September 12, 2009

Memory, Childhood, Humanae Vitae, and Satan

Seven months ago, the always encouraging and erudite Ben left this instructive point in a comment:

As a person in the pews, I will let you in on a secret. The number one issue that divides the so-called conservative catholics like...and myself from the left-of center ones is not Vatican II, it is not liturgy, it is not social justice, it is not the abortion issue, it is not war or foriegn policy; it is the acceptance of so-called liberal Pope Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae". This short document determines the factions in this church.

To which I responded, in part:

Thanks, Ben. Good to hear from you. I remembering reading Humanae vitae in studies (in a theological school without any Christian "symbols" in the classrooms, by the way) and being so impressed.

For all who only remember it as being about artificial birth control, go back and read it. Take note of the warnings listed therein, note how they have come true, and let us ask ourselves if we can do better.

At the time this conversation in the comment box gave me that feeling that there was something I had read once upon a time that spoke to it rather sharply, but I couldn't remember what it was. Today I recalled the text I was thinking of, given to me by an earnest yet troubled missionary all the way back in the seventh grade. It's from The Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey, first published in 1969. It's amazing how a text can lie hidden and quiet in the mind for 25 years:

Past religions have always represented the spiritual nature of man, with little or no concern for his carnal or mundane needs. They have considered this life but transitory, and the flesh merely a shell; physical pleasure trivial, and pain a worthwhile preparation for the "Kingdom of God". How well the utter hypocrisy comes forth when the "righteous" make a change in their religion to keep up with man's natural change! The only way that Christianity can ever completely serve the needs of man is to become as Satanism is NOW.

It has become necessary for a NEW religion, based on man's natural instincts, to come forth. THEY have named it. It is called Satanism. It is that power condemned that has caused the religious controversy over birth-control measures - a disgruntled admission that sexual activity, for fun, is here to stay.

It is the "Devil" who caused women to show their legs, to titillate men - the same kind of legs, now socially acceptable to gaze upon, which are revealed by young nuns as they walk about in their shortened habits. What a delightful step in the right (or left) direction! Is it possible we will soon see "topless" nuns sensually throwing their bodies about to the "Missa Solemnis Rock"? Satan smiles and says he would like that fine - many nuns are very pretty girls with nice legs.

Now there's a lot for discussion! I'm not sure what it all means, and I'll leave that to you. Oh, and in your charity say a prayer for the kid who put this text in my hands at the tender age of twelve. I don't know what became of him. I think his name was Rich.


Mandrivnyk said...

I wouldn't call a religion based on exalting the flesh particularly new. I think that's what, in my own days in the occult, always bored me about the various modern Satanic movements - they are all so terribly derivative. This sort of thing is as old as dirt... I'm sure, for example, he's heard of Bacchanalia. Though, as tongue in cheek as Lavey is in the passage, Satan most certainly is at the roots of these trends.

So much of human spirituality seems to amount to an endless conflict between pure sensualism and ascetic rationalism. In a way, that's one of the things that always attracted me to the Catholic Church - the way she so precisely balances between the two extremes... by definition, sanctifying the physical in her Sacramental faith, but still, restraining us enough to avoid falling into the mindless ecstasies of mere animals.

G.K. Chesterton said something like that in his biography on St. Francis... how "Man has stripped from his soul the last rag of nature-worship, and can return to nature."

Anyway. Yes, I would say that one's acceptance of Humanae vitae makes a wonderful litmus test between "conservative" and "liberal" Catholics. In a way, I've noticed a similar parallel between "conservative" Catholics and certain types of radical traditionalists, the sort who find things like the Theology of the Body utterly scandalous.

Brother Charles said...

Good to meet you, Mandrivnyk. Thanks for the comment that gets it; I was afraid this was one of those posts I would soon delete as too far out.I shall return your link presently.

Qualis Rex said...

I'd have to disagree with the poster. I think the issue that divides the church the most IS the liturgy. Without a doubt. I'm pretty sure that conservative and liberal Catholics both obey or disobey Humanae Vitae without much question or issue (witness the low birth rates in "Catholic" countries). But offer the EF in any parish and you are bound to get polarization.

Mandrivnyk said...

Thank you, Fr. Charles! It's very nice to finally meet you, too. I've been following your blog since shortly before I returned to the faith earlier this summer. Actually, thanks for that, too - many of your posts were very comforting/helpful as I struggled with that.

I often very much wish I didn't get this sort of thing at all, but I've been very appreciative of posts like this, and the ones Adoro te Devote recently had on the nature of evil. So many people think this sort of thing really is too far out there, which has often left me feeling very lonely, as it's a concern very dear to my heart.

Hidden One said...

I disagree with Qualis Rex. The liturgy might get yelled about more than "Humanae Vitae", but that's because "Humanae Vitae" isn't up for debate, and in more than one way. It doesn't even appear to basically anyone as up for debate, unlike, say, "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis".

aimee at historical christian said...

Good quote from the "Satanic Bible." I'm sure the evil one gets a kick, too, when we're all praying at mass after communion, contemplating the Lord - and happen to open our eyes just when some buxom young lady in very revealing top walks by, and all thoughts of the Lord vanish. My husband complains about that regularly - he hates having that kind of distraction at Church (or anywhere, for that matter).

phil said...

Thank you for the suggestion. It had been some time since I had read the encyclical.

ben in denver said...

Qualis Rex,

You may have a point. In our extraordinary form parish, the teaching of HV is not questioned, It is universally respected, even if many beleive the case was stated more eloquently in Casti Connubii.

Now Mandrivnyk does have a point about TOB. Many traditionalists are not comfortable with it. But TOB is not found in HV anyway, it came later from John Pual II.

I'd still say that HV is the main dividing line though. I think in our society, that if you let mother church control your behavior in the bedroom, you will be more easily obedient to her in other areas as well.