Tonight I happened upon a television show called "TTEO TV" that features the music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Having never seen footage of African Christians, I was mesmerized by the haunting music and fascinatingly choreographed videos.
Searching for videos online, I discovered the stunning singer Mirtinesh, who looks like a supermodel in nun's clothing and sings like an angel.
You don't need to know Amharic, the Ethiopian language, to appreciate the devotion of the Tewahedo songs. This Mirtinesh video, like a number of the Tewahedo songs I found, nearly brought me to tears.
More Tewahedo spiritual songs are on YouTube.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tonight I happened upon a television show called "TTEO TV" that features the music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Having never seen footage of African Christians, I was mesmerized by the haunting music and fascinatingly choreographed videos.
My old friend Steve Harvey forwards a message from Rosie Flores requesting prayer for Janis Martin, a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who made headlines in the late 1950s as the "Female Elvis."
Flores writes in a blog entry on Martin's MySpace page (which includes recordings of some of her best-known songs):
Rockabilly artist, Janis Martin has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and it has spread all over her body.The blog entry includes an address to send cards and flowers to Martin.
Her husband Wayne Whitt has told me that she is napping most of the day in a hospital bed at her home in Danville, VA. She will soon go and take a temporary residence in Raleigh for a round of radiation treatments to try and reduce the size of the tumors behind her lungs, shoulder and leg. Janis had been suffering from severe headaches over the past several months so she found it necessary to cancel her recent booking at the Americana Festival in England. The headaches turned out to be stress related from all the grief she's had to endure from losing her son Kevin who passed away in January of this year. Recently when a large tumor appeared on her shoulder, Janis and Wayne headed back to the doctors for tests. The tests revealed that she has a very aggressive type of cancer and is spreading all over her body. I can't even believe that I'm writing this, it is so hard to accept that this amazing person and dear friend is going through such an intense sickness at a time in her life when she was retired from her day job and finally ready to start performing again. I hope that everyone who knows her and has been touched by her unique talent for performing and her gifted voice as a rock n roll, blues and country singer will keep Janis and her family in your prayers. She has given so much to the world of music and to her fans both here in the US and in Europe and the rest of the world.
Flores goes on to note that the 67-year-old Martin "just never stopped rockin'," and she's not kidding. Watch Martin wail just two years ago in Green Bay, Wisconsin:
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My friend J. writes:
Word came this morning that a dear friend, Fr. William C. Smith, passed away late last night after a long illness at the age of 87.
"Fr. Bill" was a good and humble priest, as well as a tireless - and I mean TIRELESS - defender of the unborn. You could find him most Saturdays down on Main Street in Danbury picketing with a small group at the abortion clinic. When he wasn't there, he was writing Letters to the Editor and speaking out against abortion at every opportunity.
Fr. Smith was one of 10 children. He had one or two brothers who also entered the priesthood - in missionary capacities. He was the last surviving member of that immediate family.
I knew Fr. Smith through my mother. He was her high school religion teacher at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Hartford in the late 1940s. Over the years, they kept up their friendship, and I saw him often at different functions.
I believe the last time I actually saw him in person was this past October. My aunt picked him up after a Saturday picketing session and brought him up the street to my house to visit with my mom. Before he left, he blessed me, mom, my aunt and the house multiple times!
The last time I spoke with his was this past January. His birthday was January 11; my mom's was January 15. We could always count on a call from him on her birthday to see how she was doing.
He was open, honest and always had a delightful twinkle in his eye. I remember going to him for Confession one Saturday. After patiently listening to me and giving me absolution, he told me, "Now go in peace, not in pieces."
Just a scant three weeks after my mom's passing, I find it ironic that the priest who most influenced her formative years and helped make her the woman of faith that she was, has now passed from this life to join her at the heavenly banquet. Mom will be so glad to see
Although I have true assurance that he is with Our Lord today, please pray for this holy priest who loved God above all else. If he doesn't need the graces anymore, I know he'll give them to someone who does.
The picture below was taken about 8 years ago following my mom's second hip operation. Fr. Smith came to visit her at the rehab center. He always left her - and everyone else - laughing.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
[See update at bottom.]
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had a simple solution to poverty: kill unborn poor children.
Her spirit lives in blogger Radical Mama who, in a post called "Breaking the Cycle" [which she has since removed — see update #2 below], boasts of her ongoing attempts to convince a 15-year-old girl to abort against her mother's wishes.
Radical Mama knows the girl, Julia, through the 4-H group to which the teen belonged. "I am trying to think about this [pregnancy] objectively, but I just can’t," the blogger writes. "This is one of my kids. Isn’t this why I volunteer? To prevent this sh-- from happening?"
"This sh--" — e.g. baby — must be prevented, Radical Mama says, for every reason imaginable. Julia was pressured into sex (or so the blogger assumes); she is only 15; her family is poor and her father is an abusive drug addict, etc., etc. Yet, the girl's mother insists that the baby would be welcome — a reaction that has Radical Mama seething with self-righteous fury.
Julia herself is open to adoption. That, Radical Mama says, would perpetuate
a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them.Whoops, wrong quote. That was Margaret Sanger. Radical Mama says,
that [adoption] would be great except…When indeed? When "Radical Mamas" and her comrades decide to put some real effort into fixing the problems that cause poverty — like no-fault divorce and the social consequences of the abortion mentality — instead of trying to convince poor teens to kill their offspring.
She’s fifteen. How likely is it that after 9 months of pregnancy, and a labor, and then a little adorable baby being placed on her tummy…. how likely is it that she will say good-bye?
Or will she think, “Hey look at that little thing that I made! I can do this, no problem.”
But as we all know, that adorable little baby turns into a tantruming toddler (at which point Julia would only be a senior in high school). And that’s just the beginning. What are the odds that the child turns into a 15-year old announcing her pregnancy?
When does this end?
UPDATE: Radical Mama, whom a commenter informs me is named Vanessa, reports that Julia decided to have the baby and let her mother raise it. She also laments being labeled a "pro-choice nut job" and says her words were taken "taken completely out of context." I never called her a "nut job," and I'll be glad to add further context to her quotes if she can show me what relevant part of her pro-abortion stance I omitted.
UPDATE #2: Radical Mama, perhaps realizing that the powers-that-be at 4-H might not look kindly upon her pro-abortion evangelism, has replaced her original post with a poem by Sylvia Plath. Her original post has been saved by a reader.
RELATED: La Shawn Barber has more to say on the "Margaret Sanger of the Blogosphere."
Villanova officials are defending their hiring of comedian Steve Trevino to entertain incoming freshmen, after Trevino's act offended students:
"At some point, it was just too offensive. I didn't like what he was saying at all, especially the racial jokes," said Jessona McDonald.The university says the comic promised a clean show:
McDonald is one of many students who walked out during the barrage of bad language, including the n-word and racist and sexist humor.
"We have a contract and we say we are a Catholic university. We have standards that we want met. Even when he was here that day, we talked about having a PG-13 show. So, we really did the things that we normally do. It was very upsetting. He was very offensive," said Kathy Byrnes, and assistant vice president of student life.Kudos to the university for at least having the judgment to Trevino offstage 15 minutes into his 90-minute show. But their claim that they were promised a clean show seems facile; why even hire a comedian known for foul-mouthed, racially charged, "misogynistic" humor? Looking at Trevino's Web site — which features a T-shirt depicting men waving money at a pole dancer (caption: "I SUPPORT SINGLE MOTHERS") — one has to wonder, what were they thinking?
* * *
P.S. When I entered New York University, the freshman-orientation comic was a pre-fame Mario Cantone. Definitely not appropriate for a Catholic university. Even so, his one-man version of "West Side Story" remains one of the funniest things I have ever seen. He pointed out the incongruity of the Jets' being so tough and yet breaking into pirouettes.
Judging by the number of comments (114 and counting), I believe I have discovered the theological question that most divides Christians of our time.
Forget the filioque clause — the real sticking point is whether it was right for Snape to kill Dumbledore.
With all due respect, seeing how some people have been spending even more time debating this issue than I spend blogging and checking my comments (you don't want to know), I think William Shatner's advice applies to everyone involved:
And yes, I know I started it — so the advice is very much for me too!
Monday, August 27, 2007
My pastor, Monsignor Edward J. Filardi of St. Stephen Martyr, recently spoke in a homily of the fumi-e — that is, Japanese apostasy pictures or treading pictures — that he saw at the Smithsonian's "Encompassing the Globe" exhibition. During Japan's lengthy and exceedingly bloody persecution of Christians, some of those who were suspected of being Christian had to step on such images or be killed.
I had read of such pictures, but never seen them until I found the image at left online. Many Japanese Christians were martyred for refusing to step on them, but many others likely caved in, as can be seen by the wear and tear.
The Catholic Encyclopedia has more on Japanese martyrs.
"Pharmacists are not medical vending machines. They have a duty -- protected by their civil right of conscience -- to act with integrity and serve all those entrusted to their care, including women and their newly-conceived children. Coercive policies forcing them to dispense Plan B attack that integrity by driving a wedge between principles and practice."
— Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, quoted in a Google News point-counterpoint between her and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. Found via American Papist.
Special to The Dawn Patrol
WASHINGTON, August 27 -- Addressing reports that over half of his $30 million fortune is invested in rapacious subprime lenders who are foreclosing on the homes of already-devastated hurricane Katrina victims, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards yesterday reiterated his "strong personal opposition" to poverty.
"I have dedicated my entire life to not being poor," said the former North Carolina Senator. He stated that he "absolutely hates" the idea of lacking money and would never choose a destitute existence for himself or his family.
The campaign quickly moved, however, to quell fears that the comments signaled a willingness to impose the candidate's individual financial preferences upon others. "I would never deprive an unsophisticated, unqualified borrower of the right to choose a subprime mortgage with a 6.5% teaser rate which rapidly escalates to 32.99% plus a $120,000 balloon payment after three months," Mr. Edwards later insisted. "Some seek abject poverty and resent regulatory efforts to take away their Constitutionally guaranteed right to sacrifice their most precious asset to a profit-driven hedge fund."
Edwards' position echoed recent statements by Repubican aspirant Rudolph Giuliani regarding his hatred for abortion, a procedure he politically and financially supports. Edwards asserted that his distaste for the procedure exceeds Giuliani's, noting that his campaign employs former NARAL Pro-Choice head Kate Michelman as a senior adviser.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
"I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to be so broken last year that I could only see Him, and even more thankful that once the healing began, I still only saw, and desired, Him."
— My friend Musical Monk, "Feeling Young at 44." Go over to his blog and wish him a happy birthday.
When I wrote part 1 on this topic the other day, I didn't know Grace Leigh had covered the same turf in her recent take on "Breakfast at Tiffany's":
"... Like the ladies of Sex and the City, to whom New York and its male inhabitants are a wild, intoxicating playground, Holly's party-girl lifestyle and subsequent quest for wealth and social status is one in which many 20- and even 30-somethings indulge themselves today, searching for their own happy endings all while recklessly party- and relationship-hopping in a manner that, at times, would make even Miss Golightly blush. And who can blame them, when such a lifestyle is glamorized in films such as Tiffany's and the more recent The Devil Wears Prada, and in TV shows like the afore-mentioned Sex and the City and its male-oriented, West-coast counterpart, Entourage. Yet when these real-life 20- and 30-somethings emulate the less-than-admirable characters they see onscreen, the result usually falls far short of a Hollywood ending.
"The problem? Though Holly Golightly and others may make it seem otherwise, happiness does not just fall into the laps of the undeserving. In real life, love, justice, respect, and other hallmarks of success are earned rather than stumbled upon, and their fruits are much sweeter as a result. Yet when the supposed role models we see onscreen behave carelessly and then have happy endings magically bestowed upon them, it is easy to be misled into thinking that such rewards are just – for our favorite characters as well as for ourselves, no matter what the circumstances. In the real world, however, the fact of the matter is that, when we have done nothing to attain the happiness we so crave, we should expect nothing less than frustration when we fail to find it.
"While Holly Golightly is no doubt entertaining, we must keep in mind that her happy ending is a result of Hollywood magic rather than any actions of her own. Dissolute, self-indulgent, and frivolous throughout the entire film, she strives for no more than a fabulous wardrobe and an enviable social life, yet she has somehow become a role model. However, if we follow in her fickle footsteps, the most we can hope for is a happy ending that is just as magically bestowed upon us – although, without Hollywood's help, this is quite unlikely.
"Thus, rather than waiting for a happy ending to fall into our laps, an event about as likely to occur as Holly Golightly is to stop dreaming about Tiffany's, we should instead strive to achieve happy endings of our own - endings that we have earned through determination, diligence, and grace, and that we will appreciate all the more due to the effort we have made to attain them. And in the meantime, we can leave the fashion advice to Miss Golightly."
[Read Grace's entire post.]
Friday, August 24, 2007
I'm delighted that the dynamic young woman who calls her blog la vie en vogue enjoyed The Thrill of the Chaste so much that she offers the photo above as evidence. Her blog entry on the book includes some highlights, which she puts partly in her own words. It is extremely gratifying to see how what I wrote hit home.
The vie en vogue blogger isn't the first to offer visual evidence of enjoyment of The Thrill. Jeff Geerling called it "dog-earedly good."
"Lev Grossman, in the July 23, 2007, issue of Time magazine, writes, 'If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God.' In this he has expressed the core problem with the Potter series. There is much that could be written, and has been written, about the specific problems in the books. Without neglecting the valid point that good fiction need not be overtly Christian, need not be religious at all, we might ponder a little the fact that the central metaphor and plot engines of the series are activities (witchcraft and sorcery) absolutely prohibited by God.
"We might also consider for a moment the fact that no sane parents would give their children books which portrayed a set of 'good' pimps and prostitutes valiantly fighting a set of 'bad' pimps and prostitutes, and using the sexual acts of prostitution as the thrilling dynamic of the story. By the same token we should ask ourselves why we continue to imbibe large doses of poison in our cultural consumption, as if this were reasonable and normal living, as if the presence of a few vegetables floating in a bowl of arsenic soup justifies the long-range negative effects of our diet. Leaving aside a wealth of such arguments, let us consider Lev Grossman's insight.
"'The death of God?' many a reader will respond. 'Surely he is making too much of the matter! Aren't we discussing a single phenomenon in a vast sea of cultural phenomena? And aren't there a lot of positive values in these books and films - even some edifying moments of courage and sacrifice? And isn't it all about love?' Yes, in a sense it is. But what kind of love? What kind of sacrifice? And for what purpose?"
— Michael O'Brien, from "Harry Potter and 'the Death of God', which has elicited some interesting responses.
"[T]he better road has become a radical, 'peculiar' one. Perhaps even a completely backwards one. Marriage is not, after all, meant to be the crash landing after a youth spent dating and partying. Rather it should be the mark of the commencement of a lifetime spent unconditionally loving, serving, and sacrificing for one's beloved.
"Tragically, though, the former image has become the preferred one. No wonder it is so begrudgingly entered, or so easily cast aside. Perhaps the solution, then, starts with reminding young people (and old) that commitment and fidelity are precious gifts, not curses."
— The Point contributor Travis McSherley, from "Revealing the More Excellent Way"
Thursday, August 23, 2007
A woman walks into a pregnancy resource center, saying she's a Muslim and her religion permits her to have an abortion.
The counselor whips out a "Pregnancy Options Workbook" and shows the woman where the book says Islam forbids abortions. Impressed, the woman opts to be a client of the pregnancy resource center and keep her baby.
If that really happened, you can imagine the uproar. News would reach Planned Parenthood that the pregnancy resource center blatantly used the woman's faith to manipulate her decision. Planned Parenthood would feed the story to its friend Linda Greenhouse at the New York Times, and the rest of the press would follow with a new wave of smear stories about pregnancy resource centers.
Well, someone really did use the Koran to influence a pregnant woman who was contemplating an abortion, but there was no uproar. And the reason there was no uproar is that it was not a pregnancy resource center employee who manipulated a woman's decision to keep her baby. It was an abortionist who boasted of convincing a Muslim woman that her faith permitted her to abort.
Here is what happened, according to the abortionist "Bon" of the blog Abortion Clinic Days:
The Post-it said, "AT-TI-TUDE" all caps. The young woman was in traditional Muslim dress, African-American, and bristling with...with something. I guessed that it was my job to find out what.At the end of Bon's entry, the abortionist adds a P.S.: "I want to address the inevitable comment that I somehow made her feel 'OK' about abortion, or encouraged her to have one. It was clear to me that she would have one no matter what. What I offered was a way that she could 'be' with it that did not further cripple her life and the beautiful contribution she could make to life."
It turned out to be not so different from many women who feel like they are caught in a trap of their own making. She got pregnant, then "did the right thing and married at age 16, to a man she did not love. She had 2 more children with him, still didn't love him, but clearly did not wish him pain either. She had fallen in love with another, someone outside her culture. She knew it could never work. It was a mess, but a compelling mess.
Her self contempt, her anger at her situation and everyone around her, seemed to spring from the great divide between what she wanted and what she knew was right. Her religion guided her in everything--it was her rock. She accepted the finality of it, as a guilty person accepts a punishment.
"It's against my religion," she said defeatedly as though there could be no further discussion. I said, "Well, it may not be as clear as that. Muslims believe that the soul enters the baby at 120 days--about 16 weeks. You are about 5 weeks." Then I pulled out the Pregnancy Options Workbook (www.pregnancyoptions.info) and read her the section about Islam and abortion. It does not offer a free pass, by any means, but it does put Mohammed's proscription about killing your children in some historical context. He decried the killing of female infants, a widespread practice in his time. It also listed the acceptable reasons for abortion. It talked about atonement.
When I read the part about atonement meaning fasting for two months, an invisible veil fell from her face and there was a beautiful look of hope radiating out. "I can do that," she said. This launched us into a wonderful discussion about forgiveness, compassion, the condition of women, and other topics. [Read the full entry.]
Coming after the abortionist wrote that the patient's "religion guided her in everything--it was her rock" and that she "accepted the finality of it, as a guilty person accepts a punishment," such a disclaimer is utterly disingenuous. Would any abortion advocate believe it if it came from a Christian pro-life counselor who had cited the Bible to a pregnant woman? Heck, I'm pro-life, and I don't think I would believe it. Of course the abortionist was trying to influence the woman's decision — otherwise, she would have saved the education in Islam for the post-abortion counseling (something I have a feeling she doesn't offer).
I can't say I'm surprised. People of faith have long served as abortion advocates' useful idiots — witness the Planned Parenthood-funded Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Still, Bon's brazen boasting suggests she needs a more thorough education in Islamic law. I recommend she run her apologetics by her local imam. No doubt he will be quite impressed by her "[putting] Mohammed's proscription about killing your children in some historical context."
Steve Kellmeyer has the best take I've seen on CNN's "God's Warriors," the series that attempts to prove that a Pat Robertson speech is as terroristic as, say, the Cole bombing.
Kellmeyer notes that, according to a promotional video for the program, the Christian segment of "God's Warriors" features a couple who homeschools their five children: "In the promotional video, this is represented as 'frightening.'"
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
For my friends J.D. and Kevin, here is one of the greatest songs by one of the greatest Sixties bands — the Small Faces with guest singer P.P. Arnold, lip-synching "Tin Soldier":
I wrote the liner notes to P.P. Arnold's best-of, but had no idea just how beautiful the former Ikette was until seeing this clip. She is also wearing what I have to admit, despite its abbreviated length, is the Best Dress Ever.
I caught some of the first episode of CNN's "God's Warriors" last night while waiting for a flight at a Detroit airport. It was odd to watch a program that so blatantly disparaged Jewish war heroes and elevated Muslim terrorists after I had passed through an elaborate and humiliating security system unofficially designed to root out Muslim terrorists.
The "God's Warriors" series, hosted by the ardently left-wing Christiane Amanpour, ostensibly covers modern-day blood-spillers of major world religions; Islam and Christianity are next. Newsbusters' Matthew Balan has reported that the Christian episode will liken a nonviolent Christian sect that favors modest dress to the Taliban. (Newsbusters has elsewhere covered a recent episode of CNN anti-Semitism; I'm waiting to see how the site will respond to the first "God's Warriors" episode.)
On last night's installment, Amanpour stressed that Jewish settlers in Palestinian-controlled territories were in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Nowhere were the views of experts such as the late Eugene W. Rostow, dean of Yale Law School and U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs between 1966 and 1969, who wrote in The New Republic,
...The Palestine Mandate, recognizing "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country," is dedicated to "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," ...The American Thinker has more on last night's episode of "God's Warriors": "Amanpour utters not a word about how for 19 years, from 1948 to 1967, the Jordanians used Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives as latrines, or how they destroyed all the synagogues in the old city, and that they prohibited Jews from praying at their holiest sites."
...The State Department has never denied that under the Mandate "the Jewish people" have the right to settle in the area. Instead, it said that Jewish settlements in the West Bank violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.....[which] provides that the occupying power "shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
...But the Jewish settlers in the West Bank are volunteers. They have not been "deported" or "transferred" by the government of Israel, and their movement involves none of the atrocious purposes or harmful effects on the existing population the Geneva Convention was designed to prevent. Furthermore, the Convention applies only to acts by one signatory "carried out on the territory of another." The West Bank is not the territory of a signatory power, but an unallocated part of the British Mandate...
...The controversy about Jewish settlements in the West Bank is not, therefore, about legal rights but about the political will to override legal rights ...
Via Dennis Schenkel, watch irreverent Aussie TV host John Safran (on a show called "John Safran vs. God") stun young adults by showing them how the Dala Lama holds views on sex that they would normally ascribe to the Pope:
- The Raving Atheist once fooled his readers by publishing quotes from Pope Benedict's "Deus Caritas Est" and crediting them to Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.
- Mahatma Gandhi's views opposing contraception and favoring chastity would surprise many of his Western fans.
Monday, August 20, 2007
My friend N. writes:
I thought of you tonight. I was at a restaurant in Santa Monica and heard a song that I had long forgotten about. I know that this wasn't really your musical genre of choice, but I was really into indie and post-punk music a few years back. There was a local band called Sense Field that had a quick radio hit with their song "Save Yourself." It was getting quite a bit of radio play on the rock format stations around the country. They are not a Christian band, and actually a lot of their stuff is pretty depressing. But this one song...I found a video for it on You Tube. Apparently it was on the Roswell soundtrack, so the video has clips from the show. Listen to the lyrics. It's amazing - I remember hearing it on the radio and wishing I could meet a guy who felt this way. At the time, I certainly wasn't living chastely, but can clearly recall relating to these lyrics. It's amazing that a little pro-chastity song snuck onto the airwaves. I have no idea about the bands personal beliefs or intentions with the song,* but the message is pretty clear.
Know any other songs that would make a good soundtrack to The Thrill? Post your suggestions on the "Chastity for the Ears" discussion board in the Forum section of thrillofthechaste.com.
*I looked up the band online — it turns out lead singer Jon Bunch went on to lead a Christian rock band, Further Seems Forever.
On the gorgeous sunny Saturday we had last week, my friend Kristina J. Grabosky of Photography for Valerie snapped some pictures of me in Old Town, Alexandria, for what I'm hoping will be a new publicity shot. She sent me the above photo as one of a few previews; the rest are coming later in the week. This photo won't be the official shot, but I love the way she captured me mid-laugh.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Running off to catch a plane to Green Bay, Wis., for a two-day business trip. If you're there and would like to say hello, drop me a line via my contact form. Will try to blog while there, though I'm not certain how much time I'll have. There's also a rumor that I am to visit Relevant Radio's studio and appear on its pledge drive (!). Oh, how I hated pledge drives when I was a kid — except when the local public-TV station would snag a member of Monty Python.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I was praying the First Sorrowful Mystery yesterday and found myself suddenly tearing up. Jesus' agony brought to mind an unresolved hurt in my life.
As I kept praying, I was reminded how painful Jesus' life was. He came from heaven, where he had all joy and no pain, so that he could enter time and immediately experience discomfort and privation. From there, His life on Earth continously opened up into more and more pain, until He died.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking that He didn't really feel the pain completely, because he could see the "joy set before Him." I have to remind myself that He really did feel the pain completely. He had to, otherwise it would have been worthless.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used to quote C.S. Lewis: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, He shouts to us in our pain ..."
It never ceases to fascinate me how comforting it is to realize that, even if my own pain is seemingly unresolvable, I can take real comfort in knowing that Christ knows what it is like.
G.K. Chesterton, at the end of The Man Who Was Thursday, connected this strange comfort with the ending of the Book of Job, where Job is assuaged even though God only answers his question with more questions. He had addressed the same issue earlier in his "Introduction to the Book of Job," which was published exactly one hundred years ago. In that essay, Chesterton wrote, "The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man."
I would like solutions. I would like everything in my life to be wrapped up neatly, with no loose ends, nothing left unsaid, and no one able to wound me without apologizing from the heart.
But if I am going to sometimes feel pain that cannot be resolved, it helps to think about the riddle God offers in place of a solution to pain. As Chesterton wrote in The Man Who Was Thursday, it is, "Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?"
Friday, August 17, 2007
"'Only ten percent of the food I serve contains cyanide' would not be an effective argument for a restaurant."
— The Curt Jester, responding to a Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area representative's claim that 90% of the organization's services are not abortions. (Read the whole entry.)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Focus on the Family's online magazine Boundless today offers "The Thrill of Hope for Now and Not Yet," an article by the magazine's founder, Candice Z. Watters, on three new books on single womanhood and marriage issues, including my own Thrill of the Chaste.
Never having had personal contact with Watters, I'm highly honored and impressed with the way she really gets my book. She writes:
Eden masterfully sells chastity. She makes it desirable; a prize better than the short-term thrills of sex outside of marriage. She dares to hope for marriage — and that's the high point of her book. This is exactly the kind of inspiration I longed for when I was single. Back then it was hard to find. I did read Elisabeth Elliott's Passion and Purity. My copy is full of underlining and notes in the margin. But now that I'm married, I no longer recommend that book to my single friends. Although Elliott's exhortation to remain sexually pure is good, beyond that, the book provides little encouragement and even less practical advice for getting married in our post-marriage culture. Such books may have been sufficient when they were written, but no longer. Back then, marriages happened far more easily and early, and the cultural expectation was that chaste is best. Today women are widely expected to sleep around and they're marrying later than ever despite their expectations.Watters goes on to chide Lauren Winner for criticizing my bringing my hope of marriage to the forefront. In defense of Winner, her Christianity Today review gave me food for thought. Since writing The Thrill, I had already done more thinking on chastity for its own sake, and put some of my thoughts in a magazine article. Still, I like Watters' points; one shouldn't have to apologize for longing for the vocation of marriage.
Lots of books accurately assess the problem. But what's the solution?
Eden's book hints at it. Of all the books I've read on the issue of extended singleness, hers is the one that most esteems marriage. She dares to hope for it. "If you want to receive the love for which you hunger," she writes, "the first step is to admit to yourself that you have that hunger, with everything it entails -- weaknesses, vulnerability, the feeling of an empty space inside. To tell yourself simply, 'I'll be happy once I have a boyfriend,' is to deny the depth and seriousness of your longing. It turns the hunger into a superficial desire for flesh and blood when what we really want is someone to share divine love with us -- to be for us God with skin on."
... for its treatment of animals.
My friend Fallen Sparrow writes in an e-mail: "This is the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a while: PETA protesting a Hamas video depicting animal cruelty. They wouldn't, of course, speak out against the cruelty that Hamas commits against people."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A thought on this Feast of the Assumption:
We find ourselves at the very heart of the Paschal Mystery, which completely reveals the spousal love of God. Christ is the Bridegroom because "he has given himself": his body has been "given", his blood has been "poured out" (cf. Lk 22:19-20). In this way "he loved them to the end" (Jn 13:1). The "sincere gift" contained in the Sacrifice of the Cross gives definitive prominence to the spousal meaning of God's love. As the Redeemer of the world, Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption. It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride. The Eucharist makes present and realizes anew in a sacramental manner the redemptive act of Christ, who "creates" the Church, his body. Christ is united with this "body" as the bridegroom with the bride. All this is contained in the Letter to the Ephesians. The perennial "unity of the two" that exists between man and woman from the very "beginning" is introduced into this "great mystery" of Christ and of the Church.
— Pope John Paul II, "Mulieris Dignitatem" ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women"), which is 19 years old today.
Something tells me that if a taxpayer-subsidized pregnancy resource center displayed posters targeting a Democratic congressman, the New York Times, Washington Post, et al would be up in arms — even if the posters were printed with funds from the center's political-action committee.
Well, posters assailing Republican congressmen are hanging in numerous Planned Parenthood centers — and if you want outrage, it looks like you'll have to fuel it yourself, by urging your elected representatives to defund Margaret Sanger's organization.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
In the Forums section of thrillofthechaste.com, there's a discussion thread called "Chastity on the Silver Screen." After seeing a certain classic film for the first time tonight, I'm tempted to add a new film to the thread's list of chaste or sorta-chaste flicks: "Marty."
Although I had read Paddy Chayefsky's original teleplay, I wasn't prepared for how great the film was, especially Ernest Borgnine's Academy Award-winning performance in the title role. More so than any other film I've seen, that film, thematically, really is The Thrill of the Chaste.
So much of it is familiar, like the prejudices over looks — the superficiality that breeds so easily in those who seek sex outside of marriage. None of the single people in the film want to be a "dog," nobody wants to go out with a dog, everyone wants to date someone better-looking than them. Likewise, there's the still-prevalent damaged-goods stereotype — the belief that there must be something wrong with someone over 30 who's still unmarried. Yet, those same people who judge others that way are often, well, unmarried. (The stereotype also holds some truth, which has never been explored more sensitively or honestly than in "Marty.")
If you've seen the film, you know that stereotypes and cynicism lose in the face of faith, hope, and love. Here's the film's ending, if you'd like to relive it. I urge you not to view it if you've yet to see the film.
Monday, August 13, 2007
"Fun new products available soon," says the home page for Planned Parenthood's online store. Along with that tease is an image that is apparently a preview of the abortion provider's new line of clothing: a logo reading "I ♥ WOMEN."
Given Planned Parenthood's main source of income, its vocal support of partial-birth abortion, and its failure to report a single adoption last year, a more appropriate slogan would seem to be "I ♣ BABIES."
Blogger Rae sees the theology of the body in "Joe Vs. the Volcano." I'm not convinced by her YouTube selections from the film, but it does look more appealing than I would have imagined given John Patrick Shanley's writing and direction.
I'll probably rent the film one of these days, but in the meantime, I'd be interested in your thoughts on whether it's worthwhile and what it says or doesn't say about faith.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
At a party Saturday night, I gave an impromptu talk about The Thrill of the Chaste, at the host's request.
One young woman there was intrigued by my description of the inherent danger of separating one's emotions from one's actions.
"Are you saying it's wrong to do it if you're head's not into it?" she asked, the "it" being sex.
"Because," she added, " I know lots of women who say they do it even though their head's not into it."
"Yes. It is wrong," I said, feeling for a moment like I'd had the wind knocked out of me.
I hear things like what that young woman said when I speak on college campuses or to young adult groups, but it never ceases to disturb me.
I can remember what it was like when I tried to emotionally detach so that my head "wasn't into it." The idea sounds so awful now, on so many levels.
People detach because they long for the experience of sexual intimacy but fear emotional attachment. The action is utilitarian — using another person for one's own ends. But, beyond being the misuse of another person, it's also self-abusive, because it reduces one's body to a mere shell that can feel sensation without permitting those sensations to spark an emotional reaction.
Think of the way you felt when the first person you ever dated held your hand. It was more than the mere sensation of your palms touching. The physical touch immediately sparked an intense emotional reaction, leading to feelings of not only pleasure but real joy. It seemed you couldn't stop that reaction even if you wanted to.
Now, think of the friends of the woman who spoke to me at the party. They are having physical experiences far more intimate than mere hand-holding. Yet, they're attempting to program themselves to short-circuit their emotions so their sexual activity won't make them vulnerable to emotional connections.
That detachment is sold to young women and men as "freedom." To me, it sounds more like the Stepford Wives.
UPDATE: The young woman mentioned above writes in the comments section that her question referred to married women.
I think the issue of detachment still applies — and, even more so, the issue of this false idea of freedom that is sold to young women and men.
Feminists used to claim that married women whose "head wasn't into" sex were going through the motions because they went into marriage with the wrong motives, being pressured into marrying and fulfilling a traditional wifely role. (Whether "traditional" means being willing to have sex without one's head being into it is another subject of debate.)
Why, then, would modern wives, who are presumably not under the familial and social pressures of times past, leave their "heads" (and, presumably, their hearts and souls as well) out of sex?
I believe it is because they have been trained to do so through years of sexual "freedom."
It could also be that these women have in fact married for the wrong motive: because they are getting to the end of their childbearing years and are willing to bring forth children without a foundation of two parents who love one another.
Having sex before marriage led those women to delay marriage; it also made it more difficult for them to build the level of emotional intimacy that could lead to marriage. Once again, the idea that people can have sexual "liberation" without consequences is to blame.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I don't know why this never occurred to me before, but it took an article on Planned Parenthood's sex-ed Web site Teenwire to make me realize what is possibly the most insidious effect of Lybrel, the new oral contraceptive that eliminates periods.
Planned Parenthood freelance writer Aaron Dunn notes in "Lybrel: A New Approach to Birth Control":
... in the rare case that you do become pregnant while on the pill, you won't have that missed period to let you know. The only way you'll know for sure is through a pregnancy test.Lybrel's effectiveness rate is the same as that of other oral contraceptives, meaning that with typical use, one out of 20 users will become pregnant within one year.
Without the missed period to let her know she is pregnant, a Lybrel user risks going much further into a pregnancy without realizing it than she would if she were menstruating. If she then decides she wants the baby, she will have missed out on vital prenatal care — plus, Lybrel's hormones can't be good for her unborn child. Likewise, if she decides on an abortion, it will be a later abortion than it would be had she known of her pregnancy sooner.
The later the abortion, the more money Planned Parenthood makes, since the procedure becomes increasingly more expensive as the pregnancy progresses. No doubt Planned Parenthood expects to profit "Lybrel"-ly from this new means of messing with women's biology — hence its use of Teenwire to promote the pill. Get 'em while they're young.
For this pill that makes teenage girls effectively menopausal, the PR wizards at Planned Parenthood have come up with an Orwellian phrase: "continuous cycling." It refers to just the opposite of what it seems to describe: continuously having no menstrual cycle.
With that in mind, the Teenwire article's ending is remarkably creepy, even by Planned Parenthood's standards:
... modern women, who are not pregnant for much of their adult life, are already having more periods than in the past - so that continuous cycling is, in a way, more "natural."Got that? Because women used to have fewer periods due to their having more children, it is "natural" for women to chemically sterilize themselves so that they will have no periods and no children.
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. And self-imposed sterilization is "natural." Welcome to the world of Planned Parenthood.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The song is forgettable, but the video's charming:
It's called "Mange du Kebab."
From the Associated Press:
[Turkish immigrant] Yilmaz Karaman _ aka Lil'Maaz _ moved to France in 2003 and got a job at an eatery. A cheerful chap, he composed a song about his work ("Eat kebab, eat kebab my friend!") to regale his regulars. Fortuitously for him, they included employees from a nearby recording studio, who invited Lil'Maaz to record his song.The video reminds me of that Flash animation chestnut from 1999, "Combo #5":
A friend shot video of Lil'Maaz dancing and rapping in the restaurant, meat roasting on the spit in the background. Posted on a sharing site, Daily Motion, the video has drawn more than 435,000 views over the past month. That buzz interested EMI, which released the single in stores on Monday.
It's official: On Wednesday, September 19, at 7 p.m., I will speak about The Thrill of the Chaste at the Martin Luther King Student Union of the University of California at Berkeley. The talk will be sponsored by the university's Lepanto League and the St. Anthony of Padua Institute. It is open to everyone, and admission is free.
I am tremendously excited about this, my first-ever West Coast appearance. I have relatives in the area whom I plan to invite, as well as longtime Dawn Patrol commenters I look forward to meeting, and friends and acquaintances from my rock-journalism days whom I hope will attend.
In June, I wrote an op-ed for the LA Daily News about how the Summer of Love mentality affected the Bay Area and the world. The article is no longer on the newspaper's Web site, so I've reproduced it below.
I have one more wonderful piece of news that I'll share soon. Hint: It requires I travel to Birmingham, Alabama.
Here is my Summer of Love op-ed:
Hippie Hippie Shakedown: But where was love?
BY DAWN EDEN, Guest Columnist
LA Daily News
WHEN it comes to inappropriate names, "Summer of Love" has to be right up there with "Joy Division," the name the Nazis reportedly gave to the sections of concentration camps that housed the guards' sex slaves.
For one thing, it was not just a summer event. The countercultural happening that swept through San Francisco and beyond began with an April 1967 planning announcement by concert promoter Chet Helms, aka Family Dog, creating the "Council for the Summer of Love."
It still goes on today in the burned-out minds of its rapidly fading survivors, remnants of the thousands of teens who ran away to find Love in San Francisco, only to wind up wasted on a street whose name sounds like hate.
Where, indeed, was the love in the San Francisco of Helms, the Diggers, the San Francisco Oracle, and other Summer of Love organizers, of whom so many have died young?
Helms would later boast on his Web site that the event "sowed the seeds of a compassionate idealism which still lives in the hearts of many of our own and subsequent generations." He pointed to the organizers' efforts to feed the runaways. Other Summer of Love chroniclers note that the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, founded in the summer of 1967, still help the needy today.
The irony is that there would have been no need to feed those runaways, nor to care for so many drug abusers, alcoholics and venereal-disease victims, had Helms - who succumbed to hepatitis C at 63 - and his compatriots not encouraged youths to flood San Francisco. And for what, exactly? Drugs, to be sure, and "free love" - "free," as opposed to the kind that costs money, apparently.
Thanks to the Pill and a counterculture that defined rebellion as annoying one's parents, thousands of youths became guinea pigs in a kind of mass experiment propagated by prurient Beat Generation relics such as Helms, Allen Ginsberg (died at 70, hepatitis and liver cancer) and Ken Kesey (died at 66, liver cancer). They were told that they would overcome the superficial consumerism in which they had been raised, reaching a higher spiritual level by uniting their minds to drugs and their bodies to willing takers. Instead, they themselves became products to be consumed - victimized by pushers, treated as sexual objects to be disposed of, or corrupted into predators.
It boggles the mind to think what the Summer of Love's sad victims could have accomplished if, rather than seeking to fulfill their own juvenile desires, they had aimed to create a true culture of love. Instead, in following their leaders' urging to do their own thing, they found themselves locked in a society that gave them all the restrictions of communal life - poverty, squalor, and social pressure to self-destruct - and few of the protections.
At the celebrated Be-Ins and Love-Ins, the mob ruled, while - like those Playboy cartoons of orgies where one person's orifice is indistinguishable from another's - the individual was subsumed.
Meanwhile, one corner of the culture, recognizing the counterculture's threat to the individual, composed a clarion call for the restoration of human dignity. A work in progress during the Summer of Love, published the following summer, it attacked those who, in pursuing solutions to overpopulation and other contemporary concerns, put forth "an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life." Instead, it urged world powers to develop a solution "which envisages the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of human society, and which respects and promotes true human values."
That's real love.
However, when those words of Pope John XXIII, quoted in Pope Paul VI's "Humanae Vitae," emerged in 1968, few of the hippies bothered to read them, let alone follow them as far as they led. All they knew was the five-word condensation of the encyclical that appeared on a popular poster, underneath an image of the Pope pointing his finger Uncle Sam-style: "The Pill Is a No-No."
Supporters of the hippies' objectives argue that they and future generations benefited from the dismantling of repressive Eisenhower-era values that restricted sex to marriage. Well, say what you will about a culture that presumed women found their highest fulfillment in motherhood, but one doesn't see many repressed housewives panhandling on modern-day Haight Street. One does see lost geriatric flower children with stringy hair and rotten teeth who contracepted or aborted the children who could have taken care of them in their old age.
Years after the Summer of Love's Bay Area invasion, a more moneyed class of Californians popularized a term that parallels what the hippies accomplished: garbage in/garbage out. The true measure of the success of the Love-In is the love that came out.
Today, the counterculture's victims are dying with few children to mourn them - at least, few who are willing to speak to parents who put their own desires ahead of their children's. It is the end of a long, bad trip.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
When I wrote yesterday about how I discovered the depth of men's interest in chastity, I was not prepared for the direction that commenters took in their responses to the post.
Many readers, men and women, confessed their struggles against attraction to pornography, including outright addiction, or shared how pornography had damaged the lives of people close to them.
The issue of pornography addiction is one that I have overlooked in my research on chastity issues. Perhaps that is because my own struggles to attain chastity did not explicitly involve overcoming an attraction to pornography (though I did have to extract myself from the heavily pornified rock-and-roll culture).
I may also have avoided the issue because it brings up memories that I don't want to think about. I recall discovering pornography at a relative's home when I was a child, and it could have affected me more than I care to admit to myself.
As a child, one thinks of adult relatives as being responsible to protect one from exposure to such material. I lost respect for my relative when I saw how the relative kept the material where I could easily find it. More than that, I felt betrayed and in some sense (although the relative never acted improperly around me), I felt vulnerable, unprotected from the outside world.
Since this issue is so important, and since my work today is with college students who are increasingly exposed to pornography (particularly online), the time has come for me to learn about pornography addiction and how to combat it. I would appreciate recommendations of books that directly address this topic, especially from the point of view of treatment.
In the meantime, I would like to recommend the following to those who seek healing:
- "Pornography and the Attack on the Living Temple of God: A Pastoral Letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde." Catholics and non-Catholics alike will find much helpful material in this excellent letter. Bishop Loverde writes in its introduction: "As part of my responsibility to lead all the people in the Diocese of Arlington to the vision of God, I find it necessary now to address the tremendous moral, social, and spiritual dangers of pornography. In so doing, I ask Catholics and non-Catholics alike to pause and join my reflections in this pastoral letter which will: 1) examine the nature of the current threat; 2) address the arguments put forward by those who attempt to rationalize pornography and provide "cover" for pornographers; 3) offer concrete counsel - to all Christians, young people, couples, and priests - on how to guard against pornography and to free oneself from its slavery and seek God's forgiveness; and finally, 4) reflect on the gift of sight and its fulfillment in divine contemplation."
- Pureintimacy.org. I recommend this very helpful site in my book. If you're Catholic, don't be put off by its Focus on the Family connection. The writes of the site drew heavily from Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, and they even quote from works by the Pope such as Love and Responsibility.
Especially recommended is the "Intimacy & Addiction" section. Here is a choice quote from therapist Steven Feltrow in an article on recovery, "Bold Next Steps," which I think is also great advice for anyone wishing to grow in chastity: "Viewing pornography is like digging trenches in the mind and filling it with junk. God can restore and remove the junk and we can stop filling the trenches with more junk. But I believe there is another element. We need to fill the trenches with positive and godly stuff. A heart committed to Christ and a mind soaking in the things of Christ provides powerful, life-changing energy. My first recommendation is to fill your mind with the things of God."
When I watch and listen to this Kinks live clip, especially the first song ("'Til the End of the Day"), the only possible reason I can think of for not being utterly and completely happy is that I have not had the pleasure of frugging to this song on a dance floor in some years. Other than that, the Muswell Hill boys are in their element and all's right with the world.
Thankfully, there is always the chance that I may get to enjoy the tune publicly in all its frugaliciousness again someday. Plus, my ability to jerk, shimmy, twist, and shout has likewise not yet diminished with age.
George Gilder's Sexual Suicide, which the author later revised extensively and republished as Men and Marriage, is reportedly so hated by feminists that women's-studies departments refuse to authorize course literature that even mentions the book in its index.
You might think that I would love such a book, especially as its author is a champion of family values. But you would be wrong.
I did read Men and Marriage and found much of it brilliant. However, Gilder's central thesis, which has strongly influenced much of the conservative movement from the late Seventies through the present day, strikes me as wrongheaded and damaging.
The author argues that men are barbarians who need "princesses" to civilize them. He cites examples of men who clean up their act to please their love interests. It is all familiar to anyone who knows the songs of "Guys and Dolls," and I don't doubt there's truth in it.
But Gilder takes his exceedingly stereotyped and generalized argument further, implying strongly that because men are barbarians, they cannot be expected to use sexual self-control without a strong impetus from the women around them. As a result, he suggests, the way to bring about a culture of chastity is for society to encourage the chastity of women. Then all a man will have to do is find a good woman and he will be civilized. Problem solved.
Although I had not read Gilder at the time I wrote The Thrill of the Chaste — and, unlike him, my book does advocate chastity for both sexes — in retrospect I believe I was subconsciously infected by the ideas he popularized. I believed, when I first began speaking on campuses, that men would be less interested in chastity than women.
In a word, I was wrong.
From the beginning, my speaking audiences have averaged 60% men. The disparity, I quickly learned, reflects the fact that there are far fewer books, lectures, and other resources for men interested in chastity than there are for women. My book itself contributes to the imbalance, being targeted at women. However, my talks are of interest to men in that I help them gain insight into how women are affected by nonmarital sex and how both women and men may gain the motivation to become chaste.
Two things that I have learned from the men in my audiences is that (1) it is often the woman in the relationship, and not the man, who insists on introducing sex into it, and (2) men — a goodly number of them, at least — really want to be challenged to conquer their passions.
That is why it breaks my heart to read stories like this one, which is proudly posted on the "Real Stories" section of the (taxpayer-subsidized) Web site of Planned Parenthood of Maryland:
I am a male sitting here waiting for my girlfriend who I love dearly to come out of the examination room. We are here for birth control. We made this decision together to come here. I am nervous more than I show her. You see, I am not sure if it is the right time for me to be sexually active, but she is ready.RELATED: I addressed why some women put emotional pressure men to have sex in "Naked under clothes."
-Anonymous male, 21 years old.
P.S. My next book, a practical guide to chaste dating, will be aimed at men and women: Get Out of My Bed, Get Into My Heart.
Monday, August 6, 2007
[Posting this for my friend J., who just lost her mother — please pray for her and her family. — Dawn]
THIS much, O heaven—if I should brood or rave,
Pity me not; but let the world be fed,
Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,
Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.
If I dare snarl between this sun and sod,
Whimper and clamour, give me grace to own,
In sun and rain and fruit in season shown,
The shining silence of the scorn of God.
Thank God the stars are set beyond my power,
If I must travail in a night of wrath,
Thank God my tears will never vex a moth,
Nor any curse of mine cut down a flower.
Men say the sun was darkened: yet I had
Thought it beat brightly, even on—Calvary:
And He that hung upon the Torturing Tree
Heard all the crickets singing, and was glad.
Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy would like to know:
Why is it that the media finds the brief incarceration of Paris Hilton worthy of ‘round the clock vigils, but spares little ink and little air time to tell the world more about these two men who gave their lives while serving the people of Afghanistan?Did you hear any mention of praying for the hostages from your pastor at church yesterday? I didn't.
Even more disturbing than lack of media coverage though, is the tepid response of the churches to the plight of their brothers and sisters from South Korea.
No matter what issues currently occupy Christians in the U.S., they should shift their focus to Afghanistan right now and join the churches in South Korea in vigilant prayer for the remaining hostages. This was an opportunity to witness to the world that the Body of Christ is one worldwide Body.
Christians in the West should always be praying for their persecuted brothers and sisters -- but particularly in this time of crisis, they should look beyond their own interests and pray for the hostages. I challenge Christians to pray daily for the South Koreans, and to include them as a prayer item on church web sites, e-mail conferences, and the blog sites of individuals. [Read the full press release.]
MORE: Fox News has the latest on the hostage situation.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Medicaid-paid births on rise":
"Chris Taylor, public policy director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said it's fiscally irresponsible to restrict [taxpayer-funded] access to family planning services, because it could lead to higher birth costs through Medicaid."
Whether or not one supports federal funding for such "family planning services," the argument that contraception and abortion should be funded because they cost taxpayers less money than childbirth is repugnant and an insult to human dignity.
- Heritage Foundation researcher Michael J. New found that, in states where Medicaid is not permitted to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or where the mother's life is threatened, the abortion rate for girls between the ages of 13 and 17 went down by an average of 2.34 abortions per 1,000 females.
- The Abstinence Clearinghouse, on a very eye-straining page, offers some interesting data on contraception funding and abstinence-ed funding in relation to out-of-wedlock births to teens between 1940 and 2007. On a similarly eyestraining page (which is unfortunately missing a cited link to external data) the organization notes a significant drop in preteen births that coincides with increased funding for abstinence ed.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Just got back from a weekend retreat at Christendom College, which has no Internet signal in its dorms. Will put up a new post tonight; in the meantime, enjoy the free Susan Cowsill song offered by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity (?!). [Update: Fixed the link -- thanks, Kevin.]
Friday, August 3, 2007
She walked into Planned Parenthood with two older friends. They were high school girls…they could drive. She looked up to them, so when she began having sex at age twelve, she knew she could talk to them about it. She sat down in an unfriendly waiting room and filled out some paperwork. Even though she knew she could lie about her age and name, she filled in the truth on every line. When she was finished with the papers, she was led back to a room and had her first pap exam. Then, she was shuffled into another room where she was asked, “What kind of birth control would you like to try?” She chose the pill, and she was given a years supply, along with a bag overflowing with condoms. It felt like a jackpot to her! “I can have all the sex I want, and it will be safe!” She thought to herself. Little did she know how wrong she was…It could have been me too, though I do not believe I will be haunted forever. For one thing, "forever" means after death. For another, although I can't take away the memories of what I put myself through, I believe that while the effects do not dissapear, they do lessen over time if one practices chastity, be it single chastity or marital chastity. The important thing is not to focus on the pain, but to ask God to make one a new person, even if one has to ask every day. His mercies are new every morning.
The staff never commented that she was quite young to be having sex. They never told her it was a better and safer choice to wait until marriage, or at least until she was older or more mature. They didn’t really explain that condoms failed and didn’t protect against diseases. They just gave her what she wanted and sent her on her merry way.
Five years and multiple partners later, that same girl became a Christian. She committed herself to purity until marriage. She was born again and washed clean. But the years of sexual relationships had taken their toll on her regardless. No, she hadn’t gotten pregnant. And amazingly, she had never even contracted an STD. But the emotional effects of sex outside of a safe, loving relationship (marriage) would haunt her forever.
You might have guessed that the little girl in this story was me.
Read the rest of the post, in which the writer ponders what would have happened if she had walked into a pregnancy-care center instead. There is a great deal of common ground between survivors of nonmarital sex and survivors of abortion; both have been sold a bil of goods. And don't miss the maxim at the post's end — words to live by.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Via The Point's Gina Dalfonzo, check out the Washington Post's story on the "nuisance diplomat" whose work saved the lives of 200,000 Jews during World War II.
I have found my younger self and her name is Tiffany.
A 25-year-old New Yorker who blogs on MySpace, Tiffany is more radically feminist than I ever was — before I was chaste, music eclipsed politics in my world — but her dissipated sex life and tortured mental processes are close to my own experience.
I would like to send Tiffany a copy of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, but her Web site allows contact only from fellow MySpace users. So, I will post a relevant portion of my book here in the hope that she sees it. But first, here is what she wrote that reminded me of who I used to be. Appropriately, it is at the beginning of a blog entry where she favorably reprints The Nation's critique of Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild:
the subject is always sexCompare with the mind-set and personal experiences I detail in Chapter 1 of The Thrill of the Chaste:
Current mood: moody
this is how my life works:
i have sex, i wonder if i should have waited longer, i wonder how long i have to wait between calls, i get frustrated and upset at myself for being so physically driven and not playing harder to get, i let my mind wander to dark places thinking i will never get married because no one wants to marry the girl that agreed to sleep with them so soon (all the magazines, blogs, and advice columns say that, too, and i know because i have read them). i get all depressed and think it's so hard on me as a girl because i express affection/emotion/attachment this way, but men do it for fun or because it's there. oh, i forgot to add that during all this, i have emailed Dani approximately 5-8 times despite the fact that we live together, written letters to friends, i might have called Randall, I might have called my mom (edited version of course), in short i typically exhaust a lot of emotional resources.
then i go to feministing.com or somebody says something inspiring and i start thinking to myself, hey, this isn't right! I start thinking, like right now, that if he doesn't call...or if he calls and the relationship devolves into a sex thing...that there are more fish in the sea. fish who can appreciate.
"[I]t’s safe to say that many single women in the New York City area where I live believe that part of [the right to 'the pursuit of happiness'] is an active sex life. Magazines like Cosmopolitan, many TV shows from 'Oprah' on down, as well as films, books, and pop songs urge single women to take the sexual pleasure that's due them. While love is celebrated, women are told that a satisfying sexual 'hookup' does not require love — only respect. If 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' was good enough for Sixties soul diva Aretha Franklin, it's supposed to be good enough for us too.
"The fruits of this accepted single-woman lifestyle resemble those of a drug habit more than a dating paradigm. In a vicious cycle, single women feel lonely because they are not loved, so they have casual sex with men who do not love them.
"That was my life. ...
"... [After I lost my virginity], instead of being supremely self-confident, I only became more insecure. I learned that if I played my cards right, I could get almost any man I wanted into bed — but when it came to landing a boyfriend, the deck was always stacked against me.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't transform a sexual encounter — or a string of encounters — into a real relationship. The most I could hope for, it seemed, was a man who would treat me with 'respect,' but who really wouldn't have any concern for me once we split the tab for breakfast.
"That's not to say I didn't meet any nice guys while I was casually dating. I did, but either they seemed boring—as nice guys so often are when you're used to players — or I KO'd the budding relationship by trying to rush things.
"Don't get me wrong; I wasn't insatiable. I was insecure.
"When you're insecure, you fear losing control. In my case, the main way I thought I could control a relationship was by either introducing a sexual component or allowing my boyfriend to do so. Either way, I would end up alone and unhappy—but I didn't know how else to handle a relationship. I felt trapped in a lifestyle that gave me none of the things that the media and popular wisdom promised it would. ...
" ... I hated the seeming inevitability of it all — how all my attempts at relationships would crash and burn—yet, in some strange way, it seemed safe. By speeding things up sexually, I was saving myself from being rejected—or worse, ignored — if I moved too slowly. And after all, if I was eventually going to be rejected anyway, I thought I should at least get something out of it—if only a night of sex.
"It all sounds terribly cynical, thinking back on it now, and it was. I was lonely and depressed, and I had painted myself into a corner."
The rest of the book tells how I got out of that corner and into a better life, thank God.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Someone at Amazon likes me: The site now pairs The Thrill as a "Better Together" bargain for buyers of Wendy Shalit's new bestseller Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good,