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First thoughts on Jody Bottum’s second thoughts

August 27, 2013

Joseph “Jody” Bottum is doing the second-best thing he can do in the wake of the pathetic (in the old sense of that word, and in contrast to “reasoned”) essay he published in Commonweal a few days ago about why he’s giving up the effort to defend true marriage: namely, he’s having second thoughts about that “accursed essay”. That’s good—it’s not enough, but it’s still good.

In particular, Bottum is retracting the two parts of his essay that I (and many others) found the most ridiculous, namely his contemptuous dismissal of the legal-political arguments against “gay marriage” and his huh?-what? reading of St. Thomas through a hermeneutic of “enchantment”. Good grief.

Unfortunately, though, Bottum still frames his retraction in terms of him wishing to correct how we “misread” his essay. That’s balderdash: we didn’t misread Bottum’s essay—which we knew came from a man who regularly said, and gracefully, exactly what he meant—no, we read Bottom’s essay. And we were stunned.

Upon reading Bottum’s essay, I accounted his surrender as unaccountable, paused to wish him well in some other service, reassured those carrying on the defense of marriage that they were not making specious legal arguments to cast-aways on an enchanted island, and resolved to shoulder on with my own small efforts to explain to Americans why traditional marriage is vital to our State and, in particular, to Catholics why civil marriage is vital to Matrimony.

So, yes, I’m glad Bottum is having second thoughts about his essay; may he now have some thirds.


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