Thank you to Dr. Anthony Esolen, one of our distinguished WRAP speakers, for writing an inspiring article praising the movement and honoring those who did its work, both brother Knights and others.
The text of the article (courtesy of Crisis Magazine):
"There is one thing everyone ought to know about blacktop. It
cracks. Ice then gets into the cracks and before you know it, there’s a
regular furrow, and some windswept dirt, and something with stubborn
roots sets up in it, like dandelions with their brave yellow caps, or
pokeweed, or ordinary grass. In the long war of grass against asphalt,
give me the grass every time.
The goodness of the natural world reasserts itself. God does not
abandon us to our sins. A boy whose bones are rickety from life indoors
will grow strong straightaway, if you put him on a mountain for a month
or two. Women whose souls are withered by the poisons of feminism
don’t necessarily have to find a special diet for the antidote. Just
removing the poison, and giving them a chance to breathe freely again,
will often do the trick.
I’ve said hard words about higher education. I’ve called Princeton my mater ferox, or
the black hole where faith and reason go to die. I recall a moment
during freshman orientation, when the young people of several
dormitories were invited to attend a discussion on sex and morality. I
was ashamed to confess what I believed. Perhaps I was not the only one
who believed it, but I’ll never know. When the group came to the
general agreement that sex should be deeply personal and not mechanical,
one burly fellow with granny glasses spoke up. “I don’t see anything
wrong with mechanical sex,” he said. “It can be really cool, so long as
both people are up front about it.” There were some uneasy looks, but
nobody argued against him. I was not a hero at Princeton. I should
have thrown the proud old faker for a fall, but I didn’t. I breathed
its air, as did everyone else.
Or not quite everyone else. I recall one of my classmates with
honor. I never knew him personally, but everyone knew about him. His
name is Walter Weber, and he has been fighting the good fight against
abortion for his entire adult life. Even at Princeton he was doing so.
I remember that one morning he had passed out colored flyers
everywhere, depicting the atrocity of abortion. The whole campus was
indignant. “How could he do so insensitive a thing!” they cried.
“Suppose some girl who had had an abortion woke up and saw that?”
The logic escaped me. I was young and inexperienced. I said, “But
if she’s had an abortion, then either she knows what it is, in which
case she’s not seeing anything she hasn’t seen before, or she should
have found out what it is, in which case she was irresponsible and now
she’s learning something. But I can’t believe that any woman at
Princeton would not know.”
It did inspire some tense conversations. One of them transpired
between a friend of mine, a woman who was pro-life and Christian, and
another woman at our eating club. The other woman, who even at
Princeton had acquired a reputation as a partier, said that if she ever
got pregnant she would have to have an abortion, because she knew that
alcohol was a cause of birth defects, and she could never give up
drinking because she enjoyed it too much, and so it wouldn’t be fair to
the child to take that chance.
But Walter Weber kept on with his campaign, and the names he was
called never seemed to slow him down. There was a crack in the asphalt,
a little fissure in the moonscape of higher education, and he was the
good solid green life in it.
I’ve met some heroes like him recently, at Harvard.
I don’t want to mention their names, lest I embarrass them, since
they are still undergraduates. But a small group of brave students at
Harvard last week held a campaign against pornography, inviting various
professors to come and give talks on its evils. That’s brave enough, or
lonely enough, at Harvard. But what they did each day, out in the open,
They stationed themselves in front of the most frequented classroom
buildings on campus, passing out flyers and engaging students in
conversation, taking jibes and some angry abuse, weathering indifference
or quizzical derision, all for the natural goodness and holiness of the
body, and for a sweet world of green things, and not asphalt. One
alumnus, a self-described anarchist, took one of their tokens
cheerfully, till he found out that they were associated with a church,
at which he returned it in scorn. A student, quite puzzled, asked one
of them what he used when he abused himself.
“I don’t,” he replied.
“All right, you lost me,” said the student, and walked away. Such is the level of common moral discourse at Harvard.
I’d come to Harvard to speak about what I’ll call a world without
faces; a world in which persons treat themselves and one another as
commodities for consumption. Also to speak about a world made noble by
the greatest mystery in the physical order, the “human face divine.”
The former is a world in which the great middle ground between anonymity
and copulation has been ravaged. The latter is a world in which young
men and women look kindly and admiringly upon one another. The former
is a world in which all things are turned inside out, and a man knows a
woman before he knows her name. The latter is a world that cherishes
the touch of a hand upon a hand, and all the sweet and ceremonious
preparations for knitting the knot that ever shall remain.
These people were truly young, essentially young. It’s hard to
describe. When people give themselves over to grave and habitual sin,
even if they deny that it is so, they have about them something of a
hunted, sulky, defiant look, somewhere between brazenness and shame, if
they have not lapsed into that ennui which the poet Herbert shrewdly
called “the grief of pleasures.” These young men and women knew how
strange they must appear to their fellows, but they didn’t care. They
were bright and free.
One of their questions remains with me still, as much for its content
as for the person who asked it, and the manner in which she asked.
“How can we women help our men to avoid or to overcome this evil? What
can we do to help them be better men?”
Suppose a man walking for years and years on an endless stretch of
gray, nothing but asphalt and rubble and dust, mile after monotonous
mile; if he should suddenly see a crocus poking through the rocks,
spreading its humble yellow bloom to the air; or should hear a trickle
of fresh water spilling over a tumbled ruin; with the same grateful
heart I greeted that question, the like of which I have not heard from a
college student or a professor in thirty years. The question was asked
with love, not scorn; with admiration for men as men.
I should add that these students are members of the Anscombe Society
for Traditional Morality, a group also known as the Love and Fidelity
Network. They have chapters now at more than two dozen schools in the
northeast. They were founded by brave young women at my materca frigida, Princeton, the iron womb of the beast.
We mustn’t suppose that Harvard is anywhere near becoming a seedbed
for the good and true and beautiful. A well-known priest who spent
plenty of years at Princeton, building up a vibrant Catholic community
there, explained to me why, whenever I went back to the school, I felt
ill at ease, wary, jittery. I expected him to call my attention to the
grossness of the new buildings, glass and steel, declaring their
commitment to power and wealth. He didn’t. All he said was, “That’s
easy. Princeton is an evil place.” The blacktop is blacktop, the
desert is dry. Make no mistake about that.
And yet that same God who abandons us to our evil imaginations also
sends us a Savior. The Roman Empire was, in the time of Saint Paul, a
great vigorous thing that was yet dead at the heart. But the seeds of
its destruction and resurrection were being sown. Not blacktop, nor death, shall have the last word!"
More on Dr. Esolen here.