A BLESSING FOR FATHERS, 2014

A Blessing for Fathers…
We bless you and we praise you, God of our Fathers,                                                You are the God of Adam, father of the human family.                                                     You are the God of Abraham, our Father in faith,                                              who was ready and willing to give up everything to be faithful to you.                               You are the God of Isaac, who was born of laughter and old age, and the God of Jacob,         whose clever trick gained an inheritance for twelve tribes of sons and daughters,                You are the God of Jesse, from whose loins a nation sprang,                                               a sturdy family tree of monarchs, prophets, and priests.                                               You are the God and Father of Israel, your child whom you love with all  heart.
You are the God of Zechariah, who fathered St. John the Baptist and taught him the Torah,                and of Joachim, the grandfather of Jesus.                                                         You are the God of Joseph, who loved and raised Jesus as his own.                                           You are the God and Father of Jesus, and our Father in heaven, too: Holy is your name!
We thank you, God, for the gift of our fathers, for grandfathers, and godfathers and fathers-in-law, too. Send your Holy Spirit upon our fathers, in whose laps we were cradled, on whose knees we were bounced, by whose hands we were fed, instructed, and at times, corrected,                         in whose company we learned to work and play and pray,                                                      at whose side we hear your word and celebrate your mysteries.
Heal their pains and disappointments. Forgive all that needs to be forgiven.                          Give them the good that they have given others.                                                 Welcome into your arms those who have died.
Fill this world, O God, with a father’s love!
We ask this through your son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray to you as                          He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,                                               who is Father of the poor, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Monsignor Jack

No. 11 "Blushing Lilies" - J.K.Park

FIRST THINGS – Success Is Not Dignity

THE  PUBLIC SQUARE  –  First Things Editorial Pages

By R. R. Reno

Success Is Not Dignity

1           Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam is worried about America. He should be. As Charles Murray put it in the title of his important book, we’re coming apart. (I wrote about Coming Apart in the March 2012 issue: “The One Percent.”) Putnam’s latest book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, tells pretty much the same story, but he slices the American population differ­ently. Putnam divides society into the college-educated over and against those with a high-school diploma or less. This is a rough but useful distinction between today’s haves and have-nots. The evidence of a growing divide is clear. And not just clear, but familiar to anyone who has been paying attention over the past couple of decades.

Money? The less educated make less money and are less wealthy, and they’re much more likely to feel finan­cially stressed. Divorce? It’s twice as frequent among the less educated. Illegitimacy? Nearly seven times as likely. Single parenthood? Same. Rates of imprisonment? Same. Unemployment? Same. Church? The less educated are less likely to attend. He doesn’t give statistics on drug use, alcoholism, diabetes, and other dysfunctions, but, again, they also affect those lower down on the social scale far more than those higher up.

In his widely read book Bowling Alone (2000), Putnam popularized the notion of social capital, meaning the so­cial assets we have that help us navigate through life. In Our Kids, he looks at data on social trust, breadth of so­cial networks, even the number of friends. One does not need a degree in sociology to anticipate that a population more likely to be imprisoned, use drugs, divorce, and have children out of wedlock will lack social capital. And this is in fact what his research shows.

Putnam is too politically correct to state the blunt truth bluntly, but the details of Our Kids say it again and again: College-educated people are largely functional, while less-educated people are increasingly dysfunctional. There are two Americas. We’re coming apart.

Putnam reports on the implications of the Great Diver­gence for children. It will come as no surprise to readers that the children of dysfunctional people tend to have a hard time in life, while the children of functional peo­ple tend to have an advantage. Dysfunctional parents give their children less time and are more likely to ne­glect and even abuse them. The children live in run-down neighborhoods that have little sense of community. They do more poorly in schools that have less rigorous course-work and more discipline problems. They’re less likely to go on to college and are vastly less likely to graduate. They have more difficulty finding steady employment.

Put simply, and again in a politically incorrect way, the children of dysfunctional people tend to be dysfunctional, which means kids at the bottom of society are only too likely to stay at the bottom.

Our Kids is also full of stories, both of kids fortunate enough to be born to college-educated parents who con­form to the neo-bourgeois standards of the upper middle class, and of those born into the increasingly large un­derclass. The differences are stark. The suffering of those born in bad circumstances anguishes any sensitive reader. It certainly anguished me.

Yet I was also irked, though not for the reasons others have objected to Putnam’s analysis. Some reviewers on the left have attacked Putnam for failing to zero in on the way in which “financial capitalism” and the selfishness of the rich is at the root of all these problems. Where is class politics in this book on class? Those on the right have complained he does not properly blame the deregulation of sex and the general trend to moral relativism that has de­pleted the social capital of the poor. Still others complain that Putnam paints too rosy a picture of 1950s America, a period of relative middle-class equality from which he thinks we have fallen, downplaying the the racism and sexism of that era.

But I did not have these criticisms in mind as I read Our Kids. By and large, Putnam strikes the right balance. It’s absurd to think that the dra­matic economic changes wrought by economic globalization (or “financial capitalism,” if you prefer) haven’t eroded working-class culture. Creative de­struction may promote economic growth, but it can be hell on actual communities. It’s also ridiculous to deny that feminism and the sexual revolution exploded the social norms that once brought order and dignity to working-class communities. One of the greatest spiritual failures of my lifetime has been the self-righteous refusal of feminists, gay activists, and assorted multiculturalists to acknowl­edge the heavy price poor and vulnerable people have paid for their cherished freedoms.

No, I was not irked by Putnam’s refusal to identify the “bad guys.” Instead, what troubled me was his implicit view of human flourishing. We read that bad family back­grounds limit “one’s ultimate economic success,” and that the growing dysfunction of the working class threatens the American dream of “upward socioeconomic mobil­ity.” What do the doleful charts about illegitimacy and other pathologies tell us? “More single parents means less upward mobility,” while “affluent neighborhoods boost academic success.” Our biggest problem is an “opportunity gap.”

I’m all for upward mobility. It’s surely a boon for chil­dren to advance further in education, make more money, and live in nicer houses than their parents did. It makes the inevitable inequalities of our society (any society) more palatable when the rising tide lifts all boats.

But to speak of “success” and upward mobility in the context of the lives of today’s growing underclass seems almost obscenely narrow and impoverished. Those who live in the dysfunctional world of today’s poor and en­dure its misery suffer from a moral and spiritual poverty more primitive than a lack of “opportunity.” Economic and academic “success” are upper-middle-class preoccu­pations. A good college, a rewarding career? That’s what we want for our kids, to be sure. But this sort of focus is largely a luxury. And like so many luxuries, it can seduce and bewitch us.

any of the subjects interviewed by Putnam’s team see as much. Andrew is an eighteen­ year-old in Bend, Oregon, who has every advantage. His father is financially successful. His mom stayed at home during his childhood. He went to a good school. He’s off to college and undoubtedly hopes to be successful. But he senses that climbing the ladder isn’t of first importance, and his life goal isn’t “success.” He gestures toward something more basic: “The first thing that would be good for me would be if I could build a home and have a family. Hopefully I will meet somebody that’s like my best friend, and then give my kids close to the same as what I had.” And what did he get that he wants to give to his children? “My dad always reminds me every day how much my mom and dad love me.” This is something very precious, and it’s not upward mobility.

David is roughly the same age as Andrew. His father is in prison. His mother moved out when he was an infant. Both have revolving-door relationships with alcoholic and drug-addicted partners. Half-brothers and half-sisters are born and neglected. His girlfriend gets pregnant, leaves him, and moves in with a drug addict. He feels he’s reached a dead end. In his darkness he does not think of “success.” Instead, he tries to take care of his neglected half-siblings, and his daughter. “I love being a dad,” he says. Despite having gotten next to nothing from those who brought him into the world, he too wants to give.

Elijah is a young black man in Atlanta. His childhood was brutal, painful. His life has been violent. He says, “I just love beating up somebody.” Yet he does not come across as a monster, because he sees himself clearly, and he does not like what he sees. “I don’t want to go that route now.” He goes to work and to church, “just trying to be a good all-around American citizen.” He seeks decency. Again, this is a precious thing, and it’s not “success.”

I don’t wish to denigrate Putnam’s concern. As its title indicates, Our Kids is a book written to call us—the well-to-do, the upper third—to see the poor as fellow citizens whose burdens we should share. It’s the right call to issue. But utilitarian, individualistic, meritocratic assumptions dominate his analysis.

To a great degree this impoverishment is forced on him by contemporary social science. It can’t see social institutions like marriage, family, neighborliness, and ed­ucation as goods in themselves. They are goods because they have positive utility functions, which are cashed out in terms of how conducive they are to “success.” Read to your kids at night because it will help their brains develop more fully!

As I read the many gut-wrenching stories in Our Kids of poor young Americans who live without stability, without anything resembling a home life, without adults who are responsible enough to take care of them—without love—it became more and more painful to see Putnam worrying that all this means that, to an ever-greater extent, not ev­erybody has an equal opportunity “to get ahead.”

Being poor at any time and in any place has al­ways been hard. But for many in the past, per­haps most, it could be decent and dignified. Putnam’s own stories of Port Clinton, his home­town, show us as much. He tells of Jesse, a black schoolmate he had growing up. Jesse’s parents had fled the brutal racist system in the South. Neither was educated beyond primary school. Both did menial work. Theirs was a hard life we wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet, two genera­tions ago, they gave Jesse what Andrew and David want to give. They embodied the decency Elijah seeks.

Today, self-giving and decency are remote ideals for many poor people in America. Basic human dignity seems out of reach for those on the bottom of society. Raised in an environment of moral chaos, David lacks the discipline and self-possession—lacks the basic context of family sta­bility—to give himself to those whom he loves. This is the great crisis of our time, not the lack of upward mobility.

I don’t want to discount the role of poverty. Being be­hind on credit-card payments, losing your job because your car breaks down and you can’t get to work on time, feeling as though the world of opportunity has passed you by—all these and more can be hammer blows on the soul. If rich people are more likely to divorce when a spouse loses a job or piles up debt, the relentless financial battering the poor endure is surely a contributing factor to their dysfunctional lives. But we need to be clear about our brother’s burdens if we are to carry them. Today, the poor lack social capital first and foremost, not financial capital. They are spiritu­ally impoverished more than educationally disadvantaged.

Economic and educational reforms may be necessary. But they won’t address the deeper problem. We have to face the dark fact that over the past fifty years we’ve waged a cultural war on the weak. In the 1950s, when Putnam was growing up, a too common racism dogged the life of his classmate Jesse. But the larger culture supported Jesse’s parents in their main goal, which was to raise their son to be a dignified man: sober, law-abiding, honest, hard­working, faithful to his wife, devoted to his children, and God-fearing. That’s no longer true.

Or at least no longer true for those born poor. As Putnam points out, today’s America has become rigorous­ly segregated. The functional people insulate themselves and their children from the dysfunctional people. Im­bued with a therapeutic ethos that softens the rigors they impose on themselves and their children (drug use and sexual license are “unhealthy,” not wrong) and cowed by multiculturalism, today’s rich won’t speak up for a com­mon culture. Instead, they quietly and covertly pass on their social capital to their children in gated communities and class-segregated schools that celebrate diversity and “inclusion” while forming the young people into the rigid molds of the meritocracy.

0n occasion I’ve spoken up at conferences and meetings, arguing that the prefer­ential option for the poor today means social conservatism (again, not only, but certainly at least). It means policies that punish divorce and reward marriage. It means getting serious about limiting pornography and resisting the temptation to legalize drugs. It means affirming gen­der roles that encourage men to act like gentlemen and women like ladies. It means having the courage to use the word “sin.” Most of all it means fighting against the One Percent’s almost complete conscription of the cultural conversation to serve its own interests. (What could be more One Percent than gay marriage and efforts to break the “glass ceiling”?)

The reaction is almost always one of horror. I’m “blam­ing the victim” or “imposing my white male values.” I’ve come to see that it’s not the victims that most progressives care about. The well-to-do like the way the therapeutic, nonjudgmental culture works for them. It keeps the public domain open and flexible and forgiving, which is conve­nient for those of us who have the social capital that allows us to keep our footing when we screw up. Why should the functional people who succeed today give this up?

The rich almost always want to keep as much of what they have as they can. So perhaps what I need to advocate is a more progressive view of our cultural politics. Just as we have a progressive tax system committed to redis­tribution, we should have a progressive cultural system in which the meritocracy that now rules has to accept a higher rate of moral rigor so that we can redistribute its benefits to the rest of society.

First Things, R. R. Reno, May-June Issue, Page 2-5.

 

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WISDOM FROM THE KNOM RADIO MISSION

WISDOM FROM THE KNOM RADIO MISSION

Our Father, when we long for life without trials and work without difficulties,
remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and
diamonds are made under pressure.
With stout hearts may we see in every mishap an opportunity and
not give way to the pessimism that sees in every
opportunity a calamity…

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift, which is our reason for calling it “the present!””

Most of us will never do great things  but each of us can do small things in a great way.

Do not fear tomorrow. God is already there.

YOUR LOVE FOR GOD IS NO GREATER
THAN YOUR LOVE FOR THE LEAST IMPORTANT
PERSON YOU KNOW

Humans judge by the success of our efforts.
God looks at the efforts.

Life is like a game of tennis:
the player who serves well seldom loses.

Loving someone is seeing them the way God intended.

God, grant us the light of Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love and the radiance of Christmas, which is purity.

A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I feel it not. I believe in God even when He is silent.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

In God’s kingdom, the only way up is down. To become great in His kingdom, become the least – the servant of all.

He who wants milk should not sit on a stool in the middle of a pasture waiting for a cow to back up.

One of God’s arrangements is that, after winter, there should come beautiful spring and summer days. It happens every year. And it happens in every life.

There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.

Lord, let my actions be prayer in motion:  silent, effective, and born of love.

 

KNOM Radio Mission, P.O.Box 988, Nome, Alaska 99762; www.knom.org.

MISSOURI DURABLE POWER OF ATTTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE — WILL TO LIVE FORM

Missouri Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

Will to Live Form

I, __________________________________________________________, of

(name of principal)

Address:_____________________________________________________,

Home Telephone:_______________Work Telephone: _______________

hereby designate ____________________________________________

(name of attorney in fact)

Address ______________________________________________________

Home Telephone: _______________ Work Telephone: ______________

as my attorney in fact to make any health care decisions for me
as authorized in this declaration consistent with the
instructions below.

In the event the person I designate above is unable, unwilling or unavailable to act as my attorney in fact,
I hereby appoint the following persons (each to act alone and successively, in the order named):

A. ____________________________________________________________

(name of successor attorney in fact)

Address _______________________________________________________

Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________

B._____________________________________________________________

(name of second successor attorney in fact)

Address _______________________________________________________

Home Telephone:_______________ Work Telephone: ________________

as my successor attorney(s) in fact to make any health care decisions for me
as authorized in this document consistent with the instructions below.

GENERAL PRESUMPTION FOR LIFE

I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to make health care decisions consistent with my
general desire for the use of medical treatment that would preserve my life, as well as for the use of medical
treatment that can cure, improve, or reduce or prevent deterioration in, any physical or mental condition.
Food and water are not medical treatment, but basic necessities. I direct my health care provider(s) and
attorney in fact to provide me with food and fluids orally, intravenously, by tube, or by other means to the full extent necessary both to preserve my life and to assure me the optimal health possible.

I direct that medication to alleviate my pain be provided, as long as the medication is not used in order to
cause my death.

  • I direct that the following be provided:

 

  • the administration of medication;

 

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);

and

  • the performance of all other medical procedures, techniques, and technologies, including surgery,
    — all to the full extent necessary to correct, reverse, or alleviate life-threatening or health-impairing conditions, or complications arising from those conditions.

 

  • I also direct that I be provided basic nursing care and procedures to provide comfort care.
  • I reject, however, any treatments that use an unborn or newborn child, or any tissue or organ of an unborn or newborn child, who has been subject to an induced abortion. This rejection does not apply to the use of tissues or organs obtained in the course of the removal of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • I also reject any treatments that use an organ or tissue of another person obtained in a manner that causes, contributes to, or hastens that person’s death.
  • The instructions in this document are intended to be followed even if suicide is alleged to be attempted at some point after it is signed.
  • I request and direct that medical treatment and care be provided to me to preserve my life without
    discrimination based on my age or physical or mental disability or the “quality” of my life. I reject any action or omission that is intended to cause or hasten my death.
  • I direct my health care provider(s) and attorney in fact to follow the above policy, even if I am judged to be incompetent.
  • During the time I am incompetent, my attorney in fact, as named above, is authorized to make medical
    decisions on my behalf, consistent with the above policy, after consultation with my health care provider(s),
    utilizing the most current diagnoses and/or prognosis of my medical condition, in the following situations with the written special conditions.

WHEN MY DEATH IS IMMINENT

A. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury, and I will die imminently–meaning that a reasonably
prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical
conditions involved, would judge that I will live only a week or less even if lifesaving treatment or care is
provided to me–the following may be withheld or withdrawn:

(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

WHEN I AM TERMINALLY ILL

B. Final Stage of Terminal Condition. If I have an incurable terminal illness or injury and even though death is
not imminent I am in the final stage of that terminal condition–meaning that a reasonably prudent physician,
knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved,
would judge that I will live only three months or less, even if lifesaving treatment or care is provided to me–the following may be withheld or withdrawn:

(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

C. OTHER SPECIAL CONDITIONS:

(Be as specific as possible; SEE SUGGESTIONS.):

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

(Cross off any remaining blank lines.)

IF I AM PREGNANT

D. Special Instructions for Pregnancy. If I am pregnant, I direct my health care provider(s) and health care
representative(s) to use all lifesaving procedures for myself with none of the above special conditions applying
if there is a chance that prolonging my life might allow my child to be born alive. I also direct that lifesaving
procedures be used even if I am legally determined to be brain dead if there is a chance that doing so might
allow my child to be born alive. Except as I specify by writing my signature in the box below, no one is
authorized to consent to any procedure for me that would result in the death of my unborn child.

___________________________________________________________

If I am pregnant, and I am not in the final stage of a terminal condition as defined above, medical
procedures required to prevent my death are authorized even if they may result in the death of my unborn
child provided every possible effort is made to preserve both my life and the life of my unborn child.

___________________________________________________________

Signature

___________________________________________________________

THIS IS A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY AND THE AUTHORITY OF MY ATTORNEY IN
FACT SHALL NOT TERMINATE IF I BECOME DISABLED OR INCAPACITATED OR IN THE EVENT
OF LATER UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHETHER I AM DEAD OR ALIVE.

This power of attorney becomes effective upon certification by two licensed physicians that I am
incapacitated and can no longer make my own medical decisions. The powers and duties of my attorney in fact
shall cease upon certification that I am no longer incapacitated. This determination of incapacity shall be
periodically reviewed by my attending physician and my attorney in fact.

I, ________________________________________________________, the principal,

(print name)

sign my name to this instrument this day of _______________ ________,

and being first duly sworn, do hereby declare to the undersigned authority
that I sign it willingly, that I execute it as my free and voluntary act
for the purposes therein expressed, and that I am eighteen years of age
or older, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence.

Date: ________________ __________________________________

(Signature)

State of Missouri )

) SS.

County of )

On this __________ day of ________________, 2________, before me personally
appeared , to me known to be the person described in and who executed
the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged that he or she executed the
same as his/her free act and deed.

Notary Public ______________________________________________

My commission expires: ___________________________

(Notary Seal)

Form Prepared 2001 – See Attorney General’s website to update this.

INSPIRATIONAL SPOTS, JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2005

Inspirational Spots, January & February 2005

  • Hallowed be Thy Name, not mine. Thy kingdom come, not mine. Thy will be done, not mine.
  • Can you feel God’s encouragement? Can you sense in creation or in the presence of loved ones,
    or just in your heart, that your Creator knows you and approves of you?
  • The right amount of light we receive doesn’t depend on the voltage in the lines. Usually,
    it’s the size of the bulb we use that makes the difference.
  • God has given us unlimited power through His Son. But we cannot give His Light to the world
    through small bulbs.
  • Without charity, without adequate time for worship, without a dedication to service,
    we have no right to expect great results.
  • We are the light of the world! Do we expect God to give us the light to illuminate the earth,
    but we’ve only plugged a 15-watt bulb into His power line?
  • A voyage of discovery involves not seeking new landscapes, but seeing with new eyes.
  • Because God loves you, you never stand alone. You can go beyond yourself.
    You can ask forgiveness of those you’ve hurt. You can care for the weak.
    You have the power to touch hearts with compassion. The power of God’s Love lies within you.
  • Love sees through a telescope, not a microscope.
  • There is nothing as strong as gentleness, or as gentle as true strength.

June 2005:

  • Hope is putting Faith to work when doubting would be easier.
  • Does someone in your life aggravate you? Does one of their habits frequently irritate you? Has a friend recently put you down? Does someone you know wish you harm? Jesus said an amazing thing: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Great and wonderful things happen when you do. It’s impossible to feel anger toward someone you’re praying for. God will improve your attitude and intensify your forgiveness.
  • We go through life collecting bricks and steel bars of sin, hurt and doubt. This world tells us that we’re free to collect these thing, so long as we’re not hurting anyone. But the reality is that these bricks and bars add up. They build a priso cell arond our soul, keeping us from others, keeping us from God. We can see great beauty beyond those walls with a surrender to the Peace of Christ.

July 2005:

  • Keep this thought handy to help brighten your day: God is absolutely, without a doubt, head-over-heels in love with you. He sends you flowers every spring, and a sunrise every morning. He could live anywhere in the universe. But he chose your heart.
  • Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If we add more worry, it can cut a deep channel through which all our other thoughts drain. Let your stream of worry trickle out of your mind — to God.
  • Time on your knees will improve your standing.
  • Remember the three R’s: Respect for yourself, regard for others and responsibility for all of your actions.
  • Nothing to be thankful for? Check your pulse!

Inspirational Spots – Christmas 2005 and  The conclusion of 2005

  • God of Love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of Your Word made flesh.
  • There must be some one to whom I could reach out, someone whose life I can bring a little Christmas joy.
  • Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to Your Word, that we may help bring Your Light into the darkness of waiting world.
  • Not just family or friends – someone else will be remembering. It would be a nice Christmas gift for Our Lord on His birthday.

Suggestions for a happy Christmas celebration:

  • Keep Christ in Christmas;
  • Pause to consider the immensity of God’s gift of Christ to humankind;
  • Be generous in giving to the needy;
  • Plans for the happiness of those who are outside of your family and friends;
  • Give gifts for the simple joy of sharing;
  • Be patient and understanding with those who bear a burden at Christmas;
  • Remember that just as Jesus the Christ is God’s Gift to us, we can make our celebration of His birth a gift to God.
  • Born in a stable. A choice He made. Simplicity and poverty. A choice no temporal power or influence would have ever suggested.
    A choice – God became man in a way no one would have ever guessed. Do you suppose He was trying to tell us something?
  • Dear God, help me see that this is not just another day. Open my eyes so I can clearly see the unique promise that this day holds. Open my mind so I can clearly understand the message and messengers You send my way. Open my heart so I may lovingly accept the challenges, blessings and surprises that You so lovingly will provide me today.

Taken from Station KNOM’s 4-page newsletter published each month

Become a supporter of Alaska Radio Mission – Station KNOM,  P.O. Box 988,  Nome, Alaska 99762

INSPIRATIONAL SPOTS, KNOM IN 2005

KNOM, Nome, Alaska,
Oldest Catholic Radio Stations in the U.S.

Inspirational Spots to November 2005

Samples of Inspirational Spots
used in the last three months of 2004
and the first six months of 2005:

  • How far you go in life depends on how tender you are with the young,
    how compassionate you are with the aged, how sympathetic you are with those who are striving,
    and how tolerant you are of both the weak and the strong.
    Because someday in life, you will have been all of them.
  • On this day: mend a quarrel. Dismiss a suspicion and replace it with trust.
  • Write a letter to someone who misses you. Encourage someone. Keep a promise.

THE NEW P0PE AS THEOLOGIAN

The New Pope as Theologian by Richard P. McBrien

“The New Pope As Theologian – I”


“In a recent article in Commonweal magazine (“The Church in Crisis: Pope Benedict’s Theological Vision,” 6/3/05), Father Joseph Komonchak of The Catholic University of America insists that there is a “deeper continuity in the new pope’s basic theological approach and vision” than some commentators have recognized.

Father Komonchak argues that Joseph Ratzinger’s theological stance before and during the Second Vatican Council did not subsequently change from progressive to conservative mainly because of student unrest at the University of Tubingen in 1968.

Biographies of the new pope do point out that the future pope left Tubingen for the more sedate atmosphere of Regensberg, where his priest-brother Georg was the cathedral choirmaster. Undoubtedly, Father Ratzinger’s decision to resign from his more prestigious professorship in Tubingen had something to do with the harassment he increasingly experienced from students there.

Komonchak situates the new pope’s theological vision in the context of the frequently-cited division between theologians who interpreted the conciliar renewal as primarily one of returning to the sources of Scripture, early Christian writings, and the dogmatic decrees of the first few ecumenical councils (an overall approach known in French as ressourcement), and other theologians who saw Vatican II and the theological and pastoral developments it inspired primarily in terms of church reform.
In Father Komonchak^s reading of the matter, Pope Benedict XVI did not later switch sides, as it were, abandoning his previous support of the council, where he had been a theological adviser to the late Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne, Germany, and before that a close collaborator of the influential Jesuit theologian, Karl Rahner.

The former Cardinal Ratzinger had been consistent in his view that the council was essentially a work of resourcement, of overcoming the limitations of the then-dominant neo-Scholastic theology by returning to the biblical, patristic, and doctrinal sources of the earliest Christian centuries.

What had upset him, Komonchak insists, was not the council as such but some of the developments that occurred after the council and in its name, particularly those affecting the Churchs’ liturgy.

Anyone familiar with my own writings (whether in this weekly column or in other venues) will not be surprised that, while I find Father Komonchak’s analysis very helpful indeed, I would not situate the matter in an either/or framework.

Authentic reform presupposes a return to the sources. True reformers, as the great Dominican theologian, Cardinal Yves Cougar, once reminded us, are those who call the Church not to a complete break with the past, but to a building upon the past in response to new theological and pastoral challenges.

Accordingly, it is not a matter of resourcement or reform, but of a resourcement that provides the foundation for ongoing reform, and of reform grounded in the authentic tradition of the Church rather than in one of the Church’s historical periods, as if frozen in time.

Impatience with neo-Scholasticism, Father Komonchak suggests, led the young theologian, Joseph Ratzinger, to “resist the nearly exclusive emphasis placed on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas,” which he found “too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made.” He “far preferred” the personalism of St. Augustine (d. 430) and the more ascetical approach of St. Bonaventure (d. 1274), himself a neo-Augustinian.

But what young Joseph Ratzinger seems to have opposed was not so much Aquinas’s “closed-in,” “mpersonal” theology as his readiness to seek common ground and enter into dialogue with the newly translated works of Aristotle and his Arabian commentators.

In his second dissertation, qualifying him to lecture as a theologian,the future pope showed how St. Bonaventure, a contemporary of Aquinas, set himself against this development. He continued to insist on the unity of Christian wisdom for which Christ was the center of all knowledge.

Father Komonchak acknowledges that “Bonaventure ended in an anti-Aristotelianism that came close to anti-intellectualism, and he was among those who urged ecclesiastical authorities to intervene and censure the Thomist position.”

This seemingly theoretical dispute came to a practical head at the Second Vatican Council, in the historic debate over the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes, “Joy and hope.”)

The division between the return-to-the-sources side and the reform side at Vatican II and beyond, Father Komonchak suggests, is really a division between those who regard the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium, “Light of nations”) as the key conciliar document and those who favor Gaudium et spes.

Again, however, it is not a matter of either/or, but of both/and. Either/or represents a sectarian vision; both/and, a Catholic one.

One assumes that the new pope’s theological vision is Catholic in the fullest sense of the word.”



“The New Pope As Theologian – II”


By the time this week’s column appears, more of the dust may have settled on the enforced editorial change at America magazine and additional information may have become available.

As of this moment, however, it seems clear that there had been pressure on the Jesuits, applied from both sides of the Atlantic – in the Vatican and among a handful of U.S. bishops – to correct perceived imbalances in the editorials and articles that have been published in the Jesuits’ highly respected weekly magazine over the past few years.

When the news first broke via an e-mailed press release from the America offices, those who had been completely out of the loop, including this writer, did not even suspect that Father Thomas Reese’s departure as editor-in-chief was other than voluntary.

But the word quickly spread as phone calls and e-mails from various media outlets began coming in. ] expressed surprise and astonishment when informed of the reports that Father Reese had indeed been sacked, as the British are fond of putting it.
I can think of no Catholic in the public sphere who is more moderate, more responsible, or more restrained in his judgments and statements than Father Thomas Reese. Indeed, he often bent over backwards, as it were, to avoid even the appearance of opposing official church teachings and policies.

But as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. For all of his care and judiciousness in educating the public about the Catholic Church, Father Reese reaped not a vote of thanks from church officials, but a pink slip.

Some years ago, one of the best-read columnists in the Catholic press, a prominent priest-sociologist, used to complain about clerical envy. If memory serves, the columnist was referring to the sentiments that many parish priests might have felt toward highly visible priests like himself – author of many books, popular on the lecture circuit, frequent guest on television, and oft-quoted in the press. There may well have been priests who would have liked to see him taken down a peg or two.

One suspects that there is at least some measure of clerical envy involved here. Father Reese has been one of the most public faces on the U.S. Catholic scene, not only as editor-in-chief of America magazine but also as an author of several books, a much sought-after source for major newspapers and magazines, and a frequent contributor to network and cable television programs. He was all over television during the month of April, from the time of Pope John Paul II’s final illness through the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

By any reasonable standard, Father Reese’s public comments have always been fair, informed, balanced, and consistently respectful of the Catholic tradition. The last adjective that few people would have attached to him was “controversial.”
But perhaps it wasn’t the “controversial” part that was most bothersome, but the “public” part. Why is it that, when the major media outlets need some objective and straightforward illumination of breaking developments in the Catholic Church, they seek out people like Father Reese rather than bishops?

There are two reasons. First, many bishops are uncomfortable with the media and limit their availability to carefully crafted press releases. Second, when bishops do speak to the media, they tend to be guarded to a fault. They engage in what media people call “spin.” One rarely if ever hears a fresh, personal opinion, much less a respectful question raised about a particular Vatican initiative or pronouncement.

A major exception was the response of some high-ranking members of the hierarchy – but not in the U.S. – to the document, Dominus Jesus, issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September, 2000.

Many people mistakenly charged that this document repudiated Vatican II’s teaching on salvation outside the Catholic Church. In that instance, however, there were bishops who, while defending the basic teaching of the document, openly criticized it for its tone and for its failure to incorporate important post-conciliar developments regarding ecumenism and relations with non-Christian religions.

Will any U.S. bishops or Father Reese’s brother Jesuits express their own concern about the meaning and impact of this latest action, which not only reflects upon the integrity of an individual Jesuit but also the Society of Jesus in the United States and one of its flagship publications?

Among the possible fallouts from this action are these two: first, the U.S. Catholic Church may lose one of its most credible and effective spokespersons with the capacity to explain and interpret developments in the Church to a wider public; and second, others like him may be less inclined to step into the breach.”


This essay, Part I and Part II, is provided by the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity. Please share it. Your comments and contributions are welcome. To be added to their mailing list write to: Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity; P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL 62222.

THE CHURCH AND CHANGE

The Church and Change

by Rev.Richard P. McBrien, Theologian; 9/05/05

“A few months ago, The New York Times Magazine published a cover-story on Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The article focused on various aspects of his life and political career, including his religious affiliation and convictions.

Senator Santorum is a Catholic, albeit of a particular kind. He attends Sunday Mass along with Justice Antonin Scalia and other prominent Catholics of similar orientation at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Virginia, where the liturgy is in Latin and the priest prays with his back to the congregation, just like it was in the days before the Second Vatican Council.
However, at 47 years of age today, Senator Santorum was only 4 years old when the Second Vatican Council opened in October, 1962, and only 7 when it adjourned in December, 1965.

He never attended a Catholic college or university, having received a B.A. in Political Science from Penn State in 1980, an M.B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

One of his fellow Catholic senators, Susan Collins of Maine, has referred to him as a Catholic missionary in the Senate. She occasionally attends the study group he organized to promote more knowledge of the Catholic faith. Only Republicans are invited.

One is tempted to ask if this is one of those cases of the blind leading the blind (with apologies to anyone offended by the politically incorrect usage). Indeed, there is a book, Catholicism for Dummies, co-authored by two priests who also lack theological credentials. But they are “safe” enough to have a regular program on Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

In the Times Magazine article, Senator Santorum is portrayed as exuberant over the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope.

“What you saw,” he claimed, “is an affirmation by the cardinals that the church is not going to change, even though maybe Europe and North America want it to. It is going to stay the way it has been for 2,000 years.” A remarkable statement indeed from someone who has never had a graduate-level course in church history.

Blessed John XXIII reminded us in his opening address to the Second Vatican Council that history is “the teacher of life.” Without a sense of history, one is always vulnerable to the temptation of accepting and repeating generalities that are without factual basis or, more specifically, are contradicted by the facts of history.

Many Catholics believe, for example, that only the pope can appoint bishops. But the pope has only exercised that prerogative for the universal Church since the 19th century. Before that, bishops were selected by various processes, the most common of which during the First Christian Millennium was election by the clergy and laity of the diocese in which they would serve.

Catholics today take for granted that bishops can be transferred from smaller dioceses to larger dioceses when they are deemed suitable for greater pastoral responsibilities. But in the early Church that was not only uncommon; it was absolutely prohibited – and by no less than the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the same council that defined the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, the body of a deceased pope, Formosus (891-896), was dug up and placed on trial because he had accepted election as Bishop of Rome when he was already the bishop of another diocese in Italy (Porto).

A few months ago many people both inside and outside the Catholic Church speculated about whether the new pope would come from Latin America or perhaps from Africa. Throughout the First Millennium, this would have been unthinkable. Bishops were elected from the local diocesan clergy, and once in office they remained in the same diocese until death.

But these are only a few examples of changes that have occurred in the Catholic Church. There are countless others in the realm of doctrine (the Church once approved of slavery, while condemning the taking of interest on loans), liturgy (the Mass was originally in Greek, then Latin, and then in many other languages), and even the making of saints (it was not until the year 993 that a saint was canonized by a pope; before then it was a matter of acclamation by the people).

Senator Santorum is surely not the only Catholic who is unaware of the lessons of church history. Nor is he alone in mistakenly believing that “the church is not going to change,” that it is going to stay the way it has been for 2,000 years.”

But if history is “the teacher of life,” we need to learn from it.”

The above two essays were published 8/26/2005 and 9/05/2005 and are provided by the Fellowship of Southern
Illinois Laity. Please share them. Your comments and contributions are welcome. To be added to their mailing
list write to: Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity; P.O. Box 31, Belleville, IL 62222.

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION VS. FREEDOM OF RELIGION

Freedom From Religion VS. Freedom of Religion

A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance No Longer Tolerates Religion.

The Faith That Gave Birth to Tolerance is No Longer Tolerated!

Intolerance of traditional Judeo-Christian values is easing, as seen by a sampling of news headlines:

  • How did America go from Pilgrims seeking freedom to express their Judeo-Christian beliefs to
    today’s discrimination against those very beliefs in the name of tolerance?
  • Ten Commandments taken down, “Under God” removed from Pledge, Prayer prohibited, Nativity Scenes
    banned, Boy Scouts sued, Religious Art & Music censored, Salvation Army defunded, Christmas
    Carols stopped, Bible called “hate speech,” Religious symbols erased off City Seals
  • New Orleans, LA- ACLU sued to stop student led prayer. (12/11/01 AP)
  • Virginia- ACLU sued to stop student moment-of-silence. (10/29/01 FoxNews)
  • Santa Fe, NM- ACLU sued to stop student-led prayer before a football game and, in Adler case,
    sued to stop a student-led message. (12/13/01 Liberty Counsel, lc.org)
  • Virginia Military Institute- ACLU suit ended the 50-plus year tradition of meal prayer.
    (01/02 WND.com)
  • New York- Kindergartner told she could not pray out loud before snack time. (4/12/02 CNSNews.com)
  • Balch Springs, TX- Seniors told they could not pray over their meals at senior center.
    (9/03 libertylegal.org)
  • Seward, NE- Superintendent threatened to fire teacher who asked for prayer at a private
    meeting because school was anticipating lay-offs. (7/02 Liberty Counsel lc.org)
  • USA- The IRS said churches can’t pray for Bush victory. (10/04 WorldNetDaily.com)
  • Cf., BACKFIRED, by author William J. Federer, p. 187ff

Discover How Tolerance Evolved:

From Puritans to Protestants to Catholics to Liberal Christians to Jews to Monotheists to Polytheists
to all Religions to Atheists to only Politically correct.
Reference: Backfired, by William J. Federer.

“From its beginning, the new continent seemed destined to be the home of religious tolerance.
Those who claimed the right of individual choice for themselves finally had to grant it to others.”
–Calvin Coolidge, May 3, 1925.

“The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name
of tolerance.

Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion?”

–Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984.

 

RIGHT S.T.A.R.T. AND PORNOGRAPHY

Right S.T.A.R.T. And Pornography

Dear Parents,

This past school year the Right S.T.A.R.T. teachers found a very disturbing trend among the students that we taught. To be blunt, pornography is becoming an increasing problem due to our changing world of internet, cable, videos* and mass media. With the summer, (and unmonitored free time) quickly approaching we want to share some information on this subject for you to share with your sons and, in some cases, daughters. First, make sure you know how to check the history of what websites your children are using. The history icon is usually in the top row, although sometimes it is hidden and you need to press on an arrow to get to it. It looks like: [History Icon].

Below is a compilation of thoughts from experts. All of the complete articles were given to the principals and the resources are given in the text.

First, Dr. Robert Furey in the  St. Louis Review wrote: “Pornography is out of control in the United States… .The damage done to teens and pre-teens by exposing them to pornography can be severe and lasting.” Healthy sexual development occurs over time …Gradual exposure allows him to digest and process what he is learning. When a young person is flooded with sexual material, however, this balance can be lost….The symptoms that emerge after a young person is exposed to pornography are in some ways, similar to those that surface after sexual abuse….Among the other possible consequences of early exposure to pornography are feelings of fear and/or disgust toward sexuality. In this case, a young person may come to feel ashamed of his own emerging sexuality. Nothing good comes from exposing young people to pornography.”

Second, in A Case for Chastity Peter Vlahutin gives five succinct reasons why pornography is harmful to our sons, as well as to our daughters, and ultimately to all of us:

  1. “Pornography substitutes fantasy for reality….There is no relationship, the person displayed becomes an object, a thing, used to satisfy the viewer’s desires… She is not a real woman with desires, wishes, preferences, opinions, ideas, thoughts, feelings-she is always just an object….Any sexual arousal that results is outside the context of a committed relationship.”
  2. “Pornography affects how we view our sexuality. What enters our minds affects the way we think. Men, if we spend hours looking at naked women/it is difficult to look at real women and not wonder what they look like without clothes… .Instead of seeing sex as the intimate union of husband and wife-a physical sign of the self-giving love they share-pornography presents sex as arousal and self-gratification. Pornography always switches the sexual focus from the other to oneself.” (A “me” activity instead of a “we” commitment)
  3. “Pornography is addictive. Pornography and its accompanying arousal are like eating hot sauce. If we use a mild hot sauce regularly, we will eventually get so used to it that it no longer has the same ability to flavor our food as before. So we will use a hotter sauce until we become used to it. Then we will move on to an even hotter one. Pornography has the same effect, What was arousing yesterday is not today, and the viewer needs more of it or something different… Viewing does not satisfy the appetite, but increases it.”
  4. “Pornography exploits sexuality for the purpose of profit. It especially exploits the women who are photographed; their bodies and sexual vulnerability are turned from a gift for their spouse into a commercial product. Exploitation exists even if someone agrees to pose. All women are exploited by it because it presents an image of physical-sexual-beauty and perfection. Women do not need another reason to focus on their bodies and worry about their appearance.”
  5. “The use of pornography is often coupled with the practice of masturbation, which also leads to a devaluing of our sexuality. Instead of a self-giving love as the foundation for sexual activity, self-seeking arousal and pleasure become the drives. As such, pornography destroys our ability to have intense, passionate sex.”

Jason Evert in If You Really Loved Me has some worthwhile thoughts that show the danger of pornography to the individuals and to all of society. “The problem …is that it 1) emasculates men, 2) degrades women, 3) destroys marriages, and 4) offends the Lord.”

  1. “The essence of manhood consists in readiness to deny oneself for the good of a beloved.”
  2. “It denies the woman her dignity in order to satisfy his lust…Wouldn’t it infuriate you if a guy looked at your daughter in the same way he looked at pornography?”
  3. “For the person who indulges in porn, the purpose of sex becomes the satisfaction of the erotic ‘needs,’ not the communication of life and love. Porn drives a man to value a woman only for what she gives him rather than for the person she is…. (Also) his fantasies will have robbed him of the ability to be truly intimate with his wife.”
  4. “We owe it to God to honor the Lord in all our actions and thoughts. To lust after his daughter is a grave sin.”

Jason also adds some interesting statistics to show that “When men learn their ‘love’ from videos and magazines, they accept the idea that a woman’s ‘no’ is
actually a ‘yes’ and that she enjoys being used.”

In Oklahoma City, “When 150 sexually oriented businesses were closed, the rate of rape decreased 27% in five years, while the rate in the rest of the country increased 19%. In Phoenix, Arizona, neighborhoods with porn outlets had 500% more sex offenses than neighborhoods without them.”

Therefore parents, we have a moral obligation to our sons and daughters to monitor where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Summer is a wonderful time to relax, play, and become rejuvenated, but we also need to be mindful of too much “free time” for all of our youth.

May God Bless each of you and your families!

Resources to address the addiction of pornography which afflicts
one of every three men and one of every six women:

  1. My House – http://myhouse.archkck.org
    – Resource List and Family Video available
  2. My House Women’s Group – bmeier@archkck.org
  3. National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families & Marriage
    Scott Hahn & Jerry Kirk
    http://www.nationalcoalition.org/kansascity.asp
  4. As For Me and My House – Recapturing homes for God – See prayer below
  5. Speaker: Chris West, November 8th, Rolla, MO

“”As For Me and My House” God of glory and majesty, you have clothed
your creation with the raiment of beauty and the mantle of dignity, and have created man and woman in your own divine image and likeness.

Forgive those who have distorted the gift of human love, and offer them the grace to turn away from their sins, and embrace the gospel of life.

Liberate those imprisoned by addiction, and provide them the wisdom to seek help and break the chains of despair and shame.

Soothe the suffering of those who have been exploited by pornography, and enable all families and individuals to live in a peaceful and just society.

May we embrace your gift of chastity as a means of giving you glory, and of sharing in your loving plan of salvation. Amen.

Choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

 

 

SUBVERSIVE VIRGINITY, AN ANIDOTE

Subversive Virginity, An Anidote
By Sarah Hinlicky




—The length of the following article may tempt you to pass on it. However, if you will
take just five minutes to read it, the wisdom and the common sense it contains will astonish you.
Virginity will seem so logical and worthwhile you will wonder why anyone would choose any other
lifestyle.






“Okay, I’ll admit it: I am twenty-two years old and still a virgin. Not for lack of opportunity, my vanity hastens to add. Had I ever felt unduly burdened by my unfashionable innocence, I could have found someone to attend to the problem. But I never did. Our mainstream culture tells me that some oppressive force must be the cause of my late-in-life virginity, maybe an inordinate fear of men or God or getting caught. Perhaps it’s right, since I can pinpoint a number of influences that have persuaded me to remain a virgin. My mother taught me that self-respect requires self-control, and my father taught me to demand the same from men. I’m enough of a country bumpkin to suspect that contraceptives might not be enough to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or disease, and I think that abortion is killing a baby. I buy into all that Christian doctrine of law and promise, which means that the stuffy old commandments are still binding on my conscience. And I’m even naive enough to believe in permanent, exclusive, divinely ordained love between a man and a woman, a love so valuable that it motivates me to keep my legs tightly crossed in the most tempting of situations.



In spite of all this, I still think of myself as something of a feminist, since virginity has the result of creating respect for and upholding the value of the woman so inclined. But I have discovered that the reigning feminism of today has little use for it. There was a time when I was foolish enough to look for literature among women’s publications that might offer support in my very personal decision. (It’s all about choice, after all, isn’t it?) The dearth of information on virginity might lead one to believe that it’s a taboo subject. However, I was fortunate enough to discover a short article on it in that revered tome of feminism. Our Bodies, Ourselves. The most recent edition of the book has a more positive attitude than the edition before it, in that it acknowledges virginity as a legitimate choice and not just a by-product of patriarchy. Still, in less than a page, it presumes to cover the whole range of emotion and experience involved in virginity, which, it seems, consists simply in the notion that a woman should wait until she’s really ready to express her sexuality. That’s all there is to say about it. Apparently, sexual expression takes place only in and after the act of genital intercourse. Anything subtler-like a feminine love of cooking or tendency to cry at the movies or insuppressible maternal instinct or cultivation of a wardrobe that will turn heads or even a passionate goodnight kiss is deemed an inadequate demonstration of sexual identity. The unspoken message of Our Bodies, Ourselves is clear enough: as long as a woman is a virgin, she remains completely asexual.



Surprisingly, this attitude has infiltrated the thinking of many women my age, who should still be new enough in the web of lies called adulthood to know better. One of my most vivid college memories is of a conversation with a good friend about my (to her) bizarre aberration of virginity. She and another pal had been delving into the gruesome specifics of their past sexual encounters. Finally, after some time, my friend suddenly exclaimed to me, “How do you do it?”



A little taken aback, I said, “Do what?”



“You know,” she answered, a little reluctant, perhaps, to use the big bad V-word. “You still haven’t… slept with anybody. How do you do it? Don’t you want to?”



The question intrigued me, because it was so utterly beside the point. Of course I want to – what a strange question – but merely wanting to is hardly a proper guide for moral conduct. I assured my concerned friend that my libido was still in proper working order, but then I had to come up with a good reason why I had been paying attention to my inhibitions for all these years. I offered the usual reasons-emotional and physical health, religious convictions, “saving myself till marriage – but nothing convinced her” until I said, “I guess I don’t know what I’m missing.” She was satisfied with that and ended the conversation.



In one sense, sure, I don’t know what I’m missing. And it is common enough among those who do know what they’re missing to go to great lengths to insure that they don’t miss it for very long. In another sense, though, I could list a lot of things that I do know I’m missing: hurt, betrayal, anxiety, self-deception, fear, suspicion, anger, confusion, and the horror of having been used. And those are only the emotional aspects; there is also disease, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. As if to prove my case from the other side, my friend suffered a traumatic betrayal within a month or two of our conversation. It turned out that the man involved would gladly sleep with her, but refused to have a “real relationship” – a sad reality she discovered only after the fact.



According to received feminist wisdom, sexuality is to be understood through the twin concepts of power and choice. It’s not a matter of anything so banally biological as producing children, or even the more elevated notion of creating intimacy and trust. Sometimes it seems like sex isn’t even supposed to be fun. The purpose of female sexuality is to assert power over hapless men, for control, revenge, self-centered pleasure, or forcing a commitment. A woman who declines to express herself in sexual activity, then, has fallen prey to a male-dominated society that wishes to prevent women from becoming powerful. By contrast, it is said, a woman who does become sexually active discovers her power over men and exercises it, supposedly to her personal enhancement.



This is an absurd lie. That kind of gender-war sexuality results only in pyrrhic victories. It’s a set-up for disaster, especially for women. Men aren’t the ones who get pregnant. And who ever heard of a man purchasing a glossy magazine to learn the secret of snagging a wife? Sacrifice and the relinquishing of power are natural to women – ask any mom – and they are also the secret of feminine appeal. The pretense that aggression and power-mongering are the only options for female sexual success has opened the door to predatory men. The imbalance of power becomes greater than ever in a culture of easy access.



Against this system of mutual exploitation stands the more compelling alternative of virginity. It escapes the ruthless cycle of winning and losing because it refuses to play the game. The promiscuous of both sexes will take their cheap shots at one another, disguising infidelity and selfishness as freedom and independence, and blaming the aftermath on one another. But no one can claim control over a virgin. Virginity is not a matter of asserting power in order to manipulate. It is a refusal to exploit or be exploited. That is real, and responsible, power.



But there is more to it than mere escape. There is an undeniable appeal in virginity, something that eludes the resentful feminist’s contemptuous label of “prude.” A virgin woman is an unattainable object of desire, and it is precisely her unattainability that increases her desirability. Feminism has told a lie in defense of its own promiscuity, namely that there is no sexual power to be found in virginity. On the contrary, virgin sexuality has extraordinary and unusual power. There’s no second-guessing a virgin’s motives: her strength comes from a source beyond her transitory whims. It is sexuality dedicated to hope, to the future, to marital love, to children, and to God. Her virginity is, at the same time, a statement of her mature independence from men. It allows a woman to become a whole person in her own right, without needing a man either to revolt against or to complete what she lacks. It is very simple, really: no matter how wonderful, charming, handsome, intelligent, thoughtful, rich, or persuasive he is, he simply cannot have her. A virgin is perfectly unpossessable. Of course, there have been some women who have attempted to claim this independence from men by turning in on themselves and opting for lesbian sexuality instead. But this is just another, perhaps deeper, rejection of their femaleness. The sexes rightly define themselves in their otherness. Lesbianism squelches the design of otherness by drowning womanhood in a sea of sameness, and in the process loses any concept of what makes the female feminine. Virginity upholds simply and honestly that which is valuable in and unique to women.



The corollary of power is choice. Again, the feminist assumes that sexually powerful women will be able to choose their own fates. And again, it is a lie. No one can engage in extramarital sex and then control it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the moral nightmare of our society’s breakdown since the sexual revolution. Some time ago I saw on TV the introduction of the groundbreaking new “female condom.” A spokeswoman at the press conference celebrating its grand opening declared joyously the new freedom that it gave to women. “Now women have more bargaining power,” she said. “If a man says that he refuses to wear a condom, the woman can counter, fine, I will!” I was dumbstruck by her enthusiasm for the dynamics of the new situation. Why on earth would two people harboring so much animosity towards each other contemplate a sexual encounter? What an appealing choice they have been given the freedom to make?



The dark reality, of course, is that it is not free choice at all when women must convince men to love them and must convince themselves that they’re more than just “used goods.” There are so many young women I have known for whom freely chosen sexual activity means a brief moment of pleasure – if that – followed by the unchosen side effects of paralyzing uncertainty, anger at the man involved, and finally a deep self-hatred that is impenetrable by feminist analysis. So-called sexual freedom is really just proclaiming oneself to be available for free, and therefore without value. To “choose” such freedom is tantamount to saying that one is worth nothing.



Admittedly, there are some who say that sex isn’t nearly so serious or important, but just another recreational activity not substantially different from ping-pong. I don’t believe it for a second. I learned most meaningfully from another woman the destructive force of sexuality out of control when I myself was under considerable pressure to cave in to a man’s sexual demands. I discussed the prospect with this friend, and after some time she finally said to me, “Don’t do it. So far in life you’ve made all the right choices and I’ve made all the wrong ones. I care enough about you that I don’t want to see you end up like me.” Naturally, that made up my mind. Sex does matter, it matters a lot; and I can only hope that those who deny it will wake up to their error before they damage themselves even more.



It is appalling that feminism has propagated lies so destructive to women. It has created the illusion that there is no room for self-discovery outside of sexual behavior. Not only is this a grotesque lie, but it is also an utterly boring one. Aside from its implied dismissal of all the world’s many riches outside the sexual domain, this false concept has placed stultifying limitations on the range of human relationships. We’re told that friendships between men and women are just a cover until they leap into the sack together. While romance is a natural and commendable expression of love between women and men, it is simply not the only option. And in our sexually competitive climate, even romantic love barely deserves the title. Virginity among those seeking marital love would go far to improve the latter’s solidity and permanence, creating an atmosphere of honesty and discovery before the equally necessary and longed-for consummation. Where feminism sees freedom from men by placing body parts at their disposal in a bizarre game of self-deception, virginity recognizes the equally vulnerable though often overlooked state of men’s own hearts and seeks a way to love them for real.



It is puzzling and disturbing to me that regnant feminism has never acknowledged the empowering value of virginity. I tend to think that much of the feminist agenda is more invested in the culture of groundless autonomy and sexual Darwinism than it is in genuinely uplifting women. Of course, virginity is a battle against sexual temptation, and popular culture always opts for the easy way out instead of the character-building struggle. The result is superficial women formed by meaningless choices, worthy of stereotype, rather than laudable women of character, worthy of respect Perhaps virginity seems a bit cold, even haughty and heartless. But virginity hardly has a claim on those defects, if it has any claim at all. Promiscuity offers a significantly worse fate. I have a very dear friend who, sadly, is more worldly-wise than I am. By libertine feminist standards she ought to be proud of her conquests and ready for more, but frequently she isn’t. The most telling insight about the shambles of her heart came to me once in a phone conversation when we were speculating about our futures. Generally they are filled with exotic travel and adventure and PhDs. This time, however, they were not. She admitted to me that what she really wanted was to be living on a farm in rural Connecticut, raising a horde of children and embroidering tea towels. It is a lovely dream, defiantly unambitious and domestic. But her short, failed sexual relationships haven’t taken her any closer to her dream and have left her little hope that she’ll ever attain it. I must be honest here: virginity hasn’t landed me on a farm in rural Connecticut either. Sexual innocence is not a guarantee against heartbreak. But there is a crucial difference: I haven’t lost a part of myself to someone who has subsequently spurned it, rejected it, and perhaps never cared for it at all.



I sincerely hope that virginity will not be a lifetime project for me. Quite the contrary, my subversive commitment to virginity serves as preparation for another commitment, for loving one man completely and exclusively. Admittedly, there is a minor frustration in my love: I haven’t met the man yet (at least, not to my knowledge). But hope, which does not disappoint, sustains me.”




—This article originally appeared in the October 1998 issue of First Things, a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life. It is reprinted with the permission of the publisher.