Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Thanks to TimesWatch editor Clay Waters for finding the pic.
New revelations make it increasingly probable that the New York Times not only knew Amy Richards was an abortion-rights activist, but even timed its article to coincide with Planned Parenthood's mass-marketing of her "I had an abortion" T-shirt. [UPDATE: TimesWatch reports that the Times has published "an embarrassing and revealing Editor's Note" that barely even begins to acknowledge the paper's culpability.]
Jennifer Baumgardner, Richards's partner in the speaker-booking agency Soapbox, told Mother Jones editor Monika Bauerlein last April during a public appearance that she was changing the focus of her "I'm Not Sorry" campaign (detailed in yesterday's Dawn Patrol) to "I Had an Abortion." "Unfortunately, I now hate the name 'I'm Not Sorry,' because I feel it really rankles," she said. "It initially spoke to people that I was surrounded by, like my best friend and colleague, Amy Richards, who has had two abortions and she's not sorry."
Richards is so not sorry, Baumgardner said, that she makes no secret of her identity. This is very important with regard to the Times debacle. Baumgardner goes on to say of Richards: "She's really open about her abortions, and she was one of the inspirations for this. She's one of the few people I know who, when a journalist calls and they need someone to talk about their procedure, she doesn't make them change her name."
Let's rewind that with emphasis added, shall we?
"She's one of the few people I know who, when a journalist calls and they need someone to talk about their procedure, she doesn't make them change her name."
Baumgardner's statement echoes Richards's claim to the New York Sun that she didn't hide her background from the Times. Why did Times writer Amy Barrett contact Richards in the first place? How did she know the woman had a story to tell?
The interview with Baumgardner also reveals the genesis of the "I had an abortion" T-shirt: " I realized saying 'I'm not sorry' or calling [the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade] I'm Not Sorry Day wasn't having the desired effect. So I made T-shirts to wear to the march that say 'I had an abortion.' Depending on who you are, wearing that is just no big deal, or it's the most revolutionary and maybe horrifying thing you could possibly imagine. I think 'I had an abortion,' the statement without the qualifier of 'and here is my opinion about it,' is a more forceful thing."
Now, here's what brings it all full circle—the Planned Parenthood connection. Let's hear it straight from Amy Richards, in her blog on the Working for Change site (yes, the same organization you and I have been funding when we buy Ben & Jerry's ice cream). Fasten your seat belts:
Besides being a speak out, the I'm Not Sorry Day Event that I attended on the Roe Anniversary featured cute chocolate brown t-shirts emblazoned with 'I Had An Abortion' in baby blue [sic—I mean, sick—Ed.].Look, I really don't want to become a conspiracy theorist. But if you work in the media or public relations, please tell me: Doesn't it seem highly likely that the appearance of Amy Richards' New York Times article on her double-abortion on the same week that her "I had an abortion" T-shirt debuted in Planned Parenthood's store seem like more than a coincidence?
The idea behind the shirts is to have women wearing them at the big April 25th March on Washington. I bought one and have worn it twice - once at that event and once because the Fairfield County newspaper was doing a story on the shirts and needed a model. I obliged and only after doing so realized what a statement that shirt made. I save my political t-shirts - like Sarah Jones' "Fed Up" - a play on FedEx and a promotion for her play Surface Transit; Third Wave's I Spy Sexism - for yoga class or runs in the park. But this one already felt different - it felt like an affront.
My instincts were confirmed when my usual mellow and non-opinionated boyfriend cautioned me from wearing it in public. I promised to take his advice, except at the March and other public occasions that called for it....Then I talked to Gloria Steinem who thought "it was great." If anything this revealed a great generational difference for me - Gloria had an abortion when it was illegal and she had to be silent; for Gloria it was liberating to be public.
Gloria Steinem was coincidently having dinner with Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the day she received her t-shirt, and so inspired, she mentioned them. Now, Planned Parenthood will sell the t-shirts, potentially along with buttons that will be free in their lobbies. A great example of how one simple idea can become much bigger.
I suspect that the more information comes out about the genesis of the Times piece, the more it will show that the newspaper always knew that its article would provide a launch pad for Planned Parenthood's "I had an abortion" campaign.
Honestly, if I can dig up this much information just by staying up for a few hours after my copyediting job and using Google, there must be more out there to find. At the very least, even if there's no conspiracy, all this shows that someone at the Times is neglecting their research—outrageously so.
Tuesday night, or rather Wednesday morning, is my least favorite commute of the week, as that's my late shift, so I reach the 33rd Street PATH station after midnight, running the gauntlet of the overnight homeless. Even then, there are usually tourists and a handful of other non-druggie commuters around, so the worst things I normally have to deal with are creepy stares. Once I get on the PATH train, I ride in the first or second car, near the conductor, and I'm home free...normally.
An hour ago, I was sitting in the first car of the PATH train, feeling very much at home. My favorite conductor was at hand, a kind man who each year puts together a huge team to walk for cystic fibrosis in honor of his son. I was looking at my headlines in the bulldog edition of the newspaper, enlivened with excitement over my upcoming vacation.
Part of that excitement was fear, as I haven't flown overseas since 9/11 and am more scared of flying than I used to be. I also have a penchant for Walter Mitty-style fantasizing—earlier that day, I caught myself fantasizing how brave I'd be in a "let's roll" situation.
Less than two minutes before the train pulled in to my stop, I realized I hadn't read the Bible all day. So I put down my paper and opened up my bag to dig out my King James, when I heard a man shout something unintelligible.
I looked up and saw a man who was storming through the car. Immediately he said something else unintelligible and punched the window of the door across from me. The window fell out.
Now, I've been riding those trains regularly for over 20 years. The windows do not just fall out. People lean on them in packed trains, rush hour after rush hour, and they do not fall out. You have to hit one really hard to make it do that. I'd never seen anyone do it until now. And the conductor, who usually would be riding in the first car, was nowhere to be seen.
The man stormed past me, I looked at him and said a wordless prayer that I wouldn't be his next target, and then I got up. A few years back, when someone collapsed on the train, I learned the hard way that one should not pull the emergency brake. The PATH has an alert box that notifies the conductor of a problem, and that was where I headed, in the opposite direction of the thug.
I opened up the box and pushed the button. People around me were shaking their heads, "Don't do it."
"It won't stop the train," I said. I knew the train would arrive in a minute, but I didn't want to be without the conductor for another second. Besides, this way the conductor could notify the police.
Quickly the conductor arrived. "Black man, gray shirt, punched out window," I said robotically. Not how I normally talk, but I was on adrenaline autopilot. The conductor talked to someone on his radio and had a calm exchange of words with the thug. I didn't hear what was said.
We arrived and I hoped to see transit cops get the thug. There were none there that I could see, but it's possible they stopped him on his way out—I didn't want to follow him to see.
I did ask the conductor if he wanted me to stay as a witness, but he said I shouldn't waste my time filing a police report. He explained that the thug was one of the rail system's regular homeless, who had gotten angry after the conductor had ordered him not to ride between cars—and probably hadn't meant to cause damage.
Had I more time and had it not been close to 1 a.m., I might have filed a police report anyway—if only to insure that the perpetrator would have gotten some kind of help or treatment. As it was, I went up the stairs, looking all around. I normally feel safe walking home, but this time, just in case the thug was still around, I took a cab.
At least I know now that my default reaction really is, "Let's roll." But I'm ticked off that I had to discover that in my own hometown.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
The current edition of Jeff Grimshaw's weekly humor column, "The Writing on the Wall," is bathroom humor in the most literate sense of the word. He examines bathroom graffiti with an earthy yet erudite wit that reminds me of Samuel Johnson crossed with Lenny Bruce. Here's a sample, but I highly recommend reading the whole column before he replaces it with a newer one:
Who can forget the thrill of watching a vigorous debate unfold slowly over the course of a month or two on the wall above the toilet dispenser in your favorite stall. On Monday there would be a premise written in Black Flair:
"I like grils!"
On Thursday, a blue all point would respond:
"Don’t you mean girls?"
The following Tuesday, Black Flair would concede:
"Yeah I meant GIRLS."
And after a pause of two or three weeks, purple crayon would enter the discussion with:
"But what about us grils?"
Monday, July 26, 2004
When the New York Times Magazine published an essay last week by a woman named Amy Richards about how she had two of her triplets aborted, readers, bloggers, and pundits reacted with justifiable outrage. Many, like Gerard van der Leun, noted that Richards was a pro-abortion author and writer for a number of Web sites, including feminist.com. But I just discovered a connection that I haven't seen cited anywhere else, and it's important because it reveals an agenda that goes well beyond the Times Magazine piece. In fact, it makes the Times Magazine piece look like a calculated effort to garner a first wave of publicity for Richards's next project. [UPDATE, 7/27/04: The New York Sun reports that the Times claims it was unaware of Amy Richards' background. But neither the Sun nor any other publication has reported the Times article's connection to Richards' campaign, outlined below.]
Two days ago in this space, I wrote about Planned Parenthood's new "I had an abortion" T-shirt, a story which was picked up today by The Drudge Report. Today, I discovered through a Web search that although the T-shirt became officially available last week, it was available to some as far back as January, to coincide with "celebrations" of the 31st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. The January 22 edition of the New Haven Advocate reports:
Jennifer Baumgardner, a 33-year-old New York activist and writer....decided to recast the Roe vs. Wade anniversary as "I'm Not Sorry Day," a campaign that will include "I Had An Abortion" T-shirts and a documentary film of women sharing their abortion stories that will be screened during Women's History Month on the 32nd anniversary of Roe next January . (Baumgardner's writing partner, activist Amy Richards who co-founded Third Wave, the only national organization for young feminists, is pictured on the [newspaper's] cover wearing the campaign's T-shirt.)In other words, this revolting T-shirt, which is now making headlines around the world, is the brainstorm of Amy Richards, who co-writes the "I Had an Abortion" campaign literature and proudly wore the slogan across her chest on the cover of a newspaper.
That Times Magazine article now looks less like a shocking admission of individual guilt, and more like a first volley in a propaganda campaign that is only just beginning. You can see it in the 2005 calendar on the Web site of Soapbox, Richards's and Baumgardner's company that organizes lecture tours for feminist activists: "January 22nd — Roe v. Wade Anniversary (a.k.a. 'I had an abortion/ I'm not sorry' Day)."
A stronger hint of what's to come is on the Web site for an organization closely affiliated with Richards and Baumgardner, ImNotSorry.net, whose front page boasts that it's "a site where women can share their positive experiences with abortion." The site lists Baumgardner as one of its "biggest cheerleaders," a compliment the writer earned by penning a fawning article in The Nation crediting the site with inspiring her "I had an abortion/I'm not sorry" campaign.
ImNotSorry.net goes out of its way to keep any pretense of delicacy or compassion out of its unrepentantly pro-abortion message. I never thought anyone could make the advice "experts" at Planned Parenthood's Teenwire look like Marcus Welby, but these women do it. From their responses to frequently asked questions:
If you listen to the anti-choicers, they would have you believe that full-term babies are being ripped out of wombs and having their heads bashed in, when in fact what’s being removed is an alien-looking clump roughly the size of a kidney bean. Many anti-choicers will of course say that we’re avoiding reality by believing that what’s removed during an abortion isn’t a baby. We reply that many people avoid reality by believing that every woman gets gooey over babies and wants to be a mother.The sentence that follows should stand on its own:
We have no doubt that the moment the human race figured out that babies were the result of sex, someone began coming up with birth control and abortion.Amazing. They gleefully admit the doctrine of the Fall—as if they'd invented it. Talk about the devil citing Scripture.
See my July 28 entry for new revelations.
FURTHER READING: Dennis of Vita Mea has a story in his archives about seeing a woman leave an abortuary in a T-shirt that read, "Abortion Tickles".
TRACKBACK: Beyonn D. Pale at Vigilance Matters, who calls me the "Uber-Googler" (thanks!), takes the T-shirt war to its logical conclusion. I take it he's merely making a Swiftian "modest proposal" and does not really mean it. No abortionists were harmed in the writing of this post. Saint Kansas also chimes in with "a shirt for 'the rest of us.'"
UPDATE, 7/28/04: Corrected entry with regard to Richards's and Baumgardner's relationship to ImNotSorry.net. Also corrected to say that Richards wore the T-shirt on a newspaper's cover.
The New York Sun article referenced above was found via TimesWatch.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Jan, the Happy Homemaker, has a thought-provoking post about her first-ever visit to a synagogue. She writes about how she had expected it to be much different than it was—more "set apart" from the world.
It's a reasonable expectation. Many times in the Hebrew Bible, God commands the Jewish people to be a nation apart. That was a prime reason for one of God's first commandments to Abraham, that he and every man around him be circumcised.
The spirit of such commandments is reinforced in traditional prayers, including one used in the Havdalah service that observant Jews perform at the close of the Sabbath:
You are blessed, Lord our God, the sovereign of the world, who makes a distinction between sacred and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the other nations, between the seventh day and the six working days. You are blessed, Lord, who makes a distinction between the sacred and the secular.Although Christians are not under the law, they too are commanded to be set apart—to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds." That's why I like where Jan's observation on the synagogue takes her:
I got to thinking about what a non-Christian must anticipate before visiting a Christian church or even going to a party with a bunch of Christians. I'm guessing they are anticipating a big difference from the usual party. But, sometimes, in our desire to appear "cool" to others, we don't act in a way that is set apart from the world. Indeed, we want others to think we are hip. We may be embarrassed if we don't drink. We may think they will be uncomfortable if we talk about Godly things. We may want to show that we are just as aware of popular culture as they are. Why do we do this? Honestly, it has never occurred to me that they may be hoping we are set apart. They may want to see a glimpse of what it means to be one of God's people."So, I have some things to work on," she concludes. "Got some inhibitions to cast aside."
Me too, Jan. Keep creating that sacred space—in your church and on your blog.
LifeSiteNews.com reports that the latest product in Planned Parenthood's online store is the "I had an abortion" T-shirt. It's pictured on PP's Web site, above the gleeful declaration, "They have finally arrived!" I wonder how long the organization's clientele were expecting them. Surely not nine months.
Checking in with the store, I found loads of other items designed to stop hearts—like the Mifepristone - The Abortion Pill - "Grabbit" Pen Holder.
The pen holder advertises mifepristone, the French abortion drug better known as RU-486. For $27, an abortion enthusiast may purchase 12 holders—three apiece in three colors: turquoise, orange, and green.
A Planned Parenthood copywriter was paid to write this gushing prose:
Both fun and functional - you'll never be without a pen when you have the Mifepristone Grabbit pen holder around your neck. And they convey an important message!In other words, yippee! Kill them babies—and advertise the slaughter to the world!
The copy on the pen holder reads:
It's Safe. It's Private. And it's finally here.
As if to add insult to evacuation, the pen holders are 1-inch thick—the crown-to-foot height of the baby at the 7-week stage, when RU-486 would be used. It helps women have a concrete idea of the size of the human being they're releasing into a toilet bowl.
But of course, a pen holder would be nothing without a pen. Planned Parenthood steps in boldly to fill the gap, with its Emergency Contraception pen—for those times when you wake up the morning after and just want to write off that human life inside your womb.
The pens are on sale: $20 for a bag of 50. That means that for only $20, you can inspire 50 women to murder their unborn children. Imagine!
The catalogue copy reads:
This BIC, Diamante-Style pen comes in two colors (navy and red). Both write in black ink. The three lines of copy are:"Because Accidents Happen." How prosaic. A human life is an "accident." What does that say about how the proponents of abortion view themselves? Their lives are empty and meaningless. They live only for themselves, yet they see no intrinsic value in their own lives. They are "accidents," and the only service they feel they can do for themselves and the world is prevent more "accidents."
"Because Accidents Happen
Although the marketing items like these and the "I had an abortion" T-shirt reflect a deep sickness in the culture, they could ultimately help the cause of life, as LifeSiteNews.com reports: "The idea of an abortion pride fashion statement has intrigued at least one Canadian journalist. David Warren, a prominent columnist for the Ottawa Citizen responded to LifeSiteNews.com by saying cheerily, 'I think it's a great idea. In fact, I think they should adopt a whole range of slogans. How about, "I eat unborn babies for breakfast...Vote John Kerry." Now those would really sell.'"
Friday, July 23, 2004
I was reading the Bible on the PATH train last night (I'm a great proponent of on-train Bible-reading—there's nothing else you're supposed to be doing, there are no distractions, and you can't use your cell phone), and I admit I was doing the I Ching thing. Normally I don't recommend this method, as it's superstitious—you open the Bible to a random page in hope of finding divine wisdom that appertains to you at that very moment—but this time it opened to a particularly moving passage, Luke 8:48: "And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
For a woman searching the Bible for reassuring words from Jesus, those certainly seemed made to order—even more so because Jesus did heal me from a terrible spiritual and physical ailment—clinical depression—and I believe His hands continue to reshape me.
But there was still five minutes to go before the train arrived at my stop, so I looked at the context of the quote. It's part of a sequence of events: Jairus, ruler of the synagogue, asks Jesus to heal his daughter; while Jesus is heading to the ruler's house, a woman touches the hem of his garment and is healed of her bleeding ailment; news comes that the ruler's daughter is dead; Jesus goes to the house anyway and brings the girl back to life.
What struck me about the sequence was that it was a story within a story. It's very rare to find a sequence in the Gospels like that where a story begins, another story interrupts it, and then the narrative suddenly did a "meanwhile, back at the ranch" and returns to the original story. It seemed there had to be meaning in the sequence of events, as well as the events themselves.
Suddenly it occurred to me that the woman being healed represented Jesus' healing the Gentiles, bringing them to him. In a similar manner, the girl, being the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, represented the Jews.
Luke wrote that "virtue" had gone out of Jesus. My Bible linked that back to Luke 5:17: "And the power of the Lord was present to heal them." That made me think of the hymn: "There is power in the blood."
If there's power in the blood, then Jesus didn't just give that woman virtue. He gave her a transfusion.
By contrast, when Jesus raised the dead girl, he took her by the hand and told her to arise. That suggested to me that while Gentiles need Jesus to replace their lifeblood with His own, the Jewish people already have God's substance—in the form of the Hebrew Bible. So Jews then need the touch from Jesus that will infuse the understanding of God that they already have with new and transformative life. I myself certainly felt, when I first received the Holy Spirit, that the entire Bible came alive to me.
Looking at the two healing stories as a whole instead of as disconnected episodes, the message was clear to me: The Jews were the first to recognize their need for God, but the Gentiles were by and large the first to accept the message of the gospel. But the story is not complete until the Jews accept Jesus as well.
All that hit me in that last five minutes of my ride.
I pondered it more as I walked the nighttime streets back to my home. Luke makes a point of the fact that the girl was 12 years old. Wouldn't that be the age that Jewish girls were allowed to marry? So both Gentiles and Jews had to accept Jesus in order for the Bride of Christ—the Church—to be united with Jesus.
As soon as I got home, I did a Web search for the traditional age that Jewish girls could marry, and I found it was indeed 12. I also looked up the name Jairus to see if there was any significance to it, as there pretty much always is with Biblical names, particularly New Testament ones. Although the Web sites I found weren't in agreement, it seemed that the most popular interpretation of Jairus was "God enlightens"—another sign of Jesus' bringing his light to the Jewish people.
It was then that I entered the Twilight Zone.
As I searched for verification of the meaning of Jairus's name, I found a page that had several writers' interpretation of the same miracle stories that I'd examined—and they'd all made exactly the same conclusions as I had.
I had no memory of ever coming across that interpretation of the stories before, though it's entirely possible I might have heard it in a sermon.
So it was with some surprise that I discovered a group of writers had come to the same conclusions as me. I can't say it was a shock—the Bible and Bible interpreters have been along a lot longer than I have. But it was still strange.
One of the writers said, "Mystically, however, Jairus comes after the healing of the woman, because when the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, then shall Israel be saved."
Another said, "But in the woman with the bloody flux, and the raising of the damsel, is shewn the salvation of the human race, which was so ordered by the Lord, that first some from Judaea, then the fulness of the Gentiles, might come in, and so all Israel might be saved."
That same writer added a connection that hadn't occurred to me—the woman had been ill for as long as the girl had been alive: "Again, the damsel was twelve years old, and the woman had suffered for twelve years, because the sinning of unbelievers was contemporary with the beginning of the faith of believers."
But this part was the real surprise: All those interpreters on the page I found were early Christian writers, compiled by Thomas Aquinas in his Catena Aurea (Golden Chain).
I would never have imagined the early Roman Catholic Church's putting so much emphasis on Paul's message in Romans 11, particularly verses 25 and 26: "...that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved..."
I should note that the Catena Aurea chapter which contains the interpretions of the miracle stories also includes language about the Jewish people that, at least on the face of it, is disturbing—particularly Bede's writing that the hands of the Jews are "full of blood": "Again, our Lord raised the damsel by taking hold of her hand, because the hands of the Jews, which are full of blood, must first be cleansed, else the synagogue, which is dead, cannot rise again." But the overall message of recognition that God has a salvation plan for Jews as well as Gentiles—and that both will be saved together—is something I had not seen expressed so plainly in Catholic theology.
At the time that "The Passion of the Christ" was released, I wrote a great deal of contrarian pieces on this page, saying that regardless of the actual depiction of Jews in the film, I objected to Mel Gibson's replacement theology. I made an assumption that Gibson, being a traditionalist Catholic who rejects Vatican II, believed that God's promises to the Jewish were no longer valid—that they'd been usurped by the Church.
I still believe, based on what I know of Gibson and traditionalist Catholics (whose commitment to orthodoxy I respect even as I disagree with them on certain points), that Gibson's faith is likely based on a replacement-theology perspective. But what I've just read in Catena Aurea, combined with the changes of Vatican II and the Church's recent remarkable denouncement of not only anti-Semitism but also anti-Zionism, gives me a new and much more favorable impression of how the Church sees itself in relation to the Jewish people.
TRACKBACK: Dennis of Vita Mea offers an insightful response, drawing a rhetorical bead on Bede.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
National Review's Andrew Stuttaford believes an upright monkey in a zoo is "evolution proved...once and for all." But the news reports note that the monkey is believed to have begun walking on its hind legs after suffering brain damage.
Is that what evolution's all about? If so, I'd better start drinking.
Catholic seminarian Dennis's recent post with alternate lyrics to a well-known contemporary worship song had me laughing out loud.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
I also have a punning headline in today's paper: "Tax-cheat podiatrist's feat failed him: DA."
UPDATE: My boss said he liked the idea, but the headline was too squeezed and "nobody remembers" the headline I was satirizing. He changed it to "THE JOY OF '6'."
Going without kisses, sex, and everything in between for a while—and trying, for the first time in one's life, to curb one's romantic and sexual fantasies as well—creates a good opportunity for self-knowledge. But these days, it feels like the more I learn, the farther I realize I have to go.
I remember that during the last time of my life that I was chaste on purpose—which began shortly after I accepted Jesus—I went through a phase when I felt I'd conquered my desire for sex. But I let my fantasies run wild, and when I eventually met a man I wanted to date, my idealized image of him—and my hopes of how my love might change him—made me rush in when I shouldn't have.
This time around, I've once again reached the point where, for now—save for my imagined clinch at bedtime with a young Orson Welles on the Vienna set of "The Third Man," which I allow because it's very brief and he's very dead—my desire for sex has pretty much flatlined. But my interest in the opposite sex remains—even as it's changed from being on Cute Guy Watch to trying to discern who is my future husband—and my human desires prove more daunting than I'd imagined.
"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." What Paul doesn't tell you is that being born again can mean, from an emotional standpoint, going back to being a baby. That's how I was just after I was saved; I knew I had to live differently, but I still felt there were certain desires that I did not have to give up to the Lord.
Today I know I have to put my desire to eroticize men—or to have a romantic fantasy about one—at the foot of the Cross. But when I meet a man who awakens my interest, I feel awkward and uncertain—even more so than the days when I acted out sexually. I've gone from being a baby in Christ to—God help me—a teenager.
In the past, being in a state of openness to sexual contact enabled me to feel more confident around a love interest. If I wasn't certain of his interest, I could flirt, bat my eyelashes, whatever—and usually get an immediate response. If I wasn't certain that he wanted a committed relationship, I could push things physically, in the hope that it might sway him. Likewise, if I was scared of emotional intimacy, I could get rid of the tension by pushing the physical, speeding the relationship's denouement.
As dangerous as it is, sex provides a comfort zone. Take it away, and you're forced to deal with who you are, who your love interest is, and how confident you are that you can stand. In other words, you're more naked than if you were, well, naked.
Paul says in Romans 14:4 that God is able to make us stand, adding in verses 7-8: "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." I know I must hope in the Lord, and put this spiritual teenagehood too at the foot of the Cross.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Read on to learn how Planned Parenthood's Teenwire Web site encourages underage teens to go to an online portal where they can buy sadomasochistic sex toys and porn videos:
South Dakota Governor
Planned Parenthood and its supporters rushed to accuse Rounds of depriving teenagers of valuable information. In fact, all one has to do is visit Teenwire to see that an overwhelming amount of its content has little to do with educating teens on how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases—and everything to do with sexualizing them.
One can understand why, for example, Bishop Carlson, Governor Rounds, and responsible parents would not want teenagers to view Teenwire's many articles on pornography. According to Teenwire's "experts," pornography is good. Witness the experts' reply to a teen who asked if viewing pornography might damage his school performance:
Many people enjoy using pornography or erotica as a part of their sex play — alone or with a partner.
That's rich. Viewing pornography is comparable to "checking to see if the burners are still on." Say what you will, Teenwire has a soul of metaphor.
There's no correlation between using pornography and getting bad grades in school. However, when any repeated behavior affects a person's ability to meet his or her responsibilities, it's called compulsive and that person may need help to cut down on that particular behavior — whether it's washing your hands over and over, checking to make sure you've locked the door hundreds of times, or checking to see if the burners are still on.
There is no indication that using pornography causes problems as long as it does not interfere with other aspects of a person's life.
But there is indeed something wrong with pornography, and a kid has to only click on Teenwire's "In Focus" section to learn what it is. The article "Porn Vs. Reality" explains, "Most people who have real sex don't look anything like people who have sex in porn, especially the women."
Yes, it's true. Teenwire is truly concerned about young girls' self-esteem—so much so that it goes out of its way to assure them that they don't have to look like porn stars.
I wish I were making this up. What universe are we in, anyway, where a kid could go to a public library's Web site and be connected to such trash?
Stay with me. It gets worse. Much worse.
Teenwire's "Porn Vs. Reality" piece is based on an interview with "Claire Cavanah, co-owner of New York- and Seattle-based sex-toy shops, Toys In Babeland."
That's right. Kids as young as 13 are encouraged to learn about pornography from the proprietresss of a sex-toy shop.
And when they're done, they can buy sadomasochistic sex toys and pornography from that very shop—via Teenwire.
At the bottom of the "Porn Vs. Reality" article is a link: "For more info, check out: Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World. Click on that link on the page and it will open up in a new window.
Normally, Teenwire's links to external sites first open up with a disclaimer, saying that Teenwire is not responsible for outside sites' content. Not this link. It just opens right up. Apparently, Teenwire is quite proud of this site's content.
The article that Teenwire links to is titled, "Looking, Lusting, and Learning: A Straightforward Look at Pornography," and it is on the sex-ed site Scarleteen. It's written by Hanne Blank, whose own Web site boasts that she is the author or editor of such seminal works as Shameless: Women's Intimate Erotica and Best Transgender Erotica. Scarleteen editor Heather Corinna has a similarly porn-friendly résumé; she's a queer writer, editor, photographer, artist, educator, and web publisher. She is the founder and editor of Scarlet Letters, Femmerotic and Scarleteen. She is considered a pioneer of both the Internet and online sexuality and sex-positive erotic art, having brought inclusive, informative and creative sexual content to the web since 1997.
So right away, Teenwire's sending its readers into the open arms of pornographers eager to encourage them to see themselves and others as soulless sex objects to use and be used.
That's no hyperbole. The article to which Teenwire directs its readers, Blank's paean to porn, reads like Relativism 101: "Sometimes, pornography can be a substitute for having a partner with whom you can be sexual. Most people go through periods in their lives when they do not have a sexual partner - that’s totally normal. But very few people really like feeling sexually frustrated, so often when people don’t have anyone in their lives with whom they can be sexual in person, they opt to use pornography to help arouse them and engage themselves sexually."
In other words, there's no good reason to use sexual restraint, no concept of people's being more than collections of errogenous zones. Teens are told in essence, "You are a sexual being, and your sexuality is your being. End of story. Go f--- yourselves."
But give the aptly-named Blank some credit for uncovering one problem with pornography—though she's quick to add that it only exists in people's minds:
The biggest problem that people often have with using pornography is that they sometimes start to expect their own actual sex lives to be just like the pornography they use and enjoy. This is really pretty ridiculous and unreasonable! Pornography is idealistic, not realistic. Porn tends to show what people fantasize about, not what actually does happen in most people’s sex lives.It's the Teenwire message, rephrased: Don't feel bad if you don't look like a porn star.
By this point, if Teenwire and Scarleteen have done their job, readers who have will be itching to see some actual pornography, confident that they can view it without any ill effects and without comparing their own bodies to those of the performers. And Scarleteen is there for them. All the teen reader—or any reader who's allowed to use Mom's credit card—has to do is click on the "Scarleteen Shop" to the left of the article. That will immediately take them to the site's store, which offers links to its shopping partners, including—
That's right. Toys in Babeland.
Let me repeat this, and it's something you can discover yourself by going to Teenwire's "Porn Vs. Reality" article and clicking the series of links I've described. A Teenwire reader only has to click on a recommended link, and then click one more time—on a "Scarleteen Shop" link—to purchase all manner of sadomasochistic paraphernalia, vaginal and anal sex toys, and pornographic videos.
And here's the kicker: They don't have to give their age.
From Scarleteen's shopping instructions:
We...have chosen merchants who support our mission, who accept a variety of payment methods, who do not put age limitations on the products linked to, and who ship expediently and reliably...The merchants we use all ship in plain packages, discreetly...If you have any further questions, or need help, or want to make suggestions, just drop us a line, and we'll be on it like lubricant on latex in no time flat.There is no way that Teenwire could be unaware that it links to a Web site that enables teenagers to purchase sadomasochistic sex toys and pornography. The Scarleteen link has been up on its Web site for nearly two years, and Scarleteen's shop is an integral part of its "mission."
The people who support Planned Parenthood should stop breathing fire over teen's supposed rights to abortion and birth control and take a look at what Margaret Sanger's organization is actually teaching teenagers. I can't believe any responsible parent, or anyone who cares about America's youth, could see how Planned Parenthood treats kids as pawns and not be enraged.
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Janet's in the denim jacket, and I'm wearing glasses while awaiting my new contact lenses. (The glasses, by the way, are older than me—the authentic Twiggy brand.)
Today's serendipitous online discovery is Just Believe, the blog of a 17-year-old South Carolina girl. Normally I'd say "young woman," but she calls herself a girl, and that, like her blog, has a sweet ring to it. The posts of hers that I've seen have a refreshing blend of wisdom and innocence, like this one with its observation about the place of Jesus' birth.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
A new church was recently planted in my town, and, being an open-minded unchurched nondenominational Christian, I decided to give it a fair chance. I'd check out its Web site before dismissing it out of hand.
From the site, I gather the Harbor View Church is a nonjudgmental place. There's no mention of Jesus' dying for our sins—no mention of any sin at all, in fact. There is, however, much mention of "The Sopranos," which is one of the pastor's favorite TV shows, along with "The OC" and "The Apprentice."
I clicked hopefully on a section of the site marked "Free Gift." I had an idea of what it probably was, but I still hoped against hope that it might tell of the free gift of salvation through Jesus' death on the cross. (You know, like those bumper stickers that say, "Read the Bible—Free Gift Inside!")
But no. The free gift for those who give the church their contact information is a copy of The Purpose Driven Life. But in a sign that the church recognizes its target demographic has free will, it does offer visitors an alternate choice. Can you guess?
That's right. The Gospel According to Tony Soprano.
So I'm still looking for a church in the New York City area. That is, assuming the Harbor View Church doesn't have me whacked.
Is it just me, or does this read like an op-ed? From a piece on the global AIDS conference:
The U.S. money dedicated to bilateral programs comes with strings attached -- one-third of the funds earmarked for prevention goes to abstinence-first programs. Also, the money currently can only buy branded drugs, made by companies in rich countries, shutting out generic medicines from developing nations that are not only cheaper but also formulated into three-in-one pills that make it easier for people to stick with treatment.In other words, it's bad enough that U.S. money to Third World countries must be spent on branded drugs, but even worse, the drugs are made by companies in rich countries. Oh, the humanity!
The piece, by the way, was from a news article by the Associated Press.
From ChronWatch, which is to the San Francisco Chronicle what TimesWatch is to the Gray Lady, comes an article by Nick Jenkins with the most intriguing headline I've seen in a while: "The Short, Sad Life of My Vintage 'Reagan/Bush '84' Bumper Sticker."
From that title alone, you can guess the story—especially if you live in a liberal bastion like New York City, or Jenkins's own Seattle.
Jenkins does get over the top with multiple comparisons of closed-minded liberals to Nazis, but don't let that keep you from reading his article to the end. Much of it hits home for conservatives in enemy territory, particularly the reactions of his "supposedly tolerant" friends:
One friend--a bright and articulate lady, but just this side of Karl Marx--said I should feel lucky: the Tolerant One could have keyed my car door or slashed my tires or busted my windows. To which I wondered aloud whether blacks in the South felt lucky when the KKK burned their houses instead of killing them altogether. Another card-carrying lefty pal suggested with a straight face that a fellow right-side-of-the-fencer took the sticker for his own private collection. To which I replied: it’s possible that John Kerry didn’t care about the net worth of his two multi-gajillionaire wives when he married them--but I doubt it. A fellow rightie straightened me out. She told me that conservative bumper stickers don’t actually go on bumpers anymore, at least in the Northwest. If you want it to last, you have to tape it to the inside of the car’s back window.
UPDATE: Forgotten NY's Kevin Walsh writes, "Nick Jenkins need look no further than the Bronx for an unsullied 'Reagan Bush '84' sticker. It's at the bottom of this Forgotten NY page."
Friday, July 16, 2004
Thursday, July 15, 2004
The Associated Press reports from the global AIDS conference:
The global fight against HIV will fail without serious progress in addressing the plight of women in the developing world, including ways they can protect themselves from infection without their partners knowing, advocates say.Advocates for what? The AP doesn't say. But one thing's for sure: They're not advocating any change in African attitudes.
The article continues: "With vaccines considered a long way off and with many cultures denying women the power and confidence to demand that partners wear condoms—regarded as the key prevention tool—scientists are addressing ways women can protect themselves."
The American women's rights movement as you and I know it was based as much around changing the attitudes of men as it was emboldening women. Men were told that they were no longer to hold doors open for women—it was offensive—nor could they make sexual comments about women in a work environment. They weren't supposed to light a woman's cigarette, or be compelled to take the initiative in asking a woman on a date, or do many other things that they had once been told were expected of them.
These new standards for male behavior resulted in a tremendous social change. Some of that changes was for the good, some wasn't, but it was clear that the American women's rights movement won a great victory in a remarkably short time—less than a generation.
But according to the AIDS industry, which is spearheaded by International Planned Parenthood Federation, African men can't be changed. The very idea of changing African men's attitudes isn't even on the table for the AIDS industry. They take it as a given that Westerners must not impose such Dead White Male ideas as respect for women on these backwards Africans.
If that's true—if African men are so primitive they can't be expected to grow (and from these "advocates"' talk, you'd think they were all living in the bush)—
—then why, pray tell, is Christianity growing in Africa at never-before-seen levels?
Africa's native religions don't require men to make anything approaching the spiritual and physical sacrifices of Christianity. By its nature, Christianity requires men to be respectful of women, to marry, and to be faithful and loving to their wives. The idea that hundreds of millions of African men as well as women would adopt Christianity is proof positive that their cultural attitudes can be changed.
But what are these "advocates" suggesting, if not cultural change? From the same Associated Press article:
Among new HIV prevention strategies being discussed are vaccines, diaphragms, anti-HIV vaginal gels, and a daily prescription of HIV drugs to prevent infection.Two things:
Scientists hope that within five years, the first batch of broad-spectrum, HIV-killing vaginal products could be available....
While they are no substitute for condoms, they could profoundly affect how well the world's most vulnerable women can fight HIV even if the products turn out to be no more than 30 percent effective, said Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, chief executive of International Partnership for Microbicides....
"When you can have a partially protective vaccine in 15 years or a partially protective microbicide in 5 years, it makes a whole lot of sense now to focus on microbicides," Rosenberg said.
(1) The microbicide expert admits it may be only 30 percent effective. That means that women using them would still carry a 70 percent chance of infection. They call that a solution? For that, the "advocates" pooh-pooh any idea of effecting cultural change?
(2) They can have a "partially protective microbicide" in five years. Yet they don't believe they should even bother trying to improve African men's treatment of women during that time?
One Roman Catholic archdiocese in Tanzania gained 400,000 members between 1992 and this year. Compared to other Christian denominations, Catholicism is not known for its laxity. It's not a religion one joins if one's goal is to sleep around, abusing and mistreating women. Which makes me wonder...
Given that the AIDS industry is not going to push abstinence, for that would be a victory for the religious groups that seek to change cultural attitudes about sex and personal responsibility...
(and besides, there's no money to be made from abstinence)...
...then, is it any coincidence that the AIDS industry is attemping to force this microbicide approach in Africa, where Catholicism—which promotes the birth of healthy African babies in two-parent homes—is growing so rapidly?
The more I examine the attitudes and approaches of these so-called advocates for Africans at risk of getting HIV, the more I fear they're not so interested in stopping AIDS as they are in destroying those people of color whom Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger called "human weeds."
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
You know you've arrived in the blog world when you start getting fisked.
During the past few days, I've gone from being practically a fisking virgin to being fisked hither and thither. (I say practically a fisking virgin, because an Ivy League philosophy major named Wes used to do point-by-point commentaries on my essays, but his were equanimous and analytical, lacking the vitriol of garden-variety fiskers.)
So far, the most damning fisking I've received is from A Bad Christian Blog—that's its real name—whose "Brandon" writes, "Please don't assume that because I'm different than you, Ms. Eden, that I'm apathetic. It's just that I've learned how to love more people than you."
As the Church Lady would say, "Well!"
I think I may have to change The Dawn Patrol's slogan from "Not the paper of record," to "Where is the love?"
Of course not. Something would have to be really fun for you to take that chance. Like sex. Sex is always worth a 15 percent chance of death, right? After all, if you're not free to have sex with a person who may be infected with AIDS, what's there to live for, right? We're human beings, not animals. We can choose how we live and how we die. To live in a free country means freedom from such bourgeois, Dead White European Male conventions as self-control in pursuit of a [guffaw] higher goal.
Today at the global AIDS conference—where protesters attempted to shout down the American representative, promoting abstinence, with cries of "He's lying, we're dying"—Raoul Fransen, a Dutchman who was infected at 15, railed against abstinence-first education.
Fransen, 26, said that after learning he was HIV positive, he thought he would never have sex again, for fear of infecting others. "It took a while before I was ready to experience intimacy again," he said.
Notice that he didn't say it took him a while to release body fluids against another person again. It took him a while to experience "intimacy." Because we all know that there is no intimacy without sex. And in Fransen's case, there's no such intimacy without risking giving his partner a deadly disease. But that's a risk he's willing to take.
This is a caring, compassionate representative of the HIV-positive anti-abstinence position? I'd hate to hear what the unsympathetic reps of that ideology say.
Pity all those poor children in the world who don't know Fransen's brand of intimacy. The anti-abstinence lobby cares and wishes them to share in this life-affirming adult experience. That is why they have established helpful Web sites for poor underprivileged underage kids. But I digress.
Fransen went on: "Rather than being taught not to have sex, young people...should be enabled to make the choice, be this abstinence or partner reduction or having access to condoms that is right for them.
"They should be supported in discovering their sexuality, its pleasures and its risks. The key lies in giving us a choice, not an ideology."
A choice. Yes, that's it. A 15 percent choice of dying from AIDS. That is the probability that a person will be exposed to HIV while having sex when using using a condom. The high probability occurs because, as anyone who has used condoms well knows, those barrier contraceptives are prone to slip, leak, and break.
The idea that condom use alone could stop an epidemic, without any change in sexual habits, essentially means writing off a minimum of 15 percent of people at risk. I say a minimum, because not everyone would use condoms, and, for those who don't, the absence of abstinence education would ensure that those who did not use condoms would continue to have sex freely.
But most AIDS activists refuse to consider the U.S.'s "ABC" program—which stresses, in order, abstinence, being faithful, and using condoms—because they refuse to adhere to a worldview that requires people to take personal responsibility for their actions. Likewise, since sex is their god, they wish to completely strip it of all its Judeo-Christian associations, detaching it from committed relationships.
Yahoo News, also reporting on today's session:
University of Pretoria researcher Mary Crewe said..."We have to make abstinence sexy, not holy."That is the Teenwire message: Teach teens how to attain sexual pleasure without intercourse, and they will be satisfied. Yet, anyone who knows teenagers or remembers what it was like to be one, knows that this is not so. The idea that it would work for them or for adults as a true deterrent is ludicrous.
Dennis Altman, a professor of politics at LaTrobe University, Australia,...suggested that governments, religious leaders and families get home the message that "there are other forms of sexual pleasure than intercourse," including oral sex and masturbation.
In the face of these "experts," the United States stands as the voice of reason, asserting that the only way to stop the AIDS epidemic is to set priorities—and to place personal responsibility at the top. This is the only policy being proposed that truly values people's humanity, and it is the only one that has been proven to work.
*Amped up the anger.
Today someone—I don't know who—searched this site for the word "respect."
I'm pretty sure I know why they did it, and I, um, respect them greatly for doing so.
It's because, in my writings about sexual morality, I write about "respect" as though it were a dirty word—and in scare quotes, no less.
I believe it was G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy who observed that evils usually arise from one good being raised above all others. Respect is immeasurably important in every kind of relationship. But when it is viewed as the only good—the lone requirement one needs from a person in order to engage in sex—then it leads to a barren and cynical imitation of a loving union.
I can say this with authority. When I look back on my sexual experiences—and by that I include everything from kissing onward—I've had more "respect" than some of you have had hot dinners.
Respect within a sexual context, stripped of the bonds of love and commitment, means nothing more than, "I will have a transactional physical experience with you, performing only the acts that you want me to perform, and I will consider you no less of a person for engaging in it with me."
Really, considering the ultra-transactional, cut-and-dried rules of engagement, casual sex with "respect" is equivalent to buying a pack of gum at the Quick Chek—except that the guy behind the counter occasionally makes eye contact.
I realize all this now, which is why I'm trying to experience chastity in a way I haven't before—in thought as well as deed—to have the kind of true, godly respect for others that I would want my future husband to have. I'm not perfect at it—thoughts are especially hard to control—but I see it as a better way to live.
I don't mean that as in a more moral way to live; I mean really better.
Casual sex, flirtations with men in whom I have no serious emotional interest, fantasies about men—these are all by nature nihilistic. Draining. They use far more energy than they give back. Like playing computer solitaire, they might make me happy temporarily. But when I'm done, I have to come back to the real world—which then looks lonelier than ever.
The only way to find anything resembling happiness in the casual-sex lifestyle is to never let the game end—to allow oneself to be defined by it. It becomes a limited worldview.
Chastity, by contrast, opens up my world. I'm vulnerable to loneliness, to be sure, and sometimes that loneliness is terrible. But I'm free from the constant anxiety of where I'm going to get my next "fix," be it a fantasy, a flirtation, or a sexual encounter. A great burden is lifted.
I won't say I don't obsess anymore about whether or not a particular man likes me, because I do. But I ask God to help me trust in Him, and "He giveth more grace"—helping me wait on Him instead of waiting for the phone to ring.
Some days, it is very hard. But even the worst days are better than so many years I spent not knowing God and thinking that only attention from a man could give my life meaning.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Re the gay marriage amendment: One wonders what the first roll-call vote was for ending slavery in the Senate. That one pass on the first time though?Actually, it didn't; or, rather, it passed the Senate, but was soundly defeated in the House. I'm sure the Bob Schieffers of the day were loudly criticizing Congress's wasting taxpayer money with Congressional debate debating a "lost cause."
Incidentally, I have nothing personal against Schieffer. I met him in May, when he hosted the event where Dr. James "Ogre" Watson was honored [thanks to Elliot Bougis for coming up with the catchy nickname], and he was sweet and gracious. When I told him about my best-loved headline (which you can see in a photo on my main page), he even said, "I wish I had your job."
Bob, you out there? I love my job. But if it'll make you quit the one you have now, you can have it.
It's a great sacrifice for me, I know. But I'm just doing my public doody.
A popular misconception about Christians is that their faith is so Heaven-centered that they are perfectly happy to let the nonbelieving world go to hell in a handbasket. I don't believe that is at all true of Christians in general. But the apathy of a great many believers in the face of the largest-ever assault on values—the homosexual lobby's efforts to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide—suggests they are content to just roll their eyes and wait for the endtimes.
Not that it's only people from the Christian community who are apathetic, by any means. I don't know the faith of CBS's "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer, but on last Sunday's show, while he didn't express a view on homosexual marriage (beyond support of civil unions), he was eager to criticize the Federal Marriage Amendment: "What irritates me as a taxpayer is that the Senate is debating this knowing full well the amendment has no chance of passing. Approval requires two-thirds of the House and Senate, and neither house can count a simple majority in favor. Still, they press on because an advocate says voters want people to be on the record on this. Well, who says?"
In other words, Schieffer doesn't care whether or not the Constitution is amended to bar homosexual marriage. He only regrets that taxpayer money is being spent debating a lost cause.
But let's go back to the endtimes, since they're so popular, what with the "Left Behind" series. Paul writes in 2 Timothy,
in the last days perilous times shall come.Well! To quote a song by one of my favorite bands, the Association, "wasn't it a bit like now?" Certainly, reading Paul's words, one could be excused for thinking that these are the very times when all things evil come to a head—and all things good face persecution—before Jesus' return.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
There's just one problem.
If these really are the endtimes—and I'm not at all convinced they are, though I believe in being watchful—then the one thing we're commanded not to do is to just lie there like a lox while the proponents of sinful living trample over us.
Paul continues in 2 Timothy 4:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;We're commanded to speak the truth according to God's word, even—especially—when that truth is what people don't want to hear.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
"For the time will come," Paul continues, "when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
And what is the point of continuing to declare God's truth on the vital issues of our time, when people won't listen?
Paul doesn't seem to address that—or does he? "But watch thou in all things," he continues, "endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
The key is in the words "make full proof of thy ministry." The verb Paul uses for "make full proof of" is plerophoreo, which means to bear or bring full, to carry through to the end.
It is not enough that we spread God's word to one another. We have a job to do, a commission to fulfill. And our responsibility stands regardless of the resistance and persecution we face.
So small-screen personality Bob Schieffer thinks it's a waste of taxpayer money for our elected representatives to argue over a lost cause. I would remind him of the words of a big-screen personality—James Stewart as Sen. Jefferson Smith in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington": Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.
Monday, July 12, 2004
So Ron Reagan plans to give a speech at the Democratic National Convention so he can plug embryonic stem-cell research. Never mind that experts agree embryonic stem-cell treatment would probably not have helped Ronald Reagan, nor would it benefit others with Alzheimer's disease.
"The conservative right has a rather simplistic way of characterizing it as baby killing," says Ron. "We're not talking about fingers and toes and brains. This is a mass of a couple hundred undifferentiated cells."
In other words, killing is only killing if the victim has reached a growth stage where he or she is recognizable to Ron Reagan.
Remind me to dig up Ron's tulip bulbs sometime and run them through a Cuisinart—for research, of course. With his logic, he couldn't accuse me of stealing his flowers.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
What particularly pleases me about this headline is that I was able to tease the school twice in one line:
Here are two more good pieces of advice from readers responding to my two requests for advice on how to nourish agape love with my future intended—and not just put on a Barry White record. (Actually, I don't own any Barry White, so it'd have to be Russ Columbo.) These are from different respondents than the ones I quoted yesterday. In the absence of one reader's giving explicit permission to be quoted, I've preserved anonymity. But I know Mom doesn't mind being quoted.
- "I think a person must search his heart the best he can for the reason behind the attraction, physical or other. If the reason is good (Godly?), it seems to me that the attraction doesnít need to be balanced against the Godly love he feels for the person. The attraction complements or maybe is even part of the Godly love he feels."
- And some personal thoughts from Mom: "Almost from the beginning of our courtship, Ron and I pledged to thank God every morning for each other. No matter what is on our minds, no matter what unpleasant business we need to tackle together, no matter what our last pet peeve, we HAVE to thank God for each other. We have fulfilled that pledge every day for almost nine years, and I know we will fulfill it for the rest of our lives on earth. When you commit yourself to thanking God for the other person and acknowledging that He is a gift, then you begin searching for the blessings in him that you might not see at some peevish moment. And you learn to give abundant thanks directly to your mate on all possible occasions."
Since I chose to go on first so I could make it to my monthly DJ gig in time, most of the audience hadn't arrived in time for my reading—there were only about 35 people. But I didn't mind—in fact, it was a bit of a relief, after reading to a full house at Housing Works Used Book Cafe the night before. Not having a podium this time around also helped me get looser, and I gave a much better reading—not shaking this time.
Some of my friends showed up (including Todd, who snapped the photo at right), plus a friend's friend—an editor from the paper where I work. I was tickled to have the editor there, because when I go in to work, I always feel like Clark Kent. Most of the people there have known me only as one of those anal-retentive copy editors who pester the city desk with queries or cut out the reporters' best lines. They've had no idea of my secret life. Until now, that is.
I came home in the wee small hours of the morning to find my very own Dawn Patrol caricaturist David Chelsea mentioned twice in the feature story of the New York Times Magazine. It cites his graphic novel David Chelsea in Love, which helped define the genre of comic-book autobiography when it first came out in 1992. Congrats, David!
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Elliot has a good St. Augustine quote up today:"You who do not yet see God will, by loving your neighbor, make yourself worthy of seeing him. By loving your neighbor, you cleanse your eyes so you can see God. Love your neighbor, then, and see within yourself the source of this love of neighbor. There you will see God insofar as you are able."
It reminds me of some great words from G.K. Chesterton: "The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."
Matt Berke writes to say that he enjoyed my tribute to him, and he adds a bit of "Honeymooners" trivia that I didn't know: "I also like your use of the phrase, immortalized by Jackie Gleason on 'The Honeymooners,' 'homina homina homina'—undoubtedly derived from Cicero's 'Homo sum; nihil humani a me alienum puto.' ['I am a man [human being], nothing human is alien to me.'] Gleason wore his learning lightly, but darn it all, the guy knew his classics."
(Sorry, I'm running out of "agape" headlines...)
As promised, here is Part 1 of the reader responses to the two requests I put out for advice on how to integrate physical attraction with the desire to give and receive agape love in a relationship. Part 2 should come tomorrow morning.
Every one of the responses I received was helpful, and I'm grateful to all who wrote in—you know who you are. (No names are included here because no one stated they'd like to be identified—though I'll gladly add names if permitted.) Here are some excerpts, each one from a different writer. The last one particularly touched me.
- "The necessary thing is to retain a sense of proportion—to love your beloved and rejoice in the act of loving in all of its dimensions, physical, emotional, and spiritual."
- "In a nutshell, the point, I think, is that the body is an integral part of the person (see Aristotle and Aquinas—in contrast with, say, Cartesian dualism), and so fully shares in the value of the person (cf. "the resurrection of the body"!). So it's not so much that love can't include recognition of (attraction to) the value of the body...as that such love must always be integrated into love for the person—and this, in turn, requires chastity outside marriage."
- "We all bring imperfections to our relationships, and the truly beautiful thing about a relationship blessed by God is that it allows us to grow beyond those imperfections."
- "I married at 32, but I committed myself to my husband at age 13, when I became a Christian. Although I had not met him (to my knowledge), I began to pray for him on a daily basis. I would ask God to protect his heart. I prayed that he would have a good day. I prayed for discernment in finding him. Amazingly, I met my future husband when I was 14, but had absolutely no interest in him. He, however, fell for me immediately. He spent the next four years praying to marry me (although he was not a Christian, he did pray for that!). Our paths did not cross again until we were 29. He was still not a Christian, but miraculously, he was still a virgin (something I had prayed for). One year later, he became a Christian and is now a Godly leader of our family. I tell you all this in hopes that you might get the idea that you can start loving your mate today. When you have invested yourself in him before having met him, it will be easier to put the agape love together with the attraction. God will honor your prayer and commitment."
Today's post by Miller is a must-read, as he follows an excerpt of a story about the NAACP's censoring a pro-life group with some cutting words of his own. He writes: "It would seem to me that if some of your ancestors were once declared property and being only 3/5 human that they might be sensitive to the plight of the unborn where the same thing has happened."
He's also right on the money when he writes, "As I once quipped with a slogan for Planned Parenthood, 'Keeping Minorities - Minorities.'" But do read his whole post.
It's not because those things require being part of a couple. It's because when I'm working on Saturday, then giving a reading for the second night in a row, and then deejaying at a multimedia Mod Sixties dance party, there's no way I can get out of bed at 9 a.m. on a Sunday unless some kind husband o'mine gives me a shove.
In other words, I really wish I could go to this wacky event which is an easy 30-minute walk from my home. But it's not gonna happen. Shoot.
Friday, July 9, 2004
Andrew Sullivan is desperate to claim Christianity on his side in his campaign to change minds in favor of homosexual marriage. But his Christianity is not a Bible-based one—given his pet issue, it can't be. And it can't be the Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church from which he came. So he claims to have Christianity on his side in the form of C.S. Lewis, and today he once again digs up a quotation from Mere Christianity that he claims supports homosexual "marriage."
The Lewis quotation refers to divorce, and states that civil marriage should be different from religious marriage. What Lewis is saying is that the state should not allow religious bodies to prevent people from getting a legal divorce.
Needless to say, using that quotation to support homosexual marriage is stretching it. Moreover, even if one were to apply Lewis's rationale to homosexual "marriage," the state has compelling reasons to bar such "marriage" that go beyond Bible verses.
But it's Sullivan's appropriating Lewis for his cause that is particularly offensive. It's offensive to the memory of Lewis and what he really believed. As David Mills has noted in Touchstone magazine, Lewis's writings on homosexuality show that he was opposed to it—his brutally satirical characterization of a lesbian in his novel That Hideous Strength "alone would have been enough to brand him among the homophiles, whose sensitivity to judgment and capacity for remembering criticism was as great then as now."
Another writer, Joshua Pong, writes that Lewis "would no doubt consider the homosexual tendency and its felt impulses to be part of the result of the Fall." He supports this with a quote from a letter Lewis wrote to his friend Sheldon Vanauken, stating that he took it for certain "that the physical satisfaction of the homosexual desires is sin."
Sullivan, after citing Lewis, ends his post thusly: "My anger at [the religious right] is not simply because of their contempt for gay people, but because of their corruption of Christianity."
Lewis's own Screwtape, the devil "author" of The Screwtape Letters, whose Enemy was God, would have agreed:
The thing to do is get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience....So, Andrew, if that's the way you feel, hey, go ahead: Champion your own "uncorrupted" Christianity as the means for bringing about a world where marriage—both religious and civil—loses the meaning and purpose it had in Lewis's time. You'll certainly get some affection for holding that position. In fact, if my reading of Lewis is correct, I do believe Screwtape himself is waiting anxiously to see you, to unite you to himself in "an indissoluble embrace".
Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that "only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilizations." You see the little rift? "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason." That's the game.
Thursday, July 8, 2004
I am not a Catholic, for a number of reasons that I won't go into here. The one time I listed those reasons on this blog, I so offended a Catholic friend that she hasn't spoken to me since—even though I apologized and deleted the entry. So my small-e evangelical-Protestant cred is still pretty good. But I have to say, recent political developments have made me deeply admire the Roman Catholic Church and see how its voice is so vitally needed.
Fr. Bryce has a highly enjoyable Web site, A Saintly Salmagundi. It reminds me that as a teen, when I first heard someone mention Greenwich Village's Salmugundi Club, I broke into laughter. I thought the speaker said "Solomon Grundy"—born on a Monday, etc...well, I guess you just had to be there.
In Romans 14, Paul talks about the importance of recognizing the priorities of the church. Christians may disagree on such things as food or drink, or which days to celebrate holidays or the Sabbath. But, he says, they must unite on the fundamentals: "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men" (Romans 14:17-18).
The joy Paul speaks of stems from the meeting of peace and righteousness, as the Psalmist says: "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10b). For believers to be united in Christ, they must uphold both the one and the other.
As an unchurched believer who identifies with Protestantism, I look at the Protestant world and the Roman Catholic Church, and I see peace on the Protestants' side, but righteousness on the Catholics' side. Moreover, I see the Protestant churches' peace as a bad effort—an enforced liberalism coming at the expense of conservative members—and the Catholic Church's righteousness as a good one, holding tight to fundamental moral precepts.
That's a general statement, of course. The terrible and tragic scandals that have hit the Catholic Church are sins against righteousness, and there are major Protestant denominations that have not compromised on morality. Moreover, I disagree with the Catholic Church on the war to oust Saddam (which the church opposed) [7/11/04: I've been corrected on this and on my next point—see below] and the death penalty (which it also opposes, and which I believe is biblical in principle, if not always in practice).* And I'd be remiss if I didn't add that the Catholic Church has often been hostile or indifferent to Israel (despite efforts to make up to the Jewish people), while the Protestant churches include Israel's most faithful friends.
What impresses me is how, despite the pronouncements of cardinals and bishops who disagree with church teaching, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole speaks with one voice—one biblical voice—on many of the most important moral issues of our time. It stands firm against homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and all other sexual immorality; abortion and any kind of research that destroys embryos; and euthanasia.
Those are hugely important issues that will determine our fate and the fate of our children. And while many Protestants make their voices heard on the same side of those moral issues as Catholics do, most of the time it's Catholics who take the bullet.
Look at the news. It's devout Catholics who are literally in the trenches, kneeling in the aisles to prevent homosexual activists from receiving Communion.
As an outsider, I'm not certain that it's the place of a layperson to deny another layperson Communion—it seems to me that the clergy should take responsibility (though, in this case, they're not). Still, I can't help but admire the courage of these people who will put themselves at risk to defend values that lie at the core of their faith. And that's what we're seeing now, as the issue of whether Catholics who vocally oppose church teaching should receive Communion comes to the fore. Somehow, I can't see the Methodists denying Communion to John Edwards.
C.S. Lewis, asked whether there was hope that Protestant churches might reunite with Rome, said that "the 'extremist' elements in every Church are nearest one another and the liberal and 'broad-minded' people in each Body could never be united at all. The world of dogmatic Christianity is a place in which thousands of people of quite different types keep on saying the same thing, and the world of 'broad-mindedness' and watered-down 'religion' is a world where a small number of people (all of the same type) say totally different things and change their minds every few minutes. We shall never get re-union from them."**
I've seen Protestants who are working to uphold marriage talk about how to involve Catholic groups in their efforts. That isn't enough. This is a time when all of us who uphold marriage, life, and biblical morality, regardless of our denomination, must actively support those in the Roman Catholic Church who are defending our shared values. We have to pray for them specifically, as well as for Christians as a whole; we have to encourage them when we meet them; and we have to support them when they take brave stances. Because right now, they're the ones who are suffering most for the sake of righteousness. On these issues, they are modeling Jesus' behavior for us. And as with Jesus, we can be most ourselves when we become like them.
*CORRECTION, 7/11/04: Thanks very much to the readers—including a Catholic priest, Rev. Bryce A. Sibley—who wrote in to correct me on the Catholic Church's positions on the death penalty and Iraq. I'm correcting myself here rather than in the text, because I'd like to have a record of what I originally thought. One reader sent me a section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which shows that the church does not oppose the death penalty, but believes that "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'" And I've been informed that the church was not officially opposed to the war to oust Saddam—though I should add that it's understandable why a layman would think otherwise, given comments I read by at least one Vatican official.
**"Answers to Questions on Christianity," God in the Dock.
Fr. Bryce has a highly enjoyable Web site, A Saintly Salmagundi. It reminds me that as a teen, when I first heard someone mention Greenwich Village's Salmugundi Club, I broke into laughter. I thought the speaker said "Solomon Grundy"—born on a Monday, etc...well, I guess you just had to be there.