Pathologizing the Sexual Revolution

Part of The Revealer’s series on the John Jay report,The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.”

by Peter Bebergal

The Sixties counterculture beleaguered most traditional religious communities. Not only was there an increase in behavior deemed inappropriate (drug use, promiscuous sex, and the generalized spread of anti-establishment ideas), there was what came to be seen as a distracting interest in non-Western, non-traditional spiritual philosophy and practices. Compounding this was the insistence by many young people that psychedelic drugs were a profound catalyst for helping them to break free of what they saw as dusty and dried out teachings spouted by clergy who had no understanding of the injustices of a country torn apart by war, racism, sexism, and homophobia.

It’s no surprise then that the recent report on the “causes and context” of sex abuse in the Catholic Church claims that one factor was the prevalence of counterculture values that peaked in the mid- to late-Sixties, characterized in the popular consciousness of hirsute young people taking drugs, having sex, and otherwise dropping out of society in pursuit of a naive belief in a cosmic utopia. This stereotype would ultimately reduce the Sixties counterculture, an extremely complex and diverse movement, to a kind of youthful pathology, or simply, deviance. As the report says: “The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society generally.” Continue Reading →

Whole Lotta Testosterone

by Mary Valle

I don’t think that men and women are the same. I think we have a lot in common, being humans. However, if you look around, you’ll agree that there’s a big difference between us and that difference is testosterone. Skyscapers. The space program, with its great missiles impregnating the silvery, virginal moon. Football. War. The Washington Monument, for Pete’s sake. Guns, archery, race-car driving. Fireworks. Abrahamaic religion, with its cold, lordly sky-gods and “pure” “untainted” virgins. Agriculture. Mono-anything. New cars, and that “new car smell.” Breaking seals on bottles of shampoo and ketchup. Beer caps popping off, and the foamy explosion running over the lip of the bottle. Synthetic pressurized whipped cream products, and anything having to do with them. Onward, into infinity. These are all the byproducts of testosterone, which can really change a person, since we all do start out female. Continue Reading →

Misinterpreting the Legacy of the 1960s

Part of The Revealer’s series on the John Jay report, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.

by Scott Korb

For a good part of the past four years, I met every other week with a former Ursuline nun – let’s call her “Josefa” – to talk about the life of the Church from the ’50s to early ’70s, precisely the period of time when the child sexual abuse crisis was at its worst. Josefa, approaching 80, was writing a memoir; I helped her along. Together, inch by inch and mile by mile, we paved the way for her entry, as a teenager, into the religious order known to be the first group of Catholic sisters to arrive in the new world. And together, week by week and year by year, we came to understand why exactly, at 40, she left. Continue Reading →