Acclaimed Catholic novelist Brian Gail, spoke Wednesday at the Archdiocese of Denver's John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization. Addressing the subject of “Fatherhood in a Fatherless World,” Gail examined the social concerns behind his planned trilogy of books, and urged audience members to make their lives and families beacons of light in times of moral and spiritual darkness.
Gail's talk focused on the destructive effects of the 1960s Sexual Revolution, in which preexisting conditions of social volatility – brought about in the first half of the 20th century by industrialization and war - erupted in unprecedented ways. Gail acknowledged that his generation of Baby Boomers, by taking on a contraceptive mentality toward sex, had “devalued the currency of fatherhood,” and left their descendents suspicious of God-given responsibilities.
The results of this “devaluation,” he said, were “ruinous to the body and to the soul,” causing a “cataclysmic identity crisis” for his generation and their descendents. But, Gail asserted, many Catholic bishops and priests failed to respond to this crisis, instead shrinking from presenting the fullness of Church teaching about human sexuality.
The consequences of contraception, and its unquestioning acceptance by many Catholics, figured heavily in Gail's first novel “Fatherless.”
Most strikingly, Gail expressed his opinion that the Sexual Revolution itself –to which he ascribed millions of deaths from surgical and chemical abortion - represented a mere prelude to a “biological revolution.” In that future age, Gail speculated, “man will attempt to nullify God” by destroying the lines between biology and technology, perhaps attempting to become a new “transhuman” species that fuses natural and artificial life.
In the face of such bleak prospects, Gail said that men have a special responsibility to “awaken, educate, and challenge” society, beginning with their own families and extending into the workplace and civic life. Not only priests, but also husbands, fathers, and all men have a special vocation as leaders who “facilitate man's greatest adventure,” the journey of Christian discipleship.
Authentic male leadership, Gail indicated, is not domineering, but able to focus on what is best in the lives of others. Men who find their true identity and vocation in Christ, he said, must show others how to “find themselves in him.” Through this way of spiritual fatherhood, he said, “the light of Christ in families” becomes manifest, and the Church can experience renewal for what Gail speculated was its “final conflict” with hostile forces.
CNA asked the author, a former Fortune 500 CEO, to comment on the continuing crisis of finance and debt in America and many European countries, to which he had alluded near the beginning of his talk. Gail said that the same widespread lack of love and respect that had damaged marriage and the family in those countries was now being felt in the economic sector, with employers “offshoring work and … not providing a fair and just wage.”
Asked about the positive aspects of technology that accompany the potential abuses he described, Gail was more upbeat. He observed that “new methods” of evangelism are developing alongside a “new ardor” among young people to spread the Church's message around the world.
In spite of the many dangers, Gail remarked, “it's a great time to be alive.”
Gail’s second novel, “Motherless,” will be released November 15.