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Modern Treason: The Corporate Moral Person Denies Any Allegiance To Our Country.

VOLUME 18 NUMBER 6 ¨ JUNE 2016 ¨ WRITTEN BY JIM HIGHTOWER

— WORKERS AT UTC’S CARRIER PLANTS IN INDIANA

A nasty new species of “jumping bean”                 Carrier and Nabisco close US plants,                      hop to Mexico and stoke the anger of working-class America.

When I was about six years of age, my Uncle Earnest showed me some­thing that made my jaw drop, my eyes bug, and my mind boggle: four beans that, on their own, moved. Leaping legumes!

It wasn’t trickery (or deviltry), but an odd twist in the natural world that creates the novelty of “Mexican jumping beans.” They’re not beans, really—they’re brownish seedpods from a desert shrub in northwest Mexico. A larva from a small moth invades a pod, hollows it out, attaches itself to the inner wall with a silk-like thread, and waits in relative coolness for its metamorphosis into mothdom. When you hold the “bean,” however, the warmth of your palm discom­forts the larva so that it twitches and pulls on that thread, causing the pod to “jump.” It’s actually more of a mini-hop or a rollover—but still, pretty astonishing to a kiddo. Decades later, I find myself wide eyed again, astonished by the odd movements of a new species of Mexican jumping bean I’ve named Corporados Greedyados. Far from being a creation of the natural world, these jumpers are enormously profitable, brand-name manufacturers. Native to our land, they’ve long reaped the benefits of being US corporations, including having highly skilled and loyal blue-collar workforces, corporate-friendly labor and consumer laws, publicly funded education and training, an interstate highway system, legal protection of special corporate privileges, extensive tax breaks, on-call police to safeguard their corporate order, military defense of their worldwide commercial pursuits, and much, much more. But now they’re twitching in their conglomerate pods and abruptly jumping to Mexico. Giving no more notice than a cursory shout of adios, they’re leaving US workers, communities, the future of our middle class, and our unifying ethic of fair play in the dust of their corporate greed.

Taking avarice to a new level

Yes, perfidious corporations have been jumping to cheap-labor countries for years, particularly since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), China’s admission to the World Trade Organization, and other policies incentiv­izing corporations to export our blue-collar jobs. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, 50,000-plus US factories have closed and more than 5 million jobs have been lost to the offshoring fad.

Unfortunately, that was just a warm-up. During the past decade, corrupted and compliant legislatures, courts, and regulatory agencies have effectively removed our society’s reins on these profit-seeking powerhouses. Not since the robber barons of the late 1800s have those in executive suites felt so free (and even entitled) to work their will on the rest of us. And they are not hesitating. Their recent surge in abandonments of the Good 01′ USA is different from the offshoring of only a dec­ade ago—today’s are bigger, cruder, greedier, and wholly narcisstic.

The real difference is a fundamental, regressive shift in the ethos of the elites who run major corporate empires. These inordinately rich executives and investors believe that what they think and do is what’s best, and everyone else should just get out of their way. This has led them to adopt a thoroughly unethical ethic of social irresponsibility, unilaterally decreeing that they and their corporate entities owe nothing to the country and the people who have nur­tured and even coddled them.

They’ve even packaged their conceit in a hokey doctrine they’ve dubbed “shareholder hegemony” (see the Lowdown, February 2016). It asserts that corporations exist strictly to benefit their shareholders—ergo and hocus pocus, corporate managers bear a “mandate” to do whatever is necessary to increase stock values, no matter what this costs everybody and everything else.

Consequently, we’re presently witnessing the murder of our country’s manufacturing prowess by industry’s own leaders. CEOs of even the most iconic, well-established, financially secure corpora­tions—companies with deep roots in our communities—have gone honkers, asserting a “moral duty” to shut down factories here, dump the workers, desert our hometowns, and hightail it out of country to any low-wage, low-environmental-standard refuge on the map.

Of course, the beneficiaries of this Kafkaesque doctrine of share­holder supremacy include not only the large stock owners, but also the very CEOs whose paychecks and bonuses depend on jacking up stock prices at our expense. It’s a socially suicidal system, providing both an irresistible incentive and a moral excuse for executives to commit corporate treason, even as their moves expand the ever-widening chasm of inequality that cleaves our society. And, by the way, CEOs and billionaire shareholders aren’t moving south with their bottom-wage factories, preferring instead to enjoy their life of luxury in America the Beautiful. Apparently unaware that their elimination of middle-class wages is eliminating their own custom­er base, they also expect you and me to continue being the primary buyers of their now foreign-made products.

And they wonder why an angry, populist rebellion is spreading like a prairie fire.

It’s getting hot in Indianapolis

If the chieftains of industry and their political henchmen want to know what’s roiling the riffraff, they could read Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s landmark, 1,000-page book on inequality, or listen to one of Bernie Sanders’s hour-long, tub-thumping speeches.

Or they could just spend 3 minutes and 32 seconds watching an online video showing a Carrier Corporation executive speaking to hundreds of workers in the air-conditioning giant’s Indianapolis manufacturing plant this past February (www.youtube.com/watch? v=Y3ttxGMQ0rY). The proud Steelworkers union members thought maybe they’d been called to the factory floor to hear about new orders for their quality products. After all, sales at parent-company United Technologies (UTC) were zooming—expected to jump at least $2 billion to $58 billion in 2016.

Instead of receiving praise and good news, however, they got an ugly surprise. In the fuzzy video (recorded on a worker’s phone) UTC/Carrier honcho Chris Nelson doesn’t bother with any open­ing pleasantries. He gets right to the point, reporting in the dry tones of a corporate lifer that the bosses have decided, “The best way to stay competitive and protect the business for the long term is to move production from our facility in Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico.” KABLOOEY! He couldn’t finish his scripted sentence, for ­the entire assembly exploded like a human cluster bomb, with cries of disbelief, paroxysms of anguished working-class rage, raucous booing, and a steady barrage of “x#@! you.”

“Please quiet down,” the obtuse functionary instructed. But the devastated workers, realizing in an instant that Carrier is kicking their families right out of the middle class, just get rowdier. Then, as though he’s delivering a line from The Godfather, Nelson assures the angry crowd that the corporation means nothing personal by taking their jobs: “This is strictly a business decision.”

No, it wasn’t. This was a calculated greed decision. Severing this workforce of 2,100 top-quality, experienced, and dedicated producers (1,400 at the UTC/Carrier factory in Indianapolis and another 700 near Fort Wayne) makes questionable busi­ness sense: The move to Mexico is expected to save UTC only 2.W.theCREM $70 million a year in labor costs—a blip on the spreadsheets of a global behemoth that hauls in $56 billion a year in revenue and has an uninterrupted, 22-year record of increasing dividends. But UTC’s greedy Wall Street investment bankers are demand­ing that the giant go on a cost-cutting binge aimed at generat­ing a 17-percent hike in its stock price over the next two years. And what better way to please big institutional shareholders than to show a cold willingness to whack payroll.

Making such cuts is “painful,” mused Carrier’s top financial executive (though not to him personally, of course). But, he ex­plained, they are necessary for “shareholder value creation,” adding cheerfully: “We feel good about being able to execute on that.” So a city must suffer a factory abandonment, and workers must have their decent-paying jobs taken from them just so some distant, don’t-give-a-damn, rich shareholders can see a dollar rise in UTC’s stock price. “Execute” seems like just the right word.

There’s also an unstated motivation in play: Gregory Hayes’s pride. The UTC chief had taken heat from a board of directors con­cerned that the stock price hadn’t climbed as high and fast as Wall Street wants. Indeed, last year, Hayes took a “haircut” (corporatese for a pay cut). The board sliced his executive bonus in half!

“It’s embarrassing,” a financial analyst noted. “He got dinged.” But no need to cry for Greg, however, since his 2015 paycheck still totaled nearly $6 million. (A typical Carrier worker would need to stay on the job 150 years to earn that much.)

Welcome to the new, phantasmagoric Wild Kingdom of Corporate World, where prideful executive royals are empowered to uproot the livelihoods of commoners in a ploy to (1) please Wall Street, (2) manipulate corporate stock prices, (3) collect extrava­gant bonuses, and (4) save face.

Notice that such whimsy was pulled off autocratically. Despite a unionized workforce, UTC/Carrier simply commanded the workers to assemble so they could be unilaterally dispatched—there was no negotiation, consultation, or any other say-so by them, the community, public officials, or anyone else. This is our new norm of plutocratic rule, envisioned and implemented by the rampaging forces of corporate avarice.

Don’t think this is just a one-time Indiana problem. Carrier’s chief financial officer blurted out to a New York Times reporter that top executives are eying other factories to move to Mexico. Look out Charlotte (NC), Collierville (TN), and Tyler (TX)—UTC and Wall Street will be punching a one-way bus ticket to Monterrey for your Carrier jobs next.

Souring Chicago’s sweet treat

For generations, kids from 3 to 100 have loved munching on chocolaty Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of milk. But just over a year ago, the tasty treat suddenly went sour.

In May 2015, bakery workers in Nabisco’s monumental 10-story plant in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood had been expect­ing some sweet news from corporate headquarters. Rumor had it that their renown facility—after more than half a century and millions of Oreos—was about to receive a $130-million modernization invest­ment to upgrade equipment and add new production lines. So the future looked bright and spirits were high on May 15 when management convened members of Local 300 of the Bakery Workers Union to announce that the investment was indeed going to be made. In Salinas, Mexico.

For 104 years, the Marquette Park community has been proud that the delectable smell of “milk’s favorite cookie” wafts through their neighborhood. But the noses of Nabisco’s corporate brass are clogged with greed, incapable of sniffing out anything but ever-fatter profits for themselves and other rich shareholders. So, taking the NAFTA low road, they intend to move the iconic Oreo brand—and the jobs of 600 top-quality bak­ery workers—from Chicago to Mexico, where the minimum wage is a bit more than $4. Not per hour, but per day.

This is the tyranny of corporate globalization in action. In 2012 Kraft Foods split off its grocery business, which retained the Kraft name, and rebranded its remaining snack-food empire as Mondelez International, which includes Nabisco and its many brands includ­ing Triscuit, Planters nuts, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy, and Oreos.

Such corporate empires now reign over millions of working families, arrogantly and even lawlessly making self-serving decisions from within the shrouded confines of faraway executives suites, wreaking havoc on workers, local economies, democratic values, and our sense of community. People affected get no input or warn­ing (much less any real say-so) in the profiteering that now routinely strikes us like lightning bolts from hell.

Worse, the so-called humans who’ve enthroned themselves with this autocratic power find it amusing to toy with those they rule over. Mondelez executives did exactly that after their sneak attack on Chicago’s bakery workers. In a crude gambit to shift blame to the union, the plutocratic powerhouse claimed it had made an offer to Local 300 to keep producing Oreos in Chicago, but that recalci­trant union officials had refused.

Of course they did, for Mondelez essentially proposed that the workers commit mass financial suicide. Here’s the “offer”: Since the move to Mexico is expected to save $46 million a year, the con­glomerate would graciously let the 600 ransom their jobs by paying that $46-mil themselves. Just slash your annual pay and benefits (as well as your throats) by that amount, the executives told the union, and you can keep making Oreos for us. At a poverty wage. This from an outfit that banked $7 billion in profit last year!

If Mondelez executives are so inept that they can’t find an honest way to fill a $46 million hole, here’s a suggestion: They could start by docking executive pay. The three top honchos—whose com­pensation last year totaled $37 million—can damn sure afford it. CEO Irene Rosenfeld alone took a $20 million paycheck in 2015, bringing her eight-year total to almost $200 million.

I’d say her gluttony is hoggish, but that would be unfair to swine, which have far better manners and more delicate appetites.

CORPORADOS GREEDYADOS SUCH AS Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

This is OUR fight

In a March protest outside Nabisco, a bakery worker held a hand-lettered poster aloft, proclaiming: “Crime Scene.” She’s right, but it’s not just true of her Chicago workplace—the entire United States should be enclosed in yellow tape.

Corporate America is now openly flouting our laws, violating our ethics, and rampaging over our society’s unifying sense of com­mon decency … because they can. Almost no one is telling them “no”—not Congress, the White House, Republicans, Democrats, the courts, the clergy (with the exemplary exception of Pope Francis), the police, the educational system, or others with power (and responsibility) to stand up to thugs.

We tell children to be good, to follow the Golden Rule. We teach that proper social behavior is essential, and that wrongdoing will always be punished.

But every day they see that America’s biggest, richest, most pow­erful, and most influential institutions—giant corporations—are free to be as bad as they want to be. Corporations bully their way over anyone, anything, and any rule, creating the vast inequality that presently disgraces America. Yet, perversely, rather than being punished by our society’s various authorities, Corporados Greedyados such as Gregory Hayes of United Technologies and Irene Rosenfeld of Mondelez continue to be obsequiously deferred to and even celebrated as semi-divine social benefactors.

The carnage on working-class Americans won’t stop until we actually start punishing these corporate malefactors. And that won’t start until We the People overthrow today’s clueless, elitist political establishment. The good news is that the current populist upris­ing—having spread from Occupy Wall Street in 2011 through Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, Bernie 2016, and soon to What’s Next—is the way to get that job done. Let’s keep at it.

 

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Here are some ways to help unions battle runaway Corporados Greedyados:

SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT MAKE THEIR PRODUCTS IN THE USA. To learn more, check out the Made in America Movement: www.themadeinamericamovementcom

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NABISCO FIGHT and to sign a petition in support of the Nabisco workers, visit: www.fightforamericanjobs.org

By the way, you can still buy American-made Nabisco products. To learn what to look for when buying groceries, check out the Check the Label campaign:

www.fightforamericanjobs.org/check-the-label or fightforamericanjobs.org/checkthelabel.pdf

And for more information on rebuilding a strong manufacturing economy in the USA, visit this site: www.americanmanufacturing.org/issues/issues/made-in-america

 

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YOU CAN GO NOW. HERE’S $195 MILLION.

ALTHOUGH, UNITED TECHNOLOGIES SAYS it must skip off to Mexico with its Indiana factory jobs to save $70 million in labor costs, the conglomerate has actually been exceptionally generous to its workers. Workers in the executive suite, that is. For years, the CEOs of UTC have ranked among America’s high­est paid.

Consider the corporation’s cosseting of Louis Chenevert, who stepped down in November 2014 after six well-compensated years as CEO. The corporate board eased him out of his cushy executive chair for being too disengaged from the affairs of UTC and too focused on living the good life of wealthy swells. (The final straw came during a business trip to Asia, when he suddenly skipped over to Taiwan to check out progress on a sleek, 100-foot, 20-passenger, luxury yacht he was having built there.)

Rather than being bounced, though, Louis was squeegeed out with money: $31 million in pension benefits, $136 million in stock options, and $28 mil­lion in other compensation. Sadly for him, he got no severance pay. Still, that tidy $195 million goodbye kiss is more than twice the annual salaries all of UTC’s 2,100 displaced Indiana workers.

 

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The Hightower Lowdown (ISSN 1524-4881) is published monthly by Public Intelligence Inc. at 81 San Marcos Street, Austin, TX 78702. ©2016 in the United States. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions: 1 year, $15: 2 years, $27. Add $8/year for Mexico or Canada; add $12/year for overseas airmail. Back issues $2 postpaid. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Hightower Lowdown, P.O. Box 3109, Langhorne, PA 19047. Moving? Missed an issue? Call our subscription folks toll-free at (877)747-3517 or write subscriptions@hightowerlowdown.org. Send mail to the editor to 81 San Marcos St., Austin, TX 78702 or to editors@hightowerlowdown.org Printed with 100% union labor on 100% recycled paper.

 

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REV. MSGR. JAMES M. RIBBLE, PhD + October 19, 2013

Spring2007FUNERAL MASS

The Reverend Monsignor James M. Ribble, Ph.D.
March 11, 1930 — October 19, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes
Spokane, Washington

THE REVEREND MONSIGNOR JAMES M. RIBBLE, PH.D.

Ordained Priest May 30, 1957

Diocesan Director of Vocations 1957-1968

Teacher/Rector, Bishop White Seminary 1957-1965

Rector, Mater Cleri Seminary 1965-1968

Principal, DeSales High School 1968-1970

Doctoral Studies/Pastor, Sacred Heart Parish, Pullman 1970-1976

Rector, Mount Angel Seminary 1976-1983

Rector, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1983-2005

Installed Prelate of Honor, bestowed by Blessed Pope John Paul II April 4, 1997

Senior Rector Emeritus, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes 2011

Dear Friends, Greetings!

I have had 56 years of Priestly Service during which I could have composed my farewell to you. And yet the time that I have been with you has been such a precious gift to me I could not concentrate on formulating an adequate goodbye. This letter is not a goodbye, (because we only live twice), but rather a continued pledge of my love and respect for you in the bond of faith that we share together.

You have taught me much by your generous service and ministry to one another. I have engaged the thought … it is I who am more the pupil and you the teachers. You have given me the opportunity to serve as a Priest through the years. I have been surrounded with the resources of your wisdom, moral support, friendship, and prayers. These have made my every assignment an extraordinary honor.

I give thanks to God for the gift of life. I pray that we will experience one another again in the Communion of Saints at ‘The Feast”. Let this earthly farewell be as sweet as the memories that I carry with me.

I thank you for everything, and I ask God’s blessing on you and your loved ones. Please pray for the repose of my soul.

Your Brother in Christ,Monsignor James M. Ribble

 

Born:  March 11,1930, Duluth, MN

Parents:         Christian Merritt Ribble and Eva Rivers Ribble

Attended:      Central High School: Aberdeen, SD

Carroll College: Helena, MT, B.A.

St. Paul’s Seminary: St. Paul, MN, M.A. and M.Div.

1962 Graduate Studies: Northwestern University: Evanston, IL

(Doctoral Studies in Education)

Washington State University: Ph.D.

Ordained: 30 May 1957 by Bishop Bernard. J. Topel D.D., Bishop of Spokane, WA

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes

Celebrated: 16 June 1957 First Solemn Mass, St. Joan of Arc, Skokie, IL

1997 Golden Anniversary of Ordination, The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, WA

Assigned:       1957 -1968 Diocesan Director of Vocations

1957 -1965 Teacher and Rector at Bishop White Seminary

1965 -1968 Rector at Mater Cleri Seminary

1968 -1970 Principal DeSalles High School, Walla Walla, WA

1970 -1976 Graduate Doctoral studies and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Pullman, WA

1976 -1983 President/Rector Mount Angel Seminary, Portland,OR

1983 – 2005 Rector of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane, WA

Received:       1997 Papal Honors from John Paul II and made Domestic Prelate with

the title Reverend Monsignor

1997 The Legacy of Leadership award, Mount Angel Seminary

1997 Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of The Knights of The Holy Sepulcher

2013 October 19th, Spokane, WA, Entered the fullness of life

 

FR. LAWRENCE ROBOTNIK + February 28, 2014

sunrise

           We recently learned of the death of a member of your class and want to share the information.

Fr. Lawrence  Robotnik died on February 28, 2014, in Erlanger, Kentucky.

Visitation — Thursday, March 2, 2014, Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, KY from 5:00-8:00 p.m.

Vigil Service — Thursday, March 6, Cathedral Basilica, 8:00 p.m.

Visitation — Friday, March 7, 2014, Cathedral Basilica, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Funeral Mass — Friday, March 7, 2014, Cathedral Basilica. 11:00 a.m.

We will remember our good friend and your classmate in the prayers of The Saint Paul Seminary community.

God be with you!

The Saint Paul Seminary

SCHOOL Of DIVINITY • UNIVERSITY OF SAINT THOMAS

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.

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.

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.

ON PROFILING MUSLIMS, John Byorth

On Profiling Muslims
by John Byorth
Celebrating Augustine 08(28)2006



John responded to the following e-mail with the article that follows.


Subject: MUSLIM



“Please read the following carefully and pass it on if you care to. Is there more than a thread of truth below? You decide for yourself!

Interesting article….. Can A Muslim Become A Good American Citizen? Can a good Muslim be a good American? I sent that question to a friend who worked in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. The following is his reply:

Theologically – no. Because his allegiance is to Allah, the moon god of Arabia. Religiously – no. Because no other religion is accepted by his Allah except Islam (Koran, 2:256) Scripturally – no. Because his allegiance is to the five pillars of Islam and the Quran (Koran). Geographically – no. Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day. Socially – no. Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make friends with Christians or Jews. Politically – no. Because he must submit to the mullah (spiritual leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and Destruction of America, the great Satan.

Domestically – no. Because he is instructed to marry four women and beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34). Intellectually – no. Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt. Philosophically – no. Because Islam, Muhammad, and the Quran do not allow freedom of religion and expression. Democracy and Islam cannot co-exist. Every Muslim government is either dictatorial or autocratic. Spiritually – no. Because when we declare, “one nation under God,” the Christian’s God is loving and kind, while Allah is NEVER referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called Love in The Quran’s 99 excellent names.

Therefore after much study and deliberation….perhaps we should be more suspicious of ALL MUSLIMS in this country. At the very least, we should be more aware of what a Muslim is, and what a Muslim believes. They obviously cannot be both “good Muslims ” and good Americans.

Call this what you wish….it’s still the truth.

If you find yourself intellectually in agreement with the above statements, perhaps you will share this with your friends. The more who understand this, the better it will be for our country and our future.

Pass it on Fellow Americans if you care to. The religious war of Islam is bigger than we know or understand.


John’s Response:

“It is with heavy eyes and skepticism that I read the original email message above as it alludes to the condemnation of an entire religion’s capability to conform to the ideal of a “good American citizen.” This sort of immediacy in a such a complex topic is short-sighted and intellectually vacant. It reminds me of the anti-German and anti-Japanese sentiments here in the United States during WWII–not all Germans were Nazis, not all Japanese supported the Emperor. Perhaps my shirttail relatives, the Blindauers and Schneiders, have some memory of this sort of discrimination in their pasts.

Critical thought and consideration are healthy qualities in arriving at a well conceived opinion, and to that end, the original email can contribute to a breadth of literature. But taken alone, it is an abysmal representation of the matter. It is my gut feeling that few of you who received the email have the time or inclination to pursue further study of Islamic culture and its reconciliation with American ideals to balance it with. If you do, I apologize for the assumption and would invite meaningful discourse on the subject as I am vested in the topic. But knowing, for example, that my own siblings are chin deep in their careers, marriages, elementary school and church activities, their own graduate studies, yard work, and rare moments of recreation that it is not likely. So let me share some insight from my own experiences and research.

To categorize “ALL MUSLIMS” as one in the same is a damaging generalization to understanding a multifarious religion in the same way speaking of all Christians as one united “people” convolutes an understanding of that western religion. As we all know, there are a multitude of divisions within Christianity with diverging views, beliefs, dogmas and sub-cultures: Eastern Orthodox v. Roman Catholic v. Protestant, and then a family tree of sects beyond these. The Muslim community is similar, broken between two major sects who have not agreed since the death of Mohammed in 632 on much of anything. Nearly immediately there were divisions, identifiable today by the two major sects: Sunni and Shi’ites. The hatred between them is prolific, as voracious as the Catholic/Protestant wars in the 16th century, and easily seen in the oppositional relationships pervasive throughout Iraq’s current civil war, etc. Superimposed on these divisions are ethnic tribes. Arabs v. Persians. Turk v. Kurd. Pashto v. Tajik. Uzbek v. Turkmen; whose animosities go back so far in time that most of our Anglo-Saxon relatives were still going Viking. Today, retribution for ancient family and tribal skirmishes trump even religious unity. These two facts alone, sects and ethnicity, make the statement “ALL MUSLIM” incredibly ignorant. Muslims living in America come from more countries alone than make up the whole of European-American backgrounds, and have a diversity of beliefs and cultures that further negate any sort of Muslim generalization.

Theologically, Muslims see Islam as the succession of previous monotheistic religions-Judaism and Christianity. Their Allah is the Allah of Abraham, the ancestor of all three of these major monotheistic religions. This was not lost on Mohammed. In the early years after his revelations, his first order of business was not to divide and conquer the world, but to unify it and its tribes, Arabian and otherwise. In order to do so, he offered considerable tolerance toward non-Muslims. In fact, the Quran commanded Muslims to protect “people of the book,” Jews and Christians who possessed a revealed scripture. Remember that it was the angel Gabriel who revealed God’s word to Mohammed, the same angel who revealed to Mary of her blessing. Unfortunately, whomever authored the email below sites the Koran Sura II verse 256. It is completely way off in their usage of it. Here is what that passage says taken from my Quran bought on the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan: “God! There is no God but He; the Living, the Eternal; Nor slumber seizeth Him, nor sleep; His, whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth! Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His own permission? He knoweth what hath been before them and what shall be after them; yet nought of His knowledge shall they grasp, save what He willeth. His throne reacheth over the heavens and the earth, and the upholding of both burdeneth Him not; and He is High, the Great!”

As can be plainly seen, this passage has nothing to do with discrimination of other religions, but affirming Islam’s monotheistic foundation, which, by the way, reiterates our own first Commandment. Sura 259, however, makes some nod towards those who do not believe in God, which excludes, obviously, Jews and Christians, but includes the pagan gods popular in the 7th century Arabian desert.

Indeed, Sura II verse 59 reads: “Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites–whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved.”

Religiously, Islam is by nature understanding and tolerant. However, it is the beliefs of but a few radical religious teachers that abnegates tolerance. Doesn’t it seem suspect that ALL MUSLIMS would miss this teaching and subscribe to the teachings of the most radical?

Scripturally, there is no doubt that Muslims ignore the Pentateuch (Torah) and the New Testament as the final word of God. However, by the reasoning of the author, Muslim allegiance to the Five Pillars of Islam precludes their ability to conform to the same natural laws of mankind that have trickled down into our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I might suggest that while there is some dogmatic absolutes, the fact is that the Five Pillars are hardly different from our own Christian teachings in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and hence, their differences are interpretative by nature. If you practice the Five Pillars, with the exception of the Haj or pilgrammage to Mecca, it is parallel to practicing the Ten Commandments and fulfilling Jesus’ teachings. Both are amenable to living under the Constitution of the United States and by the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

I’m not sure how the significance of Mecca in prayer detracts from one’s ability to be a good American, and am interested in the author’s ideas. I do know Jews pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as do some Christians, and Catholics also have Rome, which is much more of a political entity than Mecca. Indeed, should we hold Roman Catholics to the same standard as Muslims? While we don’t point toward Rome to pray, many hold allegiance to the Papacy and his directives on abortion, homosexuality, and fornication. The significance for Mecca is much different than that. Previous to Mohammed’s revelations, Mecca was the trade center of Arabia and a significant place of worship at the Ka’ba shrine for animist cults. When Mohammed’s new Muslim army defeated the Quraysh tribal army outside Mecca, he knew of the cultural significance of the Ka’ba shrine to locals (which he was one), and maintained it out of strategic need for smooth conversion of these people. Today, Muslims point that direction because it signifies submittal to Allah. We do the same as we kneel before the cross.

Perhaps the greatest cleavage in Islam today is the rectification of church and state. For Muslims in America, however, this cleavage is not as prominent because of the existing separation between the two. In developing Muslim countries, ie. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc., the tensions are self-evident and being worked out, although again, complicated by tribal divisions and variations in tribal law. In America, however, one should consider the fact that many Muslim-Americans (one figure is 13 million Americans) immigrated here because of their desire to live freely from strict interpretations of Shari’at (religious social laws) and Purdah (laws governing women) Laws, and made considerable sacrifices to realize this dream. One article of a mullah in Brooklyn was striking to me in this way. I believe it was the New York Times, and if you do a search of nytimes.com around March 3 (I think the 5th, if memory serves me) I’m sure you will find it. The mullah is young, in his 40s, and spoke of the problems he faces rectifying Islamic law and American culture. His prerogative was that Muslim-Americans struggled with fidelity in their relationships, divorce and behavior (drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex). His feeling was that it was the degradation of adherence to Islamic social norms because of an immersion in a much more liberal American culture. The thing is, I think that many of us would agree these things are the rot for all who strive to lead a moral life, and at that, one that makes us good American citizens.

Domestically, there is another cleavage between more modern Muslims and those who subscribe to traditional interpretations of the Quran. In much of the Islamic world, this translates into a cultural difference between urban and rural people. The norm in urban centers IS NOT polygamy. This is a tribal characteristic. Urban Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc. do not have multiple wives, perhaps because they understand that it is hard enough to please one woman much less four (ha!). Seriously, urban dwellers look down on such archaic interpretations of polygamy.

Sura IV Verse 34 does not prescribe four wives or beating and scourging and all the rest. It reads: “And whoever shall do this maliciously and wrongfully, We will in the end cast him (emphasis added) into the Fire; for this is easy with God.”

The verse is in relation to the 33 verse: “O believers! Devour not each other’s substance in mutual frivolities; unless there be a trafficking among you by your own consent: and commit not suicide: of a truth God is merciful to you.”

As you can see, the verse calls for the eternal damnation for anyone meets wrongdoing with wrongdoing or complicity. Note that it is this verse that damns suicide, hence suicide bombings. This is a seriously held belief among Afghan Muslims. The verse that talks of four wives is as follows: Sura IV Verse 3: “And if ye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then, of other women who seem good in your eyes, marry but two, or three, or four; and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then one only; or the slaves whom ye have acquired: this will make justice on your part easier. Give women their dowry freely; but if of themselves they give up aught thereof to you, then enjoy it as convenient, and profitable:”

The verse does NOT command Muslims to marry four women, but only as many as a man can support equitably. This is common among many tribal cultures. Granted that was a long time ago for many cultures, and it is a bit weird for us monogamists of modern day. But consider that there are sects of LDS in Utah that still grasp at some straws to legitimize their bigamy. I don’t think this makes them bad Americans, just bad husbands.

Intellectually and philosophically, much of the Islamic world is diametrically opposed to western thought and culture, as the author writes, but not all. For one, we arrived at our Constitution through an evolutionary tract that included 1000 years of darkness, ie, the Dark Ages. We had to rebirth those classical ideas of ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, the Reformation, and finally the Enlightenment, which gave birth to a multitude of social ideas; communism, socialism, liberalism, republicanism and transcendentalism among them. But we had to work at it, and it took revolution, the hapless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents and not so innocents. So it is perhaps an unnecessary judgment to say that much of the Islamic world is living in its own Dark Ages-it is evident. The Ayatollah of Iran recently said as much in his defense of scientific progress for nuclear energy-his point was that Persia was once the leader of the world in science, literature, architecture, etc., and had a responsibility to return to that greatness. Now, as much as that scares the hell out of me, it does point to the backward nature of Islamic countries at this point in time. However, I wonder if this is the choice of the oppressed masses or the queer authoritarian and dictatorial Islamic regimes, like the Taliban, that have made this decision. I’d guess not. The aegis of totalitarian regimes is not to allow choice, so even our own “intellectual” ability as modern Americans to quantify universal Islamic belief in democracy is replete with holes.

Democracy requires an educated public, John Dewey once argued when the US government was wavering on free public education. The inability for Muslim people to adhere to democratic principles is not the Quran, but ignorance. You see this in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq at this very moment. They are struggling with democracy not because of their religion, but, in the case of Afghanistan, because of the “brain drain” that has occurred after thirty years of regime changes, war and oppression. All the smart people have left and are in the United States, in Virginia, the Bay Area, and in Germany, etc., leading productive, democratic lives. Give these people left behind opportunity and their potential to become good American citizens is endless (of course, some have no chance so long as they adhere to strict 7th century interpretations of the Quran). For perspective, forget not that two of the greatest philosophers in the history of mankind were Rumi and Hafiz, and were from Central Asia and under considerable Islamic influence. Only through education and opportunity can people of oppressive Islamic countries realize such greatness as the freedoms of America, and rise to our standard of a good citizen.

The author of the email below is correct in pointing out one possible interpretation of incompatibilities between the secular/Judeo-Christian West and Islamic East, but there is so much more to it than what I read below. To me, this email suggests that ALL MUSLIMS are fundamentalists and radical, and implies a certain discrimination that seems to be based on ignorance and misunderstanding-the very traits that demarcate Islamists from moderate Muslims. There are a great many good Muslim-American citizens, I’ve met some, and to ignore their accomplishments of overcoming despots, narrow minded mullahs, and oppression only to come to the United States to realize religious freedom, growth and opportunity-pursuit of the American Dream-only serves to perpetuate this horrible division among people who believe in the same God; none of which I imagine Jesus would condone, but I am not authorized to make judgments on His behalf.

I urge anyone who has read the email below not to succumb to unbridled suspicion of Muslims, nor to judge their ability to be “good American citizens.” Instead, learn more about their religion, culture and communities, and reach out to them. Strengthen ties with them, because they are our first line of defense against radicals, not our supposed Intelligence. Indeed, it was a Muslim who tipped the Royal Police off to the planned airline bombings in London a few weeks ago. That person is an ally, a quintessential citizen, and someone I’d like to shake hands with and thank.”



—John Byorth