The narrative of Orual’s journey from facelessness to identity—having a face that she can expose to the god—profoundly speaks to those of us living in a culture of narcissism. The eventual shedding of her entire false face—symbolized, ironically, by the veil that hides rather than reveals—within the merciful embrace of divine love is both a deep diagnostic as well as a signpost to the way out.
The man seems light and liquid, the woman heavy and tied down. Likewise, the anorexic strives for the light and airy. She escapes the gravity not only of her body but also of need. Ultimately, both sexual revolution and eating disorders rebel against the given, against what is inescapable. Sex creates babies. Bodies require food. But who says? The rules don’t apply to me. Modernity valorizes the independent, self-sufficient man, as he strides rationally and freely into the well-managed future of his own creation. But the cheerleaders of secularism do not seem to have reckoned with the innately destructive quality of the self that has been unleashed from any transcendent orientation.
What we in fact see through the history of twentieth-century sexuality is that people often ask certain questions, a good answer to which cannot possibly be sex. Yet people persist in thinking that it is.
The reigning ideology tells us that the unkempt contours of female fertility must be scoured away by a masculine, mechanizing ideology in order to fit into the smooth cogs of the sexual revolution. But is the only paradigm that applies to female fertility one of technological “control”?
The contraceptive mindset cannot avoid scapegoating women’s bodies as the cause of both personal and societal problems. By contrast, the Church, with critical and prophetic clarity, points out that it is selfish desire, not the female body, that is the source of our problems.
The modern age has furthered the interior fracture women sense between themselves and their bodies. Against this fracture, we can insist that body’s materiality serves a purpose: the body expresses the person. The weight of the body expresses a truth that we might like to forget, namely, that we are made for love and fruitfulness. Because we are in the image of God, this truth about ourselves is a pale echo of who God is: “he first loved us” (I John 4:19).
Named "Best of The Public Discourse, 2017"
A book review, named in the Best of The Public Discourse of 2015
A new biography of Margaret Sanger fails to confront the Planned Parenthood founder's ideological commitment to eugenics and population control.
“End-less and Self-Referential Desire”
was published by The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly in Winter 2018. You can download the paper here:
"The Body, Alienation, and Gift in Marx and Wojtyła"
was published in Pensando il Lavoro, Atti del Convegno “The Heart of Work” Pontificia Università della Santa Croce. Roma, 19-20 Ottobre 2017. You can download the paper here: https://sjs.academia.edu/AngelaFranks
"Thinking the Body with Karol Wojtyła"
was published by Nova et Vetera (American edition) in January 2018. You can download the paper here: https://sjs.academia.edu/AngelaFranks
was published by The Thomist in 1998. You can download the paper here: https://sjs.academia.edu/AngelaFranks