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Which is your favourite of the ST?

Open the pod bay doors, Hnau!

What is your favourite?

OOSP
12
22%
Perelandra
20
37%
THS
22
41%
 
Total votes : 54

Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 19 Jun 2008, 06:03

Ben, sorry for being away for so long.

I have to admit I had never read the Wasteland, and poetry usually takes several readings to speak to me. I can see some paralells between the lifeless rocks and the lifeless relationships. But it seems to me more like a field in winter than a rocky crag.

My parents had an interracial marriage, then my father got a vasectomy, then they got divorced, then my father decided to say he was gay. Lots of the Pandora's box of 20th century sexuality were part of my life in ways it is difficult for me to extricate myself from. In some ways it reminds me of something I once read about the correct Catholic attitude to people born and raised in Protestant value systems. So in some ways the image presented in the wasteland.

TS Eliot wrote
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.


actually seems more healthy than what I saw in my parents' relationship. I am perfectly willing to concede that in a perfect world I might have gotten married at 17 to a woman of my own race, and settled down to raise a family. But that was never an option (my "own race" and the shared expectations that implies didn't exist), and my parents' advice was obviously incoherent--though still guilt-inducing. So, while I am willing to concede the superiority of the Unbent Axle, I don't need yet another voice joining the cacophony of contradictory criticism about the path I grope toward it. I hope I have never experienced caresses "unreproved, if undesired" but I have been both "reproved, and undesired" "reproved and desired." And I am not sure the reproof in itself is so much to be celebrated. Especially in a world in which the test of love is that Young Werther view Charlotte the same way after her rebuffs as he did before. I have known a few women, who, like Jane Studdock, seemed to hope for a relationship in which she could be a nun with an adoring servingman for a...well marriage is just an exploitative institution anyway.

That's why I find Paolo and Francesca so heartening. I assumed (and correct me if I'm wrong) the reason they ended up in hell was because their murderer (for whom Cain's place awaits) acted before they had the benefit of the clergy--and was somewhat comforted by the fact that they confront the horrors of hell hand in hand. And it seems to me that the modern world would be busy looking for villains: "Paolo committed date rape" "Francesca was a slut" "Galleot should be banned" to break their hands apart. I actually think Paolo and Francesca's relationship (which seems to me "unreproved and desired" to use the Wasteland paradigm) contains several elements which are missing from Mark and Jane Studdock's. And I wonder which would be easier to transform into the Catholic ideal of matrimony.
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Postby kbrowne » 19 Jun 2008, 15:12

Coyote Goodfellow wrote:
I have known a few women, who, like Jane Studdock, seemed to hope for a relationship in which she could be a nun with an adoring servingman for a...well marriage is just an exploitative institution anyway.


Coyote,

What is it you see in THS that suggests that Jane Studdock wanted to be a nun with an adoring servingman?
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Postby cyranorox » 20 Jun 2008, 19:58

The contraceptive mentality is clearly part of this decline, in his mind, and in that of the Church. Making the decision not to allow this to happen in my life, as a Protestant, was perhaps the most liberating decision I ever made, and has given me more clarity than anything else I have done - - - and it was largely influenced by THS. Nobody can claim that my wife or I took "the easy way" - but on the other hand, nobody who practices contraception can honestly say that they are able to objectively consider its moral implications, its influence on society, or its place in the general subjugation of nature to technology - for EVERYONE who practices it has some reason to justify its use and benefit. The only people who can choose freely are the people who actually have the power to do so. Everyone else has been enslaved on a voluntary basis - they think they are choosing, just like the alcoholic says "I can stop anytime I want - this is just to be sociable." Riiiiiiiiiiiight.


[edit -snippy comment of mine snipped out]

The comment about the easy way appears to express resentment. If I believed, as you do, that the married users of contraception are enslaved in a way just like alcoholics, i would feel obliged to devote a large slice of time to intercessory prayer for them. Sinfulness, the mystery of iniquity, is not something you can escape; nor, I think, is the contrast of yourself as free, the others as slaves, consistent with Christian understanding of life.

what you cannot know is individual motives. It is easy to produce examples of couples whose use of contraception is reasonable and arises from due prudence: they marry at 45; they carry major genetic damage from radiation or chemicals; major current illness; stepchildren or parents with major needs; serious poverty and dislocation.

But the issue is deeper. Normal couples, young and healthy, well connected to family and community, serious about marriage, do want children. In my experience and reading, the overwhelming majority of married contraception users are missing one or more of these structures. If they don't want children, generally something else is the matter in their lives or pasts. It may be a matter of damage or deficit in their own upbringing. These are hardly reasons to point them out as sinners or addicts. As with welfare recipients, I suppose you can find a flagrant case, to support an agenda, but I question whether that is a reliable basis for a position on this topic.
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Postby rusmeister » 21 Jun 2008, 06:05

cyranorox wrote:
The contraceptive mentality is clearly part of this decline, in his mind, and in that of the Church. Making the decision not to allow this to happen in my life, as a Protestant, was perhaps the most liberating decision I ever made, and has given me more clarity than anything else I have done - - - and it was largely influenced by THS. Nobody can claim that my wife or I took "the easy way" - but on the other hand, nobody who practices contraception can honestly say that they are able to objectively consider its moral implications, its influence on society, or its place in the general subjugation of nature to technology - for EVERYONE who practices it has some reason to justify its use and benefit. The only people who can choose freely are the people who actually have the power to do so. Everyone else has been enslaved on a voluntary basis - they think they are choosing, just like the alcoholic says "I can stop anytime I want - this is just to be sociable." Riiiiiiiiiiiight.


[edit -snippy comment of mine snipped out]

The comment about the easy way appears to express resentment. If I believed, as you do, that the married users of contraception are enslaved in a way just like alcoholics, i would feel obliged to devote a large slice of time to intercessory prayer for them. Sinfulness, the mystery of iniquity, is not something you can escape; nor, I think, is the contrast of yourself as free, the others as slaves, consistent with Christian understanding of life.

what you cannot know is individual motives. It is easy to produce examples of couples whose use of contraception is reasonable and arises from due prudence: they marry at 45; they carry major genetic damage from radiation or chemicals; major current illness; stepchildren or parents with major needs; serious poverty and dislocation.

But the issue is deeper. Normal couples, young and healthy, well connected to family and community, serious about marriage, do want children. In my experience and reading, the overwhelming majority of married contraception users are missing one or more of these structures. If they don't want children, generally something else is the matter in their lives or pasts. It may be a matter of damage or deficit in their own upbringing. These are hardly reasons to point them out as sinners or addicts. As with welfare recipients, I suppose you can find a flagrant case, to support an agenda, but I question whether that is a reliable basis for a position on this topic.


Your experience (sorry - what does reading have to do with it?) differs greatly from mine. In the San Francisco Bay area I could point to any number of couples and groups (using that despicable word "partner" - see GKC's "On Evil Euphemisms" http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/boo ... misms.html ) who lived together, engaged in marital relations together, married or not (formal marriage has been so downplayed. Why buy a cow when milk is so cheap? - and a fair number of them were married), and the overwhelming trend is to not have children. Contraceptives are doing booming business and are ubiquitous at every check-out counter. It may be flagrant, but it is not an exception. More and more it is becoming the rule. Again, no one is trying to point out others as sinners (the Pharisaical sin), but to denounce sin that is portrayed as "not-sin", - an entirely Christian thing to do.

Your point on individual motives is good - that's why priests can give economia. But what if Abraham and Sarah, by that logic, had used contraceptives? Certainly cases of extreme hardship can be imagined. But none of us are secure from having a child with Down's syndrome, autism or spina bifida, and simple fear of what could happen is not justification, either.

"Enslavement" may be overstating the situation, but I would certainly question the impartiality of anyone who was actively using contraceptives - they have already decided the question, and more often than not, without approaching this level of soul-searching, let alone examination of Church teaching including talking to one's priest, and so I would support Ben to that extent.
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Postby Coyote Goodfellow » 21 Jun 2008, 11:52

kbrowne wrote
Coyote,

What is it you see in THS that suggests that Jane Studdock wanted to be a nun with an adoring servingman?

Well, that comment conflates my own experience with what's in the book. I don't necessarily think Jane wanted a servingman, or adoration. But I do think she wanted a marriage more like a solitary cloister in which she could be free to write her thesis without masculine demands. It doesn't surface directly with Mark, but when she meets Ransom and observes
Something which she liked to think of as the opposite of Mark had been taken away. Something civilized, or modern, or scholarly, or (of late) "spiritual" which did not want to posess her, which valued her for the odd collection of qualities she called "herself," something without hands that gripped and without demands upon her.


We all have a variety of contradictory wills, but it seems to me that the will which was making Jane's decisions was one holding on as hard as possible to the person she was before marriage, one which hoped her marriage would be merely a spiritual union of souls, where grasping hands played no part. I felt her husband's advances were, to use the wasteland formulation again "undesired and reproved." I assume she had reproved Mark enough that instead of being interested in her, he was sublimating his attentions into this Belbury thing--to show off to her--and then hoping to bring her in to show off to them--but no authentic interest in either for its own sake. The male bird going back to displaying his plumage the way you do before you have a mate--Lewis uses the bird analogy on one of Mark's rare returns from Belbury to see his wife.
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Postby Ben2747 » 21 Jun 2008, 16:11

The comment about the easy way appears to express resentment.


What do I have to resent? I am saying this choice, the guidance of the Church, and even Lewis' own influence, through THS, have been one of the greatest blessings in my life - if we had started by using contraception, we would have started life with a habit of vice that is hard to break. Subsequently, the choices we would have made later in life would have been made through the obscured lens of those habits. This is the way with any sin - when you have a bad habit, you have motives to justify it, or to ignore the connection between this habit and its consequences, or to mitigate the seriousness of those consequences. That's because it's a habit! It's hard to change. People who are habituated in any given vice are not truly able to choose, or even able to see clearly the issues at hand and the consequences of their behavior.
If I believed, as you do, that the married users of contraception are enslaved in a way just like alcoholics, i would feel obliged to devote a large slice of time to intercessory prayer for them. Sinfulness, the mystery of iniquity, is not something you can escape; nor, I think, is the contrast of yourself as free, the others as slaves, consistent with Christian understanding of life.


We do pray for them - what makes you think that we don't? Listen, just because someone says "this is a serious sin that is tearing apart families and society, and alienating us from God and one another" doesn't mean that we don't love the people who are committing the sin, or want them to find an alternative. If I saw a friend driving towards a cliff, I would say "watch out!!!" The fact of the matter is that most of the people in this forum refuse to discuss contraception - which is odd in a discussion of THS, since it's naturally connected to the choices we make in human sexuality - a theme that dominates the entire book. And it's not just there - there was an opportunity to look at the destructive consequences of contraception, and this discussion is now held almost exclusively in Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim circles - because nobody else is willing to discuss it, because they can't, without questioning their own behavior.

what you cannot know is individual motives. It is easy to produce examples of couples whose use of contraception is reasonable and arises from due prudence: they marry at 45; they carry major genetic damage from radiation or chemicals; major current illness; stepchildren or parents with major needs; serious poverty and dislocation.


I am not attempting to judge motives, or even considering "fault" or "blame." This is simply a candid and rather obvious observation - like "that horse has a limping gait." Maybe he was trying to jump a fence. Maybe someone deliberately hit him. The point is that there is an observable defect. It's not uncharitable for me to say "hey, this is a problem, let's call the vet." You can think of "sin" in terms of "God will judge you for this," (kind of the uptight Calvinist approach), or you can just look at it as behavior that is not in accord with our best nature - a falling away from perfection, and from that which would make us our happiest and best selves. I'm looking at it this way - like the horse with the limping gait. It is a problem for our marriages, our families, and our societies. What I think everyone would prefer, however, on the subject of contraception, is that we all stick our hands in our pockets and shuffle around looking in the clouds. The real question is how we respond to the situation - you are mistaking my candor for a lack of desire to help. Does this necessarily follow, or are you just offended that I've said out loud what nobody wants to hear?

But the issue is deeper. Normal couples, young and healthy, well connected to family and community, serious about marriage, do want children. In my experience and reading, the overwhelming majority of married contraception users are missing one or more of these structures. If they don't want children, generally something else is the matter in their lives or pasts. It may be a matter of damage or deficit in their own upbringing. These are hardly reasons to point them out as sinners or addicts. As with welfare recipients, I suppose you can find a flagrant case, to support an agenda, but I question whether that is a reliable basis for a position on this topic.


I will agree with the "deficit in their own upbringing" comment. Habits and social norms are reinforced by our social infrastructure. What we see in our families, hear about in the media, the example set by our leaders, etc., etc. The pervasiveness of contraception has a social context. Again, I'm not concerned with the question of "blame," although you seem to think that's the primary concern. And I do think your remarks are a little funny - as if someone had to be traumatized by something to accept artificial contraception. As you know, I'm a Catholic. We do well, financially, and live in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Sort of a "Williams Sonoma on every corner and a BMW in every garage" kind of place. The majority of the wives do not work, unless out of boredom - it's kind of a "soccer-mom" and "ladies who lunch" group of women. It's also a community where people tend to have extended family, everyone knows one another, most people have nannies and maids . . . and most of the people in my parish use artificial contraception - I would guess 60-70%, at least. The sad stories you describe are not the driving factor. These has nothing to do with illness, crime, or financial hardship, or lack of education, or lack of support, or ANYTHING like that. They have the benefit of explicit Church instruction (I guarantee - almost every parent in our parish went to VERY expensive private Catholic schools when they were growing up) - they have financial stability - they have family support - they have an ideal community with plenty of activities for children and virtually no crime - and yet they make the decision not to have children. Why? Come on - let's not be naive. We live in a society where we are taught to live for ourselves! Surely this is fairly obvious to most of us. Did you know that developed countries with higher standards of living and vastly greater wealth per capita have the lowest reproductive rates? I can't remember the numbers - it's something like 1.7 in the US, 1.5 in Western Europe, and 1.2 in developed Asian economies like Singapore and Japan. The Economist did a great cover on it a year or two ago - and I don't think of them as a mouthpiece for the Catholic agenda (hardly). Replacement rate is about 2.1 - whoops! None of us are making it. Sure, sure, I'm aware that countries with higher infant mortality and lower average life span are "compensating" to adjust for mortality - but this is about far more than that. It's about countries with vast wealth who spend it on personal pleasure, rather than children. It's a choice, not an inevitability.

So - I know there are the stresses and trials you mention - there is also an extraordinary form of morally acceptable contraception that works remarkably well - it's called NFP. You seem to be trying to twist my argument into one of "go out and make as many babies as you biologically can!" Not at all. Health, finances, etc., etc., all have to be considered. Nor am I surprised if people resort to artificial contraception - avoiding it is the exception, given the social pressure. So no, I'm not going to excuse wealthy countries for their complicity in creating cultures of greed and sexual license, nor am I going to pretend that the problem doesn't exist. It's there for all to see. I'm not trying to blame or excuse individuals who fall into this trap. Try to look at the question as a sociologist, or an economist - what are the pervasive, observable behaviors and trends? I think it's laughable that everyone seems to want to ignore this one - and again, it's because it makes them uncomfortable.
Last edited by Ben2747 on 21 Jun 2008, 20:07, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Ben2747 » 21 Jun 2008, 16:35

Coyote Goodfellow wrote:I have to admit I had never read the Wasteland, and poetry usually takes several readings to speak to me. I can see some paralells between the lifeless rocks and the lifeless relationships. But it seems to me more like a field in winter than a rocky crag.


Boy - this one took me probably 20 readings - I read it again a couple of times every year. It's so difficult that most critics thought it was a joke when it was first published, and TS Eliot, himself, had to publish notes so that the reader could understand all of the imagery and get translations of the various languages (there are at least four or five, if I recall - Latin, German, Greek, French, Sanskrit . . . ). Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed it. CS Lewis hated it - and didn't particularly like Eliot, either. He thought that poems should describe disorder without creating disorder, or being disordered in their design. His long-lived battle with modern poetic form (or lack of it).


That's why I find Paolo and Francesca so heartening. I assumed (and correct me if I'm wrong) the reason they ended up in hell was because their murderer (for whom Cain's place awaits) acted before they had the benefit of the clergy--and was somewhat comforted by the fact that they confront the horrors of hell hand in hand. And it seems to me that the modern world would be busy looking for villains: "Paolo committed date rape" "Francesca was a slut" "Galleot should be banned" to break their hands apart. I actually think Paolo and Francesca's relationship (which seems to me "unreproved and desired" to use the Wasteland paradigm) contains several elements which are missing from Mark and Jane Studdock's. And I wonder which would be easier to transform into the Catholic ideal of matrimony.


I suppose there are two reasons they ended up in hell (although these are "causes" in different senses): the first was that they committed the mortal sin of adultery, the second was that they died unshriven (and yes, for her husband to kill them without that opportunity is probably the greater sin. I would refer you back to Hamlet (where he doesn't want to kill his father's murderer right after prayer). In terms of which is closer to the Catholic ideal - or more easily "transformed" - I don't know. I would say that the frigidity of Mark and Jane's relationship, as well as the narcissistic tendencies of both of them, is a more "modern" problem. Catholicism, being closely concerned with natural law and the sensible, is much "earthier." As Belloc says, it's the faith of peasants and kings - but not so popular among the mercantile classes. Whereas Mark and Jane have problems that originate at a spiritual and intellectual level, Paulo and Francesca are caught by problems of an animal nature - lust. So I wouldn't say that I find their story "heartening" - but it's an understandable wrong, and not warped in such a sublime way. It's a departure from nature, but by not so very far.
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Postby cyranorox » 27 Jun 2008, 20:28

Ben, you point out some apparently selfish people, who devote their lives to their own desires, and, if the portrait is accurate, must have watertight compartments of thought.

however, the fault, on your evidence, is their goal, not their method: avoidance of fertility in the context of youth, health, wealth, and all. I know the Catholics have great interest in the temperature/schedule/calendar/quality method, which gets called natural, but from where i stand, it is morally exactly the same as any chemical or barrier method.

Are you really saying that NFP- natural family planning? 'rhythm' method? - would change the situation of these Haves from immoral to moral?



WRT birthrates and replacement - it's OK by me if the population shifts toward minority groups, who do reproduce in excess of replacement numbers.

Does this necessarily follow, or are you just offended that I've said out loud what nobody wants to hear?

You may be mistaking disagreement for avoidance. The question is so entangled with presuppositions as to be uselss for exchanging information, except that you want to imply that i am offended and that you are bravely sticking up for a painful truth.
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Postby rusmeister » 28 Jun 2008, 04:12

One general comment -

Our views on sexuality (and everything else) are heavily influenced by the world. So a lot of what we say and even think tends to be based on ideas and rhetoric that have anti-Christian sources. We are all spiritually messed up, and when we come to the Church, repent and seek to turn our lives towards Christ, They can gradually cure us of these things, if we let Them. (I speak of the Orthodox Church, but other Churches that also believe in the physical presence of this Church may also chime in on this.)

Thus, we can gradually come to realize that things we thought were "OK" - because the world tells us so - are not really in line with God's plan for us, and may even be harmful to our relationships to each other, and to Him. This includes our attitudes towards the marital act and the meaning and expression of sexuality in general.

The obvious solution is to completely submit our individual wills (what WE want) to what the Church teaches from the Bible about God's intent for our lives, like good children do to their parents. We may not like what they tell us and want to assert our will. But we know that our Parents know best.
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Postby Ben2747 » 28 Jun 2008, 13:59

cyranorox wrote:Ben, you point out some apparently selfish people, who devote their lives to their own desires, and, if the portrait is accurate, must have watertight compartments of thought.



So apparently you're not going to debate my point - that hardship is not necessarily the driver of the contraceptive mentality, and that the wealthiest countries are the most contraceptive in their behavior. Right? Fine. Now why don't we all just digest that thought for a little while.

Are you really saying that NFP- natural family planning? 'rhythm' method? - would change the situation of these Haves from immoral to moral?


It's necessary but not sufficient. Every act using artificial contraception with the intent of preventing conception necessarily entails a sin, but just because a couple doesn't use it doesn't mean that they are living out their marital vocation in accord with God's will.

I'm not going to try to convince you that there is a difference between artificial contraception and NFP, morally. As I was saying in earlier posts, habituation makes people defend behavior and clouds the debate. I think this is more to the point, rather than presuppositions, as you suggest. The problem in the debate is not an intellectual one, for people stopped considering the intellectual question long, long ago, and now they simply avoid the discussion altogether.

For me, the startling thing is not that people try to defend artificial contraception, but that they don't think it needs to be justified, at all. They're not even aware that there is really a moral question at hand. And again, this is surprising in the context of a work like THS. As a Protestant who had never even once considered NFP, or even heard about it, this was one of the first questions I started asking myself after reading THS, so I started looking into what both Protestant denominations and Catholics believed on the subject, how that had changed over time, when and for what reason. THS was sort of the spring-board into the whole question.
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Postby Ben2747 » 28 Jun 2008, 15:23

Are you really saying that NFP- natural family planning? 'rhythm' method? - would change the situation of these Haves from immoral to moral?


PS - NFP practitioners aren't using the "rhythm" method - there are a few different sympto-thermal/observational models. Anyone can get more education by looking up the Couple to Couple League, or the "Creighton Model." They are amazingly effective, and relatively simple to use. Just requires a little education.
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Postby cyranorox » 29 Jun 2008, 22:11

Debate your point? any point containing 'necessarily' is absurd. My point was that contraception [nfp or bought] in the case of couples without youth, health, or basic stability [eg, refugees, cancer patients, the last years of a woman's fertility] can be prudent and proper, rather than under the ban of the so-called contraceptionmentality and addiction language you adduce. I suppose I was thinking of aged virgins and late unions. For the record, no, neither hardship nor anything else is necessarily the cause of married couples using contraception.

Now why don't we all just digest that thought for a little while

There speaks a man [woman?] confident of being in the majority. A touch of bullying, sufficiently ambiguous to pass the moderator.

We cannot debate, because you have decided that contraceptive users are liars, unable to see their own distortions of thought. I have given very little of my biography, and IIRC all i have said or will say is that I am an Orthodox spouse; whether we have living children, why or why not, and whether we use any form of contraception, is not public. Since from your view I may be such a person whose statements, motives, reasoning, and all are discounted in advance [in contrast to yourself, natch, whose thought is limpid and motives untroubled], you can't determine whether or not to presume I am a liar, so you don't seem to be in a position to sustain a debate.
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Postby Ben2747 » 01 Jul 2008, 11:13

cyranorox wrote:Debate your point? any point containing 'necessarily' is absurd. My point was that contraception [nfp or bought] in the case of couples without youth, health, or basic stability [eg, refugees, cancer patients, the last years of a woman's fertility] can be prudent and proper, rather than under the ban of the so-called contraceptionmentality and addiction language you adduce. I suppose I was thinking of aged virgins and late unions. For the record, no, neither hardship nor anything else is necessarily the cause of married couples using contraception.

Now why don't we all just digest that thought for a little while

There speaks a man [woman?] confident of being in the majority. A touch of bullying, sufficiently ambiguous to pass the moderator.

We cannot debate, because you have decided that contraceptive users are liars, unable to see their own distortions of thought. I have given very little of my biography, and IIRC all i have said or will say is that I am an Orthodox spouse; whether we have living children, why or why not, and whether we use any form of contraception, is not public. Since from your view I may be such a person whose statements, motives, reasoning, and all are discounted in advance [in contrast to yourself, natch, whose thought is limpid and motives untroubled], you can't determine whether or not to presume I am a liar, so you don't seem to be in a position to sustain a debate.


Essentially you are arguing that I won't listen to anyone who tries to defend artificial contraception, because anyone who does so is operating from a defective moral position. The two errors that I make, according to you, are an irrelevant fallacy ("poisoning-the-well"), the second is an assumption about the individual's personal practices. I don't intend to preempt a debate in this manner. I have strong convictions about the conclusion, but I can listen in an impartial way to a defense, and consider the merits of the argument without prejudice. I am not considering a motive for the defense - I am considering a motive for the failure to mount a defense. As I said in another thread, one of the philosophers and theologians whom I most respect apparently defended the practice of artificial contraception. I don't know his argument - it was a closed session in a Papal commission - but it certainly makes me curious to know what possible theoretical justifications have been advanced. My statements are not supposed to preempt debate - just to speculate on why there is no debate in society, at large. The positive note is that you have enough courage to try to defend the position that artificial contraception is a moral alternative. I think that's great. The negative is that the vast majority of people never will be able to ask the question without hindrance - or will even ask the question, period. I didn't say that I thought this was because they were liars. I believe I said "slaves," and not "liars." It's not that people misrepresent the truth on this subject. Rather, it's that they have difficulty even seeing the issue, given their habituation. The convenience and perceived personal benefit, as well as the discomfort that is caused by the contemplation that they might be committing a grave sin, serve to stifle inquiry, rather than invigorate their interest. In this way, the habit becomes the master, while the free exercise of the intellect is suppressed. This happens to all of us in different areas of our lives - any habitual sin dulls the intellect, weakens the will, and suppresses the conscience.

So no - my argument is not with those who attempt to defend the practice. My argument is with the lack of argument. We should see this debate waged vigorously in churches, colleges, legislative bodies . . . but instead, we are met with a deafening silence. A position to the contrary is simply perceived as a bit of antiquated and curious medievalism - like the philosopher's stone, or angels dancing on the heads of pins, or all of those funny hats.
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Re: Which is your favourite of the ST?

Postby Mornche Geddick » 27 Dec 2008, 12:12

Ben 2747 wrote:So apparently you're not going to debate my point - that hardship is not necessarily the driver of the contraceptive mentality, and that the wealthiest countries are the most contraceptive in their behavior.
You've got cause and effect back to front. Being willing to limit family size is one (I emphasise, one) of the reasons wealthy countries are wealthy. If you've got only three children, for example, you can probably pay for their education, either directly via college fees or indirectly in tax. But if you've got twelve children you may not be able to get any of them even into primary school.

Thrift is a motive for limiting family size. But hardship may dscourage thrift as well as stimulate it. If there's no future in sight better than the present, you're discouraged from trying to improve your lot, whether you're an debt-bonded Indian peasant or a teenager on a rotten council estate in Britain.

Actually there is yet another, stronger justification for limiting the size of your family: giving birth too often can damage a woman's health. Incontinence is one of the risks associated with repeated childbirths. And since absolutely nobody would want that to happen to themselves, you shouldn't be willing to let it happen to your wife or mother.

If you want to see the "debate waged vigorously in churches, colleges, legislative bodies" you should read articles and books on the topic from the earlier years of the twentieth century, when the question was being discussed.
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Re: Which is your favourite of the ST?

Postby moogdroog » 27 Dec 2008, 15:21

Here is a transcript of a talk called 'Contraception, Why Not', if anyone is interested. I hope it goes some way in helping explain the seeming 'oddity' of the Church's position on contraception:

Contraception, Why Not, by Dr. Janet Smith

Edit: I don't think Ben is casting judgement on anyone here. If you disagree with someone's stance on something, it doesn't mean you are casting judgement on them. People get emotive about this issue because it usually strikes very close to home. It's the same with homosexuality, although I don't want to get into discussing that debate further - when a practising Catholic says 'actually, I disagree with homosexual sexual behaviours', then most listeners will get terribly offended and think that that Catholic is a) completely backwards and b) has something against gay/homosexual people. In the same way, saying 'I don't support contraception' gets the collective social gasp of a) you are completely backwards and b) you therefore must have something against people who contracept.

THS was also a 'springboard' for me in considering the morality of contraception. It was very, very difficult for me to consider the 'other side' of the story to contraception and contraceptive practices. I have grown up in a generation where not only contraception is supported and endorsed, but it is entirely the norm. I would venture to say the vast majority, even nearly all, of people contracepting are not doing it for health reasons, but for convenience. THS (written by an Anglican, and by someone who writes elsewhere that he doesn't want to talk about contraception) opened up the idea to me of how contraception can affect a marriage.

All I am saying is that I think it is good to consider both sides of debate in a non-judgemental way. Just because I don't agree with contraception, it doesn't mean I'm judging people who do agree with it. I'm aware of the many, well-argued and well-reasoned arguments for it. However, in western society, the reasons *why not* to contracept are hardly ever considered, or publicly talked about. I think if you *do* support contraception, then it's not a bad idea to understand some of the reasons why people don't. It doesn't mean you have to agree with them at all. Just means you contribute towards a greater understanding of other people, other beliefs and other ways of doing things, which can only help us act in more loving ways towards our neighbours.
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