The Thrill of the Chaste world tour continues tomorrow, March 1, when I speak in the state of "Liberty and Independence," addressing a Theology on Tap group in Wilmington, Del. The fully clothed fun starts at 7:30 p.m. at Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, and admission is free. They'll have a small number of copies of my book available; if you'd like a signed copy, you might want to buy one at a bookshop beforehand and bring it in to be on the safe side. Coming later in March: talks at the University of Illinois and Southern Methodist University.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Funky Pundit presents a list of bans proposed by the New York City Council over the past couple of years, proposing to bar things such as Wal-Mart, foie gras, and candy cigarettes.
Still no ban on using public funds to promote having sex with strangers, I notice. Well, maybe next year.
Hat tip: Alarming News
I met my friend B.'s mother once, last December 31, when she was in a local hospital recovering from surgery. Although she had lived in the Northeast for most of her life, she remained a real Southern belle, with her long blonde hair and delicate features, and especially her exceedingly gracious manner.
It wasn't surprising to me, seeing her there in her weakened state, that she should seem subdued. Yet, there was something languid and delicate in her manner that almost made me forget that I was in a hospital room. It was sort of like meeting one of Tennessee Williams' faded beauty queens, except that instead of being obsessed with past glories, she was intent on being present — giving her full attention to her guests, and treating them with unaffected, childlike sweetness. She made no complaints about the IV in her arm, nor did she mention the pain she must have been feeling only a day after going under the knife.
Before I arrived, I had thought I was doing something nice for B.'s mother by visiting her in the hospital. But as I stood at her bedside, it was clear that it was the other way around. She was giving me the gift of her presence. I left the room convinced she was a saint.
Yesterday, B. called me, sounding the saddest that I had ever heard him. He told me his mother had been put on a ventilator the night before last, after she suddenly stopped breathing on her own. The last I heard, he was flying cross-country in hope of seeing his mother once more before she dies. Please pray for B., his mother, and all his family.
Monday, February 26, 2007
If you're planning to come to my talk tonight at the Diocese of Rockville Centre's Faith on Tap, watch this space for updates. I'm waiting to hear whether it's still on, or if it will be rescheduled due to the snowfall.
UPDATE: The event is still on (click link above for details), but I just learned the organizers didn't purchase books. I'm bringing a few, but your best bet if you'd like to have me sign a copy is to buy one beforehand if you can.
UPDATE #2, 2/27/07: Had a fine time speaking and meeting people at the event. The Faith on Tap crowd proved to be one of the best that I've had the pleasure to address; warm, friendly, and engaged. It was also great to finally get to meet Gen X Revert, as well as Leticia, Nolan, and others.
In the discussion forums at thrillofthechaste.com, a number of people have been listing pro-chastity tunes. Now a reader named Whistler has suggested one on his blog that I think would make a fab addition to the list: "I'm Not Who I Was," a brand-new song by Brandon Heath. I really like the recording's creative arrangement. (I'm learning that John Davis isn't the only Christian artist making songs that are on the same artistic level as the best secular rock tunes. ) You can hear it on Heath's MySpace page. As for the lyrics, boy, can I relate.
I've long fantasized of writing a "Thrill of the Chaste" theme song, but all I've been able to manage is the title: "I Don't Do That (Anymore)." (That parenthetical is very important.)
Heath recently posted a video of "I'm Not Who I Was" on YouTube that's quite moving (and is — unwittingly, I'm sure — a straight-faced cousin of "Subterranean Rome-Chick Blues"):
Saturday, February 24, 2007
What was the most embarrassingly awful stage production that you ever took part in at school?
I can't recall the name of the nightmarish one in which I starred when I was in first grade, when a teacher — what she was thinking, I'll never know — decided to cast me as both of the show's leads. (The parents thought it was a riot when I changed hats and wigs back and forth onstage.) So I'll cast my vote for "A Pink Party Dress," the eighth-grade musical when I was at South Orange (N.J.) Middle School.
The show's director had fallen in love with "A Pink Party Dress" during the one night in 1960 when it hit the New York City stage — rumor had it that, by the time the curtain went down, he was the only audience member left. He personally got Samuel French, Inc. to send over the scripts and sheet music to the show, which were dreadful beyond words.
The synopsis says it all:
"A mountain girl yearns for new pink clothes, and a woman from the outside world brings her a present which is, unfortunately, another patched dress. Can be done by an all-female cast.”
I played the "woman from the outside world," a rich lady for whom the poor mountain girl did some kind of menial work at a country club during the previous summer. Out of the goodness of her heart, she makes the trip up to the girl's family's Appalachian home just to give the girl a dress. The girl is buoyant because, ever since she worked for the lady, she has fantasized about owning the lady's "pink party dress."
I regret to say that I can still remember the show's theme, which the girl sings rhapsodically to her uncaring brother before the rich lady arrives:
In a pink party dress
Any girl could feel purty and proud
Just a pink party dress
Like a far-away little pink cloud
The rest of the verse has mercifully escaped me, but the bridge remains:
The party'd be lit up by candles
The floors and the table would shine.
And everything I'd ever wanted would be mine!
The girl's brother attempts to tear down her fantasy by telling her that she is doomed to a life of hardship. He gets to sing the comedy tune "Womenfolk Work for Menfolk." I can remember only the ending:
BROTHER: Womenfolk work for menfolk, while the menfolk take their —
SISTER: And the gals forsake their —
BOTH: While the menfolk take their ease!
It's after that number that the rich lady hits the scene to provide the deus ex machina. She makes a bit of small talk and attempts to hide her disgust as the mountain girl's widowed mother offers her snuff. Finally — and you can feel the mountain girl's suspense — Rich Lady opens the dress box she's brought, revealing a garment that looks like a potato sack.
Rich Lady leaves, the mother tells the mountain girl to buck up, the brother goes "ha, ha," or something, and the mountain girl is left to sing a mournful reprise of "Pink Party Dress" in half-time before running off the stage crying. The End.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Amanda Marcotte writes in the comments to my "Maidenhead Revisited" post:
"... good on you for reminding your audience that girls not necessarily always lose their hymen through sex. Of course, not that this stops some virginity fetishists from judging them. Horseback riding, tampons and acting on stage are also 'immodest,' i.e. distractions from the singular need to treat your body like it's the possession of some future husband."
I had no idea that such virginity fetishists walked among us — let alone that there were enough of them to warrant referring to them as "some" and not "a tiny handful of characters well removed from organized religion."
But apparently there are — that is, unless I'm taking Marcotte too seriously or quoting her out of context. (It's been done before.)
If I'm interpreting Marcotte correctly, then I ask her to please tell me who these people are who won't allow virgins to be equestrians or thespians, and who forbid them to use internal sanitary protection. I promise her that if she identifies them, I will add my blog voice to hers in criticizing them. Our posts will be all the more powerful because they'll be complementary. I'll aim mine at the readers who go in for EWTN; she can reach those who go in for NSFW.
So far, I've found one group of virginity fetishists that sorta meets the three specifications. But in the absence of further clarification from Marcotte, I don't want to assume it's the one she had in mind.
Continuing our dialogue on whether it is right to promote virginity (or — as I prefer — chastity) more to young women than to young men, Elizabeth Kantor begins her response to my "Women on the virgin" post by arguing that men and women experience different kinds of fallout from premarital sex.
It is precisely because of these differences, she says, that chastity should not be taught the same way to everyone — regardless of modern ideals of equality of the sexes. "Has the belief that men and women are essentially the same been a great support and encouragement for chastity?" she asks.
No argument there; different sexes call for different approaches. I believe it is possible to have equality without sameness, so I don't see why one would need to teach chastity — let alone math — the exact same way to men and women, providing the end results are the same.
But Elizabeth's not talking merely about teaching chastity in different ways. She believes in elevating female virginity above male virginity as the ideal expression of chastity:
Why shouldn't a young woman appreciate the fact that she has a bodily integrity that's as yet unbreached, and decide it's important to her to maintain that integrity?Something about that reference to "a bodily integrity that's as yet unbreached" awakens my inner Amanda Marcotte.
That's a very old-fashioned way of talking, but I think it's truer than most of what we hear on this subject today.
A special concern for female virginity was a crucial part of a widespread attitude of respect for men and women's very different qualities, which gave individual men and women support for better choices.
I'm for bringing it back. [Full post]
Marcotte, I'm certain, would attack such a philosophy as hymen-centric [link contains obscene language]. What disturbs me is that she would be right.
I'm having a hard time putting this into words, because I respect where Elizabeth is coming from, but there is something very discomfiting for me about a philosophy of chastity that is based upon women keeping their hymen. This is exactly what I have been trying to counter in writing The Thrill of the Chaste — the idea that technical virginity is the same as chastity, or that only virgins can be chaste. (As St. Francis de Sales has noted, St. Mary Magdalene was no virgin, but, once she began to live a holy life, she joined the virgins who followed after the Virgin Mary and was no less chaste than them.)
There are women who, through no fault of their own — tampons, horseback riding, falling halfway off a stage at a Jewish summer camp in Bruceville, Texas, in 1978 — have no hymen. Is their "bodily integrity" less pure?
If the answer is no — that bodily integrity is based on chastity and not connective tissue — then why is it a "special concern" for women and not for men?
What men do with their bodies affects their integrity every bit as much as what women do. Please, let's leave the hymen talk to the Marcottes of this world (who, with due respect to Elizabeth, do it so much more colorfully than either she or I can) and encourage everyone, men and women, to understand the true, nontechnical meaning of chastity.
UPDATE: Elizabeth has posted a thoughtful response. She writes that she doesn't "think it's quite accurate" for me to write that she believes "in elevating female virginity above male virginity as the ideal expression of chastity." I apologize for mischaracterizing her views. What had confused me was her using examples of only female virginity when discussing her ideals. At any rate, I greatly appreciate her engaging in this discussion with me and will let her latest post be the last word. I believe she and I agree on core values; any disagreements we may have are in the area of emphasis.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
"The right-wing anti-sex polemic is a seriously tired genre. Its Reefer Madness tone tends to inspire doubt that its authors have any idea what they are talking about; it attracts critical mirth (e.g., 'This essay must have been even better in the original Arabic!'); and, in the end, it does more harm than good to the cause of those of us who believe that today's hypersexualization is a sign no longer of personal liberation but of America's protracted cultural immaturity. All the more praise, then, to New York journalist Dawn Eden, who has produced a book called The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (W, 224 pp., $13.99 &8212; an intelligent, culturally aware, and (not least important) highly entertaining account of how one woman was able to break free of a culture of sexual objectification.
"The author makes a strong case for the traditional moral position of eschewing sex before marriage. But her book should not, on that account, be avoided by the very large audience of those who view that position skeptically. Indeed, her book may have more to teach them than it does those who already have leanings toward the traditional point of view. Dawn Eden reminds us forcefully that our happiness does not, in fact, lie in the cycle of sexual gratifications, or in being a "winner" in the manhunting/womanhunting game; it consists of a life of love and respect for others, whether one is married or single. An analogy to temperance literature suggests itself: When you start asking yourself, 'Why do I drink so much?' you may not end up being a teetotaler, but you will be wiser about who you really are - and what hole you are really trying to fill with that third martini."
— Books editor Michael Potemra, from his "Shelf Life" column in the March 5 edition of National Review (online for subscribers only)
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Elizabeth Kantor of Human Events' Right Angle blog offers a three-part response to my criticism of the way that she and another writer promote female virginity on its own rather than promoting virginity for both sexes. (I also criticized the writers' emphasis on virginity rather than chastity, something she touches on only in passing.)
I'm in complete agreement with the first part and the second part of her response. The second evokes G.K. Chesterton and St. Francis de Sales with its insights into Christian history, capped off with the persuasive assertion, "If we want to keep or restore the parts of the Christian sexual ethic that seem attractive to us, hadn't we better be careful about rejecting the parts that we don't find attractive, or don't understand?"
The final part of Elizabeth's response, however, fails to convince me that there is good reason to promote virginity for women more than for men. She writes:
Now, we can all agree that bad sexual behavior is equally wrong for men and women. If a double standard means giving men permission to behave badly, that can't be right. But if it means reminding women that there are special reasons for them to take chastity seriously, I'm all for it.She backs up her argument by noting that women can get pregnant and are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases that can damage their fertility, adding, "We're fertile — and sexually attractive — for a shorter period of time."
Just because fornication is equally wrong for men and women, does it follow that it's equally harmful in every particular?
Men and women have equal souls, but they don't have the same biologies or psychologies.
The Argument from Short-Term Sexual Attractiveness completely eludes me as a reason for virginity until marriage.
As for the other reasons Elizabeth offers, they still fail to convince that virginity should be promoted to women more than it should be to men. For one thing, if men are left to their own devices, they'll still get sexually transmitted diseases and pass them on to the few poor women who didn't get the virginity memo. But more than that, while the assumption that fornication doesn't hurt men as much as it hurts women may be true on a psychological level, it is certainly not true on a spiritual level. Any Catholic priest will tell you that the sin is the same regardless of whether a man or woman commits it. Elizabeth makes it clear that her promotion of virginity is based upon her faith. Taking the sinfulness of fornication into account would seem to require her all the more to emphasize virginity for both sexes alike.
I say that fornication may be less psychologically harmful to men. Truthfully, however, with regard to the "Sex and the City" question — "Can a woman have sex like a man?" — I am no longer convinced that a man can "have sex like a man," let alone a woman. When I think back upon the men I have known who have had premarital sex, none of them escaped being damaged by it. Perhaps they were not damaged in ways that psychologists measure, such as the tendency to suicide and depression (though a 2003 study did find that — sexually active teenage boys as well as girls had a higher rate of depression than abstinent teens), but I believe they were damaged in other ways, such as being:
- Less able to achieve intimacy in relationships
- Less able to maintain long-term relationships
- More likely to seek out pornography
- Less secure in their faith
- Less mature
- Less able to choose and focus upon long-term life goals
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor. Sometimes that means sounding an alarm where everyone can hear it — not just those whom we may think need the message most.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
"Marriage is that relationship between man and woman under whose shadow alone there can be true reverence for the mystery, dignity and sacredness of life. Scripture represents marriage not merely as a Mosaic ordinance, but as part of the scheme of Creation, intended for all humanity. Its sacredness thus goes back to the very birth of man.
"They do less than justice to this Divine institution who view it in no other light than as a civil contract. There is a vital difference between a marriage and a contract. In a contract the mutual rights and obligations are the result of an agreement, and their selection and formulation may flow from the momentary whim of the parties. In the marriage relation, however, such rights and obligations are high above the arbitrary will of both husband and wife; they are determined and imposed by Religion as well as by the Civil Law. The failure of the contract view to bring out this higher sphere of duty and conscience, which is of the very essence of marriage, led a philosopher like Hegel to denounce that view as a Schaendlichkeit [shamefulness]."
— Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, "Foreword to Seder Nashim," 1936.
Rabbi Hertz was my great-great uncle.
Monday, February 19, 2007
What better way to kick off the Lenten season than with a talk about chastity? Dr. Brian Kane, chairman of philosophy and theology at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa., says he didn't realize the date on which he'd booked me to speak was Ash Wednesday, so I guess it's just a fortunate coincidence. I'll be talking about The Thrill of the Chaste, natch, at the 7:30 p.m. event, which is open to all. More information is available on the DeSales University Web site.
What real-life story would you like to have seen featured on the front page of today's newspaper besides Britney and Anna Nicole?
[Update: I really would like to know what else is going on in the world that is being bumped off the front page for bald Britney — though fake stories are fun too.]
Some pure pop music to start your Monday — a live rendition of "Stained Glass Window" by Superdrag singer John Davis:
I just got Davis's 2005 solo debut on the recommendation of reader Framermike and it blows me away. Sorry to say that this live video is more laid back than his recorded performance, and the creaky vocals aren't his best, but at least you can tell that he knows how to write a gossamer melody.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Mist rises from the Delaware River near Morning Star House of Prayer on the morning of October 18, 2006. It was the last day that I saw Sister Gerry.
"Now that I have made the transition from this life to a new life, I promise to hold each of you in my heart and to be your advocate before the throne of God.
"My prayer for you is, 'Let your light shine before all that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God, the Source of all light.'
"I will always love you."
Those are the words of Sister Geraldine Calabrese, MPF, part of a reflection that she wrote with the intention that it be read at her funeral. The entire text of the reflection is on the Web site of the Morning Star House of Prayer, which also features beautiful photos of Sister Gerry and a song for which she wrote lyrics.
Here is what I wrote about her in The Thrill of the Chaste:
I am typing this from a retreat house near the Delaware River, where I have come to write. The house is run by a pair of nuns who have retired from teaching. One of them, Sister Gerry, has been blind since the age of twenty-four due to a genetic disorder. Now eighty-two, she is remarkably vibrant, despite having cancer.
Have you ever met someone who positively radiated grace? I’ve had that experience on rare occasions, nearly always in the presence of someone old and frail. It seems that God gives something extra to older people who are suffering pain or a disability — if they’re open to receiving it.
Sister Gerry has that inner glow of one who has asked the Lord with all her heart to make her an instrument of His love and peace. Her eyes sparkle in a way that I’ve never witnessed in a blind person.
The other day, I discussed with Sister Gerry a book she had cowritten about the founder of her religious order, called Forever Yes: The Story of Lucy Filippini. A copy of the book was in my room at the retreat, and I’d begun reading about how the shy young woman living in seventeenth-century Italy reacted when the Church asked her to direct schools for girls and women.
Lucy went through an intense, dark period of soul-searching, feeling uncertain of God’s will. Finally, feeling no comfort or consolation despite her prayers, she stepped out in faith — “quivering” out a “yes,” as the book puts it.
Once Lucy made the decision to accept the daunting task, her comfort and consolation returned. But she had to take that first step on her own.
The story reminded me so much of my own life — times when, feeling trapped in darkness, I had taken a halting step out into the light. I might have felt stuck in an unsatisfying job or relationship, or just in a rut.
My experience of darkness could include fear of disappointment, fear of failing publicly, fear of ridicule — or all of the above. Most of all, I feared that there might be nothing out there for me —no job, or boyfriend, or life worth living, outside the familiar unhappiness that had become unbearable. When you’re facing that kind of hopelessness, you need more than ordinary strength to open the door that leads to a life of hope and opportunity. ...
... I told Sister Gerry of the memories that her description of Lucy’s anguish — and the eventual comfort she received — brought back to me. Then she told me that she had drawn upon personal experience as she and her co-author, a fellow nun, wrote that part of the book.
It was her reaction to becoming blind.
“I realized I had a choice,” she said.
Either she could believe her life was over, she explained — or she could say yes to blindness, and trust in what God had in store for her.
Looking at Sister Gerry — seeing her deep brown eyes with their improbable sparkle — couldn’t doubt that she had made the right choice. She had given so much to the world — and still had so much
to give. Her existence alone was a gift.
FURTHER READING: Obituary from the Asbury Park Press
When I was having casual sex, there was one moment I dreaded more than any other. I dreaded it not out of fear that the sex would be bad, but out of fear that it would be good.— Me, "Between My Sheets, a Lonely World," National Post — an article adapted from The Thrill of the Chaste
If the sex was good, then, even if I knew in my heart that the relationship wouldn’t work, I would still feel as though the act had bonded me with my sex partner in a deeper way than we had been bonded before. It’s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us — emotions that are distinctly unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light.
A college senior from Dallas with deep brown eyes and thick hair to match was describing a man she had hooked up with a couple of times. Despite her best efforts, she said, she was falling for him and that worried her.— Laura Sessions Stepp, "Love's Labor's Lost: What Young Women Are Saying About Their Aversion to Emotional Ties," Washington Post
"It will suck if it's bad," she said, "but it will suck even more if it's good."
In the subterreanean recesses of the Church of St. Therese in suburban Cleveland earlier this month, beneath the illuminated number 69 on a state-of-the-art bingo sign, I read from Chapter 1 of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On":
As you can see, I'd picked up a bit of the Cleveland accent during my 48 hours there. Also, someone dear to me has pointed out that when I talk about the temptation to have sex, my stammer goes into overdrive.
Mad props to Saint Kansas for the clip.
Friday, February 16, 2007
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation ConsortiumElizabeth Kantor, who has been a great supporter of the The Thrill of the Chaste, choosing it as a Conservative Book Club selection, takes exception to a statement I made in my interview for Beliefnet.
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
— Ray Davies "Village Green Preservation Society"
I think the way to get [respect for chastity] back, ironically, is not to put so much emphasis on virginity. Virginity has replaced chastity in our culture's language, in the sense that people refer to chastity as secondary virginity. I've actually had very good-natured arguments with fellow Christians about this, because people who teach abstinence in schools rely upon the term secondary virginity. But in my view, the term secondary virginity implies that you can only be chaste if you are a virgin.Kantor responds:
So if you're not a virgin, you have to pretend to be one in order to be chaste. Not all of us can be virgins. For some of us, that train has already left the station. But we all can be chaste.
Spinning post-virginity chastity as 'second virginity' is, I agree, silly -- even, you can argue, verging on wishful thinking and reality denial, which is the absolutely last thing the defenders of traditional sexual morality need to inject into this discussion. (There's more than enough contrary-to-fact nonsense coming from the other side: "it's just a mass of cells," Heather Has Two Mommies, "at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence," &c., &c.)While I agree with Kantor that it is important to acknowledge the dignity of virginity, I don't believe that the anti-feminist argument she uses, which is essentially political, is convincing on a personal level. Most people don't make choices based on their desire to tick off Amanda Marcotte.
And it certainly makes more sense for women who've had scarring sexual experiences to look forward to a post-virginity chastity than to look backward toward the virginity that they've lost.
But I do think a return to a healthier understanding of sexuality in our society would necessarily mean more -- not less -- emphasis on virginity.
Notice how feminists hate both the cult of virginity and the idealization of motherhood with an equal passion. The Virgin Mary is offensive ("super-patriarchal") to the Amanda Marcottes of the world for two reasons. The ideal of sexual purity must be, in some mysterious way, demeaning to women. And celebrating motherhood must mean seeing women as "nothing but vessels."
Feminists think the doctrine of the Virgin Birth has contributed to the oppression of women. Yet another contrary-to-fact belief.
Ask yourself, in what culture has the Virgin Birth been believed, and celebrated in art, song, and story? That's right -- Western culture. And in what culture, of all the cultures in world history, have women enjoyed the most freedom and dignity? That's right. The answer is just the same.
More to the point, I think that writers such as Kantor and the Heritage Foundation's Patrick F. Fagan, who is the leading writer and researcher on abstinence-related issues, need to bulk up their arguments considerably if they wish to raise the status of virginity in American culture. Kantor's argument hinges on the doctrine of the Virgin Birth — a distinctly female prototype, and one all but overwhelmed by its religious significance — while Fagan's, in his February 14 National Review Online article "Virgins Make the Best Valentines," is based entirely upon statistics relating to female virginity.
Fagan's statistics are jarring, to be sure — he quotes a survey showing that for women 30 or older, those had one sexual partner in a lifetime) were by far most likely to be still in a stable relationship (80 percent). "Sleeping with just one extra partner dropped that probability to 54 percent," he writes. "Two extra partners brought it down to 44 percent."
However, as a woman, I can easily see how one could come away from that article asking, "Why is it so important to the Heritage Foundation to stop women from having sex before marriage? Why not men?"
The survey to which Fagan refers gives no answer, stating simply that only women were polled.
Coincidentally, a Dawn Patrol commenter who identifies herself as Kellie writes a response to my Beliefnet interview:
As much as I dislike resorting to "PC" writing, I believe on [chastity] it may be a worthwhile endeavor. There are so many people enraged (enraged for some crazy reason that I don't understand — what we think doesn't in any way impede their own actions. but I digress) with our way of thinking. Why not challenge those folks by stating up front that this is in no way accepting the standard of the past; a past in which men are to sow their oats while women are to stay pure and innocent. This (ours) is a new world —a new way of thinking in which men and women are to be equal in their quest to understand the depths of love by the control they exhibit over their bodies and the emphasis they put instead on the development of relationships. That, after all, is what makes us human and not animals.I couldn't agree more.
Separating virginity from chastity, and implying that virginity alone is the ultimate goal for the unmarried, sets young people up for technical virginity. The efforts of Planned Parenthood and others to end abstinence-only education are fueled by such misconceptions (although those organizations' arguments are largely based upon inaccurate depictions of such programs). I know this because, as I write in my book, I lost my innocence many years before I lost my virginity.
I believe that virginity until marriage should be upheld as an ideal. But it is ideal only when virginity represents a perfect expression of the chastity that everyone, men and women, should practice — not when it is promoted primarily to one sex, and certainly not when virgins are presented as the only people who can live meaningful chaste lives.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Good morning! I don't plan to post today, but invite you to pray for Sister Geraldine Calabrese, who passed away on Monday. Actually, at her funeral tomorrow, I would not be surprised at all if those there asked her to pray for them; there is no doubt among those who knew her that she went straight up. I hope to blog more about her soon. She was the blind nun I wrote about in Chapter 19 of my book and the co-author of Forever Yes: The Story of Lucy Filippini. (The lyrics and spoken interlude to the song on the above-linked site were penned by her.)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
My Beliefnet interview, which was conducted December 14, is finally out; they'd been saving it for their Valentine's Day package. Read why I say our culture, in order to regain its respect for chastity, should, "ironically, ... not put so much emphasis on virginity."
An interview with me aired today on Australian national radio's Counterpoint show; you can hear it by going to the show's Web site and clicking on the "February 12" audio link. The segment with me is about two-thirds of the way into the show. Many thanks to Michael Duffy and Paul Comrie-Thomson for having me on the show — and for playing "Chastity Rome-Chick Blues"!
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com.
My talk and book signing last night at the austere St. Joseph's in Greenwich Village last night went wonderfully. As you can see, the pastor invited me to speak from the pulpit, which was an honor for me, if a bit daunting. (Thanks to Patrick Sweeney for the photo.)
The crowd was far more chastity-friendly than that of my previous New York City appearance. I hope to post video of the talk soon, and attendee Luke White says he'll have an account on his blog. (UPDATE: It's up.)
Apologies to those who have written to me lately and not received responses; I've been extremely busy and hope to catch up on e-mail soon. Thanks for your patience.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
"Serious Christians are forever complaining about our degraded secular popular culture, and with good reason. Unfortunately, our complaints are too often based on silly urban legends and rumors. The most we seem willing or able to do is boycott unreleased movies we wouldn't have gone to or not read books we wouldn't have read anyway.
"Actually creating our own alternative culture is just too much trouble apparently. Or if we do, we manufacture boring, earnest, corny books, movies and video games that never make it out of the Christian 'ghetto.'
"We need to be inspired by Eden and take our message to people where they are right now, not where we wish they were. Let's preach beyond the choir and talk to the great unchurched, speaking the Truth in their language."
— Kathy Shaidle, reviewing The Thrill of the Chaste in Our Sunday Visitor (online for subscribers only)
Here's an excerpt from my talk this past Tuesday night at the Church of St. Therese in Cleveland that was sponsored by the St. Rose Young Adults Group, courtesy of Saint Kansas, webmaster of thrillofthechaste.com:
Come hear me talk tomorrow night, 7:30 p.m., at the University Parish of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, 371 Sixth Ave., between Waverly and Washington Place — the home church of my alma mater, New York University. I'll be speaking at 7:30 p.m. and signing books afterward. The event, sponsored by NYU's GradLaw group, is free, and rumor has it that those who stay for the duration will be rewarded with the pastor's homemade pasta with gorgonzola sauce.
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com.
Friday, February 9, 2007
"Dawn has taken on popular opinion that was adopted by Baby Boomers, then Generation X, then Generation Y, and now into the future - an opinion that is based in moral relativism and a mentality that we all need to be "true" to ourselves. Popular culture has told us that we are free! from outdated rules and that we can now "explore" our sexuality without fear of the guilt that plagued our mothers and grandmothers.
"However, what we find in Dawn's work is that the empirical data does not bear this out. While some may be free of the guilt, we are not free from the consequences and the ultimate irony is met - in "making love" to gain love we instead find no love. ...
"Thank God for women like Dawn Eden who are not afraid to speak the truth. This book depicts an ugly landscape in the dating scene of New York City, but it also provides a beacon by which a person can travel through the muck and mire and come out with dignity and integrity intact."
— Stephanie Richer, reviewing The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Pandagon blogger Amanda Marcotte, a familiar name to readers of this blog, whose online persona caused controversy after John Edwards hired her as his campaign blogmistress, has issued an apology of sorts:
My writings on my personal blog Pandagon on the issue of religion are generally satirical in nature and always intended strictly as a criticism of public policies and politics. My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact.I guess it's nice to know that all those times her blog referred to Our Lord and Saviour as "Jeebus" — in 114 blog entries to date (the most recent last Sunday) — she was only kidding.
A search of Pandagon archives shows that Amanda has yet to devise a similarly ha-ha name for Mohammed. Well, give her time; she's been on the Edwards campaign for only a week and a half.
UPDATE, 2/12/07: Amanda's out.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
I'm delighted to be making a homecoming of sorts this Sunday when I speak at the University Parish of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, 371 Sixth Ave., between Waverly and Washington Place — the home church of my alma mater, New York University. I'll be speaking at 7:30 p.m. and signing books afterward. The event, sponsored by NYU's GradLaw group, is free, and rumor has it that those who stay for the duration will be rewarded with the priest's homemade pasta with gorgonzola sauce.
The latest piece by Scripps Howard columnist Terry Mattingly features my book, and in particular my observations on how churches could improve their ministry to the unmarried. Admittedly, the unmarried person's outlook going into church is important as well:
"My church life got so much better the minute I stopped trying to look for someone to date at Mass," [Eden] said. "I mean, it isn't a good thing if people learn to look each other over at church the same way they look each other over in a bar."
* * *
More on my Cleveland trip later tonight — just got back ...
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Quick note from the road: The Catholic Exchange review of The Thrill of the Chaste is up! Last night's talk at Cleveland's Center for Pastoral Leadership went beautifully. About 100 people braved the subzero temperatures to attend (that's the crowd above, with Cleveland Catholic Forum's Steve Patt introducing me). Looking forward to tonight's talk at St. Therese. More when I get home tomorrow.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
I'm about to leave for Cleveland — see the Appearances section of thrillofthechaste.com for details— and won't have ready access to the Net, so blogging will be light if not nonexistent 'til I return on Wednesday. Very much looking forward to speaking there and enjoying bubble tea with Saint Kansas and his family at the Phoenix (but make mine hot — tomorrow's high is 10 degrees).
Keep an eye on Catholic Exchange and the Catholic section of Beliefnet, both of which have promised to give The Thrill of the Chaste some virtual ink over the next couple of days.
I'd like to thank everyone who has written me personal e-mails about the book. It's been a great regret of mine that I've been so busy juggling my full-time job with book promotion that I haven't been responding to many e-mails lately. I intend to remedy that when I get back. When I don't have time to send out e-mails, I do send out prayers, so if you've written to me, please consider yourself prayed-for.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
The Democratic presidential candidates have picked their theme songs, and Hillary grabbed two, neither of them particularly patriotic. One is by a Canadian rock band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," and the other by a British act, Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now."
I wonder how long it'll take before she learns that "Right Here, Right Now" is one of National Review's "50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs." It refers to the fall of the Berlin Wall — one of the greatest achievements of Ronald Reagan's presidency.
Friday, February 2, 2007
"A happiness that is sought for ourselves alone can never be found: for a happiness that is diminished by being shared is not big enough to make us happy."
— Thomas Merton. I read the quote in "The Corruption of Human Intimacy", an enlightening post by Edward Brenegar that uses an article by me as a jumping-off point.
That's right, I'm coming to Cleveland next week! Here are the dates — both events are free, featuring a talk by me, plus a Q&A session and book-signing:
Monday, February 5
When: 7-9 p.m.
Where: The Center for Pastoral Leadership, 28700 Euclid Ave., Wickliffe. Sponsored by the Cleveland Catholic Forum and the Diocesan Vocation Office.
The Cleveland Catholic Forum's Web page promoting my talk includes this intriguing quote: "Read more about Dawn at www.dawneden.com and join the Cleveland Catholic Forum as we welcome Dawn Eden for an exciting presentation about fulfillment through a divine plan of sexual activity."
Tuesday, February 6
When: 8:00 p.m. Doors open at 7:40 p.m.
Where: St. Therese Church, 5267 East 105th Street, Garfield Heights. Sponsored by St. Rose Young Adult Group.