Rick Santorum vs. Pope Pius XI — one candidate, two encyclicals

I read two recent items about former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum that both turned out to be, oddly, about former Pope Pius XI.

First up is an excellent question from Mary at The Left Coaster, who notes that Republican presidential candidate Santorum opposes contraception, arguing that sex without the possibility of conception is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

Mary suggests a follow-up question for the candidate:

Perhaps someone should ask him whether he plans to be celibate after his wife passes through menopause.

That’s an interesting question. The answer I’ve usually heard to that question was that the story of Abraham and Sarah shows that even post-menopause, there remains the possibility of conception due to a miracle.

That’s pretty weak, and a transparent bit of retro-fitting — an excuse seized as a rationale for the teaching rather than a belief from which the teaching is derived. If the possibility of a divine miracle overcoming menopause is sufficient, then why isn’t the same true of the possibility of a divine miracle overcoming condom-use?*

For the official Catholic answer to Mary’s question, we need to turn to Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, or “Of Chaste Wedlock” (or “A Celibate Virgin Talks About Sex”). Pius XI, like Rick Santorum, sought to rule out the use of contraception. The only substantial difference between their views is Santorum’s desire to make this teaching civil law here in America. (And, unlike Santorum, Pius XI never said he wanted to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut — although that’s probably on account of his dying some 26 years before it was decided.)

Santorum’s phrase — “counter to how things are supposed to be” — echoes the central thrust of the argument in Casti Connubii. That encyclical says that sex deliberately separated from procreation is regarded as “a grave sin” because it is against nature. How can we be sure that it is against nature? Because it is regarded as a sin.

That’s either a powerful double proof or else a silly bit of circular reasoning, I’ll let you decide which. But either way — whether you see this as a potent argument or merely an undefended assertion — the answer to Mary’s question lies in that word “deliberately.” Pius XI argues that infertility due to menopause isn’t deliberate and, therefore, he said that it isn’t “acting against nature” for a married couple to get all connubii even if due to “natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth.”

So there is an answer to Mary’s question, it’s just not terribly compelling in that it depends utterly on the underlying assertion. And it’s not at all compelling for those of us who are not Catholic and, therefore, are not compelled by the coercive threat of eternal damnation to accept it.

And that, of course, brings us to the next follow-up questions for Rick Santorum. “Why should everyone in America be compelled to follow Catholic doctrine?” And “Why should anyone in America be compelled to follow any doctrine?”

You can probably tell that I’m not overly impressed with the arguments Pius XI puts forward in Casti Connubii. I am, however, quite impressed with the arguments he affirmed in the encyclical he released a few months later, Quadragesimo Anno, or “In the 40th Year” (following 40 years after Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, which laid the foundation for later Catholic social teaching). It was there that Pius XI made official his church’s support for the principle of subsidiarity. That’s an idea I find enormously helpful for thinking about the world and our differentiated, complementary responsibilities within it. (It’s even more helpful once it’s shorn of the hierarchical medieval outlook that Pius XI preserves in his discussion of it, but let that pass for now.)

As it turns out, Rick Santorum has also been talking about subsidiarity, leading two conservative columnists — David Brooks and Michael Gerson — to hail the candidate as bringing about either “A New Social Agenda” or perhaps “The Return of Compassionate Conservatism.” But despite their attempts to ascribe to him some new and substantive intellectual approach, Santorum’s references to the principle lead me to agree with The Christian Century’s David Heim: “I doubt Santorum has thought much about subsidiarity.”

Vincent Miller, in the Catholic magazine America (via Bold Faith Type), goes further than Heim, discussing, “Rick Santorum and the Lobotomization of Subsidiarity“:

This debate is important not only for politics, but for Catholic social thought. Santorum and other so-called “conservative” uses of subsidiarity are deeply distorted and threaten to confuse believers and deprive the republic of the full force of this Catholic moral principle.

The full Catholic version of Subsidiarity is outlined in the Vatican Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. As a moral principle subsidiarity has both a positive and negative meaning. In its positive sense, “ all societies of a superior order must adopt attitudes of help (“subsidium”) — therefore of support, promotion, development — with respect to lower-order societies.” (#186) In its negative sense subsidiarity limits such intervention from usurping the power and agency of lower level governments, communities and institutions, including the family.

The distortions are not Santorum’s fault. Catholic neo-liberals (who generally call themselves conservatives) have worked tirelessly to reduce subsidiarity to its negative sense and establish this as the keystone of Catholic social thought. They do so by selective reading — and outright editing — of Papal teaching from Pius XI through John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

This careful lobotomization of subsidiarity renders Catholic social teaching a docile partner in the neo-liberal program of limiting government and subjecting social institutions (schools, healthcare) to market logic. (Witness Ayn Rand devotee Congressman Paul Ryan’s invocation of subsidiarity in his attempted apologia for his radical budget to Archbishop Dolan this summer).

… Families and communities are being profoundly disempowered in precisely the way subsidiarity cautions against, but not by government. Our lives are ruled by insurance companies, banks, media conglomerates and transnational corporations.

While Santorum is willing to take aim at big media, the rest of the epochal growth in corporate power is outside of his subsidiarity lens.

Subsidarity has much to contribute to our political thought. In order for it to do so, we must retrieve its full meaning, and develop it further to address the new challenges we face. Those wishing to do so (including Brooks and Gerson) would be better served by starting with the discussion of governance in Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate and the Pontificial Council on Justice and Peace’s document on Financial Reform. Pay particular attention to the parts that George Wiegel says should be ignored.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* I posed that question to an acquaintance who is a Catholic theologian. Unfortunately, he answered my question with a question of his own: “So you believe that sex can occur primarily for pleasure?” My response — “Believe it? I’ve seen it with my own two eyes!” — prematurely ended our discussion.

  • Ursula L

    Surely god, if he REALLY wants a baby to be made, can get around this?

    Since Catholics have god on record as getting around virginity when god wants a baby made, I don’t see why anything should be considered an obstacle.  

  • FangsFirst

    A nice little comment on wrongness of the “natural law” argument:

    Without needing research, that was still my first thought–”Natural WHERE?”

    PS:

    That includes the fact that his (supposed) stance on abortion would
    have resulted in his wife’s death if they had actually walked their
    talk.

    My first exposure to that story was someone showing an article called “Santorum’s Wife’s Abortion was Different” in a sarcastic way. And I loathe the fact that sometimes people miscast the reality to lose all argument to semantic sniping, meaning now all discussion turned into “It totally was NOT an abortion because [Obscure detail]…” “Oh, but [other obscure detail]…”

    Your statement covers it correctly, and maintains the important part: it may not have been an “abortion,” but what he wants to have laws on would still have criminalized it. It doesn’t matter if it was or wasn’t, just that it fits the bill for what he wants to criminalize.

    Just saying I appreciate the clear-headed approach there. Not to suggest it’s some kind of exception for you, of course.

  • Mary Kaye

    It is kind of odd that Santorum is pushing the bit of Catholic teaching that is perhaps most often disregarded by US Catholics; I believe studies show that the majority of US Catholics do in fact favor the use of contraceptives. 

    He’s certainly not going to make any friends among Catholics like the ones in my immediate family.  My stepfather had a vasectomy at the point where they could see that further childbearing would severely endanger my mother’s life.  I  mean, yes, this frustrates the procreative purpose of sex, but lifelong undesired celibacy would equally frustrate the unitive purpose, wouldn’t it?  No matter how much the theologicans argue and reason, the emotional fact is that a loving married couple would like to have sex, there’s no moral reason apparent why they shouldn’t, and risking someone’s life would be obviously wrong when an alternative is available.

    I founder on the idea that I could licitly have non-procreative sex  because of my medical condition causing infertility, but my mother couldn’t have even though she had a medical condition that would kill her if she got pregnant.

    I once asked my mother why she was still a Catholic.  She said, it’s like belonging to a family.  You may not always like them, you may not always agree with them, but you’re connected and it’s hard to deny that.  She was, perhaps as a result, very accepting of my becoming a Pagan; the arguments were far from unfamiliar to her even if she didn’t accept them herself.

    (Then again the chance that my fairly liberal parents would ever have voted for Santorum is nil anyway, so he wouldn’t care what they think…but there are surely a lot of more conservative Catholics who have reached the same conclusion on contraception within marriage.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    That’s pretty much the definition of  “Incel,” or Involuntary Celibacy.  There are, or were, years ago, a bunch of Incel support group sites on the Web…er, so I’ve heard…
    (Personally, I like the term “nonogamy,” which I a friend saw on one such support site.)

  • FangsFirst

    And just to pipe in, albeit with secondhand experience:

    My SGF is Catholic (she laughs when I call her a “hardcore Catholic,” but acknowledges it as a mostly fair descriptor). She still wears a mantilla to Mass. She wears a mantilla if she goes to church with my (Methodist) parents (or anyone else). She takes Mass attendance as an issue of mortal sin, she is very firm on making sure younger family members are taught the ins and outs of Catholicism (though what they do with it she considers to be up to them–but feels it is her familial duty to give them those tools). So on and so forth–I can’t name all the details as I’ve never had *close* Catholic friends (and she doesn’t like “forcing” me to go to Mass with her–by way of sheepishly accepting if I offer to go. Such force…).

    She takes the idea of sex pretty seriously, emotionally speaking, though it remains a theoretical for her: “not until marriage” would be fair to her, but more out of the emotional investment component than the “post-dating a ceremony” component. So if you find the person you plan to spend your life with, okay. And, of course, this is only her personal feeling: she doesn’t hold my experience of two prior pseudo-long-term girlfriends against me, nor against anyone else. Just her personal choice.

    That said, she told me she has no interest in avoiding contraceptive measures…even now that it is an entirely painful theoretical, considering contraception is moot for her and she’s still grappling with that. But, still, she felt the need to warn me, I guess, for the point at which it becomes relevant to us.

  • Dan Audy

    Out of curiosity since I’m not terribly familiar with Catholic theology (despite attending a Catholic school – they mostly went with the ’cause I said so’ form of religious theory) is using contraceptives to prevent a pregnancy that would almost certainly kill the woman and fetus considered sinful?  Or is it a case of ‘God wouldn’t have made her pregnant unless he wanted to murder her’ sort of thing.

    Personally, I felt that after my ‘infertile’ wife gave birth to her second child that it wasn’t a case of a divine miracle overcoming her medical condition but a case of a doctor who wasn’t terribly competent.  Even if one credits the idea that sex must have a procreative component it seems immoral to me to condemn your family to poverty by continuing to have children beyond the point of your ability to support them and equally immoral to deny the God-given pleasure and closeness sex grants by avoiding it altogether.

  • Lori

    Relevant to this discussion, a short article on the economics of Republican attempts to limit access to contraception: http://www.newdeal20.org/2012/01/10/access-to-contraception-is-an-economic-issue-68787/

  • TomV

    Reminds me of an old (19th century) anecdote.  A man, on being asked if he believed in infant baptism answered, “believe it?  Hell, I’ve SEEN it.”

  • Anonymous

    If the possibility of a divine miracle overcoming menopause is
    sufficient, then why isn’t the same true of the possibility of a divine
    miracle overcoming condom-use?

    Shades of C.S. Lewis.  In That Hideous Strength, Merlin condemns the misguidedly liberal female protagonist as “the falsest woman alive”, worthy of immediate execution, because she and her husband use contraception.  Apparently it was the “purpose of God” that they conceive a baby that grow up to be the awesomest guy in the world.  But the purpose of God can’t get around diaphragms, nor can it wait a year or two until they actually decide to have a kid.

    Contraceptives are the iron chariots of the reproductive system, apparently.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So… *That* must be where we get the classical theological debate about angels dancing on the head of a pin. It’s all about god’s masterplan to poke holes in our condoms

  • JK

    I really don’t think it’s about contraception or even sex — I think it’s about control. If you can dominate someone else to the point where you can tell them that they can’t use condoms, or they can’t eat pork, or they can’t wear the color red on the last Tuesday of each month, you pretty much own them. They don’t have any rights any more in any real sense of the word, since if you can stop (for example) an atheist from eating pork because it’s against Jewish or Islamic law or require everyone to submit to e-meter testing conducted under the auspices of Scientology, you can make them do anything as long as you say your religion says so.

    I’m not criticizing people who choose to adhere to those restrictions based on a sincere religious belief — I’m talking about being able to force everyone to live by your arbitrary moral code, and that’s a significant level of authority that they’re asserting for themselves.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not criticizing people who choose to adhere to those restrictions based on a sincere religious belief — I’m talking about being able to force everyone to live by your arbitrary moral code, and that’s a significant level of authority that they’re asserting for themselves.

    Or for that matter, trying to make it illegal for people to live by their own moral codes. (That link refers to the Oklahoma referendum pre-emptively banning use of Sharia law, passed with 70% support in 2010, which was smacked down in court today.)

  • Anonymous

    Some might argue that because stopping and putting on a condom disrupts the flow of sexy times, it also frustrates the unitive function of sex, but I’ve never seen that made in Catholic circles.

    I have, sadly.  Here’s an example. An exert from that link:

    HH”s claim is that condomistic intercourse is not “unitive” in the sense specified and required by the teaching of the Church. More sloganistically: “safe sex” is not “real sex.” Gormally’s claim is that any sexual encounter is which the male semen is ejaculated into a vessel other than the vagina—even if that vessel is a latex bag, stretched over the penis, that happens to be in the vagina at the time of ejaculation—is morally of the same sort as masturbation, sodomy, or any other sexual act that Church teaching traditionally condemns as per se inapt for procreation. More sloganistically: “safe sex” is morally no better than “solitary vice.”

    (I am so going to try to work the phrase “condomistic intercourse” into a conversation at the next possible opportunity…)

    ——-

    C’mon Fred, you can do better than that! Be charitable in your interpretations.

    You really haven’t been around here long, have you.  :-)

  • P J Evans

     I’m not sure they’re aware of the legitimate medical uses of contraception. (Of course, if they were, they’d have to admit that women are really people with rights and all that stuff that they’d prefer to limit to men.)

  • Lori

    Someone needs to point out to Hugh Henry that when you find yourself using the term “condomistic intercourse” in a serious way it’s time to examine your life, because you took a wrong turn somewhere.

  • Matri

    Or for that matter, trying to make it illegal for people to live by their own moral codes.
    (That link refers to the Oklahoma referendum pre-emptively banning use
    of Sharia law, passed with 70% support in 2010, which was smacked down
    in court today.)

    Seriously?!? Are these republicans so self-centered they’ve never heard of a previous amendment? It goes like this:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof
    ; or abridging the freedom of
    speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
    assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Are these also the same republicans who believe that the amendment was only to keep government out of religion but not religion out of government? So now they want to bring government into religion in order to keep religion out of government.

    My head hurts.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Traditionally, a Catholic health care provider would give you script for birth control pills if you told them you wanted them for one of the other health effects they have (Stabilizing an irregular cycle or reduced cramping and discomfort). I believe you are allowed to wink while doing it.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I’ve also heard of cases where a catholic provider refused to grant needed medical treatment to a woman because the procedure had the side effect of being a contraceptive.

  • muteKi

    This is not to even begin to mention the implications of what I’ve seen promoted as “natural family planning”.

    And of course there’s also fact that among nonhuman primates, sex for pleaure/bonding/etc. rather than reproduction is quite common. 

  • muteKi

    Damn, forgot how old this new post was. Must read more comments before posting the same thing everyone else has.

    Regardless, I favor contraception because I don’t particularly like abortion. Given that several reliable contraception methods are considered acceptable due to their ability to inhibit the spread of HIV and other STDs by the church itself, it seems strange to not see more arguments in favor of contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring.

  • g.shellabear.10

     Hmm. I, personally, would argue that if sex between you and your significant other has reached the point wherein you gain no joy, or feeling of close personal bonding – which I understand to be the goal of “unitive” sex between partners – unless there is absolutely no chance that the semen will go anywhere but the vagina, then one of two things has happened.

     Either your sex has become a matter of instantaneous, simultaneous orgasm, or your very mindset has completely removed the possibility of growing closer to your partner through sex ANYWAY, in which case you should immediately pledge celibacy.

     I apologise to those reading if this made very little sense. In my defence, the quoted arguement makes very little sense either.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Though reading into it more, the sticking point was not so much “trying to make it illegal for people to live by their own moral codes” as it was in singling out Islam for special (mis)treatment. 

  • Anonymous

    See, this is what doesn’t make sense to me. To those non-human primates, sex is all about the pleasure. They don’t go at it thinking “let’s us get on with the procreating.” At least, not as far as I know…

  • Anonymous

    I’ll have to give it a closer read – tomorrow. It’s late.

  • phoenix_feather

    It doesn’t even seem like “Having sex and taking deliberate overt action
    to avoid pregnancy” is forbidden, as the fertility awareness stuff
    shows. It just seems very inconsistent.

    This was the reason I stopped being Catholic.

    Well, the first one anyway.  One day, I was sitting in my Catholic school’s senior religion class, and the teacher was explaining Catholic laws on contraception.  I raised my hand and said pretty much the same thing you just did.  The teacher paused, kind of laughed, and said, “That’s a good question,” then changed the subject. 

    During high school I was really religious–I went to church at
    least once a week, read the Bible, prayed a lot, joined the campus
    ministry, etc.  But I was really frustrated by his lack of an answer.  I thought, Why would you enforce these rules on people if you don’t even have an explanation?  I refused to believe that God could be so arbitrary.  As I thought about it further, I realized that it was hard to believe that God could be ok with a lot of the things the Catholic church was teaching.  And that was sort of that.  A month later I quit.

    I guess the moral of the story is… don’t spout inconsistent nonsense and then be offended when no one takes you seriously.  (That would be directed to the Catholic church, but I guess you can apply it to almost any religious or political ideology.)

  • phoenix_feather

     That makes me sound a little more bitter than I actually am, so I
    should clarify that I know there are many intelligent Catholics who have
    valid reasons for choosing that particular belief system (and I know
    that most disagree with some parts of it), but for me, when I personally
    considered it, the flaws outweighed the merits.  I still have a lot of respect for Catholicism, though. I just think it has some adapting to do.

  • Anonymous

    And of course there’s also fact that among nonhuman primates, sex for
    pleaure/bonding/etc. rather than reproduction is quite common.

    Sex for pleasure is the norm among animals–those that can experience pleasure, anyway.  I mean, it’s not like they know sex leads to babies.  Even lots of humans don’t know that.

  • Anonymous

    @carlj7:disqus:Sex, they say, has two natural functions: it makes babies and it lets couples express their love. These are called the procreative and unitive functions of sex. Condoms are unnatural because they deliberately frustrate the procreative function of sex.  
    This would also form the basis of a Catholic argument against sunscreen, which deliberately frustrates the carcinogenic function of sunlight while preserving the pleasurable and tanning functions of sunlight.
    Have a sin-free summer: abstain from sunlight.

  • fraser

    Right-winger Kathleen Parker asserted once that gays adopting kids is “obviously” unnatural. I pointed out to someone that some people would have found her writing columns and opining on politics just as unnatural.

  • fraser

    Echidne of the Snakes linked to an article in which Santorum, who is of the “Women could quit their jobs and stay home if they’d just tighten the family budget” school wasn’t able to make ends meet on his Congressional salary and had to get occasional checks from his parents.

  • FangsFirst

    I guess it’s possible. I never changed my default settings so I think I see 50 comments per page.

    Okay, not to totally derail back to this but: do you actually have 50 per page or was that a random estimate?
    I would friggin’ love to have 50 per page. I do not see any place (here or Disqus in particular) to change it though, and I’ve been digging (and noticed I get notifications! oops…) but come up stuck with 20 as far as I can tell…

  • fraser

    I read the David Brooks column. He cites, approvingly, a Santorum proposal to pay men welfare (okay that’s not what he calls it) so that they’ll become more marriageable (and presumably women can afford to stay home).  I had not heard that idea before (though I have heard suggestions we should pay American women to stay home and breed).

  • Anonymous

    a Santorum proposal to pay men welfare (okay that’s not what he calls
    it) so that they’ll become more marriageable (and presumably women can
    afford to stay home).  I had not heard that idea before (though I have
    heard suggestions we should pay American women to stay home and breed).

    And what’s wrong with the idea that parents should be paid to be parents? Raising children is one of the most important jobs there is, and it’s an expensive job to do. It’s just that it’s associated with women, so it’s devalued. Ditto teaching.

  • Nathaniel

    Of course, when it comes to black/undeserving poor people(same thing in their minds), suddenly such proposals are abandoned in favor of finger wagging and “personal responsibility.”

    As for the whole guff about “Natural Law,” I have always found it to be Catholic theology with the bits mentioning God directly removed.

    Unfortunately for them, removing God removes any coherency from their arguments. Which means they never had an argument in the first place.

  • Lori

     
    Okay, not to totally derail back to this but: do you actually have 50 per page or was that a random estimate?  

     

    My display seems to be a certain amount of space, not a fix number of comments. Depending on the length of various comments I generally seem to get between 40 & 55 per page. I don’t think I ever changed any of the defaults on my Disqus account, but it’s possible that I did it and have forgotten about it.  If I did it was probably something on the same page where you can change your screen name. Did you look there? 

  • Lori

     
    And what’s wrong with the idea that parents should be paid to be parents?   

     

    In and of itself, nothing. Coming from someone who generally wants to dismantle the social safety net, quite a lot. Especially since it seems that he’s talking about giving the money to men, presumably in their role as “head of the household”. That’s not support for parents, that’s a tool of control. 

  • Wednesday

    Not to mention, in some species (eg, rats), the females are _only_ interested in sex when they’re fertile. Humans (and at least some of our close primate cousins, like bonobos) are not one of those species.

    That means sex for purposes other than reproduction is natural for us, and so “natural law” morality arguments against non-procreative sex fail bigtime. (Of course, “natural law” morality arguments against homosexuality fail bigtime as well, but that doesn’t stop the Church from making them.)

  • Baeraad

    He wrote that? Holy crap.

    See, it’s things like this that forces me to bite my tongue very hard indeed when CS Lewis is admiringly mentioned around here as an example of the *good* sort of Christian novelist. I mean, *yes,* the Chronicles of Narnia are miles above the Left Behind books, both from a literary and a moral point of view, but the man was nevertheless an ass.

  • Anonymous

    Heh. I tried giving that article a more careful read (which so far I’m finding rather actually rather interesting and empathetic). Well, I keep alternating between that article and one Fred linked a few days back. I’m spending way too much time on this, and I have a few other things to do today. So just for fun:

    Nobody should have to choose between the violence of extreme poverty and the violence of an abusive relationship. - from The Percentages: A Biography of Class

    The lack of physical contact between semen and vagina makes the experience of sex sub-optimal, at least typically; but much in life is sub-optimal as a result of legitimate choices we make. I find nothing so far in HH’s case to tell us why the choice of “safe sex” is intrinsically evil as distinct from merely sub-optimal. - from The Catholic condom debateI almost wish I could take that first quote, track down Hugh Henry and smack him about the head with it. I don’t know why, it just seems like it might make the world a better place or something. —————–

    He wrote that?

    – BaeraadYeah, he did. And I remember my seventeen-ish-year-old self actually flinging the book against the wall when I got to that. 

  • FangsFirst

    Hm. Yeah. Checked all the “Edit Profile” stuff. Oh well. Thanks anyway!

  • rizzo

    Rick Santorum is an idiot who will say anything he thinks will help him get elected.  He’s got a dirty little secret:  As bad as he was as a Senator, he did 10x better at that than any other job he’s ever had…because he’s a febrile idiot.

  • Quercus

    > Perhaps someone should ask him whether he plans to be celibate after his wife passes through menopause.

    Well, if he’s like a certain other candidate, the answer is “Of course not!  That’s what hospital bed divorces are for!”

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    As for the whole guff about “Natural Law,” I have always found it to be
    Catholic theology with the bits mentioning God directly removed.

    Pretty much, yeah.

    One of my favorite writers, Robert Anton Wilson, wrote an entire (short) book called Natural Law: or, Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy in which he basically dismantles the entire notion of “Natural Law”.   ISTR he calls Natural Law arguments ‘an appeal to authority based on sheer bluff’.

  • Anonymous

    Eh, like most people Lewis had some good ideas and some bad ideas.  I think he was fairly reactionary even for his time and place, but I can’t blame people for pulling valuable lessons out of his work.  I mean, I’m a Lovecraft fan.

    That Hideous Strength is probably the assiest of his works of fiction.  It’s in the genre of “sci-fi fables attacking everything that’s wrong with Society Today,” and those are generally pretty wincing no matter how gifted and awesome the author is.


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