Immodest Girls Distract Boys In School And Vv By Benjamin D. Wiker

16 12 2013

Immodest Girls Distract Boys In School And Vv  By Benjamin D. Wiker

A few years back, in California, there was a young man at a state university who insisted on attending all his classes wearing only a backpack. (If only he had worn a fanny pack!) He was nicknamed “the naked guy.” The presence of this statuesque youth was disturbing. He was not rude, loud, or aggressive. The difficulty? He was sans-culottes, and then some.

The only amusing thing in this matter was that the university could not come up with a violation to pin on him — let alone a place to pin it. After several weeks of cheek-by-jowl conferencing, he was slapped with a sexual harassment charge, even though his mode of “harassing” was entirely passive, and given the boot (and, we hope, a traveling suit as well).

Why could the university not simply invoke the obvious: young men have to wear clothes in public because human beings, especially young women, have trouble concentrating sitting next to a naked man? Why could the university not admit that sexual immodesty directly disturbs the intellectual life? Why could it not draw a hemline and say, “Thus far and no farther”?

Because it had, like so many other academic institutions, abandoned any restrictions in regard to how students must dress. Having embraced both the slovenly and near-naked, the university could not find a way to regulate the naked.

Another example is from when I was teaching at a college without a dress code. I was having students give presentations on the Roman Empire. In one group, a young lady was playing the part of Julius Caesar — do not ask why. She wore a miniskirt made out of less material than a standard eyepatch. Needless to say, the young men were not engrossed in her intellectual presentation. I doubt they heard anything she had to say. Her immodesty absorbed their entire attention. As far as they were concerned, she was all body and no mind.

Those who defend such immodesty usually argue that a young woman has a right to wear whatever she wants, and the young men have no right to ogle her. On the contrary: It is not a question of rights but rather of nature. Just as it was natural for young women to be flustered in the presence of “the naked guy,” so it was natural for young men to be flustered oglers in the presence of a near-naked young woman. If he was sexually harassing the women, was she sexually harassing the men?

The Natural and the Conventional

Those who defend such immodesty do not, of course, call it immodest. A little etymology will reveal why. The Latin modestus means “moderate,” as in “keeping within bounds,” and it is derived from modus, which means “a boundary or standard of measure.” Those who have rejected dress codes have done so because they have rejected any boundaries, any standards of measure in regard to sexuality. Standards of dress and sexuality stand and fall together.

The principle normally invoked by the intelligentsia for the standardless standard is that clothing is merely conventional, whereas (we assume) skin is natural. The amount and style of clothing differs so drastically from Aborigines to Elizabethans to Americans that any standard is arbitrary. So the argument goes.

But this argument is misaimed. The focus must shift from the clothes, which do vary, to the human beings underneath, who in their essentials do not. Unless we are entirely Gnostic — and I believe that many trendy moderns are, at heart, ancient Gnostics — we must recognize that sexual passion is a human given. It is natural and not conventional.

Further, sexual passion is like any other passion — anger, joy, hunger: it is not continually “on” but becomes aroused. Hence, the barbarous but accurate phrase, “He [or she] turns me on!” This sudden flutter and consequent flow of hormones is natural.

But we are not defined solely by our capacity to feel and express passions. Human beings are, by nature, able to think deeply and come to profound insights. As the politically correct crowd rightly points out, the intellect is not the sole possession of white, western males but is a human endowment, shared universally.

Passion Cancels Intellect

And now the pinch. Science may be brought in to confirm the following, but that would only be to vindicate what almost all of us know by experience. Thinking deeply (which is natural) and sexual desire (which is natural) cancel each other out (which is natural). Our intellectual and sexual attentions are inversely proportional.

This relationship is not confined to sexual passion. Such distraction of the intellect occurs with most other passions as well: “I was so hungry, I couldn’t think”; “I was so angry that I wasn’t able to concentrate”; “He was so sad that his eyes were just running over the page — he may as well not have ‘read’ the book.”

Imagine trying to conduct a seminar an hour past lunch when nobody has eaten since breakfast, when all of the participants are as mad as hornets, or when all are mourning over a fellow student’s recent death. Can we admit that these other passions disturb our ability to think but exclude sexual passion? If anything, sexual passion is a stronger distraction. Thus, the more immodesty, the more distraction.

Furthermore, admit it or not, sexual immodesty not only distracts, it reduces. It reduces especially the young women to something less than they really are. Regardless of the current attempt to equalize sexuality, it has always been the case that the female’s sexuality garners a stronger attraction. A man half-dressed in class will appear ridiculous to the women and disgusting to the men, an embarrassment rather than a source of temptation. But a woman immodestly dressed throws the young men into dry-mouthed confusion. If it were any other way, then selling-by-sex industries, from prostitution to advertising, would not be almost completely dominated by the immodesty of women directed to the insatiable sexual appetites of men.

It is this simple: We are rational animals. The rational aspect of our being distinguishes us as human beings. The animal aspect of our being is the source of the sexual distinction between male and female. The university purports to teach our rational nature, that which least distinguishes male and female, not our animal nature, which is the source of the sexual distinction and the passion of sex. It follows that immodesty exaggerates sexual difference, while modesty allows for the dominance of the intellect where there is the least difference between male and female.

Feminism’s Consequence

This is not an abstract argument. I have seen the difference it makes when the differences between male and female are hidden, so to speak, by the drape of modesty (i.e., because of a dress code). When a young woman would go up to the board to demonstrate a proposition from Euclid, all eyes were focused on the board, and all minds were attentive to her words. If she were wearing a miniskirt, for those who were watching, her natural intellectual powers would have been canceled by her natural sexual powers.

In this regard, and many others, modernity has things backwards. It tries to make sexuality common by making it public and rationality private by making it relative and particular. Thus, we are invited to display our sexuality to everyone (regardless of gender) as if it had, in its origin and goal, the universality of intellectual pursuits, and we are admonished to divide our rationality as if it had the particularities of the body, such as gender. Hence, women’s studies are declared an intellectual province, while philosophy is taken to be provincial.

But against this, modesty in academia allows for the pursuit of wisdom because it does not confuse the universality and commonness of intellectual things with the particularity and exclusiveness of bodily things. The intellect naturally tries to embrace the whole of reality; the body naturally tries to embrace another particular body. The mind is open for the sake of uncovering truth; the body is covered for the sake of opening up to another body exclusively, that of one’s spouse.

*This is not a Manichaean position. Modesty acknowledges the body. It does not hide the body because it is ashamed of it; it veils the body because its sexual power is not an appropriate object of public display. Is that not what feminists have been telling us, that they do not want women to be sex objects? They have been right to say so and should follow through with the natural consequence: modesty.

In regard to academia, the need for sexual modesty is a recognition of what should be an obvious, natural truth. Neither males nor females should be distracted from the primary purpose of the university: the formation of the intellect. Whether it be from the fall or from the inherent powerful nature of sexual desire (or both), the presence of sexual passion in the classroom displaces intellectual passion. Institutions owe it to their students to minimize such distractions. Even on the mean level of economics, students are paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend such institutions of higher learning. Why pay for sexual passion? The culture is already saturated with it, and most of it is free. If the university is “selling” itself as offering what cannot be gotten elsewhere, then its focus should be intellectual, not sexual.





Sexual Re-connection By PETER KREEFT

7 12 2013

 

Sexual Reconnection

To see that the Sexual Revolution has been radical in thought as well as behavior, just look at the revolution in language. When people use the word “morality” today they almost always mean sexual morality. That’s a remarkable new development, an astonishing narrowing; it’s as if we started to use the word “state” to mean only Russia, or the word “technology” to mean only “computers”. The reason for the new development is obvious from my two comparisons: sex, Russia, and computers are where there have been the most radical revolutions.
No one speaks of a revolution in any other area of morality. No one speaks of the Property Revolution or the Bearing False Witness Revolution. In fact the rest of the natural moral law is pretty much still in place. Almost no one defends terrorism, sadism, cannibalism, insider trading, nuclear war, environmental pollution, rape, hypocrisy, torture, or murder. We are still “judgmental” about those things. But if it has anything to do with sex we dare no longer be “judgmental”.

Look at the non-impeachment of President Clinton. No U.S. President would ever have survived public revelation that he was any of these immoral things I just mentioned, or even a deliberate liar about anything else except sex.

Look at abortion. No one defends killing innocent, defenceless human beings, except for sex. That is what abortion is. The whole purpose of abortion is backup birth control and the whole purpose of birth control is to have sex without babies. If storks brought babies, Planned Parenthood would go broke. Sex is the motor that drives the abortion business.

Look at divorce. Suppose there were some practice that did not involve sex that had the same three scientifically provable effects that divorce has. First, it betrayed your most solemn promise you ever made to the person you said was the most important person in your life. Second, it was child abuse, it maimed your children’s psyches, it made a happy life and a happy marriage and family much, much harder for those vulnerable little people you brought into the world and who remained largely dependent on you for their future. Third, it infallibly guaranteed that your society would die, would self destruct. No society in history has ever survived without stable marriages and stable families. It is the one absolutely indispensable foundation of everything else, for it is the first and most intimate way that individuals form communities and emerge from selfishness. But these three things are exactly what divorce does. More than that, it’s a form of suicide, the suicide of the new person, the two-in-one-flesh created by marriage. How healthy would you think a society is if half of all its individual citizens committed suicide? But half of our families commit suicide, and society is composed of families, not just of individuals. But divorce is tolerated and accepted because it’s about sex. Suppose it was proved that something else, something not connected with sex, had these three effects. For instance, smoking, or single malt scotch, or ferris wheels. You’d have absolute prohibition, not tolerance.

The moral revolution is confined to sex. We are not allowed to steal another man’s money without being put into jail, but we can steal another man’s wife. You cannot betray your lawyer without being severely penalized, but you can betray your wife, and SHE is severely penalized. You cannot kill bald eagles or blue whales without being a criminal but you can kill your own children as long as you do it a second before the two blades of the scissors meet in the middle of the umbilical cord rather than a second after, or a second before the body emerges from the birth canal rather than a second after. What kind of logic is this?

Obviously the mind behind the Sexual Revolution is not overly attached to logical consistency, and there is little hope of changing the mind that defends that revolution by logical arguments, however infallible they may be. You need more than logic to unscramble the brains of an addict. The argument will find no soil in the brains to grow in because the brains are already scrambled. Do you really think sex addicts can think more clearly than drug addicts? If anything, it’s the opposite. Drug addicts don’t usually defend their addiction with elaborate rationalizations and new philosophies of moral relativism; sex addicts almost always do. And only about 5-10% of Americans are drug addicts, probably about twice as much as that if we include alcohol. But the vast majority are sex addicts. According to a recent poll, over 50% of the men who attend Church every Sunday are addicted to pornography. That’s not 50% of men, or even 50% of Christian man, but 50% of the small, elite cream of the crop who are in church every Sunday. It is a literal epidemic.

What then do we need to defeat this revolution, which has brought about such immense destruction, and eventual death, to families, and eventually to society? Reason, logic, argument, science, facts, common sense, compromise, return to tradition – none of these are strong enough. What is strong enough? Only one thing. Nothing less than Jesus Christ will do.

Why? Because the heart of the error of the Sexual Revolution is the identifying of love with sex. Christ undoes this fundamental confusion by showing us – not just telling us but showing us – what love is.

The Beatles are right: all you need is love. But not the kind of love they mean. Why is it true that all you need is love? Because God is love, and all you need is God. If you have God plus ten million other things, and if I have God alone, you don’t have a single thing more than I do. Love and the lack of love transforms everything else. We’d all rather be in love in Detroit than divorced in Hawaii.

Christianity centers on two equations: God is love, and love is (revealed in) Christ. Look at this second equation. Do you want to know what love is? Look at Christ. I Corinthians 13, the most popular chapter in the Bible, read at nearly ever wedding, is a description of Jesus Christ. It’s not an abstract definition of an ideal, it’s a concrete description of the historical fact of Jesus Christ. As Pope John Paul II loved to say, Jesus Christ shows man to himself. Without Christ we do not know ourselves. We are like a dog in a cage at the airport who has chewed off his own dog tag with his name and his address. He does not know who he is or where his home is. That’s us without Christ. For He’s the Mind of God! He designed us, for God’s sake. I mean that literally, not profanely: He designed us for God’s sake. For the God who is love. But what kind of love? A new and different kind, and that difference was so radical that it converted the world. It wasn’t theology that converted the world, it was love. Mother Teresa converted souls without number just by being what she was, a saint, an example of this new love, this total love, this Godlike love.

Jesus predicted that would happen. He said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.” If that love was something already known, if it was romance or erotic love or liking or compassion or philanthropy or civility or fairness or justice or mercy, all of which are wonderful things, but if that was all it was, if the love Christ was talking about was not radically new and different, then He could not possibly have meant what He said. It would contradict itself. It would mean: “The world will see the difference between you and them by the fact that you all share the same kind of love. They will be able to distinguish My disciples from everybody else by the fact that their kind of love is not different from everybody else’s.”

It means, of course, exactly the opposite. Our human loves are forms of desire, feeling, eros, need. These need-loves are very good things. Men need women and women need men, physically and spiritually and socially and emotionally and biologically. And children need adults and adults need children. And teachers need students and students need teachers. But the love Christ brings is the love God is, and God does not need anything. God is sheer gift.

That’s why Jesus came, and why He died, and why He shed so much blood. He didn’t have to. One drop would have saved the world. Why did He give 12 quarts? Because He had 12 quarts to give.
Now let’s connect this new love, this love that is the very nature of God, with sex. The Sexual Revolution has disconnected it; we need to reconnect it. How? First of all in our thinking, and then in our acting. Without the right thoughts, we won’t do the right acts. Without a road map, we won’t find the right road.

We’ve already seen how radical the Sexual Revolution is. It’s a radical change in behavior, of course, but even more radically, it’s a radical change in thinking. And the most radical change in thinking is not an addition but a subtraction. The single most radical result of all the immense amount of sex education that we’ve had in the last 50 years has been not a new knowledge but a new ignorance: ignorance of the most essential thing about sex, the essential meaning and purpose of sex, the very essence of sex. Sex creates babies. They’re not accidents! Pregnancy is not a disease. They’re what sex does if you let it do its thing. Sex makes new immortal persons. Sex is incredibly, magically, supernaturally creative because it images the Creator. It’s part of the image of God. That’s why the first time the Bible mentions “the image of God,” in Genesis, it immediately mentions sex: “And God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.”
No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close.

We moderns think sex is for us; it isn’t; it’s for our children. We moderns think we’re so enlightened because we’re not legalists any more, we’re personalists, we’re about people, not about laws or rules or commandments. We think of the people who make sex, and we want those people to have fun and be happy. Which is fine, but we’re so fixated on the fact that people make sex that we’ve ignored the fact that sex makes people.

But we’ve redesigned it so that it doesn’t make people any more. We’ve contracepted it. But since it is God’s way of creating, we’ve contracepted God. That’s exactly like redesigning the Mass so that you put a condom over the priest’s mouth when he’s about to say This Is My Body so that Jesus can’t come and create the miracle of transubstantiation, because you don’t want that new life, all you want is the thrill of playing at it. That’s what contraception is. It’s putting a condom on God, putting a barrier or a diaphragm between God and the miracle He might otherwise perform in you.

No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close. It’s the teaching of the Church about sex that is by far the main reason the world hates and fears the Church today. For the Church is “judgmental” about our society’s addiction and real religion. False religion, false gods, can be overcome only by true religion, by the true God.

Humanae Vitae was prophetic. The Pill was a nuclear bomb. It split the atom of the family by splitting the atom of sex, splitting its pleasure from its fruit, its unitive from its procreative end, splitting sex from life.

How does Christ revolutionize the Sexual Revolution? Not by turning back the clock, not by a new Victorianism, not by opposing religion to sex, but by showing their real and profound connection. What is that connection?

It’s exactly the opposite of what Freud thought it was. Freud argued that religion is only a poor substitute for sex. Christ shows that sex is a poor substitute for religion, for real religion, that is, a kind of religion Freud knew nothing about. Freud thought love was a substitute for lust. Christ knew that lust was a substitute for love. If Freud were right, it would follow that the more sex you have the less religion you want, so that happily married people who have a lot of happy sex would become atheists. It doesn’t happen. The predictions are not verified. The data falsify the theory. Sexually active people don’t become atheists. Even in college. The college hookup culture has turned colleges into free whore houses, a randy man’s impossible dream. But even these men, and certainly their free whores, are not happy atheists. They’re neither atheists nor happy. Satisfying their sexual hunger is not satisfying their spiritual hunger any more than it did for St. Augustine. It looks as if God isn’t a poor substitute for sex but sex is a poor substitute for God.

But let’s be honest, among all the substitutes for God, sex is a pretty good one. And that’s because it’s a kind of icon of God. Eros is an image of agape. And the love between the sexes is an image or icon of the love between the persons of the Trinity. Only very good things can become addictions and idolatries. No one gets addicted to paper clips or worships mud. You can’t make a religion out of washing machines. But you can make one out of sex.
In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

Sex is close to religion because the ultimate end and center and point of all true religion is a spiritual marriage to God. That’s what we are designed for, that’s the only thing that will keep us in unbored ecstasy for ever. That’s what the Bible says. The last event in human history, at the end of the Apocalypse, is the marriage between the Lamb and His bride, Christ and His Church, God and man. That’s the end, point, purpose, highest value, greatest good, meaning, consummation and perfection of human life.

Why is sex such a thrill? Because it’s one of the few things in life that’s like that. It’s literally an ecstasy – the word means “standing-outside-yourself”, self-forgetfulness, self-transcendence, the overcoming of that hidden inner loneliness that every one of us brings into the world with that wonderful and terrible little word “I”. The “I” is restless until it becomes a “We”. And ultimately, that’s because God is a “We”.
It’s not the physical excitement that’s the greatest excitement in sex, it’s the personal excitement of knowing that this other person has accepted you into his or her inner sanctum, body and soul. It’s the intimacy, the oneness, the we-ness, when we know that the one we love loves us, when the two streams of loving and being loved meet like two beams of light becoming one, or two rivers of volcanic lava blending. The two really do become one, and paradoxically, in that one moment when they are the most totally lost in each other, each one discovers the deepest secret of his and her own individuality. At what other moment do lovers attain the peak of their individual fulfillment if not at that moment when they are the most totally lost in each other? Why does that happen? Because that’s what God is: and that’s why that’s the ultimate law of life: the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, that that’s the only way it lives. You lose your life, and that’s the only way to find it. You give, and that’s the only way to receive. You forget yourself, and that’s the only way to find yourself. It’s a kind of mystical absentmindedness. You become the other, without ceasing to be yourself.

There are other peak experiences in life that can give you some of that thrill, that are similar to sex, but they are usually much weaker and rarer. Great music, for instance, or surfing a great wave. But God designed sex to be the #1 way. That’s why He didn’t design babies to come from listening to Beethoven or from hanging ten in the tube.

In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “No man can live without joy” (i.e. without ecstasy, which is much more than happiness, because happiness can be somewhat under your control and therefore boring, but joy is always a gift and a surprise). Aquinas continues: “No man can live without joy; that is why those who are deprived of true, spiritual joys, necessarily go over to carnal pleasures.” The origin of the Sexual Revolution is religious. The Revolution could not have happened without the loss of true religion, the loss of spiritual joy, the loss of religious passion, the passionate love of God. The Revolution could not have happened without that, and also without the Pill, of course, which allows us to have sex without consequences and lifelong responsibilities. We have given up the two deepest, longest, greatest joys, the eternity-long love of God and the lifelong love of spouse and family and children, the two joys that come from the most total self-giving, the radical adventure of holding back nothing; and we’ve given these up these two great dramatic things for what? For the shallower, temporary, smaller pleasures that are so small because they have to hold back something, hold back total self-giving which includes fertility and family and future and commitment. These are crazy adventures. What a crazy adventure kids are! Having fits is less crazy than having kids. And we are bored and therefore unhappy because we are hardwired for the all-or-nothing, wild, total romance and all we find is some cool, controlled kicks.
So we lie. We pretend we are happy. Our most basic social liturgy is “How are you?” And the answer has to be “Fine,” even if your dog just died, your mother in law is coming to live with you forever, your kids think you’re a dork, and your wife is collecting the phone numbers of divorce lawyers. We’re all fine.

If we’re all fine, how come the suicide rate for teenagers rose 5000 per cent between 1950 and 1990? What could possibly be a more unarguable index of increasing unhappiness than that?

And how does Jesus Christ answer that? What does Christ have to do with the Sexual Revolution and its causes and its consequences? Everything. Because Christ alone gives us intimacy with God, and that’s the thing the Sexual Revolution is looking for but doesn’t know it. As Chesterton said, When the adulterer knocks on the door of the brothel, he’s really looking for a cathedral.

Therefore Christ alone is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Because nobody else gives us intimacy with God.
What I’ve said will strike some of you as bizarre. How dare I bring these two things together, Christ and sex? I must bring them together, because they are the two most passionate things in our lives, and because they both are revelations of the same God, the God of love.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths. How important is this response? As important as the Sexual Revolution. The importance of St. George depends on the importance of the dragon. The importance of Dr. Von Helsing depends on the importance of Dracula.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths.

And how important is the dragon, or the Dracula of the Sexual Revolution? Well, that depends on how important the family is, for exactly the same reason: because the Revolution is doing a Dracula on the family.

And how important is the family? It is only the foundation for all human society, and the source of the greatest human happiness (and, when messed up, the greatest human unhappiness), because it is the image of God. God is not a lonely individual. God is a family.

I think the family is even more important to God than doctrinal orthodoxy, because the family is the very image and presence of God among us. Islam and Mormonism are both theological heresies, but they are multiplying faster than Christianity, and God is blessing them because Mormons and Muslims today are much more faithful than Christians are to their families, to sexual morality, to marriage, and to procreation.

Muslims tried to conquer Christian Europe for 13 centuries with the sword, and failed; they are succeeding now with a far more powerful weapon: mothers. They are having children and families, and Christians aren’t. Therefore God is giving them Europe because they deserve it and we don’t.

This is outrageous because neither Muhammad nor Joseph Smith is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Christ is. He does not just teach the Big Picture, as the Pope does; He IS the big picture. He does not just teach us the Word of God about sex, he IS the Word of God about sex. He does not merely teach the spiritual marriage, He IS the spiritual marriage. He is the whole meaning and end and point and consummation of sex, and of our whole lives, in this world and in the next. He is the Mind of God, He is the inventor of sex the icon and the mediator of the Heavenly ecstasy, the mystical marriage, of which it is the icon. To know Him is to know the meaning of all things. Outside of Him, we do not know God, or ourselves, or the meaning of life, or the meaning of death, or the meaning of sex.

There is more than that to say about a Christian anthropology and about a Christian philosophy of sex. Many more things than this are needed. But nothing less.

 





A Direct Descendant of Darwin Becomes a Catholic: Laura Keynes

30 11 2013

I’m a Direct Descendant of Darwin…and a Catholic by Laura Keynes

“Are you related to the economist?” people sometimes ask when they see my surname. I explain that, yes, John Maynard Keynes is my great-great-uncle—his brother Geoffrey married Margaret Darwin, my great-grandmother. “So you’re related to Darwin too?” Yes, he’s my great-great-great grandfather. Eyes might fall on the cross around my neck: “And you’re a Christian?” Yes, a Catholic. “How does a Darwin end up Catholic?”
The question genuinely seems to puzzle people. After all, Darwin ushered in a new era of doubt with his theory of evolution, and the Bloomsbury Group, of which Keynes was a part, influenced modern attitudes to feminism and sexuality. How can I be a product of this culture, and yet Catholic? The implication is that simple exposure to my ancestors’ life work should have shaken me out of my backwards error.
I’m a product of what Noel Annan called “the intellectual aristocracy”, the web of kinship uniting British intellectuals over the 18th to 20th centuries. In effect, a few families—united by location, shared values, and shared academic interests—enjoyed each others’ company and found spouses within a network of extended family and friends. That in itself creates a culture, and the culture of the “intellectual aristocracy” reflects its origins in freethinking dissent during the British Enlightenment: rational, scientific, academic, agnostic. Certainly this describes my immediate family circle, numbering several Fellows of the Royal Society, a Nobel Prize-winning physiologist, some notable academics, and one “Distinguished Supporter” of the British Humanist Association.
The BHA likes to play up the intellectual credentials of its supporters: it implies intelligent people reject religion. My family represents, in microcosm, the kind of society we should be heading towards, according to the general narrative of Enlightenment philosophy: as we all become more educated, more enlightened by the power of reason, religion should decline. Among my family members religion is seen as an anachronism at best, a pernicious form of tyranny at worst. So where do I get it from?
My mother converted to Catholicism shortly after I was born, having been Anglican prior to that. My parents’ marriage was a mismatch of personalities and values. It was annulled soon after I came along. My mother worked full-time as a single mother, while raising my brother and me in the Faith, attending Mass at Blackfriars in Cambridge. Fortunately, she remained on good terms with my father and the extended Keynes family. If there was any sense in which they saw my Catholic upbringing as indoctrination, or “child abuse” in the way Richard Dawkins has characterized it, I had no inkling of that, except perhaps once when my father asked me what sins a 10-year-old could possibly have to confess. He was a near contemporary of Christopher Hitchens at the Leys School, and a product of the same cultural forces that formed Hitchens’s brand of atheism.
By the time I was in my teens my mother had become a Buddhist. My brother rejected any form of organised religion that contravened his ethic of autonomy. My only link to the Church came through school, St Mary’s, Cambridge, which I left at 16 for college. Away from any contact with the Church, secular values prevailed and I drifted into agnosticism. It wasn’t until my mid to late 20s, while studying for a doctorate in philosophy at Oxford University, that life gave me cause to reassess those values. Relationships, feminism, moral relativism, the sanctity and dignity of human life: experience put them all under my scrutiny.
By this point Dawkins had sparked “the God debate” with The God Delusion, and my great-great-great grandfather’s theory of evolution by natural selection was being used to support the New Atheism. Aware that Darwin himself said, “Agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind” and “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent theist and an evolutionist”, I followed the debate carefully. Did evidence for evolution necessarily imply atheism?
I was raised to know the evidence. In my grandparents’ home, scientific books and journals sit alongside fossils and family photos. Darwin scholarship is an ever-present topic of conversation at the dinner table. Visiting scholars point out the physical similarity between various family members and the man himself; one observed that Darwin and I share an identical mole on the upper left side of our noses, the exact same spot. Did this mean I had to be, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “dancing to the music of my DNA”?
I read central texts on both sides of the debate and found more to convince me in the thoughtful and measured responses of Alister McGrath and John Cornwell, among others, than in the impassioned prose of Hitchens et al. New Atheism seemed to harbor a germ of intolerance and contempt for people of faith that could only undermine secular Humanist claims to liberalism. Moreover, it could not adequately account for the problem of morality, discussed by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, without recourse to an inherently contradictory argument.
Conflicts, tensions, irresolutions, contradictions: such inconsistencies can be enormously productive for a philosophical mind seeking to understand how and why arguments are undermined. They lead us to truth. If atheism’s claim to the intellectual high ground is bolstered by my ancestor’s characteristic ability to explore and analyse inconsistencies in the evidence, that same family characteristic led me towards a skeptical assessment of what can and can’t be known absolutely. My doctoral thesis concerned epistemology, a branch of philosophy relating to the nature and scope of knowledge, and empiricism, which emphasizes the role of evidence and experience in the formation of ideas. In its concern with how we “make sense” of things—how abstract reasoning is based in bodily sense experience necessarily shaped by physical laws of nature—I apprehended an echo of the Catholic imagination.
Catholicism’s emphasis on physical devotions, enjoyed with childish simplicity when I was little, now made perfect sense. Having been “inside” Catholicism as a child I could choose it afresh with a mature and robust understanding of its role and teaching. I was, in fact, more free to choose than if I had been raised to discern faith—as secular Humanists would have it—at an age of reason.
My journey back to faith was as much a movement of the heart as a thoroughgoing intellectual inquiry. It had to be both: if my ancestors’ lives trouble faith then as their descendant I couldn’t but confront the issues head on. That I freely chose to be a Catholic after much thought and analysis, and wasn’t brainwashed into it, baffles my friends and family alike. I overheard one comment: “But she seemed like such an intelligent girl.” So when people ask “A Darwin and a Catholic?” what they’re saying is that I confound expectations. They expect an understanding of science and philosophy to be incompatible with religious belief. Inevitably, that makes me a target and people want to argue. It can feel unpleasant and unsought but abdicating responsibility for answering those difficult questions is not an option for a baptized Christian.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire,” said St. Catherine of Siena. I happen to be a Darwin, a Keynes, and a Catholic—and I can’t pretend not to be any one of those things. I can only embrace my calling in its complexity, and use what I’ve been given to help others.

Written by Laura Keynes
Laura Keynes was born in London and grew up in Cambridge. In 1996 she was judged a WH Smith Young Writer of the Year by Ted Hughes. She then won a full scholarship to study at University College in Oxford University, where she earned her Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in 2010. She now works as a critic and freelance writer in Cambridge. She’s reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement, The Observer, Standpoint Magazine, and The Tablet, and she’s currently working on her first book.





15 Ways to Encourage Your Husband by Betty Beguiles

29 11 2013

15 Ways to Encourage Your Husband by Betty Beguiles

Lately things have been a little tense at home. Nothing serious but we’ve had our fair share of worries and stressors. I’d like to be able say that I’ve walked through this trying period with grace, humility and faith but the truth is that when I get stressed, I get controlling. I want to fix, fix, fix; instruct, instruct, instruct; and boss, boss, boss. My motives are pure–I only want to stop the suffering–but the way I go about it leaves (more than) a little something to be desired.

The problem with my approach is that it presumes that I am smarter than everyone else; it presumes that I have all the answers; and it presumes that everyone else is stupid. That’s right, I said it: it presumes that everyone else is stupid–including my husband who I’m afraid bears the brunt of this domineering (born-of-fear) attitude.

While I know that my actions don’t reflect my true feelings or opinions (which, if they could speak, would tell you that I think I have the most awesome husband on the face of the earth), the message they send is harmful nonetheless. My actions imply that I don’t think my husband has a handle on the situation; that he’s not up to the task; and that I’d better step in and assume control of the ship before it sinks and we all drown.

(Did I mention that I also get a bit melodramatic when under pressure?)

The truth is that it is I who would be lost without him and his wisdom. He is my rock, my safe haven, and my solace. This is what I actually want to communicate. It just comes out all wrong when I start to panic. What’s up with that?

Sometimes I worry that he can’t say the same about me for so often when he approaches me to share his burdens my response is to correct and advise, rather than to comfort and console. I want to offer him a secure place to lay down his armor, rest, and be vulnerable but how can he when he knows that I will most likely respond by showering him with unsolicited advice?

Maybe I’m exaggerating. Perhaps my husband will read all this and object but my heart tells me I could do better and more and so I thought I might create a little list of 15 ways that I can support and encourage my husband…

• Compliment him on his strengths and achievements and acknowledge his victories.
• Create a peaceful atmosphere within our home. Make it a place that he can lay down his burdens and rest easy.
• Pray for him. Reread The Power of a Praying Wife.
• Write him love letters. Make sure he knows how absolutely swoon-worthy I find him to be.
• Speak well of him to friends and family. It wouldn’t hurt if he accidentally overheard from time to time, either.
• When he stumbles, respond with mercy, compassion and encouragement.
• Encourage him to dream big and find ways to support those dreams.
• Try not to give feedback on every single decision he makes.
• Ask him for his opinion and guidance. Make sure he knows how much I value his opinion.
• Be affectionate. Don’t be shy about communicating how much I desire him.
• Make sure he has the time to do the things he loves and to pursue his passions.
• Apologize for things I’ve done in the past that have hurt him.
• Thank him for all his hard work and many sacrifices.
• Don’t bring up past failures or hurts or rehash old fights. Truly forgive and forget.
• Have faith in him and let him lead.

 





VIDEO Fighting the New Drug (2’25”)

22 11 2013


We need to talk about pornography. Wait, don’t go. This is important. You see, pornography affects all of us.
It’s not a question of if you get exposed, but when. So what, right? Some people say it’s not a big deal.
They’re wrong. Viewing pornography changes your brain. That’s right, it actually CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
When you see pornography your brain is over-exposed with chemicals, the same chemicals that are released with hard drugs. They make you come back for more. Overtime your brain starts to rewire itself.
And it doesn’t take long until you crave it. You have to see more. You’re addicted.

And that ADDICTION takes over your life. It takes you away from your friends, your family, everything you love.
Addiction doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t think about your future. It just wants to be satisfied.

Now we know what you’re thinking, “It won’t happen to me.” Maybe you’re right, but what if you’re wrong?
Why take a chance? Get the facts about pornography. Fight the New Drug.

 





There Is Indeed A God: Philipino Journalist Cheats Death by ERWIN TULFO

13 11 2013

There Is Indeed A God: Philipino Journalist Cheats Death by ERWIN TULFO

Though I go to church every Sunday and believe in God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints, I do not consider myself a religious man or a devout Catholic.
However, my experience last Friday while I was on coverage in Palo, Leyte during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda made me a firm believer, or shall I say, reinforced my faith that God and the Blessed Mother truly exist.
In my 25 years as a journalist (and I have covered wars and natural disasters here and abroad), never have I seen death staring me in the face.
I and my TV news crew, Jerico Javier, my segment producer, cameraman Levi Duriano and his assistant, Teddy Balanza, were on a rented van and were on our way to Tacloban City from Palo when “Yolanda” landed in Leyte that morning.
We were cruising the highway near the beach when a big tree fell in front of our van, forcing our driver to make a u-turn and try to find another route as the wind started to pick up.
But as we sped off to another road, a big acacia tree blocked our path. The strong wind seemed to lift our vehicle in the air. We decided to take cover on an old government building in the area.
However, it was too late to get inside, so we just sat it out on the northern wall of the building facing the Pacific Ocean. Trees in front of us began to tumble one by one like dominoes and the roofs of the houses nearby started flying all over the place.
Minutes later, the wind changed direction and started whipping us in the face so we decided to take shelter on the eastern section of the building. We can now hear the roar of the wind as vehicles were tossed in the air, including a bulldozer.
Suddenly, we can see water coming from the ocean heading inland like a tsunami. In less than minute, we were waist deep in seawater.
Since we had nowhere else to run and it appeared that we would either drown or be blown away by Yolanda’s powerful winds, I prayed to Jesus with these simple words, “cover us Lord with your most Precious Blood that You have shed, and protect us with the painful wounds inflicted upon You.”
Then I kissed the brown scapular which I have been wearing and whispered to The Lady of Mt. Carmel “Mama Mary protect us.”
As soon as we rushed into the building, the gate that we used to cover ourselves with from the strong winds was literally ripped into pieces. The concrete light post broke in half and fell where we were standing seconds ago as the sea and flood waters merged reaching as high as eight feet.
An hour later, the strong winds stopped and the waters subsided. But the area where we were was reduced to a wasteland.
Though we lost our equipment, including my cellular phones and my clothes inside my backpack, we were all thankful that we were alive. It seemed as if some unseen hands sheltered us from harm.
As we boarded the Air Force plane from Tacloban City going to Cebu last Saturday, I realized one thing. If it is your time to go, you can’t stop it. However, if you ask Him to put it on hold, he may just do that provided that it will be for your good and that of your loved ones and above all, for His greater glory. After all, he owns our lives.
Thank you Jesus. And thanks Mama Mary for always being a mother to us all.
http://manilatimes.net/there-is-indeed-a-god/52046/etulfo2011@yahoo.com

 





The Poor Boy and the Rich Lady

31 10 2013

The Poor Boy and the Rich Lady

A little boy was sitting at the doorstep of a splendid mansion in a great city; he was cold and hungry, and his clothes were only rags. He was an orphan, for both his parents were dead, and he had been wandering over the country without a friend or a home. He hoped that someone would offer him a crust of bread, or allowed him to sleep under the stable.

As he was sitting there tired and weary, and tears running down his cheeks, the door opened and the lady of the house appeared. She was on the point of telling him to go away ; but when she saw his sad face, and heard his sorrowful tale, she had compassion, took him into her house, and gave him some food.

While she stood watching him, a thought suddenly came into her mind. “Would you like to stay with me?” she said. “I think you would be happier here than wandering about without a home.”

The little boy looked up and could not imagine what he had heard. So, she asked him a second time, and he threw himself on the ground at her feet, and for some moments could not speak, so great was his joy.

The lady was pleased with the boy, and in a short time adopted him as her child, and made him the heir of her great wealth; and the boy, in gratitude loved her tenderly all his life.

But God has done more for you than that. He created you and made you His child in this world, and has made you also the heir of eternal treasures in Heaven. Is He, then, not worthy of all your love?

 








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