I am leaving now for a weekend retreat, so my promised response to Father Belli (see "Altar Call" below) will have to wait 'til I come back. Thanks for reading, and I wish you a blessed weekend - Dawn
Friday, November 30, 2007
From Pope Benedict's new encyclical "Spe Salvi," on Christian hope (emphasis mine):
"The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through 'com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society. Yet society cannot accept its suffering members and support them in their trials unless individuals are capable of doing so themselves; moreover, the individual cannot accept another's suffering unless he personally is able to find meaning in suffering, a path of purification and growth in maturity, a journey of hope. Indeed, to accept the 'other' who suffers, means that I take up his suffering in such a way that it becomes mine also. Because it has now become a shared suffering, though, in which another person is present, this suffering is penetrated by the light of love. The Latin word con-solatio, 'consolation,' expresses this beautifully. It suggests being with the other in his solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude. Furthermore, the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life itself becomes a lie. In the end, even the 'yes' to love is a source of suffering, because love always requires expropriations of my 'I,' in which I allow myself to be pruned and wounded. Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love.
"To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself. Yet once again the question arises: are we capable of this? Is the other important enough to warrant my becoming, on his account, a person who suffers? Does truth matter to me enough to make suffering worthwhile? Is the promise of love so great that it justifies the gift of myself? In the history of humanity, it was the Christian faith that had the particular merit of bringing forth within man a new and deeper capacity for these kinds of suffering that are decisive for his humanity. The Christian faith has shown us that truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities. It has shown us that God—Truth and Love in person—desired to suffer for us and with us. Bernard of Clairvaux coined the marvellous expression: Impassibilis est Deus, sed non incompassibilis—God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with. Man is worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way—in flesh and blood—as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus's Passion. Hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love—and so the star of hope rises. Certainly, in our many different sufferings and trials we always need the lesser and greater hopes too—a kind visit, the healing of internal and external wounds, a favourable resolution of a crisis, and so on. In our lesser trials these kinds of hope may even be sufficient. But in truly great trials, where I must make a definitive decision to place the truth before my own welfare, career and possessions, I need the certitude of that true, great hope of which we have spoken here. For this too we need witnesses—martyrs—who have given themselves totally, so as to show us the way—day after day. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day—knowing that this is how we live life to the full. Let us say it once again: the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity. Yet this capacity to suffer depends on the type and extent of the hope that we bear within us and build upon. The saints were able to make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope.
"I would like to add here another brief comment with some relevance for everyday living. There used to be a form of devotion—perhaps less practised today but quite widespread not long ago—that included the idea of 'offering up' the minor daily hardships that continually strike at us like irritating 'jabs,' thereby giving them a meaning. Of course, there were some exaggerations and perhaps unhealthy applications of this devotion, but we need to ask ourselves whether there may not after all have been something essential and helpful contained within it. What does it mean to offer something up? Those who did so were convinced that they could insert these little annoyances into Christ's great 'com-passion' so that they somehow became part of the treasury of compassion so greatly needed by the human race. In this way, even the small inconveniences of daily life could acquire meaning and contribute to the economy of good and of human love. Maybe we should consider whether it might be judicious to revive this practice ourselves."
Read "Spe Salvi" on the Vatican's Web site.
"We know that sex is for reproduction. A strict materialist — that is, someone who believes that all thoughts may be traced to physical causes — would tell you that the feelings of intimacy one has during sex are simply biological trickery to get us to want to propagate the species. (Why biology would care whether we propagate the species is never explained.)
"On the other hand, if you believe that what transpires between a man and a woman during sex has its source in something other than the couple’s DNA, their upbringing, and what they had for lunch, then sex must have a function that goes beyond creating more people to have sex."
— My words, as they appear in "The Significance of Sexual Intimacy," currently featured in the Marriage section of Crosswalk.com. The article is excerpted from my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.
The excerpt used for the article is from Chapter Five, which in The Thrill is titled "The Meaning of Sex." In it, I introduce concepts from the theology of the body.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Last night I had the great pleasure of speaking to a reading group at the gorgeous new Potomac Falls, Va., church Our Lady of Hope.
The parochial vicar, Father Belli, asked a question that no priest has ever asked me before: What advice could I give for preaching chastity from the pulpit?
I'm running to work and can't blog 'til tonight, so I'll leave you with that question for now. The comments section below is for your own suggestions for Father Belli and other priests who may want advice on preaching chastity. I'll post my answers tonight.
Many thanks to everyone who attended my talk at Our Lady of Hope and especially to Emily Borman for inviting me. It was a beautiful experience and I will remember it.
UPDATE, 11/30/07, 1 a.m. Thanks for the many insightful comments in answer to Father Belli's question. I'll post my own answer later this a.m.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
As promised, here are video highlights of "Modest Proposals," the "chastity all-stars" panel organized by myself and New Atlantis editor Mary Rose Rybak at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., November 13, co-sponsored by my employer, the Cardinal Newman Society and the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute.
Unhooked author Laura Sessions Stepp details her research into the campus casual-sex culture:
UCLA psychiatrist and Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute fellow Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of Unprotected, describes how sex education in America encourages promiscuity among unmarried students while failing to inform them of the physical and psychological damage that it can cause:
Wendy Shalit talks about how sex-ed "experts" and college professors encourage youths to disconnect themselves emotionally from their sexual activities:
Cassy DeBenedetto of Princeton's Anscombe Society relates her college's response to her group's suggestion it respect chastity in its freshman-orientation program:
I wrap up the panel, encapsulating the observations of previous speakers and adding some of my own:
The complete video of "Modest Proposals will soon be available on the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Web site. Cassy has posted her own "modest proposals" that she delivered at the event on the Modestly Yours blog.
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On on Amazon.com.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Tuesday a.m.: If you are visiting from Jessica Valenti's blog, this is the space where I posted something hasty last night (see the timestamp below).
Just before posting it, I was commenting on another blog that blogging makes it far too easy to post offensive things without thinking. Well, it looks like I have done just that. I took the post down before leaving for work today, but not in time for Jessica to see it and be offended. I apologize.
Dear Co-Workers of Life,Having volunteered for the Sisters and having met some of the people they serve, I can vouch for the beautiful way they make the culture of life a reality for women in need. Their work and witness are vitally needed.
As we prepare to enter the season of Advent, a time of great expectation and joy, our prayers are with you, that you may enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation.
We offer an opportunity for you or your community or parish to give of yourself to help support the courageous women that we serve, that they may also experience this time before Christmas as a time of expectation and joy.
What follows is a list of suggestions for material goods that would be helpful in supporting the women that we serve, many who have other children who could also benefit from your generosity.
Thank you so much for your continued prayerful support. Items can be sent to:
- Maternity clothes in all sizes, especially stretchy-panel pants
- Phone cards (sometimes, women we serve are living in shelters and do not have phones)
- Gift cards:
Gift cards to grocery stores and stores which carry toys are especially helpful during this time of year.
- Baby clothes and clothes for young children
Sisters of Life – Visitation Mission
320 E. 66th Street
New York, NY 10065
Please feel free to call us with additional ideas: (212) 737-0221
For more on the Sisters of Life, see the press release about the outcome of the Co-Worker training at Seton Hall University that I organized under the auspices of my employer, the Cardinal Newman Society.
The current edition of the Diocese of Arlington's Catholic Herald features an informative article by Henrietta Gomez on "Modest Proposals," the seminar I co-organized under the auspices of my employer, the Cardinal Newman Society, at Washington, D.C.'s Ethics and Public Policy Center. Some highlights, including some stark observations from Unprotected author Dr. Miriam Grossman:
[UCLA] psychiatrist [Grossman] lamented the "mental health crisis on our campuses." Prozac, she said, is the number one prescribed medication. And Grossman said the rise in prescription anti-depressant use among young women is linked to the rise in the number of women who come to the health center because of sexual relationships.A couple of video clips of "Modest Proposals" are on the Cardinal Newman Society's Web site, with more to come.
"We have a problem. We should be alarmed, but we should not be surprised," she said. Young people are influenced by a popular culture that is constantly bombarding them with blatant lies about sex, she said. Grossman said television shows, including Sex and the City and Friends, give a false notion that sex can be divorced from emotions.
It gives the message that sex is "recreational without consequences and that condoms provide good enough protection," she said. Teenagers arrive on college campuses with those ideas and are rudely awakened when they learn that they have been deceived.
"High risk behaviors are being promoted," said Grossman. Because of that, she said, "the number of sexually transmitted diseases has exploded."
The facts are evident, she said, but health care professionals are not responsibly educating young people. Hard science alone proves that bonding hormones are released in a woman’s body during sexual activity. "It cannot be disputed," she said. Grossman said science has shown the release of the hormone oxytocin in a woman’s system during such activity makes her more susceptible to distress, anxiety and depression with a "hooking-up" situation.
"Why have we allowed political correctness to seep into this critical area of health?" she asked. Health care professionals need to set aside political correctness and speak the truth about the biochemistry of sex.
"There are a lot more victims of the hook-up culture than there are of violence," she said.
Young people need to be educated about the real facts. Grossman travels around the country, especially to college campuses, to educate students.
Parental involvement is key, said Dawn Eden, director of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Love and Responsibility Program, which seeks to reestablish chastity on Catholic college campuses.
Many parents and older adults, although they may disagree with the “hook-up” culture, are afraid to speak out because of their own past or to “validate their own poor choices,” she said.
Eden, a former journalist, said she led an immoral life and "experienced the fallout of the sexual revolution," prior to her conversion to Catholicism. However, since her conversion, she has authored the book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. ...
Eden, who has given numerous talks around the country and in Ireland and England, seeks to help people "have a deeper understanding of our own human dignity, and realize that there’s a joy that goes far beyond sex."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
You really have to watch the video of the following story by reporter Amber Miller of News Channel 11 in Bristol, Tenn.:
Lori Vance went against the doctors' wishes and saw her pregnancy through to birth.Again, watch the video of this beautiful teenage girl and her mother, who so clearly loves her dearly. Kudos to reporter Miller for covering the story.
Now on her daughter's sweet sixteenth birthday, the family is celebrating her triumphant life.
The Vance family told News Channel 11 that a fatal disorder isn't always a death sentence.
At 16-years-old, one of the hardest decisions for Donna Joy Vance is what to wear.
Sitting on the couch with her mother, Donna blushes over a TV crush. "We're celebrating Donna Joy's 16th birthday,” Lori Vance Said. “It's a special day because it's a day the doctors and so-called experts way back when said would never come to be."
At seven months into the pregnancy, doctors realized that Donna Joy had a brain disorder called Holoprosencephaly, or HPE.
Physicians told Lori Vance that her child would be completely blind, likely deaf, likely born with no face, no ability to move limbs or suck and swallow.
"Basically, everything that makes you a human being was going to be missing," Vance told News Channel 11. "They wanted to terminate the pregnancy because they said she was going to die anyway," Vance said.
She was determined to give Donna Joy a chance. "Even if it was only for a few minutes—to give her some dignity, wrap her up in a pretty blanket. Say ‘I love you’ and let her go," Vance said.
But mother and child never had to say goodbye.
Donna Joy is beating the odds.
While the pre-natal studies on Donna Joy's brain were accurate, her functions have surpassed expectations.
"She didn't read the book on this disorder,” Vance said. “No one told her she couldn't do these things. So she does them anyway."
Among Donna Joy's accomplishments: Special Olympics track medals, modeling, singing and beauty pageants.
RELATED: Be Not Afraid and Prenatal Partners for Life are great resources for parents of children with poor prenatal diagnoses.
Friday, November 23, 2007
As Alicia Keys' "No One" is currently the No. 1 song in the nation, I would like to be the first in the blogosphere to note that it is the latest in a long, long line of pop tunes based on Pachelbel's "Canon in D."
Somewhere, Rob Paravonian is rejoicing at the arrival of yet another hit to add to his "Pachelbel Rant":
And here's the Canon as Pachelbel wrote it (or close enough), by the Orchestra da Camera di Verona:
I have purposefully omitted the guitar-hero version of the Canon that has received over 32 million views on YouTube ...
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thanks to reader Merrill Thompson for sending this beautiful op-ed by Bruce Chapman in today's Seattle Times:
When a family member learned not long ago that he was dying of cancer, he visited a church he hadn't much seen and, while leaving, he picked up a tract on the topic of facing death. The very first suggestion was to give thanks. Initially, it seemed perverse to him; after all, he was counting his impending losses, not his blessings.
But, he followed the advice and it literally transformed him, and, among other things, gave him new courage and hope. ... [Read the full article]
"He was above all things a great giver; and he cared chiefly for the best kind of giving which is called thanksgiving. If another great man wrote a grammar of assent, he may well be said to have written a grammar of acceptance; a grammar of gratitude. He understood down to its very depths the theory of thanks; and its depths are a bottomless abyss. He knew that the praise of God stands on its strongest ground when it stands on nothing. He knew that we can best measure the towering miracle of the mere fact of existence if we realise that but for some strange mercy we should not even exist."
— G.K. Chesterton, St. Francis of Assisi
These days, it takes much longer for Sixties-pop trivia to make it to these parts than it did when I was a working rock historian. I only just learned today that the Royal Guardsmen of "Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron" fame reunited last year to record yet another follow-up to their classic bubblegum/garage tune (previous efforts included "Return of the Red Baron," "Snoopy's Christmas," and "Snoopy for President").
Personally, I think the new tune lacks the old magic, but you can judge for yourself: "Snoopy Vs. Osama."
Thanks to Kevin Walsh for the tip.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Andrea Burns, the Melbourne Herald Sun columnist who started an online debate of sorts when she wrote a column countering my belief that women should not try to "have sex like men" (as the flawed expression goes), now takes aim at "Bible bashers" — people who have left critical comments on her blog (bashing her, not the Bible).
For the record, I don't approve when my readers leave personal attacks on other people's blogs. As a Christian, it is embarrassing to me when people give a malicious witness for the faith, and it makes me mad.
At the same time, it appears that Burns is not just using the term "bashers" for readers who left personal insults for her; rather, she seems to be applying it to anyone who upholds a morality other than her own. If that is how she really feels, that those who openly disagree with her are by definition "bashing" her, then I am sorry to hear that.
With stunning brazenness, Michigan late-term abortionist Albert Hodari gloats to Wayne State University's Medical Students for Choice Nov. 9 that he has a "license to lie" to his patients:
Jill Stanek observes: "Note this abortionist only lies less now thanks to public education about abortion, no thanks to the industry. This video clip should be shown at every legislative hearing on Women's Right to Know laws — which the industry always fights. It's no wonder."
Jill's post on ProLifeBlogs has more about Hodari's talk.
... for video clips of me, Wendy Shalit, and other participants in "Modest Proposals" coming later this morning.
UPDATE, 11/21, 10:51 a.m.: Two video clips are currently available from the event, but I'm expecting more, so I'll wait to post them here until I have them all. If you can't wait, you can see those first two clips on the Cardinal Newman Society's site.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Sisters of Life training at Seton Hall University that I helped organize in my position as director of the Cardinal Newman Society's Love and Responsibility Program was a great success. Many thanks to all the blogs who helped publicize the training, including ProLifeBlogs, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, and The Curt Jester (apologies if I'm forgetting anyone).
Here is the press release I wrote about the training's outcome, which is also on the Cardinal Newman Society's Web site:
“A great success” is how Sister Magdalene of the Sisters of Life described her order’s first-ever on-campus training for college students seeking to learn how to support peers in crisis pregnancies, held Nov. 17 at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and sponsored by The Cardinal Newman Society with SHU’s Campus Ministry.
“Fifteen students rose early on a Saturday—something just short of a miracle—to join us for a new look at how to serve a pregnant college student,” says Sister Magdalene, who directed the training. Also in attendance were several members of SHU’s Campus Ministry as well as Archdiocese of Newark Campus Ministry Director Maureen Madigan.
Since their founding by John Cardinal O’Connor in 1991, the Sisters of Life—whose members take a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life— have trained hundreds of Co-Workers (volunteers), but never before on a college campus.
The five-hour training included presentations by Sisters of Life about understanding the heart of a vulnerable pregnant woman, communication skills to help students listen to a pregnant woman’s needs and be fully present for her, and information on the various ways the students could place their individual talents and skills at the service of life.
At the heart of the training was a talk by a college student who had stayed at the Sisters’ Sacred Heart residence in Manhattan, where the order gives shelter and Holy Respite to pregnant women. The young woman, accompanied by her buoyant two-year-old daughter, spoke movingly of how the nuns’ love and support enabled her to escape an abusive relationship.
Sister Magdalene observed afterward that “many of those that attended seemed to view this approach as a breath of fresh air.”
“They seemed to see in it a special focus on the dignity of the woman, knowing that the better we serve her, the better she will be able to care for the life within her,” she said.
SHU student Jennifer Nelson, a graduate assistant in Campus Ministry, agreed. “In my work with Housing and Residence Life for over seven years, I saw many women struggling with how to help friends through crisis pregnancies, or were dealing with the issue themselves,” Nelson says. “The training that the Sisters of Life provided our students with will give these young women some place to turn. It will allow them to know that both they and their babies are loved by God, and they will see God through the caring actions of those around them.”
“The students loved the training and are very excited about working in this important ministry,” said Noreen Shea, SHU’s Campus Minister for Catechetics. “We are very grateful to the Cardinal Newman Society for sponsoring such an important and powerful event for the students on our campus.”
Archdiocese of Newark Campus Ministry Director Maureen Madigan likewise thanked the society for introducing the Sisters’ apostolate to the archdiocese. “We look forward to collaborating with the Sisters of Life in the near future, inviting them to provide similar trainings to our student leaders at the ten public universities, colleges and technical schools we serve,” she said.
For Sister Magdalene, the most important fruit of the training was the opportunity to share their charism of love with college students. “Our focus is not to change the culture by force but one heart at a time—this seemed to resonate with those who attended,” she said. “May all the glory be given to the Lord and may many be saved from the suffering incurred by obtaining an abortion.”
Monday, November 19, 2007
It's wonderful to see NBC Nightly News drawing attention to HG (hyperemesis gravidarum), the debilitating but treatable disease that expresses itself in extreme morning sickness. Coverage like this can save lives:
My blog pal Ashli Foshee McCall has written an excellent book on HG called Beyond Morning Sickness, which she is sending free fo charge to any ob/gyn who requests it. She herself suffered HG through four pregnancies and now works to help others with the disease.
A gift for my old colleagues ...
The story: Oil-rich despots Chavez, Ahmadinejad team up vs. U.S.
The headline: AXIS OF DIESEL
"Healing is always available to us in Christ. If we sincerely repent of our sinful behavior — and to repent means not just to be sorry about it but to turn away from it — God recognizes that, and He washes us. Once you make the decision to change your life, you have to think about where you are going to find fellowship with other people who feel as you do.
"Our sexuality cannot be divorced from who we are in Christ. When we learn about our sexuality in the light of Christ’s teaching, it gives us a great awe and wonder about how, as the Psalm says, we are wonderfully and fearfully made."
— I answer the question of "how can people heal from their sexual pasts" in an interview for Focus on the Family's Citizenlink.org. Many thanks to CitizenLink's associate editor Devon Williams for doing the interview.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Far from being a nest of clucking prudes deriding the indiscretions of “kids these days,” these women were concerned about the waves of depression and sexually transmitted disease that are sweeping over our young women. They placed their disapproval not upon the girls so much as the school systems and parents that failed to teach them the buzz about the birds and the bees, and called upon college students to expose incidences of these prejudices in universities so that they could be reversed.AND ANOTHER THING: Watch this space for video of "Modest Proposals," coming on Monday.
Grossman, who has devoted her life to university health, had the most stirring condemnations for the collegiate sex educators. She warned that despite their claims of neutrality, policies towards sex on campus were anything but neutral. Built-in assumptions that experimentation with sex is always beneficial and that youth are going to be sexually active no matter what warp the effectiveness of campus sexual-health programs. At my pre-college physical, my pediatrician began to write me a prescription for birth control without even asking, assuming it was routine for such a visit. My own experience at a university hospital forced me to deny sexual activity no less than four times. After they removed my mother from the room to ask me again, still squinting at me with suspicion, I was about ready to pitch the bedpan at the attending doctor’s head. What does it say to a college freshman struggling to be abstinent when physicians treat an 18-year-old virgin with the same mixture of curiosity and revulsion that they would the Elephant Man?
While those assumptions may encourage doctors to uncover the truth of sexual activity in some shyer girl, these presuppositions do more harm than merely isolating the chaste — they conveniently silence mounting scientific evidence that might convince girls to put their clothes back on. The biochemistry of post-coital attachment, the increased vulnerability of women to STDs, the risks inherent in so-called safer-sex programs — all of these go unmentioned in the clinics. ...
... As the panel neared its end, Eden pondered aloud that even though she had not planned on starting a “modesty movement,” one seemed to be organically sprouting up with the advent of all of these books and groups. And with the founding of each group and the publishing of each book, letters and e-mails pour in, saying, “I thought I was the only one!” Each speaker was optimistic that the emptiness of the hookup culture could be effectively combated, because all signs point to a silent majority of women desiring to unhook themselves from its claws. [Read the full article.]
[Revised and expanded, 11/18/07, 11:56 a.m.]
Quelle horreur, mate! Melbourne Herald Sun columnist Andrea Burns is sagging under the weight of my expectations:
In the 21st century we are still suffering this Madonna-whore complex and we have no one to blame but ourselves.Poor Ms. Burns. Here she is, is trying to sound all bold and brassy like her Aussie compatriots Greer and Helen "I am woman, hear me roar" Reddy — and coming off as positively Victorian.
In The Times recently, journalist Dawn Eden lamented her sexual rebellion of the 1960s [which was really difficult, as I wasn't born 'til '68 — D.]. After heeding Germaine Greer's call to arms and Helen Gurley Brown's blessing to have sex "like a man" she ended up unfulfilled.
She writes: "Whatever Greer and her ilk might say, I've tried their philosophy that a woman can shag like a man and it doesn't work. We're not built like that. Women are built for bonding. We are vessels and we seek to be filled."
Perhaps we women wouldn't feel so conflicted about casual sex if women like Eden didn't put layer upon layer of expectations on the rest of us.
Sex is a simple act, but as long as women think monogamous sex equals love and multiple partners equals deviance, we will never find fulfilment.
I mean, you really have to hand it to a feminist writer who believes women are just such girlygirl whisper-soft gullible slips of things that their paper-thin feminine brains are so easily swayed like a milkweed blossom carried away like a light spring breeze by the writings of a chastity crusader opining in the Sunday Times of London.
As for the madonna-whore complex, I would believe such an animal existed were it not that it is usually propounded by women whose sympathies lie entirely with the whore. Their objections appear to be based upon the fact that, despite their best efforts to emulate whores, some men resolutely insist upon viewing them as potential madonnas.
I'm sorry to react so viscerally to Burns's column. It's hard not to do so when she holds me up as a repressive authority figure, but I shouldn't, because she is clearly hurting. Perhaps a reader with more distance could explain her discomfort with the burden of my "layer upon layer of expectations." I think it has something to do with the fact that I am touching upon something that provokes shame in her.
Such shame can be harmful, provoking a sense of worthlessness and helplessness that can lead to acting out sexually. I'm personally familiar with that brand of shame and am painfully reminded of it when I see certain images of who I was before I was chaste. It may be hard for some to grasp how shame can motivate people to be shameless, but I have no difficulty understanding why Britney Spears decided at the last minute to wear an all-too-revealing bra-and-underwear ensemble at the MTV Video Awards. It also makes sense to me both why Pamela Anderson says she cried the first time she posed for Playboy and why she says that, in subsequent shoots, her tears gave way to a feeling of empowerment.
Acting out sexually is a gut-level reaction to shame. It says, "Everybody knows I've been exposed — so I'll take power over the situation by being in control of my exposure." The greater the shame, the greater the attempt to magnify the sin. It's the story of Madonna's career.
But there is another kind of shame, which Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, writing in Love and Responsibility, called a "healthy shame":
"'[H]ealthy shame' functions to protect the very nature of personhood, which cannot be shared, unless the person permits this through the gift of self in love. It is because of this shame that we come to see the essential value of the whole person (sexuality included), whose ultimate longing is to love and be loved, shared and experienced in their totality."It is this healthy shame that I seek to promote. The fact that Burns sees it as a threat to her chosen lifestyle suggests to me that she is suffering emotionally from the effects of the other brand of shame, the damaging kind. After all, if she were not suffering, she could simply shrug off my admonitions as the words of a prude and move on, rather than protest at the weight of my expectations of her.
To be a woman is a changing ideal, but the deportment school for good girls has not caught up yet.Be careful what you wish for, sister. Try "having sex like a man" and your sex partners will lose their mother complex, all right. They'll also lose any ability to see you as a potential mother. Of course, that may be what you really want. In any case, the idea of having sex like a man is, as I've said, a base canard.
We don't need to convince the blokes of this. I am guessing they will lose that mother complex quick smart if women had sex like men.
I think that on some level Burns realizes this. Just two weeks ago, she lamented in her column that "the date is dead." As Unhooked author Laura Sessions Stepp described at last week's "Modest Proposals" seminar, the columnist's sense of loss echoes that of of many college students who wish dating would make a comeback.
Perhaps inside every "That Woman" is a fine woman struggling to get out.
RELATED: The Nation fails to get The Thrill.
UPDATE: Andrea Burns responds.
*A reference to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"
**Deleted on second thought because the Madonna wouldn't say that.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I'm delighted to find that a 26-year-old blogger named Jessica has posted links to video of my debate on "Is Chastity a Good Idea for Singles?"
The debate took place in the basement of a Lower East Side bar called Lolita last January, one month after the publication of my book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. My opponent was Virginia Vitzthum, the author of a book on hooking up through the personals: I Love You, Let's Meet.
Jessica writes: "Even though Dawn seems a bit nervous and awkward, she has solid evidence supporting herself and Virginia comes across as unprepared and even to the point of admitting that she does not have data supporting her claims. Like Dawn says, Christians are not against having great intimacy, just waiting 'till it can be the best that it can be!"
Well, as you can see from one of the clips, Jessica is being generous when she says I'm only "a bit" nervous and awkward:
In my defense, if you catch the audience shots in the other debate videos, you can see that I am facing a jam-packed crowd of sweaty NYC hipsters, most of whom side with my opponent. It was a blessing to be able to put a few words about chastity in their ears for the duration of the debate, but, boy, was I on the spot.
If you'd like to get an idea of what ten months of Thrill of the Chaste talks did for my confidence, here I am addressing a far friendlier crowd at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass., last month:
Friday, November 16, 2007
I'm grateful to CitizenLink for giving me the opportunity to tell its readers about my book The Thrill of the Chaste and my work for The Cardinal Newman Society.
This blog is an outlet for whatever's on my mind on a particular day. If you would like to read more on the particular topics covered in the CitizenLink article, here are some good places to start:
- The official Thrill of the Chaste Web site, which includes links to many news articles, radio shows, and video clips related to my work promoting chastity and the culture of life
- Videos of me speaking about chastity, including why sex outside marriage is damaging
- My Touchstone article about Planned Parenthood's sex-ed Web site, Teenwire.
- ;The Amazon Web site for The Thrill of the Chaste
Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to contact me, click the "Contact" tab on the Thrill of the Chaste Web site for an online form.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"Many feminist theologians have dismissed Mary as embarrassingly meek or reconstructed her as a rabble-rousing political subversive. In fact, Mary was strong, but her strength was rooted in precisely the humility, gentleness, and receptivity that make feminist theologians so uneasy. Her radical openness to Jesus at the moment of the Incarnation was matched only by her extraordinary courage as she stood vigil at his crucifixion. Her willingness to become vulnerable for love of God, and to suffer as she witnessed the execution of her son, makes her an exemplar of precisely the sort of steadfast, inner strength that Jesus encouraged in both his male and female disciples. Mary’s crucial role in salvation history should not be overlooked by authors seeking to answer feminist questions, lest her marginalization confirm feminist fears that Christianity consigns women to bit parts in the divine drama."
— Colleen Carroll Campbell
"[W]e who argue for modesty are so often accused of advocating a 'double standard.' It's a very clever way of ending the discussion, but it's also completely false. In over 12 years of speaking out and writing about this issue, I've yet to meet a single modesty/chastity advocate who believes in any sort of double standard.
"The real difference--let's be clear--is between those who advocate for a single high standard and those who advocate an equal-opportunity low one."
— Wendy Shalit
[Be advised: Link to the Web site Our Chart, below, contains obscenities and may include smutty photos.]
The anonymous editrix of Our Chart, an online offshoot of Showtime's "The L Word" (which in turn is a lesbian answer to "Sex and the City," tried to organize a protest to Tuesday's "Modest Proposals" panel. Didn't happen. However, Our Chart's post about the event did earn a firestorm of responses from its readers, whose ire was further raised by the blog's attempt to link my chastity advocacy with purity balls.
It's always interesting to see how, when proponents of a libertine lifestyle want to avoid discussing the negative psychological and physical effects of nonmarital sex, they run to the same old tired demonizations of the opposition. CHASTITY BELTS! PURITY BALLS! HOUSEWIVES BAKING COOKIES! Etc. It shows their great fear of having their lifestyle called into question.
People of course have free will to engage or not engage in sex of any kind outside marriage, heterosexual or homosexual. However, when chastity opponents caricaturize, demonize, and otherwise malign those who seek reasoned discussion of the potential negative effects of nonmarital sex, it suggests that their purported pleasure principle is built on a house of cards. They can't be that satisfied if they live in such abject fear of criticism.
Here, for the record, is the quote I gave in a Radar online interview that so disturbed Our Chart's editrix and commenters:
"It's a tragedy of our modern age that there is a culture that encourages people to act out on gay inclinations. In my view, far fewer people are really gay, but they will act out that way because of the encouragement of the culture. The myth is that people can't change."
Interesting, Our Chart's editor omits the next two sentences from my quote: "People can change, at least from my own experience. I think it's wrong to tell people that once they are gay they are always gay."
By "my own experience," I am referring to my own experience of changing from an unchaste lifestyle to a chaste one. As the Web site of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) noted in its review of my book, it's an experience familiar to homosexuals as well — but one which gay media outlets like Our Chart refuse to present to its readers without mockery. What are they so afraid of? Methinks the ladies doth protest too much.
A holiday tale of political correctness run amok:
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.
Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.
One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could frighten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute.
"Gimme a break," said Julie Gale, who runs the campaign against sexualising children called Kids Free 2B Kids.
"We are talking about little kids who do not understand that "ho, ho, ho" has any other connotation and nor should they," she told the Telegraph.
"Leave Santa alone."
A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was "misleading" to say the company had banned Santa's traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
At Tuesday's "Modest Proposals" seminar, Washington Post Laura Sessions Stepp quoted a line from a coed that appears in her exposé on the casual-sex culture, Unhooked. Referring to a potential hookup, the college student said, "It will suck if it's bad, but it will suck even more if it's good."
Hearing Stepp read that line, I remembered how it struck me when I first read it, back when her book came out — how it echoed my own experience. In fact, I wrote something very similar in Chapter 4 of The Thrill of the Chaste — a complete coincidence, as Stepp's book was off to the publisher when mine came out.
The passage in my book reads: "When I was having casual sex, there was one moment I dreaded more than any other. I dreaded it not out of fear that the sex would be bad, but out of fear that it would be good."
If the sex was good, then, even if I knew in my heart that the relationship wouldn’t work, I would still feel as though the act had bonded me with my sex partner in a deeper way than we had been bonded before. It’s in the nature of sex to awaken deep emotions within us — emotions that are distinctly unwelcome when one is trying to keep it light.AND ANOTHER THING: If I were writing The Thrill today, I would add that nonmarital sex does damage men as well. As I wrote on this blog earlier this year:
At such times, the worst moment was when it was all over.
Suddenly, I was jarred back to earth. Then I’d lie back and feel . . .
. . . bereft.
My partner was still there, and if I was really lucky, he’d lie down next to me. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling like the spell had been broken. We could nuzzle or giggle, or we could fall asleep in each other’s arms, but I knew it was playacting — and so did my partner. We weren’t really intimate —it had just been a game. The circus had left town.
"Sex and the City" heroine Carrie Bradshaw once asked, “Can a woman have sex like a man?” The question’s not new. Helen Gurley Brown posed it nearly forty years earlier in Sex and the Single Girl — and answered yes: “Like a man, [a woman] is a sexual creature.”
But unlike a man, a woman’s body has to allow her lover inside — to let him literally get under her skin —and that will always frustrate her quest for quasi-masculine, no-strings sex.
I realize that I don’t have to convince you ladies of this. You’ve already read the blurbs on the back cover of this book—maybe even cheated and skipped to the last page (shame on you). But even if you know in your heart that you’ve been hurt by crossing physical boundaries with a date, it’s important to realize that the pain was not because —as Cosmo would claim — you were doing it wrong. It’s because you were doing it right. It’s the situation — seeking physical excitement with a man for its own sake, outside the love and security of a marital relationship — that was wrong.
Truthfully, however, with regard to the "Sex and the City" question — "Can a woman have sex like a man?" — I am no longer convinced that a man can "have sex like a man," let alone a woman. When I think back upon the men I have known who have had premarital sex, none of them escaped being damaged by it. Perhaps they were not damaged in ways that psychologists measure, such as the tendency to suicide and depression (though a 2003 study did find that — sexually active teenage boys as well as girls had a higher rate of depression than abstinent teens), but I believe they were damaged in other ways, such as being:
- Less able to achieve intimacy in relationships
- Less able to maintain long-term relationships
- More likely to seek out pornography
- Less secure in their faith
- Less mature
- Less able to choose and focus upon long-term life goals
Following "Modest Proposals," I enjoyed the unexpected bonus of a "girls' night out" at Eli's Restaurant with fellow panelists Wendy Shalit (above, at the seminar), Miriam Grossman, and Cassy DeBenedetto, along with Diocese of Arlington young-adult ministry director Mary-Rose Lombard.
I can't tell you what anyone else said, as we all agreed that what happens in Eli's stays in Eli's, but I can tell you one anecdote I shared that made Wendy flash her 10,000-watt smile. It was about the time I went out for dinner with a male fan of Wendy's book A Return to Modesty, a work which praises not only female virtue, but also chivalry and male honor. Afterwards, the gent waited with me on the subway platform until my train came, even while his own train came and went in the other direction. When I thanked him for waiting with me, he said, "Wendy Shalit would never forgive me if I didn't."
My friend Dennis Schenkel, a Catholic seminarian and newly ordained deacon , joyfully posts his "first ever REAL (non-practice) homily", and his joy is contagious. It's inspiring to witness such strong, beautifully articulated faith from a priest-to-be.
From my talk last Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y., at a breakfast sponsored by Advocating the Vocation of Women (AVOW):
"... I knew when I was having sex outside marriage — which is to say, all the sex I've ever had — that even as I was pouring out my body completely to my partner, I could not pour out my heart and give it all to him as a gift. If there was the slightest chance that we might not get married — and until you’ve gone through with it, there always is — then it would be too painful.
"So I learned to build up a shell. ..."
Thanks very much to Robert N. Going for the video.
Last night, I had the joy of seeing my dream of a "Chastity All-Stars" author event come to fruition, as Wendy Shalit, Dr. Miriam Grossman, Laura Sessions Stepp and I, along with Cassy DeBenedetto of Princeton's pro-chastity Anscombe Society, united for an evening of Modest Proposals at Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, co-sponsored by my employer, The Cardinal Newman Society.
Soon, I should have some photos and video available of the event, but for now I'll just say that the event was a success beyond my imaginings. Seventy people — including college administrators and staff from George Washington University, Catholic University of America, American University, and University of Maryland, as well as numerous D.C. policymakers — packed the EPPC conference room, standing room only, to hear the speakers discuss the problems of sex on campus and offer solutions.
Having corresponded with Wendy, it was a special delight to meet her for the first time, as well as to share ideas with her and the other participants. Many thanks to my co-promoter, New Atlantis managing editor Mary Rose Rybak, all the participants, and everyone else at the EPPC and the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute who worked to make it happen.
* * *
Upon coming home late last night, I checked in with Teenwire, Planned Parenthood's sex-ed Web site. The featured article, "Teens and the Double Standard," was a stark reminder of why discussions like "Modest Proposals" are so very needed.
The article laments that " young women who seem to be more sexual or sexually active are more likely to be viewed negatively, while young men who seem to be more sexual or sexually active are more likely to be viewed positively. It's all about appearances" (emphasis mine).
That is the message that young women are receiving from American campus culture — that sex outside marriage is not only morally neutral, but — so long as partners "protect" themselves — is psychologically and physically neutral as well (if not outright positive). Planned Parenthood and its allies brutally insist that those who seek to inform young women of the potential harmful effects of "protected" sexual activity are seeking merely to repress them.
The Teenwire article continues:
Since the 1960s, researchers have been studying how society accepts the double standard and how it affects the sexual experiences of men and women. For instance, men are socialized to view sex as a conquest — those who have more of them are more "manly." On the other hand, women are taught to limit their sexual encounters to one monogamous relationship. Not surprisingly, these two opposite views can create lots of tension and many misunderstandings between sex partners of different genders.The article makes no mention of the fact that monogamy is the healthiest choice, physically and mentally, for men and women. This relativism — actually, far more dangerous for youths than relativism, in that it favors promiscuity — is par for the course for Teenwire, as I wrote in my exposé of the site for Touchstone.
Incidentally, the author of "Teens and the Double Standard," Lisa Schulter, appears to have quite the career ahead of her as a Planned Parenthood flack if her blog, Ranting for a Revolution, is any indication.
Multer displays just the sort of rabid anti-theist rhetoric that Planned Parenthood loves, mocking "Crazy Christians." She writes of the 40 Days for Life event that took place outside Planned Parenthood's Aurora, Ill., megacenter: "Basically, they're asking their supporters to keep a presence 24/7 for 40 days. It's supposed to be a peaceful protest, with lots of praying. Participants are also encouraged to fast for the 40 days - because apparently, that's how one gets God's attention. If starving really gets God's attention, I don't think people in Ethiopia would be so skinny."
Reading zingers like that from a writer whom both Planned Parenthood and NARAL consider one of its best and brightest, I can't help but wonder: Who's out of step with mainstream American values? The 90% or more of Americans who believe in God? The 50% who believe it should be illegal to abort children for the simple reason they are unwanted? The 85% who believe abstinence should receive as much or more emphasis than contraception in sex education? Or the organization that protects child predators while expending great effort into sexualizing children, all the while raking in more than $300 million from taxpayers annually?
TAKE ACTION: Contact your U.S. senators and representative and urge them to support Sens. Brownback and Vitter's bid to defund Planned Parenthood.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
There's still time to sign up for the Sisters of Life Co-Worker training at Seton Hall University this Saturday, which is free and open to all college students. Just follow the link and read the instructions to RSVP.
Monday, November 12, 2007
It was a joy tonight to discover that my old friend Andrew Sandoval is not only still making music, but is actually sounding better than ever. It's rare to see an artist grow as much as he has. Usually a songwriter and producer's most impressive developments come closer to the beginning of his career, not after more than a decade of songwriting. Andrew always had fabulous influences — the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, psychedelic-era Bee Gees, Van Dyke Parks — but over the years he's grown closer to evoking the beauty of those artists' works.
Listen to "Something Warm," one of Andrew's latest tunes, on his MySpace page. It begins with a familiar nod to the Bee Gees' "Spicks and Specks," but the artist takes it into a different direction, its gorgeous, crystalline arrangement brimful of ear candy.
Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner, a past reporter and editor for the New York Times who currently co-authors the Times blog named after his best-selling book, just can't stop touting the alleged crimestopping power of abortion.
Even though his co-author Stephen Levitt, following a damning report by Federal Reserve economists, long ago admitted lousing up the Freakonomics data purporting to prove abortion reduces the crime rate, Dubner continues to claim abortion means fewer illegitimate (read: poor, minority) kids and, therefore, less crime.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:
FREAKONOMICS LESSON: What is the most powerful incentive in the history of humankind?Dubner is way off here and should really know better.It's been well established that illegitimacy rates have soared since Roe Vs. Wade. A study in the Yale Law Journal (as well as the aforementioned report by Fed economists) has also shed considerable doubt on Dubner's claims of a post-Roe decline in violent crime.
"Freakonomics" co-author Stephen Dubner posed the question Thursday to about 230 people at the Washington Policy Center's statewide small business conference luncheon.
The audience members began to shout things. Money. Fear. Pain. Love. Sex?
Bingo. Someone said what Dubner was waiting to hear, and gave him the segue to talk about how legalizing abortion had eliminated sex's biggest disincentive -- unwanted children -- thus leading to a present-day decrease in violent crime.
"What happens to the unwanted pregnancy?" he asked. "In the history of the world, there wasn't that much to do. And then abortion happened. ...
"Unwanted children are much more likely to become criminals. What happens, then, when your population pool has removed from it a big chunk of the unwanted children?"
But Dubner will not be denied, as the Post-Intelligencer report continues:
It's a controversial message that Dubner is used to giving, but one that Washington's business leaders were clearly not used to hearing.So, abortion is an "important incentive" to reducing the crime rate? Remember that statement the next time you plunk down money for a product by Dubner's employer the Times.
The lunchtime clinking stopped. No one in the banquet room moved. They didn't rub their eyebrows or sip their iced teas or even glance at their peers. They just stared straight ahead.
Dubner's prior comments had been amusing. His post-abortion story involved an experiment that taught monkeys to use money. Monkey antics made everyone laugh. [Something disturbs me about Dubner's joking about monkeys and money immediately after urging that illegitimate children — usually black and poor — be "removed from the population pool." — Dawn.]
But even the serious stuff is "the kind of thing that people like you really need to think about," Dubner told the crowd.
"The less that we're able to talk in polite society about important incentives, the further and further we go down the road of making policy that responds to what people are willing to talk about, which isn't always the entire picture."
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Today's Gospel reading is to be a passage that I quote in the talk I give to Christian audiences about chastity. Here is the part of my talk that references the Gospel passage; you can also see me deliver it in the third YouTube clip (labeled "What is chastity") in the Dawn Patrol entry on the talk I gave last month at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass.:
So, there is unmarried chastity, and there is married chastity. Part of it entails the proper ordering of sexual pleasure — which meansengaging in it only within marriage. But that doesn't mean that unmarried chastity is merely abstinence-'til marriage.
Abstinence is purely physical, while the Catechism reminds us that chastity flowers from within; it is "a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.” Abstinence is static, but chastity, the Catechism says, has "laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin."
So we’re not talking a one-size-fits all, "just do it" or "just don't do it" kind of philosophy. Being chaste is a requirement for growing in your relationship with God.
Beyond that, it's 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. In that sense, when I need inspiration, even though I hope to one day be married, I can be inspired in the here and now by the example of priests and religious. They are already modeling the kind of chastity that we will live out, God willing, in Heaven.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 20, Jesus' words give an idea of what that will be like. He says: "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection."
What does that tell us? We know that those in Heaven experience the ultimate union with God and with all the Communion of Saints. Marriage is a great joy, but that gospel and other passages in the Bible tell us there is a greater joy that marriage points to. What the church has taught throughout its history — including in Pope John Paul II's theology of the body and in Pope Benedict's “Deus Caritas Est” — is that everyone, married and unmarried, can begin to experience that joy through chastity.
In which Gary Pig Gold (blond curly hair), Dave Rave (brown curly hair), and Mark Johnson (glasses), a k a the Little Sisters, match a Beatles ballad to the rhythms of the Dave Clark Five, and a splendid time is had by all:
I introduced Mark to Gary and Dave circa Thanksgiving 1988, after meeting Mark at a showing of "Imagine: John Lennon" around the corner from my NYU dorm.
Something to contemplate on Veterans Day, via Robert N. Going: Julie Andrews reminisces to Dick Van Dyke about life in British bomb shelters during World War II and sings the Vera Lynn hit that became indelibly identified with those waiting for their loved ones to return. If you only know "We'll Meet Again" from the final scenes of "Dr. Strangelove" (or from the Byrds' ironic version, here's a chance to hear it with appropriate context.
I also like seeing how Andrews and her former "Mary Poppins" co-star seem chastely to be very fond of one another. It's not often that one sees that kind of philia on TV.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Today a song popped into my head that was a favorite during my teen years — the Buzzcocks' "Why She's a Girl from the Chainstore."
The lyrics are pretty depressing — a description of a dreary working-class girl whose life was "a miserable anecdote." But there is one odd couplet, when songwriter Steve Diggle describes the girl as "Facing Bernstein's barrier/Waiting for someone to marry her."
It would seem that "barrier" was a convenient rhyme for "marry her," but why Bernstein?
That was a question I posed to Diggle when I met him, back when I was a rock and roll obsessive. His answer was charming.
It turned out he was a Leonard Bernstein fan. He had read that Bernstein's New York City accent initially threatened to impede his advancement. In the same way, the Mancunian shopgirl Diggle immortalized was "facing Bernstein's barrier."
- With a little help from the Beeb, you can "learn Mancunian in 10 minutes."
- Found on YouTube, a cute example of what Diggle meant — though it's clearly no barrier to a transatlantic friendship:
Friday, November 9, 2007
An upcoming Washington seminar is the realization of a vision I've had for the past year of putting together a sort of "chastity all-stars" author event.
Authors Wendy Shalit (A Return to Modesty, Girls Gone Mild), Laura Sessions Stepp (Unhooked), Miriam Grossman (Unprotected), and I, along with Cassie DeBenedetto (founder of Princeton University's pro-chastity club, the Anscombe Society), will speak at a seminar this coming Tuesday at Washington, D.C.'s Ethics and Public Policy Center.
New Atlantis managing editor Mary Rose Rybak and her EPPC colleagues organized the seminar based on a concept I presented to her in my capacity as director of the Cardinal Newman Society's Love and Responsibility program, whose mission is in part to bring together experts to find solutions to the problems of sexual activity on college campuses.
Probably my biggest contribution, other than suggesting the speakers and the theme of the seminar, was the name: "Modest Proposals."
I haven't mentioned it here sooner because seating is so limited and is, as of now, just about full, but you can read about it on EPPC's Web site and RSVP if you're willing to take the risk that it may be standing-room only. The first invitations went out to our target audience of college administrators, policymakers, and opinion leaders, many of whom have responded.
Thankfully, the event is likely to be captured for posterity on C-SPAN's BookTV, plus a DVD will be available afterwards. Contact me through the Cardinal Newman Society's Web site if you'd like to obtain the DVD when it becomes available.
... so that I could better understand the 2001 interview Cardinal Lustiger gave to a Yiddish-language radio program in Australia. Here is a description of it from the radio program's Web site:
The former Cardinal of Paris, Jean Marie Lustiger, who died on the 5th August 2007 was born Aaron Lustiger, to a Yiddish speaking Polish Jewish migrant family in Paris. During WWII when he was evacuated to Orleans he converted to Catholicism, whilst his mother was rounded up, deported and killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz. Lustiger continued to consider himself a Jew and encouraged dialogue between Jews and Catholics and during his visit to Australia in 2001 Alex Dafner put to him questions in Yiddish about Holocaust research and the Vatican archives, relations between Jews and the Church and whether a Jew could one day become Pope, which he understood very well, whilst answering diplomatically in English.The Cardinal did use one Yiddish word in answering the final question, the one about whether a Jew could become Pope. His answer — which seems to simply reflect that the question itself was silly — was "Meshuggah."
Right-click here and "Save Target" to download the interview.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I hit the jackpot in Atlantic City.
Last Saturday, in Mammon Central for my father's 70th birthday party, I asked the concierge at Harrah's where I could catch a vigil Mass.
He gave me a well-photocopied sheet of paper listing local churches and Mass times. I picked the nearest one, and that's how I found myself in the gargantuan neo-Gothic jewel box that is St. Nicholas of Tolentine.
It was only after returning home that I learned that the 105-year-old church has much more than the five marble altars, ninety stained-glass windows, and other features that meet the eye.
It has catacombs.
To see what I mean, you'll have to switch over to another Web page to watch an online video.
Did you watch it? Come on, watch it — you won't be sorry. Go take a look. Go. Git.
OK, now come back — and read about the $4.8 million renovation — assuredly not a "wreckovation" — that St. Nicholas of Tolentine is currently undergoing to restore it to its former beauty. The article on it from the Press of Atlantic City includes this historical gem: "When the church was consecrated in 1905, famous bandleader John Philip Sousa played in front of the building for three days, and a headline in the Atlantic City Press read, 'Grandest Civic Structure in Atlantic City Complete.'"
A story in the Catholic Star Herald notes, "Despite the [renovation] work being done, the parish remains a foundation for Atlantic City’s neediest."
The article continues:
“St. Nicholas is really an island in the center of quite a bit of despair,” said [pastor] Msgr. [William] Hodge. The parish feeds 35,000 people a year, and it has the largest distribution of food in all of South Jersey, he said.Because the church has just been designated a shrine by Diocese of Camden Bishop Joseph Galante, it will soon be receiving additional priests. Monsignor Hodge told me the bishop informed him they will be "vigorous" retired ones who have experience celebrating the Tridentine Mass. To that end, the pastor said he looks forward to offering the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at a 7 a.m. Mass on weekdays, largely for the benefit of casino workers who would like a quiet start to their day.
“The poor will never be forgotten here,” said Msgr. Hodge. “People come for bags of food, from all over. They come from times of crisis seeking passion from the church. We are just continuing the mission of St. Nicholas.”
If you would like to donate towards St. Nicholas of Tolentine's renovation — or towards buying the Latin missals it will soon be needing — visit the church's Web site.
As seen on the Cardinal Newman Society Web site:
Sisters of Life Co-Worker Training at Seton Hall to Show How to
Serve a Pregnant Woman with the Heart of Christ
Chances are that at some point during your college years, one of your friends—or a friend of a friend—will have an unexpected pregnancy. She may feel helpless, alone, unsure about her future, and under great pressure in multiple directions from her boyfriend and relatives. Her heart's desire may be to keep her baby, but that desire alone may not be enough to protect her from the stresses that seem to be tearing her apart.
You can help her—not with arguments or pleadings, but with love. When every other support has let her down, you can become part of a new culture emerging—one that can walk with her through this difficult time. Each pregnant woman needs to know that her life is not over now that she is pregnant.
Let the Sisters of Life—an order founded by John Cardinal O'Connor whose members take a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life—show you how to serve a pregnant woman with the heart of Christ. On Saturday, November 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., come to the Sisters of Life Co-Worker (volunteer) training at
Topics covered at the training, which will be led by Sisters (also featuring testimonies from Co-Workers and the women they serve) include:
- Understanding the heart of a vulnerable pregnant woman
- Communication skills to help you listen to a pregnant woman's needs and be fully present for her
- The various ways your individual talents and skills may be placed at the service of life
Please register in advance to insure your place at this important event, the first Sisters of Life Co-Worker training ever to take place on a college campus.
Read the rest of the press release, including details on how to register, on the Cardinal Newman Society Web site.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
... to my friend Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio, who crossed the finish line of the 2007 New York City Marathon, his first time ever completing such a race — less than two and a half years after he had aortic-valve replacement surgery.
"My unofficial time won’t make the record books — 6 hours and 53 minutes," he writes on his Marathon Todd blog. "Not bad for a rookie runner with a mechanical heart valve. I suppose I could’ve done better — but you know something? I crossed the finish line and that’s all that matters."
Do watch the video of his day at the race, which is aptly titled "Marathon Miracle" — you'll find it on Marathon Todd.
From the press office of Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter comes word that the representative, who chairs the House Republican Policy Committee, today denounced Communist China’s ban on Bibles during the 2008 Olympics. He introduced a resolution condemning the Communist government's attack on Christianity and all religions.
In the video above, he says on the House floor:
“As the world stumbles toward the Communist propaganda extravaganza labeled the Beijing Olympics, somewhere Chairman Mao is looking up at us and laughing.
“According the Catholic News Agency, Bibles and all other religious symbols are among Communist China’s list of athletes' prohibited objects due to security concerns.
“Since the leader of the free world, President Bush, has articulated his eagerness to attend Communist China’s Olympics, I am compelled to ask three questions.
“Mr. President, how many bibles will you be taking to Beijing? Will you visit the five bishops and 15 priests imprisoned for opposing the Communist regime’s official church? And will you tell China’s Communist tyrants this fundamental truth: No good government denies God’s presence.”
Monday, November 5, 2007
Wendy Shalit's latest blog entry touches on a question she received from a high-schooler: "Where/How Do You Find a Good Man?"
I get asked this question myself from time to time, and I do offer some suggestions in The Thrill of the Chaste.
Overall, however, while I can certainly appreciate the wish that there were a magic place where one could meet one's soulmate, I see the "Where/How" question as fundamentally flawed. It assumes that the proverbial Good Man is hiding under a rock somewhere.
The truth is, even though there are places with a notably low proportion of potential Mr. Rights — truck stops, singles bars, online personals, academia, etc. — it is theoretically possible to find a good man anywhere.
More important, I think, is the question of who will I be when I meet that good man? Will I recognize his goodness? Will I be able to be good to him?
Dashed dreams begin with placing all one's hopes on finding the right object. It's far more fruitful to work on the subject — yourself — so that the object of your dreams will come into clear focus, and you to him, no matter where you find him.