The Link Between War & Sexual License
Those who protested (letters, Nov. 1994) Gordon Zahn's antiwar article ("The D-day Commemorations," Sept. 1994) should remember the great moral price we all paid for involvement in World War II. Without doubt our troops preserved freedom for tens of millions, but one great legacy of the huge troop buildup in Europe and the Pacific was a new form of world leadership for our nation: During World War II the United States became (and has remained) the world's leading sperm exporting nation.
Millions of GIs were all but worshiped as liberators by young women with little food, little money, and the tantalizing hope that one of the liberators would whisk them off to America. The result was a baby boom in England, France, Germany, Japan, and across Europe and the Pacific, coupled with a new tolerance for abortion. The millions of abandoned children from these couples give easy answers to any questions of why virulent anti-American sentiments persist in most of the countries liberated by American troops.
Many of the millions of soldiers who acquired a taste for fornication in the 40s left their wives in the 50s, contributing in no small part to the defensive feminism and rebellion in the 60s, and to the sodomy and legalized abortion that are the immoral milestones of the 70s.
I am not such a fool or an ingrate as to think the war was unnecessary. My own comfortable, baby-boomer life is directly attributable to the great victory over the Axis powers and the economic boom that followed. But political actions have moral costs; military victory in World War II exacted a moral toll from which our nation may never recover.
Both "Safe" & Sorry
That the artificial seems natural and vice versa, as Eric Brende says in his article on the Amish (Oct. 1994), is especially true in sexual relations today. Most "responsible" couples never experience "unprotected sex," except for the few months in their lives they are trying to conceive. Then the experience often involves scheduled sex and seems very unnatural.
Trying to get pregnant was never our problem. Despite using artificial birth control, we had three children in rapid succession. After the birth of our third, we kept forgetting to use contraception. The sex was wonderful. But we were convinced that we were being terribly irresponsible. (Since I had no knowledge of my own body, I didn't know that because I was nursing I was not likely to conceive.) Shamefaced, we went to our doctor for help. After my body rejected the IUD, I was sterilized at age 29.
Now, I thought, freed from both the pesky condom and fear of another child, our intimate life would be wonderful. Imagine my surprise -- in fact, my shock -- in discovering that our intimate life was not more, but less, exciting. I could have sex whenever I wanted with no consequences, but somehow I wanted it less! Also imagine my regret when I found that my deep longing for children had not been burned out of me along with my fallopian tubes. I had been led to believe that having more than two or three children was wrong, almost a perversion. It was "natural" to want two children, but "unnatural" to want more.
After my conversion back to Catholicism, the faith of my childhood, I saw how misguided I had been. Since it was my husband who wanted to limit the size of our family, how much closer we would have been if we had worked toward this together, naturally. And how much closer we would have been physically as well.
I had thought it was the physical fact of contraception that made our intimate life less exciting. Too late, I realized it was the spiritual fact of contraception that was the damper. Only now, too late (for I tried to have the sterilization reversed, but cannot), do I see that we briefly experienced, those few months we risked "unprotected sex," the awesome majesty of sex the way God intended it -- full of mystery and potential consequences. It was sex not yet cut off at the knees, sterilized, made "safe." Although brief, I am thankful, for many couples I know have never experienced even that. Yes, the artificial has been made to seem natural, and many, many couples will never know what they have missed.
What About the Children?
How could Kalynne Hackney Pudner (who, according to her i.d., is expecting her fifth child) write about marriage and avoid the topic of children -- as do the feminist authors she critiques? Whatever "risk-free" exits there may be in those absurd marriage contracts Pudner criticizes in her article (Nov. 1995), they are certainly not without risks to the children who had no part in their making, but must live out their consequences as their parents declare marriage, and therefore its products, disposable. Divorce is no more risk-free than are abortions to the patients inside the wombs -- the ones who do not survive the "contract" between the mother and her physician.
Joseph M. Rumbaut
Don't Call Me a Victim?
Three cheers for Gordon Zahn ("P.C. Squared?" Nov. 1994) and Edward O'Brien Jr. ("Neo-Paganism," Nov. 1994) for exposing the insidious poison of gender feminism. The gender feminists cry for inclusive language and the ordination of women, and try to convince everyone that women are victimized and subjugated by the Catholic Church, but I don't feel victimized or subjugated.
Lauren P. Lehmann, M.D.
Gordon Zahn's Bravery
May the Lord, in His mercy, bless Gordon Zahn for his moral courage in wishing to quote Thomas Merton accurately and in challenging Pax Christi's demands for political correctness. Given Zahn's background in Pax Christi, it could not have been easy for him to write that article of his ("P.C. Squared?" Nov. 1994).
Yes, I believe Pax Christi's real motive was political correctness, not my (a woman's) "sensitivity" to "non-inclusive" language. What offends me is political correctness. How can people respect women when they won't respect Thomas Merton or literary ethics? Such hypocritical people violate every principle I teach my freshman English students.
On October 9, 1845, John Henry Newman formally abandoned the Church of England and was received into the Roman Catholic fold. The pain of his Anglican friends at his departure, the joy of Roman Catholics at his reception, and the controversy which followed are chapters of a story that has been told a thousand times without losing its drama or pathos.
What has been lost is the polemical fury with which the story once was wielded. No longer do Roman triumphalists trot Newman out to prove the imminent demise of Anglicanism, and evangelicals long ago gave up their febrile denunciations of "the great pervert." One hundred and fifty years after "the parting of friends," Newman is restoring friends, drawing Roman Catholics and Anglicans together in ways that would have been unthinkable to our Victorian ancestors.
It is tragic, therefore, that Newman's Anglican Difficulties should have been republished with the hope of opening old wounds, and doubly tragic that it should inspire Dale Vree to pour salt upon them (review, Oct. 1994). Any Roman Catholic reviewer of Newman's controversial works is bound to say things that will trouble Anglican readers, for the disputes between our two communions are unresolved and Newman's judgments are stern and uncompromising. But even the most zealous Ultramontane should be able to look across the great divide with charity and heartfelt understanding. Alas, Vree's review possesses neither of these virtues. Instead, it pours upon the hapless Anglican a torrent of ridicule and contempt.
The Church of England, Vree eagerly assures us, is on its death bed and with it, one assumes, lies the whole Anglican Communion. Studiously ignoring the perilous state of the Roman Catholic Church in western Europe and the vigor of Anglicanism in the Third World, he trumpets gloomy statistics on attendance at Anglican churches in England.
Indeed, if Vree is to be believed, there is no theological wickedness as protean as Anglicanism. It defies the universal Church, rejects Catholic doctrine, and mocks Christ himself. Not content with these crimes, Anglicans have gone further still, embracing the "patently anti-apostolic and anti-Catholic" practice of ordaining women. Why, then, would anyone remain an Anglican? The stubborn loyalty of Keble and Pusey to the Church of their birth, and the continued refusal of the vast majority of Anglo-Catholics to follow in Newman's footsteps deeply trouble Vree. He even affects bewilderment, but in the end his judgment is clear. Anglicans are either blind, stupid, or just plain heretical.
How can calumnies this extensive be answered? Shall we debate yet again the complicated question of women's ordination? Or shall we follow Vree into the quagmire of ancient quarrels, and flog old Mr. Gorham and poor Queen Victoria's Privy Council to boot? Even were it fruitful to do so in another forum, a letter to the editor can hardly compass about the four-and-a-half centuries that mark our separate courses. What I can do is urge Roman Catholics to attend our worship, read our Prayer Book, hear our hymnody, study the lives of our saints, and then prayerfully consider whether we are an Erastian gaggle or co-inheritors of the Kingdom of God.
John Orens, Ph.D.
President Catholic Fellowship of the Episcopal Church
DALE VREE REPLIES:
As a former Anglican, I have done the things you urge and I have a "heartfelt understanding" -- indeed, a heartfelt appreciation -- of the Anglican experience. But the question of truth remains, and it's connected to the issue of charity, which you raise, but in a way you have perhaps not considered. If Mr. X says 2 + 2 = 4, and Mr. Y says 2 +2 = 3, it is precisely charity that could be moving Mr. X to try to correct Mr. Y's thinking, especially if Mr. Y is an Anglo-Catholic whose calculations are leading him to a place even he wouldn't want to go. Moreover, perhaps you overlooked these words in my last paragraph: "Christian fidelity involves more than getting an A' in Ecclesiology 101.... There have been and are many Anglo-Catholics...whose holiness and charity and love of the Lord put many a Roman Catholic to shame." Such words do not come from someone who would read Anglicans out of the Kingdom of God, who would pour "a torrent of ridicule and contempt" on Anglicans, or who regards Anglicanism as "theological wickedness."