Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Vindication of Humane Vitae” (FT Aug/Sept/ 2008 “Of Pimps, Planned Parenthood and Humanae Vitae”)
By Richard K. Munro
It is very interesting to me that Mary Eberstadt’s “The Vindication of Humanae Vitae” followed Bottom’s article “The Death of Protestant America” because you have there the root cause for the collapse of the mainline churches (including the Catholics in European countries where the Pill and the 1960’s has arrived). It is refreshing to me to read Albert Mohler, an Evangelical Southern Baptist, criticize artificial birth control, particularly the Pill. In my view he is exactly right when he says “I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a great impact on human beings than the Pill…”
Once again I am closer to him than I am to “Mainline” Christians (generally very liberal) or indifferent cafeteria Catholics. I frankly admit that of all Catholic teachings Humane Vitae was one that I did not defend. Why? For one reason the women I knew, secular, Protestant and Catholic were overwhelmingly and strongly against it. Mary Eberstadt is very right when she says:” contraceptive sex…is the fundamental social fact off our time” as is” the fierce and widespread desire to keep it.” I had to survive, have friends, not antagonize by professors or bosses so I kept a low profile. I still remain diplomatic but I am braver and more outspoken now because I am not looking for a mate nor competing for a job.
Mary Eberstadt lists the four trends predicted by Humanae Vitae: “a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.” Anthony Burgess predicted the cheapening of sex and the breakdown of society into “ultra violence” in his book Clockwork Orange. I will never forget what the main character calls sex: “the old in and out”. For many young men that’s all sex is today. Many American men, too, have been spoiled and corrupted by the sexual revolution. A constant complaint I hear from nice young women is that young men (high school and college aged) can’t be bothered to date girls who don’t “give out.” These men, they say, are interested primarily in easy hook-ups without any romance, friendship or commitments. It is possible, however, that fear of AIDS and STDs is making some young Americans more cautious.
Yes, the joys of childhood are nothing as compared to the joys of adultery! In my experience artificial birth control is no anywhere near 90% or 99% effectiveness rates touted by its proponents. Perhaps mature, married adults could achieve these numbers but the reality is young adults and adolescents often lack the wisdom and discipline to use contraceptives properly. The result is a skyrocketing rate of STD infections, more illegitimacy and more abortion. For many people today abortion is just another form of artificial birth control. For this reason alone Planned Parenthood is a misnomer; it should be rechristened “Planned Promiscuity and VD Inc.”
I was always very family oriented and close to my family. To me marriage meant openness to children. My father and mother taught me “never to date a girl who would not make a good mate.” But the American women I knew seemed to have no interest in marriage; that was something they would do much later, after age 30. After a while I stopped dating English-speaking women all together; between 1973 and 1982 at least 95 percent of my dates were with non-native English speaking women (this was easy to do since I lived in New York or Europe). One virtue these non Anglophone women had, besides tending to be more feminine, was they didn’t resort to vulgar Anglo-Saxon expletives –most considered them immodest and bad manners. Though I was not Latin or Hispanic I felt I had more in common with them than I did with my English-speaking female classmates at school who were almost totally given over to Planned Parenthood, the Pill and Total Emancipation (which included the right to curse freely). That wasn’t for me. Though I didn’t realize it at the time that Catholic world I knew in Europe 1964-1980 would soon vanish. Now I hardly recognize the places I knew and few of the children or our friends or relatives are baptized let alone regular church goers. The ‘60’s have definitely arrived in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Ireland.
But I was lucky; I married wonderful girl raised in that lost Catholic world. For the first time in my life I knew a girl who knew more lives of saints than I did. She was the widow’s nut brown daughter and a woman who liked hymns, Rodrigo’s Concierto Aranjez, opera and Spanish Zarzuela. She even had a record of Amazing Grace on the pipes. She liked books and poetry but did not have –it was possible in those days- a single word of English. She was the convent educated granddaughter of a country doctor and the niece of a nun. We had a very traditional and old fashioned courtship and it was a lot of fun for us and for her family. It was a relief that on matters of religion, marriage and family we were it total agreement! When we married she made a handmade bright green woolen shamrock for my lapel and sewed it on top our ancient clan tartan; the other side had the symbols and slogans of her Spanish home town. As a boy I had wanted to get married in a kilt with a piper but as a man I wore a blue suit (with a tartan tie) and for Spanish guitars (I have no regrets).
There is no question my wife was much more strongly pro-life than I was at the time and has helped shape through prayer, teaching and discussion my views and the views of our children. We have been happily married for 26 years and we have three pro-life, pro-family and perfectly bilingual Catholic children. Though my wife and I came from different language traditions we shared the most important things: our family values and a deep and abiding faith in God. There is no question we felt we were children of the West, children of Christendom. The differences in our nationality were not that important. Nonetheless on August 4, 2008 my wife will take the oath of citizenship as an American because America is her country now as well as mine and her children’s.
As I said, I have never been a vociferous advocate of abortion rights but neither have I been in the past strongly and openly pro-life. After I saw the film BELLA with my wife I had a complete change of mind. I admit sheepishly that as a catechist I have appeased the youth who at times mock and flout the Catholic Church’s openly even during their catechism. The siren call of sexual pleasure, once tasted, is, I think for young people an irresistible temptation. I suppose I felt that Humanae Vitae and all it stood for may have been the cause of true honor but it was a forlorn hope and for society a lost cause. Now, I have changed my views. I am beginning to think that the traditional morality espoused by Humanae Vitae is the only hope of America (and the West in general). Demography will decide the destiny of nations, language families and faith traditions.
I am not laughing. I am teaching and above all I am praying. And I pray to God my own children spurn the Sangerite doctrines that dominate the colleges. My single greatest worry is that my children, who are all in college or soon will be, might be ‘turned’ in college by their peers, the music they listen to, or by their professors. But there is a great difference between today and 1965. In 1965 the Sexual Revolution caught many parents completely unaware; today concerned parents are aware of the evil in the world (and in school dormitories). So they encourage safer paths such as living off campus in an apartment with close friends. It is not a secret that I would no sooner trust my daughters to the co-ed dorms of most colleges than I would trust a pimp on 42nd street. I know that schools and colleges are not necessarily on our side in fact they may be virtually enemy institutions whose values are completely at odds with Catholicism or traditional minded Christianity. Many parents are better prepared, more skeptical and much more cautious than my parent’s generation. We do not want to lose our children to the sly forces of evil. We know who those diabolical forces are. It is they who undermine marriage and traditional values and who mock Humanae Vitae. It is they who desire to separate women form men and foment hatred and distrust between the two sexes instead of harmony. It is they who promote promiscuity, a culture of death, “planned” un-parenthood and non-traditional lifestyles.
I pray to God that one day in the near future I will attend the marriage of each of my children. Soon thereafter I will be surrounded by a goodly number of my own grandchildren. I pray for to be there for important milestones such as baptisms, ball games and school graduations and God-willing even their marriage. As I am in good health and reasonably young I have a better chance at this than many of my “with-it” contemporaries for the simple reason is when child bearing is delayed until almost middle age it is more likely the grandparents will not survive to see their grandchildren. That is very sad and it has a deletrious societal and educational effect. It was a very happy thing for us and for my children that all of them got to know and love and learn from three of their grandparents. To this very day my son talks about the trips we all took together, the ball games we saw, the games we played, the meals we ate, the realia and pictures of two World Wars, the books from my father’s library, the visits to Washington, D.C., Arlington cemetery; the movies and actors “grandpop” liked –Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery and Ingrid Bergman were great favorites. My father actually saw Babe Ruth play; he saw Clark Gable in person; he saluted and exchanged words with General MacArthur; he saw movies in Manila with Commander Robert Montgomery; he saw Leslie Howard AND Bogart on the stage; he corresponded with Gilbert Highet. My son got to know his grandfather as good man, a brave man, a man of honor, a wise man. My son came to understand why his grandfather was so respected, so honored and so loved and he cherishes the relationship he had with his grandfather as I cherished my relationship with my father’s father. Then there were the songs my mother sang; the languages our people knew and the places where they lived. “How sweet was then my mother’s voice in the martyr’s psalm!” If you don’t have close continuity between the generations all that is lost. One might as well be an orphan. It is good to learn and remember the people you came from.
There is no question in my mind that belief and action -both benevolent and evil- often go hand in hand. The Great Teacher said: “You shall know them by their fruits” (Mathew 7:16) I pray to God often that my children will be delivered from evil and so often read to myself and to them Psalm 127:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
“Aye! ‘S truth!!!” , my Auld Pop would have said. He was, by our standards, an uneducated man, but he was wise as he was brave and loyal. He often said: “You can’t just make up your rules as you go along. “Whom God teaches not, man cannot teach” . Wisdom and humility come with knowledge of God. Remember always to DREAD GOD, to REVERENCE UNTO GOD. That is the first thing. Then be a man of honor and a man of your word. If you remember these things will not go far wrong. Aye! ” I have not forgotten. NE OBLIVISCARIS.
Too many think today: “we are wise and know more than all the previous generations before us”. So they dismiss Humanae Vitae as just meaningless nonsense. That really is a laugh.
Richard ("Ricardo") MUNRO, MA (Spanish Literature)
Teacher of English, history and Spanish
Bilingual Certificate of Competence (BCLAD)
Adjunct Faculty (AP Reader) ETS
Master Catechist (New Wine) , Diocese of Fresno.
West High School (Kern HS District)
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