Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Post: Why Convert?: Invincible Ignorance vs. Knowledge of the Truth

by JFB, a friend in seminary

I recently learned from a friend about a theological problem that he had faced. Once, while talking with some of his friends, he was asked by one of them who was a Protestant whether Catholics believed that anyone not a member of the Catholic Church was destined for Hell.

My friend responded, "No, Catholics believe that if a non-Christian leads a good moral life to the best of his knowledge, Jesus will have mercy." The Protestant then asked the next logical question: “Well, if that’s the case, why would you want to evangelize? If you just let them stay in their ignorance, they’ll have a greater chance of getting into heaven, because if a person doesn’t know about Jesus, he won’t be held to the higher standard than a Christian would be.”

This is very a reasonable question, and quite wrong-headed. First, let us make some general assumptions. It is not my purpose here to prove the Catholic Church is the one, true religion. I am merely showing why a Catholic should want to convert someone and risk their rejection rather than let them serve God as best they can with the knowledge they have.

So we assume that the Catholic Church is the one, true universal church, founded by Jesus Christ approximately 2000 years ago. The Catholic Church holds the deposit of faith given to us by Jesus Christ and the surest means of acquiring salvation. The Catechism says, "The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: 'There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer'" (CCC 605).

Therefore, anyone who loves God and seeks to know and serve Him as best as they are able -- be they Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, or Pagan -- is capable of being redeemed by Jesus through his suffering and death and entering Paradise. At the very least, it is not ours to judge on the final destination of any person.
Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He "acquired" this right by his cross. The Father has given "all judgment to the Son." Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love (CCC 679).
So then, why attempt to convert anyone? Why not let them try to live their life the best that they can, shielded at the Final Judgment by Invincible Ignorance?

Let me begin with a little joke. The denominations do not matter much for the general telling of the joke. One day, a Roman Catholic Priest, a Byzantine Priest, and a Rabbi are walking along a river. The Catholic Priest sees a Coca-Cola machine on the other side of the river and, being thirsty, walks across the surface of the river, buys a coke, and then walks back.

The Byzantine Priest is also thirsty and he too walks across the river to buy a coke. The Rabbi is astounded by this and decides he wants a coke too; if these guys can walk on water, so can he! He steps out into the river and immediately falls in. He pulls himself ashore and steps out again. As he's falling in the second time, the Catholic priest turns to the other and says, "Do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?"

The Catholic Church is not just another religion. Its beliefs are not just as valid as anyone else's. Now, in terms of comparing salvation to walking across the river to get a coke, the Rabbi might have been able to swim across on his own. The current may have pulled him downstream and he would be exhausted and wet, but it is possible for him to make it. It is also possible that he could have drowned.

If, when he made it to the coke machine, he were to be met there by one of his Priest friends and told about how he could have walked on the rocks, do you think he would've thanked him? Would he not have preferred to have been told that before he nearly went off a waterfall?

True: he may have decided that he felt like a swim and forsaken the rocks, and that would be his own decision. If a person of another faith or lack thereof is truly dedicated to learning the Truth of this life and serving it to the best of their ability, they should run to conversion when they are presented with the truths of the Catholic Church. If, on the other hand, they turn you away, mock you, and/ or refuse to listen to what you have to say, then they have judged themselves already (as stated above in CCC 679).

But maybe, just maybe, what you said will touch their heart beyond their understanding and some day lead them to the truth. In short, by attempting to convert someone to Catholicism you are only doing them a favor, or at the very least you are doing them no disservice because they are not intent on living the best way that they can. A further analogy that might be made is that hoping that someone will be saved by ignorance of the truth is about as safe as hoping that by virtue not teaching someone self-defense they will never be mugged.

Now, how to go about teaching someone about the truth of the Catholic Church: I'm afraid there is no sure method. Even logic can be ignored by someone sufficiently determined to do so. But perhaps the best way to convert someone is by example. To quote (somewhat inaccurately, I'm sure) a Priest I know: "I have never converted anyone by defeating them in logical argument. Rather those I have converted did so because they saw a completeness in my life which they lacked."

Another way of saying this is to use the words of St. Francis: "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words." But this doesn't mean you should not have logical arguments at the ready.
"...Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:15-16). 
I hope this note has been enlightening. My final thought is that if you want to achieve Heaven, you must live what you preach, and preach by how you live.

Oremus pro invicem

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Name's MacWhat?

A MacBeth rap by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

Also, some perspective on this Anonymous nonsense:

"Anonymous should be ignored by all Shakespeare lovers" by Francis Phillips at the Catholic Herald

"Shakespeare authorship fantasists don't understand how plays actually get written" by Allan Massie at The Telegraph

And still more, from P.G. Wodehouse's Episode of the Dog McIntosh:

Wooster: "What did he say?"

Jeeves: "I cannot recall his exact words, sir, but he drew a comparison between your mentality and that of a cuckoo."

Wooster: "A cuckoo, eh?"

Jeeves: "Yes, sir. To the bird's advantage."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Break, Break, Break!

"Break, Break, Break" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Standing in the Eastern Sea/ Sea of Japan

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full Of Promise

Driving by the woods on a fall evening, and I've got miles to go before I sleep. The trees are tall, and their leaves are brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and brown. One can hardly remember the green leaves, who were there but two weeks ago. The highway is lined with them: hundreds, thousands. A standing army of oaks and hickory trees in the Shawnee Hills region of Kentucky.

Neuschwanstein Castle, for instance!
I am driving South again. I, like Brad, have been traveling a lot recently. This trip is to help my boyfriend move home after his month-long family medicine rotation in little Madisonville, Kentucky. I've traveled a lot this past year: North to Michigan, Illinois and Indiana; South to Georgia; East to South Korea and Japan; West to Germany and Austria. I've talked to a lot of people and marveled at the beauty of other's people's homelands. It is in traveling where I am truly reminded of conservatism's place in the world, and our need for it.

Now, in October, I end my world travels in western Kentucky. It's coal-mining country, and the people-watching is humbling. A person can drive across town in five minutes and there are three separate train lines constantly being used. The court house is surrounded by statues remembering local men who served in their country's military in the Civil War (Confederacy) through the Vietnam War.

The community is small, so goodness freely given pervades and abuse of liberty cracks the cornerstones. I've been reading and mulling over the numerous pieces about conservatism and the culture, especially the latest by Claes on American intellectual conservatism. In light of the recent Republican debates, one would not know such an intellectualism exists in the public sphere!

Whenever I drive long distances, I always turn on and sing along loudly to The Avett Brothers. The first two stanzas from their song "Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise" are faintly prophetic:
There’s a darkness upon me that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what’s wrong and what’s right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it
When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.
2011 seems dismal, even with the brightly colored leaves cheerily waving as we drive by in our close-topped cars. I am young, and I am not angry. I have student loans to pay off, and I'm happy to work three jobs because I can. There is "no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes," as Zora Neale Hurston so snappily said; "No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."

Continue Reading at The Imaginative Conservative >>>>>>>

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Few, We Happy Few

Happy St. Crispin's Day!

H/T Why I Am Catholic

Then, the famous speech of course:

[The text of the speech]

A New Center for Natural Law by Hadley Arkes

SlutWalkers, Occupiers, and Idiots by Tim Mulroon

Under the weather, which makes no sense today because the sun is shining outside. Still, sleeping, drinking water and off to get some applesauce and more medicine too.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

To Heal Heretics is Better Than to Destroy Them

"My prayer to the one true, almighty God, of whom, and through whom, and in whom are all things, has been, and is now, that in opposing and refuting the heresy of you Manich├Žans, as you may after all be heretics more from thoughtlessness than from malice, He would give me a mind calm and composed, and aiming at your recovery rather than at your discomfiture. For while the Lord, by His servants, overthrows the kingdoms of error, His will concerning erring men, as far as they are men, is that they should be amended rather than destroyed.

And in every case where, previous to the final judgment, God inflicts punishment, whether through the wicked or the righteous, whether through the unintelligent or through the intelligent, whether in secret or openly, we must believe that the designed effect is the healing of men, and not their ruin; while there is a preparation for the final doom in the case of those who reject the means of recovery. Thus, as the universe contains some things which serve for bodily punishment, as fire, poison, disease, and the rest, and other things, in which the mind is punished, not by bodily distress, but by the entanglements of its own passions, such as loss, exile, bereavement, reproach, and the like; while other things, again, without tormenting are fitted to comfort and soothe the languishing, as, for example, consolations, exhortations, discussions, and such things; in all these the supreme justice of God makes use sometimes even of wicked men, acting in ignorance, and sometimes of good men, acting intelligently.

It is ours, accordingly, to desire in preference the better part, that we might attain our end in your correction, not by contention, and strife, and persecutions, but by kindly consolation, by friendly exhortation, by quiet discussion; as it is written, "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle toward all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24-25). It is ours, I say, to desire to obtain this part in the work; it belongs to God to give what is good to those who desire it and ask for it."

--St. Augustine, Chapter 1 of 'Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus'

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You Can't Take The Sky From Me

"Boyhood in Tobacco Country" by Robert Penn Warren

All I can dream tonight is an autumn sunset,
Red as hayrick burning. The groves,
Not yet leafless, are black against red, as though, 
Leaf by leaf, they were hammered of bronze blackened
To timelessness. Far off, from the curing barns of tobacco,
Blue smoke, in pale streaking, clings
To the world's dim, undefinable bulge.

Far past slashed stubs, homeward or homeless, a black
Voice, deeper and bluer than sea-heart, sweeter
Than sadness or sorghum, utters the namelessness
Of life to the birth of a first star,
And again, I am walking a dusk-silent, dusky lane, and try
To forget my own name and be part of the world.

I move in its timelessness. From the deep and premature midnight 
Of woodland, I hear the first whip-o-will's
Precious grief, and my young heart,
As darkling I stand, yearns for a grief
To be worthy of that sound. Ah, fool! Meanwhile,
Arrogant, eastward, lifts the slow dawn of the harvest moon.

Enormous, smoky, smoldering, it stirs.
First visibly, then paling in retardation, it begins
The long climb zenithward to preside
There whitely on what the year has wrought.
What have the years wrought? I walk the house.
Oh, grief! Oh, joy! Tonight
The same season's moon holds sky-height.

The dark roof hides the sky.

"Full Moon" by William Clayton

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mel Gibson and Me

TBM Topic 18: Scapulars

"Mel Gibson and Me" by Julie Robison
"I Feel Weird" by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
"Suspicious Superstitions?" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

Mel Gibson, hot mess extraordinaire, wears a scapular.

Now, I'm not one to dig into celebrity gossip, but it's hard not to ignore the facts:

1. Mel Gibson is a Catholic.

"We've seen worse." --The Catholic Church
2. Mel Gibson has said and done some pretty dreadful things since producing The Passion, including divorce his wife.

3. Mel Gibson has [recently] been spotted wearing a scapular.

My personal pet theory is that we're all living within appalling strangeness of the mercy of God, and Mel Gibson is just another soul in need to redemption, sanctification and help against temptations from the Devil. Everyone Else on the other hand, has taken up drinking haterade around Gibson. Fortunately, Robert Downey Jr. has come to his defense of late, asking Hollywood to forgive Gibson's trespasses.

But back to scapulars.

I like that Mel Gibson wears a scapular. Correction: I like that the Mel Gibson who has royally messed up his public, private and career life still wears a scapular. If Mel Gibson was still married to his wife and making quality films, everyone would still be mumbling about what a religious fanatic he is. Instead, he's been labeled a twit.

Romans 4:16 says, "All depends on faith, everything is grace." That scapular, to me, is evidence of God's grace still working in Mel Gibson's life. Is that scapular a fact that grace is in Mel Gibson's life? No. But we cannot see God's ways. We can only see the scapular.

Scapulars are considered sacramentals in the Church, and are meant to enhance the faith. Sacramentals come from the Church; they "are indicated by the word Sacramentalia, the object of which is to manifest the respect due to the sacrament and to secure the sanctification of the faithful" (New Advent). Sacramentals are common things (i.e. relics, water, incense) that are another way to help people open up to receiving God's grace. The physical sacramental (in this discussion, for example, the scapular) does not possess any power. That being said, like all passing things in this world, sacramentals may be occasions for God's miracles.

There are a number of examples of sacramentals (specifically, relics) in Scripture: the hemorraging woman who touches Jesus' cloak (Matt. 9:20-22); the use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life (2 Kgs. 13:20-21); sick people cured when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:14-16); and, of course: "And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them" (Acts 19:11-12).

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and sweet baby JC
That being said, sacramentals are easy targets for non-Catholics to "prove" Roman Catholics are heretics, which is why the scapular is such a hot topic. The brown scapular in particular, passed down from Our Lady of Carmel, bears these words: "Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire."

Wow. That's quite a promise. It's also, however, not an assurance of salvation. The only assurance anyone has of salvation comes in the personhood of Jesus Christ. Scapulars are devotions. Oftentimes, people feel so strongly about their faith that they argue the scapulars' salvation legitimacy through the Blessed Mother. That argument is a red herring. Even worse, it can distract a truth seeker from the road to Rome, and can distort another's understanding of Mary's role within God's plans for the Kingdom. She only and always points to her son, period.

FAQ: Whenever you (Julie) fly on an airplane, your father insists you wear a scapular. Why do you listen to him?

That's my discretion. The Church does not have any teachings on scapulars. I choose to respect my father's wishes.

So you wear a scapular?

Yes. I mean no. Not usually, but yes while traveling. I do carry it around with me too.


Good question. My answer is not impressive; I enjoy keeping the reminder of our faith close to me. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not from you; it is the gift of God. It is not from works, so no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). With eyes so dimmed by sin, the scapular is a reminder to me. I see it and think, My God! Am I prepared to meet you now?

Which brings me full-circle back to Mel Gibson. It's easy to judge a man by his earthly actions, especially when they have been less than honorable.

But let the scapular be a lesson in humility to you: there are interior reasons why people wear scapulars.

Behind closed doors, people pray. Behind brave faces, people despair. In moments when life seems like too much, I find myself staring at the crucifix or even just holding a rosary. When I can barely find words, I take comfort in the material reminders of my faith as much as I do a hug from a friend.

My bestie boo's husband gives great hugs
The scapular is a gift and, aided by a genuine faith, the wearing of such a religious item may lead to a true change of heart for some people. Others may find it a distraction and that is okay; if this is the case, I imagine God would prefer the absence of scapulars rather than a fake piety or bitterness.

"But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"... And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9,13).

I'm pulling for you, Mel Gibson! Praying for you too.

A special guest post by B.! "Scapulars are Distractors from What’s Really Important"

Guest Post: Scapulars are Distractors from What’s Really Important

TBM topic 18: Scapulars

Join the discussion!
Guest post by B.

“Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity, and for thee and for all Carmelites, a sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, and a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” 
--The Mother of God, 1251 AD

Among many Catholic traditions, scapulars have always been a source of confusion. At first, they seemed to me a cop-out. Simply wear this piece of cloth around your neck, and get a free ticket to heaven, no matter what you did in your life! It was an amulet that shielded you from your own crimes. Who needs sacraments when you’ve got a scapular? I never wore one in high school because I decided I wanted to get into heaven based on my faith and works, not on what I was wearing when I keeled over.

However, I later learned a much deeper problem with scapulars. Driving home with a few friends of mine, salvation of non-Christians came into the conversation. One Protestant friend asked if Catholics believed if non-Christians automatically went to hell.

 “No,” I replied, “Catholics believe that if a non-Christian leads a good moral life to the best of his knowledge, Jesus will have mercy.”

 The Protestant then followed up with, “Well, if that’s the case, why would you want to evangelize? If you just let them stay in their ignorance, they’ll have a greater chance of getting into heaven, because if a person doesn’t know about Jesus, he won’t be held to the higher standard than a Christian would be.”

I was confused by this as it seemed quite reasonable. A maximal chance to get to heaven made sense to me. Another Catholic friend spoke up and said, “Life’s not about getting to heaven.”


Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: Jesus > scapulars
Life’s not about getting to heaven. I now embrace this idea whole-heartedly. When we’re children, all we understand is punishment/reward. We know if we don’t do our chores, we’ll be punished, but if we do our chores, nice things happen! Later, however, we find out that those chores, be it cleaning your room or washing the dishes, are actually good in of themselves, not because we receive a reward from doing them! We mature and begin to do these things because we want to, not because of a reward we’ll receive.

Life is the same way. When we are immature in our faith, we focus on our reward (heaven) and our punishment (hell). However, as we mature in our faith, we don’t do the right thing so that we can go to heaven; instead we do the right thing because it’s our purpose in this world! We do the right thing because we realize that it’s the best way to glorify God with the life and rationality He gave to us.

Heaven and hell should be the last thing on a Christian’s mind. We need to be focused on why we’re here on earth, and how we make the world a better place than how we found it. Scapulars distract from this as it focuses on what comes after instead of what is in front of us right now. Whatever comes after we die, that’s just extra. We’ll all die someday, and when we do it should be our desire to answer for what we did and what we failed to do. We should be proud to answer for whether we fulfilled our purpose. I don’t want to hide behind an amulet; I want to be exposed.

Judge me, O Lord.

Monday, October 17, 2011

How Catholics Read and Study the Bible

Let’s suspend disbelief in God for a moment.

To understand a Catholic studying the Bible, that disbelief in God must be suspended. We believe in God, even when we struggle or question. Our belief in God gives us reason to hope. Disbelief is not seen as enlightenment, but a serious internal struggle. I do not believe God is ever disproved; I believe he is replaced.

Replaced by what? Self is the first guess; then there are millions of other things which seek to fill crevices of the heart only God fully can. Each person grapples with the question of God, but in the Christian’s case, he or she can clearly point to a period in history when God revealed himself to man. Except in mythology, that had never happened before, and has not happened since. The Resurrection is a historical fact which cannot be ignored; as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est, “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a definite direction.”

Continue Reading at Virtuous Planet >>>>>>>

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No One Sleeps When I'm Awake

Driving around with B., and he put on The Sounds. This song filled the car:

Can you tell they're Swedish? Hm. I couldn't either. Although, the blonde should have been a clue!

I start nannying next week. Stay tuned for more fancy posts!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Such Great Heights

Last Sunday, my sister Kato jumped from a plane. She turned 22 yesterday, and that's what she wanted for her birthday. There's much to be said for the free-falling, and while I am scared stiff at the thought of it, B. wants to go too and asked me earlier when we're going.

Do you ever feel like life can be a series of leaps?

Post-college life is not what I imagined it would be. I planned to be out East. I planned to be working for a big newspaper. I had come to terms with being penniless and loving it. I looked forward to catching the metro home after a long but fulfilling day, perhaps calling to catch up with my family on the walk home.

Life, as I know it at least, has turned out so differently. It is easy to look at success and think, what luck. That person is in God's good graces. Perhaps so. But along the way, I bet they've made choices and sacrifices. We as humans cannot walk around this earth expecting life to be handed to us. We cannot expect another to fill in the missing pieces. If you're trying and it's not working, it's God's little nudge for some creativity.

This is not to say you haven't been working hard. This isn't to say you haven't been earnestly seeking your vocation. But God does not have our finiteness. God thinks big, and desires for your greatness. It is we humans that tell ourselves things can't be done. Ever? Or just in a short period of time? Why not? Richard Bach wrote, "Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours."

I cringe when I read that. I think faith can feel like that during the harder times. Hey you, God! Why...? is usually the question at hand. We may feel like Job; we didn't do anything wrong, and still we suffer. Or perhaps Jonah, who simply want to be left alone when greatness beckons with no certainty of survival. Maybe you have a twinge of feeling like Daniel, suffering persecution for refusing to forsake God. Or are you like Ruth, faithful in a foreign land?

If we accept that we are sinners, then we must equally accept our inability to grasp the bigger picture. God has a plan for us. We may not see it now or ever, but we are part of it. The Old Testament is a good example of this; it is only in retrospect that we see the Israelites and their plights as parallels to our own modern problems. What if the little and obscure shepherd boy had not plucked up the courage to slay the mighty Goliath?

In Boondock Saints (1999), Connor asks his dad how far they are going to take their justice of killing legitimately bad people. His father replied, "The question is not how far. The question is, do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far is as needed?"

With no certainties and no guarantees, we can feel hard-pressed for trust in our Lord. But perhaps the question should be switched: what have we done from God lately? Have we offered up our discontent with joy? Do we choose to trust, despite our doubts?

Top of the Tokyo Tower.
Psalm 145:3 says, "The Lord is great, highly to be praised, His greatness cannot be measured."

If you are afraid, be not so. Life is more like tandem jump skydiving than a solo jump. If you are unsure, spend more time with him. Frequent the sacraments. Pray more. Listen more. God desires your company, so do not deny him such a pleasure.

In times like this, I remember St. Faustina: "In whatever state a soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer."

I also remember the words of Dicky Fox, sports agent:

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

He Loves Me!

"He Loves Me" by Mark Van Doren

That God should love me is more wonderful
Than that I so imperfectly love him.
My reason is mortality, and dim
Senses; his--oh, insupportable--
Is that he sees me. Even when I pull
Dark thoughts about my head, each vein and limb
Delights him, though remembrance in him, grim
With my worst crimes, should prove me horrible.
And he has terrors that he can release.
But when he looks he loves me; which is why
I wonder; and my wonder must increase
Till more of it shall slay me. Yet I live,
I live; and he has never ceased to give
This glance at me that sweetens the whole sky.

Also, today is the 22nd birthday of my darling sister Kato! To celebrate, she went skydiving on Sunday. But more on that later.

Kato's the one with the strings pulled right and velcro shoes. We real cool.
Happy Thursday!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Then God Said, Let's Post it on Twitter

Oh, this modern world:

H/T @tessa_jh

By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter: @juliemrobison

More people you should follow, if you're not already doing so:

The Bright Maidens: @BrightMaidens, @ehillgrove, @threelittleowls

My favoritest writer/ journalist/ commentator/ person: @JamesTaranto

The other places I write for: @ImaginativeCons and @VirtuousPla_net

Happy Thursday, y'all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cootie Shots and Conundrums

TBM Topic 17: Emotional Chastity

"Cootie Shots and Conundrums" by Julie Robison
"Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters" by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
"Easy Bake Love Story" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

In the second grade, I received a cootie shot/ anti-boy inoculation from a retractable lead pencil. Don't worry, it was given to me by a professional- my seatmate had given them to nearly every other girl in the class too. From then on, I was (mostly) immune to male charms. I was one of the few girls still playing soccer with the boys in junior high. I focused on making good friends, both male and female, in high school. I was realistic about dating in college, following the sage wisdom of my parents: A date isn't a proposal. A dance isn't a commitment. Enjoying another person's company doesn't mean you're meant to be together forever.

Emotional chastity is about protecting your heart. It does not mean being unwilling to give it, but rather, give it selflessly, without regard to return. A perfect example of this is Elinor from Sense and Sensibility. She really liked Edward, but when she found out he was secretly engaged to another woman, she protected her feelings and let life play itself out. On the opposite side, her sister Marianne committed crimes of emotional exhibitionism. Fortunately, for us readers as well as both Dashwood sisters, true love wins out in the end.

I'll give a more probably example: menfolk as friends. I've never believed the old adage of "men and women can't be friends." I think such generalities are poppycock. Friendship, like love, is a choice and an action. Attraction, on the other hand, is not.

On of the biggest conundrums women face today is the acceptability of "friends with benefits." Girl meets guy. They become friends. They're not interested in each other, so they only pursue friendship. Then, something changes. They start to feel attracted towards each other. What then?

One of possibility is to pursue a relationship.

Another possibility is to have a mature conversation and decide friendship is the best course of action.

Then, there is technically a third option. Really, a fraction of a choice, an algebraic mixture of the above: the friendship as the core, plus the heart-break, minus the commitment, and plenty of unknown variables. Friends with benefits is possibly one of the worst violations of emotional chastity. The benefits are purely physical. It is a utilitarian friendship where two people seek something from the other person. Neither party will grow as a human being because humanity needs virtue and goodness, not consensual vices or an emulation of shallowness, to flourish.

Here are two recent Hollywood examples:

Exhibit A, "Friends with Benefits" (2011)

Exhibit B, "No Strings Attached" (2011)

I would like to point out that both movies involve the complication of falling in genuine love with the other person. Do you think anyone would want to watch the movie if the people only submitted to their animalistic natures, opposed to rising above the banal situation towards the true, goodness and beauty of Love?

What a conundrum the modern world is in! Even if one does not participate in the friends-with-benefits arena, watching these type of movies, reading chick lit and endlessly daydreaming about a future with someone you have not had that type of conversation with is hazardous to feminine mental health. The unrealistic expectations set up by thinking about handsome men and allowing one's mind to wander into fictional romance does not allow the heart to grow towards genuine love, which comes with time, honesty, purpose and virtue.

Self-control, therefore, is what is most needed in emotional chastity. It means not dwelling on the good times. It means not over-analyzing every word a cute guy said to you. It means not planning out one's future with the man you've started dating or just met. It is not easy, and requires constant vigilance. This does not mean one cannot enjoy romance, consider the future or giggle over cuteness. But people want mature love, which can only be achieved through pure intentions and not rushing into emotional bonds.

The best advice I've been given on the subject came from my bestie Julia, before I started dating B. It also happens to be the advice I gave her before she started dating her now-husband. To achieve happiness in life, you have to be content with yourself. More importantly, though, you have to be content with your situation.

If you are single and praying every night for love to find you, I suggest praying instead for God to give you purpose in your singleness. This, like most things, may only be a season, and use it as a way to serve God more fully. If you feel called towards the vocation of marriage, God will provide.

If you're still feeling like you're in a pickle, I suggest an old-school cootie shot. All you need is a #2 retractable pencil and a second grader to administer a dose of perspective!