Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Home Front: Catholic Herald 23 June 2005

In one issue of The Independent this week, several pages were devoted to the looming “fertility time bomb” poised to hit the United Kingdom. In ten years one couple in three could be needing fertility treatment to enable them to have the family they believe themselves entitled to have.
The main causes of the collapse of women’s fertility are obesity, chlamydia (a sexually transmitted disease you do not know you have had, until it is too late) and pressures on women to delay having babies until later in life.
Now the wonderful thing about these three causes is that they can all be dealt with, and we all know in our hearts how to deal with them. Obesity is solved, mirabile dictu, by eating less and walking more. Chlamydia would drop if women just slept with fewer men before settling down with the man of their choice. The late-baby issue is a tougher one: but the French are offering tax breaks to younger women if they stop work to start a family, and apparently the policy is working.
All these solutions are staring us all in the face. Our bodies are clearly telling us that constant self-indulgence, whether with food, casual sex or the decision to choose a smarter car over getting pregnant, exacts a cruel price.
I had always understood that modern medicine favours treating causes, rather than merely the symptoms, of disease. Yet all the scientific community can think of is dishing out fertility treatment - which is treating the symptom, not the cause.
In the same edition of the newspaper another report described how brain scans have shown that women don’t fully enjoy sex unless they feel “protected and safe” with their partner. Isn’t that kind of situation another name for marriage?
The women and men who edit The Independent are dinosaurs. They live in a 1970s Peter Sellers farce where sex is only fun if freely available and adulterous. I assume this, because in the same edition of the same newspaper it had been decided to publish an article “explaining” why “alpha males” - a fine example, by the way, of the questionable pop-psychology habit of applying a zoology term to human society - feel compelled to commit adultery: it‘s because they are so successful, you see. Few males, from alpha to omega, reading this article would have missed the subtext: “if you are unfaithful, it proves you are successful”.
And despite all the evidence on pages 1, 2 and 17 showing that promiscuity is neither wise nor worthwhile, the very same paper carries a column by a pert young pundette called “Sleeping Around”.
They just don’t get it, do they?
My heart was in my mouth when the new, turbo-charged Dr Who series ended last Saturday, and not merely because it meant saying goodbye to the piercing, smouldering blue eyes and endearing sticky-out ears of the Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston.
No, what was worrying me was that I had urged Catholic Herald readers to watch the series, only to discover - too late - that the final episode would include, of all the un-Dr Who-ish things, a gay kiss.
As things turned out, the gay kiss was dispatched snappily and could have easily been mistaken for something merely a bit Mediterranean. But in the final denouement, the Doctor’s old enemies, the Daleks, suffered what the series’ writer in chief Russell T Davies clearly considers the ultimate degradation - in other words, they had got religion. And what a confused theological soup it was.
“Blasphemy! Blasphemy!” squealed the homicidal pepper-pots, before ordering the Doctor to worship their God, a 20 foot pepper-pot. This was bad. After a lot of very complicated plot and emotion, it turned out that not the pepper-pot, but the Tardis was God, or at least the source of a heavenly glow which made everything come right in the end. This, apparently, was OK.
I don’t mind Russell T Davies, who is a proud atheist, having a go at those who misuse religion or worship false gods - but I think I draw the line at being asked to worship a souped-up 1960s police telephone box. Let's applaud Davies heartily for putting the concept of family entertainment back on TV...but could someone please send him round some G. K. Chesterton?

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