Dallasblog's Caroline Walker has some very kind words about my talk last week at Dallas' Christian Leadership Ministries luncheon.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
On the way home from the Emmanuel Community's weekly Eucharistic Adoration Tuesday night, I was thinking about how I envy those people who say that Jesus is their best friend.
I've never been able to understand how people are able to think of Him as My Buddy Jesus, confiding in Him like they would a best friend. I have no problem telling Him my innermost thoughts, but when it comes to receiving the satisfaction that one receives from sharing with a real best friend, I'm like the little girl who's afraid of the dark. It's not enough to know that God is watching over me; I need "God with skin on."
Part of what was missing, I thought as I walked to the subway, was the feeling that Jesus could truly empathize with all my sufferings.
I knew He suffered more than anyone else ever has or will. Yet, it seemed to me, He never endured that special sting that comes when one experiences hurt without warning. Whatever insults were thrown his way, whatever injustices were perpetrated upon him, He at least could see them coming.
Or could He? On the ride home, I read Fulton J. Sheen's The World's First Love and was reminded that the Gospel says the young Jesus "increased in wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52).
Sheen says the all-knowing Son of God could have expanded his wisdom by intentionally limiting himself: "In order that He might be really and truly a man, He consented, in His wonderful condescension, not to call into exercise those powers that He had as God."
So perhaps it was possible, I thought, that Jesus could allow Himself to be surprised by pain.
Thinking about it, I realized there is one line in the Gospels in which Jesus actually does seem to be caught unaware, in Luke 22:48: "Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"
Jesus asks many questions in the Gospels, and usually it's clear that He knows the answer, as when he asks whose likeness is on Caesar's coin, or queries whether the disciples have caught any fish. He also asks questions to provoke thought, as when He asks the Pharisees, "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?"
His question to Judas is different, more intimate, than most of his others. Not surprisingly, there exist many interpretations of it, including that He was pronouncing judgment upon His betrayer or was drawing attention to the fact that Judas had forfeited his position as disciple. I wouldn't doubt that Jesus did ask the question for those reasons or some similarly straightforward one.
Just the same, something seems off to me. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is so certain of His impending betrayal. He drops hints all over the place and eventually tells the disciples plainly that He will be betrayed and killed. On the Mount of Olives, when He sees Judas coming, He announces confidently that his betrayer is at hand (Matthew 26:46). Yet, when Judas leans forward to kiss Him, His last utterance to His rebellious disciple ends not with a thunderous exclamation, but a wounded question mark.
I wonder if Jesus purposefully prevented Himself from forseeing the manner in which Judas would approach Him on that hill. In doing so, He would have enabled Himself to fully experience the shock of his former friend's sheer brazenness. The pain of betrayal would have been that much more intense.
Pondering that as I arrived home, I still longed for God with skin on, But it did make Jesus seem like that much more of a best friend, to think that when He had eyes like mine, He too could be blindsided.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
An Australian newspaper reports, in the familiar garbled manner of mainstream-media religion correspondents, that Pope Benedict made a speech referring to hell as a state "to be understood symbolically." Ronald Coleman, an Orthodox Jew, seeks clarification.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Beliefnet has a beautiful video on the making of matzah, narrated by a Lubavitch rabbi at a Crown Heights, Brooklyn factory.
Watch for the rabbi's definition of freedom at the end — his description of ingesting faith sounds like an experience I had last Sunday. (And don't mind the kabbalah reference — this ain't Britney and Madonna's kabbalah.)
Monday, March 26, 2007
The Independent reports Swedish study finds that where men and women have "gender equality" in the workforce, both sexes have a lower life expectancy. Not surprising, a feminist quoted says the answer is to get more men out of the workplace.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Unchaste people turn up at least two or three times in the Gospels: the woman "caught in the very act" of adultery, the Samaritan woman, and, arguably, Mary Magdalene (though there is some dispute as to whether she was the same woman who was called "a sinner"). What they have in common is more than that they are all women: They are all forgiven.
Well, we know that Jesus forgave them, at any rate. Whether anyone else did is another matter.
One would imagine that, after being forgiven by Jesus, the women ceased to care what the rest of the world thought. I wish I could say that for myself.
Once a radio host said to me, "You're one of those people I hate."
He wasn't opposed to chastity — just the opposite. Married for about 20 years, he said he had never had sex with anyone other than his wife.
He hated me, he said, because I'd had sex with different men and then decided to be chaste. In his eyes, I was simply trying to win brownie points for chastity after having indulged in the fun that he and other married people had missed.
It's not an unusual attitude; Jesus described it in the parable of the workers in the vineyard, and also the parable of the prodigal son (with the other son who resents the welcome his brother receives).
I think that such a resentful attitude, when directed at one who has been unchaste, not only denies the possibility that the person has repented (as I have), it also assumes that unchastity is a desirable state. The radio host must have thought that I "had fun," otherwise he wouldn't have begrudged me my experiences.
I had fun in those days, but I never had joy. I had the fun of someone who eats chocolate compulsively even though it aggravates her heartburn. Yes, it tastes delightful, but it will never give me peace or assuage the pain inside. Sex is no substitute for love, and sex with a loving partner is no substitute for sex with a loving spouse.
Being jealous of people for their sexual escapades is like being jealous of a beautiful model whose anorexia is eating her alive. Some people do resent such women, but the proper response is pity.
When the unchaste women of the Gospel encountered Jesus, each one of them encountered true love, true intimacy, for the first time.
My own experience of love and intimacy used to be based on needs. I needed my parents, needed my friends, needed my boyfriend.
Then I experienced faith and began to discover a love that was based not on taking, but on giving — and not on giving for the sake of receiving, but for its own sake. I began — and I say "began," because I have a terribly long way to go — to learn to give love as Jesus gives it, not through words or deeds, but through presence.
The fruits of presence include attention, devotion, appreciation, and determination to bear a love that won't change even as circumstances do. Yet, unlike actions or words of love, presence refuses to be quantified. Just as there is no less Jesus in a sliver of a Communion wafer than there is in the whole thing, so, where love is a presence, its strength transcends outward signs.
I don't know if it's my lot to meet my future husband, though I hope it is. What I do believe is that, if it's meant to be, then, regardless of all our past affairs, when we begin to love one another, it will be a true first-time experience. Because, for the first time in my life, I will be truly present with the one I love, and he with me — and us with God.
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com.
One of the highlights of my Dallas trip was sharing my conversion story with the students of Dr. Elaine Heath's "Intro to the Theory and Practice of Evangelism" class at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology on Thursday morning.
As she drove me to her class, Dr. Heath told me about her interest in contemplative prayer. She had long had an interest in it and studied masters of Catholic contemplative tradition while getting her doctorate from Duquesne. That evening, she said, she and some of her students were beginning a new chapter in SMU religious life, hosting the first common meal of their "neomonastic order" devoted to contemplative prayer.
It is called the Contemplative Order of St. Julian of Norwich.
Y'know, Dallas in many ways was down the rabbit hole for me. When I walked into SMU's Catholic ministry headquarters, I was greeted by copies of Commonweal and the Houston Catholic Worker. A workbook-sized commentary on the year's readings was available, but no stack of Magnificats or anything similarly devotional.
Then I meet Professor Heath, an elder of the United Methodist Church, and she's talking to me about Teresa of Avila while acknowledging Julian of Norwich as not only a great contemplative, but a saint.
Seems you just can't keep a good saint — or a good tradition — down. Now, if those students could only have the opportunity to learn such devotions from a Catholic as well ...
Saturday, March 24, 2007
My friend Fallen Sparrow sends this notice of the Church of Notre Dame's Lenten concert. I'll be there:
As Lent continues on toward Holy Week and Easter, my choir will be performing its annual Lenten concert of Renaissance sacred music at the Church of Notre Dame, 405 W. 114th St. (at Morningside Drive, near the Columbia Campus and St. Luke's Hospital - #1 to 116th St.) on the evening of Saturday, March 31st at 8 p.m.RELATED: "Lent: Rehab for the Rest of Us," by Dallasblog's Caroline Walker
This year we are featuring a stunning setting of "Media vita" by Lassus, as well as motets by Palestrina, Festa, LaRue, and three of Gesualdo's Tenebrase Responsories.
I would be honored and delighted to see each of you there. For those who have attended in the past, it your support has always brought me joy and I hope that you have found the music a rewarding experience.
The admission is $10, and $5 for students and seniors.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I'm back from Dallas and am exhausted, having done six talks in two and a half days. Met lots of great people and had a wonderful time. I hope to write an anecdote or two about it after getting some rest. In the meantime, Radical Catholic Mom, who lives in Alaska, has an account of my talk last night at Dallas's Theology on Tap, sent to her by a friend who was there.
Many thanks to everyone who has been praying for me. I felt prayed for in Dallas and I really needed it. Actually, I always need it.
P.S. Radical Catholic Mom's friend describes me in the same breath as Janet Smith; here are links to Smith's articles.
Jill Filipovic at Feministe and Jessica Valenti at Feministing, as well as NOW and many others, are pulling out their profanities about the recent episode of "America's Next Top Model," hosted by Tyra Banks, that featured a "crime scene" fashion shoot. The models were rated according to how sexy they looked when made up as bruised and bloody corpses. I've only seen one of the photos from the shoot, the one on Feministe, but it is enough to make me agree with those who are outraged.
... And yes, I wish Jill, Jessica, & Co. would share my outrage over certain kinds of real violence perpetrated upon women and men. But one thing at a time.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
"This evening I heard Dawn Eden speak at the Fellowship Bible Church, which of course is in Dallas where I am, not in the Zeta Reticuli star system where I am not. Eden is on a book tour for The Thrill of the Chaste, but you might otherwise know her by her weblog, The Dawn Patrol.
"A few of the synonyms given for chaste are pure, austere, celibate – words of rather discreet charm. Slightly better are modest and decent, but the only real frisson one can get from these is in imagining them as reactions to an amorous advance (although the t-shirt Eden was wearing had the encouraging slogan 'Modest is hottest')."
— Udolpho begins a thought-provoking post on the media's reaction to the chastity message, after seeing me speak last night. (See Mean Mr. Mustard for related commentary.)
I think I know which attendee was Udolpho; there were actually a few Dawn Patrol readers there in addition to the church's crowd, which made me very happy. I'm hoping more show up tomorrow night, when I speak at Dallas's Theology on Tap.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
And I'm off! Below, once again, are details of my Dallas gigs — not counting talks for students at SMU and the university's Perkins School of Theology. Unless I can get to a hotel computer, I'll be away from e-mail until Friday and away from blogging until late that night.
If you're reading this in the Dallas area, I really hope you can get to one of my talks; it's always a delight to meet Dawn Patrol readers.
Talk and signing: "Sexless in the City: Why the Happiest Singles Are Saving Themselves for Marriage." Fellowship Dallas, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 22
Talk and signing: Dallas Christian Leadership Luncheon at Southern Methodist University's Umphrey Lee Ballroom, 12:15 p.m. (214) 349-1109 or (214) 232-7248.
Talk and signing: Catholic Campus Ministries/Catholic Young Adult Ministries, Theology on Tap at Tipperary Inn, 5815 Live Oak (corner of Skillman and Live Oak), 7 p.m.
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com. Learn more about the book on its official Web site.
One thing I find fascinating about God is that not only does He love each of us as though there were only one of us, as St. Augustine wrote, but He also loves each of us regardless of how special He is to us.
God is a jealous God, to be sure, but He never seems to mind how many gods we worshiped in years past — so long as we clear out all the idols and make room for Him. Indeed, He seemed to take pleasure in the knowledge that evenwhen we were pagans, with our pantheon of gods for every occasion and every lust, we still had a formless statue set aside and dedicated "To an Unknown God." He knew what we didn't: The statue symbolized the vacuum in our hearts that only He could fill — and it was His joy to fill it.
Jesus required faith to perform His miracles, but He did not require love. Perhaps He knew that, for us humans, faith comes more easily than love. Even Peter, who had such great faith that he was the first to declare Jesus' messiahship, ended up denying Him three times. The apostle later had the opportunity to atone by answering Jesus three times that he loved Him. Yet, even then, his expression of love did not measure as high as it could have. Jesus had asked, "Do you love me more than these" (emphasis added), and Peter answered only that he loved Him, not adding that he loved Him more than he did others. But Jesus accepted Peter's answer, just as He accepted Peter's phileo love when He had initially asked for agape love.
If and when I meet the man I will marry, I will want to believe that I am special to him — that the passion he feels for me goes beyond what he experienced with other women he dated. Yet, I know even if he insists he loves me more than them, his previous experiences, however unmourned, will remain imprinted in the recesses of his memory — like a tattoo acquired while drunk, now marking one for life.
Thinking about that would make me feel less special, I suppose — if my definition of "special" meant making the first and only imprint on a pristine heart and body.
I want to be special as Jesus is special; not because I am loved, but because I love.
What that means in a relationship is not seeking to be special to a man, but, rather, opening my heart and letting him become special to me.
If he is the right man, I am certain that I will become special to him as well. But just as God first loved us before we loved Him, I am becoming more and more convinced that in a love relationship, the man and the woman each have to be the first to open their heart.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
University of Illinois senior Katharine Johnson has a beautiful and very kind account of my stay with her in Champaign, including some fab pics. I had a blessed time too; been meaning to write about it myself, but have been caught up with my job and preparing for my talks in Dallas this week.
Ich will dir mein Herze schenken,
senke dich, mein Heil, hinein.
Ich will mich in dir versenken;
ist dir gleich die Welt zu klein,
ei, so sollst du mir allein
mehr als Welt und Himmel sein.
I will give my heart to you;
lose yourself in it, my Salvation.
I will lose myself in you;
though earth be all too small for you,
ah, for me you alone shall be
more than earth and heaven.
— Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici), from Bach's "St. Matthew Passion"
RELATED: "Christ: His Passion and Death Part III" (requires Real Audio), Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Found via Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Radio Catechism.
What a beautiful surprise to return from Mass today and discover that an Irish priest used my book to illustrate the parable of the prodigal son in his homily today. I hope he comes to the Legion of Mary youth conference in Dublin this June, where I will be speaking.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Got a nice surprise today: I learned that my Beliefnet interview is one of the Web site's most e-mailed articles. As a result, it's currently featured on the site's cafeteria-like home page alongside menu items by or about the likes of the Dalai Lama, Andrew Sullivan, and atheist Sam Harris.
Guest post by Sarah
[Note from Dawn: Yesterday, I saw that a woman identifying herself as "Sarah" had left a comment on an old post in which I quoted a woman who claimed to have been mistreated at Planned Parenthood. Sarah wrote that she had just undergone emergency surgery after Planned Parenthood had failed to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy. I e-mailed her and asked if she would like to share her story with Dawn Patrol readers. (I let her know my feelings about Planned Parenthood upfront, in case she had any reservations about her story's appearing on a pro-life blog.) She sent me the following, which appears here unedited. She did not mention which Planned Parenthood clinic she visited; if she lets me know, I will add it to her story. She will be reading this entry, so you can leave messages or prayers for her in the comments.]
My first trip to Planned Parenthood was on March 3rd. I went in there and filled out my paperwork for the abortion. As I sat there the waiting room filled up with women. It amazed me how many people would go in there and kill a life without an extremely good reason other than selfishness. They herded us back there like cows. Literally they called a bunch of names and told us to pay at the window. Then we were sent to urinate into a cup and sit in another waiting room.
One by one we were sent into a little room with a woman who "counsels" us. There is NO counseling done here. They tell you that you will be given certain medications and give us an instruction list of what not to do afterwards. They then give you an ultrasound to see how far along you are. Fortunately I was not far along enough to have an abortion at that time so they sent me on my way.
March 13th I went back this time to attempt to have a medical abortion instead of a surgical one. Once again they did the urine pregnancy test and an ultrasound and announced that I wasn't pregnant. After taking 4 home pregnancy tests and one at Planned Parenthood along with all the usual symptoms of pregnancy that I had with my daughter, I was appalled that they wouldn't look into this any further to see what was going on with me. I had seen the ultrasound screen and knew that my uterus looked pregnant even though there were no signs of a baby or a fetal sac.
Instead, they sent me to the front crying because I didn't know what step to take afterwards. The same woman that did my ultrasound who is a supposed "nurse" yelled at me "Why is you crying? You ain't pregnant." This is just an example of the excellent bedside manner of all the employees of Planned Parenthood.
Fortunately I called my OB/GYN and they told me to get up to the office asap. They conducted their own ultrasound and sent me to the hospital for an emergency D&C and a laparoscopy because of a failed tubal pregnancy. Had I not I could very well be dead right now.
Planned Parenthood is a disgrace. They call themselves a womens center but they are just a butcher of babies and they could care less about a woman's health. My friend went there about a month and a half ago for an abortion. What they failed to tell her was that they do not administer any kind of pain medication during the abortion. They expand your cervix with metal rods and then perform a D&C. This is a procedure the hospital and actual doctor feels is necessary to put people under sedation for. I actually asked Planned Parenthood a few times about the lack of pain medication and their response was "well they do fine without it". How in the world could a woman "do fine" with being scraped out with surgical cutting equipment without any pain medication? My only answer for the lack of compassion is that they are making more money from not using any type of sedation.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Goodbye 'til Thursday; unless I manage to get onto a borrowed computer, I'm away from blogging and e-mail while on tour at the University of Illinois. For details on those dates and my appearances next week at and around Southern Methodist University, visit the Appearances section of thrillofthechaste.com.
If you live near Champaign, Ill., or Dallas, I hope you can make it to one of my talks. I'm told there will be plenty of copies of The Thrill of the Chaste available at each appearance, or you can bring your own copy if you have one already and I'll be happy to sign it.
In 1995, my status as a regular contributor to New York Press got me a stint as an on-air consultant to the FX channel's "Sound FX" program, doing my rock-historian thing and having fun playing dress-up in my thrift-store wardrobe. Here (following about 45 seconds of a Soul Coughing video), in a clip that aired live 12 years ago this week, I discuss a CD that I had assembled in 1992 for Sony Music Special Products, Jimmy's Back Pages, collecting rare mid-Sixties session work by the future Led Zeppelin guitarist:
Yes, that is Jeff Probst, later of "Survivor" fame. He was very sharp and a great guy; I loved working with him.
I'm posting this clip because it hints at the extent to which I was the lost soul I describe in The Thrill of the Chaste. If you compare my carriage — the way I sit on the bed, my makeup, and my general manner — to the way I am now*, there's a difference that goes beyond mere maturity. I can see how insecure I was, and how badly I wanted to fill a hole that couldn't be filled. (It's the feeling I recently described in my articles about my rock-journalist days for The Sunday Times of London and Canada's National Post). I'm still self-conscious before a camera, to be sure, but I'd like to think it's, to borrow a lyric from my former faves the Buzzcocks, a different kind of tension.
If I had stayed on that road, I would not want to see what I would be like now. Contemplating it makes me uncomfortable and, at the same time, very thankful.
You may notice that I was about 15 pounds heavier; I talk in The Thrill about my lifelong struggle to keep my weight down. Looking at myself then reminds me how self-conscious I was about my weight — and makes me realize I judged my looks far too harshly.
There are some things I do appreciate about who I was in those days. I worked extremely hard to educate myself about an era of music that had passed before I was born, and I believe that many of my rock-history pieces, like my profile of Harry Nilsson, still stand up today. I also give myself credit for having the guts to go on TV. It means I had the willingness to risk failure, which is essential for success in life.
In the interview, I'm clearly out of my depth with regard to Page's music; I readily admit that I don't even like what is for me his "later" work. I simply was obsessed with British pop from the mid-Sixties, and saw a Page sessions CD as a means of getting some good, rare tracks from that era onto one CD.
Watching the clip, my gee-whiz comments about Page's performing prowess make me flinch. You'll have to trust me when I say I did manage to say some articulate things about him in my liner notes for the short-lived collection. Trouser Press editor Ira Robbins summed up the disc well in Entertainment Weekly:
Before he became a guitar-rock god in the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page spent the early '60s as a session musician. A fascinating resume of a master's beginnings, this collection of obscure British rock singles is peppered with Page's characteristic riffing. Some of the guitar playing, however, is too generic or incidental to be of consequence.
*For comparison, see this clip from this past January 3, when I debated sex author Virginia Vitzthum in the basement of the Lolita Bar on the Lower East Side:
Monday, March 12, 2007
As I'm going to be away from e-mail and blogging for most of the time I'm on my speaking trip to Illinois (back on Thursday), I'd like to leave this as a gift for a friend who reads my blog, as he is curious about the Catholic faith. It's the beginning of a talk by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on the meaning of the Mass, from "A Family Retreat with Fulton J. Sheen."
I'd like my friend to see it because I think it will illuminate the Mass for him, as it did for me. Archbishop Sheen's description of what — or, really, who — the bread and wine, pre-consecration, represent is a revelation for me. They didn't teach that in RCIA. And I went to a good RCIA.
The rest of the talk (divided into two more parts) is likewise on YouTube.
More Sheen videos are available from the official Web site for his cause of canonization; purchases there help the cause.
By John C. A. Bambenek
From today's University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Daily Illini, reprinted by permission of the author:
Sexuality, by its very nature, is a vulnerable thing. It involves letting someone share the deepest parts of one's body, heart and soul. It has pride of place as an expression of romantic love. In its natural form, there is no better practice of intimacy.
March 14 will be the annual Sex Out Loud fair put on by the Feminist Majority. The general point of this fair, falsely dubbed a "sexual health fair," is that as long as the physical consequences of sex can be controlled, nothing else matters. If it (physically) feels good, do it. But sex isn't solely a physical matter and by treating it as such, grave harm is done to women particularly.
"Control," "safe," "protection," these are the words that the "sexual health" groups use for sex. These attitudes are usually solely directed at controlling the physical aspects of sex.
The problem is that our sexuality cuts across all dimensions of our personhood. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. Sexuality embraces all of these dimensions. By shrinking sexuality to a merely physical act and then bringing the full weight of science to control the physical consequences, we've adopted a sexual mentality based on impenetrability.
With the mainstreaming of contraception in the early part of the 20th century and the invention of the pill in the 60s, sexuality began to be divorced from the natural consequences of sex. With the "consequence" of conception out of the way, people were "free" to be with anyone they wanted.
Women were supposed to be empowered to finally love as equals and have sex with as much disregard as men supposedly did. Women were now free to be with anyone, yet get close to no one. The result is that the sexual revolution has delivered grave harm to women. A "revolution" that began in hedonism has bred a generation of cynics.
Instead of vulnerability, people approach sex trying to protect themselves. Instead of an experience of a person at their deepest levels, it's an experience of mere gratification. "Protected sex" is sex that satiates but does not satisfy. The human wreckage from this idea is vast and is felt most by women.
Since men are brought up in the "bottle it up" school of emotional development, they are better equipped to handle the isolation that is a result of this sexual pathology. Women, on the other hand, are unable to escape the inevitable loneliness, depression and isolation that results from this disconnected sex.
One only needs to look at adultery to see the emotional consequences that can result from sex. Even in a "free sex" world, something about cheating on a partner still registers as one of the greatest betrayals.
After having experienced the empty promises of sexual freedom for two generations, people are rediscovering chastity and the promises it holds. Chastity isn't a new concept, it is what we already know in our hearts but refuse to acknowledge with our lips. We want to be fully and deeply accepted by another person on all levels of our being and that is only possible be reserving oneself for that "special someone."
In books such as "The Thrill of the Chaste" by Dawn Eden, women retell their conversion from "sexually liberated" to "chaste" and show through their own experience that "protected sex" does not lead to the fulfillment we really desire. In embracing the true meaning of our sexual desires, we are free to approach others in a way where we can truly be connected and not objectified. It requires vulnerability not impenetrability.
The voices of chastity are increasing as more and more people see the broken marriages, broken homes and broken hearts that are a result of "liberated sexuality." Only in vulnerability and chastity can we truly find sexual fulfillment and the intimacy our hearts desire.
Author Dawn Eden will be giving a talk at 7:30 p.m., March 13th in Newman Hall's Lewis Lounge. She will also be at the chastity booth during Sex Out Loud on March 14.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Still one of my top five favorite recordings — Badfinger's "Baby Blue":
For you fellow music nerds out there: Tom Evans and Pete Ham (may they rest in peace) are singing live to their original 16-track recording. Because the lip-synch backing comes from the 16-track, it is slower than the 45 and therefore a bit dirgey by comparison; the song was sped up during mastering, as all good 45s were.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
"Eden, who converted to Catholicism last year, said her editor was reluctant at first to use the title 'The Thrill of the Chaste' because 'he probably thought, quite rightly, that most people in this day and age don’t know what chastity is. Chastity is not "no sex." According to the catechism, everyone is supposed to observe chastity according to their state in life, so there’s single chastity and there’s married chastity. Chastity is really a way to look at all your relationships so that they no longer become mere exchanges of commodities. It’s a plan for your whole life, for your happiness, and for eventually going to heaven. I look at chastity as a way to practice what it’s like to be in heaven.'
— From the Long Island Catholic's review of my Theology on Tap talk in Wantagh, L.I. (Click the link to see me in groovy-librarian mode — giving my eyes a break from contact lenses.)
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste from Amazon.com.
"Popular blogger and columnist Dawn Eden has written a refreshing call to chastity. ... [O]ne of Eden's most important decisions in this book is to draw upon Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, stressing the unfashionable notion that the body has a spiritual purpose. Eden underscores that chastity is a lifelong discipline — not just a tough thing that single Christians have to deal with, but also a call to embodied holiness in controlling one's sexual appetite that every Christian must submit to."
— Author Lauren Winner, reviewing The Thrill of the Chaste in the March issue of Christianity Today (not yet available online)
Friday, March 9, 2007
The more I learn about sexually active young adults, both the supercharged "hookup" generation in their late teens and 20s, and the bored "whatever" generation in their 30s, the more I believe the overriding reason they seek premarital sex is nihilism — and that nihilism is built upon fear.
They preprogram their relationships to self-destruct because their own parents divorced, or they are immersed in a culture of divorce, and so they cannot imagine a love that would last a lifetime. Because a happy, committed marriage is inconceivable to them, they set themselves up to squeeze out the maximum amount of romance from a relationship in the shortest possible time — killing the opportunity to nurture real love and intimacy.
A "revolution" that began in hedonism has bred a generation of cynics.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
... on "Kids Are People Too"!
I can't stand Smith's voice, but this is a remarkable clip. She gets mad props for finding beauty in a song her CBGB comrades despised, singing the heck out of it, and — not least — showing genuine love to all those kids. When she tells them she wanted to be a missionary, it's clear that she really is one.
"My point is that the cost of the sexual revolution is more than some thought it to be worth. Even Margaret Sanger could not find fulfillment in her own ideals of sexual liberation - she went through two marriages, many lovers, a drug addiction and relied upon astrology and psychics to find the meaning of life."
— University of Wisconsin freshman Sean McCormick, from his op-ed "Promiscuity Is Dangerous." Read the whole thing. (He gets extra credit for making a reference to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." — and for mentioning my book, natch.)
Here are my latest tour dates promoting The Thrill of the Chaste. I'm told that copious amounts of books will be available at each venue for me to sign. (The book's currently in its fourth printing — whee!) More information on The Thrill is available on the Press page of thrillofthechaste.com. I love meeting readers, so if you've read my book or are just curious about it, I hope to see you at one of these gigs.
Saturday, March 10
Faith and Reason bookstore, Massapequa, L.I. (directions): Talk and signing, 1-2 p.m., free.
Tuesday, March 13
Newman Hall, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Talk and signing, 7:30 p.m. See press release below.
Wednesday, March 14
I'll be airdropped into the Feminist Majority's "Sex Out Loud" fair at the University of Illinois, holding the fort for chastity along with members of several Catholic groups — see press release below.
Tuesday, March 20
Fellowship Dallas (Park & Central, former United Artists movie theater!), The Chapel (2nd Floor): Talk and signing, 7 p.m. Topic: "Sexless in the City: Why the happiest singles are saving themselves for marriage." Information: (214) 739-3881.
Thursday, March 22 (two events)
Dallas Christian Leadership Luncheon at Southern Methodist University's Umphrey Lee Ballroom (3rd floor, SMU Umphrey Lee Center): Talk and signing; luncheon starts at 12:15 p.m.. Topic: "The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On." Reservations required: (214) 349-1109 or (214) 232-7248.
Catholic Campus Ministries/Catholic Young Adult Ministries, Theology on Tap at Tipperary Inn, 5815 Live Oak, corner of Skillman and Live Oak: Talk and signing, 7 p.m. Topic: "The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On." Information: (214) 987-0044.
Here is the press release that the University of Illinois student groups put together for my appearances there:
Champaign, IL –March 4, 2007. Student groups FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), The New Feminists, Network Catholic Fellowship, and Newman Foundation Koinonia at the University of Illinois are co-sponsoring a chastity speaker to come to campus this month.
Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On will be lecturing at Newman Hall at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 13, and signing copies of her book. Ms. Eden will also be appearing at a chastity table at Sex Out Loud in the Illini Union from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14.
Sex Out Loud is an annual sexual health and awareness fair that takes place at the university. This year, the aforementioned student groups have teamed up to have a table at this event that promotes chastity and abstinence, ideas that have previously been scarce at Sex Out Loud.
Through the presence of Ms. Eden, a “convert to chastity,” educational literature, and the staffing of students who have made the commitment to chastity, they hope to show that chastity is a safe, healthy and surprisingly popular option among college students. These groups seek to promote the ideas of love and respect for one’s sexuality and the sexuality of others.
"They are saying that the next GOP presidential candidate might very well be a pro-abortion Republican who promises not to push that issue and is strong on other issues.
"They hope that pro-lifers will 'be reasonable,' not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and go along quietly.
— So begins the National Catholic Register editors' "No Deal, Rudy." Amen!
UPDATE, 3/10/07: The contest is over — thanks to everyone who entered. I decided to name two winners:
"And he was all like, Hey baby, smoochy smoochy...
and I was all like, Hey baby, smoochy smoochy...
But I don't do that anymore."
Anthony (whose entry made me laugh the hardest):
"So, just after he walks by and I am this far away from Cardinal Mahony, I realize somebody has stolen my wallet ...
(More Mahony satire on Agnus Daily; actual quotes from the cardinal on the Curt Jester.)
Photo by Don Blake, from Gary Morton's article "Chastity is her mistress" (ahem) in the Wilmington, Del., Dialog.
The writer of the funniest caption wins a copy of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, via Amazon. If the winner has already read The Thrill — and proves it by writing a review of the book on Amazon — then the prize will be a $20 Amazon gift certificate. Leave your entry in the comments below; enter as many times as you wish. Deadline is 11:30 p.m. Eastern time tonight. Please keep your entries suitable for a family blog. The decision of the judge is final. Now ... go!
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Many thanks to reporter Gary Morton for writing a great review of my talk at the Wilmington, Del., Theology on Tap for the diocesan newsletter Dialog. (The story's eyebrow-raising headline: "Chastity is her mistress: After years of sexual exploration, Dawn Eden embraces a new love.") If you're looking to book me to speak to your group, his story captures a few of the major points of my talk:
WILMINGTON— Dawn Eden has a strong but simple message about human sexuality.
“Chastity is not for wimps,” she says.
Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, shared her philosophy of chastity at last week’s Theology on Tap session for young adults at Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub & Restaurant.
“Chastity is the most radical thing that the church is promoting,” said Eden, “because it’s not just celibacy or abstinence. It’s a whole way of viewing other people. ... Most of all, it is about living all the graces that one has been given as a human being.”
[Read the full story in the Dialog]
Art Carney, Boris Karloff, Dinah Shore, and Betty Hutton invented goth — who knew?
I don't advise attempting to drink beverages while watching this May 17, 1957 clip of Karloff "auditioning" to replace Shore:
Squares in the Fifties were hipper — and stranger — than many people think.
AND ANOTHER THING: The story behind the Diamonds' "Little Darlin'," from my liner notes to the group's best-of CD.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
"They will last forever, and the Harry Potter books are going to wind up in the rubbish bin. The first six volumes have sold, I am told, 350 million copies. I know of no larger indictment of the world's descent into subliteracy."
— Harold Bloom on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass, quoted in Mere Comments
"I expect these smears about 'the Taliban wing of the Republican Party' from wacked out loonballs on DU [Democratic Underground]. Roger L. Simon knows better."
— JunkYardBlog's See-Dubya on Roger L. Simon's assertion that pro-life, pro-marriage Republicans who don't support Rudy Giuliani might as well "root for the Islamists." [Read the whole thing.]
"In Eden’s story there are several conversions. She tells us that at the age of 31, “after being an agnostic Jew for my entire adult life, I had what Christians would call a born=again experience”. But her book is not the stuff of much of what passes for contemporary devotional literature on the topic of “purity”. The book is rather down to earth; she is up front about her experiences and her struggles. She writes as well of those daily conversions of habits, attitudes and actions to which Christians are called. While she writes from and to an explicitly female point of view, I would suggest that many men could benefit from this book as well. She gives us some insights into women’s sexuality which could come in handy, guys."
— Joe Walker reviews The Thrill of the Chaste
Purchase the book at Amazon.com.
Monday, March 5, 2007
What is the very first prayer you say each day after leaving the house?
I know what mine is: "Dear God, please let me make this train without hurting myself or anyone else." It is said while galloping. And it is nearly always answered in my favor.
Joe Walker starts off a blog entry on love and lust with an interesting juxtaposition of quotations:
- "But what was it that delighted me save to love and to be loved? Still I did not keep the moderate way of the love of mind to mind--the bright path of friendship. Instead, the mists of passion steamed up out of the puddly concupiscence of the flesh, and the hot imagination of puberty, and they so obscured and overcast my heart that I was unable to distinguish pure affection from unholy desire."
- "If you have to ask someone if he'll still love you tomorrow, then he doesn't love you tonight... I know I have never intentionally set out to use anyone. But we are judged by our fruit. The fruit of casual sex is the persistent habit of objectifying sexual partners, to the point of being unable to perceive people except in terms of how they relate to one's own wants and desires."
The rest of Walker's entry is insightful; he's blogging Augustine's confessions for Lent.
A Catholic church I know on the west side of midtown Manhattan is building a Divine Mercy chapel that will be the first of its kind in New York City. They are looking for donors to fund the chapel's statues of St. Faustina and Pope John Paul II. If you or someone you know would like to fund such a statue, write me at dawn -at- dawneden.com and I will send you the contact information for the church's pastor.
"In The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, Ms. Eden (a 30 something Jewish convert to Catholicism) takes on the destructive elements of the Sex and the City/Match.com speed-dating culture, mainly through her courage to reveal her own past as a willing player of today's dating game. Written from a female perspective, it actually took me a while to finish, because I painfully saw a little too much of myself in it - as me thinks most of this generation also will (I've already given out over a dozen copies).
"Utilizing her own life, she lays a hopeful GPS map for marriage minded women, revealing all the pitfalls, pitbulls, and boobie traps along the way (bad pun, I know). Quotes from Carole King to John Paul II, help keep the book as trendy as it is traditional, with a firm grasp on both.
"While it is on the one hand a relationship guide, I tend to see it more as the story of the healing of a heart . . .or more to the point, the renewing of a heart."
— The Wacky Wannabe Musical Monk (actually layman and "ex-long-haired rocker" Michael Kevin Rose McCleary), from his review of my book. The full review notes "three small points that were not fully addressed" — and I must say I agree with him on all three. (Rest assured that I was absolved of past ciabatta violations when I made my first confession.)
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Don't be confused by the anachronistic Gary Owens soundbites; this is a Marian procession snarling traffic in Weymouth, Mass., sometime in the 1950s. YouTube user Ponderosa65 posted it along with other vintage home movies. It captures something of the time when Bishop Sheen's TV ratings were rivaling Uncle Miltie's. And check out that habit on the nun! You don't see ones like that anymore.
"I think I've been celibate for, like, months. Is that crazy? When someone goes, 'You're hot!' it gives me zero. If someone says, 'You played really great tonight,' that means a lot more to me. When so many people oversexualize you, how can you not want to turn away from that?"
— Fall Out Boy bass player Pete Wentz in the March 2 Entertainment Weekly
Friday, March 2, 2007
If you'd like to know how my Thrill of the Chaste tour is being received by anti-chastity bloggers, check out the self-proclaimedly "somewhat popular" Tbogg's profanity-laced reaction.
While I'm complimented that he thinks chastity is popular enough to be a "cottage industry" (we on the inside are always the last to realize these things), I can't help but think that he wouldn't lay the same commercialism charge if I were living unchastely and running a sex shop. In the eyes of anti-religionists, only people who promote a godly lifestyle are crass hucksters using morality to make a fast buck. By contrast, those who promote immorality as having pure motives —regardless if, like thrice-divorced Erica Jong, they continued to sell a hedonistic philosophy even as it wrecked their own lives.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
I talk about my efforts to be "not just a walking advertisement for body parts" and other topics related to my book in an interview for Zia magazine (see the sidebar on the left-hand side of that page).
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at Amazon.com.
Last night, I had the great pleasure to meet Republican presidential contender Sen. Sam Brownback at a fund-raiser at the home of my friend John Budnik of the Cultural Forum, co-hosted by George Sim Johnston. You can see a photo of a sober-yet-very-happy-looking me with the senator on Alarming News (along with the dear friend I mentioned yesterday who noted my curious way of crossing myself).
One of the points Brownback brought up when he spoke to attendees was the urgent need to address the many problems of Africa, including slavery and other forms of human trafficking. He cited the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus as he spoke of our responsibility to do what the rich man did not — to give the suffering Africans at the very least the "crumbs off our table" to help them get out of their dire poverty, illness, and social ills.
In urging action, Brownback wasn't merely speaking of sending federal money to help Africa. He urged those present to see Africa for themselves and personally pitch in. In doing so, he said, we would be rewarded spiritually; "Africa will save us." His concern struck me as genuine and deep.
When I had a chance to speak with the senator, I told him how I'd heard him speak at the Ball for Life and admired his boldness. He said that when he had cancer 11 years ago, it gave him a new perspective on the end of life. As a result, he said, he's no longer afraid to be bold. God bless him, I say.
MORE: Brownback speaks about marriage and the sanctity of life at the Ball for Life:
AND ANOTHER THING: