MaryEberstadtMary Eberstadt presented her new book: How the West Really Lost God, in the First Things offices this week.

“To my mind, and some other people’s too, the question of how societies that were once religious become less so is one of the most interesting intellectual puzzles in the world, specifically, I find it separately interesting the question of the secularization of Western society as a whole.”

“How did significant parts of the West go from being societies that widely feared God to societies that in some cases widely jeered Him? That’s the essence of the puzzle of Western secularization.”

“Living in families, meaning families that are married and with children is an important part of what drives many people to church.”

“If you look at the timeline of the West and ask what has happened to Christianity — I believe what you will find is that it was only as strong as the family on which it depends. Family and faith are the invisible double helix of society…and integral to understanding the real cause of the Christian religious decline.”

Analysis: For many Catholics in the West keeping up with the changing times has meant moving away from the Catholic Church, even for Mass-goers. Gary Wills and William F. Buckley famously referred  to the Church as: “Mater si, Magistra no (mother yes, teacher no).” People have grown to trust ‘the pill’ and nuclear bombs over the word of God, with terrible consequences for the Church and society. Going forward, what’s needed is conversion and an awakening to participation in being, that we are all called to as children of God.

“By marriage and the family as intermediaries, God has wisely joined two of the greatest human realities: the mission to transmit life and the love of man and woman. Through love, man and woman are called to complete themselves in a reciprocal giving, not only physical but above all spiritual. Or, better, God wishes the pair to participate in His love, in the love He has for each of them personally, in the love through which he calls them to help one another attain the fullness of their personal lives; and, at the same time, for the two things are inseparable, in the love which God has for humanity and through which he desires to multiply the children of men, in order that they may participate in his love and happiness.” Pope Paul VI, The Pope Speaks (Meredith Press, 1968)