OK, this might get a little uncomfortable. And for that, I apologize in advance. But there are uncomfortable things in this world — especially these days — that simply cannot go uncommented on.
That’s how I felt when I first read the article, given to me by a colleague, who was lamenting yet another example of the “degradation of our society.” I laughed, and then I looked at it. And then I read it.
The headline of the story, which was front and center on the cover of USA Today’s Money section was, and I kid you not: “Vasectomy cakes are a thing.”
Then, amid colorful descriptions of a variety of creative and, dare I say, cutting edge, baking decorations, the article goes on to explain why. In our robust economy, customers are branching out, looking for different ways to spend their extra cash. Why not celebrate the awkward? Or the extremely personal? Apparently birthday cakes are so “last year” — along with, rather fittingly given the story subject, any kind of rising birth rate.
The “journalistic” point of the article, I think, was to show how these types of novelty cakes can mean big business — or at least increased business — for bakeries looking to increase and diversify their revenue streams.
“For small bakers, offering up cakes for offbeat occasions is a way to increase profits, as the traditional model of birthdays-weddings-communions-graduations grows stale,” the article states. “Finding alternative occasions to drum up business is very similar to what the greeting-card industry has tried to do.”
After all, as the article continues, there are more than 500,000 vasectomies performed in the United States per year. At $30 a cake, we’re looking at a potential additional cash flow of $15 million a year. For small businesses, that is worth a celebratory cake or two just on its own.
But in the eyes of the Church, this is just one more example of our society’s creative — and almost uncanny — ability to make the unacceptable acceptable and the regrettable something to be applauded.
Vasectomies, of course, are a no-no for the Church, which views any type of intentional barrier to the openness to life to be immoral. Such actions take for granted that we can and should be in control of the things that really only should be left to the purview of God himself.
We are not God, but how often does our society revel in the fact that we are able, thanks to technological and scientific advances, to play him more and more? Sadly, all too often.
Perhaps the article is another example, as if another example were needed, of just how far society has drifted from roots of Judeo-Christian morality.
Which leads us naturally to the question: Just how far do we have to go, as a Church and as Catholics, to get them back?
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that bakeries would have an additional cash flow of $1.5 million. We regret the error.