Dancing With Two Left Feet

COMMENTARY: In today’s highly secularized world, it is hard for many people to see anything but the ‘other side.’

Fran Lebowitz
Fran Lebowitz (photo: Wikipedia/David Shankbone)

It is a well-known cliché that if a person is a poor dancer, he admits to having two left feet.

The notion is amusing and invites us to imagine such an inept terpsichorean dancing continuingly leftwards and right out the door and into the parking lot.

Ironically, what was once regarded as a handicap has now been elevated to an ideal.

Moving unilaterally in one direction has become socially fashionable in certain circles where people have an inordinate as well misguided desire to showcase their “liberalism.”

The story is told of three rabbis who boasted about their attitudes toward religion. The first stated that he installed ash trays in his synagogue so that people could enjoy a cigarette during services. The second showed a victorious smile when he declared that he installed ham sandwiches in the synagogue’s vending machines.

Not to be outdone, the third rabbi triumphantly announced that his synagogue is closed on Jewish holidays. One can move leftwards until one has abandoned his proper mission. Obviously this is nothing to boast about. It is a curious form of idiophobia (fear of being oneself).

Fairfield, a Catholic university in Connecticut, aroused some indignation by inviting Fran Lebowitz to speak to the student body. Lebowitz is an atheist homosexual who approves same-sex “marriage” and is pro-abortion.

Concerning abortion, she has this to say: “I can truthfully not think of a more private matter than abortion. I don’t even think the father of a child should have a say. That’s how private and individual of a thing it is.”

On the subject of the family, she says: “I cannot think of anything more suffocating than family life. I cannot think of anything to be avoided more assiduously than family life.”

One social commentator has said of her that her “trademark is the sneer; she disapproves of virtually everything except sleep, cigarette smoking and good furniture.”

Might we dare to suggest that brushing one’s teeth is more “private” than abortion and that prison life is be more “suffocating” than family life?

What positive message will she bring to her impressionable students?

It is frequently stated that Catholics must be exposed to “the other side” in order to get a balanced view of things. The “other side,” however, has not been exactly hidden from view. In fact, it is virtually everywhere, readily available at the click of a radio or television switch, abundant at newsstands and in the daily newspaper, overflowing at schools of higher education.

The image comes to mind of two survivors of a shipwreck who are clinging to life on a small and diminishing ice floe. Observing that his companion is chipping away at the edge of the floe, he hollers, “What are you doing!” In response, the companion says, “I want to get a better view of the ocean.”

In today’s highly secularized world, it is hard for many people to see anything but the “other side.”

In fact, the “other side” is now virtually the “only side.” In fact, it is no longer merely a “side” but the whole edifice. We are swamped in secularism.

I recall being invited to speak at a university in the United States. One faculty member, being favorably impressed with a book I wrote on abortion, thought that I had an important message to deliver. But when higher authorities discovered that I was pro-life, my invitation was canceled.

That same book, with a foreword by Marshall McLuhan and several fine illustrations by William Kurelek, was rejected by certain libraries because it “looked like trouble.” Once it was held up at customs as suspicious material.

On the other hand, one wire service conveyed that this book was “the most eloquent defense of life written thus far.”

On another occasion, I was invited to speak on chastity at a school in western Canada. Signs were posted on the campus announcing my talk. But as soon as they were posted, dissenters were taking them down.

My contact person worried that no one would know about my talk. This is hardly a unique example of dissenters removing advertizing posters of pro-life events.

Then, as I remember, there were schools that refused to host pro-life conventions simply because they were pro-life. Massive security was sometimes needed to protect pro-lifers at conferences from the threats announced by the opposition (people who call themselves “pro-choice”).

At one conference, pro-life people were told that they should park their cars bearing pro-life stickers) at least a mile away from the hotel in order to be safe from vandalism.

Nonetheless, cars were vandalized, and participants abused.

Catholics are supposed to be apostolic, all things to all people. Therefore, they are obliged to be open, informed, patient, respectful, and kind.

But it cannot be forgotten that they should be formed in the faith.

In this way, their formation is different than their mission. It precedes their mission and prepares it. But their formation is endangered when it is compromised by an unhealthy curiosity in secular trends, ideologies, and idiosyncrasies.

Without a proper Catholic formation, students are prepared to do little more than hand back to the world an image of itself. This conservative approach (static, one might say) does nothing to change the face of the earth.

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a senior fellow of Human Life International. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.