A few articles and blog posts. Not much in the way of media attention. Penned in by Blessed Pope Paul VI after a long delay, Humanae Vitae is the most controversial, challenging, most broadly ignored document in Church history. So how to convey and convince people that it tells the truth about love, sex, and marriage? Yes, priests can give homilies, writers can produce books and articles, and of course, couples can joyfully live out the truth of it. Don Johnson did something outside the box: he created a documentary film that chronicled his own path from rejection to acceptance.
Full disclosure: Johnson, the former Relevant Radio radio host and convert to the Faith, asked me to contribute to the movie as an interview subject because of my own focus on the teaching of Humanae Vitae in my book The Contraception Deception: Catholic Teaching on Birth Control. I was honored to participate, and further honored to speak with him recently about the story behind the story and to let CWR readers know how they can see it. Patrick Coffin, for CWR: As with your previous documentary, Convinced , you chose to approach the subject through a personal narrative structure in which the viewer is invited to identify with your questions and your discoveries.
And I do think it is something that most people can connect with. I became interested in the sexual revolution when two of my daughters became teenagers. I was shocked at just how much toxic sludge they have to deal with every day, and how pervasive the sexual objectification of women is in our culture. Was the teaching of Humanae Vitae an obstacle to you as you started investigating what the Church really teaches? It was only after I actually became familiar with the document—and the story around it—that everything changed.
Not only did I begin to realize just how central this teaching is to everything else I was studying, both theologically and socially, but it became a huge draw for me toward Catholicism. I realized that not only was the Church right about this but that this truth was supremely good and beautiful. CWR: Unprotected draws from a very wide array of sources: history, statistics, social science data, personal experience, biblical and philosophical content. How did you narrow down that morass of information into a story thread the viewer could follow?
Johnson: That was a function of me trying to make sense of it for myself. However, as I dug into the topic, certain themes rose to the top and a plot line started to crystalize. Thankfully, it turned out to be a really interesting one that fit naturally into a classic movie outline. For example, this film is filled with accounts of sex, lies, and conspiracies by large companies to make money off of the suffering of others. All the basic ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster.
It also contains a third act in which a hero rides in from some obscure outpost of a falling kingdom to save the day. Again, a storytelling staple.
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But the beauty of this story is that it is all true, and I was thrilled when I realized how nicely it all fit together. CWR: One thing stressed throughout Unprotected is that the norms contained in Humanae Vitae are not disciplines, like fasting from meat or priestly celibacy. Rather, the encyclical is getting at something essentially human, correct? Johnson: Right, exactly. I like the way you phrased the question, because Pope Paul VI was getting at the essence of what it is to be human.
As I try to show in the movie, the debate over contraception is really about the meaning of sex and the meaning of love, and that discussion is ultimately about the meaning of life. CWR: How did you raise the initial capital to begin pre-production? Johnson: Ah, yes, the whole funding thing. Not nearly enough to make the movie, but enough to encourage me to keep going.
From that point, basically the entire film has been made that way—one stage at a time, with God providing what we need at just the right moment. He has opened one door after another, using individual donors and investors, connectors, and the wonderful people at Ignatius Press to make it happen. Tell me about the audience responses so far. One of the benefits of just telling the story without preaching is that it opens it up to a whole new audience, so I am particularly grateful for that. Simply telling the story also allows the audience to more freely connect with its various aspects.
How can we have this amazing truth, with its ability to set people free from all manner of dysfunction and sorrow, yet not teach it? CWR: At what point did you learn that all Protestant denominations vehemently rejected contraception, until the Anglicans broke the dam in and wrecked the unity of Christendom on this issue? The fact that the Catholic Church was the only one to stand strong on this—and turned out to be right—made me all the more convinced that I made the right call in becoming Catholic. Call them bombs versus blessings. Can you share an example of each?
That seemed especially true in this case, perhaps because of the subject matter. The biggest hurdle on this film actually turned out to be more personal, though. Right in the middle of production, due to a variety of factors out of our control, my wife and I moved our family to a different state; obviously that was disruptive on many levels.
On the other hand, we have been blessed during this production in innumerable ways as well. They gave me a fair bid on the work and explained that they only had a small window between projects and they would need to start the following Monday. I told them that I would think about it over the weekend and let them know. She had heard about the movie and wondered if there was anything she could do to help.
Hesitantly, I told her that our main need at the moment was to get the graphics paid for. When she wrote back, she explained that she had been left an inheritance and that every year she tried to make one donation to a worthy project. God is good: This year she had decided to pay the entire bill for the motion graphics.
Johnson: They sure seem to go together. Those two things are pre-requisites for the evil that has occurred within Church leadership. For someone so proud of being self sufficient and non feeling she seems to be awfully neurotic and aggressive hide spoiler ]. I don't see why I should be on the side of someone who isn't even likable, I didn't feel for her at any point in the book.
Which isn't good when you're trying to write a book showing someone's emotional and mental struggles. The plot was lack luster also and I don't understand what Lara's father's death added to her story. I just feel like the author has watched one too many psychological thrillers or is still stuck in the twentieth century psychoanalysis bullshit because view spoiler [ one incident in childhood doesn't make such a maladaptive individual, especially one incident where your parents tell you off for trying to be needy when they have to take care of an infant.
Parent's really arent at fault for people's problems and how they react to things come on hide spoiler ]. I got nothing out of reading this one. View all 7 comments. May 13, Dana rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites , buy , mental-illness , , netgalley , up-all-night. The novel explores what happens when everything you have ever wanted turns out to be nothing like what you expected. The gradual build up was so well done, it shows how easy it is to get to the extreme end of postpartum depression.
I think that there are aspects to this story that every mother can relate to. Jan 11, Cookie rated it it was amazing Shelves: must-reads , arcs , giveaways. That was rough. Meant in the very best way possible because, it was so raw, so real; a no bullshit story about being a new mother. It's all the things nobody tells you about how motherhood doesn't just change your life, but steals it, ripping it inside out and backwards; spitting back a reality that is so far from your naive, romanticized thoughts of your exact life with the, small, addition of a sweet little baby. Sokol's writing was so on point that I lost all track of time and place, especially during the last half of the book.
And there was so much word love in her descriptions that it was extremely frustrating not to be able to live tweet while reading. My one huge criticism: no adult, ever, should be described as sitting criss-cross applesauce. Very highly recommended to all mothers. And, I dare say, required reading to all those thinking about having a baby and soon-to-be mothers. Even this won't prepare you going in, but it will give you the confidence to know that you're only crazy if you don't ask for and accept any and all help until you find your way.
Brava Ms. View 1 comment. I could envision each and every thing in an entirely different way because I could see the places and things she describes. Yay, Richmond! This is a very in depth exploration of motherhood — the quest for motherhood as well as the reality of motherhood. I resonated a lot with this story in part due to my own difficulty getting pregnant and my own experience after giving birth to my twins. This book did a great job at describing those experiences in a way that felt real to me as someone who has experienced them myself.
It is brutal, raw, and real. She is definitely flawed and we explore every facet of those flaws throughout the book. In many ways, her inner arrogance about everything is what we see unfold as the story moves forward. There is a real rawness to this character and her experiences. If you want to read a book that will give you a realistic view of how life changes when a baby arrives, this book will deliver.
If you want a book about how lovely it is to have a baby and how wonderful it all is, this book will disappoint. All in all, I definitely recommend this one. I was surprised by just how real it felt and how much it made me FEEL. Apr 06, Lolly K Dandeneau rated it liked it. Any dumb mammal can give birth. Looking down on her own sister Bea and her children whose husband has just left she sees failure, pitiful desperation, and a bottomless pit of need. Sloppy women making sloppy, reactive decisions. A woman who has always wanted to be successful and hardworking, she never expected to be such a failure at pregnancy.
Between the hormones and shock of her crashing hopes, she finally succeeds and gives birth to a baby girl, Auden. In fact, she is living a nightmarish existence. No one ever tells a woman that bonding might not come naturally, that not all babies are rosy cheeked, smiling bundles of delight. She feels like the worst mother in the world and what should draw a husband and wife closer together seems to be the wedge between Will and Lara.
Protecting the unprotected – Safety Days
Lara is falling into a dark hole, disturbing thoughts are consuming her mind, and she may well be a danger to herself, or the family she put so much effort into creating. When Lara comes to the end of her sanity it seems she has a decision to make, but will it be one of salvation or horror? Hard to take, but honest. The world has expectations of how a new mother, any mother actually, should behave and feel but what happens when she needs help and is too ashamed or lost to realize it? This is the ugly side, the unspoken terror some new mothers face.
Will she get help in time? Publication Date: April 25, Skyhorse Publishing View 2 comments. Feb 23, Marjorie rated it really liked it Shelves: edelweiss. She had a successful career and a loving husband. But all of that changes when her father dies and her maternal instinct sets in. But as they say, be careful what you wish for. Auden never stops crying and Lara is losing her mind. This is a brutally raw, honest book about motherhood. In fact at times I thought it might indeed be too raw and might be very discouraging to a young woman looking forward to having a family.
But not all women experience postpartum depression and, while the book never actually named what was happening to Lara, it was quite obvious that she was not well and that more than a crying baby was bringing her down and causing such desperation in her. She looked around at other mothers and felt like there was something lacking in her.
The author has written an emotional, heart pounding and brave book. This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. The Unprotected by Kelly Sokol is highly recommended women's literary fiction. Lara James is a ad executive with a thriving career and a husband she adores. After her father's death she devotes herself even more fully to her career and marries her husband, Will, a college professor her father knew.
The two are immediately attracted to each other. They both devote themselves to their careers and each other for several years, until Lara surprises them both by wanting a child. Getting pregnant doesn The Unprotected by Kelly Sokol is highly recommended women's literary fiction.
Getting pregnant doesn't come easy, though, and Lara and Will have to endure years of treatments and miscarriages until she finally becomes pregnant. When their daughter Auden is born, though, being a mother isn't as tranquil and calm as Lara thought it would be. The Unprotected is well written and will draw you into the story right away.
The novel is also well-paced; I read the book in one sitting and was engaged through the whole book. Sokol does a nice job developing Lara's character. She's obnoxious in many ways, but you will see her behavior patterns as being consistent with her personality. The infertility problems and miscarriages had me feeling desperately sorry for her pain. When her daughter is born and she spirals into postpartum depression, again, I felt her pain. So, basically, I like The Unprotected, but there are two glaring problems with it. First Lara is not always a very sympathetic character.
It's difficult to feel compassion for her over her infertility and then postpartum depression because she is portrayed as being so uncharitable to other women not on her career path and so incredibly perfect. The only way you can manage this is to draw on personal experiences, your own experience or ones shared with you from your own circle of family and friends. Since so many women have experienced both of these, gathering up empathy for her was relatively easy, despite her difficult personality.
The second flaw overwhelms what the theme of the novel was supposed to be, postpartum depression, according to the synopsis, in my opinion. The Unprotected portrays Lara as a career-minded woman who doesn't want children, but changes her mind in her late thirties. This is easily understood by many women.
Then we go through her miscarriages and subsequent infertility treatments. I'm assuming that Sokol wanted to show how much Lara wanted a child before she actually had one. So many women endure the pain and loss from miscarriages and fertility problems that Lara's struggles with this seemed like it could easily carry the narrative of the book.
When she finally gets pregnant, we rush through the pregnancy to her postpartum depression. Then we endure her suffering with a colicky baby and no relief. Again, many women have suffered from postpartum depression and didn't have the ability or foresight to ask for help. In my opinion, the book would have been stronger had it focused on one overriding problem - either the infertility and miscarriages, which devastate many woman but are rarely talked about, or her postpartum depression, which many woman also suffer through silently. The Unprotected still deserves a good rating but could have benefited from a tighter focus.
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Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing. The journey that Lara goes through to get to motherhood is rough and unexpected, and then when she finally has what she thinks she wants, she finds motherhood itself to be markedly different than she anticipated. She becomes someone she never imagined and struggles to find a way back to some semblance of herself. There is actually a great deal to unpack here. Maybe the intent of this book was to highlight the realities of postpartum depression PPD , but I feel that is vastly oversimplifying The journey that Lara goes through to get to motherhood is rough and unexpected, and then when she finally has what she thinks she wants, she finds motherhood itself to be markedly different than she anticipated.
Maybe the intent of this book was to highlight the realities of postpartum depression PPD , but I feel that is vastly oversimplifying. It also made me react emotionally at certain parts of the book that just hit too close to home. Which speaks volumes for the authentic voice and tone of the book.
And her attitude towards motherhood in the beginning was irritating. But ridiculing others for their procreation choices while being insulted when they ridicule yours? But also? Pretty authentic. It seems more like postpartum psychosis to me, which much more severe and pretty uncommon. This is a perverse and unfair distortion. From the strains on her marriage to her mixed feelings about her baby, to the judgement she felt coming from every direction about every decision she made about her family, it all felt a little like I was walking backwards in time, experiencing it all again.
It is fiction, but taken with a grain of salt, it could be very enlightening. For those who have been some of the places Lara has been, it might be a bit too painful and sometimes frustrating, but also quite validating, too. Either way, a book worth reading. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews. Jun 01, Mike rated it really liked it. Fortunate, because otherwise I would not have discovered this intimate portrayal of a driven woman's challenging personal journey through infertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-partum reality--none of which fit her pre-conceived molds.
Fathers and aspiring fathers can gain valuable insight and understanding from this book. Beautiful book on wanting to be a mother, and then finally getting it, just different than you expect. Little slow to start but very mesmerizing. This is a winner! I received this book for free thru Netgalley and its publisher, but it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Thank you! Apr 01, Kate Southey rated it really liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book before publication. This was a great book and I so nearly gave it five stars but for me, there is one glaring reason why I can't.
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Why does the author insist on including so many sex scenes and sexual references?! Long before Lara and Will begin trying for a baby we are treated to scenes which just aren't necessary. I'm not a prude by any means but I do think in written word that less is more and that leading the reader to know that the co Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book before publication.
I'm not a prude by any means but I do think in written word that less is more and that leading the reader to know that the couple are going to make love is enough without describing errections. Seriously, no one can do that without it sounding a bit creepy. I nearly decided to stop reading but decided to keep going as the subject matter is so close to my heart. Thankfully the scenes became fewer, or less over described or I became immune to the feeling that a 12 year old gets when they realise their parents have sex which is what the scenes reminded me of!! Sadly I can identify with so much of what Lara went through.
Although I already had 3 children, when I started trying to conceive my youngest child I went through 3 miscarriages and 3 years of obsessing, living on ttc forums and trying every old wives tales I heard of. Grapefruit juice and Brazil nuts anyone? And while thankfully that eventually resulted in my wonderful daughter and a happy babyhood for us both, I suffered severe post natal depression after the birth of my first child and so could identify with that part of Lara's story too.
While this book may be impossible for women who are in those moments to read, I think women like me, who have come out the other side will love this book and the validation it gives. I met many people, women as well as men who sought to minimise the heartbreak of my miscarriages and the struggle to get pregnant and it is an incredibly lonely place to be. I found the character of Will harder to connect with but in this instance that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I wanted to be focussed on Lara because it was Lara bearing the brunt of the pain, suffering and relentlessness of it all. In a way it highlighted how together a couple makes a baby but how physically, the woman's body copes with growing that baby, birthing it, suffering from the related hormones and then feeding the baby with her own milk. Lara's ability to act 'normal' and seem to cope with parties, play dates, giving a jolly report to Will of their day's activities is perfect, totally, totally accurate from my description.
I will definitely read anything else this author writes or has written. Reflecting on the title, the unprotected is the psyche, an embryo, a mother struggling with her first child when her partner goes back to work, the baby of a severely depressed mother? It covers so many things and more and can mean something very different to every reader I think. May 03, Alicia rated it really liked it. I remember making lists of all the books I would read when I went on maternity leave; home-improvement projects, too.
Eighteen years later, the list is still mostly untouched. Misconceptions such as these are mild compared to the ones Lara James, who enters Momdom after a harrowing struggle, faces in this shockingly honest and painful depiction of infertility, motherhood, and postpartum psychosis. Many passages were so vivid and heart wrenching that I put the book down, for a moment, to collect myself. But I always picked it back up… Oct 21, Muriel rated it it was ok. Just skip to Chapter Twelve and read from there.
Lara is not an Every Woman, although she has a common story, half of which could've been edited down. For shame to the editors anyhow. And lyrical? The writing is not lyrical, more like the reading of someone's journal entries. Disappointing, to say the least, simply because the subject matter is so important. You'd think as a new mom with a father that just died during my own pregnancy, that this book would speak to me on a deeper level.
While there were moments where I simply nodded in total empathy to the situation, there was no empathy for Lara as a person, a character. She was unlikable for so many reasons, and nothing redeemed her, regardless of her PPD. And, I'm not sure I appreciated a story structure where the beginning focuses on an unnecessary father relationship that we could've glistened from the narrative anyway, to jamming in a tale of infertility, to then a depressed and regretful mother, that then encounters a possibly abusive doctor, AND has no one in her family or friends that remotely says anything close to empathetic.
Who the hell is Lara? Who the hell is Will? How does PPD affect parents and parenting? These questions are not answered, in my opinion. Simply spun about in an annoying manner, like a bad Lifetime movie.