Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited (2023) is a totally different book than the one PC Contributor Mary Eberstadt wrote entitled, yes, Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution (2012). In fact, they are literally and beautifully constructed “bookends” as she describes in our last post, with Adam and Eve #1 looking at the micro and Adam and Eve #2 looking at the macro.
And why not repeat the title? It’s a great one with one heck of a book cover: see that serpent crawling over the top?
Before proceeding I must issue a trigger warning: there are those here in the PC studios who have a fascination for Eve bordering pure obsession. We have also featured her in many posts (like this one), and all it takes is looking up the search term “Eve” on our blog to read all the others.
Why deny that Eve, “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20), isn’t something else? We argue it’s healthy and downright All-American. Moreover, placing Adam aside in the timeout chair (which is where he belongs after his lame and unintentionally hilarious answer about whose fault the apple was), I have come to the conclusion that Catholic women, descending directly from Eve, are really, really cool.
The reason for this is I’ve been searching for at least forty years for a tribe of women who actually like men, think they add value to the world, and want to bring out the best in them (even white men), and I finally found them. See the stack of books in the picture below with Adam and Eve #1 on the bottom and Adam and Eve #2 on the top.
A Fifth Wave of Feminism is Brewing
These are all Catholic women authors (Mary, Erika Bachiochi, Abigail Favale, Noelle Mering, and Ashley McGuire) who understand: Christian anthropology, imago Dei, the foundational nature of born-in-to sex (which is everyone) to human anthropology, the silliness of “the patriarchy” as a political slogan and marriage or legal dogma, and the centrality of family to civilization, happiness, and the Kingdom, virtually everywhere and for all time.
Particularly important to feminism is their agreement that Christianity extends to all areas of life for women and men, especially the work place where equality should and can exist. They recognize great strides have been made over the last century (indeed, the last 2,000 years) with more to come.
Yet, further gains must recognize sexual differences in duties, demands, and consequential rights. Furthermore, and most important in my view as a man, they recognize what good Christian men have always known: work is not the most important thing in life; God, family, and friends are. To maximize one’s career, one must have a fulfilling and stable family life at home.
This does not mean having family and children is the only pathway for men and women. No, not at all. See the Disciples and the Roman Catholic Church itself. There are many true, good, and beautiful ways to serve the Trinity, if a Christian (or if holding another worldview). Family life is not for everyone. However, for dozens of reasons, the monogamous family is clearly the best pathway for most of us. Social science has proven this many times over, and it’s starting to beat a dead horse.
While each of these Catholic women are not all totally aligned with each other, me, or my wife (just to pick a tight group), these ladies get it! And for that I start this book review with a most hearty: “Thank you so very much.” (Disclosure: Three of these five authors are already PC Contributors – other than Mary, Ashley most recently and Erika Bachiochi to be presented in April.)
I was drawn to Mary Eberstadt’s writing ten years ago because of the way she described the importance to women and men of child birth, little children, and family to finding God. Since then, she has become sort of Praxis Circle’s worldview Boy and Girl Scout “den mother.” It has nothing to do with “progressive” vs. “conservative” or “left” vs, “right,” just truth vs. error and moral vs. immoral. It’s no more than common sense and self-evident wisdom.
All of these women are “feminists” and are part of a movement, intentional or not, based on truth, diversity, equality, freedom, and justice, that I hope will reclaim the Second Feminist Wave that sought equality in the workplace for its own. They’re doing the hard work of pulling America out of its postmodernist, critical-theoried, and woke ditch, and getting us up and running again toward a good future emphasizing truth, love, forgiveness, freedom, equity, yes, inclusion, and charity.
These Fifth Wave Feminists very much need the help and support of us men, and that’s why we have emphasized fatherhood so much in past posts. (Here’s a PC series on the subject.)
Who is Mary Eberstadt?
Recently deceased Cardinal George Pell of Australia, one of the Roman Catholic Church’s leading intellectuals, wrote Mary’s “Forward” to Adam and Eve #2, and, after listing some of the Catholic Church’s theological giants of the 20th Century who have not been replaced, he says the following:
We have George Weigel from the United States, Father Raymond de Souza from Canada, Ross Douthat at the New York Times, Rod Dreyer with his Benedict option, and perhaps most preceptive of them all, Mary Eberstadt. (page 10)
Having read almost all of her published work, nonfiction and fiction, and much work from others of a similar nature and subject matter, I can say that no one can put more insight and punch into 181 small pages, the length of Adam and Eve #2, than Mary Eberstadt. She is a thorough and astute consumer and translator of social science along the lines of a Charles Murray, Thomas Sowell, or Victor Davis Hanson, with her focus on family and religion.
Adam and Eve #2
What Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited does is assess the Sexual Revolution’s consequences for three critical areas – society, politics, and the Church – since the 1960’s. She picks the Pill’s introduction in 1963 as the Revolution’s start date, though sexuality began reexamination mid-way through the Industrial Revolution, accelerating after World War I.
Today we have fifty years of history over two to three generations to say social science grace over, and Mary brings it all together in an efficient and easily readable fashion. Many Boomers take great pride in the 1960’s – many of us risked much and endured much – but Mary’s assessment should leave any ordinary American with common sense and an open heart with great pause.
Mary begins Part I with a presentation of the five paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, tying Adam and Eve #1 to #2, then proceeds with evidence and discussion through Parts II – IV on the Revolution’s consequences, again, to society, politics, and the Church.
The well-reasoned conclusion: the Sexual Revolution has devastated America and the West, destroying families and communities, healthy relations between men and women, politics in the public square, and churches of all kinds everywhere.
We still have families, of course, but the vast majority in spots across America are “illegitimate;” everywhere they are much fewer, delayed, and smaller, creating tremendous anguish and aimlessness. The political world is utterly polarized, making compromise, the lifeblood of politics, impossible. All churches that moved from the Gospel of moral love and discipline to the “Church of Nice” are in shambles and likely in their last breath.
Chaos has broken out in our institutions and with younger generations due to an atomized world lacking sufficient agreement, if any, over individual or group purpose and meaning. Anguish is reflected in an explosion of our dreaded trifecta of divorce, pornography, and abortion relative to the years preceding the Sexual Revolution.
Adam and Eve #2 emphasizes this quote more than once: “The essential issue is no longer between Catholicism, on the one side, and Protestantism, on the other; but between Christianity and chaos.” (pages 11 and 173-74)
No surprise, Mary believes it’s time for reassessment and change, and it’s women like those authors whose books appear in the picture above who are leading the way back to verities known since ancient times. Society and culture are experiencing yet again the vast influences of unintended consequences from revolutions in technology and law, with the critical constant always being God, truth, and human nature.
We need to get back on the horse that got us here and still somehow keeps us in the road – God, spirituality, and CJC (Classical Judeo-Christian) worldview. (My unsolicited advice: Find a church and go to it. Then keep it up until you get somewhere good.)
Creation’s Relation to Pleasure
Before concluding, I do want to comment on an insight that Adam and Eve #2 offers that hadn’t quite struck home before with the same impact. In both direct and indirect ways, the book repeatedly assesses the relationship between reproduction or human creation involving sex (obviously, female and male) and the pleasure it brings. We all know this is what makes the world go round in a thousand different ways.
God’s great joy is in Creation and in us, and the same is true for parents. Most certainly, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with sexual pleasure in the right context. It’s a great gift to women and men.
But what the Sexual Revolution did was divide the two – reproduction and pleasure – into separate corners, like professional fighters at the end of a boxing round. (I cannot help but think of Mary’s grandfather here, Steve Hamas, who was actually a serious contender to be the heavy weight champion of the world! 🙂 )
No doubt, contraception, like cars, carbon and nuclear energy, the bomb, computers, cell phones, artificial intelligence, and even physics, will always be with us now that humankind has made the discovery, and it has brought much good. But it’s time to bring sex and pleasure back together in love and traditional marriage for the good of the West and humanity.
The standard for sexual pleasure has become mindless promiscuity. Furthermore, promiscuity is devolving into a right to seek, create, and protect pornography, even pedophilia; evil men have pursued this since ancient times. The Fifth Wave mentioned above is done with this. More real men need to join them.
Some years ago I ordered a copy of Pope Paul VI’s much-maligned encyclical Humane Vitae (1968) that reaffirmed married love, responsible parenthood, and rejected artificial contraception. It’s not that relevant to me now with three grown and married children and with six grandchildren. Well, maybe it’s time to read it slowly, anyway.
We have good, virtuous ideals in every area of life. Why not for the conditions surrounding marriage and sex? Human Vitae is a worthy ideal, virtue, or constant reminder about life, joys, dangers, prudence, hopes, commitments, and priorities on multifaceted levels. Most Catholic priests’ honor a vow of celibacy, a much higher standard than I and, I believe, most men can handle.
We are all flawed human beings, even priests. At least they pursue a behavioral path more limited than the standard they present to Catholic couples.
Every virtue is a desired character trait involving some form of limitation, discipline, or sacrifice achievable but as humans hard to sustain. No wonder only evangelical churches insisting on discipline thrive today.
In any case, Pope Paul VI was correct about the Pill’s and the Sexual Revolution’s consequences. I hope we can do better in the future. Sex should occur tempered by marriage and consent under the condition of genuine love and permanence.
Let it be known: there are feminists who love and appreciate men and ask them to be gentlemen, who want them to be better human beings. You can be one, too.
Furthermore, Adam was fortunate enough to find such a lady. Behold: they don’t give away apples, they are the apple.
Adam and Eve #2 explains how women can have equality, freedom, and justice, a loving and stable family, and a fulfilling career outside the home. All of this has been available since the Sexual Revolution.
To accomplish this again across America, however, we will need better behavior from everyone and more family-friendly, disciplined laws and churches that make our highest priority respecting life and keeping our families together, self-supporting, and focused on the common good.
I have not offered much criticism of Adam and Eve #2. Of course, there are many causes of the breakdown in America’s core social being since the dreaded, exciting, and certainly necessary 1960’s, and Mary primarily focuses on family and religion. War and Peace it’s not, thank goodness.
While her explanation is not complete, she does cover the vast territory of the middle of the bell curve’s explanation as well as humanly possible, given the space allotted. What the heck, as mentioned, the remarkable book is only 181 pages, costing just $18.68 in hardcover form delivered right to your doorstep.
Thank you, Mary, for doing the hard work for us in presenting 50 years of evidence so clearly with such kindness. And, yes, Mercy to all.
Here is National Review’s 3-20-23 book summary (by Michael Brendan Dougherty), not read until after our own “Book of the Month” publication above (3-17-23). It offers a wholesale endorsement and provides a detailed description of Adam and Eve #2’s general themes.
Dougherty explains why Mary’s book is not another screed about moral decline. Rather, it’s a compassionate rendering of how much sadness underlies the anger increasingly apparent across America and why distance grows between Boomers/Xer’s and Millennials/Gen Z’s. Anticipating such a terrific book review, I tried to add beginning (the Fifth Wave described above) and ending (Human Vitae) contextual comment.
What can we do now to improve the situation? Support your born-into family; make it and the one you create through marriage the center of your life. Do this now, sooner, stronger, bigger, unconditionally, morally, and forever. Dads, due your loving duty as a man. We can adopt or support other families.
Join a church, a movement (like the Fifth Wave), or a political party to support and incentivize monogamous marriage, the center of lives and all civilizations. We all know it takes villages . . . with the first being you and yours.