Suppose you have homes falling to pieces everywhere in your town.
You could look at the walls, that you concede are sometimes made of chalk. You could look at the roofing, because you sometimes notice a strange sag up above the eaves. But instead you fix upon the foundations. You notice that they are made of mere clay, and that groundwater riddles them with holes, so that some houses sink into the earth on this side or that, and sometimes people wake up in the morning to find that they have no house at all.
But when you cry out to the builders and the inspectors, they laugh at you, and say that you are a single-issue repairman, or they accuse you of not caring about people whose roofs shed water into the living room. In vain do you urge them to see that nothing that lasts can be done unless the foundations are solid.
For a long time, you assume that the builders and inspectors are daft or inattentive. Then you discover that they have begun to insist that diversity of construction is a positive good. It is right that no walls should be plumb and no floors should be level. It is exciting to hear studs groaning against the nails as the house lists.
And when what ought to have been a true, ordinary home collapses, they cheer, if the mood is on them, saying that it but brings extended families closer together, or they decry strange forces in the atmosphere, for which their enemies are to blame.
At which point you suspect that they are in the grip of something quite mad, even demonic.
"Abortion," some Catholics say, "is only one issue." No, it is not. It is but the bloodiest form of a many-sided attack upon the very nature of the family. Attend to the words: not an attack upon the material welfare of families, which would be bad enough, and which neither major party in the United States has been innocent of, but upon their being.
All of the grave sexual sins attack the family at the root, and you can no more have a good and prosperous nation with families shot to hell than you can have a solid house with a foundation crumbling into mud.
It is bound up with every feature of the Great Moral Apostasy: with every form of immorality and unreality having to do with the sexes male and female, sexual congress, marriage, and the begetting, raising, and education of children.
All of the grave sexual sins attack the family at the root, and you can no more have a good and prosperous nation with families shot to hell than you can have a solid house with a foundation crumbling into mud. That is not my insight. It is what all the popes have said since Leo XIII. It is embarrassing to have to say it yet again.
Sometimes the character and the extent of an evil may be seen in what those who practice it regard as trivial. When Saint José Anchieta was preaching to the natives in Brazil, he met a well-respected old lady who asked for her favorite snack as she lay dying. She wanted fingers. Not just any fingers: children's fingers.
That is how I think of such abominations as Drag Queen Story Hour. They are our form of children's fingers. I do not mean that the queens are cannibals. They are not so savage and bloodthirsty. Yet in some ways they are worse. They are not the inheritors of an evil custom. They are the initiators of one.
They do not attack the body. They attack the mind and the soul. But the point is that a world in which that is cheered is not just a world that is bad in the usual ways that human life is bad. It is demonic.
So also is the preaching of "gender fluidity" to impressionable children, usually without the knowledge of their parents. So also is the mutilation of children in the grip of sexual delusions instilled in them by adults. Gender ideology in general, Pope Francis has said, is demonic.
That there are not two sexes, male and female, each made for the other; that a man can possibly marry another man; that the living child in the womb is not a child; that the child-making act can be considered essentially sterile for purposes of self-expression and recreation; these are not just matters of intemperance or of the imprudent application of moral principles.
They are direct affronts to the Creator and to creation as such.
One party promises to persecute you if you speak against the demonic. The other party does not so promise.
In the days of the Apostle to Brazil, the demonic had long threaded itself into the people's ways. Baptism then really did mean dying and being grafted onto a new principle, a new life.
With us the case is different. The threading is not complete. So the demonic must rely upon force, cruel and unforgiving. Dare to say in public that you oppose one of its more recent manifestations, and see whether you can keep your job. See whether everyone in your family will continue to speak to you.
The more wildly insane a thing is, the more it must call upon the hulking engines of mass society to press it upon a still half-hearted populace.
It is no great praise to say of a political party that it is not given over to the demonically insane. But there it is. One party promises to persecute you if you speak against the demonic. The other party does not so promise. One party would trammel up the Church and gag her priests. The other party doesn't yet do so.
And what of the people and their rotting homes? Nothing that lasts can be accomplished unless we build anew on solid foundations. Everything pragmatic must return to the principle.
For the sake of the poor themselves, and for all those whose chaotic homes and whose privations — moral as well as material — have led them into crime, we must reestablish the principles of the family, natural, God-created, and blessed before the fall.
The principles alone do not guarantee success. But their abrogation guarantees failure.
Anthony Esolen. "A Flight into Reality." The Catholic Thing (February 1, 2020).
Reprinted with permission from The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Esolen is a professor and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, in Warner, New Hampshire. He is the author of many books including: Life Under Compulsion: Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child, The Beauty of the Word: A Running Commentary on the Roman Missal, Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, Reflections on the Christian Life, Ironies of Faith: Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, and is the translator of several epic poems of the West, including Lucretius' On the Nature of Things: de Rerum Natura, Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata, and the three volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. He is a graduate of Princeton and the University of North Carolina. Anthony Esolen is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.Copyright © 2020 The Catholic Thing
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