Letters to the Bishop

The Peter Principle

All across America this Valentine’s Day platoons of men will stand at the counters of flower shops and grocery stores, clutching cards, chocolates, and roses to their chests, tokens of affection for their wives and lady friends (and sometimes, no doubt, for both).  Their dilatory homage to the patron saint of love always brings a smile to my face, for before my wife died I numbered myself among them, a comrade who several times remembered late in the day that his beloved ranked this feast of hearts behind only her birthday and our wedding anniversary.

February also brings Mardi Gras, or Carnival, that pre-Lenten festival whose etymology stems from the Latin carne, meaning meat or flesh.  We in the West, and particularly in these United States, have made a fetish of this holiday, obsessed as we are with carnal desires and deeds.  We celebrate Carnival not only on Fat Tuesday, nor for a week or so previous, but year-round.  Christian reverence for the Incarnation pales at the obeisance paid by postmoderns to Eros and the senses.  On the altars of their imaginations, in movies and television, and on 10,000 pornographic websites, these carniphiliacs worship lips, tongues, breasts, buttocks, legs, and genitalia.  In mimicry of Saint Paul, they say, “So flesh, lust, and sex abide, but the greatest of these is sex.”

Our 50-year-old sexual revolution has left us foundering.  Our...

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