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Pottersville, U.S.A. Print E-mail
By Anthony Esolen   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012

During a recent debate among candidates for the Republican nomination for president, one of the members of the media asked what has been decried as an absurd question. It was not about a massive health care bill, whose details were quite unknown to the very senators and congressmen who voted on it. It was not about American tax law, whose tendrils and curlicues are describable only by a judicious application of chaos theory. It was not about the American army attempting to make the world safe for – we aren’t sure. It was about whether in the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court was right to remove from the states all authority to regulate contraceptive devices and drugs.

Apparently, it is a question to arouse contemptuous laughter, whether one is an extreme statist with the false name of liberal, or a moderate statist with the false name of conservative. It is as if the nation were now basking in the warm benevolent glow of the sexual revolution; Marriages are stronger than ever before, and divorce is almost unheard of; Children grow up knowing both mother and father, within the fostering shelter of committed love; Abortion is considered a scandal. 

Or as if popular culture has shed its harshness and sullenness, and delights in works of grace, sweetness, reverence, modesty, and nobility; Poets and philosophers  raise our eyes to eternal truths; We have among us the vibrant good cheer and pungent satire of many a Chaucer, the human breadth of many a Shakespeare, and the profound learning of many a Dante. Men have never sung sunnier songs about the beauty and the purity of good women, and never have women accepted in good humored gratitude the sometimes madcap excellence of men. 

Oh – none of that is true?

In this once-democratic nation, voters are considered as possessing worthy opinions on tax, trade, monetary, foreign, and other policies about which very few have any great expertise, but are not capable of determining the customs and laws by which they must order their marriages and families. Every man and woman of more than meager intellect knows a great deal about the sexes and about children, but what they might have to say about those cannot determine the law. 

Why not? Because nine men in Washington said so. In other words, the single thing most determinative of what sort of culture a people will possess, and the single thing about which most people can be relied upon to have an informed opinion, is snatched from democratic purview, and not even by theologians or philosophers, but by a handful of upper-class lawyers.


          Progress?

Allow me an analogy. Imagine a small self-contained society. Call it Bedford Falls where Mr. Potter dwells. He  wants to make money. He isn’t young, himself, in body or in soul, but he knows young people are often beset by powerful sexual temptations. Mr. Potter wishes to “capitalize” upon those temptations and open a strip club on Main Street.

Potter has two choices. He can try to persuade the aldermen. But he sees that he will run into problems. For one, if “good” signifies the common good, then he will lose. The strip club would not serve the common good, and Potter knows it. It would undermine public morals and vitiate marriage. It would coarsen the popular culture.  Most determined to fight the club would be the poor folks who live on or near Main Street.

So instead, Mr. Potter argues that democracy implies the freedom to open strip clubs. He does not, of course, argue for the freedom to marry three women at once, because that would be counterproductive. Instead he cloaks his proposal in libertarian garb, trusting that the illuminati, who don’t think much of ordinary people without law degrees and mortarboards, will take the bait. It is a work rich in irony. Under the name of liberty, he robs the people of one of their most precious liberties – perhaps the liberty without which all others degenerate into license: a people’s liberty to rule themselves by the folkways of culture and the guardrails of law. 

So Mr. Potter gets his strip club. Bedford Falls does not remain the same. The people grow used to it. They start to laugh at the old fogeys who once objected. Of course, they also laugh at the belief that a marriage vow is a vow, and not a quaint sort-of-promise made for the sake of form. And they laugh that there were once certain things that honorable men and women did not do. 

But there isn’t a lot of mirth in that laughter. There can’t be, because Bedford Falls is not a pleasant place anymore. For the same reasoning that gave the town a strip club also gave it a porno shop, five divorce attorneys, thirteen teachers living lives of flagrant immorality and dissipation, childless marriages and fatherless children, a wholesale confusion over what men and women are supposed to be, in themselves and for one another, and eventually a popular anticulture by default.

Bedford Falls has had to accept the sexual revolution tout court.  So Bedford Falls is now a place perched on the edge of a moral landfill, whose inhabitants are so accustomed to the bad air, they no longer much notice. They have lost the very idea of the wholesome. Still worse, there isn’t a Bedford Falls anymore. There cannot be. There is no sacred tradition left to unite the people with their forebears. There is no sacred oath to unite the sexes, fractious as they often are. There is no shared moral code, but instead an incoherent mess of proscriptions and duties whose anchoring in an identifiable human good no one any longer understands, mingled with the diktats of an ever more devouring stare.  Bedford Falls is just a geographical and political fiction. And this, dear readers, is what is known as progress.


Anthony Esolen
is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest book is
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College. 

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Comments (26)Add Comment
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written by James Bouzan, January 18, 2012
Wonderful writing. Thank you.
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written by Manfred, January 18, 2012
Great article, Dr. Esolen, but you left out a central figure-Abp George Bailey. You see, he had just returned from Vat. II and had learned that the Church had to get rid of centuries of "encrustations" (meaning Trent and Vat I) and he had also seen that the majority on the "Birth Control Commission", as it was called, voted that the Church could change its teaching on contraception. Now does everyone see the significance of the end of the Council and Griswold? Both were 1965. Griswold could not have happened without the Commission. Footnote: As the Church is directed by the Holy Spirit, Paul VI could not change the constant teaching and in 1968 he issued Humanae Vitae.
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written by Achilles, January 18, 2012
Profesor Esolen, you continually set the bar higher. Progress, the mantra of the masses who find themselves "over-educated" and finally "change" for those that find themselves above the moral law.
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written by jsmitty, January 18, 2012
I think the fatal conceit of this piece is that it makes the problem seem much too easy. Sorry, but no fault divorce laws, easier access to abortion and contraception and pornography were not foisted on an unwilling populace by a shadowy conspiracy of socially permissive elites. Yes, there were supreme court rulings but it is clear in hindsight that these simply pushed the country a little faster in the same basic trajectory it was already heading. Abortion already was effectively legal almost everywhere in America before Roe...and Griswold???? This simply overturned a ban on birth control that neither Connecticut nor any other state was interested in enforcing anyway. And mostly the court left regulation of pornography to community standards, which meant that porn became more available as standards began to decline.

So I think rather than lamenting once again America's cultural and moral decline, it might be more helpful to suggest where we go from here.
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written by Howard, January 18, 2012
Sorry, Manfred, but it appears George did not really go to Vatican II, nor even pay attention to what was said there. He got is info from some Time Magazine articles about the council, because they were shorter and easier to read. Some people read them and rejoiced, others read them and cringed, but few realized that Time Magazine is not a magisterial body.

Sadly, too few bishops were among those few.
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written by Other Joe, January 18, 2012
There used to be a distinction between the neurotic and the psychotic that hinged on the ability to determine reality. A neurotic could be wildly eccentric but never lost touch with reality. On the other hand a psychotic might appear to function normally, but with an understanding of the environment based on delusion. By that light we have entered a period of moral psychosis. A sinner (like a neurotic) knows the way home to forgiveness. An atheist has no home. An atheist is free floating in a world based on the delusion that his own consciousness is the top of the spiritual food chain. Pottersville is brought to you by the folks who make laws based on their currently held opinions. They are voted into office by clients who wish to trade in their consequences and liberty for assurances that their sins will not so much be forgiven as ignored and that any consequences accrued to date will be taken up by the state. It is striking that there is never any evaluation of statist social programs. Judged by their own promises, all of them have failed and some disastrously so. Years ago Padre Pio responded to a question about the single greatest lack in society. I can’t quote his response from memory, but it included the idea that the big problem with modernity is a lack of fear of a Holy God. There is no God in Pottersville. Laisez les bon temps rouler!
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written by Grump, January 18, 2012
At least Pottersville had a better bar than Bedford Falls. "It was for real men who want to get drunk fast."
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written by Manfred, January 18, 2012
Howard, I was graduated from a then Catholic college in 1961 so I was on the front line through all of this. In an attempt to teach interested adults what the Council's intentions were, I attended "adult ed" venues at my parish and at my alma mater. We were shown the triangle (with the pope at the top) and the circle, the former being what the Church was before the Council; and the latter what it was in 1970. We were told the encrustations,like barnacles, had to be peeled away. I have a library of hand-outs, workbooks and texts. It was during the period of the 70s and 80s that I knew I had to read everything I could because this Church was on life support and I needed to protect myself and my family. It consists of two "Catholicisms": the Church of the Ages and the Church of Novelty. We need Trent II.
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written by Tony Esolen, January 18, 2012
Smitty, I do agree with you, in part. One never knows, however, what would have happened or could have happened, if a single but important bad step had not been taken. I agree that it was all of a piece -- but the Pill marked a dividing line, and the church's failure to see the consequences of the Pill is almost incomprehensible to anybody with the slightest knowledge of human nature, much less Christian theology. It would be fascinating to revisit the reasoning given by Connecticut in the Griswold case. Actually, it is fascinating, and acutely embarrassing, to revisit the awful conclusion written by Justice Douglas, and to hear the maunderings about how the sanctity of marriage demands the respect of the State.

It makes me think, actually, what many students of the Court have been saying -- that when it comes to the social issues (most of which should never have come to the Court at all), the Court decides a priori what conclusion they want to arrive at, and then dresses up an opinion accordingly, complete with appropriate pieties. All talk of the "sanctity of marriage" quickly vanished when the court considered Marvin v. Marvin.

In 1968, that horrible year, a majority of Americans probably still believed that only bad boys and bad girls had sexual intercourse before marriage -- except that, alas, there were a lot more bad boys and bad girls than there used to be. I doubt that we can say with certainty that the cause was lost by 1965. I do agree that we were in a parlous state already.
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written by jsmitty, January 18, 2012
Anthony I appreciate your response. I must say however that the declinist narrative which you are assuming and is so readily assumed in these pages, has limited explanatory power. Some things about the culture are better than they were in the 70's. Race relations being one of them. Rape and sexual violence against women being another. Levels of crime in general being a third. The overall quality of urban life being a fourth.

Yes divorce rates are higher than they were before, but they have actually declined significantly from the 70's especially among more educated couples. Yes (reported) abortion figures are higher now than in the 60's but before the recession the abortion rate was heading lower than at any time since Roe. Yes pornography is more widely available but I can attest that places like Times Square at least are much much more family friendly than they were 30 years ago. At least internet porn does not ruin the ambience of places the way storefront porn did.

Obviously there is alot wrong with the society as it is now. But so much nostalgia for an age that will never return (and actually had plenty wrong with it in its own way as well) I think is counterproductive.
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written by Charles Woodbury, January 18, 2012
Certainly it was contraception and abortion laws that officially changed the primary purpose of the sex act from procreation to pleasure, but how to go back? How do people once again believe in Divine Providence, and start having more children?
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written by Scott W, January 19, 2012
jsmitty,
You are moving the goalposts. No one who knows anything about social science data argues that the 70s were a positive time--and ask adults who lived through it. Instead, go further back in time for a better comparison.

Divorce rates are lower now because people are fornicating and shacking up, and marrying late. Pornography is not "more widely available"--it is an epidemic. Sexual violence among women is also more rampant than the numbers if you include all the women who have been abused by ex-boyfriends during the see-saw break-up period . . . . Sadly, many of our brothers, cousins and buddies from the gym have treated women in such a way.

Finally, to denounce the times and say this other period was less evil is to always get the charge of "nostalgia". This is anti-intellectualism: what, so norms and institutions don't influence behavior?
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written by Donna Ruth, January 19, 2012
"Under the name of liberty, he robs the people of one of their most precious liberties – perhaps the liberty without which all others degenerate into license: a people’s liberty to rule themselves by the folkways of culture and the guardrails of law. "

What a gift it is to make a good point succinctly. God bless you for using your talent, and thanks be to God for giving you that talent.

If I may expand on your analogy: As we are aware, in the last 50 years, an unwritten, largely unchallenged code of unrestricted libertarianism has incrementally entrenched itself deeply in the "arts" community, specifically in the fields of television, movies and music. The arena for dissemination of a so-called unfettered right to liberty of expression went beyond Pottersville to embrace Americaville. Why stop at shilling your less-than-moral wares at a strip mall in Peoria when you can capture the imagination of hundreds of millions more who don't even have to leave the comforts of their Barcaloungers or ergonomic computer chairs for the privilege of having their virtue undermined?

One hundred years ago, who could have imagined that a reasonably intelligent and advanced civilization would find itself in the thrall of bright flashing images on flat screens? Folks who once embraced a modicum of reason now mindlessly absorb message mantras which have served to unravel and reshape the woven moral fabric of this once great civilization. The Marlboro Man has been replaced by the Chesterfield Man.
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written by jsmitty, January 19, 2012
Sorry Scott but all the trends you decry were well in place before "the sixties". Fornication was, surprising to say, not invented by the Woodstock generation! There was plenty of it in the Roaring 20's for instance. The 30's and the depression maybe not as much. Very few soldiers in the 40's and 50's failed to sow wild oats in WWII and Korea. On the homefront in the 50's, there probably was somewhat less overall fornication, but I would submit that the main difference was that it was less talked about and that men tended to marry girls they got pregnant (or else the girl would go AWOL to give birth with a relative and give the baby up for adoption).

And divorce rates in the 50's were already climbing for instance–especially for non-Catholics. And yes what you say is true, divorce is lower in part because fewer people are getting married to begin with. But what do we conclude from that...that it would be better to 1) have more marriages where the quality of the average marriage is alot lower (they can't all be above average can they!) or 2) have many more unhappy marriages where spouses are expected to tolerate much worse behavior on the part of their other halves because social conventions or legal structures make recourse much more difficult.

Maybe you would say yes...that everything about marriage in the 50's was better than today. Fair enough.. But be careful...It's hard to know for sure, but I would suspect that infidelity was much more common in the 50's if for no other reason than that many more people were married and divorces were somewhat harder to obtain. The threat of divorce does tend to cause couples to behave better!
It's funny to go back and watch some of the old Cary Grant movies in the supposedly chaste and button down 50's. The movies weren't graphic or sexually explicit of course. But there were plenty of movies that contain implications of fornication, or where adultery was treated with a wink wink nod nod everyone does it sort of thing. I didn't live then, but I refuse to believe that these movies were so far out of step with the drift of American culture generally.

My point is simply that the institutions of the 50's were not an unmixed blessing. If they were, frankly we never would have had the 60's. The fact that the supposedly solid mores of the 50's collapsed so quickly shows that it was a house of cards all along.

Now matter how well written this piece is in terms of phraseology, there is nothing intellectual about adherence to a storybook narrative in which the halcyon utopia of the 50's was poisoned when the sexuality genie was let out of the bottle in the 60's. And it is not anti-intellectual to point out that the truth is much more complicated.

My main point is if were going to advance some cultural idealism of what a truly just and Catholic culture would look like today, let's at least be realistic that not all was great about the culture before and not all is bad about the culture today!
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written by Fr. W. M. Gardner, January 19, 2012
Perhaps Catholics were not strong architects (as were Protestant Evangelicals like Anthony Comstock) of laws banning contraceptives and pornography because, despite the obvious weaknesses of fallen human nature, Catholics were buoyed by an unwritten prevailing conviction that generous parenthood represents the best of Catholic tradition. But alas how quickly this prevailing conviction has shifted.
I think we (Catholics) need to be more deliberate and explicit in encouraging and praying for fruitful, generous, and large families, along with condemning contraception and abortion. This will be the basis of an effective and authentic evangelization, both ad intra and ad extra.
After all, it is the Lord who makes families numerous as a flock!
Mr. Esolen, I am very often edified by your writing. God bless you in your work.
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written by Manfred, January 19, 2012
In the Catholicism which has existed for two thousand years, i.e., the True Faith, contraception is always considered a mortal sin. In the church of novelties, aka Novus Ordo "Catholicism", the question of contraception has not been resolved. Here is what we get as a result: 2% of American Catholics utilize the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation, yet 90% of "Catholics" of child-bearing age are contracepting and yet Communion lines in NO parishes are full. The Catholics who are not contracepting and as a result tend to have larger families are thus competing for homes, cars, food,etc. with two-income contracepting Catholics and non-Catholics. Come to my FSSP chapel for Sunday Mass and see the large numbers of children. Then return to your NO parish and ask yourself if both groups are truly in the same religion. We are living through another Reformation. Luther, Calvin, Knox et al. were originally Catholic priests!
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written by Brad Minerl, January 19, 2012
Manfred writes: "In the church of novelties, aka Novus Ordo 'Catholicism', the question of contraception has not been resolved." Well, I think Humanae Vitae (a Novus Ordo document, no?) pretty well resolved the matter. It surely is the case that many Catholics reject the teaching on contraception, but the blame doesn't fall with the Novus Ordo.
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written by yan, January 19, 2012
well said prof. E! It's a Romans 1 thing.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
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written by Manfred, January 19, 2012
As Msgr George Kelly + (author, The Battle for the American Church) who served in the American delegation at Vat. II told me face-to-face many years ago, "If the popes knew the Church could not change Its teaching on contraception, then why did they ever install the 'birth control commission"? The majority of the commission voted that the Church could change Its teaching as the change was already a fait accompli. As Kelly and other priest scholars told me, when Paul VI had to put forth the TEACHING, he was bound to teach what the Church HAD ALWAYS TAUGHT and not what the church of the sixties taught. As a result, Humanae Vitae was NOT a teaching of the Novus Ordo Church at all. I remake my point above-contracepting Catholics and long Communion lines. Contraception is accepted in the New Church. Moving the Tabernacle back to the main altar from the side, the third Mass translation et al. It is the Church of Novelty which is constantly making the change, not the True Church.
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written by Briana, January 19, 2012
Good post sir! Although I have to say one of the more chilling ideas of "progress" I have heard of is Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius saying something to the effect of Roe v. Wade marking progress towards health care access for women. I never knew that progess had to cost more than 54 million innocent lives. But then again, in Madam Secretary's eyes, I'm probably an idiot. I'm not sure which of those notions I find to be more frustrating or misguided.
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written by Beth, January 19, 2012
How on earth can you say, Mr. JSmitty,

"Yes pornography is more widely available but I can attest that places like Times Square at least are much much more family friendly than they were 30 years ago. At least internet porn does not ruin the ambience of places the way storefront porn did."

REALLY??? 30 years ago there were double and triple life-sized advertisements of teenaged models with their pants partially unzipped and their shirts pulled up to their breasts? Really? Wow. I must have been sleeping through that ad campaign. Have you been to a mall lately?
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written by Manfred, January 20, 2012
Well, Dr. Esolen, Abp Dolan received the phone call this morning directly from the President of the United States informing him that religious hospitals and schools have one year (August, 2012) by which they will have to accept the provision of the Affordable Care Act which will force them to provide no co-pay coverage for contraception (including abortifacients) and abortion or drop their group health plans. I saw the Abp's comments on the USCCB video and it sounded as though he was threatening a food-fight in response. It will be interesting to see how the staff and writers of TCT respond to this threat.
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written by Graham Combs, January 20, 2012
Pottersville has been much on my mind for years and lately more so. Here in A Northern Suburb of Detroit, we have gotten our Pottersville but without the jobs. Our local "art" theatre (one minute's walk from where I live) shows the sort of near-porn that Robert Redford calls "risque" and believes the government should subsidize (I'm not making this up, go to Huffington Post). George Bailey's soft-headed economics that makes him appear to be a hero to families who are in reality taking on too much debt is still the ideal even though there is no more money. I'm afraid the old Mr. Potter -- "sick in his soul and in sick his mind" as George says -- may not be too far off the mark when calls it all "sentimental hogwash!" Meanwhile police and fire and teachers continue to be laid off or are given reduced hours.

And more. On too many mornings here in this still lovely middle-class town (one of former Gov. Granholm's "cool cities" initiatives), I walk past empty liquor bottles and sidestep vomit. The local library has become a warming center. And although I am sympathetic -- I'm unemployed myself -- the welcoming place I enjoyed as a boy and still use now smells. Badly. The people are often loud or get into one of their regular arguments. Some obviously need to be where they can be taken care of. At the downtown McDonalds (which has a PlayPlace used in winter), children are exposed to similar scenes including four-letters words and violent arguments. Only a few days ago, a drunk and verbally abusive customer took over a booth and commenced a long slurred monologue. Management did nothing. (In the past, situations became so out of control that police were called).

Then there are the "leather" shops and "speciality" stores with explicitly dressed windows on Main Street. What do the young make of this? Dr. Kevorkian -- a frequent site before he died -- was given an in memoriam window at one art store. Dr. Death's profile was high and visible before he died. His creepy paintings were often on display.

The local chain bookstore visibly displays lgbt and similar magazines with covers best left to the reader's imagination.

It's Greenwich Village of the 1980s (when I lived in New York) come full blown to a once conservative and religious community.

Civic standards? Mere civility? The concerns are getting basic and yet if you complain no one seems to see it. What surprises me is that parents of young children apparently say nothing. "I don't judge" is the motto of the age. Of course someone is judging, that's how we got here.
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written by Tony Esolen, January 21, 2012
Thank you again, everyone.

I do not believe, first, that I am being nostalgic; and in any case it is wrong to dismiss nostalgia. The Greek word literally suggests the "ache for the return," and is, I'd say, the motive not only for Odysseus but for the wayward son in the parable.

Norman Rockwell was painting already in the 20's, so I'm not here beholden to a single decade. I understand that problems are percolating all through modern culture. Several points ought to be made, though:

First: Human history is full of periods of decline. They are actually fairly easy to identify: Athens in the 300's BC, Rome in the 200's AD, England in the 1400's, and so forth. Human history is also full of periods of decline that are reversed, at least for a while, and in some important respects though not perhaps in all. I'm speaking about you, Constantine, and you, Justinian, and you, Gregory the Great.

Second: I often hear it said that the various evils we experience now have always been with us. This of course is true, as there has never been an Eden after the Eden we lost. But that does not allow us to draw the further conclusion that the prevalence and viciousness of the evils has remained constant. This again is demonstrably false. For example, if fornication were engaged in as frequently before the Pill as it is now, then the nation would have been overrun with illegitimate children. But it was not; far more children are born out of wedlock now than they were before. Far more children are CONCEIVED out of wedlock than they were before.

Crime rates have indeed been easing, but it is important to ask why this is so. If it were true that the nation was becoming more law-abiding, more upright and decent, that would be one thing. But if the decrease is attributable to more sophisticated forensic techniques, and more severe prison sentences for repeat offenders, and a decline in the percentage of people who are of crime-committing age, then that is another.

If we folded into the divorce statistic all those couples who break up after buying a house together, or bearing a child, regardless of whether they have a marriage license or not, the true divorce rate would be staggering. And that would still not include the social disruption and rootlessness caused by the breakup of other sexual pairs.

Third: I would like to repeat a point I've made in many other contexts. I believe, as Romano Guardini pointed out in the years just after WW2, that we no longer possess a culture at all. In other words, what we are witnessing is no longer cultural decline, but cultural evisceration.

Fourth: It is always easy to point to some respect in which one's own age is superior to a previous age. I find that sort of thing to be rather ungrateful and impious. We are pretty much unique in human history, we are, for desiring to show off the sins of our forebears, even slandering their considerable virtues, just so that we ourselves will look all right by comparison. The fact is, that we are now such people as our grandparents, when they were young, would have considered it blameworthy to associate with.
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written by Achilles, January 21, 2012
Dear Professor, that was the response I wish I could have been able to make, alas, but for that tiny detail, a lack of cultivation tempered by God’s grace. Well Done!
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written by Rick, January 22, 2012
This is a wonderful article and following comment by Professor Esolen. One comment asks, "where do we go from here?" This is a worthy question. I have a suggestion. Before I go there however, I wanted to say it is very important to know just exactly where you are before attempting progress. I like to read material that clarifies our present culture and state of being. It may seem to be negative and pessimistic but to me it is exciting in a way and invigorating. This is because I know what the next step is, that is, to move on and make progress.

OK, so here is the suggestion I have for the earlier question, "where do we go from here?" We continue to learn, affect the salvation of ourselves and as many others as possible, and leave a more ordered society for our children. In short, we pick up the cross and follow Jesus. To be more specific, for me this means maintain a state of grace, learn the faith, help as many others as possible to also get into a state of grace and stay there. Aside from this, I try to be a good example even though I am a poor sinner.

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