin,” said one of the doctors.  “Maybe,” came the reply, “the allergen is inside her.”

So the doctors approach her boyfriend, a tall mop-headed youth, standing beside his father.  The boy is worried that his girlfriend may die.

They explain that she may be allergic to the boy’s seminal fluid.  “When was the last time you had unprotected sex?”

The father glances from the doctor to his son, but says nothing.  “I always use a condom,” says the boy.  Message: I am responsible.  The father seems satisfied.  Nobody, of course, will acknowledge that condoms tear and slip, so that the reply is meaningless.  No, the holy rubber must be honored.  Thus must we fulfill all righteousness.

But the doctor presses.  “For everything?”  He is referring to what used to be called sodomy.

“Not for everything,” says the boy.

The scene shifts to the hospital bed.  The girl says to her mother, “You aren’t upset with me, are you?  After all, we’ve been going together for three years.”  No, the mother isn’t upset about that.  Three years, you know.

I turn the thing off.

Meanwhile, a Canadian Catholic weekly, Interim, reports on governmental bullying: that is, the government of Canada, and Ontario in particular, forbidding Catholic schools to be Catholic.  One judge reads the section in the Catechism on homosexual acts.  “You can’t do that anymore!” he shouts to a bishop in attendance.  He means, “You can’t teach that that is wrong.”  The deeds themselves are all right.

Morally and intellectually, the Canadian bishops are holding the full truth, a royal flush.  The government is holding a pair of threes—and a gun.  The bishops fold.  What do we expect from them, martyrdom?  Or do they secretly wish to lose?

Return to the hospital.  No one asks the boy, “What are you doing having sexual intercourse with a woman to whom you are not married?”  No one asks, “Why are you doing the child-making thing, when you are utterly unprepared, morally, to bring a child into the world?”  No one asks, “Why are you saying with your body, ‘I am yours, all of me, forever,’ when if it were true you would have made that commitment before God and man?”  Even the mother doesn’t demand an answer.  Three years.  That’s the answer.

What kind of answer is that?  What does it imply?  I see only two possibilities.  One: after a certain respectable amount of time has elapsed, fornication is no big deal.  How long?  Nobody can say.  Three years, sure.  Three months?  Three dates?  The Georgetown law student who demanded that other people finance her fornication was upset when a talk show host (no Sir Galahad himself) said that she was calling herself a slut.  What’s that?  Nobody knows.  The boundary shifts according to the individual’s opinion or mood.  It is always set so that the individual remains safe, a few inches on the “good” side.  “Sure,” says the fornicator, “I am going to bed with this girl, but it’s not as if I’m jumping from one to another.”  People still make judgments against the sexual habits of others.  But now their judgments are based on no objective standard.  It is a simple function of their egotism.  “Yes, I do this—but I would never do that.”  Pharisees who have dispensed with the Law.

The other possibility is compatible with the first.  Three years; three long, weary years.  Three years of doing everything but.  The girl’s self-justification can be translated thus: “We were bored with abstinence, not that we were chaste, anyhow.  What did you expect?”  The bodies are still young and fresh, but the souls sag, and are printed with wrinkles.  It isn’t enough merely to be in the presence of the person you wish (soon?) to marry; to dance, to sing together, to hold hands, to kiss, to enjoy together the company of brothers and sisters and cousins.  The beauty of the person, the longing to be with and be for that person forever?  Not enough.  Been there, done that.  The Sistine ceiling?  A lot of paintings.  Mozart?  Too many notes.  Eros in its fullest glory?  Too demanding.

A pair of threes: that is what the World, the Flesh, and the Devil are holding.  What do you do, if you know damned well that your opponent is holding a pair of threes?  You call his bluff.  You raise the stakes.  It requires a spine somewhat firmer than overdone linguini, and, in the bishops, other accoutrements rather larger than peas.  But it must be done.

So the bishops, knowing well what makes for real human happiness and a culture worthy the name, might say, “We must obey God rather than man.  Let us be clear here.  All genital intercourse between human beings must be open to bringing new life into existence, by the nature of the act and in the intent of the agents, within the haven of indissoluble marriage.  Fornication is destructive of marriage, of the common good, and of the spiritual and emotional welfare of the fornicators themselves.  It is a grave evil.”

And: “You have no coherent way to distinguish between virtue and vice in these matters.  You thus supply your own arbitrary decision, and that is the action of a tyrant.  But our view, not our own but what has been given to us by God and what ratifies the nature of sexual intercourse, is entirely consistent and rational.  We assert that the giving of the whole body implies the giving of the whole person, which in turn implies the giving of one’s whole life.  Since man is a social creature, this all-giving must be affirmed before one’s fellow men, and cannot remain a private decision, floating in the eddies of the moods and intents of the agents.  Since man is made by God and for God, He too must be invited to the feast—He is the maker of the feast.”

And: “What do you people have to show for your apostasy from faith and reason?  What has it gotten you?  Your mass entertainment is a sewer.  Your children are batted from mother to father or from foster home to foster home like tennis balls.  Those are the children you have not murdered in the womb.  You cannot walk the city streets at night.  You have sown mistrust and transience at the heart of what should be the most permanent of human things.  You plant lust, and are surprised when the weed comes forth with spikes and thorns and a system of roots that creep and branch until the whole garden is choked out.”

And: “You want to uphold the biological absurdity of a man ‘marrying’ a man.  We will uphold the biological and theological truth that a marital act is a marital act, and what follows from that fact, the disorderliness and wrongness of sexual congress outside of marriage.  We are going to insist upon it.  Now you with your pair of threes can pretend all you want that you support marriage.  We will affirm the whole of the Christian teaching.”

And: “You will see, of course, that you can no more graft homosexual pseudogamy upon this whole teaching, than you can graft the arm of an octopus upon an apple tree.  Go ahead then—we dare you to keep bluffing.  We dare you now to forbid us to teach the whole doctrine.  We dare you to order us to bless fornication, divorce, abortion, contraception, onanism, unchastity, and all your miserable brew of temporary and local excitation to spice your perduring and spreading ennui.”

And: “You have nothing to offer.  You are holding a pair of threes.  We have everything to offer.  We proclaim the holiness of the human body.  We proclaim that the power of sex, male and female, cooperates in God’s creation; it is the means He has chosen for bringing into being a new human soul.  We proclaim the mystery of the union of man and woman, a mystery that mirrors the very life of the three-personed God.  We proclaim the fruitfulness of chastity, and its harmony with the other virtues: reverence, fidelity, generosity, humility, and courage.  We hold up for young people the beauty of the truth.  You hand them a pill and a pack of rubbers.”

What about it, bishops, priests, and laity?

Anthony Esolen


Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

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  • Al_Kilo

    Anthony, those are excellent points.

    Recently I had some fun arguing similar points on National Catholic Reporter (under Tom ATK), leftist French comboxes (Liberation), and the darling of Anglo liberals, the Qatar propaganda deflection shield, AJE. At times one gets thoughtful comments back, that can serve as further munitions.

    One trick is to use pet themes like: racism, animal rights, economic injustice, “social justice”, tyranny of the powerful, gender equality, human rights, science, even, to a certain extent, “gay rights”.

    If I ever had several millions to do an add campaign, I would call the campaign “Its biology 101, stupid”. One way is to simply ask:

    What is the evolutionary function of male and female genitals?

    How can use of male genitals in the posterior aspect of the perineum of another male or female (to use polite clinical terms), be biologically completely the same as using male and female genitals the way they are supposed to be used, as dictated by millions of years of evolution?

    How can one claim that “marriage” regardless of gender combination is all the same from a biological point of view?

    The answer: it’s not the same, “its biology 101, stupid”.

    No need to bother, as they would automatically charge, “old fashion patriarchal” bishops.

    Next comes my brand new argument (please let me know what you think). It goes like this (it was initially censored by the National Catholic Reporter editors):

    Kittens are born after 12 weeks gestation and weight 3 once. Humans at 12 weeks gestation, also weight and look similar to these kittens. It’s just that humans need to a little more time in utero to because bigger mammals….

    “Its biology 101, stupid”.

    But it is illegal to kill kittens in all 50 states and DC, yet ok to kill humans at that same gestational age, that weigh and look similar.

    And that is “social justice”?

    They claim to be so “pro-science”, but their new 60’s dogmas are just that, dogmas without any basis what so ever in biology, let alone millennia old evolution of human thought, not just Catholic.

    The problem is that people in general, and those in liberal arts academia in particular, still live in the dogma that all is relative, and strictly dictated by immediate “historical context”. This idea came from the 19th century, from people like Engel and Marx. “Scientific dialectics” was proven wrong over and over again (just look at Lysenko, who under Stalin, rejected genetics as described by Catholic Mendel, the father of modern genetics, in favor of Maxist dialectics: it caused mass starvation).

    So now, the function of genitals is all relative and all “equal”. This permeates current media, simply because, the ‘no strings attached sex” or “genitals are JUST for fun”, is simply to make money (to use another left of center argument).

    Does that make sense?

    Some more of these arguments can be found at:

    • Bedarz Ilachi

      So What is the evolutionary function of male and female genitals?
      So you don’t mind using Evolution when it suits you?.
      They say that pleasure and unitive functions of sex are good enough. How would you answer?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Living systems are by definition chemical data-processing systems that self-perpetuate (those that do not self-perpetuate, cease to exist).

        Processes that are “adaptive” are those whose output does not inhibit self-perpetuation; e.g., territoriality; reproduction; competition; self-amelioration; inter-education; and affiliation into groups.

        It’s not so much that we “must” perpetuate (no choice exists); it’s simply that our system is built upon that principle.  The urge to procreate is no different; and the urge to indulge in the complex, ritualised onanism that is homosexuality is simply a malfunction.

      • Al_Kilo

        “Its biology 101, stupid” is a starting point. It’s to get people to start thinking, using God’s given reason, away from the reflex 60’s dogmas that have no basis in nothing, but that people take as evident. Simply using biology is, of course, not enough. Christ came for a reason. In general, one has to be careful. It is best to keep science and morality separate. False cults have a tendency to use their interpretation of science to justify their false beliefs (what cult expert, Dr Robert Lifton calls “sacred science”). But, in this setting, biology and the Christian message fit well, it seems to me. There are many times when Christ’s message goes in the opposite direction, for example, survival of the “fittest” individual is not Christian, for good reasons. The idea here is to use arguments and language the side is familiar with, to start a conversation, to get people to think. Jugging by some comments I got, it seems to work, at times…

        • Al_Kilo

          Many times people that say they are “pro science” actually know squat about science, and how science functions. They quote data that is often not even fact base. One trick is to know how to look up and understand scientific data, which is now available in seconds at our finger tips.
          This is why, imo, it is quite important that Catholics promote rigorous science education, and support scientists, like the Church did for centuries. The Jesuits and others did that. Now, this has all too often fallen by the way side. Some Church leaders tend to portray the pursuit of science as opposed to building ones Faith. That is wrong. However it is also important for scientists to have some basic education in moral theology, philosophy and literature. Scientists can be so full of them themselves because they are clever in the lab. But all too often they know squat about the history of human thought, resulting in pompous, baseless and overextended interpretation of their data, it seems to me. Conversely, for a man of letter, Anthony did a great job putting the biological perspective in this piece…

    • Katholikos

       Why don’t you just say “anus” or “rectum”?  I’m a biologist and those are the Biology 101 terms.  Saying “in the posterior aspect of the perineum” is rather vague; it could mean the part of the perineum anterior to the anus, and that is not what you mean.  You also can’t count on people knowing what “perineum” or even “posterior” mean.  They should have learned “anus” and “rectum” in studying the digestive system of humans and other animals.  And if they have tv, they could have been clued in by some commercials.

  • Brian A Cook

    The only reason why I’m posting again is because you repeated–whether intentionally or not–a blatant lie about Sandra Fluke.  Please allow me to post these. 



    I dont’ have time or energy to respond to the rest of this article.  I only wanted to warn you against repetition of an easily disproven talking-point.

    • Richard A

      Sandra Fluke openly advocates for fornication on the campus of a college that is (nominally) opposed to it in its formal self-understanding. She leads an organization that directly acts to separate sexual activity from its known human purposes. She has done all she could to involve herself in every illicit sexual union commited by a Georgetown student .

      And if the owner of a brothel objects to being called a wholre because she, after all, never personally engages in sex-for-hire, do we take her seriously? Do we call the accuser a liar?

      • Al_Kilo

        As Catholics, it’s also important not to fall into clever traps. That was a very well orchestrated, very clever trap.  Rush Limbaugh had a valid argument, until he started to call her names. His valid argument was why should we all be paying with our taxes, the party life of a rich white girl that goes to an elite college (one of the most expensive in the USA) , when our country is broke?  
        Christ did not do any name calling when he spoke with the women at the well, or the adulteress about to be stoned. That is what the other side wants, they want to provoke stoning. It’s very clever, because it negates all valid arguments.  

        • Richard A

          True enough. Rush Limbaugh referred to her as a ‘slut’, which I agree is over the top. Mr. Esolen said ‘The Georgetown law student who demanded that other people finance her fornication …’. OK, so technically, in her ‘testimony’ she was actually demanding that other people (Georgetown U) finance everyone else’s fornication.

          • Okay, I’ve been looking for a place to say this.  Saying she is a ‘slut’ may not be prudent, but I think someone should say it because its true and that is what she was admitting too.

            • Richard A

              Yes, but the little green footballs links that started this demonstrate that, as far as we know from her testimony, she never actually participated in any sexual immorality herself, so the accusation of ‘slut’ would not be strictly accurate. Slanderer would be, I guess, but that’s a different article.

        • Richard A

          I don’t think that makes Mr. Esolen’s characterization a lie, which is what Mr. Cook called it.

        • Howard

           No, not in those cases.  However, “whitewashed sepulchers” is indeed pretty much name-calling, and it was directed at the Pharisees.  Pharisees of every generation draw attention to themselves for upholding the virtues popular with that generation.  That is what Sandra Fluke was doing.  She was not ashamed of her sins, as the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery were; she was holding herself up for public admiration, the way the Pharisees did.  Don’t be too sure she wouldn’t have had some harsh but accurate labels applied to her by Jesus.

  • givelifeachance2

    Yes!  Don’t redact the marital act!

  • hombre111

    Mostly, I think this article is right on. God must have had a comment or two for Helen Gurley when she checked in at Heaven’s Gate. When I was young, the chances of someone getting a STD from someone else was really quite small. Now, if someone chooses to be part of the sexually active hook-up crowd, he or she is entering a disease ridden sump.

  • Very, very well said. I’ll be re-posting this.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Of course, we needn’t worry about the hand we are dealt.  We know that in actuality God holds all the cards.  We play our hand knowing full well that He’s the dealer and the deck is stacked against the Evil One.

    • JP

      Well said.It is easy to forget that as the Scriptures say, “Christ makes all things new.” I am reminded of the Chapter of Tolkien’s Return of the King in which Frodo gives in to evil and keeps the Ring for himself. Gollum by this time is totally consumed by evil and attacks Frodo. Frodo’s weakness,and Gollum’s consumption by evil lead to a fight where Gollum falls into the lava and the Ring is finally destroyed. No one can boast, as all human efforts failed in destoying the Ring. Only Devine Providence, which used the weakness of Frodo and the evil working through Gollum brought the Ring to its destruction.

      It should be noted that in the end, Frodo could not remain in Middle Earth. His failure to destroy the Ring ate at his soul. As he said, “We saved the Shire, but not for me.” The effects of Sin linger in time like a cancerous sore. Redemption is promised by Christ; but, we still must suffer their effects. In the end, Time itself shall be redeemed by Christ.

  • Briana

    a perfect counter argument to this God-forsaken HHS Mandate! 🙂 

  • Richard A

    Ok, what’s with that popup thingy that blocks the text I’m attempting to type?

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  • Donna Ruth

    More to the point, rather than bishops/priests/interlocutors pointing to the need for marital openness to the transmission of life (which may be viewed as a non-starter argument for most who are outside the Church, because the necessary explanations are too long and too complex to transmit in a typical conversation), we would do well FIRST to point to Sacred Scripture, wherein, repeatedly, fornication is equated with loss of heaven. The Word of God is active and alive – and has power. Listeners will be less likely to beat up on what they perceive as the “big, bad, antediluvian, interfering” Catholic Church, if they hear the teachings on aberrant sexuality from the New Testament – with the warnings of potential hellfire or wrath.  The listener may walk away scorning the scripture quotes, but the quotes have been delivered to the heart where, if permitted, they will surely take root.

    Some relevant scripture quotes: 1 Cor 6:9-10ff; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7; 1 Thess 4:3-8; Colossians 3:5-6; Revelation 21:8; Mark 7:20-23; Matthew 5:27-30 and the proscription on homosexuality: Romans 1: 18-32.

  • DcnJohnSaturus

    Theological quibble.  You write:  “[Sex] is the means [God] has chosen for bringing into being a new human soul.”  The human soul (at least according to Aquinas) is a spiritual (immaterial) substance, and therefore cannot be said to be generated by the natural act of the parents; rather, it is created directly by God as the form of the body which *is* naturally generated.

    • JP

      The human soul has not been infused with a body without the cooperation of a man and woman.

  • Amazing and profound words!  So glad I found this article.  It is true, and timely, and we would all do well to heed it.

  • Gerard Gill

    What do you mean by “the bishop’s fold”?  Did they delete the passage on homosexual acts?  I would expect the Ontario bishops to proclaim the truth, if not in the court at least publically.

  • AM

    Preach it, brother!

  • Does God expect a martyrdom/diminishment of these bishops?  Just asking.  Its easy to say they need to do their duty, or “I’d do it if I was in that position”.  But most people wouldn’t.  I don’t know what I would do, but I hope I would follow God’s grace.  Can they be “wise as serpents” and act like they are obeying the unjust laws and actually not?

    • Micha Elyi

      Does God expect a martyrdom/diminishment of these bishops?–hamilte3

      We can’t say what God expects, but He may permit martyrdom.  Such things have happened in the past (not only to clergy, the laity have been included quite often – examples, including present-day examples, abound).

  • Fr. W. M. Gardner

    “All genital intercourse between human beings must be open to bringing new life into existence, by the nature of the act and in the intent of the agents, within the haven of indissoluble marriage.”
    Our Catholic teaching seems to have been weakened by straying away from the teaching of St. Augustine in this regard.  Namely, that reproduction is the primary purpose of sexual relations; and that procreation and education of children is the primary end of marriage.  He held that marital relations beyond the need for procreation would involve at least venial sin.  Therefore, to act even licitly (for example, using NFP for serious reasons) to circumvent the life-giving purpose of marital relations would be non-virtuous behavior.
    Unfortunately, by widely promoting natural birth regulation (NFP) we are unwittingly dampening the intellectual clarity of the timeless Catholic teaching on marriage and family life.
    Prof. Esolen, with due respect for your current state-in-life, you would make a great bishop!

    • Davedeuce

      Certainly a better Bishop than the current crop of “peas” that we have 😉

    • Father, I think you might need to reassess your trust in Augustine and your implicit suggestion that he is over and above the magisterium. He had a particular distaste for sexuality because of how he abused it for so many years. Due to his disposition I would not have Augustine be a mentor in sexuality. You cannot say, “Our Catholic teaching seems to have been weakened” because you are implying that both the magisterial teaching of the Church has erred, which is impossible. By holding that, “marital relations beyond the need for procreation would involve venial sin,” you seem to be equating the complementarity of attraction with lust, you are also saying that all married couples within the Church are unable to acquire plenary indulgences, since you must be free from venial sin. Married couples would also have invalid confessions since you must make a strong attempt to never sin again. It also means that the consumation of a marriage, which is required by church law for a valid sacrament, is inherently sinful if the wedding night isn’t planned on a day of ovulation (which can’t really be determined without NFP! I believe this is dangerous teaching, and unhelpful for married couples who are trying to be saints. 

  • Quang Pham

    I agree with the article in that it is speaking about what is true and good and what should be reality. However, living it is hard and especially hard for those who has in there charge both the faithful and the dissident. As bishops, choosing how to balance their words is a task too daunting for nearly all of us laymen. I just want to bring that up as food for thought but in no way disagreeing with the need for the Church to be steadfast despite persecution. 

    • Micha Elyi

      …living it is hard and especially hard for those who has in there charge both the faithful and the dissident.
      –Quang Pham

      Not all are called to be a bishop.  That’s probably why.

  • JP

    There is another religion out there that also teaches modesty, chasity within marriage, as well as encourages families. And unlike most Christians, Muslims do not make accomodations with evil. Morality abhors a vacuum. Now, there are those rather large details of Islam that are offensive to us (polygamy, capital punishment for adultery (at least for women), mysogyny, etc…

    Islam may win in the long run because it may be only game in town. As one person who tired of cultural relavatism once said of Islam, “At least they believe in something.”

    • JTLiuzza

       Sorry to disappoint you but islam is a false religion.  Build your house there and it will collapse.  There is only one Church, and she is One, Holy, CATHOLIC, and Apostolic.

      • He was just saying that their adherence to their faith may prove to their advantage with regard to their success in proselytizing. It doesn’t matter if they are false or not, “false” religions have been flourishing for millennia. lol  

  • I don’t understand why you are watching TV in the first place.  I cancelled my cable about 4 years ago and don’t miss it a bit.  I can truly say that Obama has never been in my living room.

  • Brilliant.
    A pair of threes.

  • Sammartha

    Outstanding! I have read so much on this topic and struggling with it in various ways feel this article is much like the old western where one man tired of the bad men who have taken over the town and stands up to evil.

  • You assume, of course, that these bishops have the intellectual and spiritual wherewithal to speak as you suggest.
    You also assume, perhaps incorrectly, that Canadians care. I’m not so sure of that.

  • Bedarz Ilachi

    “man is a social creature, this all-giving must be affirmed before one’s fellow men”
    More precisely, man is a political animal, thus the all-giving must be affirmed before one’s City, and not
    any ramdon collection of fellows.  Thus Catholics marry Catholics before Catholics, Hindus marry Hindus before Hindus etc.

    “the biological absurdity of a man ‘marrying’ a man.  We will uphold the biological and theological truth that a marital act is a marital act”

    More cultural than biological, I should say. But saying so, does not make it relativistic. After all, man is not determined
    by biology and is finished by culture and the norms of his City. It is the Law that makes him a man.
    And the Law is very clear. Across the globe, man ‘marrying’ man is an absurdity. This is the strongest argument against
    this absurdity.

  • ItIStheorientation

    I think the Canadian bishops are holding up Bishop Leahy, a gay prostitute waiter that was recruited to the priesthood, their own refusal to allow pro-lifers in a Canadian cathedral etc.  It seems to me you have to ask yourself what came first – the gay (corrupt, prostitute) priesthood or VCII – and the answer as God has revealed to us is the gay, corrupt, prostitute priesthood. 

  • John O’Neill

    Hugh Laurie was much more entertaining and likeable when he played Bertie Wooster, the British twit who employed Jeeves.  Once he became an American character he lapsed into a horrid personality surrounded by American safe sex morons.

  • Rodlarocque

    Great article.
    I wish a bishop will stand up and speak like this…
    Oh… I better wake up now –

  • Donald Taylor

    To correct one factual error ” that is, the government of Canada, and Ontario in particular, forbidding Catholic schools to be Catholic”. Um, no. In Canada education is strictly a provincial responsibility, so it is the gov’t of Ontario that is the issue here, not the gov’t of Canada. Please refrain from viewing the issues of a foreign country through the lens of your own nation’s political structure. The issue at hand “gay/straight” alliances  which must be allowed in all schools in Ontario as part of of anti-bullying legislation. The Catholic bishops (more correctly the Catholic school boards in Ontario, which are completely funded by the Province of Ontario) agreed they would be allowed but that they would have to adhere to and only promote the Catholic teaching of sexuality. In many ways the whole issue is a red herring, as it seems to be more a “flavour of the month” thing on the part of the Ontario government. Deeper reflection and research would have led to the less inflammatory conclusion that the problem in Ontario is that a couple of decades ago Catholic schools accepted complete provincial funding – once you do that you end up losing your independence as the gov’t holds the hammer (money).

  • Dan Deeny

    Mr. Esolen writes, …”the World, the Flesh, and the Devil are holding threes…”. I never understand why the Spirit is left out of this group. It seems to me that the Spirit, corrupted or tricked by the Devil, should be part of any analysis of evil.

  • Hank

    Actually the hand is three 6’s.  Otherwise a very accurate article.

  • Davedeuce

     “It requires a spine somewhat firmer than overdone linguini, and, in the bishops, other accoutrements rather larger than peas.”

    When you consider Bishops such as the Emminent Cardinal Archbishop Timothy Dolan proposing we espouse a philosophy of “via media”, I fear we shall always be afflicted with a bumper crop of peas. No offense to the Cardinal Archbishop, but I prefer the Via Dolorosa should prevail.

    Beautiful article Professor Esolen. I only wish I could express myself as well.

  • grahamcombs

    Prof. Esolen is fortunate he didn’t see the “Christmas” episode of HOUSE.  Early in the story Dr. House treats a prostitute.  At the end of the show he attends Midnight Mass .  Why I have no idea except probably to offer up this final scene in which there is a living Nativity.  Guess who is riding a donkey to the manger?  Then again back in the 70s Michael Moorcock wrote time travel tale entitled BEHOLD THE MAN in which the Blessed Mother is depicted in something sacreligious and repugnant.   It’s been bad for decades.  Recently Andy Griffith died.   It occurred to me that America was a better place for Catholics when every week tens of millions of protestants sat down to watch Sheriff Andy Taylor and his family and friends who were all protestants and went to church in many episodes.   Including Otis the Drunk.   And yes, David Letterman, back when Christmas really “was all about the baby Jesus.”

    And I bet a lot of Catholics watched THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW as well.

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