Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mark Judge's A Tremor of Bliss...

I don't think I've ever done this before; i.e., walked cautiously around a book with a big swatter before I've even had a chance to read it. The book description which follows pretty much says it all, my comments / concerns are bracketed here and in the review below:

Up to the current day, matters of sexual morality—including contraception, abortion, premarital sex, and gay marriage [Oxymoron alert]—have polarized the Catholic Church [Well, yes, no... not the Catholics in the Church, only the, er, "dissenting" tares....What, is the Kingdom of God a democracy now?] In the wake of the turmoil of the 1960s, when liberal theologians challenged the Church’s traditional views on the subject, a schism has opened. Much of the world, and many Catholics themselves, believe that the views of each camp are clear and well defined. As Mark Judge reveals in this trenchant and illuminating defense of the teachings of his Church [Yes?], this is far from the case.

Without sensationalism, Judge is candid here about his personal journey from the playgrounds of the sexual revolution to his eventual belief in the need to combine sexuality with love and commitment to another person [Yo, another "person"? That sounds a tad abstract, even possibly androgynous? How about plain old husband or wife?], not as an end in itself but rather as a particularly direct means of opening oneself up to God’s love [Well, yes, but...] He also sees support for the Christian theology on love in a seemingly unlikely place: rock music [Hmmm... I prefer particular songs to sweeping genre endorsements in this case. This guy is beginning to concern me; I may have to get the book---SH] . He delves into the Church’s teachings on sexual matters, going back to the time of Saint Augustine [On Guard!], Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint John of the Cross [Attention, Christian soldiers!], and Pope John Paul II [Care....ful!] while also acquainting us with more contemporary voices from within the Church [you may sound the siren now, please]---—as well as from the pop charts. Get the book, if you wish...

Father John McCloskey elsewhere writes,

As Mark Judge chronicles in A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism and Rock 'n' Roll, his generation of late baby boomers reaped the whirlwind of the worst aspects of our ongoing societal decline. Yet all has not been darkness, even in the raucous and rebellious world of rock. With ample citations for song lyrics, Judge makes the case that many of the best rock artists were and are looking---generally in all the wrong places---for God [True enough in some cases...] It's an argument that often reminds one of Fulton Sheen, who once said that every man who knocks at the door of a house of prostitution is really looking for God

[Well... I think the blessed Archbishop was slightly naive on this one...unless Jeffrey Dahmer was also looking for God in his hobbies? It's a stretttttch... When I was a young bad boy in the land of Arcadia, I wanted God to back off thank you and leave me alone while my sins were blazing, you can be sure].

An insightful history of the rise of contraception in the last century provides the most valuable material in A Tremor of Bliss. Here we encounter the Sanger and Kinsey crowd, spreading their gospel of sterility with funding from major foundations and the government. Pope Paul VI's counterattack in Humane Vitae is encapsulated in the story of the rise and fall of former Catholic theologian Fr. Charles Curran. [Always truly interesting stuff...]

The hero of this book, however, is Pope John Paul II, whose Theology of the Body Judge perhaps too ecstatically [Yes?] identifies as the theological rationale [Yes?] for a plenary affirmation of legitimate sex ["legitimate..."], rock 'n' roll, and Catholicism [doth some unconscious hydra operate...] Judge contrasts Karol Wojtyla's patient development of the implications of his Theology of the Body ["Body"...must needs be attached to soul, always] with the demonic plotting of the votaries of the culture of death in the second half of the bloodiest century in history [Exactly, yes, sure].

A less than satisfying section toward the end of the book trashes the writings and opinions of nominally Catholic political pundits E.J. Dionne and Andrew Sullivan [can't be all bad then?]; this seems all the more unnecessary in view of the fact that Judge apparently countenances the legalization of homosexual marriage [whoah, screeching...skidding.... breaks don't work! The poor man crashes completely, falling headlong over the precipice into the Unnaturale... but then again how else does one get a book published by Doubleday today? What's a bowl of porridge worth?---SH]. Nonetheless, A Tremor of Bliss is a book well worth reading from an author unafraid of showing some "attitude." [ Er, Ooookay Fadda....Source here]

MARK JUDGE is a journalist whose books include Damn Senators: My Grandfather and the Story of Washington’s Only World Series Championship and God and Man at Georgetown Prep: How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, First Things, and the Weekly Standard.

--->They've got to be kidding.... TV? It must be something in the Tiber water. Memo to cardinals and Press Office staff: no more wine, but for Mass. Update: Stop the Presses, false alarm...

--->Speaking of spiritual warfare in the Church...Two Priests: Choose Between Them...Rev. Fr. Michael Rodriguez takes on the herd of independent minds...(scroll to top) (see Label below on Anne Catherine Emmerich to follow posts regarding spiritual warfare in the Church]

--->No kidding. Attorney says many accusations of sexual abuse against priests are false claims spurred by Church's 'deep pockets'; victims’ advocacy group calls his claims “outrageous and hurtful"...Read on; There should be presumption of innocence until proved (then let damages and penalties be meted out justly), not presumption of credibility for money grubber accusers.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD"---Zach 4:6.


  1. Every time we could opt to understand "Ecce homo" at last, we STILL yell, "Give us Barabbas!" Am I the only one who thinks Barabbas was probably the equivalent of a Howard Stern? "Give us Howard!"? Gah.

    Onward, (truer than Barabbas Judge) Catholic writers! You have a friend in Jesuits (Ignatius Press) and in the Association of Catholic Publishers.

    Mr. Hand, your review made me LOL. I'm indebted.

  2. The Discovery Channel program seems like something C.S. Lewis would have had Screwtape plotting.