One of the more infamous moments was an episode where Lena Dunham’s character Hannah hooks up with an attractive, older doctor played by Patrick Wilson for a weekend-long sex-spree. The Internet lost its collective shit over the idea that someone who looked like Lena Dunham could stand a chance of getting within such a thing is tantamount to sacrilege.Of course, everyone on the Internet took this in without even blinking, accepting that people are complex and varied in their desires and understanding that attraction is a complicated beast. To judge by the collective outrage over the episode, you would’ve thought that Dunham had murdered Ned Stark while dressed as Hitler and simultaneously shooting kittens out of a cannon that was also on fire.
Not everybody can speak learnedly about church architecture. Not everybody can speak learnedly about grace and free will. But everybody can learn to sing, everybody can learn to dance, everybody can watch a good movie, everybody likes a picnic, or a hike, or a trip to the beach, or a goofy time at the bowling alley, or a softball game, or an ice cream social, or coffee and tea and doughnuts. His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).
It’s been more than ten years since I first noticed something odd about the generally pleasant—and generally Catholic—students at the college where I teach. Let that serve as shorthand for the absence of all those rites of attraction and conversation, flirting and courting, that used to be passed along from one youthful generation to the next, just as childhood games were once passed along, but are so no longer. I am aware of the many attempts by responsible Catholic priests and laymen to win the souls of young people, to keep them in the Church, and indeed to make some of them into attractive ambassadors for the Church. Yes, we need those frank discussions about contraception.
We need theological lectures to counter the regnant nihilism of the schools and the mass media.
But we need something else too, something more human and more fundamental.
We need desperately to reintroduce young men and young women to the delightfulness of the opposite sex. In our swamp of miserable statistics, let me introduce another that is often overlooked. First, it is evidence of deep and widespread loneliness.
They need not rely upon the ministrations of a secular and soul-withering state.