War on the Modern World

Go for it. Just go for it. Burn it all down. Pile everything you’ve ever said was important to you in the street, douse it in gasoline, and let the blaze light up the sky.

This puts it all on the table. Republicans and Catholics and Republican Catholics and Republicans who just say they’re Catholic and Catholics who are Republican because abortion seems yucky are now all just going to have to say it now.

They would rather lots and lots of women die from preventable conditions, too many unwanted children, and abortions that should never have to happen, than that they have to put up with the thought that some woman somewhere is making her own decisions regarding who she has sex with and when.

I got news for a lot of people what think this is some kind of winning argument about religious freedom for Catholics.Catholic women have memories of the battle over the Pill and the issuance of Humanae Vitae the first time around.

For instance, the Belgian bishops stated: “Someone, however, who is competent in the matter under consideration and capable of forming a personal and well-founded judgment–which necessarily presupposes a sufficient amount of knowledge–may, after a serious examination before God, come to other conclusions on certain points. In such a case he has the right to follow his conviction provided that he remains sincerely disposed to continue his inquiry.” Of those who arrived at conclusions differ­ent fromHumanae Vitae, the Scandinavian bishops stat­ed: “No one should, therefore, on account of such diverg­ing opinions alone, be regarded as an inferior Catholic.” The Canadian bishops made a similar statement: ‘These Catholics should not be considered, or consider them­selves, shut off from the body of the faithful.”

Catholic women remember the woman in the pew next to them in church, dragging 13 children behind her, her husband dead or gone and no help at hand. They remember the neighbor who died in childbirth because her doctor was bound by faith to save her baby at all costs. They remember the relative whose husband defied the hospital’s orders to make sure there were no more children, who suffered horribly before the end. They remember their own miscarriages, stillbirths, when God wanted them to have just one more baby, at the age of 45 in 1953.

And those were the married women who wanted the children they had. Those were the ones doing it right, in the eyes of the more conservative bishops and members of the church. That was the fate due thegood girls. I don’t need to go over what happened to the bad ones, and what we remember about them.

So go ahead, tell those women that a condom is cause for excommunication. Tell those women that the greatest threat to their liberty is some other lady in their health plan getting the pill for free. Tell those women, who lost their sisters, who lost their aunts, who lost their mothers, who saw the women around them worn out and rubbed down to nothing, that they don’t have the right to painlessly, reasonably ensure that they live to care for the family they want. Let’s have that fight. Let’s haul out all the arguments.

Let’s talk about how God really wants our infant mortality rate to skyrocket. Let’s talk about how many women, exactly, God wants dead. Let’s make adherence to a rule of the modern world the be-all and end-all test of who is a true believer. That’s never gone horribly wrong before.

Let’s have that fight, because there’s no way it goes the way the bishops think it’s going to go. This is the lateCardinal Avery Dulles, writing in 1968:

In view of the American tradition of freedom and pluralism, it would be a serious mistake to use the encyclical as a kind of Catholic loyalty test. Nothing could so quickly snuff out the spirit of per­sonal responsibility, which has done so much to invigorate American Catholicism in the past few years.

Nothing could be more discouraging to young people and intellectuals, upon whom the future of our Church so greatly depends. Nothing could be more destructive of the necessary autonomy of Catholic universities and journals, which have begun to prosper so well. Nothing, finally, could be more harmful to the mutual relations of trust and cordiality that have recently been established between bishops and theologians.

He could have been speaking directly to the bishops and their power-hungry enablers in Congress today. Have that fight. Go ahead. You won’t like the outcome. I’ve been saying for years that our vicious abortion politics are burning down everything else the Church has ever considered important, and this? This is like throwing a bottle of lighter fluid onto the kindling before striking the match.


12 thoughts on “War on the Modern World

  1. Aieeeeeee! The stupid, it burns!
    But I have to reluctantly applaud it, because the good bishops and Mitch McConnell between them have probably just handed the election to Obama on a golden platter. Possibly the House and several Senate races as well.
    All Democratic candidates have to do is say “I will see that your right of access to whatever means of contraception you choose is not changed or impeded in any way.”
    End of debate, case closed, and (with apologies) fuck those wrinkly old bastards in pink hats, and Mitch McConnell and Rick Santorum too.

  2. The sickest part of the whole thing is that if we were talking about prostate cancer prevention the Church would change its position in a Vatican Minute. This is yet another archaic vestige of a misogynist system.

  3. A, I am so fucking lucky to have met you, and I am incredibly fucking grateful that I got the chance to do so.

  4. As always, A., a beautifully written rant.
    For over 30 years, we’ve watched the American right-wing push itself further and further towards insanity. Each step became a dare — “I’m willing to go THIS far; if you don’t go as far as me, you’re not a TRUE conservative!”
    “Oh yeah? Well, anyone who’ll only go THAT far is a mushy liberal punk; I’ll go THIS far!”
    “Oh really? Jimmy Carter goes THAT far and he’s everything that’s wrong with this country! You don’t love America unless you’re willing to go HERE.”
    “Fuck that, anyone can go THERE…”
    And on and on until all they have left is hatred, fear and resentment, and a fantasy world that bears no relation to reality.
    Where this is going to lead is anyone’s guess. It’s already brought our government to a standstill. We fall further & further behind as the rest of the world gets on with clean tech, high-speed trains, longer bridges and tunnels, taller, cleaner buildings and all the other neat stuff that America used to be so good at.
    Now the bankers are trying to drag Europe down into the same hole as America; maybe they think a worldwide depression (or war) is the only way left to preserve their privileges.
    But while Americans continue to fight these anachronistic culture wars, the .1% continues to steal everything in sight; maybe that’s the real plan after all.

  5. My dear, I cannot think of any blogger more passionate andcorrect and caring and well-spoken than you. This rant is a masterpiece.
    And these crazy old men — Catholic hierarchy and Congressional coattailers alike — have forgotten the fate of the Shakers, and it will come back to get them. And no one, no one will mourn their passing.

  6. It doesn’t take a Catholic to have those kinds of memories, alas. My Presbyterian maternal grandfather’s mother was one oftwenty-one children. I have no idea how many of those children survived to adulthood. His father’s family had thirteen, and I think of those only six or so survived to adulthood.
    My best friend in high school was the youngest child in an unreconstructed Catholic family of eleven children (there would have been thirteen, but her mother had had two miscarriages between her and her next-oldest sibling). She and the next youngest were also the only girls, and by the time they were teenagers, they’d already been worked hard, taking care of and cleaning up after their layabout brothers. Her oldest brother was 21 when she was born, and for a while, her father was collecting Baby Bonus and Old Age Pension at the same time, because he was over 65 and she wasn’t 18 yet.
    If you remember from readingUncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe explicitly says in the book that every parent in her reading audience would have the experience of having lost a child, at an advanced enough age where they would have a drawer full of keepsakes for that child.
    There also used to be a saying “a tooth for every baby,” meaning that pregnancy and childbirth were so hard on women that they could expect to lose one tooth (due to the baby’s taking calcium from their bones) for each child they bore.
    This is the world they want to send us back to. Of course, they have money and connections, so it won’t apply to them, but as far as they can tell, the proles should both breed and die like flies. Welcome toThe Jungle, Upton Sinclair style.

  7. This has nothing to do with religion and morality and everything to do with the GOP, and the bishops in bed with it, looking at Willard the Uninspiring at the top of the ticket and searching desperately for something, anything, to get the evangelical wingnuts, none of whom are enthusiastic about Romney and many of whom don’t even think the LDS Church is Christian, out to the polls in November.

  8. This is all about uppityness.
    Uppity women wanting to not be chattel anymore — chattel of the church or the party.

  9. “The sickest part of the whole thing is that if we were talking about prostate cancer prevention the Church would change its position in a Vatican Minute. This is yet another archaic vestige of a misogynist system.”
    You big ol’ silly. When God gives menfolk cancer or diseases(or lets face it womenfolk or babies that have medical conditions OTHER THAN pregnancy) it isn’t His will, not really. That’s why he put into place the inventors of medical interventions- oh wait. Only pregnancy is a testament of God’s will. It isn’t like God allowed medical interventions to be created for those-oh wait.
    Being a conservative or a Catholic apparently means rejecting rationality and intellectual consistency in entirety. God only sanctions SOME medical interventions- they just happen to be conveniently the ones that the church allows at Catholic hospitals(rolling eyes.)

  10. The Church views Catholic women as no more than breeding heifers used to perpetuate the Catholic Church. More Catholics born means more women breeding means more Catholics, and that translates to more money for the bishops to maintain a lavish, useless lifestyle. If the Vatican thought so highly of women, there would be women priests. I don’t see any, but I do see a whole lot of Catholic women with too many kids they can’t afford, and, as you said, “…worn out and rubbed down to nothing.” The Catholic Church is a monster terrorizing its captives and I am stunned that we are still having this ridiculous conversation in 2012, that we are letting a handful of old, white men dictate the population patterns on this planet. It is beyond my understanding.

  11. I can’t help but feel you’re addressing the wrong crowd.We remember. But I get the feeling too many young women don’t. (Young men? Totally oblivious.) They haven’t seen any of this except as history — and that’s when they’re paying attention. There seems to be a real “Oh, that could never happen here” feeling among them.
    I have no idea how to get them to understand. Listening to old people discussing the days when the snow was three feet deep and they walked uphill to school, both ways, is just boring.

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