“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Mark Twain
Having used a frog and boiling water metaphor to comment on gradual acceptance of radical change, I was disappointed when I learned that when put to the test (don’t ask), the story doesn’t hold water. If you put a frog into cold water in a pot and slowly bring it to a boil, absent a lid, the frog will hop out when it gets uncomfortable, and if you throw a frog into boiling water, it will do what lobsters do in similar circumstances, except not as tasty. But the lessons to us humans from the myth of frogs and boiling water applied to changing culture are true. We can be brought slowly to a boil and not notice.
At Mass recently, a visiting retired Columban[i] missionary priest with a hint of his Irish pedigree in the lilt of his speech said this, “If we do things over a long period that are wrong, they become right.” What is true in individuals is true in society. He was speaking of the Gospel reading from Luke relating the story of Jesus driving the money changers from the Temple. Over many decades the selling of animals for profit to be sacrificed by pilgrims in the Temple had become accepted practice, as was the chicanery of money changers cheating foreigners in the exchange rate to swap their foreign coins for local coins to buy their sacrifices. In another version with more detail in John’s Gospel, Jesus first made a whip of cords, lashing many cords together, which took some time to do. He burst into the Temple outer court with daunting ferocity that terrified the merchants, who certainly outnumbered Him. He drove out the sheep, the cattle and the money changers, turning over their tables and scattering their coins. He shouted to the lesser merchants selling pigeons (poor pilgrims could only afford to buy a bird to sacrifice) to “Take these things away, do not make my Father’s house a den of thieves.”
On the Shroud of Turin,[ii] the mysterious photographic negative image shows a broad shouldered, strong, crucified man. Jesus was a carpenter, a construction worker, not a clerk, and looking at this image we can picture him in a righteous fury intimidating the cheats of the Temple marketplace. This deliberate act to overthrow years of accepted corruption was what set the course of the Temple authorities in their determination to destroy Him in a conspiracy with the power of the Roman Empire and judgement seat of Pontius Pilate.
What Jesus chose as his target was a symbol of the dishonored Temple culture and the self-serving blindness of its administrators. What analogies can we find today, and who is going to wield the whip of cords to such effect? And who will stand to be crucified?
“There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.” Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin,’ 1963
Lines have become blurred and grey is fashionable, but sometimes friends must talk in primary colors. What we lived in the sexual revolution and its aftermath started in fire and now is embers and ashes. Embers that are best left without new fuel and fresh oxygen.
As the first century Jewish culture had accepted gradually the commercialization of their worship, what grotesqueness have we accepted without a backward glance or embarrassment? Let me suggest the degradation of marriage and families over seventy years or so has led us incrementally, a few degrees at a time into a sanguine acceptance of unreality in what is natural in human beings, especially regarding all things sexual and even in the structure of our bodies. This has not been an accidental dance, but carefully choreographed and plotted step by step, well-funded in its implementation. Not only have we normalized the abnormal, we have made it inviolable; any questioning of this new orthodoxy is deemed not just ignorant, it is called hate speech. In some jurisdictions it is prosecutable, and lives can be laid waste. We insulate heresy to the new orthodoxy in parentheses and issue trigger warnings. Well, please take heed and be so warned. The adults must speak plainly, and the kids should leave the room, although they too are proselytized with great zeal every day.
The cascade of small stones and mud down the slope now has caused us to lose our footing regarding the immutable binary nature of the structure of our bodies. Rather than male and female, we are fungible with exchangeable parts. The XX and XY chromosomes in every cell in our body have failed us, and though they cannot and will not be changed, the results of their labor can be maimed if it suits our tortured desires. With mutilating surgeries and injections of hormone cocktails unknown in nature, we create permanently infertile mockeries with no hope of resolving into new life[iii]. Worse, rather than love and guide our children as their XX and XY chromosomes determine, when we hear their childish confusions and attempts to make sense of it all, we encourage the muddle and inflict these doomed experiments on them. Finally, we congratulate ourselves on our tolerance, and make that a god. To speak common sense regarding this tragedy is banned from the marketplace of ideas[iv].
Once we started down the road of separating the natural functions of human sexuality, of cleaving with a broad-ax childbearing from pleasure and intimacy, the landslide began: half of marriages failing across all demographics and geographies, rainbow coalitions, billion-dollar pornography empires (prostitution with a camera running) spilling into our entertainments, sexual assaults and harassment commonplace, domestic violence increases, renegade commitment phobic men, the normalizing of what was once considered degenerate and dehumanizing, large investment now into development of ever more “realistic” sex robots that completely disengage sex from human contact – the whole sorry, sordid panoply. Where is that whip of cords when you need one?
“I am a Roman Catholic. I believe that sex is both natural and holy. Its nature is reproductive. It is holy, because it is the act that brings into being another person made in the image of God. But our enemies believe neither of these things. They have said that the act is or can be merely recreational. They have said that the act implies no difference between the male and the female. They have said that it has nothing essentially to do with babies. They have even said that there is nothing wrong with its being impersonal: hence, not solely pornography, but also the delight of waking up the next morning to ask the name of the person with whom you have soiled the bed.” Anthony Esolen[v]
[v] Crisis Magazine, “Contemporary Culture is Not Just Unreal – It is Irreal” Oct 18, 2018