“Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them.” Those words are usually attributed to George Orwell. I’m not sure he ever actually said them. But in an age when gender is supposed to be fluid and the meaning of “male” and “female” has become ambiguous, they do ring true. So let’s be clear about our purpose today.
“Into the Breach” is a men’s conference in the most thoroughly binary sense. We’re here to recover what it means to be men, and especially how to live as Christian men of substance and virtue. So we’ll try to do that together. The theme for my remarks is “memory, sex, and the making of ‘the new man’.” I’ll deal with each of those topics in turn because they connect to each other in some important ways. But I want to start with memory for a reason.
Memory: Cornerstone of Our Identity
Romans have been living with the Catholic Church and her leaders for 2,000 years. So the city is a mix of deep piety, deep skepticism and a very unique sense of humor. The evidence is everywhere, because Rome has a lot of religious goods stores. And in one of the finest of those stores, right next to a beautiful collection of rosaries, is a stand of greeting cards with the face of a befuddled, 90-year-old cardinal. The caption reads: “Yes, I have Alzheimer’s … but at least I don’t have Alzheimer’s.”
The ironies of old age can be a rich vein of comedy, and our culture has dozens of Alzheimer’s jokes. And some of them are very funny. But of course, the reality of Alzheimer’s isn’t funny at all. A number of my friends have children with Down syndrome. One of the things they live with every day is the fact that 75 percent of persons with Down syndrome will sooner or later develop Alzheimer’s disease. So the child they nourish and love today, and tomorrow, and forever, may one day forget who they are.
Read more at Crisis Magazine.