I grew up in a Catholic family. I mean the kind of Catholic where my mom dragged me by the hair to Confession just because I picked the neighbor's apple tree bare for a rock fight with other neighbors. (I was out of rocks.) But despite my upbringing, I turned into a hardcore agnostic (if that's not an oxymoron.)
I would've been an atheist but I thought I was smarter than them too. Needless to say, the older I got, stealing apples for rock fights was the least of my transgressions. I went to college because I wanted to make a lot of money. I went to a Catholic college because I wanted to marry an Irish-Catholic accounting major. I know it sounds weird but I didn't like the girls I found around myself at the time and thought college would open me up to a wider field.
It was a Jesuit college so I wasn't in too much danger of getting brain-slammed by any orthodoxy but it happened anyway. It started when I accidentally read the Church Fathers and oops I became a Catholic. I know this sounds funny to say but I really didn't see that coming. Believe me when I say I would've much rather become something exotic like a Zoroastrian but instead, my leap of faith brought me exactly where I started. (I don't have mad hops, I guess.)
But at that point I was a Catholic but not really into all the rules. I was heavy into the whole primacy of conscience thing which meant for me that I could pretty much do whatever I wanted but I could still feel holy about it.
A week into my senior year, I met my Irish-Catholic accounting major dream girl --the girl I came to college to find. I knew the second I saw her that she was The One. She, however, needed a bit more convincing. But I wore her down and convinced her to go on a date with me. And that's the week I accidentally read Humane Vitae.
Think about it - young man escapes clutches of evil restrictive psycho-Catholic parents and mistakenly reads Humanae Vitae and transforms into evil restrictive psycho-Catholic.
I still remember reading it in the library, rereading it immediately, slowly putting it down, walking outside into the slightly chilly night, and being at once so excited to know that I had just read something that I knew in my heart to be truth and also being completely outraged that I picked this moment, literally days after I met the woman of my dreams to read the truth. Darn it! Thanks a lot Humanae Vitae! Thanks a lot.
I recently remembered this and told it to Mary Eberstadt, the author of of "Adam and Eve after the Pill." I'm not name dropping on you. I'm bringing this up because in her book she has this great chapter on how Humanae Vitae has proved prophetic in so many ways. She's got lots of great chapters but they're not the ones I'm telling you about right now. We laughed about how stupid I was in college and how much Humanae Vitae changed my life. Eberstadt called Humanae Vitae "the most reviled document of the last 50 years." I can honestly say it was the most reviled document of my senior year at college.
She said a few years ago she realized that she hadn't read the document before but when she did, she said she was "blown away" by its prophetic nature. And the fact is that my unwanted acceptance of Humanae Vitae has made me happier in the long run than I've ever been in my life. Happier than I ever thought I could be. But what cultural damage has been done by ignoring it? Eberstadt told me sadness, confusion, and hurt are the rampant symptoms of the sexual revolution.
And what's worse is that you're not allowed to acknowledge any of it. Sure, you can say you're having trouble finding "the one" but you're not allowed to wonder aloud if perhaps the reason for it is that you already slept with "the one's" roommate.
Think about, are we truly happier, more fulfilled by by this sexual free-for-all that's turned into a cultural cage match between the sexes? I don't think so. I see all the hurt and confusion out there and I think that could've been me but for a night at the library where I stumbled onto a papal document.
All this is my way of saying that you should read Humanae Vitae and Mary Eberstadt's book while you're at it. I don't think I've ever read a book that shows more clearly how upside down we've gotten on so many things on premarital sex, contraception and porn among other wonderful things. I don't mean to turn this into a commercial but you can buy it by clicking here.
I want to thank Mary Eberstadt for writing it. And now I'm going to take a walk outside in the slightly chilly night and thank God He led me to the library that night so many years ago now. Oh, and I guess for leading me to my Irish-Catholic accountant wife too. (In case she's reading.) And I'll sign off with an apology to my old neighbors just in case they read this newspaper. I'm sorry I cleaned out your apple tree. I feel comfortable saying this because I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired. And I already confessed it.