Ben Johnson

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Adam and Eve after the Pill: the devastating fallout of the sexual revolution

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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Note: Read a LifeSiteNews.com interview with author Mary Eberstadt here.

Occasionally, a book perfectly marries expert insight with the tone and interests of its audience. Mary Eberstadt’s Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution (Ignatius Press) is just such a serendipity. In a rejoinder to decades of sexual liberation barbs and sexually libertine behavior, Eberstadt’s thin but illuminating volume introduces female audiences to the well-researched pitfalls of the sexual revolution in a language they will find most engaging.

That is not to say this is merely a book for women – far from it. Adam and Eve After the Pill takes a kaleidoscopic view at each dark angle of a nation that has abandoned the nuclear family. In noting the harms of recreational sex outside marriage and sexual barrenness after, Eberstadt devotes at least a chapter to each group oppressed through liberation: women, men, young adults, and children. Each segment of society, which had been promised freedom from the constraints of forced fertility, has found itself cheated of a devoted husband, a contented wife, an intact family unit, or a young adulthood free from sexual exploitation. At each turn, Eberstadt supports her argument with the rigorous citation of social science research. 

She notes that so many refuse to believe anyone could dissent from hedonism. Likening this to Communism’s true believers, she says today’s apologists for domestic decline share what Jeane Kirkpatrick called “The Will to Disbelieve.” Those who promote promiscuity, pornography, and the preludes to pedophilia as harmless find themselves switching places with the religious extremists they once derided, reciting articles of faith as the evidence mounts that their God has failed.

Her dual chapters on the effects pornography has had on men and women are perhaps the easiest to connect with emotionally. However, her decision to frame the chapter on women with an analysis of two essays on marriage by Sandra Tsing Loh and Caitlin Flanagan seemed at first unusual. Did this not unnecessarily date the book and lower its academic appeal?

The result of the spread of pornography is a nation bombarded with sexual imagery, of the most explicit and grotesque variety, yet increasingly “sexually barren” in terms of sex between married people. One telling anecdote occurs on page 51, about a joyless, intimacy-devoid marriage whose “tension over marital sex leads finally to an amicable solution: She has her chocolate, and he has his Internet pornography.” As a result, two Wharton School economists conducted a survey finding that female happiness has fallen throughout the industrialized world for the last 35 years – a period coterminous with their putative “liberation.” Eberstadt connects the dots between increasing male reliance on pornography, the market of women of all ages and descriptions readily available for no-strings-attached sex, the rise of the “man-child” mired in perpetual adolescence, and female dissatisfaction at the fraying family unit.

She outlines a dangerous picture on campus, where binge-drinking and emotion-free “hook-ups” have replaced dating. She tells those attending “Toxic U” there is a way to opt-out, citing such institutions as Christendom College, Patrick Henry College, and Hillsdale. And barring that, responsibility and heightened vigilance.

Two chapters explore what Friedrich Nietzsche called “the transvaluation of values” – specifically, that the moral opprobrium that fell upon pornography a generation ago now falls upon tobacco. No fashionable human being would consider lighting up in public, much less inducing a child to do so, yet many consider teen porn consumption harmless, if not instructive. Similarly, the overconsumption of food or indulgence in poor dietary choices have replaced a prior generation’s concern over rootless, meaningless sexual hookups. As Eberstadt points out, modern sexual ethics are worse than those envisioned by Nietzsche, the author of The Antichrist.

These paradoxes inflict real and meaningful harms. Her conscientiously footnoted book documents how young people who have been exposed to pornography are “more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, more likely to have one sexual partner in the last three months, more likely to have used alcohol or other substances at their last sexual encounter, and…more likely to have scored higher on a ‘sexual permissiveness’ test.” They are more likely to have sex at a younger age, to engage in riskier sex, and to have forced another into non-consensual sex. In the process, she cites such very unconservative sources as Naomi Wolf, Lori Gottlieb, and Lionel Tiger.

The last chapter, on the vindication of Humanae Vitae, proves the prescience of the most derided missive in the history of the sexual revolution. Here she ends on a positive note, referencing Dr. Albert Mohler among other evangelicals and conservative Protestants who are re-evaluating their stance on contraception in wake of the fallout the sexual revolution has created.

That development in itself signals a potential way forward in the culture wars. The meek may inherit the earth, but the fertile make a more powerful voting bloc.

At first, this author found Eberstadt’s decision to center much of her narrative around such fashionable literature as Loh, et. al., irksome. However, even someone as wedded to heavy social data and research as myself must recognize it as a wise decision. The book’s target audience is women, who from Lysistrata to their overwhelming leadership of the pro-life movement have proven they have the ability to affect social mores when they stop tolerating poor behavior. They, far more so than men, maintain an emotional connection to family and an inherent aversion to anything that threatens the well-being of their homes.

This book has the unique ability to unite a woman’s heart with her mind. It should be used as an antidote to anyone who has read Cosmopolitan or Vogue and as a vaccine for those who wish to avoid a life of emotional bankruptcy.

Read a LifeSiteNews.com interview with author Mary Eberstadt here.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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