The Liberal Media

Kidding. Half-kidding. From the May 21 Washington Post religion book roundup:

SWIMMING WITH SCAPULARS: TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG CATHOLIC, by Matthew Lickona (Loyola Press, $19.95). Lickona, 32, is a writer for an alternative newspaper in San Diego, a devotee of the Onion Web site and a wine connoisseur. This Gen-Xer is also a traditional Catholic who wears a scapular, a sacramental object worn around the neck to protect the wearer from damnation, and he believes that sex is primarily for procreation. In this small book, Lickona tells of periods of doubt but ultimate adherence to the faith.

“He believes sex is primarily for procreation.” Hm. From page 105: “But in my experience of marriage, the unitive end rightfully stands beside the procreative. The joy of heaven comes from union with God, the supreme union of lover and beloved. Until that union – pray God – comes to pass, I have a foretaste of that joy in marriage, an echo of heaven on earth.”

Someone want to tell me how anyone could get “sex is primarily for procreation” out of that? As I say, the “liberal media” bit is a joke. It’s probably more sloppy reading than a bias against anyone who draws an essential connection between sex and childbearing. But gosh all golly, that’s an annoying claim.

And I won’t be 32 for another month. Hmph.

ADDENDUM: I should note that I’m still very grateful to be mentioned, whatever my petulant reaction to this or that detail.


  1. AnotherCoward says

    You’re old. Get over it.


  2. Matthew Lickona says

    Next you’ll be telling me you’re leaving for someone younger, with a sexier blog…

  3. The Elusive Scotsman says


    It’s called the “liberal bias”, dude. Learn to embrace it as a not-so-respected opponent; after all, writing the way you do, you’ll cross swords with it once in a while. God willing, you’ll beat the prejudice some of the time.

    This is like those people saying that Catholicism believes in no salvation for non-Catholics. Sheesh.

    On a happier note: I found some MORE Tom Waits MP3s, so if you get in touch with me through some medium that allows file transfer, I can send you:

    The Piano Has Been Drinking (Good quality, from Spare Change album)
    Bad Liver And A Broken Heart (Ibid)
    I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You (Spare Change)
    Waits and Elvis Costello – Memories of What
    T’ain’t No Sin
    Warm Beer And Cold Women
    Step Right Up
    Somewhere Over The Rainbow
    and finally, Sea Of Love.

    All in MP3 format, courtesy of the CD. Heheheh.

  4. The Elusive Scotsman says

    Oh, and the customer reviews (specifically one individual who seems to have something of a complex) have some…choice…things to say. The rest are generally positive.

  5. The Elusive Scotsman says

    sorry for triple-posting but this is too precious to not subject you to:

    Helena Burns on called you a 2000 year old Catholic. She immediately explained what she meant, but I have to post it without the context for this to remain funny. Eheheh.

  6. Susan Peterson says

    I guess I will have to keep my promise to go over to Amazon and say something positive.

    It seems that for many people, once one says that the procreative aspect of sex is important, essential…one gets put into that box labeled “sex is only for procreation.” For these people the idea that the procreative aspect of sex is something essential to it rather than something like a venereal disease which one has to take precautions against, is so odd, so bizzare, so hard to wrap the mind around, that all they can hear is that part of it. It is beyond them to think of holding those two aspects together. Also, remember, that many people aren’t even committed to the unitive meaning…they haven’t gotten beyond the recreational and pleasurable…and maybe even someday with the right person, unitive…way of thinking. Now how would you hold that together with insisting that procreation is an essential part of the sexual act? It can’t be done. You are confronting them with one idea that blows their world view all to hell; that is what they get out of what you write.
    Susan Peterson

  7. I’m younger, but my blog’s not as sexy…

  8. The Elusive Scotsman says

    Well, maybe you have to change your blog template. Heehee.

    And to the procreative aspect: You are right, Susan, that people have not even seen this point of view, and that it does present some trouble for them.

  9. Matthew Lickona says

    I’d be delighted if you posted something on Amazon; thanks for your comments here.

  10. Maureen Martin says

    Hi Matt,

    I really like your blog! You have a good sense of humor.


  11. Matthew Lickona says

    Thanks, Maureen!

  12. Anonymous says


    A point of semantics and/or logic: I believe, at least as you quote it, the Washington Post said “primarily” as in “the primary end of sex is procreation.” Thomas says as much, doesn’t he?

    Believe me, I’m the last person to defend the Washington Compost – but let’s remember that you can’t have TWO primary ends. It’s a sticky point (ahem) in your book, as well, – but really, the procreative IS the primary end, the unitive subordinate to it.

    You can’t have TWO primary ends (pace all you Theology of the Body and NFPchiks out there!) for an act any more than you can buy a ticket on Northwest Airlines with a primary stop in Boston and New York. It’s one or the other.

    Just a minor point – and I admit the Compost may be suggesting more than Thomas in what they’ve written.

    But that still needs saying.


  13. Matthew Lickona says

    I’ll grant that you can’t have two primary ends. But does the Church still hold that there is a primary end, or if there is, that it’s procreation? That would seem to be the sticky, sticking point. It’s certainly contra my own exeperience. And that’s where I squawk at the Post. It doesn’t claim to report what the Church teaches, it claims to report what I believe. I say in the book that I’m confused as to what precisely the Church teaches, and that I believe that unitive and procreative stand side by side. You can’t get “primarily” out of my text.

  14. Anonymous says


    I admit the CCC is rather weak in its explanation of the concept:

    “The spouses’ union ahcieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of hte spouses themselves and the trnasmission of life. These two meanings or values or marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life nad compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.”

    It goes on to speak of a “twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity”.

    Which is really only sidestepping the issue – to use the example of the frequent flier: he buys his ticket for NY but the flight has a stopover in Boston. He is obligated to go to both Boston and New York, but that does not mean that BOTH destinations are primary. So with unitive and procreative.

    Have you read Casti Connubi?

    That might help. Pius XII’s writings are not outdated by any stretch.

    (Perhaps another way at looking at this issue, again, by way of analogy, is that while a farmer certainly has a respect and abiding love for his land (unitive), the act of raising crops (procreative) is more proper to his work as farmer : love for the land may be what keeps him in the farming business, but it is not, strictly speaking, what defines the actions of a “farmer”

    Hope this helps….


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