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Lena Dunham: What Sexual Liberation Has Wrought

lena dunhamUntil 2012 and her infamous Obama ad during the presidential campaign, I had never heard of Lena Dunham.  Now it seems that Ms. Dunham, creator, star and producer of HBO’s Girls, has written a book, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”

If, like me, you have never seen Girls, I can tell you, that once I read a description of a particularly unpleasant sex scene from the show that appalled me.  The writer of the piece assured his audience that this was by no means the worst of what the show includes.

What kind of advice is Ms. Dunham dispensing in her book?  Here are some of her words of wisdom:  “If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile.”

Modern women are reduced to this.  Liberation means fornicating, but possibly being disgusted by the act and/or the man with whom you are performing the act.  It has taken half a century or so for women to degrade themselves like this.

Chastity is not always easy.   It does not always guarantee a perfect marital relationship; but the odds are pretty good that a chaste woman who waits for marriage before engaging in sexual activity will not feel that she wants “to run away during the act”.  The odds are certainly much better than those that today’s modern women face in the world of sexual liberation.

Unfortunately, no major network or major publisher is going to pay me what Lena Dunham gets to create a TV series or write a book espousing chastity.

Maureen Williamson

New Pew Survey Shows Some Changes in Attitudes on Religion in the Public Square

A new Pew poll shows a few interesting variations in attitudes toward religion and politics.  In some ways the poll also illustrates the dichotomy between liberals and conservatives.  72% of Americans think religion is losing influence in our lives, 5% higher than in 2010.  56% of those who think this, say it is a bad thing.  Of the 12% who think it is a good thing, 34% say they have no religious affiliation.

Pew reports that “The findings reflect a widening divide between religiously affiliated Americans and the rising share of the population that is not affiliated with any religion” and further that those who are affiliated with a religion “have become significantly more supportive of churches and other houses of worship speaking out about political issues and political leaders talking more often about religion.”

The latter is not surprising.  Nor is it surprising that more Republicans than Democrats think religion belongs in public life.

Regarding same-sex marriage, 49% of Americans favor it; 41% are opposed.  Pew reports that this a slight drop in those favoring it.  50% think homosexuality is a sin, up from 45% a year ago.  47% believe that businesses should be allowed to refuse services for same-sex marriages; 49% believe they should be forced to provide services.

The most surprising thing in the survey to me is that only 18% of Catholics feel that it is more difficult to be religious in the United States today.  Where do they live?  Any Catholic – or other person – who publicly expresses opposition to same-sex marriage at the place where he works could easily be fired.  Catholic employees are forced under the HHS mandate to provide their employees with insurance coverage that is against Catholic teaching.   Do things like this make it easier to be a Catholic?

There is more in the survey.  I suggest you read it.

Maureen Williamson

The Issue of Divorced and Remarried Catholics Receiving Holy Communion: An Example of What Liberalism Has Wrought Today

The first part of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the family begins in less than a month.  Talk has heated up about what – if anything — will result from the meeting, which is actually only a preliminary to the second and larger Synod to take place in October 2015.

Many observers predict that the Synod will recommend that the annulment process be made easier.  There has been lots of talk about the Church changing its teaching on marriage and allowing divorced Catholics married outside the Church to receive Holy Communion.  I haven’t read anyone who really thinks that the Bishops will recommend this.  Which isn’t to say that a number of Catholics including some bishops aren’t in favor of it.  It is interesting to read some of the comments about the situation.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin (from the Diocese of Providence website)

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin (from the Diocese of Providence website)

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Rhode Island, who is known for asking former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy not to receive Holy Communion because of his support of abortion, has likened the problem of divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment to the Gospel in which Christ and his followers collected grain to eat on the Sabbath because they were hungry.  When they were condemned by the Pharisee’s Christ said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

“Could we not take a similar approach to marriage law today?” asks the Bishop.  Could we not say, by way of analogy, that ‘matrimony is made for man, not man for matrimony’?”

The situation is not analogous at all as far as I can see.  “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder,” the Bible tells us.

“I don’t know what the answer is, I really don’t,” Bishop Tobin asserts.  “Nevertheless, my forty-one years as a priest and nearly twenty-two as a bishop have convinced me that the status quo is unacceptable.  For the spiritual well-being of the divorced and remarried members of our Catholic Family, for the salvation of their souls, we’ve got to do something.”

To answer this, I quote from Liberalism Is a Sin by Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany originally published in English in 1899:

“Faith possesses a power of its own, which it communicates to its friends and defenders.  It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor.  This on the condition that they use that power in its defense.

If the defender, under the pretext of better defending the truth, begins to mutilate it, to minimize it, to attenuate it, then he is no longer defending the truth.  He is simply defending his own invention, a mere human creation, more or less beautiful in appearance, but having no relation to truth, which is the daughter of Heaven.

Such is the delusion of which many of our brethren are the unconscious victims, through a detestable contact with Liberalism.

They imagine, with blinded good faith, that they are defending and propagating Catholicity.  But by dint of accommodating it to their own narrow views and feeble courage, in order to make it, they say, more acceptable to the enemy whom they wish to overcome, they do not perceive that they are no longer defending Catholicity, but a thing of their own manufacture, which they naively call Catholicity, but which they ought to call by another name.  Poor victims of self-deception, who at the beginning of the battle, in order to win over the enemy, wet their own powder and blunt the edge and the point of their swords!  They do not stop to reflect that an edgeless and pointless sword is no longer a weapon, but a useless piece of old iron, and that wet powder cannot be fired.

Their journals, their books, their discourses – veneered with Catholicity but bereft of its spirit and its life – have no more value in the cause of the Faith than the toy swords and pistols of the nursery.”

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Members of the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Baltimore, MD. (From Franciscan University website)

Members of the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Baltimore, MD. (From Franciscan University website)

Scott Hahn’s latest is Angels and Saints which Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia calls “a wonderful explanation of what Catholics believe about angels and saints, and why—made even more absorbing by Hahn’s vivid portraits of individual women and men whom the Church now calls saints.”…Liberals, including liberal Catholics, are always asking, “When Will the Catholic Church come into the 21st Century?”  Stuart Squires shows why “the doctrinal revelations that come through the Church come out of God’s very Self, and are not tied to culturally constructed norms” in an excellent piece for Crisis….Franciscan University of Steubenville presents its highest non-academic honor, the Poverello Medal, to the Little Sisters of the Poor for their dedication to the poor and elderly and their courageous stand in challenging the HHS Mandate requiring employers to provide medical insurance that covers contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients.  Presentation is set for October 10 at 7 pm at the university’s Christ the King Chapel….Nice interview with Wyoming Catholic College professor Peter Kwasniewski in the National Catholic Register….Regnery calls David Limbaugh’s new book, Jesus on Trial: “Part personal testimony, part Christian apologetic, part factual evaluation, and part theological primer.

Maureen Williamson

The Man Behind The Hobbit

MythmakerJ. R. R. Tolkien’s books are among the most popular written in the 20th-century.  The Hobbit and  The Lord of the Rings trilogy are read and reread by adults and children alike.  Mythmaker by Anne E. Neimark is a biography of Tolkien recommended for ages 9-12.

Ms. Neimark is one of those who writes a biography in the style of fiction.  This makes the book readable; although the dialogue is surely invented by her.  On the other hand, she is faithful to the facts of Tolkien’s life beginning with his early childhood in Africa until his death in 1973.

Tolkien, as most Catholics know, was baptized as a child when his mother converted to Catholicism.  Ms. Neimark pays sufficient attention to his faith which obviously meant a lot to Tolkien.  Mention is made of his friendship with C. S. Lewis and of the Inklings, but it isn’t dwelt upon.

Mythmaker does, as it should, give a great deal of attention to the evolution of the Hobbit stories and The Silmarillion which was published posthumously after editing by Tolkien’s son Christopher.  Readers learn the origin of the names of the dwarves; the development of The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien’s view of the morals of the Rings trilogy among other details.

Mythmaker is a nice complement to Tolkien’s fiction for middle grade children; not just because it provides background for Tolkien’s stories; but also because it exposes today’s children to the intellectual world of Britain in the first half of the 20th-century.

The book includes a list of all Tolkien’s writings and an index.

Maureen Williamson

“What message does Cardinal Dolan’s decision give?”

Bob Marshall, a legislator in Virginia, wrote an excellent letter to Cardinal Carlo Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United State, regarding Cardinal Dolan’s decision to allow an openly Gay group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York.

Take a look

http://delegatebob.com/

If You Are a Singer or a Musician You Owe Guido d’Arezzo a Lot

Do Re Mi Anyone who sings or plays an instrument takes it for granted that he uses a music score and is able to read the notes.  A thousand years ago this was not so.  In those days musicians and singers had to memorize each song.

Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo with text and illustrations by Susan L. Roth tells the story of how this Tuscan man developed a system for reading and writing music.  Guido d’Arezzo is thus called the “Father of Music.”  Because of him we can preserve music from generation to generation.

As the story of Guido d’Arezzo’s struggle to find the key to writing music this book succeeds.   It is a worthwhile tool for use teaching children an aspect of the history of music.

The illustrations are too modern for me and I find the faces unpleasant; but I don’t dislike them enough not to recommend the book.

There is a Foreword by Angelo Mafucci, a scholar of Guido d’Arezzo and Gregorian Chant, as well as a Glossary of musical terms, both of which add to the book’s value as a teaching tool.

The publisher recommends it for ages four to eight which I’d say is about right.

Maureen Williamson

What Would St. Patrick Say?

St.  Patrick must be spinning in his grave.  The decision to allow openly gay groups to march in New York’s parade honoring the great saint is, of course, appalling.  Even more appalling is Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s reaction as reported in the New York Times.  “I have no trouble with the decision at all,” said the Cardinal.

So, once again the Church has capitulated on a issue which in today’s public square helps define the faith and its adherence to the Ten Commandments.  Patrick Archbold is quite right when he wrote in the National Catholic Register that, “it is a shameful and sinful capitulation by the parade organizers and Cardinal Dolan.”

Let’s be clear about one thing.  Temptation is not the same as sin and anyone who conscientiously fights a same-sex attraction deserves praise and our sympathy.  If one with this temptation does on occasion fail, there is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which we all need. These are private and personal issues between God and individual human beings.  However, Pope Francis’s comment , “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” does not apply to those who practice, defend and promote homosexuality as an “alternative lifestyle” to heterosexuality without any remorse.

Unfortunately, today the enemies of the Church frame the terms of the debate.  The Times reports former speaker of the New York city council and avowed lesbian Christine Quinn’s reaction to the decision:  “To have the parade point a finger and say to me and others, ‘You’re not as good as these other Irish people’ has been very painful.  That is now coming to an end.”

That is not the issue; nor was it so.

Homosexuals or lesbians have never been prevented from marching in the parade as individuals.  The Church does not require those who march be without sin.  We are talking here about using a parade that honors a Catholic saint to promote that which is one of the sins that cries out for vengeance.

It is the Church’s job to help us get to heaven.  Is it doing that when it allows those who promote sin to participate in one of its own events?

I am in full agreement with Mr. Archbold that the parade should be cancelled rather than be used in this way.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (CatholicPhilly.com)

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput (CatholicPhilly.com)

Father Robert Baron’s latest Study Program shows the Old Testament foreshadowing of Jesus’ three roles as Priest, Prophet, King and then describes how Jesus is the fulfillment of each in the New Testament.  The set includes two DVDs with six talks….From Saint Benedict Press comes Your School of Love: A Spiritual Companion for Teaching Mothers by Agnes M. Penny….Dietrich von Hildebrand was perhaps the greatest Catholic philosopher of the twentieth century.  This fall EWTN is running “He Dared Speak the Truth”, a discussion about him between his wife Alice and John Henry Crosby, Director of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project.  Look for the show on Wednesdays at 2:30 pm ET and Fridays at 11 pm ET beginning October 15….Retreat master and author Kathleen Beckman offers ways for you to help the Church today in Praying for Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization.  Fr. Mitch Pacwa wrote the Foreword….Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will give the 27th Annual Erasmus Lecture sponsored by First Things on October 20 at the Union League Club in New York.

Maureen Williamson

Catholic Children and Being Different

Simcha Fisher (from NCRegister.com)

Simcha Fisher (from NCRegister.com)

Simcha Fisher is always a good read.  Her recent piece for National Catholic Register, “Ten Things I Learned the Hard Way about Sending Kids to School,” is both serious and amusing.  One point she makes in her article, however, is worth examining further.

“Being a Catholic means you’re going to be different,” writes Mrs. Fisher.  Amen.  And not just when a child is in a secular school.  Sometimes even when he is in a Catholic school around some students, Mrs. Fisher points out.

Things won’t get any better when children become adults.  They will face this challenge in the world at large.  The trouble is that today it is not just a matter of a serious Catholic holding beliefs at odds with the modern world.  Catholics often can’t express their beliefs without fear of reprisal.

It behooves parents whose children attend schools, especially public or secular private schools, to have them well-prepared for what they are likely to face.  In schools some teachers feel free to be as open as they want about issues likely to make Catholic children feel uncomfortable.

It is all well and good for Mrs. Fisher to say, “If your kids are going to be in an environment where they are the only Catholics around, they need to have constant reminders (in word and in deed) that Christians are bearers of Good News, not bearers of hostility and smugness.”

Children should certainly behave with Christian charity towards their teachers and fellow students.  Yet, is it hostile or smug to say what you believe?  Or to fight (verbally) for what you believe?

If children don’t start early to view both school and the world at large with a skeptical eye they are likely on the road to losing their faith.  It is so easy for one or more of your children to begin to think like the secular world around them.  After all, sin is very easy and the devil is always around to tempt us all.

As far as I am concerned, making sure your children know that they are different and making sure that they know their faith  and know that it is the most important thing they have is the best thing you can do when you send them out into the world to school, whether it is to first grade or college.

Maureen Williamson

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