Monday, January 7, 2013

A Brit Who’s Lived a Parallel Life to My Own

Thanks to Carl E. Olson at Catholic World Report for an article telling me that somewhere across the Pond I have a double. I swear I don’t look that old, my eyes are better, and I have more hair, but otherwise I recognize A.N. Wilson (left) as just like me. 

In an article Friday in the Daily Mail, Wilson tells of leaving Christianity only to return later in life, but not before passing through the fires of the sexual revolution. His title is self-explanatory: “I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appals me.”

Born just nine months before me, Wilson has written books on Tolstoy, C. S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc, and Jesus Christ. He returned to Christianity in 2009, a year after me. 

Here are some highlights of his article:

Wilson dates the beginning of the sexual revolution to 50 years ago, when the Beatles were recording their first LP and Lady Chatterly’s Lover was the best-seller. He writes, “The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex.”

Move the clock ahead 50 years, and what do we find?

In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried out [in Great Britain], a small rise on the previous year, and about seven percent more than a decade ago. [The number in the USA is over 1 million per year.]

Ninety-six percent of these abortions were funded by the NHS, i.e. by you and me, the taxpayer. One percent of these were performed because the would-be parents feared the child would be born handicapped in some way. Forty-seven percent were so-called medical abortions, carried out because the health of mother and child were at risk. The term “medical abortion” is very widely applied and covers the psychological “health” of the patient. 

But even if you concede that a little less than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that more than 90,000 foetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a means of lazy “birth control.” Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way inconvenient. 

Since becoming a Catholic in 2008 and beginning to listen closely to the Church’s social teachings, I have become “appalled,” like Wilson, at the horror of abortion. And contraception is no solution, as Wilson notes.

In the past few years, sexually transmitted diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and other diseases, many of them unaware they were infected until they had been sexually active with a number of partners. 

The divorce statistics today are horrifying, too, as Wilson notes.

The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings. It made nearly everyone feel that they were free, or free-er than their parents had been . . . an emotion which very seldom lasts, and word which is meaningless unless its definition includes commitment.

In a 2009 story in the Mail, Wilson wrote of his return to the Church of his youth.

For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever. . . . Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity? Like most educated people . . . (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

I too feel this “shame” of having listened to the loudest voices of our culture for far too long. Wilson explains his return:

As time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years—I could not tell you exactly when—I found that I had changed. 

The changes in myself happened over a long, long stretch of years. Then one night in a bookstore, I picked up a book about the saints and began going to daily Mass the following morning. Wilson felt the surprise I felt, and the secret “relish”:

My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age. Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block.

I never heard the term clever-clogs, but I like it. Maybe I’ll use it next time I’m over the Pond.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I have noted elsewhere that I believe that I own the Chicago Archdiocesan record for lapsing and reverting, which crown I gladly quit – and remain reverted, this time – as I approach old age. Or – well – AM IN old age.

    My problem with ‘clever-clogs’ is that I so yearn to convert them. BUT – another big but on my part – I am so clumsy in being apologetical (?) and evangelical, not to mention impatient. Like Charlie Brown (or some such young man) and the pretty girl he wanted so badly to have notice him, I just end up spitting on them. Then I go huffing off to hunch in my easy chair and ‘Rosarize’ them. But – again ‘but’ – I think I really pray they develop a birthmark-like skin thing that so resembles the Sacred Heart. THAT’ll show ‘em, huh? (“Shoulda listened to that fat Warren guy, I guess!”)

    BTW, I don’t know if this holds for you and your ‘twin’, but it helped that I married the one lady whose faith made her more than I deserved, but led me to grace and on Home in many ways.

    Let it suffice to note that we toddle off into SinFunLand without solid reason (of which ‘solid reason’ has footing in good conscience) and return to God’s loving embrace for so many right reasons. And, may He be adored, worshipped and praised, and continue His blessings upon us. So do we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Through Him, with Him, in Him,
    Warren Jewell


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