Skip to comments.Battling Gomorrah
Posted on 04/13/2004 12:59:46 PM PDT by CatherineSiena
Judge Robert Bork, a conservative legal and judicial champion well-known to American readers, was received into the Catholic Church on July 21, 2003, at age 76. Most readers will remember Judge Bork because of his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. An outspoken conservative, Bork was attacked by liberal politicians for his opposition to unbridled "civil liberties"most notably his opposition to Roe v. Wadeand after acrimonious confirmation hearings he was voted down by the Senate. Judge Bork went on to become a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, where he researches constitutional law, antitrust law and cultural issues.
Bork's conversion did not come about suddenly. After the death of his first wife in 1980, Bork married Mary Ellen, who had taught religion for fifteen years as a nun of the Sacred Heart and remained actively Catholic even after her departure from that order. He credited her with introducing him to the Faith, but the journey would take many years. A defining momentfor both Bork and American societycame in 1996, when he published his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. The impact of this work cannot be overstated. Coming in the midst of Newt Gingrich's neoconservative "revolution," which was driven less by concern for cultural issues than by resentment with President Bill Clinton and burgeoning interest in classical liberal notions of economics and politics, Bork's book alerted both religious and secular conservatives to the dangerous slide toward decadence in western society.
Instigated by liberal elites who manipulatedand were manipulated bythe so-called "youth movement" of the 1960s, this cultural decadence has become evident in ways that are now all too familiar. Bork spells them out, describing the deterioration of art and music; the popularization of pornography; the collapse of the family and consequent social disintegration; the radicalization of academia, law, and politics; legislation for divorce on demand, abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia; racial politics; and the decline of religion under multiple assaults from feminism and political correctness. The revolution has been both deliberate and successful, and has transformed our society into something no one could have imagined fifty years earlier.
Yet Slouching Towards Gomorrah is not just a tale of gloom and doom. Deep as the moral rot has penetrated into the vitals of society, Bork sees a faint hope for an eventual curein religion. "We may be witnessing a religious revival, another awakening," he writes. Evangelical Protestants and orthodox Jews are gaining strength as never before, and struggling to hold the ramparts against the decadent tide. All of their efforts are destined for naught, however, unless they are joined by one institution, the most important of all: the Catholic Church. It is "a crucial question for the culture whether the Roman Church can be restored to its former strength and orthodoxy," Bork observes.
Because it is America's largest denomination, and the only one with strong central authority, the Catholic Church can be a major opponent of the nihilism of modern liberal culture. Pope John Paul II has been attempting to lead an intellectual and spiritual reinvigoration, but there is resistance within the Church. Modern liberal culture has made inroads with some of the hierarchy as well as the laity. It remains to be seen whether intellectual orthodoxy can stand firm against the currents of radical individualism and radical egalitarianism. For the moment, the outcome is in doubt.
Like many thinkers, Bork had pondered the problems of politics, economics, and society only to find himself one dayseemingly accidentallyin accord with the age-old teachings of the Catholic Church. Some who make this discovery flee into denial; others, more honest and intelligent, investigate the Faith further. And Bork is nothing if not honest. As he told Catholic journalist Tim Drake, after he wrote Slouching Towards Gomorrah he was approached by a priest who told him that his "views on matters seemed to be very close to those of the Catholic views, which was true." Another priest, Fr. C. John McCloskey who had aided the conversion of columnist Robert Novak and a U.S. Senator from Kansas, then engaged Bork in informal instruction, supplying him with books like The Belief of Catholics by Monsignor Ronald A. Knox.
Whether the Faith remained intact was another question. Implicit in his book, although he does not address it directly, is the disappearance of the Church's moral authority as it succumbed to internal disarray in the wake of Vatican II. The absence of an orthodox Catholic voice in society was of vital importance in allowing the cultural collapse of the 1960s. Bork nevertheless found that the fundamental elements of the Faith remained intact. "The Church is the Church that Christ established," he discovered, "and while it's always in trouble, despite its modern troubles it has stayed more orthodox than almost any church I know of. The mainline Protestant churches are having much more difficulty."
Thanks in part to Knox, Bork likewise found the theological arguments for belief compelling. "I found the evidence of the existence of God highly persuasive," he recalled, "as well as the arguments from design both at the macro level of the universe and the micro level of the cell. I found the evidence of design overwhelming, and also the number of witnesses to the Resurrection compelling. The Resurrection is established as a solid historical fact. Plus, there was the fact that the Church is the Church that Christ established, and while it's always in trouble, despite its modern troubles it has stayed more orthodox than almost any church I know of." Mary Ellen aided the process with her own prayers and persuasion. Bork was still religiously undecided in 1999; when he signed on to teach a course in the Moral Foundations of the Law at the conservative Catholic Ave Maria School of Law, founded in 1999 by Tom Monaghan (the actively pro-life founder of Domino's Pizza). But four years later, all the pieces had come together, and he entered the Catholic Church.
Bork's conversion of course has not weakened his commitment to the culture war, and particularly to its newest front: "gay marriage." His help is sorely needed. Many libertarians, Republicans, and self-described "conservatives" tremble at the notion that government should intervene to protect this fundamental social institution. "Enough already!" cries commentator Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online in response to the gay marriage debate, "many of us just don't want to hear about it anymore ... there are more important things in the world." Larry Elder, another conservative commentator, approvingly cites Vice President Dick Cheney's remark that "I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions and that's appropriate[;] I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area," and suggests that government should get out of the marriage business altogether and let people do as they pleaseincluding, presumably, if they have an inclination for polygamy or incest. "Our society will endure," Elder smugly reassures us. Even columnist Charles Krauthammer, a friend of Bork's who has taken a staunchly conservative line on many social issues, writes: "for me the sanctity of the Constitution trumps everything, even marriage. Moreover, I would be loath to see some future democratic consensus in favor of gay marriage blocked by such an amendment." For similar reasons, many Republican politicians are now working to kill the proposed Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Catholics are likewise divided, with the spiritual heirs of Vatican II's "renewal" conniving in support of the homosexual lobby, and the majority of even those who call themselves orthodox regarding the issue with boredom and apathy.
The willful blindness of such a view seems obvious; yet Bork is one of the few still willing to cry, "It's the culture, stupid!" At a recent meeting of the Catholic Lawyers Guild in Boston, Bork joined with Archbishop Sean O'Malley in urging Catholic jurists to fight the lemmings' march toward gay marriage. "If they don't," Bork quipped after the meeting, "I didn't speak very clearly." In his recent book, Coercing Virtue: the Worldwide Rule of Judges, he deals with the issue further by showing how legislation for gay marriage, civil unions and the like has come about as a result of the efforts of activist, leftist courts. "The cultural war," he says, "is an international phenomenon and the courts have the power of judicial review to strike down statues or accept them. They have taken one side in the culture war the side of the intellectual elite, or a term I like, the Olympians. They are those people who think they have a superior attitude in life and that those of us lower down the courts should be coerced into accepting their views."
Bork's embracement of the Catholic Faith provides ample cause for celebration, both for the sake of his soul and for those who have fallen victim to the unrelenting campaign against Christian values in modern society. Now more than ever, the Church is in need of leaders who can draw orthodox believers from of their bunkers and bring them outfiguratively and literallyinto the streets to do battle for the Faith. Let us hope that the conversion of this sage will not be the last.
Edward G. Lengel holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia, where he is an Associate Professor on the staff of the Papers of George Washington documentary editing project. He has written several articles for Catholic periodicals, and also is the author of three books, including an upcoming military biography of George Washington to be published by Random House.
Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. New York: Regan Books, 1996.
"Judge Bork Converts to the Catholic Faith," National Catholic Register, 20-26 July, 2003.
"Gay Marriage Debate: Enough Already," Jonah Goldberg, Tribune Media Services, 20 February 2004.
"The State Should Get Out of the Marriage Business," Larry Elder, Creators Syndicate, 26 February 2004.
"Debating Marriage," Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, 27 February 2004
"Bishop to Lawyers: Stop Gay Marriage" Boston Herald, 12 January 2004.
While I think the author is a bit off in his implications of which side of the culture war most bishops are on, I've always liked Bork and am happy he's converted.
There's a rumor circulating among those with Republican political ties that George W. Bush has taken strides towards conversion but confided to his brother Jeb (a Catholic) that he would not do so while in office due to the political implications. Probably just a story, but if not - it's hard to comprehend a genuine conversion put off on the advice of Karl Rove.
After the death of his first wife in 1980, Bork married Mary Ellen, who had taught religion for fifteen years as a nun of the Sacred Heart and remained actively Catholic even after her departure from that order.
I don't quite know what to think of this, however. Good for her for helping bring about conversion, but what is her (and his) attitude toward the consecrated life? Or towards taking solemn vows?
I've always wondered how someone could believe the wedding vows at a second marriage (or to an ex-priest or religious). Similar words were spoken and broken once, why not again?
Anyone hear anything about this?
That is what we call the triumph of hope over experience.
First I have heard of it.
But if the presidency is making him hold off then he should not run again, then he wouldn't have to wait another 4 and a half years.
Who's "we". ;)
Hope is one thing. Failure to learn from the past is quite another, especially when you're putting yourself in a position to suffer the fallout - as a spouse certainly does.
I may hope that the past experiences of a pervert priest may be in his past, but I would certainly exercise poor judgment if I were to, based upon that hope, let him babysit my children.
Since there are a large number of new users on this website, they should be made aware that you believe that George W. Bush had a hand in 9/11, and you stated such on the 9/11 threads while the WTC towers were burning, yet still standing.
It should be made perfectly clear that you despise the entire Bush family, and think they are disingenuous in their opposition to abortion.
You also got kicked off this forum three days after the start of the Iraq War last year for asserting that the US soldiers did not deserve the benefit of the Geneva Convention, since you, for some strange reason, felt that the US wasn't providing the protections of the Geneva Convention to the Iraqis (with no evidence produced, of course).
Just for the record.
Feel free to substitute "they" or "one" lol.
One gets it now. ;)
During the election crisis Jebs wife made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico to pray. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of North and South America and patroness of the unborn. On December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jebs wife prayed for the administration of George W. Bush and consecrated it to Our Lady.
In his first official foreign trip, Bush visited Mexico and while there stopped at Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica.
I can understand the viewpoint that most Republicans are more accurately "less pro-abortion than Democrats" rather than being truly pro-life, but from another standpoint - the current president and political party are in control of the government. They may not be perfect (or even worth voting for), but they are also much closer to a pro-life position and less prayers away from taking that fateful step to the right conviction that no exception can be made when it comes to the lives of the innocent unborn.
While we shouldn't give the president a free pass when he puts political expediency over unborn lives, we should also not write him off as a lost cause to be ignored and scorned rather than supported and prayed for.
Still spreading what lies you can about me, eh? I was a little too hopeful, I suppose, upon receipt of your last email:
Re: Easter, at least, for St. Ann flock (Armenian Rite Church to be closed)
From sinkspur | 04/12/2004 8:20:35 PM PDT read
I cannot, and will not, engage you in debate on FR.
So, don't waste your time.
But I forget that your forte -- in true radical fashion -- is the unsubstantiated personal attack and there will NEVER be any wastig of your time in "debate" because you know damn good and well you're sucking wind 90% of the time and haven't got a hope in hell of "debating" anyone on the merits and with use of facts to back up your arguments.
As for your continued slander of me ... none of what you say is true, all can be refuted by posts still extant on this system and you remain a pathetic and despicable loser who indeed wastes MY time.
Keep it up, sinkspur ... nothing helps taint you more than your parroting the same old baseless accusations.
The US Catholic Church just welcomed 150,000 converts at the Easter Vigil. I have read some of their stories, which brought me to tears. There are many more on the same journey, who have not completed the final lap across the Tiber. So many of these individuals have discovered the truths of catholicism, right here, on the Internet.
Last night on EWTN's program The Journey Home, Marcus Grodi's guest was a former Nazarene minister named, Doug Gonzales. Each week, I think this is the 'best' conversion story that I have ever heard and the following week, Grodi provides an even better one. Gonzalez' story is worth every last second of its 60 minute time slot! Like many converts, he is amazed at how catholics are drawn away from their 'treasure' and attributes it to poor catechesis. Perhaps, with time, these 'evangelical' catholics will be just the 'shot in the arm' needed to awaken the cradle catholics. I strongly urge all catholics to visit the Journey Home link and listen to the testimonies of these converts.
Doug Gonzalez, was raised on Jack Chick comics and viewed catholics as potential candidates for conversion; most were totally lost, however. His conversion came about through a most unlikely source! It may take a few days before his testimony is posted at the link provided. It is worth the wait!
Marcus Grodi also maintains a website for those who are somewhere along the journey. Coming Home Network is where many who are still exploring the Catholic faith can come for information and fellowship. This particular post, from one of the 150,000 just welcomed into the church, truly moved me. I hope it resonates with you as well.
Never underestimate the power of prayer! Please continue to pray for those catholics who have wandered. April 18 is Divine Mercy Sunday - a golden opportunity to welcome back those who have strayed.
No, but it doesn't surprise me. I know I'm not the only Catholic who has been actively praying for his conversion since before the election in 2000.