"Our hearts are restless until they rest in You."—St. Augustine
"We are sexual from birth, and sexual expression is a basic human need throughout our lives."—Planned Parenthood
That second quote, with its creepy linguistic symmetry, begins Planned Parenthood's "White Paper" on "Adolescent Sexuality."
It goes on to say, "The initiation of sexual intercourse during adolescence is a recognized pattern of behavior in the U.S. (Singh & Darroch, 1999),"
—This is known as the "everybody's doing it," or "50 Million Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong," school of psychology—
"—and by no means a recent one—premarital intercourse among young people, including many adolescents, was common well before World War II (Laumann et al., 1994)."
Ah, birds did it, bees did it, Grandma when she was as tall as your knees did it. But, several more paragraphs into the report, some sort of switch goes off in PP's anonymous author and the organization's real agenda emerges (emphasis theirs):
"One of the most misguided and destructive messages that endangers adolescent health and life during this age of AIDS emanates from a vocal minority bent on suppressing or willfully ignoring the truth about sexual activity among adolescents in America. Under the guise of protecting our youth they declare, inaccurately, that premarital sex among adolescents is a relatively new and corrupt social phenomenon. They are not content to teach the benefits of delaying intercourse as one element of reasonable, responsible, and medically accurate sexuality education curricula. They say that society should tolerate no sexual activity among adolescents."
Oh my. This is terrible. Some people are criticizing teen sex under the misapprehension that it is a "new" phenomenon. Clearly, these people have never seen "A Summer Place."
Seriously, I agree with Planned Parenthood that if a behavior has been sanctioned by American society from the nation's birth through the present day, then, with rare exceptions, it shouldn't be changed. So thank you, Planned Parenthood, for finally articulating the argument for preserving traditional marriage.
Except that that's not what they're setting out to do here. No, this is the heart of their message (in their own cloying bold type again):
"We believe that those who seek to legislate or otherwise compel abstinence-only sexuality education, and who uniformly condemn, on so-called 'moral; grounds, all adolescent sexual activity—and, indeed, any non-marital, non-procreative sexual activity at any age—have ceded the moral ground by denying the realities of adolescent development, basic human needs and behavior, and healthy sexual expression."
Note that little aside about "indeed, any non-marital, non-procreative sexual activity at any age."
At any age? At age 4? With an adult?
Planned Parenthood's author doesn't say. It just leaves the suggestion dangling and blabbers on about opponents' "ahistorical, fear-ridden, repressive approach."
Well, I oppose Planned Parenthood, and my approach may indeed be ahistorical, fear-ridden, and repressive. But at least I'm not taking a quarter-billion a year in taxpayer money, telling people to go have "non-marital, non-procreative sexual activity at any age," and then walking the talk by failing to report cases of statutory rape.
I'm also not killing hundreds of thousands of children a year. But you knew that.
TRACKBACK: The Curt Jester describes, from personal experience, the effects of growing up in what Planned Parenthood would describe as an ideal household.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
"Our hearts are restless until they rest in You."—St. Augustine
American Life League's Jim Sedlak has a good op-ed, fisking a self-congratulatory one by a Planned Parenthood director.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
On my way home from the late shift early this morning, I thought about the irony of my criticizing "Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell's rant over "how horrible the men are in New York."
If anyone should be whining about the deficiencies of Gotham manhood, it's me. In the past month, one love interest suddenly froze me out with no explanation; another revealed that he broke up with his last girlfriend because he has no interest in marriage; and a third admitted he'd been misleading me for months in a way that could have caused one or both of us to break a commandment.
And these were all Christian men, mind you. I thought I was safe.
It's times like this that Bible verses like Psalm 118:8—"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man"—jump out as if to sneer, "Nyaaaah!" I read my Bible every day and I still can't escape the fallibility of being human, of trying to put myself out there and take risks in hope of partaking in God's blessings.
But even with all the tsuris that Manhattan men bring, I can't bring myself to side with the Candace Bushnells of the world. Those cynical women bring their trouble upon themselves by seeking out superficial, egotistical, soulless men. All you have to do is watch Bushnell's images of ideal women on "Sex and the City" to know that like attracts like. Catty, materialistic, self-obsessed chicks get the men they deserve.
So am I getting what I deserve?
I don't think so. But these days (as opposed to the many years when I worked hard at being a self-obsessed chick), it's neither my fault, nor the fault of New York men.
It's true that New York men in general are much harder to deal with in dating situations than non-New Yorkers, because being around the city's notoriously aggressive women trains them to be passive. Likewise, the sheer number of available women in the city and the sex-obsessed singles culture prompts many men to resist committed relationships.
But despite all that, people do get married in this city. I've witnessed it. And some of those city men are great husbands—I've seen that too. So one can't, and shouldn't, generalize against New York men—unless one wants to further reduce one's chances by setting up a hard and cynical front.
Regardless of the reception I get from men in New York or anywhere else, I will continue to believe in the possibility of my meeting my future husband, because I believe that my husband will be a unique man. If this were a sixth-grade essay, I would add, "a truly unique man." Unique, as in, no one else like him in the world.
Would my life be easier if all the men who have no intention of being my husband, or who do not measure up for the task, would stop playing their stupid Big Apple love games and just part like the Red Sea to let my man through? Absolutely. But if they don't, it doesn't make them all "horrible," Ms. Bushnell. It just makes them human.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Technoptmist Duncan Frissell offers the reminder that "today is the 73rd anniversary of C.S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity." I liked the reminder of the role that a zoo with the marvelously Harry Potter-like name of Whipsnade played in the story.
Duncan also writes to recommend a few Canadian Anglican sites in addition to my favorite, Classical Anglican Net News. Some of these are not of interest to me, as I'm not an Anglo-Catholic, but I'd nonetheless like to support those working to preserve orthodoxy in a church that is currently undergoing great strife:
- Virtuosity—The Voice for Global Orthodox Anglicanism (a news service)
- AngloCatholicCentral (a guide for AngloCatholics)
- Forward in Faith North America (the North American branch of the Church of England's orthodox organization)
- Project Canterbury (putting Anglo-Catholic classics on the Web)
- The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes(a new attempt to unite the scattered orthodox Anglicans of North America including those remaining in ECUSA and those in
the Continuing Anglican Movement)
National Review Online writer Shannen Coffin has a powerfully articulated response to the question in the site's letters column (scroll down to "Shannen Coffin responds").
Among his observations: "What is the 'choice' you are supporting? It is not the choice between whether to have a light beer or a more full-bodied beer, between vacationing in Maui or driving the family to Wally World in the Griswold family truckster."
Thanks to Brett of the very funny Saint Kansas for the heads-up.
I just finished rereading J.M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan," one of my all-time favorite works of literature. It came before the book, Peter and Wendy, which is also a wonderful read.
"Peter Pan" is terrifically rich—at once feather-light, and dense with layers of meaning. It's also criminally underrated—one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, yet reviled by contemporary critics as a crowd-pleasing children's work. A friend of mine who's writing a history of the century's plays told me, over my vocal protests, that he plans to ignore it entirely. I'm convinced that those who would dismiss "Peter Pan" have never read it.
Here, in ascending order, are my top five favorite bits of dialogue from the play, starting with an exchange between two Lost Boys:
5. CURLY: Let us carry her down into the house.
SLIGHTLY: Ay, that is what one does with ladies.
4. WENDY: Oh, Peter, how I wish I could take you up and squdge you! [He draws back] Yes, I know.
3. WENDY [knowing she ought not to probe but driven by something within]: What are your exact feelings for me, Peter?
PETER [in the class-room]: Those of a devoted son, Wendy.
WENDY [turning away]: I thought so.
PETER: You are so puzzling. Tiger Lily is just the same; there is something or other she wants to be to me, but she says it is not my mother.
2. HOOK: Most of all I want their captain, Peter Pan. 'Twas he cut off my arm. I have waited long to shake his hand with this. [Luxuriating] Oh, I'll tear him!
SMEE [always ready for a chat]: Yet I have oft heard you say your hook was worth a score of hands, for combing the hair and other homely uses.
HOOK: If I was a mother I would pray to have my children born with this instead of that.
...And my Number One favorite "Peter Pan" quote, from a Lost Boy (which would be tragic, except that Wendy turns out to be unharmed)—
1. TOOTLES [gulping]: I did it. When ladies used to come to me in dreams I said 'Pretty mother,' but when she really came I shot her!
Monday, September 27, 2004
In the beginning, God created a girl. Despite her tendency toward selfishness, stubborness and arrogance, God loved the girl and granted her the gifts of beauty, intelligence, compassion, and discernment. In order that she might learn and grow, He placed her in a particularly challenging environment—peopled with particularly challenging individuals. He gave her many signs to help her along her way, but He also allowed her the exercise of free will, through which she proceeded to ignore both her God-given talents and all lessons learned and dug deeper and deeper holes in which she helplessly flailed about. Graciously, He allowed her to survive to adulthood without doing any irreparable damage to either herself or others. She then began to dig herself out of the mire.And so begins "Genesis," an entry by a remarkable new cybercitizen with a beautifully laid-out page, The Penitent Blogger.
I don't know who she is, but you can tell from the rest of her journey that she's not me. Her "About" section states that she has been led from uneasy Roman Catholicism to even uneasier Episcopalianism (where she realized "she could neither confess to, nor receive Communion from, a priest who considered her manifold sins "relative"). She is now "is now happily ensconced in a small but devout continuing Anglican church"—which, for readers who think Episcopalianism and Anglicanism the same thing, refers to the orthodox Anglicanism practiced by groups such as Canada's Classical Anglicans.
But the most important thing is that, as the Penitent Blogger says, she's "grown from an emotionally wounded, resentful libertine into an unwavering believer in the redemption of mankind through God and Christ." With such a wide perspective and depth of feeling, as well as a clear and cutting writing style, I suspect the Penitent Blogger has more insightful and inspirational entries on tap.
Oh, now, this is just too much.
Some brilliant soul has invented a "Train Spotting Simulator."
Please note that this is work-safe only if you don't mind your co-workers seeing you convulse in helpless laughter for no apparent reason.
Special thanks to Otto-da-Fe for taking his eyes off "The Prisoner" long enough to tell the world about this new cybertreasure.
The Associated Press reports on what is becoming a familiar story—a pharmacist following his conscience:
LACONIA, NH -- When Suzanne Richards went to a drive-through Brooks pharmacy on a recent Saturday night, an assistant told her the pharmacist could not fill her prescription for the morning-after pill.There's no question that, if Sklencar really did tell Richards she was "irresponsible," he was rude. He could have exercised his conscience without passing judgment upon her.
When Richards told the assistant she had gotten the prescription filled at there before, pharmacist Todd Sklencar came to the window and told her he was morally opposed to prescribing something that could end a life, Richards said.
Sklencar then told her to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy.
"He said something like, 'I believe this will end the fertilization of the egg and this conception was your choice," Richards told Foster's Sunday Citizen....
"He said I was irresponsible. Well, I think it's irresponsible to have kids you can't take care of and raise," said Richards, a 21-year-old single mother.
But since Richards repeats the charge—and adds words in her own defense—it's valid to ask, is she irresponsible?
She's "a 21-year-old single mother" who's fornicating with a man who's not her husband. How does that benefit her kid? How does that benefit her? And then, on top of that, she wants to murder the life that's growing inside her—and is so unashamed of her desire to do so that she reports her thwarted efforts to the press.
Clearly, this woman has a number of emotional and spiritual problems. Ideally those problems should be met by a loving family, loving friends, and the fellowship of a loving congregation—as well as social services to help her cope with single motherhood.
But when Suzanne Richards entered Todd Sklencar's pharmacy and asked for a pill to kill the new life within her, Sklencar couldn't give her the love that she needed. His limited professional power, and his lack of personal friendship with her, meant that there was only one thing he could do to stop her from falling into an even deeper spiritual chasm.
All Richards's life, she had been told, "Yes." She was told "yes" when she wanted to have sex outside of marriage. She was told "yes" when she wanted to keep having sex, even though she had a child who deserved a stable home life. (And if you think an unwed mother can keep the roller-coaster emotions of a sexual relationship out of her home life, think again.)
Sklencar's only power was to tell Richards, "No."
It was tough love. But it was all he could do, and his doing so was a gift—one that Richards promptly threw back in his face, with teary public accusations.
Listen to her again. "He said I was irresponsible. Well, I think it's irresponsible to have kids you can't take care of and raise."
I would give Richards the benefit of the doubt and say that, unlike another famous Richards—the one who had a doctor pierce the hearts of two of her triplets in the womb—she is probably not fully aware that abortion destroys a real human life. The abortion lobby probably has her believing that an unborn child is something vague—just a clump of cells or a less-than-sentient being—until the point of delivery.
That's why the idea never crosses her mind that it is more responsible to "have kids you can't take care of and raise"—to put them up for adoption—than to kill them.
Richards deserves our prayers. And so too do Sklencar and all the pharmacists who would risk losing their job rather than cause the destruction of a life.
The Vatican just released some very wise words on feminism, a commentary on the bishops' letter on the "Collaboration of Man and Woman in the Church and in the World." It acknowledges the importance of the feminist movement in causing "recognition of the dignity of woman and her equality with man," and at the same time shows how "gender" ideology threatens the family.
There is something extremely valuable in the lucid way the Vatican names and distills the social problems of our time, and finds the connections between them. All Christians should pay attention. Non-Catholic organizations may articulate concerns about the same family and life issues, but the Vatican does so with language that cuts right to the heart of them.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Michael Bates has composed a thoughtful post, "Community Worship in Your Own Home," in response to my mother's writing about her love of Jewish worship and traditions. He describes the strong appeal of the ancient nature of Jewish prayer and the long-held traditions of Anglican worship (as expressed in the Book of Common Prayer) compared to what he aptly calls the "roll your own" nature of Evangelical worship.
Friday, September 24, 2004
A friend writes in response to my previous post, "Your Brother's Kippur" (below), which included a letter from my mother about the spiritual bond between Jews and Christians: "Your mom's phrase, 'He is our brother in the blood,' reminds me of the old joke...At a ceremony in church, some nuns were making their final permanent vows before the Bishop. As was traditional, the nuns were dressed in wedding gowns—as 'brides of Christ.' Then someone noticed two rabbis in the church. Asked why they were there, the rabbis replied, 'Relatives of the groom.'"
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Joseph Loconte has a very good op-ed in today's National Review Online on how, in order for Europe to fight anti-Semitism, it must end its antagonism towards its Christian heritage.
"Why is it that anti-Semitism has mostly been defeated in the United States?" Loconte asks. "As French observer Alexis de Tocqueville saw it, religious freedom and political freedom marched side by side in the nation's democratic development. The result was a civic culture that was diverse, tolerant, and deeply religious—a mixture that rarely appeared in Europe."
Been getting more hits than usual for a day when I've fallen under the radar of Mark Shea and The Curt Jester, but I suspect most of the new readers are people Googling for Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising Tour, which I mentioned a few days ago. It seems a shame to let this opportunity to speak to Michael Moore fans go to waste, but I've nothing more to say about him at the moment. So, dear reader, if you have any insights about him to share—something more substantial than that he's a "Big Fat Stupid White Man"—write me and I'll put up my favorite observations. I'd especially appreciate insights that would tell Moore fans something about the man and his lies that they might not already know.
UPDATE: Joel Helbling sends this bit about the film "Michael Moore Hates America," from an article by Andrew Leigh on National Review Online:
"...easily the most powerful sequence [in 'Michael Moore Hates America'] is a visit with Peter Damon, a soldier who lost both arms in the Iraq war. In a transparent attempt to elicit pity, Moore in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' included footage (taken from an NBC News report about a new painkiller) of Damon in the hospital while he was recuperating from his grievous wounds.
"In 'Michael Moore Hates America,' we see a recovered Damon at home with his family, enjoying life, proud of his service. Damon has no patience for those who feel sorry for him. The only anger he feels is at Moore for exploiting him.
"Asked by Wilson what he would like to say to Moore, Damon addresses the camera: 'I don't want any part of your propaganda. I don't agree with what you're doing.'"
I get a guilty feeling reading Andrew Sullivan's blog these days, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's the voyeuristic feeling one gets when seeing a megalomaniacal writer—one who once lived up to his hype—utterly implode.
My glee is tempered, however, by the fact that there are many who still have to deal with Sullivan's bilious outbursts, be they Jonah Goldberg, who refutes him well on National Review Online's The Corner, or the countless conservative politicians, writers, and activists whom Sullivan persists in outing. Actually, outing isn't really the term—I don't know if Sullivan's actually gotten the first scoop on any of the supposed homosexuals he mentions. But Sullivan regularly repeats allegations of homosexuality against people whom he considers traitors to the gay cause.
Two Sullivan entries today, "Deal Quits" and "Defensive Crouch", contain a catalogue of allegations against "gay" traitors (not counting Paul Crouch's accuser). In addition to referencing Deal Hudson and Crouch, Sullivan claims that "the two leading spokesmen for the 'ex-gay' movement have also been exposed as subsequently seeking gay sex." He also names Ed Schrock, the married conservative Virginia Congressman who stepped down recently amid rumors that he was gay.
Sullivan's implication is that these men were openly opposed to gay causes, but were in fact hypocrites, so therefore all who oppose mainstream acceptance of homosexual behavior are discredited. To anyone who took Logic 101, this makes no sense. If people who support a cause are hypocrites, that has no bearing on the cause itself.
If the examples Sullivan cites prove anything—particularly that of the ex-gays who allegedly sought gay sex—it's that homosexuality is a painful CHOICE with which people struggle.
As anyone who's wrestled with demons knows, sometimes in attempting to quell your own desires, you may end up going all the way to the other side—cursing your former behavior. If that then enables you to remain on the wagon and be happy, there's no problem, save that others may find you annoying. But if you lapse, you're a hypocrite in the eyes of the Andrew Sullivans of the world.
It's possible some of the men Sullivan cites may have committed actual crimes, like attempting to coerce or hush others. If they did, that's clearly wrong. But that's not why he's raking their names through the mud. Really, if the accusations he makes are true, their only crime was self-righteousness. And if that's the case, then, judging from Sullivan's own code of conduct, he shouldn't be damning them. He should be giving them a medal.
UPDATE: The Classical Anglican Network News Webmaster writes to point out Sullivan's belief that when Christian leaders who uphold biblical views of homosexuality aren't hypocrites, they're corrupt. See the e-mail the Webmaster sent Sullivan after Sullivan accused wealthy Anglicans of buying the African church's support—the "chicken dinner" theory, as it's called. Sullivan never replied.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Whether "Sex and the City" had a positive influence or a negative one, Charles G. Hill writes, it can't be denied that "the former HBO series did have some impact on popular culture, to the extent that it's had some small but measurable effect on women's shoes, pushing them a notch or two in the direction of sheer frivolity."
I was reminded of that impact on my way home from work early this morning, wearing my Easy Spirit Level 2 walking shoes. (Level 2 is for "advanced walkers with medium-intensity activities.") Reading Psalm 49, I found the kind of deliciously mysterious question typical to David's verse: "Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?"
"The iniquity of my heels." I know what that means. It's a personal message for me. We'll get to that.
But dang if it isn't a perfect metaphor for those "Sex and the City" gals too.
The show's "Carrie," played by Sarah Jessica Parker, was famous for wearing ultra-expensive designer shoes with heels the diameter and length of ballpoint pens. The shoes crammed her toes into a tiny point—something which Parker apparently could finesse naturally, but it proved so difficult for her imitators that podiatrists began to offer toe-sawing surgery.
But as any high-heel aficionado could tell you, the shoes' cachet goes well beyond their designer brand. High heels alter a woman's posture, making her appear more vulnerable in every way—from the obvious way that they make her teeter, bounce, and take shorter steps, to the subtler ways they cause parts of her to draw in and others to stick out.
As a result, for the woman who would be Carrie, the "iniquity of her heels" really does catch up with her. The shoes present the wearer as a helpless, submissive would-be sex partner—hence the unprintable street nickname given to the spikiest pumps. They end up directing the wearer's behavior, with the wearer clearly positioning herself as an object—and thereby treating others as objects in relation to her. As soon as you've presented yourself as a means to an end, it's impossible to not view others through that same superficial lens.
So where does that leave me in my clunky, old-lady Easy Spirits? Actually, on the other side of the same razor-thin Manolo spike.
The jaded bed-hoppers' escapades on "Sex and the City" may be fictional, but the show's popularity is largely because single women can identify with the characters' shared pathology. It's part of the human condition—the sense of separateness from one another and from God—but it's amplified in the characters' dark and insidious fear of rejection.
I had this driven home to me recently when I woke up in the middle of the night from a disturbing dream—and realized that I'd had that same dream, many times over months or years, only it had escaped my waking memory.
It was a dream of embracing a man in my bed, very tightly. We weren't having sex, just tied in an embrace. I could see his ivory, almost translucent skin and his back—he was formed like a majestic Renaissance sculpture. His chin would be over my left shoulder, so I could never see his face. The feeling of my hand on his back and shoulder was wonderful, and completely real.
But then my senses would come to me and I would realize that I hadn't gone to bed with anyone. I'd know I was in a dream state, and I'd start to fear that perhaps I was actually being molested by an intruder. So I would begin to awaken myself, opening my eyes...
...and the male figure would start to melt away...
Immediately, I would feel this terrible sensation of loss, and I'd try to stop myself from waking. But it would be too late—I'd be alone in bed, the sensation of togetherness gone.
The only thing that would stay with me was that last, awful sensation of feeling the flesh under my hand evaporate—and the helplessness of not being able to stop it. I wanted so badly to hold onto this seemingly divine creature, and I couldn't.
Of course, I now realize it was a demon. Hey, if you were really made of sulphurous black scales, you'd want to look like you had perfect ivory skin too, right? But that's not the point.
The point is that I realized that the iniquity of my heels is a fear of rejection—embodied in that pathetic grasping at air.
One wonderful thing about being in a growing relationship is that turning point where you realize the other person is not going away. Or at least, that they don't intend to, and you don't intend to, and therefore you can lower the alert level of your fear of rejection from code red to orange, or even yellow.
The longer one's out of a relationship, the easier it becomes to forget that one's ability to enter a relationship is dependent upon one's ability to get over that fear. It sounds like a paradox, and to some extent it is—being attracted to someone includes in its nature the desire not to be separated from that person. Yet, it's possible to cultivate a fear of rejection to the point where it becomes effectively another person in the relationship. And like the "person" in my dream, the more you hold onto it, the lonelier you become.
I don't know what the answer is, quite honestly. Recent experience has taught me that the wiser I pretend to be on this page and in my own conceit, the more the iniquity of my heels encompasses me. But another verse of that same psalm says "God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave." I take that and other promises to mean that He begins His redemptive work on me while I'm on this side of the grave.
God also says to pray always and not to lose heart. But I think He's just trying to keep me on my toes.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Two stories which, while about different topics, share one thing in common: the mental contortions that people will go through in order to avoid seeing what is wrong and what is right:
- A rival gay group admits it was behind South African police's threat to arrest transvestites participating in a lesbian & gay pride parade.
David Baxter, "spokesperson" (!) for the "conservative" (!) Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said, "We are totally against such parades because they are unlawful and harm the image of lesbians and gays. They incorrectly imply that being gay and lesbian means jumping into the clothing of the opposite sex."
In other words, "gender" is a continuum. The image of homosexuals as wishing to take on the opposite sex's attributes implies that there is such a thing as the "opposite sex," and that therefore people are born into one sex or the other. That can't be, if homosexuals are to propagate the notion put forth by gay-rights groups and Planned Parenthood, that one's "gender" is not obvious at birth.
- Scott Richter, the magazine editor who sells "I Love Abortion" bibs on his publication's Web site says that his sense of humor has limits bounded by taste.
"The Holocaust and slavery are subjects that would be off limits for this type of humor," Richter admitted to LifeNews.com. "But that is just my personal opinion and I'm sure some people would disagree with me on that, too."
In other words, Richter is "personally opposed" to making a buck off tasteless satire of the Holocaust and slavery. But if someone else wants to do it, there's nothing inherently wrong with it. This is remarkably similar to the John Kerry contortion on the abortion issue, which was aptly deconstructed by Dennis of Vita Mea.
Joel Helbling sends this news from his sister "k_sra," who made a disturbing discovery when she took a younger female friend shopping: Playboy makes jeans for teenage girls that have "a huge bunny on the a--."
K_sra writes in her blog entry with the frustration of one who sees where the culture is going: "I'm angry. I'm not ready for Playboy to be the next Tommy Girl. I'm not ready for them to be the new clean-cut all-American look."
If she wants to direct her anger into action, I'd recommend looking up the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. They got results last year when they rallied parents against the borderline kiddie-porn Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue.
...Kerry's in trouble.
"It's debilitating to have a candidate who does not seem quite clear on where he stands on these issues. Maybe we need to have a slogan that says 'Bush and Kerry both suck. ... That's why I'm voting for John Kerry.'"
—Michael Moore in Camden, N.J., last night, kicking off his "Slacker Uprising Tour."
Monday, September 20, 2004
Reading about last night's Emmys show and its big winner "Sex and the City," I thought, "Wow—two things for which I have absolutely no use."
I'm referring to television and sex. I have great use for the city.
All right, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little. However, it's true that between TV and sex, I've lived without one for 19 years and the other for...what sometimes feels like that long.
But when I look at the photo of Sarah Jessica Parker that graces HBO's "Sex and the City" Web site [which has since been changed], I'm reminded why I really don't miss casual sex—and why I made a conscious decision to be chaste until I'm in a marriage-directed relationship.
The photo, taken voyeur-style through a window, shows Parker's "Carrie" on unmade bed with unmade hair, wearing boyish underwear and socks, as the dull, between-buildings Manhattan morning light shines in. She has her familiar blunted, Archie Rice, dead-behind-the-eyes expression. You can almost hear the strains of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" emanating from an offstage stereo.
Parker has the perfect body for the role, because there's nothing about it to suggest fecundity. Her lanky, prize-filly frame appears made for going through the motions of sex—while her boniness, like the "wire-monkey mother" of the cruel animal experimentation of yore, insures she'll absorb no warmth from the encounters.
But that's not what's scary about the photo.
What's scary is that, since I don't watch the show, I don't know in whose apartment Carrie's awakened. Is it hers? Is it that of her latest sex partner?
It brings back the feeling of waking up under a stranger's percale duvet, feeling underdressed, and wondering just what the hell I've done.
The truth is, for all "Sex and the City"'s glorification of casual sex, Parker's characterization of Carrie is painfully accurate. To enjoy casual sex without guilt or regret, you really do have to be dead behind the eyes. You really do have to envision your body as a mechanism for the reception and delivery of sexual pleasure, even—no, especially—if that means using your partner and being used as a means to an end.
Much was made of the expensive clothing and accessories worn by "Sex and the City"'s cast, particularly Carrie—items that no real-life person in her position could afford. Again, there's a strange sort of realism mixed in with the fantasy. If my life was a steaming pile of feces—excuse me, it's late—if my life were a steaming pile of feces, if I were emotionally stunted and incapable of maintaining a close relationship with a man, if I could only get what I wanted by being cagey, catty, and superficial, what would be left but to blow my income on looking fabulous?
To paraphrase Paul, if our hope is only in this life, then we are of all men the most miserable.
So here's to the women—I know I'm not the only one—and the men too, who will wake up alone in their own bed this morning, because their plan for marriage does not include sleeping around a la "Sex and the City." And to those who are still prone to waking up under a stranger's duvet, I say, join us. You have nothing to lose but your flat affect.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Feeling better, going to work today—though, energywise, still in run-down "linker" rather than "thinker" blogging mode...
'Taking a Firm Grade is Pledganous'
Photo of a still-extant "Pat Paulsen for President" sticker—complete with the "Seal of the Almost President of the United States"—taken in Flushing by Forgotten-NY's Kevin Walsh.
Don Imus, after attempting to get a straight answer out of John Kerry, told a reporter, "I was just back in my office banging my head on the jukebox. This is my candidate and...I don't know what he's talking about."
First, as Kevin McCullough has noted, that's serious criticism coming from Imus. The radio host is not, after all, known for his hardball questioning.
Second, you know he was frustrated if he was banging his head against his jukebox. Even in this age of CDs, you still don't do that. The machine could skip.
It all makes one long for the days when candidates said what they meant and meant what they said. I'm thinking of those glory days of 1968, when we had Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and Pat Paulsen.
The late independent candidate Paulsen is represented on the Web with an excellent site bringing together video, audio, and transcripts of his most stirring speeches, most of which originally aired on CBS-TV's "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."
Today's candidates could take a lesson from the clear, concise, and hard-hitting language Paulsen employed in speeches such as an editorial on auto safety, which originally aired February 26, 1967 (before he announced his candidacy):
Are the summer soldiers in the war against auto safety turning their backs on that fierce and terrible winter campaign which comes in any war of this fighting drain?
Should we regroup our forces and advance or should we move to the bilge part back? The crux is a stimulating ridge on the lee side yet tabled on the other.
First there are only two ways to go. One way is neither right nor wrong and the other way isn't.
We know that taking a firm grade is pledganous and facts will bare us out....
TRACKBACK: Dustbury's Charles G. Hill quotes Paulsen in an entry titled "I approved this post before I rejected it."
Mom comments: "You know, the saying goes that nothing has the power of an idea whose time has come. Pat Paulsen was a liberal in that time. I liked his sex education and congressional ethics editorials, even though they are no longer applicable in the world of John Kerry. Conservatism is an idea whose time has come for today. Love will win out, but not the way we thought in the '60s."
Saturday, September 18, 2004
If you thought there was nothing left to be said about John Kerry's "personal opposition" to abortion, think again. The issue's been simmering in Dennis Schenkel's mind a while, and it's finally exploded into a searing depiction of the mental contortions necessary to hold such a position—contortions which Schenkel finds are remarkably similar to those of a hypothetical "good German" during Hitler's rule...."let's call him Johannes Kerrymeister":
"Herr Kerrymeister is personally opposed to the wholesale slaughter of innocent Jews and others whom society deems to be non-persons. He knows in his heart, as a matter of faith and a matter of personal conscience, that Jew-killing is a sin, and he has sworn never to kill and innocent Jew. However, just because the Church teaches that killing Jews is morally wrong, that doesn't necessarily mean, he reasons, that the Church teaches that governments must make laws that criminalize matters of personal conscience. That would be an unlawful intrusion of government into religious matters, and an unlawful intrusion of religion into matters of state."
Strong stuff, and it needs to be said. Read the whole entry.
Friday, September 17, 2004
Still under the weather, so came home early from my job and am turning in early in hope of being back at full steam at work tomorrow. I seem to recall that in my sinus-clogged haze, assigned to write a headline on Gen. Staudt's denial that he tried to "sugarcoat" Bush's record, I came out with something like, "DUBYA GOT NO 'SUGAR'." Goodness knows if it made the cut.
I've managed to locate a tiny bit of sugar for you tonight: a wonderful article about "Addams Family" composer Vic Mizzy. You really have to hand it to him: Not only did he write the song's music, but he also wrote the lyrics and sang all the vocals. (What the article doesn't tell you is that he also wrote another theme that's nearly as iconic: "Green Acres.")
Now to bed and the hope that I'll soon experience the meaning of one of Mizzy's tunes. No, not the one about being "altogether ooky." This one.
UPDATE: My friend Jim Friedland, a librettist who is a great soundtrack aficionado, writes, "Did you know Vic Mizzy wrote the lyrics and music for the wonderful 'Don't cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block' PSA? It's his little girl singing!" More information is available via a Daily News article about that jingle (which I know via my parents—it really is a New York institution).
AND HERE'S THE SONG: Courtesy of Michael Bates, who found it on NPR's
Web site: They Might Be Giants with a guest singer, performing Vic Mizzy's pedestrian classic.
I am blessed to have such talented readers making my job easier, providing such inspired material after my call to fulfill Planned Parenthood's exhortation to "send pro-choice greeting cards for holidays."
The latest comes from new blogger Ed Jordan of MediaCulpa.com. He offers a partial-birthday card:
Thursday, September 16, 2004
I'd like to thank everyone who answered the theological questions I put out last month—for Catholics, on "how can salvation be limited to Catholics only, when Scripture appears to go against that belief," and for non-Catholics, on how they felt about a Protestant's converting to Catholicism. To save space in The Dawn Patrol's August archive, I've left the original entry up but transferred the comments to a separate page. In reposting them, I removed all the editorial interjections of mine that I could find, save for one that was in answer to a commenter's question; I wanted to let the comments stand on their own.
At the time I first posted the comments, I promised a response. Now that I've had time to think about it, I'm sorry that I can't really say anything more than I said at the first. I still read the Scripture that I cited the same way I read it before—that faith in Jesus is what's necessary for salvation, and that such faith does not have to be mediated through a church. I do believe that church should play a central part in the believer's spiritual life—there's certainly plenty of Scripture to back that up—but the one and only true mediator is Jesus Christ.
The comments from Catholics were informative and often very open-hearted in that many of them stressed that the Roman Catholic Church does not limit salvation to Catholics. The point of disagreement for me is the concept that all salvation is through the church.
It's not often that Catholics and Protestants have the opportunity to discuss salvation issues in an open forum. Again, my thanks and appreciated to everyone who participated.
A mammoth, exceptionally well done feature in the Houston Press on the Protest Warriors features a cast of characters that should be familiar to readers of this blog, including Communists for Kerry and humorless "What's Communism got to do with it?" lefty Lizz Winstead.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
I'm feeling down right now because a cold is keeping me from going out on this, my "Saturday," plus I have to rewrite an entire magazine article that I accidentally deleted. In addition, my adored "Mighty Wind" T-shirt that I pulled out of the closet today fades each time I wash it, so it will never again look as good as it does now....Well, that last one deserves to be the least of my troubles, so I decided to do something about it. The shirt is hereby captured for posterity (click on photo for larger image).
Just heard Martha Stewart on the radio, moaning about going to prison: "I am very sad knowing that I'm going to miss the holiday season—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chrismas, New Year's..."
Halloween is part of the holiday season?
I guess it is for Martha.
Pardon me while I check my Kmart pillows for traces of deadly nightshade.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Tri-lingual Canadian blogger Xavier Basora has some choice English words for Ellen Barkin, who recently announced she believed in abortion so much that she'd force her own 12-year-old daughter to have one. "Women's right to do whatever they want to their bodies is an absolute right according to the pro-abortionists," Basora writes. "And yet, they relativize this absolute right when it's their daugthers that become pregnant."
"It's no wonder," Basora goes on, "that ordinary people regard the entertainment elite with disdain, ignore their pronouncements and react in revulsion towards them." No wonder indeed—the entertainment elite don't even bother to hide their own revulsion towards ordinary Americans. I saw that when Air America's Lizz Winstead made fun of the homeless at Town Hall's Mother Jones bash. It's also apparent in the campaigns of MoveOn.org, like their Jimmy the Cab Driver ad, where the ordinary blue-collar Bush supporter is depicted as a sniveling idiot. (Interesting to see that those ads seem to have been pulled very quickly—they debuted at the end of August and are already missing from MoveOnPAC's Web site.)
Humorist Jeff Grimshaw has some unfunny news for anyone who'd like to pick up the Left Banke tune "She May Call You Up Tonight"—which I mention in today's "Serendipious Sixties Surprises" post—on CD. Amazon has used Left Banke CDs for $90 and up. I'd say that's another good reason to keep your turntable—right now the group's original LP will set you back about $5 on eBay (which also has their CDs much cheaper than Amazon). Or do like my friend who got "She May Call You Up Tonight" from Rhapsody.
For what its worth, I think the "beautiful rose" metaphor is essentially worthless. I married a woman who not only had been "around the block" more than I had, but had been sexually abused as well. She was nothing like a bare stem. She was in a maelstrom of pain, and ultimately this pain played its part in destroying our marriage. But there is real value in her, and when I get a glimpse of what God thinks of her, I see someone incredibly beautiful.
A bare stem implies something basically stripped of value; something no longer desirable. The enemy would like to rob us of our essential loveliness, but generally he can only mar but not remove what's there. The value we have to God doesn't leave us so easily, because God's love for us is not so fickle as that. He doesn't love us for our good track record, or solid self discipline, as wonderful as those things can be. The truth is that He loves us for things over which we have no control. We can't make Him love us more, and we can't make Him love us less. So a husband cannot do better than learn what God sees in his wife, for what God sees is the real truth.
Messages like this rose metaphor one make me as angry as the garbage Planned Parenthood puts out because it contains no hint of redemption. Who among us has any petals left to present to God? So do we suppose He is a freak who just likes bare stems? Far from it; to Him it doesn't matter how many "petals" we've lost because there is no "He loves you not."
Monday, September 13, 2004
Got something a little different for you today: an unusual guide for Sixties-pop fans.
We've all had the experience of hearing an artist's hit and buying their album—only to find that nothing else on the album sounds remotely as good as the hit. That's why many people try to beat disappointment by only buying singles compilations. But if you do that, you risk missing some great album tracks.
To make things easier for those who want to build a collection of Sixties albums that contain at least one song as good as the hit, I've begun compiling a list of Sixties Serendipitous Surprises. Each of the albums below contains not only at least one hit, but also at least one album track that could have been a hit—in an unfallen world. So dust off your turntable—or hook up that file-sharing program—and enjoy:
Artist: The Left Banke
Album: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
You buy it for: "Walk Away Renee" (#5, 1966), "Pretty Ballerina" (#15, 1967)
Serendipitous surprise: The Left Banke hold a special place among connoisseurs of Sixties pop, and it's not hard to see why. They took the baroque-pop style pioneered by the Beatles in songs like "Yesterday," amped up the authenticity via classically trained keyboardist/songwriter Michael Brown, and came out with a delicate, layered sound that belied their New York City roots.
There's much gold to be found on this, the group's first album, but the hit that wasn't is "She May Call You Up Tonight." Fueled by Brown's Chopin-influenced chord clusters (part of the sound that so impressed Leonard Bernstein, who played "Pretty Ballerina" on the piano in his "Inside Pop" TV special), it defies logic with its catchy complexity. It's also got a canny lyrical conceit, which ties together the themes of "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina"—both written about the same real-life dancer.
Artist: Small Faces
Album: There Are But Four Small Faces (U.S. version)
You buy it for: "Itchycoo Park" (#16, 1968)
Serendipitous surprise: To fans of mod and psychedelic pop music, this is an iconic album, and it's not hard to see why. For some reason, despite the massive amounts of drugs—hallucinogenic and otherwise—and alcohol that the group was imbibing, they felt moved to create beautifully crafted three-minute songs combining the emotional fervor of classic soul with compact, often baroque melodies and miniaturist, ear-candy-laden arrangements. Besides the phenomenal "Tin Soldier" (a burning-hot take on the Hans Christian Andersen tale), which was a smash in England, "(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me" should have been a hit. Another cut, "I'm Only Dreaming," inspired a minor chartmaker—Eric Carmen borrowed its melody and feel for the Raspberries' smash "Tonight."
Artist: The Yellow Balloon
Album: The Yellow Balloon
You buy it for: "Yellow Balloon" (#25, 1967), and the fact that their drummer was Don Grady of "My Three Sons."
Serendipitous surprise: Practically the whole album. I remember how it blew me away when I first picked it up from the now-defunct Venus Records on Eighth Street in Greenwich Village, back in 1987. Filled with unbelievably catchy West Coast sunshine pop and dense, upfront harmonies, it sounds much more like a collection of hit singles than an album by a one-hit wonder act. Not that it's great art—most of the songs have the same kind of nursery-rhyme lyrics as the hit. But if you've ever wanted to hear the Beach Boys go bubblegum—and if you appreciate the Beach Boys enough to realize that they weren't bubblegum—this is for you. I'd say the most hitworthy tune on it is "Can't Get Enough of Your Love," but your mileage may vary.
Artist: Paul Revere & The Raiders
You buy it for: "Him or Me—What's It Gonna Be" (#5, 1967), "I Had a Dream" (#5, 1967)
Serendipitous surprise: This album was made when Mark Lindsay's songwriting collaboration with Terry Melcher—who produced the Byrds as well as the Raiders was at its peak, and as a result it's got that archetypal West Coast folk-rock sound. But since the Raiders are from the Northwest, it's also got a garage edge, and a strong Stones influence as well. In other words, it sounds like a real rock album, not a bunch of songs thrown together by a teen-pop band, as one might think if one only knows the Raiders from their cute uniforms. Adding extra craftsmanship are Los Angeles session heavyweights like Ry Cooder, who features prominently. "Gone—Movin' On" (which the Raiders later recorded in an inferior arrangement) and "Tighter" are the should've-been-hits here.
Artist: Ray Stevens
Album: Even Stevens
You buy it for: "Mr. Businessman" (#28, 1968)
Serendipitous surprise: This is one of my favorite albums, and I wish I knew more about it. All I have is the Varese Vintage reissue, the liner notes of which have precious little to say about this gorgeous, ambitious effort. That's a real shame, because I for one would like to know how the singer and songwriter of such novelty tunes as "Ahab, the Arab" and "Santa Claus Is Watching You" transformed seemingly overnight into an intense—and utterly credible—purveyor of finely crafted "message songs."
In 1968, everybody and their mother thought they could be Bob Dylan and make a serious, socially significant singer-songwriter album—even Bobby Darin started calling himself Bob. What's shocking about Even Stevens is how natural the artist sounds as he expresses his sincere concern over the superficiality of contemporary American life. Even more of a surprise is that he does so in music that's artfully arranged and buoyant, with songs that would still stand as high-quality pop music even if they were stripped of their message. Even Phil Ochs, whom I adore, couldn't keep that precarious balance between meaning and accessibility for an entire album. Yet Stevens made it sound effortless.
The hit that wasn't is "Funny Man," a new arrangement of a song with which Stevens had scraped the lower end of the charts back in 1963. While its lyrics are ostensibly a "Tears of a Clown"-type story of laughing on the outside and crying on the inside, it can be seen as an allegory of Stevens's career dilemma: a comedian longing to be taken seriously. Stevens's vocals are soulful and resonant, adding an great, out-of-nowhere falsetto on the chorus that sounds shockingly like what the Bee Gees would accomplish ten years later.
If any of my friends are reading this and want to make a one-day trip to the Ray Stevens Theatre in Branson, Mo.—the only place the singer performs nowadays—I would go at the drop of a hat.
True confession: I was walking home last night, longingly remembering a dream I'd had about lying next to a man (nobody I know), so distracted that I did not notice I was crossing behind a car that was exiting a parking garage. This was a bad move, as the garage exit barrier chopped down on my left shoulder.
I think I'm OK, thank God—a nearby bar provided me with some ice. But when I got home, it kind of made sense that my Websurfing would take me to a site encouraging abstinence.
Unfortunately, if I was looking for reassurance and solace, The Abstinence Outlet's flagship product was not exactly what Dr. Love ordered. The beautiful Abstinence Rose Pin, shaped like a tiny bouquet of red roses, comes with a card that reads:
You are like a beautiful rose. Every time you engage in premarital sex, a precious petal is stripped away. Don't leave your future husband holding a bare stem. Abstain.I found that terrifying.
[UPDATE: A reader has a good response to the pin's message.]
On the brighter side, The Abstinence Outlet offers school products comparable to the ones offered by Planned Parenthood Teenwire—but with a decidedly different message.
Planned Parenthood has their infamous "DOES SIZE MATTER?" ruler:
Abstinence Outlet puns in equal measure—"In this case, it's better NOT to have your act together! ABSTAIN":
Planned Parenthood's pen bears a phone number for acquiring emergency contraception (a k a the morning-after pill, which kills unborn children)—"Because Accidents Happen":
Abstinence Outlet offers a much cooler "mood pen" bearing a message that Planned Parenthood claims to endorse...but you won't find it on any of Teenwire's products—"No matter what mood you're in...the safest sex is NO SEX!":
And finally, while Planned Parenthood's vaguely phallic eraser instructs kids to "RUB AWAY THE CONFUSION"...
...Abstinence Outlet's Eros Eraser, although delightfully named, offers a harsh dose of reality:
Sunday, September 12, 2004
I'm honored that Classical Anglican Net News links to this page often—especially that they do so even though I'm more pop than classical. And I'm more amused than miffed at the nickname that CaNN editor Binky has created for me (scan down their links page for "Life With Bother" and you'll see)—which was inspired by a recent post I made about my incredible feet.
If you've ever wondered what a beautiful young woman would look like standing next to the main sign at the Halliburton headquarters, wonder no more.
The blog that features that image, Spot On, also links to ProtestWarrior's page detailing the activities of its Official Halliburton Defense Force. I envy those Dallas conservatives, who have to actually get in a car and drive in order to find Bush-bashing demonstrators.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
As I got onto the PATH train today—which is one of the rail systems that took commuters to the World Trade Center—I thought about how thankful I was that the world was still here, that I could still commute into New York City to work three years after that day when the terrorists made their horrifying attempt to overpower our nation with violence and fear. I remembered a Jewish prayer, and it took on special meaning for me.
It's called the Birkat Hazan, and it's part of the Birkat Hamazon [that link will take you to a PDF file], which is the prayer after meals. The Talmudic sages said it was written by Moses in thanks after God gave manna to the Israelites. Here's the part of the prayer that came to me, in Hebrew first [the "ch" is guttural, like the German "ach"]:
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, hazan et ha-olam kulo b'tuvo, b'chein, b'chesed uv-rachamim.
Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sustains the entire world with goodness, lovingkindness, and mercy.
Gothamist did an excellent e-mail interview yesterday with my friend Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY. Kevin writes with a kind of urban poetry. If you're like me, you'll be hooked from the beginning of the interview, where he describes how he feels about being his age: "I don't mind 47...it means I have fond memories of both Frank Fontaine and the Ramones."
Friday, September 10, 2004
If you're in Manhattan tomorrow night and would like to hear groovy Sixties pop and witness Mod-era films in a club with comfy couches and no cover charge, I'll be deejaying at POP GEAR! The event, which is on the second Saturday of each month, is at Rififi, a k a Cinema Classics, 332 E. 11th St. between 1st and 2nd avenues. I'll be the first DJ, spinning from 10 to 11 p.m. I'll stay for a short while afterwards to dance, but then must cut out, as I've found a great church (more on that soon).
I'll do my best to get all modded up, though I can't promise I'll wear a wig as I did in the "Cindy Sherman" art shot at left. If you'd like an idea of what to expect, check out last month's playlist. Hope you can come—it's fun and you can't beat the price. But remember, I can't talk when I'm doing a segue.
Newspaper copy-desk chatter:
Copy chief, handing me story with the in-house title "McGreevey": "Here, you're from New Jersey, you can do this one."
Me: "I was happy to see last week that we can call him 'McG' in headlines."
Copy chief (who has a soft spot for the oldies): "Yeah. We should call him Jimmy Mack."
Me: "But I don't want him to come back."
The news of the NYU-student suicides touches me deeply. I went to New York University, at a time of my life when I was suicidally depressed, and I can remember how it felt.
There's something especially poignant about the suicides involving leaps from buildings. At NYU, more so than residential universities anywhere else in the world, when a suicidal student walks onto the rooftop of a building, he sees what he is leaving behind. The whole world seems to be spread out among the Manhattan skyscrapers.
I remember walking onto the roof of Weinstein dorm late one night, wedging a schoolbook in the big metal door in case I chickened out. I looked down into the gap that lay between Weinstein and the building next door—a no man's land of gray rubbish—and wondered how much my body would decay before they'd find me. In the meantime, I imagined, my mother would have left increasingly anxious messages on my answering machine.
No, it seemed better to splatter onto the sidewalk in front of the building, especially at that time of evening on a weeknight, when there was less of a risk of falling right in some poor pedestrian's path.
But then I thought about it and realized the building was, at nine floors, just low enough that I might survive—and that if I did survive, I would be brain-damaged. So I trudged back down to my room, feeling like a coward.
I had many more close calls like that from when I first felt the pain of cyclical depression in my teens, to when the Lord healed me from my depression at the moment I received my faith at 31. Although I have a blessed amnesia about much of what went through my head during that dark and self-destructive time, I can still recall the existential frustration that lay at the depression's base.
I lacked faith, so I couldn't see beyond wanting and not having, as James wrote. I saw life not as endless possibility, but as a succession of possible things to hope for—and if I didn't get what I wanted today, it would take a supreme effort to carry on in hope that I would get it tomorrow.
What faith gave me, in a word, was continuity—a sense that there was a divine plan, and that whether or not I felt I was part of it, I was. No longer did I feel that there was no benefit to surviving pain. Faith infused even my losses with meaning, and with a sense that God was with me, loving me, during my trials as well as my triumphs.
I was thinking about that last night, as I was out with two of my best friends. Like me, they're over 35, unmarried, and wanting a special person with whom to spend the rest of their lives. But what struck me as I was with them, was how vital they were—how vital we all were.
I don't mean that in the sense of, you can be happy and fulfilled without a spouse. Quite the opposite. I mean, you can be happy, but to be perfectly fulfilled, you'd have to not really want a spouse so much in the first place.
What impressed me about my friends and myself was that, even though each of us was unfulfilled in some way, we each filled our lives with good things that we could enjoy and share with others—be it writing, volunteering, performing, reading, enjoying music, or spending time with friends. I was struck by how many ways it was possible to take something beautiful from life and, often, give something back in return.
It sounds corny, I know, but like many corny things that I love (e.g. the Diamonds' "Little Darlin'," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Mr. Softee ice-cream trucks), there's a deep truth behind it.
The message that our culture gives us is that nothing is important but getting what we want. What I want is to be married for life. Yet, every day that I don't get what I want offers the opportunity for delightful rebellion against the rules of the game. Each time I eat a delicious piece of salmon sashimi, or find something exciting to write about, or (intentionally) make somebody laugh, or look up today's reading in the online My Utmost for His Highest, or get a warm "hello" from a PATH-train conductor, to name a few—each time I do one of those things, I am telling the world, "POO ON YOU! SO YOU HAVEN'T SENT ME A HUSBAND YET! WELL, GUESS WHAT? I AM GOING TO ENJOY THIS DAY—JUST AS IT IS. SO THERE!"
In other words, I reserve the right to both retain my resentment of being single and strive to appreciate all the blessings God sends my way.
You know the saying, "Living well is the best revenge"? Don't believe it. Living is the best revenge.
Thursday, September 9, 2004
Yesterday's post featured Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's black T-shirt declaring "WARNING: PRESIDENT BUSH IS HAZARDOUS TO WOMEN'S HEALTH"—today, I give you the white version. Since it's the PP affiliate's best-selling item, naturally they're offering some variety. Besides, the red on white is a nice metaphor for the blood of the innocents.
What nerve of Planned Parenthood, a tax-exempt organization barred from taking a position on a candidate, to mount a nationwide campaign to oust President Bush—especially when his administration alloted it the lion's share of the $254.4 million in government grants that the organization received in fiscal 2003.
After I wrote yesterday about PP's blatantly flouting tax laws, a reader phoned the IRS to complain. The IRS representative was very interested—especially when the reader said that PP had already been the subject of a similar complaint from a California law firm.
Apparently, the IRS looks very unkindly upon organizations that continue to flout the law while a complaint against them is under investigation.
This abuse by a pro-abortion nonprofit is an important issue, because pro-abortion groups keep a close eye on pro-life nonprofits such as Priests for Life, to the point that they can't even appear to endorse or oppose a candidate. On a similar note, Planned Parenthood begins its manifesto "Vision for 2025" by deriding "people who count themselves among the religious right" for trying to "control the polical agenda." For that organization to then act as a law unto itself, thinking that it can break the rules with impunity, is hypocrisy. Add to that the fact that it's soaking us taxpayers to the tune of over a quarter-billion a year, and we have good reason to demand an end to its tax-exempt status.
At the bottom of this entry is contact information for complaining to the IRS. Below are some more examples of illegal political activity that you can cite. By the way, none of these examples are from Planned Parenthood's political-action wing, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which has a different type of tax status and is allowed to take positions on candidates. These are all from the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Planned Parenthood proper:
- PP's SaveRoe.com Web site and many of its affiliate Web sites (such as PP of St. Louis) feature the organization's report, George W. Bush's War on Women: A Pernicious Web. This report is entirely devoted to cataloguing every Bush administration action that Planned Parenthood opposes. It begins, "With great precision, and shielded by the smokescreen of war, George W. Bush is systematically working to gut reproductive freedom in the U.S. and around the world." Not exactly unbiased.
- An "April Fool's" page on SaveRoe.com featuring Bush-bashing "satire" and factoids about the president's PP-unfriendly actions. It includes a list titled, "White House's Irresponsible Choices." Among them: "Replaced science with right-wing ideology."
- On the front page of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles's Web site, a headline reads "The President and Women: Administration Seems Determined to Make Things Difficult for Women in America." Again, it's not like PP is going out of its way to pretend it isn't taking sides. The headline links to a page on the Planned Parenthood site that contains an unauthorized reprint of an editorial from the New York Times slamming President Bush's policy on the morning-after pill.
Oh, they say they've sold out of the shirt. But if they'd really sold out, they'd order more—Planned Parenthood is not known for passing up on an opportunity to make money from abortion. Instead, a letter from PP president Gloria Feldt on their Web site recommends that people who want the shirt get it from the site of its creators, who include notorious New York Times interviewee Amy Richards.
Remember, the reaction against the "I Had an Abortion" T-shirt started with bloggers and their readers. We really can make a difference.
Wednesday, September 8, 2004
The front page of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's Web site—the organization's San Francisco affiliate—beckons, "Get one of our fast-selling T-shirts! Worth a thousand words!"
But should a nonprofit organization be hawking T-shirts that say, "WARNING: PRESIDENT BUSH IS HAZARDOUS TO WOMEN'S HEALTH"?
Absolutely not, according to tax law.
Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) organization, and as such is forbidden from engaging in any political activity to support or oppose a candidate. Specifically, the Internal Revenue Code states that such organizations must "not participate in, or intervene in (including publishing or distribution of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."
You'd think Planned Parenthood would have eased up on the partisan politics after a law firm filed an IRS complaint against the organization's Los Angeles branch last month.
But when the Bush-bashing T-shirts are flying out of the Golden Gate store, those slap-happy abortionists can't be bothered to follow the law.
Margaret Sanger's bunch has received over $3 billion of government funds over the past four decades—$254.4 million of it in the fiscal year ending June 2003. (That link is a press release that links to a report by the government's General Accounting Office.) No one can accuse President Bush of skimping on those punks.
In other words, your tax money and mine is funding Planned Parenthood so that they can then make money off of T-shirts slamming our president.
Any tax lawyers out there? Methinks another complaint is in order. It's about time the IRS dilated Planned Parenthood's books and curettaged its tax-exempt status.
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
I know that's a strong headline, but imagine you're a person who only gets his or her news from the New York Times. For many people, that isn't much of a stretch.
You open up today's Times to the Page 3 feature on the Beslan horror. It doesn't mention that the terrorists were Muslims.
I know, I know. The sun rose today in the east, the sky is blue, roses are red, and the Times won't call terrorists Muslims. What else is new?
How about altering a quote specifically to remove any implication that the Beslan terrorists were Muslims?
The wire services reported, in a quote printed in thousands of newspapers, that the captured Beslan terrorist said, "By Allah, I did not shoot."
Today's Times piece quotes him as saying, "By God, I did not shoot"—a translation that no other news organization has used.
In other words, the Times wanted so badly to leave Islam out of its Beslan feature that it altered the terrorist's quote.
This is more than political correctness. This is the deliberate alteration of a news quote to create the false impression that a terrorist follows the Judeo-Christian God and not Allah.
"Kerry on Iraq: 'Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time.'"
UPDATE: Spot On's Karol adds a relevant reminder.
Monday, September 6, 2004
Because when I complained once about how ugly my feet looked with their bunions, he countered that they were "cute."
When I asked why, he said because they looked "chimpy."
If you've read my entries about Planned Parenthood's sex-ed site Teenwire and wondered what was the logic behind the organization's encouraging 13-year-old girls to have anal sex, wonder no more.
Planned Parenthood's own Web site outlines its sex-ed strategy in a fascinating online brochure: "Human Sexuality: What Children Need To Know And When They Need To Know It."
Let's have a look, shall we?
An edited look, that is. The following screen grabs leave out what little inoffensive material is on the page, an omission for which I won't apologize. If you're going to feed kids the equivalent of psychological poison, the effect can't be mitigated if it's vitamin-fortified.
We start with Planned Parenthood's instruction for the tiny tots:
Oh my. It looks like we may be here all day. Perhaps I should just choose one item to rebut:
Why is it so important to Planned Parenthood that children age four and under know it's "normal" to touch themselves sexually?
Right away, Planned Parenthood is moving in to sexualize children—to reduce them to bodies made "for pleasure."
Continuing Planned Parenthood's instructions for the education of children under five:
Again, where does one begin? Two things to note:
- The four-and-under crowd are told to "say 'No' to unwanted touch." Not inappropriate touch, just unwanted. This leaves open Planned Parenthood's pedophile loophole. Wonder how old the kids have to be before Margaret Sanger's good people decide to close that gap? Well, stay tuned, kiddies, and we'll find out.
- And the tots are told to "seek privacy when they want to touch their sex organs for pleasure." Apparently a blanket order to never touch themselves in public, for "pleasure" or not, won't do. These tykes have to know that "pleasure" is such an important thing that it has to be put in its own class of activity, over and above the rest of everyday life. The sexualization continues...
Well, we're moving on up! The kids are getting older—they're all of six now—and they're ready to learn some serious sexual stuff. They need to know that "people experience sexual pleasure in a number of ways." The brochure doesn't say what ways—perhaps, with the pedophile loophole, the instructors can show them.
And of course "everyone" six and older "has sexual thoughts and fantasies"—and if the kiddies don't know what those are, well, again, those fine, trustworthy pillars of the community who make their living sending unborn babies to surgical Cuisinarts will be happy to show them.
That's Item 1 on 9-year-olds' Need-to-Know List: Sex is Fun! Don't dare let them think it's got an emotional component, or that its purpose is procreation. Children must be taught that they're just mindless creatures with bodies made for pleasure.
We're still on 9-to-13-year-olds here. By now, masturbation isn't just "normal" like it was at age four—it's "very common." I don't think they mean "common" in the Victorian sense either.
And, hey, what's this? Somebody closed that darn pedophile loophole. For the first time in kids' lives, after they've learned all the different ways to experience sexual pleasure (which they did at age six), they learn about sexual predators. Who says Planned Parenthood doesn't care about protecting children? Why, they do—as long as the kids are age nine and up. Younger than that, and everybody in the pool.
Note too the instruction about "female and male prostitution and its dangers." How thoughtful of Planned Parenthood not to just instruct the kiddies about prostitution. They also let them know it's dangerous. It's all fun and games, kids, until someone loses an eye—to VD.
And now we move on to age—oh, no, wait, we don't. We're still on 9-to-13. Planned Parenthood just has to remind them once again, in case they missed it the first, second, third, and fourth time, that it's perfectly OK to experience "pleasure" with their own bodies. Just in case they still had any reservations about it, they should be broken down by now. Oh, and other sexual feelings are perfectly normal and legitimate too. So go ahead and have fun with your younger classmates, kids—so long as they're still covered by the pedophile loophole.
We're still only on ages nine to 13, and this, our final lesson today, is on what those kiddies can do now that Planned Parenthood's got them all sexed up. Those 9-year-olds should know how to go to Planned Parenthood and get condoms—or, better yet, get on the Pill.
Personally, I do believe youths should have access to information on preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease [this was in my pre-Catholic days—Dawn 6/3/09]. But at age nine? If children that young are taught how to acquire "a variety of contraceptives" at that age, the possible benefit of preventing a pregnancy is far outweighed by the sheer awfulness of revving them up for early entrance into sexual activity.
Researching Planned Parenthood's agenda is is like dumpster-diving. As one digs farther down, the offal becomes ever more putrid.
Sunday, September 5, 2004
A reader recently sent me an e-mail containing an anti-Semitic essay written from a supposedly Christian perspective. It included rehashes of the old Bellocian arguments about the supposed malevolence of the Jewish people, but with an added endtimes perspective. It appeared that the reader was not trying to offend me, but genuinely wanted me to "be aware."
On the chance that the reader was someone who truly wanted to live according to Christian principles but was ill-informed, I sent him a link to an essay that I found on the Web, "Why Christians Shouldn't Hate." Although there are numerous writings against anti-Semitism and prejudice to be found on the Anti-Defamation League's Web site and elsewhere, that essay is the best one I can find by a Christian. I can't vouch for everything else on the author's Web site, but I recommend that one article highly.
Last night I had the kind of invitation I can't refuse: A conservative friend who writes about entertainment asked me to help him endure a night of "political comedy" at Town Hall, sponsored by the ultra-left-wing Mother Jones magazine. According to the program, the benefit was organized to "support efforts to increase the reach of independent media organizations....By using humor as a vehicle, the producers and participants of this presentation hope to convey the importance of the independent press to the diverse American audience."
Translation: We know more Americans watch Fox News than CNN. We're very afraid.
I managed to make it through the first two hours. Here's what I saw:
- A surprisingly non-lefty Todd Barry breeze as quickly as possible through the obligatory stupid-Bush jokes and move into some material that the libs laughed at in spite of themselves. He suggested, for example, that he believed marijuana should be legalized—so long as potheads could be locked up.
Barry also had a wonderful offhand response when a flash went off: "Oh, great. I'm going to be on the cover of the Utne Reader."
The second time it happened, he said, with faintly curled lip, "Great—now I'll be on the cover of Granta." I was dying.
Sadly, the fun ended there, because next up was...
- Air America host and "Daily Show" co-creator Lizz Winstead exuding all the hypocritical smugness for which her network is famous. She made fun of the Department of Labor for advertising jobs for the homeless on its Web site.
The joke was—don't they know the homeless don't have computers?
Well, actually, Lizz, in New York state at least, Department of Labor employment centers have computers that can be used by anyone, including the homeless. I know—I was without a full-time job from April 2001 to July 2003.
Winstead followed up her "joke" by saying, "I know what you're thinking—they can go to the library, right?"
"But," she said, crouching forward as she moved in for the kill, "John Ashcroft sees everything you do at the library."
Horrors. Those poor homeless people. They can't even go to the Department of Labor Web site without John Ashcroft knowing that they're looking at dishwasher jobs.
And Winstead still wasn't finished. "But even if they could go on the computer," she said—her face twitching into a laugh as she anticipated her coming joke—"they wouldn't know how many times to click 'Add to cart.'
"Get it? Add to cart?" she said, making a pushing motion as she burst into laughter.
You really gotta hand it to those Air America people. Not only can they distort the facts, but they can get a laugh at homeless people's expense while doing it.
But Winstead had another story on deck, and this one was as true as death.
She stopped smirking and started to tell about how she got pregnant at 16 and "didn't know what to do."
The way she took on a little-girl voice as she told her tale, one might think she was confused over whether or not to keep her baby. But that's not what she meant. She knew what she wanted to do. She just didn't know where to get it done.
She told how she went to a place that advertised a pregnancy test, only to find it was a Lambs of God crisis-pregnancy center.
I expected her to make some rash accusation about the center, but she was surprisingly truthful. She described how the worker who saw her tried to convince her to bring the baby to term, but she would have none of it.
Finally, Winstead said, when the worker realized her teenage client was determined to go elsewhere, she gave Winstead a pamphlet and said, "Just remember: It's mommy or murder."
With those words in her ears, Winstead walked out—and chose murder. She went to a Planned Parenthood clinic, where, she said, "they made me feel like a person."
That is, they made her feel like only one person—not like she had another one instead.
"So remember," Winstead shouted, fist in the air, as her speech reached its climax, "A vote for anyone other than Kerry is a vote to destroy the lives of 16-year-old girls."
"And a vote for Kerry is a vote to destroy babies," I yelled. But the crowd was cheering too wildly for more than a few people around me to hear.
The final act I could take was:
- Cartoonist Ward Sutton in the "Ted Rall had a previous engagement" slot. He showed a brand-new animation, "Schlock and Awe." It depicted President Bush bringing about 9/11 and then leading America on a wild goose chase to catch Osama.
The animation ended with the sound of nuclear-bomb blasts as the screen went white. Then the stark black capital letters went up: VOTE.
The audience cheered.