Elizabeth A

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 21, 2005

Thanks to Mark Shea for providing a link to this notorious essay by the late Elizabeth Anscombe, Catholic, wife, mother of seven children, and, incidentally, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. She's writing in defense of the Church's teaching on contraception. Two excerpts:

What people are for is, we believe, like guided missiles, to home in on God, God who is the one truth it is infinitely worth knowing, the possession of which you could never get tired of, like the water which if you have you can never thirst again, because your thirst is slaked forever and always. It's this potentiality, this incredible possibility, of the knowledge of God of such a kind as even to be sharing in his nature, which Christianity holds out to people; and because of this potentiality every life, right up to the last, must be treated as precious. Its potentialities in all things the world cares about may be slight; but there is always the possibility of what it's for. We can't ever know that the time of possibility of gaining eternal life is over, however old, wretched, "useless" someone has become.

Our chum Richard Rohr might say that her religion provided Miss Anscombe with "pleasing ego boundaries," but in reality it made her famously unpopular among her worldly academic colleagues and trendy clerics as well. She had a positive relish for defending the least popular of Catholic teachings.

The quarrel [between Christian & pagan] is far greater between Christianity and the present-day heathen, post Christian, morality that has sprung up as a result of contraception. In one word: Christianity taught that men ought to be as chaste as pagans thought honest women ought to be; the contraceptive morality teaches that women need to be as little chaste as pagans thought men need be.

Anscombe was impatient with sentimentalisms, and didn't suffer faddists gladly, and there's a truculence to her writing that some find off-putting. Those who bleed easily should look for gentler instructors, but others will come away with nourishment available from no other source.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 25, 2005 11:11 PM ET USA

    As my first mother-in-law, Elizabeth Anscombe enabled me to complete my long rite of passage into the academic world of which I am currently not a part. (I have asked her to intercede for my return to it.) She did that by providing it in concentrated if intermittent doses. And it was she who convinced me that Humanae Vitae was right. So it might be said that she saved my faith too. She was what Diogenes says, and much more. With her husband at her side, she died in 2000. R.I.P.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 23, 2005 10:02 AM ET USA

    When it comes to sexual matters, women historically and still generally today are superior to men. Just look at the gay community: the men have hundreds of partners, and lesbians seem drawn to more meaningful parts of the interaction. Both are depraved, but women still show a clearer shadow of God's intention. With hetero's, women prior to the sex. rev. kept men in line, while men are drawn to promiscuity. Prostitution has always been a male dominated perversion.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 22, 2005 10:58 AM ET USA

    Punch - you misinterpret my remarks; I have a very HIGH estimation of heterosexual males. I only mean that contraception enables all females to embrace the worst behavior of men. By giving "freedom" from the consequences of extramarital sex, contraception has enabled females to emulate males at their worst.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 22, 2005 10:16 AM ET USA

    FrJimC nails it. The tragedy of feminism is that women have been duped into thinking that to be equal to men they have to ACT like men! Not so! First of all, women ARE equal to men as far as our souls go. Temporally men and women are not equal but equivalent. That means the sum of our parts is equal although the parts themselves are different. I look to successful women like Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, and Condoleezza Rice and see they achieved success without acting man-like.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 21, 2005 6:38 PM ET USA

    You have a very low opinion of heterosexual males, FrJimC.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 21, 2005 6:13 PM ET USA

    I've often thought that the great tragedy of artificial contraception, and its bastard step-child abortion, is its nullification of the wonderful French phrase, "Vive la difference!" Instead of celebrating all that is wonderful about the female gender, contraception celebrates Professor Henry Higgins and asks, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" Just as labor unions force the reduced output of a good worker, so contraception reduces the value of women to that of a rutting male. So sad.