I was one of those concerned that the USCCB had invited Bradley Wilcox to address them yesterday at their meeting in New Orleans, given his op-ed in the Washington Post which was, at best, tone deaf in its treatment of violence against women. And, while I was not able to hear the entirety of his talk, and the USCCB has not yet posted the on-demand video of it, what I did hear was fine. He agreed with liberals that you cannot discuss the sad state of marriage without looking at the economic pressures most families face. And he agreed with conservatives that you cannot discuss the sad state of marriage without considering cultural factors such as the ambient permissiveness of sexual mores. And, he called attention to the decline in social capital diagnosed most poignantly by Robert Putnam. All three, taken together, must be considered if we, as a Church and a culture, are going to try and help people sustain their marriages. I hope when I see the video or get his text that he linked the decline in social capital to the spread of mass consumerism: No one has yet figured out how to market the value of sitting on a front porch, but there are plenty of toys to keep people inside their homes. But, I want to go on the record that I am delighted that my fears were not realized. The bishops' time was well spent listening to Wilcox.
June 13, 2014