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A Tremor of Bliss

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A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll
A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll
AuthorMark Judge
Original titleA Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll
Working titleA Tremor of Bliss: Sex and the American Catholic Church
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SubjectAmerican culture
GenreReligion
Published2010
PublisherDoubleday Religion
Media typePaperback
Pages192
ISBN978-0385519205
OCLC262430744
Preceded byGod and Man at Georgetown Prep (2005) 
[1][2][3][4][5]

A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll is a non-fiction book about sexual morality, Catholicism and religion in the United States written by Mark Judge.[1] Prior to research on the work, Judge's background in Catholicism included education at Catholic schools Georgetown Preparatory School and Catholic University of America.[6][7][8] Judge's previous books, including Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk and God and Man at Georgetown Prep chronicled his time at Catholic school.[9][6]

In A Tremor of Bliss Judge argues that the sexual revolution in 1960s United States resulted in a decline in American values which previously had been rooted in Christian theology.[2][3][4] He criticizes abortion, birth control, pornography, and sexual liberation.[2][3][4] Judge advocates a return to a religious morality in order to combat what he views as evils in society and inappropriate attitudes towards sexuality in the U.S.[2][3][4]

Judge's work received reviews in The Washington Times,[2] First Things,[3] and The Daily Caller.[4] Writing for The Washington Times, Jeremy Lott observed that A Tremor of Bliss served as a form of confessional about the author's personal life.[2] First Things called the book, "An insightful history of the rise of contraception in the last century".[3] The Daily Caller agreed with the author's view that society would return to religious values over and above contemporary sexual liberalism.[4]

Contents summary[edit | edit source]

A Tremor of Bliss recounts the author's experiences in Catholic school during the 1970s and 1980s.[2] In particular, he describes his time at Georgetown Preparatory School during his secondary education and how they approached sex education.[2][4] Judge writes that his sex education teacher, Bernie Ward, went on to move to San Francisco and lead a talk show focusing on left-wing politics.[2] noting that "Ward would also be arrested and convicted for sending pornographic images of children over the Internet."[2] Judge recalls that in the initial lecture about sex education Ward gave an assignment to read about feminism and sexual activity written by Betty Friedan.[2] Judge criticized Ward for de-emphasizing virtuous religious values and embracing liberal ideas about sex and women's bodies.[2]

Judge argues that liberalism has encouraged a society embracing pornography, which he says is a danger to American culture.[2] Judge cites his own Catholic school background in order to discuss the broader topic of sex education and its impact on him as a youth.[2] He criticizes American sexual mores including hookup culture, abortion, and the sexual revolution in the United States.[2][3][4] and criticizes baby boomers, an age group to which he belongs.[3][4] Judge examines why, in his view, the sexual revolution in 1960s United States led to a decline in American values and an exodus from religious conservatism.[3][4] He cites lyrics from contemporary rock and roll music to argue his point about the decrease in virtues in American society.[3] Judge discusses the impact of musicians, including Louis Armstrong and Justin Timberlake, on American society, .[4] He argues that the themes of love in their music reflect a deeper yearning for religious ideology.[4]

A Tremor of Bliss presents a chronology of birth control in the United States.[3] He discusses the leadership roles in the birth control movement of Margaret Sanger, and sexual attitude changes in American society as furthered by the research of Alfred Kinsey.[3] The author discusses the encyclical Humanae vitae written by Pope Paul VI and its attempts to argue a return to traditional Catholic values regarding sexuality.[3] Judge recounts the history of moral theologian Charles Curran.[3] Pope John Paul II is featured in a hagiographic fashion as a protagonist of the book.[3][4] Judge recounts Theology of the Body by John Paul II, and argues that it is a model for how Catholic teachings can be incorporated into American societal views on sex.[3] Judge also extols the views of some other Christian theological writers including Hans Urs von Balthasar and Dietrich von Hildebrand.[4] Judge heavily criticizes the views of Catholic commentators Andrew Sullivan and E.J. Dionne.[3] Judge subsequently states that he supports same-sex marriage in the United States.[3]

The author recounts intimate details from his own sexual history to illustrate his points in A Tremor of Bliss.[2] He states that he engaged in frequent sexual activity, and describes a girlfriend whom he refers to as Ellen,[2] and relates how Ellen discovered she was pregnant by the author, and had an abortion without first informing him.[2] Judge discusses the impact of this on him.[2] At first he says the impact was minimal, due to his liberal sex education as taught by Ward at Georgetown Preparatory School.[2] This informed him that condom use was encouraged, and that the anti-abortion movements was akin to a form of fascism.[2] He recounts that he cried when he heard about the abortion.[2] He describes her choice as a disaster and a catastrophe tied to his narcissism and his sexual liberalism.[2]

A Tremor of Bliss argues for a counterrevolution rooted in Catholic beliefs in order to serve as a counter to the original sexual revolution in the United States.[2][3][4] Judge criticizes what he views as a liberal attitude towards sexuality in the United States, and believes Catholic education can serve as a counter-balance to these.[2][3][4]

Composition and publication[edit | edit source]

Prior to writing A Tremor of Bliss, Judge had worked as a journalist in his early twenties.[10] He was a freelance writer in 1989 in the Washington, D.C. area.[11] Judge received his bachelor of arts degree from Catholic University of America in 1990.[7][8] By 1990 he had become a contributor to The Progressive, In These Times and Sojourners.[12] Judge briefly taught at Georgetown University but left in the 1990s.[6][13] Before publishing A Tremor of Bliss, Judge's previously published books9 included: Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,[9][10][14] If It Ain't Got That Swing,[15][16] Damn Senators,[17][18] and God and Man at Georgetown Prep.[6][19]

By August 2008, Judge had contracted with Doubleday with plans to publish A Tremor of Bliss in 2009, under the planned title of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex and the American Catholic Church.[20][21] A Tremor of Bliss was first released in a print format, in hardcover edition, in 2010.[22][23] An eBook edition was released the same year.[24] Judge led a discussion forum in 2010 on themes in A Tremor of Bliss, at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C.[5] By September 2010, A Tremor of Bliss had reached the "Catholic Bestsellers" printed in Publishers Weekly.[1]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

A Tremor of Bliss received a review from Jeremy Lott in The Washington Times, who said "Some authors try to separate themselves from their arguments. Mr. Judge’s books tend toward the confessional."[2] Lott's review concluded, "Judge proposes a Catholic sexual counterrevolution, though he doesn't want to call it that. What he clearly does want is U.S. Catholic education to play a vital role in countering the current almost-anything-goes culture."[2]

First Things contributor Matthew Kenefick wrote in his review of A Tremor of Bliss, "An insightful history of the rise of contraception in the last century provides the most valuable material in A Tremor of Bliss."[3] Kenefick recommended the book, concluding, "A Tremor of Bliss is a book well worth reading from an author unafraid of showing some 'attitude.'"[3]

In a review of A Tremor of Bliss for The Daily Caller, Richard M. Reinsch II wrote, "Mark Judge reinterprets the sexual revolution through the looking-glass of its most dominant institutional contributors and critics."[4] Reinsch echoed the views of Judge that American society would in the future undergo a shift back towards religious morality.[4] Reinsch concluded: "Years from now, the teachings Judge references ... still shape the religious and moral formation of many young people and even adults. Lady Gaga, et al., will be the period piece studied for insight on how deranged we once were."[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "September 2010 Catholic Bestsellers", Publishers Weekly, September 29, 2010 – via LexisNexis
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 Lott, Jeremy (November 9, 2010), "Book Review: Call for a Catholic sexual counterrevolution", The Washington Times, p. B4, retrieved September 19, 2018 – via InfoTrac and NewsBank
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 Kenefick, Matthew (January 2011), "A Review of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll", First Things (209), p. 60 – via EBSCO Information Services
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 Reinsch, Richard M. (October 27, 2010), "Loves lost past", The Daily Caller, retrieved September 19, 2018
  5. 5.0 5.1 O'Rourke, Anne (September 8, 2010), "Sex and Catholicism Discussion", The Washington Examiner – via NewsBank, Mark Judge, a journalist whose books include Damn Senators: My Grandfather and the Story of Washington’s Only World Series Championship and God and Man at Georgetown Prep: How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling. His writings have appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, First Things, and the Weekly Standard.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Selk, Avi (September 17, 2018), "What the man accused of being part of Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault had to say about women's sexuality", The Washington Post, retrieved September 18, 2018
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Alumni Report", Catholic University of America Magazine, Catholic University of America, Spring 2006, retrieved September 21, 2018, Mark Gauvreau Judge, B.A. 1990, of Potomac, Md., is the author of God and Man at Georgetown Prep: How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling (Crossroad Publishing Co., 2005). In the book he shares his experiences at three Catholic schools.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Judge, Mark Gauvreau (Spring 2005), "My Favorite Teacher: Brashness + Tradition", Catholic University of America Magazine, Catholic University of America, retrieved September 21, 2018, Mark Gauvreau Judge, B.A. 1990, has written four books, most recently Damn Senators: My Grandfather and the Story of Washington’s Only World Series Championship (Encounter Books, 2003) and God and Man at Georgetown Prep: How I Became a Catholic Despite 20 Years of Catholic Schooling (Crossroad, 2005). His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Weekly Standard. Pictured are Judge and his father Joe Judge, B.A. 1950, LL.D. 1988, in a photo taken in the mid-1990s.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Maas, Peter (September 22, 2018), "Mark Judge's memoir about Brett Kavanaugh's high school portrays a culture of aggression and excessive drinking", The Intercept, retrieved September 22, 2018
  10. 10.0 10.1 Barr, Elizabeth (June 29, 1997), "A Pampered Boy's Life, As Seen Through a Buzz (book review)", The Buffalo News, p. G7 – via NewsBank
  11. Judge, Mark G. (January 1989), "Censors at Work", The Progressive, 53 (1), p. 40 – via ProQuest, Mark G. Judge is a free-lance writer in Washington, D.C.
  12. Judge, Mark G. (December 1990), "Books: Seeing Anew", The Progressive, 54 (12), p. 40, Mark G. Judge has contributed to Sojourners, and In These Times as well as The Progressive.
  13. Velshi, Ali; Ruhle, Stephanie (September 19, 2018), "Who Is Brett Kavanaugh's Friend, Mark Judge?", MSNBC (video), YouTube, retrieved September 22, 2018
  14. Newman, Michael (June 29, 1997), "Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk. By Mark Gauvreau Judge. Hazelden.", The New York Times, p. BR20, retrieved September 19, 2018
  15. "Book Review: If It Ain't Got That Swing: The Rebirth of Grown-Up Culture", Kirkus Reviews, Kirkus Associates, LP, May 15, 2000
  16. Szatmary, Dave (2000), "Book Review: If It Ain't Got That Swing: The Rebirth of Grown-Up Culture", Library Journal, Reed Business Information
  17. "Taste -- Review & Outlook: A Capital Idea", The Wall Street Journal, p. W19, July 18, 2003 – via ProQuest
  18. Hansen, Liane (September 5, 2004), "Interview: Michael Kranish talks about his summer reading picks", Weekend Edition, NPR – via NewsBank, My favorite part of 'Damn Senators' was learning who Joe Judge was, a person who I really hadn't heard of.
  19. Duin, Julia (April 19, 2006), "Prep school concedes to abuse charge", The Washington Times, p. B3 – via InfoTrac
  20. "Carr Guy", The American Spectator, July 23, 2008 – via LexisNexis, Mark Gauvreau Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex and the American Catholic Church, to be published by Doubleday in 2009.
  21. "The Rap on Hip-Hop", The American Spectator, August 1, 2008 – via LexisNexis, Mark Gauvreau Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex and the American Catholic Church, to be published by Doubleday in 2009.
  22. Judge, Mark (2010), A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll, Doubleday Religion, ISBN 978-0385519205
  23. "A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll", WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2010, OCLC 262430744, retrieved September 21, 2018
  24. "A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock 'n' Roll", WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, 2010, OCLC 773700995, retrieved September 21, 2018

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Stephen J. Schulhofer, Unwanted Sex: The Culture of Intimidation and the Failure of Law, Harvard University Press; New edition (May 5, 2000), trade paperback, 336 pages ISBN 0674002032 ISBN 978-0674002036


Others articles of the Topic Catholicism : Jesuit Institute South Africa, Social Research and Action Center, Cannabis in Vatican City, Latin, Godfrey Okoye, Ida Mari, Most Holy Trinity Seminary

Others articles of the Topic Religion : Gary McLelland, Christianity

Others articles of the Topic Sexuality : Lolita (term), You Know Me movement, Edging (sexual practice), Puff Puff (sexual term), Carriage Room, You Know Me Movement, Sufiah Yusof


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