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More on Capon

Christianity Today posted a nice memorial to Robert Farrar Capon a few days ago. It included some personal material, obtained from Fr. Capon’s wife, as well as this explanation about his earlier divorce:

Mrs. Capon was a bit surprised when I told her that I particularly liked Father Capon’s first book,Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, an unconventional and, though dated, delightful celebration of the joys of marriage and family life. His argument for premarital chastity is particularly memorable, if quaint: marriage is a long business, he argues, and it would be a shame not to save certain delightful discoveries for the marriage bed instead of furtively rushing through them in the backseat of a car somewhere. He also makes a somewhat unconvincing but amusing argument that the ideal mother is a plump mother: more of her to love.

But after 27 years of marriage and six children, Capon divorced his first wife, Margaret. “As it has turned out,” he wrote in The Romance of the Word, “there were a lot of departments in which I was not a success, not to mention several in which I was, and still am, a failure. … I dedicated a great deal of time and effort to my children’s religious formation, only to find them now mostly uninterested and non-practicing.” The failure of his first marriage and subsequent remarriage ended Capon’s career as dean of a diocesan seminary and priest-in-charge of a mission church. His was not a life of “triumphant goodness or heroic efforts” but of “dumb luck and forgiveness.” This only underscored his gratitude for God’s grace and mercy; elsewhere he wrote: “Grace cannot prevail … until our lifelong certainty that someone is keeping score has run out of steam and collapsed.”

Rod Dreher also posted some thoughts on Capon at The American Conservative here and here.

By Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.