While putting together a short booklet on William F. Buckley’s writings about virtue, which will be published by the National Review Institute in the coming months, I was struck by the fact that some of his most beautiful writing on virtue was for Playboy. I think that could be an under-appreciated kind of “going to the peripheries” that Pope Francis often talks about. On that note, this week’s William F. Buckley Jr. flashback is him interviewing Hugh Hefner on Firing Line.
I was struck, too, in an interview with CBS – Hefner was being interviewed alongside Harvey Cox – where Hefner said, “I think that there are certain aspects of adolescence that might be best retained for a lifetime.” His legacy, then, might be quite easily summed up as: Mission accomplished.
But how did Hefner get that, and how might it be instructive about healing the wounds of the sexual revolution and moving forward in helping people rebuild? I was struck by Christopher West’s piece here and one quote in particular from Hefner he cited:
“Our family was. . . Puritan[ical] in a very real sense. . . . Never hugged. Oh, no. There was absolutely no hugging or kissing in my family. There was a point in time when my mother, later in life, apologized to me for not being able to show affection. That was, of course, the way I’d been raised. I said to her, “Mom, . . . because of the things you weren’t able to do, it set me on a course that changed my life and the world.” When I talk about the hurt and hypocrisy in some of our values – our sexual values – it comes from the fact that I didn’t get hugged a lot as a kid.
There are real people and there is real pain between even the most destructive movements. And a quote like that highlights the urgency of efforts to help loving family life and community happen for people. (I’m just thinking of people like the Verrets behind “Witness to Love” we highlighted a few weeks ago and Mark Regernus trying to make clear the urgency of what we’re dealing with; what people are suffering with, stumbling on a road that may never make it to marriage for them.)
If you missed the event we had with Mary Rose and Ryan Verret at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, you can watch it here:
Anyway, more about that next week. The episode of Firing Line is worth watching. (Which is pretty much always the case, though.)