In the fourth part of a six-part podcast lecture series on the Catholic Literary Revival, published weekly by Faith & Culture, I focus on the “Chesterbelloc Period”:
I’m prophesying that the forthcoming film, Tolkien, will present the sort of perversion of the truth of which Wormtongue himself would be proud:
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Why is the cult of “progress” so deadly? And how is literature the dissident voice exposing the tyranny of progressivism? Here are my musings on the way that literature serves as a light amid the ruins of modernity:
The recent passage of New York’s radical new law permitting abortion up until the beginning of labor was shocking, but more shocking still were the cheers of the lawmakers when the governor signed the bill into law. Even people who were barely lukewarm in their pro-life sentiments were horrified by such an enthusiastic reception of the law. I could not help but wonder, however, at the pro-life horror as much as I wondered at the pro-choice cheers.
When I was teaching debate, I always allowed my students to choose the topics, no matter how controversial, with one exception: abortion. I had to explain that the topic is not debatable. Why? Because the morality or immorality of abortion depends entirely on a judgment about when life begins; otherwise, it’s simply a debate on infanticide. Nor can the issue be decided solely on the basis of religion: The Catholic church says that life begins at conception, a position that makes most birth control methods infanticide, but the Union of American Hebrew Congregations says that life begins when an infant first breathes outside the womb of the mother, a position that makes abortion legitimate up until the very last moment. That is why the Supreme Court refused to make a judgment and that is why the whole issue has been—and will continue to be—so impossible to legislate.
“Well, then, Ms. Hunt, what is your position? Should it be legal or not?”
“I don’t want it to be illegal—I want it to be unthinkable.”
And so the outrage that pro-lifers expressed at New York’s lifting of virtually all restrictions on abortion is as troubling as the cheers of the lawmakers. What is it that governs pro-lifers’ thinking when they consider human life in the womb? Is it the relative development of the baby? Is a baby not as fully developed as one about to be born somehow less a person than one more fully developed? There is something askew in that point of view. Either that’s a human life or it isn’t. Can any human be more or less a person? Once conceived, it’s either a human or it isn’t. The cheers are indeed horrifying, but the hypocrisy of those who were outraged is just as disturbing.
Possibly most mysterious of all is how we have borne our grief in all these decades of legally disposable babies. There’s only one way: by denying the infant’s personhood in earlier stages of pregnancy. Not only has that denial made it possible to bear the reality of the mass murder that has become a part of our culture, it has also allowed so many of us to continue our own systematic murder in the devices we use to prevent birth. It is our reaction to the cheers of the lawmakers that exposes our own hypocrisy.
From the moment a woman knows she is with child, she is answerable to God for the life of the person in her womb. If that is not true, then there is no life-creating God. And that is where the real debate lies—and always has—and no legislation can answer it. That debate is not between us, but within us.
Faith & Fairy Stories
The new issue of the St. Austin Review is winging its way to the printer. Highlights of the March/April issue include:
William Randall Lancaster illustrates and alliterates “Faith, Fact and Fairy Tale”.
Sean Fitzpatrick finds fact fusing with fantasy in “A Teacher’s Tale”.
Michael Kurek discusses the inspiration for his 2nd Symphony, “Tales from the Realm of Faerie”.
Jacob Pride finds “Beauty and the Beast: Fixed and Flowing”.
Maria Devlin McNair tells of “The White Knight at the Gate of the Elysian Fields”.
Jacob Popcak waxes aesthetic on “Fairy Stories and the Catholic Artist”.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker focuses on “C. S. Lewis and Modern Fairy Tales for Grown-Ups”.
Donald DeMarco insists that “Fairy Tales Can Come True”.
Kevin O’Brien considers “a Few of our Favorite Rings”.
Stephen Brady discovers the Tolkien: Maker of Myth Exhibition to be “Superbly Peripheral”.
K. V. Turley sees the movie The Red Shoes as a cautionary film about the perils of the artistic vocation.
Philip C. Kolin weaves “A Garland of Poems” on the Seven Sacraments.
Ken Clark admires The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio.
John Beaumont writes on “Newman and the Need for the Supernatural”.
Charles Maxwell Lancaster finds a “Friend Unfailing” in the Crucified Christ.
William C. Smart reviews Galileo Revisited: The Galileo Affair in Context.
Jason Waskovich reviews Doors in the Walls of the World by Peter Kreeft.
Marie Dudzik reviews Angels, Barbarians and Nincompoops by Anthony Esolen.
Louis Markos reviews George MacDonald in the Age of Miracles.
Plus: New poetry by Pavel Chichikov, Jeffrey Essmann, Trevor Lipscombe, Kevin O’Brien and Denise Sobilo.
Become a Wise Man. Follow the StAR! Subscribe online at www.staustinreview.org.
What is Love? Is it merely a feeling, something essentially fleeting and ultimately irrational, as ungraspable as a cloud and as subject to the winds of change? Or is it something altogether more substantial, something Divine, which holds the very secret of the meaning of life? Read on:
What can David Bowie teach us about the world’s madness? More, it seems, than we might at first think:
In part three of the Faith & Culture lecture series on the Catholic Literary Revival, I look at how many of the writers of the English and French Decadence discovered or returned to the Catholic Church.