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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Comments

Barry Bruss

Excellent analysis on a stupid piece. Crocker, once rightfully lauded for his beautiful work TRIUMPH, has fallen even further from grace since his previous Crisis work praising American empire. Following his reasoning, he will need to keep siring babies to man the imperial armies needed to maintain the global hegemony so desired by him and his neocon friends.

As to Catholics and large families, I was once at a homeschooling conference keynoted by a well-known apologist praising (very respectfully) large families. Sitting with me were my wife (having recently had a miscarriage), another woman who had a miscarriage and a third who has one child with subsequent difficulty in conceiving again. While the speaker handled his blessed situation very well, nevertheless his words highlighted the need to address family size and related issues with great care.

Mark Brumley

Good points, Carl. Thanks for adding a perspective that sometimes gets overlooked.

The Crocker piece was unfortunate. It was smug and smart-alecky. Yes, I know it was meant to be funny. But just because you're trying to be funny doesn't mean you can say or do anything to get a laugh.

The piece comes across as if its author is making an all-out effort to impress the judges of the annual Gadfly Award. Being a gadfly is one thing; auditioning to be one is something else. Harry Crocker's latest effort was certainly no triumph.

Fr. Richard B. Tomkosky

Mark,
Thank you for pointing out the same thing about the cross of infertility that you and your wife are embracing, and which Crocker mocks maybe unintentionally in his wacko, for a lack of a better word, article on NFP in Crisis. See my letter to the editor in the replies to Crocker in the February issue. What has happened to Crisis magazine, it used to be one of the best Catholic publications. The devil's strategy of divide and conquer seems to be working well among orthodox Catholics in 2005.

al

I think Crocker has his problems, but on the primary end of marriage the Pope is clear: "The Church, as has been mentioned previously, teaches, and has always taught, that the primary end of marriage is procreatio, but that it has a secondary end, defined in Latin terminology as mutuum adiutorium. Apart from these a tertiary aim is mentioned -- remedium concupiscentiae. ... The ends of marriage, in the order mentioned, are incompatible with any subjectivist interpretation of the sexual urge, and therefore demand from man, as a person, objectivity in his thinking on sexual matters, and above all in his behavior. This objectivity is the foundation of conjugal morality. (Love and Responsibility, p. 66)

Ed Peters

Finally, a Crocker-sympathetic (my term) observation that takes the issues raised here seriously, and politely (you should see a couple of the spiteful replies I've gotten from Crocker fans). I've said from the beginning there was a real debate about this going on. "Al" calls attention to Bp. Wojtyla in 1960. Fair enough. I'm reading Pope John Paul II in 1983. The change is undeniable. What it means is another matter.

al

Its interesting to note, that many (including prominent blogsphere posters) point to Love and Responsibility as the Locus Classicus for the "co-equal" ends of marriage, claiming the alleged development is in the book itself.

Caroline Eccleston

I read the Crocker piece with real dismay and responded to its implicit message to poor or middle class Catholic couples which I believe is: Make babies and don't consider the cost.

After some thought, I realize that the ugliest aspect of his "funny article" is his depiction of marriage and of Catholic wives. If his wife is a beer-fetching, mute receptacle of his virility, than God help her. I hope she is a saint.

What self-respecting Catholic woman would desire marriage and family on Crocker's terms? Perhaps God will bring good out of evil and inspire droves of young, unmarried Catholic women to take the veil.


Sincerely,


Caroline M. Eccleston

Mark Brumley

A contribution to further the discussion of the question of the "primary end" of marriage and the "good of spouses" can be found in William E. May's article, THE “GOOD OF THE SPOUSES” AND MARRIAGE AS
A VOCATION TO HOLINESS. It can be found at http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/marriage-2.htm.

www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/marriage-2.htm


al

Or, again, one might look elsewhere in JPII's writings for clarification "This love "is not exhausted in the communion between husband and wife but it is destined to continue raising up new lives" (H.v. 9); it is therefore fruitful love. This loving communion of a married couple, through which they constitute, according to the words of Genesis 2, 24, "a single body" is a kind of condition of fecundity, a condition of procreation. This communion being a particular type—since it is corporeal it is in the strict sense "sexual"—of realization of the conjugal communion between beings, must be brought about at the level of the person and must befit his dignity. It is on this basis that one must form an exact judgment of responsible parenthood."
http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/WOJTLAHV.HTM

Sandra Miesel

Sometimes physical parenthood just isn't going to be in the picture. Indeed, it will become a moot point for all couples after menopause (that section of a marriage theologians and other givers of marital guidance never talk about). So what else is going on in marriage besides reproduction? Oh, might that be love between the spouses?
NPF is entirely a moot point for me but I was outraged at Crocker for belittling it. All that effort to persuade people that the system is licit and effective and here's Mr. Smartmouth tearing it down. "It was meant to be funny" seems to be Crocker's standard defense whether he's mocking other Catholics' efforts to space their children or giddily celebrating the Sack of Constantinople. Do we really want this man "defending" the Church?

JohnH

After having read the article, and especially all of the letters to the editor and he's reply, I see that he was _trying_ to be funny, but failed DREADFULLY. I don't know what he was thinking, but maybe if he had passed it around to a few people who had/have fertility issues, then maybe he would have been able to hit the funny bone...

Nancy Brown

I had real problems with Crocker's article. It goes beyond the situation of infertility, although I respect that, Carl, and I hear you and the argument you make.

Although producing children is a blessing and a good, not every couple, even if fertile, is called to bear children unreservedly. It is easier to talk about infertility than about other problems. Mental illness. Fears and anxieties that are not easily overcome. Financial difficulties, whether anyone else thinks it is so or not, if the couple perceives it is so, it is for them. Relational problems. One wants more the other doesn't. (A priest once told me, if two people want another child, you have another child. If one person says no, the answer is no, at least for that month.)

Infertility is a real issue and I'm not belittling it. I just think there is much more, and so much is unspoken. For years I've taken my teeny tiny family (two) to traditional Catholic events and groups, feeling like I was somehow inadequate, wasn't keeping up my end of the Catholic bargain, that people would assume we were using contraception, or whatever. I wished we had a bigger family, but we don't. It isn't because of infertility, it is because it must be God's plan that we have two. It wasn't my plan for our marriage, but things happened, and since God allows us to participate in creation, we can also have a say when it would be a detriment to our family (at least in our eyes and due to private circumstances that no one may ever know on this earth) to have more, or at least that is as it is at this point in our lives.

And for that reason, I was angry with Crocker. He seemed to deny couple's real part in the procreation process. In a way, his way of thinking is more in line with contraception than with NFP. If you use your wife as a baby-making machine, you are still using. That's not right.

Paul

While I agree that Crocker stepped over the line of acceptable humor, I think there is one point that must be made. It can be a sin to use NFP for personal reasons if those reasons are rooted in selfishness. I can't remember the last time I heard anyone inside the NFP promotion circle clearly state what I have just said. All I hear is the 99% effectiveness, which is truly great for those that have just reasons to avoid pregnancy, but for everone else the 99% effectiveness doesn't matter. I have met many confused Catholics that really think that NFP is a natural way to avoid ever being troubled by children. And that seems like an error that should be avoided as well.

Louise A Mitchell

I agree with Paul. NFP can be used as a contraceptive if it is used by a couple to avoid pregnancy for no serious reason (financial hardship comes to mind as a serious reason). Both intention and act must be good.

In addition, the effectiveness percentages go both ways, 99% effective in avoiding pregnancy, but also it's 90% effective (I think; I don't have the exact figures in front of me right now) in achieving pregnancy within 6 months when that is the goal. NFP can be a great boon to those who want to get pregnant and have not been able to do so. barring serious infertility problems which lessen 100% effectiveness.

Tom McDonald

Paul states that "I have met many confused Catholics that really think that NFP is a natural way to avoid ever being troubled by children."
My wife and I are certified NFP teachers, and have taught approximately 160 couples over the past seven years. I have NEVER ONCE encountered a couple that had this impression of NFP.

al

One might also look to JPII's more recent statements on the matter, take Familiaris Consortio, for example: "Children, the Precious Gift of Marriage

14. According to the plan of God, marriage is the foundation of the wider community of the family, since the very institution of marriage and conjugal love are ordained to the procreation and education of children, in whom they find their crowning.(34)

Jared L. Olar

I found out about this Crocker kerfuffle at Jimmy Akin's weblog today. Here's what I wrote in Jimmy's comment box after reading Crocker's attempt at humor:

"Wow. For a guy who claims that marriage and having a large family is a blessing, this Crocker fellow sure does seem to hate being married and to hate having kids. I didn't detect much respect or love for his wife or kids in his 'humor piece,' if that's what it was.

"It makes me glad I let my subscription to Crisis expire. Really, Crisis is already suffering after the Deal Hudson scandal -- with this Crocker essay, it seems like their staff has lost the will to go on, but have conceived a death wish for their mag . . .

"And just for everyone's information, my wife and I have used NFP both to temporarily delay having a child and to facilitate conception. In our experience, it has worked exactly as advertised. But then, contrary to what a lot of self-righteous folks say about Catholics who use NFP, we do not regard it or treat it as contraception."

We're expecting our fourth child in two weeks. We pray God will allow us to have several more.

Jared L. Olar

I found out about this Crocker kerfuffle at Jimmy Akin's weblog today. Here's what I wrote in Jimmy's comment box after reading Crocker's attempt at humor:

"Wow. For a guy who claims that marriage and having a large family is a blessing, this Crocker fellow sure does seem to hate being married and to hate having kids. I didn't detect much respect or love for his wife or kids in his 'humor piece,' if that's what it was.

"It makes me glad I let my subscription to Crisis expire. Really, Crisis is already suffering after the Deal Hudson scandal -- with this Crocker essay, it seems like their staff has lost the will to go on, but have conceived a death wish for their mag . . .

"And just for everyone's information, my wife and I have used NFP both to temporarily delay having a child and to facilitate conception. In our experience, it has worked exactly as advertised. But then, contrary to what a lot of self-righteous folks say about Catholics who use NFP, we do not regard it or treat it as contraception."

We're expecting our fourth child in two weeks. We pray God will allow us to have several more.

Bret

I took Crocker's article in the spirit in which it was penned: tongue-in-cheek. I thought it was right humorous. Seems to me there's more than a little hypersensitivity over this issue.

Carl Olson

Bret: The fact that there has been such an uproar among good Catholics about the article suggests that the "tongue-in-cheek" quality was probably not conveyed very well. It also begs the question: why write in such a style about something that demands sensitivity, nuance, and care? What, exactly, has been accomplished for the good? Although CRISIS is known for being edgy at times, the flippant nature of Crocker's article went contrary to the usual sobriety found in the magazine. I'm certainly not against humor and even sarcasm, as my articles often indicate. But there are some topics that must be handled with extreme charity and care, and I think it's a no-brainer that marriage, sex, and children are among those topics.

Chris

I sympathize with all who have trouble conceive, and I know many couples in that situation whom I pray for frequently. Similarly, I applaud their use of NFP to heighten their chances of conceiving.

That said, I do not see why Crocker's comments should offend them. He is clearly referring to people who are unwilling to have children, not unable. Those who are unable to have children can still be fruitful, which is really what is at the heart of a Christian marriage. Ideally that fruit is a tangible co-creation, but sometimes that doesnt happen. The Church doesnt condemn couples in thsoe situations, and it is an unfair stretch to say Crocker does.

At any rate, Crocker is over-the-top (as he is in Triumph), and I understand why his comments might offend some, especially those who do have a grave reason to avoid pregnancy. Still, there is real room for criticism of the way in which NFP is pushed to all couples preparing for marriage. From some marriage prep courses, you would never get the idea that its possible to live God's plan for marriage without it, and there is something wrong about that to the point of being evil.

I persinally found the piece funny, if not entirely accurate in all of his criticisms. Some of them, however, ring true, especially when you've met enough people who view NFP practically as a religion unto itself.

NFP is a consequence of the fall: as such, we should be happy and grateful that God gave couples with a grave reason to delay pregnancy the means to do so, but we should be sad that we need it in the first place, and we certainly shouldn't denigrate couples who cast their fertility entirely into God's hands and don't bring a chart a thermometer and a couple of reference books to bed every night when there's no serious reason to do so.

I say all this acknowledging the fact that my wife and I have had grave reasons to delay pregnancy and have done so. I know it happens, and it's good that the science of NFP was developed to help couples still be able to express their love for each physically when they should not conceive. That said, some of the rhetoric and some of the proselytizing that I've endured by NFP promoters suggests that this great gift is being abused.

Carl Olson

I should perhaps emphasize that my comments in the original post were not meant to indicate that infertility is THE issue. Rather, I was commenting on some of Crocker's comments in light of the struggle with infertility that some have. I think that Dr. Peter's analysis of Crocker's piece highlights the main problems very well. Also, I'm curious about the claim, either explicit or implicit, that NFP is commonly used as a form of birth control by many Catholics. Granted, if people are doing that, I doubt they would openly admit it. But I've found that people who use NFP are very open about how it has helped them get pregnant and have more children. Classes on NFP warn against using it with sinful intentions. Can some people become rather obsessive or annoying about it? Sure. And people can become rather obsessive and annoying about other good things as well. In the end, I cannot see how Crocker's irritation with such people warrants a major article in CRISIS magazine.

David Deavel

I'm afraid I don't find Crocker's article either completely successful or nearly so dire as so many people have found it. One of the main points in the article that no one has touched is all the gooey-gooey weird language around NFP. Crocker is attacking all the sentiment about NFP leading to great marital communication. I'm sure that it has helped some couples communicate but it is often sold as "the NECESSARY THING for communication." I find that offensive. And to be quite honest, when people in some orthodox Catholic circles ask if my wife and I use NFP and I say no, I get the same sorts of strange glances that a family of two children in these circles gets. We must not communicate, my wife and me. Our "conjugal act" (or, my favorite, "marital embrace") must be defective and we must not be seeking each other's salvation. We're not part of the NFP "lifestyle." I use this phrase because one of my friends in the Couple to Couple League comments that there is a division there between those who see NFP as a method that is licit to use and NFP as a "lifestyle," bordering on the cultish (in the pejorative sense).

Elizabeth Anscombe remarked in her famous article about contraception (in Janet Smith's collection on Humanae Vitae) that the Catholic Church has refused to either demonize or divinize sexual relations, but considers them good human things. Much of the language in the NFP/Theology of the Body literature that is passed around borders on the divinization side (as I recall Christopher West's early presentations were faulted for this). Equally, the large family is a subject for plenty of sentimentality as well. (And I am not against large families. God willing, I'll have one some day--for now we have two children.)

I take it that the above is why Crocker included all the (granted, not completely successful) silly chauvinist talk--to mock the gooey spiritual/orgasmic talk that emanates from some of the NFP crowd. This is also why in the response to the letters he commented that Christianity was known for rejecting cults around sex.

So, was the article completely successful, no. But it's a response to the fact that certain balloons needed pricking, even if it was not clear to all which ones he was aiming at.

Mark Brumley

There are loads of problems with the Crocker piece. But one fundamental problem is that it fits a pattern of "over-the-top" remarks that have at their core some basic validity that gets lost in what to many people comes across as his snide, sarcastic, exaggerated mode of delivery. He's trying to be funny, but you can't say just anything you want in order to be funny or to make a point. The sterotype of the domineering husband he evokes to deliver his humor is all-too-familiar to many people and all-too-readily associated in many people's minds with traditional religion.

Are there problems with the way some people present and practice NFP? To be sure. Is it fair to use humor to point out the excesses to which some people go? Absolutely. But Crocker's delivery is artless. He fails to make clear to us how much of what he says is intended to be tongue-in-check and how much he really believes what he says and how he says it.

Chris

Bingo David. My wife doesn't frequent comment boxes, but she posted on our blog today about the communication aspect and a few other problems she has with certain areas of the NFP culture.

John

I think Chris and David are on the right track. I did not take Crocker's article to be offensive and had no difficulty distinguishing what was meant to be tongue-in-cheek humor. NFP is certainly a great gift both in terms of helping couples conceive and for serious reasons delaying having a/another child at particular times. The scientists who developed it and those who teach the method are certainly to be commended. In some cases they have done absolutely heroic work (I think particularly of Dr. Hilgers in Omaha)for which we can be very grateful. However there are times when NFP is presented in a way which doesn't convey what wonderful gifts children are. While there are good reasons for avoiding pregnancy (and these certainly can vary based on a couple's circumstances) I believe its important to emphasize that these really do need to be good reasons. Short of those reasons it is well and good to hope for a large family. And this is one of Crocker's points. In making that point I don't believe that he denegrates those who have borne the cross of infertility or experienced the wrenching sorrow of miscarriage. Further, NFP is a tool (and again one for which we can be thankful). That doesn't mean that there aren't aspects of using this tool that are awkward, cumbersome and regimented, and therefore to some extent less than pleasant. And humor regarding these aspects is legitimate and may lighten the load of practicing NFP a bit. Somewhat like, to use a certainly very inadequate analogy, joking about going to the dentist can make that more tolerable. So even if a couple is using NFP to hopefully conceive a child, or if cicumstances dictate avoid pregnancy, they might see some humor in some of the hoops that need to be jumped through with NFP. And Crocker casts a humorous look at the techniques of NFP. I will pray tonight in thanksgiving for those graced with large families and that the cross may be lifted from those that suffer from infertility and miscarriage.

Seamole

Nancy,

Financial difficulties, whether anyone else thinks it is so or not, if the couple perceives it is so, it is for them.

There is such a thing as objective reality. People outside the family are not privy to a couple's financial status, but the couple's perception does not alter reality for them or for anyone else.

One wants more the other doesn't. (A priest once told me, if two people want another child, you have another child. If one person says no, the answer is no, at least for that month.)

Perhaps, but the concept of the marriage debt has not been abrogated by NFP. The debt must be paid by a spouse, except on holy days, unless that would be "inconsistent with the welfare of his person" (Summa III Supp. 64.1).

Miguel Andres

The point has already been truly made that it is a sin to use NFP with a contraceptive mentality. I grew up in a fervently Catholic household with 10 children. When I recently told my sister that the Church taught that NFP was only permissible for serious reasons to avoid pregnancy, she stated that she had never heard that in her life. This is, of course, a common misconception with NFP in Catholic circles.

Also, there is a bit of thin-skinnedness with infertile folks being offended by speakers who praise large families. Large families are a blessing, and my wife and I wanted a large family, but God decided otherwise. We accept the family God gave us, and we are also adopting. If a person has a problem with a speaker saying the truth, then I suspect the problem is with the listener, not the speaker.

Carl Olson

"If a person has a problem with a speaker saying the truth, then I suspect the problem is with the listener, not the speaker." Sigh. Shall I apologize for being thin-skinned, or not being able to handle the truth? LOL. A difficult choice, but a meaningless one. This is truly ridiculous. Whatever "truth" was being articulated by Mr. Crocker, there are many, many good people—some of them fertile! many with lots of children! several with degrees in theology and canon law!—who have problems with what he said and how he said. I directly addressed some of his points. It would be nice if my points were the focus of analysis, not my supposed thin skin.

Carl Olson

One more: "Also, there is a bit of thin-skinnedness with infertile folks being offended by speakers who praise large families." In which case I would be offended by JPII, the Bible, and, oh, myself. I think large families are great. I'd like to have a large family. I have friends who have large families. Miguel, you are missing the point: praising is not the same as bragging. And praising large families is not the same as strongly implying that those who don't have large families are inferior or possibly have something wrong with their character.

Finally, it's interesting that critics of NFP focus on those who might use it to not have children, while the vast majority of those who use NFP does so in order to have children--and to have them quickly. Feel free to criticize those who misuse NFP. I would, however, suggest avoiding being thin skinned in doing so.

Mark Brumley

Perhaps all or most of us can agree that:

1. NFP can be used properly and it can be abused.
2. Abuse of NFP includes using it to avoid pregnancy without a serious reason.
3. Proper use of NFP includes use to avoid pregnancy (with a serious reason for doing so) and trying to achieve pregnancy.
4. Sometimes enthusiasts for a subject go overboard and can do things that are comical to others (and if they have a sense of humor, to themselves).
5. There are NFP enthusiasts who fit into the aforementioned category, although not all NFP enthusiasts do.
6. All other things being equal, large families are good things to have.
7. Those who have large families should have due sensitivity to childless or infertile couples.
8. While there are objective aspects of what constitutes a serious reason to avoid pregnancy, people of good will and well-formed conscience can disagree about how to assess those objective aspects in the concrete situations of their lives, temperaments, and characters.
9. Married people, especially Catholics, should be disposed generously and thankfully to accept children.
10. In this area, as in all areas of life, Catholics should trust and rely on God, as well as exercise prudence.

Joe

I wager the Crocker piece was a satire and not meant to be taken as literally as Carl Olson apparently so did. He demonstrated a similar shrill sensitivity in his responses to critics of his "Left Behind" piece for 'First Things' a while back. He's an engaging writer, but I wish he and others would lighten up.

Ironically, no one at Ignatius seemed to have any qualms promoting Crocker's "Triumph," which employed an equally acerbic and lopsided wit when discussing Protestantism's birth.

Carl Olson

For the record, my "shrill sensitivity" re: critics of my November 2002 First Things article, "No End In Sight," can be read online here. Judge for yourself. I think you'll find that such a description is not only unwarranted, it is laughable—that is, if you are able to "lighten up" enough to engage in laughter.

Mark Brumley

Joe writes: "Ironically, no one at Ignatius seemed to have any qualms promoting Crocker's 'Triumph,' which employed an equally acerbic and lopsided wit when discussing Protestantism's birth."

How Joe infers this is beyond me. Just because Ignatius Press decides to carry a book by an outside publisher doesn't mean "no one" has "any qualms" about said book. It is possible that someone had qualms but that the book was still chosen to be included because either that someone was overruled or outnumbered in the decision making process or the book was determined to be, on balance, worth including, notwithstanding certain qualms people might have about it. The fact that another publisher's book is carried can't reasonably be interpreted as indicating that someone who sells the book agrees in all respects with it. And even if it could, it wouldn't follow that approving of acerbic and lopsided wit in Instance A necessitates approving of it in Instance B.

Now with respect to acerbic and lopsided wit applied to the Protestant Reformation, I'm not especially enthusiastic about the approach to certain things in Crocker's book, for a variety of reasons. However, the Protestant Reformation was, in my view, basically a bad thing--the dividing of Christendom and all that. NFP is basically a good thing. There is a difference between an acerbic and lopsided wit, if that is in fact what we're talking about here, being exercised on a basically bad thing (the Protestant Reformation) and the same wit being exercised on a good thing (NFP).

Joe


Mark--

Fair enough comments.

I should repent my *own* slightly acerbic tact. I guess my reaction was based on the fact that the *extent* of reaction I read here seems overblown. Crocker is known as an inflamatory essayist; people also know that stumping for NFP with false hyperbole, as many well-meaning folks do--is not a good thing. Hence his essay, which I do not think was intended as a slam on those with no or few kids. If his over-the-top style causes us to reflect on being more sensitive to neighbors, great. But in the meantime, I don't think calling him--or Crisis irresponsible--is itself responsible or right.

As for there being a difference when rhetoric is aimed at a basically bad thing, I am torn: we shouldn't subject our opponents to treatment or language we ourselves would not appreciate (I've been guilty there as well). Treat others as you'd like to be treated. Painting Luther in the worst possible light is no different than taking glee in papal misdoings: both disrespect later followers when done in mean-spirited way.

So, apologies where necessary. I love Ignatius Press. And I like Olson's stuff. In this case, I also thought Crocker's effort well-realized, and the ensuing hubub here a case in taking ourselves WAY to seriously. But for any hurt feelings regardless of the source, I am certainly sorry.

Regards,

Joe

Mark Brumley

No hurt feelings, at least on my end. Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

Joe

Crocker's explanation can be found here:

http://www.crisismagazine.com/february2005/letters.htm

Joe

Crocker's explanation can be found here:

http://www.crisismagazine.com/february2005/letters.htm

Mark Brumley

Unfortunately, Crocker's "explanation" or reply to his critics doesn't make things any better. More exaggeration and straw men. A classic example of trying to defend over-the-top statements with more over-the-top statements. Or the smart-aleckeyness of an essay defended by smart-alecky comments.

Hah, hah, hah.

We're laughing neither with him nor at him. Or if we are laughing at him, it's not for what he wants us to laugh at.

There have to be better things to mock or poke fun at. If not, then at least there must be better ways of laughing about the funny side of NFP than the Crocker piece and his ersatz witty retort to critics.

Cheeky Lawyer

I really think people are getting their panties in a bunch unneccessarily about this Crocker piece. I think Ed Peters is right about the true meaning and ends of marriage. I think Carl is right about the sensitivity and understanding that must be demonstrated to those who have trouble conceiving. I think providentialists who think that Catholics are called to pop children out without regard to the real prudential considerations that go into all action misread Church teaching. That being said, I found Crocker's piece hilarious as a tongue-in-cheek roasting of NFP. My wife and I are NFP "failures" if you will. We intended to space and our first child came two days shy of our nine month anniversary. It was a reminder that we are not in control and that like Carl says, it takes no skill to get pregnant. Conception and infertility are great mysteries that we really have little control over. But Crocker's piece (which certainly had elements that might have pushed the bounds of taste a little far) was a funny little ditty. I think we make it into something more than it is by taking it as a serious reflection on NFP.

Mark Brumley

Perhaps it was a "little ditty", but it wasn't funny. In the humor department, it fell flat.

John Bauer

Crocker is ultimately conservative and bias toward his own beliefs in such a way that he is blind to all opinions that he does not agree with. How can we respect a man who condemns others for not acting as he thinks they should or for living their lives as he sees fit? Afterall, Crocker, a converted Protestant, condemned Martin Luther as barbaric and the son of a demon worshipper in his incredibly biased, and in many cases misleading Triumphs. Crocker praises Constantine's assassinations of political enemies by writing "Most saints dont order the extra-judicial execution of rivals, but...sometimes Christianity needs hard men, and it benifited greatly from Constantine." As knowledgable Christians, do you think that Christ would have acted such? It is my personal belief that the Church's union with the Roman state by Constantine ultimately led to the political corruptness and religious depravity of the middle ages. Read some unbiased pieces on things that Crocker has written, then read Crocker's pieces. There is no need to respect a man's opinion if he does not respect other people's opinions, ergo, one should disregard Crocker's works as wasted talent and potential of a man who can't see past his own nose.

Bud Abzug

Here was Fr. Wolfe's refreshing take on the issue


http://www.audiosancto.org/auweb/20040718-Holy-Matrimony-and-NFP.mp3

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