Tilting at windmills
By Alisa Craddock
A few days ago I shut myself in my room for a couple of hours to watch an old movie -- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. It's the story of a widow who rents a cottage by the sea that turns out to be haunted by the sea captain who built the house and who tries at first to frighten her into leaving. When she stands her ground, they become friends. When her income dries up, he dictates a ribald tale of his adventures which she records and presents for publication. The book is wildly popular, and Mrs. Muir's security is assured. When later the man she intends to marry turns out to be already married, she is bereft. But it's really the Captain she loves, and he loves her. But they can't be together because he's a ghost, so he disappears from her view, and whispers to her in her sleep that he was only a dream, and that it was she herself who had written the book. But somewhere inside her she knows he was real. When at last she dies, he comes for her, and her spirit rises from the chair, as young and beautiful as love makes all spirits, and the two walk arm in arm into forever.
We all love the impossible love story: Captain Gregg and Mrs. Muir, Father Ralph and Meggie Cleary, Bogart and Bergman, Ennis and Jack…What?!! Hey, what are you trying to pull here? Well, it's an impossible love story, isn't it? And how cleverly it tugs on your heartstrings.
Then there's Don Quixote and his Dulcinea. Don Quixote, the mad knight-errant. My idealism chooses him. There is something peculiarly endearing about his madness. Raggedy man on a skinny old nag, showing us in his mad way what love, honor and heroism are about, tilting at windmills and performing great and noble deeds as the self-proclaimed champion of the fair lady, Dulcinea. Not surprisingly, my favorite song is "The Impossible Dream". Now, you may ask, "what is all this leading up to?"
Well, I was thinking about some correspondence I received after one of my columns from a gay man who dissented from some of my assertions about homosexuality, and wrote to me insisting "You can't run an idea against reality". It's not the first time I've heard a variation of that particular argument. It is commonly used against the Catholic Church to make the argument that she should change her teachings to be more relevant. Her moral teachings are archaic, we are told, and don't reflect the reality of peoples' lives. The Church should update its teachings to match the "scientific" pontifications of the APA.
That the APA's pronouncements on homosexuality have little to do with reality and everything to do with politics gives the notion of running an idea against reality a new twist. I don't intend to explain that here. You can read about it on the NARTH website, or Dr. Satinover's book Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth if you want to find out why homosexuality is no longer treated as an abnormality, but suffice it to say the gay political movement has quite successfully run an idea against reality. The recent positive response by many to the movie Brokeback Mountain is another example where an idea was run against reality.
The man's argument was absurd. He implied that I was being naïve. He was saying that because homosexuality exists, society should accommodate it. (We're here. We're queer. Get over it.) Well, pedophilia exists. Should we accommodate that? According to some studies (Rind, et al, 1998, and more recently Stanley, et al, 2004) the answer would seem to be yes. At least that is the conclusion one could draw after reading that child sexual abuse is not always harmful and is sometimes beneficial (those who "benefited" were adolescent boys who had been sexually active with (abused by) adult homosexual men, and became homosexuals themselves. No surprise there. The next phase of gay propaganda is already fingering its way into our psyche -- gay mentorship.)
Another case in point: A pro-abortion friend of mine, trying to rationalize her position, argued (amazingly) that abortion had always existed, even in ancient Egypt. Is that a reason to permit it, because people have always done it? Murder, robbery, rape. These things have existed since the dawn of time. Should we accommodate them? One has to profoundly reject reason to argue against the humanity of an unborn child (I mean, what is it? A tomato?), or that homosexuality, or any other sexual variant, is anything but deviant.
The reality is that morality exists apart from men. Morality is not the same as values. Values are like butts. Everyone has their own. But morals are not man-made. They are the name we have given to the experience of cause and effect in human behavior. When you do this, this happens, it happens every time, consistently, and in exactly the same way.
The peculiar shift that happened in our culture is that "morality" has come to be regarded as an "idea", rather than the reality it is, while the "idea" of sexual deviance as a variation of normal has come to be regarded as "reality", therefore, I am told, I can't run an idea against reality.
I dwell on the social climate in my columns a great deal. It's what is most important to me, as a Christian and as a woman. As a Christian because this obsessive indulgence in debauchery destroys the potential for an authentic spirituality and enduring love; as a woman because I am cut to the heart watching young women degrade their bodies with piercings and immodest clothing, and desperate, exaggerated undulations, all trying to compete for attention against other, equally pathetic women. It kills their femininity. It destroys their dignity and makes them appear as meat, like slaves on an auction block. The industries that prey on adolescents' insecurities create the cult of sexual competitiveness that practically compels these young women to degrade themselves in this way.
There are two or three columns that I published on Enter Stage Right that got picked up by a large number of other websites, and for which I received a great deal of response, not all of it good, but most of it. The column entitled "Sexual Liberty vs. American Liberty: The Politics of God, Family, and Country" was well received by people who were grateful that they finally had the secular argument to present with the biblical one. One correspondent, who is involved with the Constitution Party, after reading that column asked me if I would be interested in running for President on the Constitution Party Ticket! There were a couple of negative responses, as well, particularly from feminists. Also I received a lot of response to "Heather Has Two Mommies…and Three Daddies", though most of the responses were from gays who wanted to challenge me on my assertions about homosexuality, or to defend the cause of gay marriage, including the man with the "reality" issues. Most recently, "Apocalypse NWO", which was picked up by two Catholic news sites had me busy for an entire week responding. (Most were favorable, but I did get chastised for not be "orthodox" [Catholic] enough, if you can believe that.) And as I try to address issues in a world of relativism, with everyone creating their own truth, and consciously declaring this is how it ought to be, I find it utterly amazing that someone would say "you can't run an idea against reality." Uh, whose reality are we talking about this time? (Episcopal) Bishop Robinson's, who thinks that Jesus is gay, or Bishop Schori's who Jesus is our Mother."
I was curiously called on the mat for not being a true Libertarian. One person called me a Christian Conservative and implied I was being deliberately deceptive in order to hoodwink people into reading my columns. (Well, I am a Christian conservative, but there are Conservative Libertarians who are Christian, like ESR contributor Bruce Walker.). Another called me liberal because I claimed to be a Libertarian. Go figure. I am not a Libertarian. I am a Christian Libertarian. My Libertarianism is defined and constrained by my Christianity. I do not embrace the notions of radical individualism and selfishness that secular Libertarianism seems to foster. These are symptoms of an age marked by social isolation and disintegration, and are as unnatural and unwholesome as gay sex, as far as I'm concerned. I do believe in as little government interference in our lives as possible. But there must be a law that cannot be perverted by men, and men must submit to that law if there is not to be anarchy. So I call my Libertarianism a pre-Samuelite Libertarianism, after a story from the Old Testament. In it, the people of Israel tell their prophet Samuel to ask the Lord to give them a king to govern them, and Samuel prayed to the Lord, who told Samuel that it was because they had rejected God as their king and worshipped false gods that they now wanted a king. He told Samuel to be sure the people understand what it will mean for them if they have a king:
He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day."
Hey, how about that! God is a Libertarian! That's why we Catholics call it the "gift and covenant of the Law". He gave us the means to live free, if we only understood that. He knows the ways of men. His moral law existed long before Moses codified it, because He existed before the foundation of the world. By giving us the Law, he gave us the means to understand our actions and their consequences, and to conduct ourselves in accord with that law. It was a gift of love, not an arbitrary formula for male domination. When societies obey it, they flourish. When they don't, they decay and collapse. Whether one believes in God or not, this is what happens to people and the civilizations they found when they don't abide by the natural law, because that is the nature of humanity.
One man who read my column on the Marriage Amendment and the other on sexual liberty, felt that I was arguing for the government to enact laws regulating sexual activity. I suppose I am, but not willingly. My first plea is for self-governance and voluntary continence. The laws of the land reflect the moral condition of the people. If the people are virtuous, they will enact laws which protect, defend, foster and encourage virtue. What we're doing right now is enacting laws which protect, defend, foster, and encourage perversity, immorality, anti-virtue, and sexual license. This is being accomplished because immoral people are using the courts to prevent communities and all of society from using social stigma to foster virtue. No one likes the idea of social stigma, but it is a thing to be avoided, and that's why it works. If we may not shape our culture by setting standards of decency, and pressuring folks to adhere to them, then I suppose I am in favor of returning to the old laws that made it illegal to commit sodomy or adultery or to divorce without very good cause. It is inevitable anyway, unless the courts can be prevented from forcing universities and businesses to promote deviance as a "civil right", schools stop teaching and encouraging sexual experimentation, and enough people stop listening to the culture and start listening to the (faithful) clergy. But the rule of law will only be restored after our souls have been stripped, degraded and jeered at, and trampled under foot; only after we have dragged the bottom and tasted of the dank muck of total moral annihilation. Then we'll be crying, "Give us a king to rule over us and go out before us to fight our battles."
Can you blame me for wanting a world that fosters love and commitment instead of selfishness and isolation? Why do you suppose our Lord came preaching love and charity and self-sacrifice? In a world increasingly controlled by power money and driven at all levels by greed and manipulation, as social structures break down, and people increasingly feel disconnected and lonely, once again we will learn that the Lord taught us these things, not to enslave us, but to show us how to survive and thrive, how to be happy and secure, how to weather the storm. We are made for community with one another.
Am I tilting at windmills? Am I fighting an unbeatable foe? Some might call me naïve. But I see myself as an idealist, though, like Don Quixote, I have gone mad from reading too many books about the virtue and vice. Idealism on a collision course with the eschaton. But we must make a choice now, and I choose virtue, even when the choice hurts. I still think purity and chastity are something worth preserving and fighting for. I still believe fidelity to a noble cause is manly and worthy. I still think virtue is lovely, something to be cultivated and admired. Nancy Pelosi has decided the motto of the Democrat party should be "Integrity, Civility, and Accountability". What hypocrisy. How can a party that embraces socialism and deviance, child murder and pedophilia, and closes ranks around its most corrupt members, even those seen on camera taking bribes and joking about getting away with it--how can such a party make a claim to such virtues? They stand for nothing I recognize as virtue. Nor do I see any white knights in my own party riding to the rescue to slay the beast that is devouring our country. Perhaps it will take a madman with an infernal vision on a skinny old nag who is willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. Is that an impossible dream?
"You can't run an idea against reality."
Alisa Craddock is a freelance political columnist and an activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian. In addition to Enter Stage Right, her columns have been published on Alain's Newsletter and Out2 News. She may be contacted at email@example.com
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!