Dispelling Utopian Illusions; Building Real-World Families

The Conjugal Family: An Irreplaceable Resource for Society Pierpaolo Donati and Paul Sullins, editorsLibreria Editrice Vaticana, 2015; 249 pages, $18.00 What seemed more certain in the sixties than that the future belonged to the utopian visionaries agitating for the creation in America of a marvelous new kind of society, a society of free sex, open marriages, quick and painless divorces, and complete gender equality? What seemed more obvious than the irrelevance of the troglodytes still devoted to traditional and surely outmoded notions of life-long marriage and home-centered child-rearing? And among those troglodytes, who then seemed more hopelessly atavistic than the religious types—especially those benighted, rosary-shackled Catholics—who actually believed God still expected modern men and women to live in that outmoded institution called the family?  Don’t look now, but well into the twenty-first century, many of those who believed the luminous promises of the sixties utopians are now suffering from economic distress, psychological trauma, and emotional turmoil. Meanwhile, those who adhered to traditional patterns of marital and family life now look remarkably well-off economically, psychologically, and emotionally. How can that be? In this volume, Catholic scholars from the United States, Italy, Chile, and Argentina deliver cogent and sobering evidence that even in this post-Woodstock world, the family is not an outmoded obstacle to individual well-being and social progress. The utopians of the sixties envisioned only good coming from the jettisoning of traditional marriage—the life-long marital union of man and woman, devoted to each other and to their children. Co-editor Pierpaolo Donati notes in his introduction that those allied with these utopians have hoped that rejecting this kind of marriage and the family life it fosters will mean “the advent of a freer, egalitarian and happy society.” This luminous utopian hope now sta
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