Friday, December 23, 2005

Peanut Butter, Planes, and Procreation

So, I have arrived safely in Tejas to spend this Christmas with my family. As I prepare to be confirmed in the Catholic Church this coming Easter, I have been reading through Peter Kreeft's book Catholic Christianity. I do love it. I brought it along on my flight, in addition to a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a baggy of broken Saltine crackers. (*drooling*) Hey, at least I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg to eat some MSG-saturated Chinese food at the airport, as much as I love to eat Chinese food.

I had my first introduction to teachings on sexual abstinence until marriage (via a Baptist church) when I was 12. It's been over a decade since then, and although sexual purity is very important to me, I often feel like there is nothing particularly gripping left to say on the subject. I feel that I have heard it all. However, as I began my journey towards Catholic Christianity, I discovered that the Church goes beyond "abstinence" and upholds what is known as "chastity." Chastity is much more than simply abstaining from sex until marriage; it involves living all of one's life before God in purity. It requires seeking purity of heart and mind, as well as purity of action. Spouses are to practice chastity in their relationship with one another, sexually and otherwise. Sexual marital chastity involves honoring the human dignity of one's spouse in sexual actions. This is why the Catholic Church teaches against things like sodomy, barriers and artificial "birth control", and climax outside of the intended sexual embrace. They are a means of treating one's spouse as an object for pleasure.

Well, Peter Kreeft has indeed blown-me-out-of-the-water with his observations on the marital sexual union. This stuff is revolutionizing how I think. In the Bible, it is written, "As a man thinketh, so he is" (sorry, I don't know the "address"). Guess this is why we are called by God to "renew our minds" and seek His help in surrendering our twisted perceptions and misguided affections to Him while seeking His truth (see Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23).

Kreeft begins laying the foundation for grasping the truth about God's design for human sexuality as quoted below:

"To create a thing is to give it existence. To make a thing means to give new form to matter, to something that already exists. What is created is not just changed but made to exist in the first place.

"The closest man ever comes to creating is 'procreating'. Procreating is cooperating with God's most important act of creation . . . the creation of human beings, with immortal souls, destined to exist eternally. When God creates a new human soul out of nothing, he does so only when a man and a woman make a new body out of their previously existing matter and genetic form by sexual intercourse. That is why sex is holy" (45)

Are you ready for this? Kreeft picks up . . .

"Sexual intercourse is like the Consecration at Mass. It is a human work that God uses as the material means to do the most divine work done on earth. In the Mass, man offers bread and wine, the work of nature and human hands, for God to transform into the Body and Blood of Christ. In sex, man offers his work--the procreation of a new body--for God to do his work: the creation of a new soul. God grants priests the incredible dignity of being his instruments in working one of his two greatest miracles. God grants spouses the incredible dignity of being his instruments in working the other one.

"Something that is so very good 'ontologically', that is, in its being, essence, or nature, needs to be respected and rightly used. Misuse of something ontologically good is morally bad. The better and more important it is ontologically, the more seriously harmful its moral abuse is. We have rules for careful use of precious works of art, not for paper clips. . . .

"As Holy Mass is the place for the Transubstantiation, holy marriage is the place for sex" (61).

I never want to grow tired of this stuff; I want to truly know it so that I may live it from the depths of my being!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Subjective Sweethearts

Immanuel Kant is known for his moral imperative against utilitarianism - holding that a person should always be an end in himself and never a means to an end. Utilitarianism cries, "Seek the maximum amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people." If the ultimate aim of man is pleasure, if pleasure is "the whole basis of moral norms" (37), then everything we do must be aimed at gaining pleasure, the ultimate good. JPII writes, "If I accept the utilitarian premise I must see myself as . . . an object which may be called upon to provide [pleasurable] experiences for others" (37).

JPII continues:

"If, while regarding pleasure as the only good, I also try to obtain the maximum pleasure for someone else - and not just for myself, which would be blatant egoism - then I put a value on the pleasure of this other person only in so far as it gives pleasure to me: it gives me pleasure, that someone else is experiencing pleasure. If, however, I cease to experience pleasure, or it does not tally with my 'calculus of happiness' - (a term often used by utilitarians) then the pleasure of the other person ceases to be my obligation, a good for me, and may even become something positively bad. I shall then - true to the principles of utilitarianism - seek to eliminate the other person's pleasure because no pleasure for me is any longer bound up with it - or at any rate the other person's pleasure will become a matter of indifference to me, and I shall not concern myself with it" ( 38).

Viewing pleasure, a subjective and ephemeral experience, as one's greatest good leads to egoism. Well, yeah, we all want to feel good. We are all largely looking out for our own desires, right? So what's the problem with that?

Glad you asked. ;-D According to JPII, if you ever want to experience a true and lasting love, it must be built on an objective common good, not a subjective good such as pleasure. Although it is possible to harmonize two egoisms, the relationship still remains based on egoism. The only difference is "that these two egoisms, the man's and the woman's, will match each other and be mutually advantageous. The moment they cease to match and to be of advantage to each other, nothing at all is left of the harmony. Love will be no more, in either of the persons or between them, it will not be an objective reality, for there is no objective good to ensure its existence. 'Love' in its utilitarian conception is a union of egoisms, which can hold together only on condition that they confront each other with nothing unpleasant, nothing to conflict with their mutual pleasure. Therefore love so understood is self-evidently merely a pretence which has to be carefully cultivated to keep the underlying reality hidden: the reality of egoism, and the greediest kind of egoism at that, exploiting another person to obtain for itself its own 'maximum pleasure'. In such circumstances the other person is and remains only a means to an end, as Kant rightly observed in his critique of utilitarianism" (39).

A utilitarian relationship has "a paradoxical pattern: each of the persons is mainly concerned with gratifying his or her own egoism, but at the same time consents to serve someone else's egoism, because this can provide the opportunity for such gratification - and just as long as it does so. This paradoxical pattern . . . means that the person . . . sinks to the level of a means, a tool. . . . If I treat someone else as a tool in relation to myself I cannot help regarding myself in the same light. We have here something like the opposite of the commandment to love" (39).

JPII observes that the only way to escape from utiliarianism and egoism in relationships if to recognize "beyond any purely subjective good, i.e. beyond pleasure, an objective good, which can also unite persons - and thereby acquire the characteristics of a common good" (38). He continues, "Such an objective common good is the foundation of love, and individual persons, who jointly choose a common good, in doing so subject themselves to it. Thanks to it they are united by a true, objective bond of love which enables them to liberate themselves from subjectivism and from the egoism which it inevitably conceals. Love is the unification of persons" (38).

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Pleasure or not . . . here I come

God said "It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him." And so God gave to Adam animals of all kinds, and yet "not one of them was a suitable companion to help him. . . "

"Then the LORD God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man's ribs and closed up the flesh. He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him."

"Then the man said, "At last, here is one of my own kind--Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. 'Woman' is her name because she was taken out of man." (Gen. 2:18, 20-23 TEV)

Because only another human being shares equal status with another human being, only two persons can truly become "partners" in activity with one another. JPII says that "a person is for another person the source of experiences with a special emotional-affective charge" (32-3). The depths of personal and moral interaction that are possible between two persons bring with it great potential for pleasure as well as pain, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. When we throw romantic relationships into the mix, the potential for pleasure and/or pain is something I'm sure we all can relate to.

Peter Kreeft, in his book Catholic Christianity makes a comment regarding "Social and Economic Morality" that is quite applicable to the issue of pleasure in human relationships. He writes:

"Profit is to production what pleasure is to sex: right and proper and natural when associated with the intrinsic purpose of the activity, but all too easily divorced from that purpose and loved for its own sake" (264).

JPII makes the same point in Love & Responsibility regarding the temptation for man and woman to make pleasure the "say all and be all" in their relationships with one another. He writes in his usual eloquent, philosophical style:

"For man, precisely because he has the power to reason, can, in his actions, not only clearly distinguish pleasure from its opposite [pain], but can also isolate it, so to speak, and treat it as a distinct aim of his activity. His actions are then shaped only with a view to the pleasure he wishes to obtain, or the pain he wishes to avoid. If actions involving a person of the opposite sex are shaped exclusively or primarily with this in view, then that person will become only the means to an end" (33).

After the fall, it has become an enormous temptation for us to use one another for the sake of physical and/or emotional pleasure. JPII says "enjoyment must be subordinated to love" (34). He warns us again that sometimes "use" masquerades as "love"; selfishness often justifies itself as being love.

The utilitarian principle is that pleasure in itself is "the sole or at any rate the greatest good, to which everything else in the activity of an individual or a society should be subordinated" (36). Of course, people want to avoid pain and experience pleasure by nature, but pleasure is an elusive thing; it is contingent and incidental, not something we can secure by our actions. In fact, we cannot even properly predict the degree of pain that may be entailed in our various actions. Obviously, pain and pleasure cannot be our measuring stick for the morality or worthiness of our actions.

Man is a rational being; he is a material and spiritual entity with his soul being the animating force of his human existence. It is, therefore, improper for man to organize his actions around the principle of avoiding pain and seeking to maximize pleasure.*

Because JPII says it best, I'm going to close with his thoughts:

". . . Pleasure (as opposed to pain) cannot be the only factor affecting my decision to act or not to act, still less the criterion by which I pronounce judgment on what is good and what is bad in my own or another person's actions. Quite obviously, that which is truly good, that which morality and conscience bid me do, often involves some measure of pain and requires the renunciation of some pleasure. The pain involved, or the pleasure which I must forego, is not the decisive consideration if I am to act rationally. What is more, it is not fully identifiable beforehand. Pleasure and pain are always connected with a concrete action, so that it is not possible to anticipate them precisely, let alone to plan for them or, as the utilitarians would have us do, even compute them in advance. Pleasure is, after all, a somewhat elusive thing" (36).

* This is not the case when it comes to eternal pain and eternal pleasure. We should rather endure temporal pain, on earth or in purgatory, in order to obtain the joy of being in God's presence forever and to avoid the eternal torment of separation from God in hell. That is proper to the nature and design of the human person.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

When is an act of love anti-love?

No, really, I'm asking you. What do you think? When is an act of love anti-love?

I ask because of Footnote 11 in JPII's Love & Responsibility. I am fascinated by this quote, but I can't quite wrap my mind around what it means and how it plays out in our lives. JPII writes:
"It is, of course, not enough just to want to affirm the other person for the consequent act (of goodwill) to become also an act of love. It is necessary in addition for the action undertaken with the intention of affirming another person to be objectively suited to the role which the agent's intention assigns to it. Whether it is or is not suitable is decided by the objective structure of the person affected by the action. Only success in understanding the other person and allowing when acting for that person's specific traits ensures that the act will be recognizable as a genuine act of love. An imperfect understanding of the structure of the object person must, in consequence become the source of (inadvertent and hence involuntary) action to the detriment of that person. The danger is all the greater in that utilization of the other takes place in the name of love. The agent is unaware of his delusion, and so immune from blame. None the less, the agent is responsible for an act of 'anti-love' . . . . because he loves. Only constant awareness of the danger of disintegration of love in this way (emotionalization) can help us to avoid it. Cf. Introduction o the first edition (Lublin 1960), p. 6, where the author postulates the need for 'the introduction of love into love'."

So, my darlings, enlighten me! Tell me your thoughts or questions about this passage.


50 ways to use your lover

If it is not okay to use a person solely as a means to an end, then what do we do with other persons? We LOVE them! Love is the opposite of using. If "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage", what comes before love?

The sharing of a common good or aim.

JPII writes in Love & Responsibility:
"Obviously, I may want another person to desire the same good which I myself desire. Obviously, the other must know this end of mine, recognize it as a good, and adopt it. If this happens, a special bond is established between me and this other person: the bond of a common good and of a common aim" (28).

Whenever two people share a common good, each of his own free choosing, then they see one other in relationship as equals. One is not "subordinated to the other," but rather both are "subordinated to that good which constitutes their common end" (29).

Unlike animals, love is "exclusively the portion of human persons;" love is predicated on free will, which animals do not posses as we do. Interestingly, just because someone shares a good end with another does not mean that they are truly able to love those others. It is possible to be utilitarian and to view another with a consumerist attitude while striving towards a good. Just because a man strives towards a good (i.e. protecting the unborn) does not mean he is willing to consciously pursue that good with others, subordinating himself to the good for the other's sake and subordinating himself to the others for the sake of the good.

JPII gives the example of employee/employer relations. It is clear that an employer can use his employee in a utilitarian fashion, to accomplish a company goal, but not really care about or get to know his employee as a human individual. They are both working towards a common good, but there is no love or common bond between them. (We are not yet speaking of romantic love here. Hopefully, that's obvious. ;-D) But it is also possible that both parties could be so persuaded of the goodness of their common aim, that they work together in a partnership, with an attitude akin to love, a camaraderie.

In marriage, it is possible that the man and woman acting together in their common sexual life, becoming one flesh (see Genesis 2:24), can use each other primarily as an object for sexual gratification. Married sex can still be selfish. JPII says the married couple should recognize that they share a common end. When it comes to married sex, the common goal is procreation, the creation of a family, as well as deepening the relationship between husband and wife. Dr. Janet Smith (Contraception: Why Not?) summarizes this point by saying that sex is for babies and bonding.

The couple value one another as persons, and value their future children as persons, and they are most likely to treat one another in accord with their dignity as human individuals. When it comes to sex, it's funny because people can actually mutually agree to use each other (i.e. porn actors, premarital sex). However, they are not supposed to. Also, it is possible that one spouse could be engaging in sexual intercourse with the other for the sole purpose of creating a child, in a utilitarian sense. (Not to mention that we cannot technically force conception. God controls life.) This would be also a selfish act, stripping love of the other person and the desire to grow in intimacy from the sexual union. Is this what was commonly practiced among Puritans in the early American colonies? Sex is for babies, but also for bonding.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Get Schooled

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge... Hear, my son, and be wise: and guide your heart in the way." Proverbs 23:12, 19

The ability to think and make decisions for one's self are prominent attributes of the inner life of a human person. Every person is capable by nature of determining his own aims (Love & Responsibility 27). If we treat a person as a means to an end then we are violating their natural right to decide their own aims. Is it therefore wrong to seek to mold your children into godly men and women? Is it a violation of someone's natural rights to try to convince them of the immorality/morality of certain actions when they hold a differing opinion?

JPII notes that we must demand that every thinking indvidual seek genuinely good ends. In fact, "the pursuit of evil ends is contrary to the rational nature of the person" (27). Both the education of a child and mutal education between adults revolves around the seeking of real goods (true ends) and helping one another to realize those ends. In "Person and Act", JPII observes that freedom is not found in " absolute independence" but rather in "a self-dependence comprising dependence on the truth" (162) The function of the human conscience "consists in making action dependent on truth" (163).

In any activity where another person is the object, including education, we "may not treat that perons as only the means to an end, as an instrument, but must allow for the fact that he or she, too, has, or at least should have, distinct personal ends" (28). So, we should not go so far in seeking to persuade, educate, or mold a person in godliness that we are actually forcing them to act according to our wishes. This is a violation of their conscience, their personhood. Of course, this is a general statement; it is okay if a parent "forces" his child to clean his room by refusing to let the child stay the night with a friend unless he finishes his chore. This is in fact part of the parent's duty in disciplining the child and teaching him to be responsible. And, if a man were going to shoot someone on the street, there would be no moral violation of personhood in disarming him by reasonable force.

God Himself does not use human beings as means to an end. (My Calvinist friends are gonna love that ;-D) The late Holy Father has written:
"On the part of God, indeed, it is totally out of the question, since, by giving man an intelligent and free nature, he has thereby ordained that each man alone will decide for himself the ends of his activity, and not be a blind tool of someone else's ends. Therefore, if God intends to direct man towards certain goals, he allows him to begin with to know those goals, so that he may make them his own and strive towards them independently. In this amongst other things resides the most profound logic of revelation: God allows man to learn His supernatural ends, but the decision to strive towards an end, the choice of course, is left to man's free will. God does not redeem man against his will" (27)

The Catholic view of the Annunciation (when Gabriel anncounced that Mary would conceive the son of God) is that God was not forcing Mary to bear the Christ child. Rather, God's message to her was one that came with a choice. She gave her assent, her fiat, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." She is the second Eve, as Christ is the second Adam. Through Adam sin entered the world, but through the one man, Jesus Christ, the world was redeemed. Eve exerted her freedom of choice, her will, in disobeying God (presumably because she disbelieved in His good intentions towards her in forbidding her to eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Eve is the woman who said, "Yes" and became the doorway to salvation. God did not merely use her as a means to clothe himself in flesh, but He loves her and invites us all to call her our mother. Don't you want to have a mother who teaches you by her example to say "Yes, be it done unto me according to Your will, Lord"?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sex and Exorcisms

Hey, just a few interesting thoughts.

First, if you have not seen the movie the Exorcism of Emily Rose, I highly recommend it. It is loosely based on a true story, and I found the enactments of possession to be very believable, not gratuitously gory or physically impossible. If you get freaked out by the subject matter, then don't see it, or see it with a good friend.

And, secondly, last night I attended a Catholic social event involving a bonfire, smores (*drooling*) and a talk by an exorcist. The priest made an interesting observation starting off the night. He said that demons hate the fact that human beings can reproduce. Angels and demons are not sexual beings and cannot reproduce their own kind. Therefore, they seek with especial vehemence to pervert human sexuality and reproduction. Wow. That makes sense.


You are worth more

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." - Jesus (as recorded in Luke 12:6-8)

In man's treatment of animals, "since they are beings endowed with feeling and sensitive to pain, man is required to ensure that the use of these creatures is never attended by suffering or physical torture." (25) However, animals can and even must be treated as instruments for use/exploitation, "whenever treating them so is the only way of affectively affirming a person or persons." (290, F.4) I can't think of any example other than, if you were driving on a two-lane bridge and there was a large deer blocking both lanes and you had to choose between hitting the deer (very carefully - you know it can be lethal) or driving off the bridge and most likely killing yourself and your passengers, then the obvious choice is to hit the freakin' dear.

JPII writes, "To use means to employ some object of action as a means to an end."(25) If we use a person as a means to an end (i.e. sexual pleasure, landing a job, meeting a cute guy or girl, financial security), then we treat them as an object, making them subordinate to us for our own purposes. Man is free to use inanimate objects, earthly resources, and animals all within good reason to accomplish good ends for humanity. A person, however, by his very nature is to be an end in himself. "To treat one person purely as an instrument 'for the good of' another or even of all other persons is impermissible." (290, F.4) The first example which comes to mind is embryonic stem-cell research. Removing the stem-cells from an embryonic person, actually takes the life of that person, and this is morally wrong, even though many believe that one day these stem-cells will be the most powerful means for creating new human organs or treating diseases in other living human beings.

JPII is all about affirming the dignity of the person; he calls this the "personalistic norm". (290, F.4) A person is "a value not to be compared with anything in the world outside the world of persons." (290. F4)

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." - the Apostle Peter, the Church's first Pope, as writen in his encyclical - I Peter 1:18-19

Sunday, October 9, 2005

"You and me, baby, ain't nothing but mammals..."

". . . so let's do it like they do it on discovery channel." - Bloodhound Gang

Remember that objectifying hit song that came out about 6 years ago? Well, I hope you don't, but I reference this portion of the lyrics because it captures the mentality of our pornographic culture which views people as objects primarily seeking sexual pleasure and as objects to be used for the sexual gratification of others. (In no way do I believe sexual pleasure to be an evil, but rather it is not man's primary good. When viewed as such, our priorities and loves are all out of whack, and as our selfish desires play themselves out in our lives they will wreak havoc.)

The author of Love & Responsibility (that is Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II) begins by emphasizing that a person is not a "thing" but rather a "somebody". . . a person. Persons are different from other living things, including the most advanced animals, because we have a unique ability to reason; we are "rational beings" and can think conceptually. We also possess an "inner life" or "spiritual life." Although animals have a sensual existence and strive to fulfill their own particular desires, man's cognitive abilities allow him to desire and strive towards goodness and truth. Animals do not make such willful choices in their desires and behaviors; they do not have a conscience.

Because we exist as real, physical, cognitive beings in space and time with a will and self-awareness, it is natural that we ask, "What is the ultimate cause of everything?" (23) Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why are things the way they are? With our ability to will and to desire we ponder "how to be good and possess goodness at its fullest" (23). Sometimes we are mistaken about what is actually good and true, falling for the "shadow" of the real thing. Bruce Marshall in The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith writes, "The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God" (108). He is seeking a good in a union with another person, albeit inappropriately attained, but his deepest longing is to be knowingly known and loved by God and to be one with Him. JPII calls these ponderings about our existence and about what is good "natural tendencies of the whole human entity" (23).

JPII writes: "The person's contact with the objective world, with reality, is not merely 'natural', physical, as is the case with all other creations of nature, nor is it merely sensual as in the case of animals. A human person, as a distinctly defined subject, establishes contact with all other entities precisely through the inner self, and neither the 'natural' contacts which are also its prerogative, since it has a body and in a certain sense 'is a body', nor the sensual contacts in which it resembles the animals, constitute its characteristic way of communication with the world." (23) Not only does the inner life of a man cause him to relate to the physical world in a unique way, but he also possesses a unique relationship to the invisible world . . . namely to God.

Of course, we all begin with a sensual and natural relationship to the outside world, but as we grow our inner life evolves and affects how we relate to all things and persons. JPII writes, "Man's nature differs fundamentally from that of the animals. It includes the power of self-determination, based on reflection, and manifested in the fact that a man acts from choice. This power is called free will" (23-4). Man is his own master, sui juris (24), because he has the gift of self-determination in a unique way. We should seek to conform our desires and wills to objective reality.

In relating to the world, man intercepts messages, interprets them, and reacts thoughtfully, not merely spontaneously, instinctually, or mechanically. Also, because every person is an individual "I" with a will of his/her own, it is proper to man that he relate to other persons in such a way as to respect their free will. The very nature of man demands that he assert himself, his "I", in relation to the outside world. It is proper to man to be his own person in this respect.

No one else can will for you. You cannot ever actually will on behalf of any other person. JPII labels this alteri incommunicabilis, meaning "not capable of transmission" (24) in Latin. This is the fact we must face when we are romantically interested in someone who does not reciprocate our interest. We face the reality of their free will and our lack of control over their will. This is why it is beneficial to conform our understanding of the world to REALITY. Painfully liberating, huh?

JPII explains: "This is the moment when the impassable frontier between him and me, which is drawn by free will, becomes most obvious. I may not want that which he wants me to want--and in this precisely I am incommunicabilis. I am, and I must be, independent in my actions. All human relationships are posited on this fact. All true conceptions about education and culture begin from and return to this point" (24).

Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . everybody knows this stuff. It's common sense. What's the big deal?

Well, all of these things should be common sense, but it is clear by looking around that we often times do not live in accord with these simple realities about persons. This is all setting the stage and laying the foundation for further talk about the human person and proper sexuality. (If you can't tell by now, I'm just a little bit obsessed with sexual ethics.)

Sometimes we may be the subject acting upon another. Other times we are the object, the one being acted upon by another. Many of our actions involve other human beings as our object. Love & Responsibility is focused on sexual morality, the thrilling principles which should guide all sexual actions between persons of the opposite sex. "The woman is always the object of activity on the part of a man, and the man the object of activity on the part of the woman. . . . We know already," writes JPII, "that the subject and the object of the action alike are persons. It is now necessary to consider carefully the principles to which a human being's actions must conform when their object is another human person" (24).

Please, continue to join me as I blog my way systematically through JPII's Love & Responsibility.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Sex is Currency"

So today I made a run to Walmart and bought the latest Switchfoot CD. I especially have taken a liking to the fifth song on the album . . .

Easier Than Love
by Switchfoot

Sex is currency;
She sells cars; she seels magazines.
Addictive, bittersweet, clap your hands
With the hopeless nicotines.
Everyone's a lost romantic, since our love became a kissing show.
Everyone's a Casanova, come and pass me the mistletoe.
Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone.
She is easier than love, is easier than life.
It's easier to fake and smile and bribe.
It's easier to leave. It's easier to lie.
It's harder to face ourselves at night, feeling alone.
What have we done?
What is the monster we've become?
Where is my soul? (Numb.)
Sex is industry, the CEO of corporate policy.
Skin-deep ministry, suburban youth hail your so called liberty.
Every advertising antic our banner waves with a neon glow.
War and love become pedantic;
We wage love with a mistletoe.
Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone.
Sex is easier than love.

This song is especially great when you can hear it. Switchfoot is making a strong statement about our current "pornographic culture." Everyone is looking for love; no one wants to be alone. But we do not really know what love is. Sex often feels like love; this is why women in particular are willing to make themselves objects to be used sexually by others, to be consumed . . . because when they are the center of attention and an object of desire, they feel wanted, they feel they have something to offer, they feel loved. Seems in our day and age that we have developed a wrong appetite. We make war with one another and our weapon is "making love." We have developed a taste for those things which most closely resemble the love and the mystery that we all seek. But we don't know that we are feasting on garbage and yet have a banquet of beauty and fulfilling sexuality prepared before us by our Maker. Until we get sick to our stomachs (or to our souls), we cannot see the wrongness of our approach to the human person, sexuality, relationships, and pro-creation. Even those of us who believe we have a Christian perspective still often have gaps in our understanding of the human person and sexuality. Our cultural norm is to revel in selfishness and physical pleasure until we "mourn at last, when [our] flesh and body are consumed, and say: 'How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction!' (Proverbs 5:11-12).

Fortunately, God reaches down to us to show us the more beautiful and fulfilling way to being human, to experiencing the fullness of all our sexuality, and to show us what our relationships were meant to be. Some, for whatever reason do not learn of these truths until they have spent their lifetimes in a confused pursuit of love. Such is the human condition. (Switchfoot sings in song #4 of the Nothing is Sound album: "Oh, Lord, why did you forsake me? Oh, Lord, don't be far away. Storm clouds gathering beside me. Please, Lord, don't look the other way. I'm a crooked soul trying to stay up straight. Shine on me; let my shadows prove the sunshine." Seems Plato's cave analogy would be fitting here.)

But I desire to hold forth to you now the fullness of truth that God has unfurled before all mankind. I want to be His ambassador. It is my intention to begin a lay man's discussion of the rich and philosophical writing of the late Pope John Paul II entitled Love & Responsibility. Although it has taken me years to get to this point, I do believe now that the Almighty God of heaven and earth has given us such men (popes) as John Paull II (and now Benedict XVI) to be the voice of Christ to us in our own age and culture. Please join me on my journey as I also learn the fullness of truth!

"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. " (Proverbs 18:17)

"And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, 'How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard it, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.'" (Mark 2:16-18; Luke 5:30-32; Matthew 9:11-13)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cherubs and Chicks

Welcome to the spot light Jones! Your response to my last entry* was:
"You said the children had cherubic you mean that their faces glowed like fire and they wielded flaming swords? Or were you employing Hallmark theology? If cherubs look like children, won't ALL children look 'cherubic'? I am just trying to think logically here, but then again, we are discussing emotions, and they seem to deny logic. Of course, I am a guy, and quite an amotionally detached guy, from what I understand. So this emotional outpouring of yours is quite alien to me and my...what are they called? Oh yeah, emotions. Whatever."

Hello Jones, I'm glad to know you are out there. Well, you seem to have mistaken my intent. You presumed that I was implying that the children's faces looked like the cherubim which God placed on guard outside of the Garden of Eden to prevent man from re-entering and eating from the tree of life while in a fallen state. (Genesis 3:24 "After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.") Oh, but you are mistaken. I meant that the children's faces were full of eyes and had 4 wheels surrounding them like the cherubim in Ezekiel 10. Terribly sorry for the mix-up; I must not have been very precise in my description.

Hehehe. Anyway, I wasn't thinking so much "Hallmark" or emotional theology, I was thinking more along the lines of SAT words. As we both know, "cherubic" has other definitions that extend beyond strict theological references. You're familiar with those paintings of naked babies with wings; well, I don't know how the concept of a cherub got transformed into that in paintings, but nonetheless, the word "cherubic" now also refers to pudgy, sweet, childlike beings. As long as we know the difference between the cutsie babies and the winged, higher order angels called cherubim in Scripture, then I'm fine with using the term "cherubic" for . . . well . . . sweet, pudgy childlike beings.

Although, I've not yet read the so-called Apocryphal books (which are rather the "deuterocanonical" writings which you'll find in Catholic Bibles), I have been informed that the Book of Enoch and Books of Esdras have some angelology in them. Might be interesting to check out. Oh, and I am currently listening to Tolkien's Silmarillion on cassette tapes (thank you local library), and it's so rad. You've probably already read the Silmarillion, but I absolutely love hearing this fantastical story of the creation of the angelic beings and the earth and other cosmological whatnot. Highly recommend it to you all out there in blog land.

Oh, and I should like to share the lyrics to a Relient K song with you, my dear Watson, for you seem to be perplexed that girls, like myself, are more emotional beings than guys, such as yourself. Well . . . it's not meant to square with spiritual and psychological realities, but the song is quite funny and rings true in some ways. I wonder if you can relate.

Mood Rings
by Relient K

We all know the girls that I am talking about.
Well they are time bombs and they are ticking,
And the only question's when they'll blow up.
And they'll blow up, we know that without a doubt,
Cause they're those girls,
Yeah, you know those girls that let their emotions get the best of them.

And I've contrived some sort of a plan to help my fellow man.
Let's get emotional girls to all wear mood rings
So we'll be tipped off to when they're ticked off
Cause we'll know just what they're thinking, just what they're thinking.

She's so pretty but she doesn't always act that way.
Her moods are swinging on the swing set almost everyday.
She said to me that she's so happy its depressing (stressed out that its soothing)
And all I said was someone get that girl a mood ring.

If its drama you want then look no further.
They're like The Real World meets Boy Meets World meets Days of our Lives.
And it just kills me how they get away with murder;
They'll anger you then bat their eyes,
Those pretty eyes that watch you sympathize.

And I've contrived some sort of a plan to help my fellow man.
Let's get emotional girls to all wear mood rings
So we'll be tipped off to when they're ticked off
Cause we'll know just what they're thinking, just what they're thinking.


Cause when its black it means watch your back because you're probably
The last person in the world right now she wants to see.
And when its blue it means that you should call her up immediately
And ask her out because she'll most likely agree.
And when its green it simply means that she is really stressed.
And when its clear it means she's completely emotionless (and that's alright I must confess).

We all know the girls that I am talking about.
She liked you Wednesday, but now its Friday, and she has to wash her hair.
And it just figures that we'll never figure them out.
First she's Jekyll and then she's Hyde;
At least she makes a lovely pair.

Mood ring oh mood ring
Oh tell me will you bring
The key to unlock this mystery
Of girls and their emotions?
Play it back in slow motion
So I may understand the complex infrastructure known as the female mind.

(Thanks )

* That entry has been removed from public view because I decided to eleminate some of the more personal entries I had originally posted just in case an employer were to locate and peruse my blog and suspect that I might share personal things about my work life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Australia Seeks to Breed Test-Tube Sharks

Hahaha. Sorry guys, I just really like that news line. It has no intended connection with today's entry. Today I should like to type an entire devotional thought for you yet again. This time it's on one of my favorite topics: Men's relationship to women. I recently came upon a publication by Lumen Catechetical Consultants, Inc. called "Life After Sunday". This particular issue is all about topics regarding unity. The included article by John M. Capobianco entitled "Union with Women" follows:

"Most men recognize that women are pretty darn mysterious creatures. And the funny thing is that the closer you get to a woman, the more you try to enter in to a fitting, satisfying union with her, the more mysterious she becomes. This is true whether the woman in question is a spouse, daughter, mother, sister or friend. It doesn't matter. Just when you think you have figured out exactly how you can satisfy her desires and make her happy, something new arises that makes you realize--wow--she's just different! And that's a good healthy thing for men to learn. She is a pure gift from above and that's what makes her so mysterious."

"I have come to believe that the key to enjoying the quest of this mysterious and often illusive union with women is to trust what many today consider a rather unlikely source. Jesus of Nazareth is the key for men to fulfill their own desire to please and join in real heart to heart union with the women in their lives. He is the one who wants to share with us the kind of divine union that he experiences with his Father. He is the one who saves us and those we love from being crushed by the real disconnects and sorrows that separate our hearts. He is the one who makes it possible--when we honestly join our lives in union with him--for us to unite, for us to truly love beyond ourelsves, the women he places in our lives."

For many men, however, this may seem like a lot of uncomfortable, stupid 'Jesus' talk. This is especially true for many men and even boys who dismiss much of what Christ and his Church offers about human relationships. Perhaps--like many in modern culture--Christ's celibate love is so off-putting that they can't take him very seriously when it comes to putting their best moves on their women. Perhaps many fear deep down that the Jesus offered to us by the Catholic Church is not really much of an appealing ladies' man. Perhaps they believe what he really offers leads to reduced relationships with everyone and ultimately leads to a depressing life.

"The reality is that Jesus Christ presented in the Gospels, constantly present to us in Sacramental life, protected for us by the Magisterium of the Church, is much more passionate--not just toward women--but for all human relationships, than anyone or anything the culture comes close to proposing to us."

"Can you imagine if Madison Avenue turned its sexualized production talents towards the real body and soul-shaking response of the women in Christ's life and proposed it to our young men today? They could start with an image of a woman slipping into a crowded room and pouring oil (of all things) on Christ's feet in front of a house full of guests (cf. Luke 7:38). Or they could show the face of a woman who cares so much for the body of her brother that she looks Christ right in the eye and challenges him to bring it back to life, right here, right now (cf. John 11:41). Or they could show the eyes of a woman whose heart and soul is penetrated forever in the simple act of being asked for a drink of water at a well (cf. John 4:6). For men united in intimacy with Christ today, approaching the mind, heart and body of a woman with his love hardly makes one half-a-man. In fact, just the opposite is true. Union with Christ makes a complete and mature man, passionate in his love for all women. In Christ, a man can crack the mystery and join in union with women in such a way that he embodies for each one the gift of self in love."

"I have tried to impress upon my sons the importance of this union with Christ and how he makes it possible for us to love beyond ourselves. Their desire to be authentic men, their desire to learn how to really love women, begins now in our home in their adolescent years. It begins with how they take care of their mother, how they appreciate their grandmothers, and how they respect their sister. Remember, I tell them, Christ knew how to love and take care of his mother. He took care of her while he was nailed to the cross (cf. John 19:25). Now that is love. That is how you care for a woman to the end. That is the power of a man united to a woman undeterred by the challenge of suffering and death. This kind of union takes lots of grace and practice. . . and it begins right now in the home."

Hats off to John Capobianco!!!

One of my favorite chapters from Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001.) is Chapter 10, "A Beauty To Rescue" (p.179-196). Here is all but the entire chapter for your consumption!

"Once upon a time (as the story goes) there was a beautiful maiden, an absolute enchantress. She might be the daughter of a king or a common servant girl, but we know she is a princess at heart. She is young with a youth that seems eternal. Her flowing hair, her deep eyes, her luscious lips, her sculpted figure—she makes the rose blush for shame; the sun is pale compared to her light. Her heart is golden, her love as true as an arrow. But this lovely maiden is unattainable, the prisoner of an evil power who holds her captive in a dark tower. Only a champion may win her; only the most valiant, daring, and brave warrior has a chance of setting her free. Against all hope he comes; with cunning and raw courage he lays siege to the tower and the sinister one who holds her. Much blood is shed on both sides; three times the knight is thrown back, but three times he rises again. Eventually the sorcerer is defeated; the dragon falls, the giant is slain. The maiden is his; through his valor he has won her heart. On horseback they ride off to his cottage by a stream in the woods for a rendezvous that gives passion and romance a new meaning.

"Why is this story so deep in our psyche? Every little girl knows the fable without ever being told. She dreams one day her prince will come. Little boys rehearse their part with wooden swords and cardboard shields. And one day the boy, now a young man, realizes that he wants to be the one to win the beauty. Fairy tales, literature, music, and movies all borrow from this mythic theme. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Helen of Troy, Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Arthur and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde. From ancient fables to the latest blockbuster, the theme of a strong man coming to rescue a beautiful woman is universal to human nature. It is written in our hearts, one of the core desires of every man and every woman.

". . . Our culture has grown cynical about the fable. Don Henley says, ‘We’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales.’ There are dozens of books out to refute the myth, books like Beyond Cinderella and The Death of Cinderella.

"No, we have not been poisoned by fairy tales and they are not merely ‘myths.’ Far from it. The truth is, we have not taken them seriously enough. As Roland Hein says, ‘Myths are stories which confront us with something transcendent and eternal.’ In the case of our fair maiden, we have overlooked two very crucial aspects to that myth. On the one hand, none of us ever really believed the sorcerer was real. We thought we could have the maiden without a fight. Honestly, most of us guys thought our biggest battle was asking her out. And second, we have not understood the tower and its relation to her wound; the damsel is in distress. If masculinity has come under assault, femininity has been brutalized. Eve is the crown of creation, remember? She embodies the exquisite beauty and the exotic mystery of God in a way that nothing else in all creation even comes close to. And so she is the special target of the Evil One; he turns his most vicious malice against her. If he can destroy her or keep her captive, he can ruin the story."

Eve’s Wound
"Every woman can tell you about her wound; some came with violence, others came with neglect. Just as every little boy is asking one question, every little girl is, as well. But her question isn’t so much about her strength. No, the deep cry of a little girls’ heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God. Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well. The wound strikes right at the core of her heart of beauty and leaves a devastating message with it: No. You’re not beautiful and no one will really fight for you. Like your wound, hers almost always comes at the hand of her father.

"A little girl looks to her father to know if she is lovely. The power he has to cripple or to bless is just as significant to her as it is to his son. If he’s a violent man he may defile her verbally or sexually. The stories I’ve heard from women who have been abused would tear your heart out. Janet was molested by her father when she was three; around the age of seven he showed her brothers how to do it. The assault continued until she moved away to college. What is a violated woman to think about her beauty? Am I lovely? The message is, No . . . you are dirty. Anything attractive about you is dark and evil. The assault continues as she grows up, through violent men and passive men. She may be stalked; she may be ignored. Either way, her heart is violated and the message is driven farther in: you are not desired, you will not be protected; no one will fight for you. The tower is built brick by brick, and when she’s a grown woman it can be a fortress.

". . . But when a woman never hears she’s worth fighting for, she comes to believe that’s the sort of treatment she deserves. It’s a form of attention, in a twisted way; maybe it’s better than nothing. Then we fell in love [Eldredge and his wife, that is] on that magical summer night. But Stasi married a frightened, driven man who had an affair with his work because he wouldn’t risk engaging a woman he sensed he wasn’t enough for. I wasn’t mean; I wasn’t evil. I was nice. And let me tell you, a hesitant man is the last thing in the world a woman needs. She needs a lover and a warrior, not a Really Nice Guy. Her worst fear was realized—I will never really be loved, never really be fought for. And so she hid some more.

"Years into our marriage I found myself blindsided by it all. Where is the beauty I once saw? What happened to the woman I fell in love with? I didn’t really expect an answer to my question; it was more a cry of rage than a desperate plea. But Jesus answered me anyway. She’s still in there; but she’s captive. Are you willing to go in after her? I realized that I had—like so many men—married for safety. I married a woman I thought would never challenge me as a man. Stasi adored me; what more did I need to do? I wanted to look like the knight, but I didn’t want to bleed like one. I was deeply mistaken about the whole arrangement. I didn’t know about the tower, or the dragon, or what my strength was for. The number one problem between men and their women is that we men, when asked to truly fight for her . . . hesitate. We are still seeking to save ourselves; we have forgotten the deep pleasure of spilling our life for another."

Offering Our Strength
". . . And that is how life is created. The beauty of a woman arouses a man to play the man; the strength of a man, offered tenderly to his woman, allows her to be beautiful; it brings life to her and to many. This is far, far more than sex . . . . It is a reality that extends to every aspect of our lives. When a man withholds himself from his woman, he leaves her without the life only he can bring. This is never more true than how a man offers—or does not offer-his words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue says the Proverbs (18:21). She is made for and craves words from him. . . .

"If the man refuses to offer himself, then his wife will remain empty and barren. A violent man destroys with his words, a silent man starves his wife. ‘She’s wilting,’ a friend confessed to me about his new bride. ‘If she’s wilting then you’re withholding something,’ I said. Actually, it was several things—his words, his touch, but mostly his delight. There are so many other ways this plays out in life. A man who leaves his wife with the children and the bills to go and find another, easier life has denied them his strength. He has sacrificed them when he should have sacrificed his strength for them. What makes Maximus or William Wallace so heroic is simply: They are willing to die to set others free.

"This sort of heroism is what we see in the life of Joseph, the husband of Mary and the stepfather to Jesus Christ. I don’t think we’ve fully appreciated what he did for them. Mary, an engaged young woman, almost a girl, turns up pregnant with at pretty wild story: ‘I’m carrying God’s child.’ The situation is scandalous. What is Joseph to think; what is he to feel? Hurt, confused, betrayed no doubt. But he’s a good man; he will not have her stoned, he will simply ‘divorce her quietly’ (Matt. 1:19).

"An angel comes to him in a dream (which shows you what it sometimes takes to get a good man to do the right thing) to convince him that Mary is telling the truth and he is to follow through with the marriage. Its going to cost him. Do you know what he’s going to endure if he marries a woman the whole community thinks is an adulteress? He will be shunned by his business associates and most of his clients; he will certainly lose his standing in society and perhaps even his place in the synagogue. To see the pain he’s in for, notice the insult that crowds will later use against Jesus. ‘Isn’t’ this Joseph and Mary’s son?’ they say with a sneer and nudge and a wink. In other words, we know who you are—the bastard child of that slut and her foolish carpenter. Joseph will pay big-time for this move. Does he withhold? No, he offers Mary his strength; he steps right between her and all of that mess and takes it on the chin. He spends himself for her.
". . . There, under the shadow of a man’s strength, a woman finds rest. The masculine journey takes a man away from the woman so that he might return to her. He goes to find his strength; he returns to offer it. He tears down the walls of the tower that has held her with his words and with his actions. He speaks to her heart’s deepest question in a thousand ways. Yes, you are lovely. Yes, there is one who will fight for you. But because most men have not yet fought the battle, most women are still in the tower."

Using Her
"Most men want the maiden without any sort of cost to themselves. They want all the joys of the beauty without any of the woes of the battle. This is the sinister nature of pornography—enjoying the woman at her expense. Pornography is what happens when a man insists on being energized by a woman; he uses her to get a feeling that he is a man. It is a false strength, as I’ve said, because it depends on an outside source rather than emanating from deep within his center. And it is the paragon of selfishness. He offers nothing and takes everything. . . .
". . . Pretty women endure this abuse all the time. They are pursued, but not really; they are wanted, but only superficially. They learn to offer their bodies but never, ever their souls. Most men, you see, marry for safety; they choose a woman who will make them feel like a man but never really challenge them to be one. . . . In a brilliant twist of plot, God turns our scheme for safety on us, requiring us to play the man. . . ."

It Is A Battle
"Will you fight for her? That’s the question Jesus asked me many years ago, right before our tenth anniversary, right at that time I was wondering what had happened to the woman I married. You’re on the fence, John, he said. Get in or get out. I knew what he was saying—stop being a nice guy and act like a warrior. Play the man. I bought flowers, took her to dinner, and began to move back toward her in my heart. But I knew there was more. That night, before we went to bed, I prayed for Stasi in a way I’d never prayed for her before. Out loud, before all the heavenly hosts, I stepped between her and the forces of darkness that had been coming against her. Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was doing, only that I needed to take on the dragon. All hell broke loose. Everything we’ve learned about spiritual warfare began that night. And you know what happened? Stasi got free; the tower of her depression gave way as I began to truly fight for her.

"And it’s not just once, but again and again over time. That’s where the myth really stumps us. Some men are willing to go in once, twice, even three times. But a warrior is in this for good. . . . Daniel is in the midst of a very hard, very unpromising battle for his wife. It’s been years now without much progress and without much hope. Siting in a restaurant the other night, tears in his eyes, this is what he said to me: ‘I’m not going anywhere. This is my place in the battle. This is the hill that I will die on.’ He has reached a point that we all must come to, sooner or later, when it’s no longer about winning or losing. His wife may respond and she may not. That’s really no longer the issue. The question is simply this: What kind of man do you want to be? Maximus? Wallace? Or Judah [Genesis 38]? A young pilot in the RAF wrote just before he went down in 1940, ‘The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice.’ . . ."

Okay guys, I can't resist. Just one more brief portion from Eldredge's Wild At Heart:

". . . Adam bears the likeness of God in his fierce, wild, and passionate heart. And yet, there is one more finishing touch. There is Eve. Creation comes to its high point, its climax with her. She is God's finishing touch. And all Adam can say is, 'Wow.' Eve embodies the beauty and the mystery and the tender vulnerability of God. As the poiet William Blake said, 'The naked woman's body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man.

"The reason a woman wants a beauty to unveil, the reason she asks, Do you delight in me? is simply that God does as well. God is captivating beauty. As David prays, 'One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may . . . gaze upon the beauty of the LORD' (Ps. 27:4). Can there be any doubt that God wants to be worshiped? That he wants to be seen, and for us to be captivated by what we see? As C. S. Lewis wrote, 'The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male . . . to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes of her own delightfulness" (37).

*Sorry, I don't know what work that C. S. Lewis quote is from, and Eldredge does not attribute it to any specific writing.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Different tunes, but the same song

Child abuse has been around since the Fall of man. It's nothing new. But it's still just as devastating and warped as ever. Here are some modern songs to help us ponder the effects of abuse, neglect, and even divorce of the young, innocent, and helpless. Cyclical patterns, hatred and rage, self-debasement, fear, insecurity, suicide . . . sin has brutal effects, especially when perpetuated against children by those who are meant to protect, guide, and love them.

Independence Day
(by Martina McBride)

Well she seemed all right by dawn's early light
Though she looked a little worried and weak.
She tried to pretend he wasn't drinkin' again
But daddy left the proof on her cheek.
And I was only eight years old that summer,
And I always seemed to be in the way.
So I took myself down to the fair in town
On Independence Day.

Well word gets around in a small, small town.
They said he was a dangerous man,
But Mama was proud and she stood her ground;
She knew she was on the losin' end.
Some folks whispered, some folks talked
But everybody looked the other way,
And when time ran out, there was no one about
On Independence Day.

Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing.
Let the whole world know that
Today is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong.
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay,
ItÂ’s independence day.

Well she lit up the sky that fourth of July.
By the time the firemen come
They just put out the flames and took down some names
And sent me to the county home.
Now I aint sayin' it's right or it's wrong
But maybe it's the only way.
Talk about your revolution,
It'sindependencee Day

Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing.
Let the whole world know that
Today is a day of reckoning.
Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong .
Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay,
ItÂ’s independence day.
Roll the stone away. It's Independence Day.

Janie's Got a Gun
(by Aerosmith)

Janie's got a gun, Janies got a gun .
Her whole world's come undone,
From looking straight at the sun.
What did her daddy do?
What did he put you through?
They said when Janie was arrested,
They found him underneath a train,
But man he had it coming, now that Janie's got a gun
She ain't never gonna be the same.

Janie's got a gun. Janie's got a gun
Her dog day's just begun,
Now everybody is on the run.
Tell me now it's untrue. What did her daddy do?
He jacked a little bitty baby;
The man has got to be insane.
They say the spell that he was under,
The lightning and the thunder,
Knew that someone had to stop the rain.

Run away, run away from the pain.
Yeah, yeah, Yeah, yeah
Run away, run away from the pain.
Yeah, yeah, Yeayeah yeahah Yeah, yeah
Run away, run away, run, run away.............................

Janie's got a gun, Janie's got a gun.
Her dog day's just begun.
Now everybody's on the run.
What did her daddy do?
It's Janie's last I.O.U.
She had to take him down easy
And put a bullet in his brain.
She said 'cause nobody believes me;
The man was such a sleaze.
He aint never gonna be the same

Father Of Mine
(by Everclear)
Father of mine, tell me where have you been.
You know I just closed my eyes,
My whole world disappeared.
Father of mine, take me back to the day
When I was still your golden boy,
Back before you went away.
I remember the blue skies, walking the block;
I loved it when you held me high.
I loved to hear you talk.
You would take me to the movie.
You would take me to the beach,
Take me to a place inside that is so hard to reach.
Father of mine, tell me where did you go.
You had the world inside your hand,
But you did not seem to know.
Father of mine, Tell me what do you see
When you look back at your wasted life and you don't see me?
I was ten years old, doing all that I could.
It wasn't easy for me to be a scared white boy in a black neighborhood.
Sometimes you would send me a birthday card with a five dollar bill.
I never understood you then and I guess I never will.

Daddy gave me a name.
My dad, he gave me a name,
Then he walked away.
Daddy gave me a name
Then he walked away.
My dad gave me a name.

Father of mine, tell me where have you been.
I just closed my eyes, and the world disappeared.
Father of mine, tell me how do you sleep
With the children you abandoned
And the wife I saw you beat?
I will never be safe. I will never be sane.
I will always be weird inside;
I will always be lame.
Now I am a grown man
With a child of my own.
And I swear I'm not going to let her know
All the pain I have known.

Sing For The Moment
(by Eminem)

These ideas are nightmares to white parents
Whose worst fear is a child with dyed hair and who likes earrings.
Like whatever they say has no bearing,;
It's so scary in a house that allows no swearing
To see him walking around with his headphones blaring
Alone in his own zone, cold and he don't care.
He's a problem child, and what bothers him all comes out,
When he talks about His f****** dad walkin' out
'Cause he just hates him so bad that he blocks him out.
If he ever saw him again he'd probably knock him out.
His thoughts are whacked; he's mad so he's talkin' back,
Talkin' black, brainwashed from rock and rap.
He sags his pants, do-rags and a stocking cap.
His step-father hit him, so he socked him back, and broke his nose.
His house is a broken home; there's no control; he just let's his emotions go.

Sing with me, sing for the years, sing for the laughter, sing for the tears.
Sing it with me, just for today, maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away...

. . .

That's why we sing for these kids, who don't have a thing
Except for a dream, and a f****** rap magazine
Who post pin-up pictures on their walls all day long,
Idolize they favorite rappers and know all they songs.
Or for anyone who's ever been through sh** in their lives
Till they sit and they cry at night wishin' they'd die.
Till they throw on a rap record and they sit, and they vibe.
. . .

Family Portrait
(by Pink)

Momma please stop cryin, I can't stand the sound.
Your pain is painful, and its tearin' me down.
I hear glasses breakin' as I sit up in my bed;
I told dad you didn't mean those nasty things you said.
You fight about money, 'bout me and my brother,
And this I come home to, this is my shelter.

It ain't easy growin up in World War III,
Never knowin what love could be.
You'll see I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family.
Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Mommy. I'll do anything.
Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Daddy; please don't leave.

Daddy please stop yellin', I can't stand the sound.
Make mama stop cryin', cuz I need you around.
My mama she loves you, no matter what she says, its true.
I know that she hurts you, but remember I love you, too.
I ran away today, ran from the noise, ran away.
Don't wanna go back to that place, but don't have no choice, no way.

In our family portrait, we look pretty happy.
Let's play pretend; let's act like it comes naturally.
I don't wanna have to split the holidays.
I don't want two addresses. I don't want a step-brother anyways.
And I don't want my mom to have to change her last name.
In our family portrait we look pretty happy.
We look pretty normal; let's go back to that.
In our family portrait we look pretty happy.
Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally.
In our family portrait we look pretty happy.
(Can we work it out? Can we be a family?)
We look pretty normal, let's go back to that.
. . .
Daddy don't leave. Daddy don't leave. Daddy don't leave. Turn around please.
Remember that the night you left you took my shining star?
Daddy don't leave. Daddy don't leave. Daddy don't leave. Don't leave us here alone.
Mom will be nicer. I'll be so much better. I'll tell my brother.
Oh, I won't spill the milk at dinner. I'll be so much better,
I'll do everything right. I'll be your little girl forever; I'll go to sleep at night.

Youth of the Nation
(by P.O.D.)

Last day of the rest of my life
I wish I would’ve known
Cause I didn’t kiss my mama goodbye.
I didn’t tell her that I loved her and how much I care
Or thank my Pops for all the talks and all the wisdom he shared.
Unaware, I just did what I always do
Everyday, the same routine before I skate off to school.
But who knew that this day wasn’t like the rest?
Instead of taking a testI took two to the chest.
Call me blind, but I didn’t see it coming.
Everybody was running but I couldn’t hear nothing
Except gun blasts; it happened so fast.
I don’t really know this kid though I sit by him in class.
Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
Or maybe for a moment he forgot who he was.
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged.
Whatever it was, I know it’s because . . .

We are, we are, the youth of the nation.
We are, we are, the youth of the nation.
We are, we are, the youth of the nation
We are, we are, the youth of the nation.

Little Suzy, she was only twelve.
She was given the world with every chance to excel.
Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell,
She might act kind of proud but no respect for herself.
She finds love in all the wrong places,
The same situations just different faces.
Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
Too bad he never told her she deserved much better.

Johnny boy always played the fool.
He broke all the rules so you would think he was cool.
He was never really one of the guys
No matter how hard he tried. Often thought of suicide.
It’s kind of hard when you ain’t got no friends.
He put his life to an end; they might remember him then.
You cross the line, and there’s no turning back.
Told the world how he felt with the sound of a gat.


Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim?
No matter what you say it don’t take away the pain
That I feel inside; I’m tired of all the lies.
Don’t nobody know why. It’s the blind leading the blind.
I guess that’s the way the story goes.
Will it ever make sense? Somebody’s got to know.
There’s got to be more to life than this.
There’s got to be more to everything I thought exists

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Captivated by Communion and Confession

Some thoughts which I heard at recent Catholic events that captivate me:

1. Christ has married His Body, the Church, as His very own Bride. Therefore, the consummation of this marriage, the renewing of our vows, if you will, the act of becoming one flesh with Christ is in receiving Him in the Eucharist at Mass!

2. Christ, our Bridegroom, is truly present in the Eucharist. Just as we would not come to our wedding bed without having bathed and made ourselves appealing, neither should we approach our heavenly Bridegroom in the Eucharist without seeking to make ourselves clean and pleasing. This is what the Sacrament of Penance is all about. (Penance is when a Christian confesses his sins to a priest in true penitence, and the priest by the power of God forgives his sins and counsels him what to do next. Sin is a cancer to our souls and separates us from intimacy with God; a preist is a spiritual surgeon, given us by God to remove this cancer. Hence, we want to give over EVERY bit of this cancer in the confessional to have it removed.)

3. Every person has an ingrained need from our Maker to be loved and accepted unconditionally. We were designed to be known fully and desired by another. Confession provides not only for the atonement of sin, but can help us find fulfillment for this legitimate psychological need. In confession we can "spit-out" the full truth of even the worst parts about our lives and thoughts, and we receive unconditional mercy and forgiveness from Christ through His agent, the priest.


Thursday, June 2, 2005

Food for Thought

So I noted in my profile that John Eldredge's book Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul is one of my favorites. I love this book because it validates so much of me that is human, that is real, that desires. So regardless of the theological and personal criticisms I have heard (from people I respect) regarding John Eldredge, he's certainly got it right about some things. Some would say, "A broken clock is right twice a day." Here's an excerpt from Wild At Heart to demonstrate those things I truly connected with . . .

"Why is pornography the most addictive thing in the universe for men? Certainly there's the fact that a man is visually wired, that pictures and images arouse men much more than they do women. But the deeper reason is because that seductive beauty reaches down inside and touches your desperate hunger for validation as a man you didn't even know you had, touches it like nothing else most men have ever experienced. You must understand this is deeper than legs and breasts and good sex. It is mythological. Look at the lengths men will go to find the gold-haired woman. They have fought duels over her beauty; they have fought wars. You see, every man remembers Eve. We are haunted by her. And somehow we believe that if we could find her, get her back, then we'd also recover with her our own lost masculinity."

Interesting, no? Seems there is something deeper going on in the midst of our very real attraction to the opposite sex. Bruce Marshall (1945) in The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith writes, "The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God." (p. 108) (This quote is often attributed to G.K. Chesterton, but The Chesterton Society can only trace it back to Marshall.) Nonetheless, I do indeed believe that "the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God." And I suppose, so is the 30-something year old woman thumbing through the pages of a romance novel at Half Price Books. ;-D