George Dunlap, August 29, 2019: I have followed Mary Eberstadt’s writings for several years. First starting with her book Adam and Eve after the Pill. She is a Catholic writer with great depth and passion. Her understanding of human nature and God have helped me understand our “Fallen Nature” and our need for Redemption. I trust if you take the time and patience you too will find Mary’s work a blessing.
Mary Eberstadt Wednesday, August 28, 2019
This week, Templeton Press is releasing my new book, Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics. Because the Faith and Reason Institute is my happy professional home, I’d like to set aside standard book promo, and instead share with TCT’s readers some of the backstory for this new volume.
Seen one way, the work leading up to this book began with a wisecrack. In the 1980s, right after graduating from college with majors in philosophy and government, I was hired as an assistant editor at The Public Interest magazine in New York. Its fabled editor was Irving Kristol, a formidable intellectual and wit with a first-rate, small-“c,” catholic mind. (He was also something of an imp – as his self-description of “neo-orthodox, non-observant Jew” might suggest.)
One day, as we were all sitting in the tiny smoke-filled office on East 53rd Street, Irving looked up from his newspaper and remarked, “One of the funniest things about the twentieth century is that if you were to read all of its documents and ask which one was the most prophetic about the world to come, it would be Humanae Vitae.”
The thought was unexpected and contrarian, as Irving’s bon mots usually were. The staff, myself included, duly laughed. But that heretical notion stuck. This was the first time I remember thinking that there might be something to the argument that the sexual revolution was upending the world – and that it wasn’t only the Catholic Church that could see it.
That small epiphany would go on to play a part in some of my work. My first book, Home-Alone America (2004), looked at the record of rising post-revolutionary damage in places that sociologists and others had been measuring for years – mainly, the ravaged home and its attendant problems, especially among children.
Adam and Eve after the Pill (2012) widened the lens to examine the revolution’s apparent effects on men, women, and the change in mores. Both books invoked evidence from across the cultural spectrum, including literature, popular culture, sociology, and first-hand reports from therapists and others on the front lines. These books also documented disturbing trends that would not become common knowledge until recently, such as rising rates of psychiatric trouble among the young.
The growing empirical record was greatly at odds with the dominant cultural insistence on the purported benefits of post-1960s liberation. How the West Really Lost God (2013) took the next logical step of examining the relationship between the new sexual order and the churches. Secularization, it concluded, has been widely misunderstood. It is not inevitable. History shows instead that religiosity waxes and wanes over time. It is as robust – or as weak – as the force through which it is largely transmitted: the family.
My new book, Primal Screams, is a capstone of sorts to these previous efforts. It examines the legacy of post-1960s change at one more macrocosmic level: politics. Primal Screams argues in part that the signature political movement of our time – identity politics – is rooted in the post-revolutionary erasure of self, brought on by the shrinkage and implosion of the family.Continue reading