Obama Fights Little Nuns: War on Religion by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND

4 01 2014

nun1jpg-065cf5f65d3ed5ae_largeWASHINGTON —The U.S. Department of Justice registered its opposition to a temporary injunction for the Little Sisters of the Poor, after Justice Sonia Sotomayor directed the administration to respond by Jan. 3, 10am Eastern.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order of nuns who care for the elderly and the poor, had petitioned the high court for an 11th-hour reprieve, and, on Dec. 31, Justice Sotomayor granted a temporary stay, while requesting the administration to respond to the petition within three days.
“The solicitor general, on behalf of respondents, respectfully files this memorandum in opposition to the emergency application for an injunction pending appellate review or, in the alternative, a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment and injunction pending resolution,” stated the Justice Department in papers filed with the high court at the Jan. 3 deadline.
The administration’s stance underscored its commitment to upholding one of the most contentious elements of the Affordable Care Act, even when the plaintiff challenging the law was a religious order dedicated to sesrving the needy.
The brief, filed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., echoed many of the administration’s past objections to an exemption for religious nonprofits and restated the importance of providing contraception and other services free of charge to female employees. It further argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not apply to the Little Sisters’ specific concerns, and it noted that not one court of appeals had ruled on the merits of cases filed by religious nonprofits.
The White House has provided an “accommodation” for religious nonprofits that object to the mandate on moral grounds but are not exempt from compliance with the federal law. Under the accommodation, the government requires objecting religious employers to sign a self-certification form that allows the mandate’s provisions to be implemented by a third-party administrator. The Little Sisters contend that signing the form makes them complicit in the provision of services that violate their deeply held moral and religious beliefs.

‘Permission Slip’ for Abortion Drugs and Contraceptives
“The government demands that the Little Sisters of the Poor sign a permission slip for abortion drugs and contraceptives or pay millions in fines. The sisters believe that doing that violates their faith and that they shouldn’t be forced to divert funds from the elderly poor they serve to the IRS,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Little Sisters, in a statement released after the Justice Department filed its brief opposing a temporary injunction.
The Obama administration has defended its “accommodation” as a reasonable solution for religious nonprofits that oppose the mandate on moral grounds, arguing that nothing more is required than for the Little Sisters and other plaintiffs to sign a self-certification form.
But Rienzi said that the government’s insistence that plaintiffs sign the form suggested that the action was important.
“The government now asks the Supreme Court to believe that the very thing it is forcing the nuns to do — signing the permission slips — is a meaningless act. But why on earth would the government be fighting the Little Sisters all the way to the Supreme Court if it did not think its own form had any effect?” Rienzi said.
“If the administration believed its contraceptive mandate was valid, it would join the Little Sisters’ request for Supreme Court review because the government has lost almost all of the cases in the lower courts. Instead, its brief today is devoted to trying to keep the court out of the issue, which would leave hundreds of religious organizations subject to massive fines for following their religion.”
For-profit and nonprofit employers have filed a total of 91 legal challenges against the HHS mandate. The U.S. bishops have pressed for a broad exemption that would shield all employers who object to the mandate on moral grounds.
The Becket Fund is representing a number of for-profit and nonprofit plaintiffs that have filed legal challenges to the mandate, including the Eternal Word Television Network. The Register is a service of EWTN.
The Becket Fund also represents Hobby Lobby, a large craft-store chain, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral argument for this case in March, with a decision expected by late June.

Government’s Arguments
In the brief filed with the high court today, the Justice Department was intent on explaining why the legal issues in the Hobby Lobby case were different from the lawsuit filed by the Little Sisters, with the apparent goal of discouraging the justices from taking up this case or granting a temporary injunction for all religious nonprofits that will face massive financial penalties if they do not comply with the mandate.
“Applicants are not … situated like the for-profit corporations that brought suit in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius. … The employer-applicants here are eligible for religious accommodations set out in the regulations that exempt them from any requirement ‘to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage,’” stated the brief.
The Justice Department’s brief further noted that the religious order was covered under a “church plan,” which meant that it was “exempt from regulation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).”
While ERISA is responsible for enforcement of the mandate, church plans are specifically excluded from its enforcement authority.
Since the church plans would not be subject to enforcement, the government argued, the religious freedom of organizations holding such plans was not under threat.
The administration offered the same argument in papers filed in a Brooklyn court, where the Archdiocese of New York and four New York-area Catholic nonprofits sought relief from the mandate.
In that case, Judge Brian Cogan provided two Catholic schools and two healthcare services with a permanent injunction. He said the legal challenge had merit, despite the fact that the church plans were actually shielded from ERISA’s enforcement authority.
According to Cogan, “Plaintiffs allege that their religion forbids them from completing this self-certification, because, to them, authorizing others to provide services that plaintiffs themselves cannot is tantamount to an endorsement or facilitation of such services. Therefore, regardless of the effect on plaintiffs’ TPAs [third-party administrator], the regulations still require plaintiffs to take actions they believe are contrary to their religion.”

Other Concerns
In its brief filed with the high court today, however, the Justice Department acknowledged the plaintiffs’ fears that the self-certification form could be used in the future to authorize enforcement of the mandate. Such enforcement could be put in effect, stated the Justice Department, “if Congress were to amend the Affordable Care Act … to grant the government ‘some authority outside of ERISA to enforce’ the contraceptive-coverage provision or if the departments ‘promulgate new regulations that apply to church for the courts.’”
While dismissing the plaintiffs’ concerns as irrelevant in the short term, the government’s brief noted, “if relevant new regulations were issued, applicants could renew their request for injunctive relief in light of the changed circumstances.”
During a Jan. 3 conference call with the press, Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel with the Becket Fund, also noted another reason for the Little Sisters’ concern about signing the self-certification form. The Little Sisters had also contracted with another third-party administrator, Express Script, Inc. (ESI), a prescription drug provider, which is not a “church plan.”
During a Jan. 3 interview with the Register, Daniel Blomberg, a lawyer with the Becket Fund, told the Register: “ESI provides pharmaceutical drugs, such as Plan B and ella, and they have made no such guarantees [that they will not provide it to patients covered under their plans] and have no religious objection to providing it.”
The self-certification form “authorizes whomever receives it that they have permission to provide the drugs, and it is the means of reimbursement for ESI. Until Express Script receives that form, they will not get paid for the cost of the drugs,” added Bloomberg, who noted that the government accomodation provides incentives for third-party administrators to offer such provisions when religious employers refuse to do it directly.
He noted that, in papers filed with a lower court, the government had dismissed the Little Sisters’ fears about signing the form as an “invisible dragon.” In fact, said Bloomberg, the LIttle Sisters had every reason to avoid signing a document that would trigger such provisions. And he noted that when criminal conspiracy charges are filed, those who “give material aid and assist someone to do wrong” are also held accountable.

Next Step Is Unclear
It is not yet clear what steps the high court will take now. Rassbach said during the press call that the Little Sisters’ lawyers would file a reply with the court, but he could not provide a timeline for when Sotomayor, or the entire court, might respond.
Douglas Laycock, an expert on religious-freedom issues at the University of Virginia Law School, told the Register, “A stay for three days after hearing from only one side tells you that she takes the issue seriously, but it doesn’t tell you what the whole court will do after they hear from both sides.”
Joan Frawley Desmond is the Register’s senior editor.

Courtesy of NCR





Marry Late, Divorce Early By Mary Eberstadt

3 01 2014

Late marriageAlas and alack, the end of summer turned out to abound in the sort of personal news one really dreads hearing – especially the more one hears it. Several friends and acquaintances now have the same problem in common: they are all getting divorced. And though every divorce is apparently unhappy in its own way, the similarities among these cases are striking enough to suggest some common denominators. All have occurred among older, married, financially (and apparently otherwise) stable people. All have involved small families – most often, an only child. And each was a shock.
All of these divorcing partners, in other words, had ostensibly followed today’s secular wisdom about marital happiness to a T: don’t rush into marriage, take time to find yourself first, establish your own career before settling down, don’t have more children than you can afford. So what went wrong?
I suggest that at least part of the answer – and by extension, perhaps part of the explanation for the staggering Western divorce rate more generally – might be summarized in two words: late marriage. Of course, we can all conjure examples of blissful marriages made in mid-life or even later, just as we can all think of early ones that have been flaming disasters. But if we step back from individual cases and look instead to the general good, the pluses of early marriage do loom large.
Many a sociologist would quarrel with that point, of course. Teen marriages, they remind us, are in fact the most likely to break up. As the contrary-minded sociologist Mark Regnerus has recently observed, that cautionary note is true – and truly misleading; for who said we were talking about teens here? What about marriage in the slightly higher demographic – say, people in their twenties? Why aren’t our churches and other organizations dedicated to family life encouraging more of that?
Regnerus has written a compelling essay in the August 2009 Christianity Today called “The Case for Early Marriage.” He zeroes in first on one particular (and rarely discussed) problem with discouraging early marriage: it means that men and women generally are expected to stay chaste during the same years that are best for childbearing, and in fact far longer than many of them will. “Over 90 percent of Americans,” he observes, “experience sexual intercourse before marrying,” and “the percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower.” (The percentage of Catholics probably isn’t, either.) Yes, abstinence education is all to the good, and yes, religious teaching itself is not at issue here; to the contrary, it is a given. “I’m certainly not suggesting,” the author concludes, “that they cannot abstain. I’m suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don’t and won’t.”
Regnerus goes on to detail other drawbacks to waiting till today’s fashionably older ages to tie the knot. It encourages men to have a ridiculously prolonged adolescence, as the popular “culture” of many twenty-something males readily demonstrates; it encourages churches to lean too heavily on sexual ecstasy as the foundation of marriage itself; it forces many women, especially believing Christian women, to look long and hard for a suitable partner in a world where many men their age have become anything but; and very seriously indeed, such waiting risks compromising the fertility of any woman who wants to have a family of size – sometimes even the fertility of any woman who wants a child, period.
To these minuses admirably addressed by Regnerus, I would add one other potential plus for earlier marriage that sociologists have yet to grapple with: treating marriage like the home version of Waiting for Godot also risks perpetuating a kind of human consumerism, a habit that cannot possibly be good for anyone.
After all, once a sufficiently large number of relationships have all failed to lead to marriage for one reason or another, it becomes terribly tempting to view the whole enterprise as more like comparison shopping than spiritual discernment. For example, I once knew a man who had dated a great many women by his late twenties – so many that his friends privately rejoiced when one finally appeared who seemed perfect for him. They shared the same religion, political views, and other interests; she was smart, successful, and what today would be called a real babe, to boot. Yet the consumer’s diffident response upon meeting her rang far more of the Consumer Checkbook than of the swain. “I’m not sure,” he temporized. “Her complexion seems really sallow.” Needless to say, no walk down the aisle.
This is what comes of people shopping, perhaps – the destructive habit of making comparative checklists about human beings. No one does it consciously, of course; but still the pernicious voice of experience assesses the goods. He gained thirty pounds, and my other boyfriends never would have, it tells some people, or she looks great for her age, but not as great as my secretary who’s ten years younger, and if only I had married X, Y, or Z instead, we wouldn’t be having all these financial/medical/romantic problems.
Of course there are good reasons to wait for marriage, chiefly that it is the single most important earthly decision that many of us will make, and that the world we live in does indeed make it easier than ever for things to fall apart. That said, from the point of view of trying to bring more, rather than fewer, thriving families into that same world, Regnerus is right: there’s much to be said for bucking the prevailing cultural aversion and marrying young.

Mary Eberstadt is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution





Fast and Furious Children Growing up in a Media Saturated World By John Flynn, LC

15 12 2013

Fast and Furious Children Growing up in a Media Saturated World By John Flynn, LC

Violence, video games, and sex: what effect does it have on children and adolescents? The latest contribution to this debate comes in a book recently published in Australia.
“Growing Up Fast and Furious,” is a collection of essays edited by Wayne Warburton and Danya Braunstein (The Federation Press).
In his contribution Warburton, Deputy Director of the Children and Families Research Center at Macquarie University (Sydney), noted that in the United States children aged 8-18 are exposed to an average of almost 11 hours of media each day. Children in other countries might not reach this level, but they are not far behind, he added.
In recent years media is not only more portable but it is also easier for children to access it in multiple places within and outside the home. This means it is increasingly difficult for parents to monitor their children’s media consumption, Warburton observed.
Looking at the research Warburton commented that media is a powerful teacher, for both good and bad, and the effects can be both short and long-term.
John P. Murray, who has been researching children’s social development for almost 40 years in the United States in a number of academic position, looked into the matter of the effects of media violence.
Some decades ago studies clearly demonstrate that the viewing of violence and aggressive behaviour are clearly related, but they do not establish a cause and effect relationship.
Video games
More recent studies do, however, lead to the conclusion that viewing violence does affect the attitudes and behaviour of viewers, he said.
Violent video games was the topic of an essay by Warburton and Craig A. Anderson, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University. Video games can enhance the lives of children and adolescents they said, but exposure to anti-social and violent video games increases the likelihood of a range of negative outcomes, they warned.
Video games, they noted, can improve visual and spatial skills and can also be a valuable instrument in teaching children. They can also lead to less desirable outcomes, such as addiction to video games, attention deficit, and increased aggression.
Spending more hours playing video games is linked to poorer school performance and research has shown that excessive exposure to violence leads to desensitisation to violence and a decrease in empathy.
In fact, the U.S. military forces use video games for training purposes and the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, responsible for the the massacre on Utoya island in 2011, stated that he used computer games to help him prepare for his attack.
This is not to claim that media violence is the sole or even the most important source of violent behavior, the authors cautioned. Other factors, such as a violent home environment, are, however, hard to deal with while media violence can be controlled more readily.
Cyber-bullying was an issue examined by Ed Donnerstein in his essay. Donnerstein, a professor of communication at the University of Arizona, said that various surveys in different countries indicate that between 15 to 35% of teens report being bullied online. Moreover, 10 to 20% admit to bullying others.
Safe at home?
The place where a child was considered to be most secure, at home, has now become a place where they can be a victim, he noted. Moreover, because of the anonymity of the aggressor and the permanence in cyberspace of the material the effects can be harsher than bullying in person.
Louise Newman, a professor of developmental psychology at Melbourne’s Monash University, examined the subject of sexualization. This topic goes much further than a simplistic opposition between censorship as opposed to openness, she affirmed.
There is an increasing body of evidence pointing to the potential harm of the sexualization of children, particularly those of primary school age, she said.
“Of particular concern is the way in which sexualization impacts on self-development,” Newman commented. This has led to worries about the relationship between media representations of the ideal body and the self-esteem of girls.
“The representations of girls and women as sexual objects and boys and men as sexual predators are ubiquitous and particularly reinforced in some media and music sub-cultures,” she added.
Alan Hayes and Carole Jean, both from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, commented that the exposure of children to violent, sexualized, or exploitative material is at odds with the aspiration to be a child-friendly society.
A culture that engenders exploitation and desensitisation leads to what they termed “the democratization of dysfunction.”
While there is still much to learn about the impact of the media on children the jury is not out they affirmed and there is solid evidence of the ill effects of a media diet rich in violence and sexualized material.
What is also clear, they said, is that there is a gap that needs to be closed between knowledge and action. While it is certainly true that individuals need to make appropriate choices society does have a collective responsibility that cannot be overlooked, they concluded.

 





Sexual Re-connection By PETER KREEFT

7 12 2013

 

Sexual Reconnection

To see that the Sexual Revolution has been radical in thought as well as behavior, just look at the revolution in language. When people use the word “morality” today they almost always mean sexual morality. That’s a remarkable new development, an astonishing narrowing; it’s as if we started to use the word “state” to mean only Russia, or the word “technology” to mean only “computers”. The reason for the new development is obvious from my two comparisons: sex, Russia, and computers are where there have been the most radical revolutions.
No one speaks of a revolution in any other area of morality. No one speaks of the Property Revolution or the Bearing False Witness Revolution. In fact the rest of the natural moral law is pretty much still in place. Almost no one defends terrorism, sadism, cannibalism, insider trading, nuclear war, environmental pollution, rape, hypocrisy, torture, or murder. We are still “judgmental” about those things. But if it has anything to do with sex we dare no longer be “judgmental”.

Look at the non-impeachment of President Clinton. No U.S. President would ever have survived public revelation that he was any of these immoral things I just mentioned, or even a deliberate liar about anything else except sex.

Look at abortion. No one defends killing innocent, defenceless human beings, except for sex. That is what abortion is. The whole purpose of abortion is backup birth control and the whole purpose of birth control is to have sex without babies. If storks brought babies, Planned Parenthood would go broke. Sex is the motor that drives the abortion business.

Look at divorce. Suppose there were some practice that did not involve sex that had the same three scientifically provable effects that divorce has. First, it betrayed your most solemn promise you ever made to the person you said was the most important person in your life. Second, it was child abuse, it maimed your children’s psyches, it made a happy life and a happy marriage and family much, much harder for those vulnerable little people you brought into the world and who remained largely dependent on you for their future. Third, it infallibly guaranteed that your society would die, would self destruct. No society in history has ever survived without stable marriages and stable families. It is the one absolutely indispensable foundation of everything else, for it is the first and most intimate way that individuals form communities and emerge from selfishness. But these three things are exactly what divorce does. More than that, it’s a form of suicide, the suicide of the new person, the two-in-one-flesh created by marriage. How healthy would you think a society is if half of all its individual citizens committed suicide? But half of our families commit suicide, and society is composed of families, not just of individuals. But divorce is tolerated and accepted because it’s about sex. Suppose it was proved that something else, something not connected with sex, had these three effects. For instance, smoking, or single malt scotch, or ferris wheels. You’d have absolute prohibition, not tolerance.

The moral revolution is confined to sex. We are not allowed to steal another man’s money without being put into jail, but we can steal another man’s wife. You cannot betray your lawyer without being severely penalized, but you can betray your wife, and SHE is severely penalized. You cannot kill bald eagles or blue whales without being a criminal but you can kill your own children as long as you do it a second before the two blades of the scissors meet in the middle of the umbilical cord rather than a second after, or a second before the body emerges from the birth canal rather than a second after. What kind of logic is this?

Obviously the mind behind the Sexual Revolution is not overly attached to logical consistency, and there is little hope of changing the mind that defends that revolution by logical arguments, however infallible they may be. You need more than logic to unscramble the brains of an addict. The argument will find no soil in the brains to grow in because the brains are already scrambled. Do you really think sex addicts can think more clearly than drug addicts? If anything, it’s the opposite. Drug addicts don’t usually defend their addiction with elaborate rationalizations and new philosophies of moral relativism; sex addicts almost always do. And only about 5-10% of Americans are drug addicts, probably about twice as much as that if we include alcohol. But the vast majority are sex addicts. According to a recent poll, over 50% of the men who attend Church every Sunday are addicted to pornography. That’s not 50% of men, or even 50% of Christian man, but 50% of the small, elite cream of the crop who are in church every Sunday. It is a literal epidemic.

What then do we need to defeat this revolution, which has brought about such immense destruction, and eventual death, to families, and eventually to society? Reason, logic, argument, science, facts, common sense, compromise, return to tradition – none of these are strong enough. What is strong enough? Only one thing. Nothing less than Jesus Christ will do.

Why? Because the heart of the error of the Sexual Revolution is the identifying of love with sex. Christ undoes this fundamental confusion by showing us – not just telling us but showing us – what love is.

The Beatles are right: all you need is love. But not the kind of love they mean. Why is it true that all you need is love? Because God is love, and all you need is God. If you have God plus ten million other things, and if I have God alone, you don’t have a single thing more than I do. Love and the lack of love transforms everything else. We’d all rather be in love in Detroit than divorced in Hawaii.

Christianity centers on two equations: God is love, and love is (revealed in) Christ. Look at this second equation. Do you want to know what love is? Look at Christ. I Corinthians 13, the most popular chapter in the Bible, read at nearly ever wedding, is a description of Jesus Christ. It’s not an abstract definition of an ideal, it’s a concrete description of the historical fact of Jesus Christ. As Pope John Paul II loved to say, Jesus Christ shows man to himself. Without Christ we do not know ourselves. We are like a dog in a cage at the airport who has chewed off his own dog tag with his name and his address. He does not know who he is or where his home is. That’s us without Christ. For He’s the Mind of God! He designed us, for God’s sake. I mean that literally, not profanely: He designed us for God’s sake. For the God who is love. But what kind of love? A new and different kind, and that difference was so radical that it converted the world. It wasn’t theology that converted the world, it was love. Mother Teresa converted souls without number just by being what she was, a saint, an example of this new love, this total love, this Godlike love.

Jesus predicted that would happen. He said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.” If that love was something already known, if it was romance or erotic love or liking or compassion or philanthropy or civility or fairness or justice or mercy, all of which are wonderful things, but if that was all it was, if the love Christ was talking about was not radically new and different, then He could not possibly have meant what He said. It would contradict itself. It would mean: “The world will see the difference between you and them by the fact that you all share the same kind of love. They will be able to distinguish My disciples from everybody else by the fact that their kind of love is not different from everybody else’s.”

It means, of course, exactly the opposite. Our human loves are forms of desire, feeling, eros, need. These need-loves are very good things. Men need women and women need men, physically and spiritually and socially and emotionally and biologically. And children need adults and adults need children. And teachers need students and students need teachers. But the love Christ brings is the love God is, and God does not need anything. God is sheer gift.

That’s why Jesus came, and why He died, and why He shed so much blood. He didn’t have to. One drop would have saved the world. Why did He give 12 quarts? Because He had 12 quarts to give.
Now let’s connect this new love, this love that is the very nature of God, with sex. The Sexual Revolution has disconnected it; we need to reconnect it. How? First of all in our thinking, and then in our acting. Without the right thoughts, we won’t do the right acts. Without a road map, we won’t find the right road.

We’ve already seen how radical the Sexual Revolution is. It’s a radical change in behavior, of course, but even more radically, it’s a radical change in thinking. And the most radical change in thinking is not an addition but a subtraction. The single most radical result of all the immense amount of sex education that we’ve had in the last 50 years has been not a new knowledge but a new ignorance: ignorance of the most essential thing about sex, the essential meaning and purpose of sex, the very essence of sex. Sex creates babies. They’re not accidents! Pregnancy is not a disease. They’re what sex does if you let it do its thing. Sex makes new immortal persons. Sex is incredibly, magically, supernaturally creative because it images the Creator. It’s part of the image of God. That’s why the first time the Bible mentions “the image of God,” in Genesis, it immediately mentions sex: “And God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.”
No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close.

We moderns think sex is for us; it isn’t; it’s for our children. We moderns think we’re so enlightened because we’re not legalists any more, we’re personalists, we’re about people, not about laws or rules or commandments. We think of the people who make sex, and we want those people to have fun and be happy. Which is fine, but we’re so fixated on the fact that people make sex that we’ve ignored the fact that sex makes people.

But we’ve redesigned it so that it doesn’t make people any more. We’ve contracepted it. But since it is God’s way of creating, we’ve contracepted God. That’s exactly like redesigning the Mass so that you put a condom over the priest’s mouth when he’s about to say This Is My Body so that Jesus can’t come and create the miracle of transubstantiation, because you don’t want that new life, all you want is the thrill of playing at it. That’s what contraception is. It’s putting a condom on God, putting a barrier or a diaphragm between God and the miracle He might otherwise perform in you.

No official teaching in the Church’s 2000 year history, no official document, has ever been so hated, despised, ignored, and disobeyed as Humanae Vitae. What is the most unpopular teaching of the Church today? Nothing comes even close. It’s the teaching of the Church about sex that is by far the main reason the world hates and fears the Church today. For the Church is “judgmental” about our society’s addiction and real religion. False religion, false gods, can be overcome only by true religion, by the true God.

Humanae Vitae was prophetic. The Pill was a nuclear bomb. It split the atom of the family by splitting the atom of sex, splitting its pleasure from its fruit, its unitive from its procreative end, splitting sex from life.

How does Christ revolutionize the Sexual Revolution? Not by turning back the clock, not by a new Victorianism, not by opposing religion to sex, but by showing their real and profound connection. What is that connection?

It’s exactly the opposite of what Freud thought it was. Freud argued that religion is only a poor substitute for sex. Christ shows that sex is a poor substitute for religion, for real religion, that is, a kind of religion Freud knew nothing about. Freud thought love was a substitute for lust. Christ knew that lust was a substitute for love. If Freud were right, it would follow that the more sex you have the less religion you want, so that happily married people who have a lot of happy sex would become atheists. It doesn’t happen. The predictions are not verified. The data falsify the theory. Sexually active people don’t become atheists. Even in college. The college hookup culture has turned colleges into free whore houses, a randy man’s impossible dream. But even these men, and certainly their free whores, are not happy atheists. They’re neither atheists nor happy. Satisfying their sexual hunger is not satisfying their spiritual hunger any more than it did for St. Augustine. It looks as if God isn’t a poor substitute for sex but sex is a poor substitute for God.

But let’s be honest, among all the substitutes for God, sex is a pretty good one. And that’s because it’s a kind of icon of God. Eros is an image of agape. And the love between the sexes is an image or icon of the love between the persons of the Trinity. Only very good things can become addictions and idolatries. No one gets addicted to paper clips or worships mud. You can’t make a religion out of washing machines. But you can make one out of sex.
In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

Sex is close to religion because the ultimate end and center and point of all true religion is a spiritual marriage to God. That’s what we are designed for, that’s the only thing that will keep us in unbored ecstasy for ever. That’s what the Bible says. The last event in human history, at the end of the Apocalypse, is the marriage between the Lamb and His bride, Christ and His Church, God and man. That’s the end, point, purpose, highest value, greatest good, meaning, consummation and perfection of human life.

Why is sex such a thrill? Because it’s one of the few things in life that’s like that. It’s literally an ecstasy – the word means “standing-outside-yourself”, self-forgetfulness, self-transcendence, the overcoming of that hidden inner loneliness that every one of us brings into the world with that wonderful and terrible little word “I”. The “I” is restless until it becomes a “We”. And ultimately, that’s because God is a “We”.
It’s not the physical excitement that’s the greatest excitement in sex, it’s the personal excitement of knowing that this other person has accepted you into his or her inner sanctum, body and soul. It’s the intimacy, the oneness, the we-ness, when we know that the one we love loves us, when the two streams of loving and being loved meet like two beams of light becoming one, or two rivers of volcanic lava blending. The two really do become one, and paradoxically, in that one moment when they are the most totally lost in each other, each one discovers the deepest secret of his and her own individuality. At what other moment do lovers attain the peak of their individual fulfillment if not at that moment when they are the most totally lost in each other? Why does that happen? Because that’s what God is: and that’s why that’s the ultimate law of life: the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, that that’s the only way it lives. You lose your life, and that’s the only way to find it. You give, and that’s the only way to receive. You forget yourself, and that’s the only way to find yourself. It’s a kind of mystical absentmindedness. You become the other, without ceasing to be yourself.

There are other peak experiences in life that can give you some of that thrill, that are similar to sex, but they are usually much weaker and rarer. Great music, for instance, or surfing a great wave. But God designed sex to be the #1 way. That’s why He didn’t design babies to come from listening to Beethoven or from hanging ten in the tube.

In short, by God’s design in creating us, we are hardwired for the spiritual marriage, for becoming one with God; that’s why we are so thrilled at becoming one with each other, as the images of God. As we are images of God, the sexual union is an image of union with God. It is an appetizer of Heaven, a faint image of the Beatific Vision.

St. Thomas Aquinas says: “No man can live without joy” (i.e. without ecstasy, which is much more than happiness, because happiness can be somewhat under your control and therefore boring, but joy is always a gift and a surprise). Aquinas continues: “No man can live without joy; that is why those who are deprived of true, spiritual joys, necessarily go over to carnal pleasures.” The origin of the Sexual Revolution is religious. The Revolution could not have happened without the loss of true religion, the loss of spiritual joy, the loss of religious passion, the passionate love of God. The Revolution could not have happened without that, and also without the Pill, of course, which allows us to have sex without consequences and lifelong responsibilities. We have given up the two deepest, longest, greatest joys, the eternity-long love of God and the lifelong love of spouse and family and children, the two joys that come from the most total self-giving, the radical adventure of holding back nothing; and we’ve given these up these two great dramatic things for what? For the shallower, temporary, smaller pleasures that are so small because they have to hold back something, hold back total self-giving which includes fertility and family and future and commitment. These are crazy adventures. What a crazy adventure kids are! Having fits is less crazy than having kids. And we are bored and therefore unhappy because we are hardwired for the all-or-nothing, wild, total romance and all we find is some cool, controlled kicks.
So we lie. We pretend we are happy. Our most basic social liturgy is “How are you?” And the answer has to be “Fine,” even if your dog just died, your mother in law is coming to live with you forever, your kids think you’re a dork, and your wife is collecting the phone numbers of divorce lawyers. We’re all fine.

If we’re all fine, how come the suicide rate for teenagers rose 5000 per cent between 1950 and 1990? What could possibly be a more unarguable index of increasing unhappiness than that?

And how does Jesus Christ answer that? What does Christ have to do with the Sexual Revolution and its causes and its consequences? Everything. Because Christ alone gives us intimacy with God, and that’s the thing the Sexual Revolution is looking for but doesn’t know it. As Chesterton said, When the adulterer knocks on the door of the brothel, he’s really looking for a cathedral.

Therefore Christ alone is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Because nobody else gives us intimacy with God.
What I’ve said will strike some of you as bizarre. How dare I bring these two things together, Christ and sex? I must bring them together, because they are the two most passionate things in our lives, and because they both are revelations of the same God, the God of love.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths. How important is this response? As important as the Sexual Revolution. The importance of St. George depends on the importance of the dragon. The importance of Dr. Von Helsing depends on the importance of Dracula.

What I’ve given you is the essential point of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. That is the Church’s answer to the Sexual Revolution. The Church always responds to new heresies with new definitions, new insights, new restatements of eternal truths.

And how important is the dragon, or the Dracula of the Sexual Revolution? Well, that depends on how important the family is, for exactly the same reason: because the Revolution is doing a Dracula on the family.

And how important is the family? It is only the foundation for all human society, and the source of the greatest human happiness (and, when messed up, the greatest human unhappiness), because it is the image of God. God is not a lonely individual. God is a family.

I think the family is even more important to God than doctrinal orthodoxy, because the family is the very image and presence of God among us. Islam and Mormonism are both theological heresies, but they are multiplying faster than Christianity, and God is blessing them because Mormons and Muslims today are much more faithful than Christians are to their families, to sexual morality, to marriage, and to procreation.

Muslims tried to conquer Christian Europe for 13 centuries with the sword, and failed; they are succeeding now with a far more powerful weapon: mothers. They are having children and families, and Christians aren’t. Therefore God is giving them Europe because they deserve it and we don’t.

This is outrageous because neither Muhammad nor Joseph Smith is the answer to the Sexual Revolution. Christ is. He does not just teach the Big Picture, as the Pope does; He IS the big picture. He does not just teach us the Word of God about sex, he IS the Word of God about sex. He does not merely teach the spiritual marriage, He IS the spiritual marriage. He is the whole meaning and end and point and consummation of sex, and of our whole lives, in this world and in the next. He is the Mind of God, He is the inventor of sex the icon and the mediator of the Heavenly ecstasy, the mystical marriage, of which it is the icon. To know Him is to know the meaning of all things. Outside of Him, we do not know God, or ourselves, or the meaning of life, or the meaning of death, or the meaning of sex.

There is more than that to say about a Christian anthropology and about a Christian philosophy of sex. Many more things than this are needed. But nothing less.

 





Uganda Winning the Battle Against HIV/AIDS — Using Abstinence SARAH TRAFFORD

3 12 2013

Uganda Winning the Battle Against HIV/AIDS — Using Abstinence SARAH TRAFFORD

Uganda Winning the Battle Against AIDS — Using Abstinence
SARAH TRAFFORD
Uganda may be on its way to wiping out AIDS by using the Biblical values of chastity and fidelity, a new Harvard University study finds. According to the study, abstinence education has shown significant effectiveness in reducing AIDS in Uganda, with the HIV infection rate dropping 50 percent

The east African nation is making a big impact with the revelation that the AIDS epidemic can be curbed. Riddled with HIV infections since the 1970s, Uganda has found miraculous success by using abstinence as its prevention strategy. Promotion of abstinence through billboards, radio programs and school sex education curricula has resulted in a slow and steady drop in HIV infection rates, as well as new attitudes about conquering AIDS in Uganda.
“Uganda is one of the countries that attach great importance on promoting abstinence among our youth,” said Ahmed Ssenyomo, minister counselor at the Ugandan Embassy, in a speech to the African American Youth Conference on Abstinence.

When the program started in the late 1980s, the number of pregnant women infected with HIV was 21.2 percent. By 2001, the number was 6.2 percent. The Harvard study also reported Ugandan adults are not having as much risky sex: of women 15 and older, those reporting many sexual partners dropped from 18.4 percent in 1989 to 2.5 percent in 2000.

The emphasis on abstinence in Uganda’s program is unique. In other nations with high HIV infections, such as Zimbabwe and Botswana, condoms have been promoted as the answer to ending the AIDS crisis. In Botswana, 38 percent of pregnant women were HIV positive last year, contrasted with 6.2 percent of Ugandan women.

Much of the program’s success is due to the nation’s willingness to look beyond the sexual revolution to the past.

“What we’re seeing in parts of Africa is communities responding to the epidemic by saying, ‘Let’s see what’s in our culture — how can we deal with this with what we had in the past?’ ” Susan Leclerc-Madlalas, a medical anthropologist at the University of Natal in South Africa, told the Associated Press. “What they had most of the time was a way of regulating sexuality.”

Many AIDS officials reject abstinence as a potential prevention strategy despite evidence that promotion of abstinence and fidelity have significantly reduced AIDS cases in Uganda over the past decade.

“Millions and millions of young people are having sexual relations,” said Paolo Teizeria, director of Brazil’s AIDS program, at the 14th International AIDS Conference. “We cannot talk about abstinence. It’s not real.”

Abstinence is often dismissed as a potential prevention method. Condom promotion and “safe-sex” initiatives have long been thought to be the answer to stopping the spread of HIV: Instead of encouraging people to curb their libidos, these initiatives have tried to provide “safer” ways of exercising them. However, in many African nations condoms aren’t looked upon kindly: there are a variety of urban legends that circulate in some regions that condoms are either ethnic cleansing tools or actually spread HIV themselves. (During the Cold War, the Soviet KGB spread “disinformation” that the United States created the AIDS virus to kill off Africans.)

“Ugandans really never took to condoms,” Dr. Vinand Nantulya, an infectious disease advisor to Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, told The New Republic.

The abstinence initiative in Uganda goes far beyond those who are already having sex — it starts with the education and promotion of an abstinence program for youth called “True Love Waits.” Thirty thousand Ugandan youth are currently involved with the program. Launched in Uganda in 1994, True Love Waits focuses on abstinence until marriage as a way to prevent all sorts of adverse consequences associated with extra-marital sexual activity.

“Encouraging marriage, monogamy or abstinence, delaying the onset of sexual activity, discouraging promiscuity and casual sex, reducing the supply and demand of illegal drugs or providing treatment to drug addicts … are the absolute most effective approaches to reducing the risk of HIV,” Rep. Mark Souder (R-Indiana) and six other members of the U.S. Committee on Government Reform said in a letter to the United Nations.

The United States and other countries have yet to embrace abstinence promotion as a mode of AIDS prevention. The United Nations recently predicted that AIDS will wipe out half the population in some African countries. In Uganda, the proverbial sun is starting to shine from the rain cloud of AIDS deaths — and it’s looking brighter.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Sarah Trafford. “Uganda Winning the Battle Against AIDS — Using Abstinence.” Culture and Family Institute (July, 2002).

This article reprinted with permission from Culture and Family Institute. Culture and Family Institute is an affiliate of Concerned Women for America 1015 Fifteenth St. N.W., Suite 1102 Washington, D.C. 20005 Phone: (202) 289-7117 Fax: (202) 488-0806 E-mail: mail@cultureandfamily.org

THE AUTHOR

Sarah Trafford is an intern for the Culture & Family Institute of CWA and a Political Science major at The College Of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

Copyright Culture and Family Institute

 





Man Killer: Money by Schaefer

26 11 2013

Man Killer: Money by Schaefer

Integrity is the foundation of a great man and once it is broken, it can never be completely restored. Like a an ornament that has been shattered into a million pieces, it can be glued back together, but when held up to the light, the cracks are still clearly seen.
Three specific areas, money, sex and power, have preyed on the integrity and claimed the lives of thousands of great men throughout history. While beneficial when viewed and handled properly, these three areas have a unique way of warping into something quite toxic, a sort of man poison, and the ripple effect can be tremendous. These man killers leave a terrible path of carnage: careers ended, families ripped apart, hearts broken and potential wasted.
It is not a matter of if you will face temptations in each of these areas, it is a matter of when. You can say, “It won’t happen to me,” and become another man taken down in his prime, or you can set up systems in your life that increase your chances of finishing strong with your integrity intact.
We start this three part series on the topic of MONEY.
“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” proclaimed Gordon Gecko, in the 1987 movie classic, “Wall Street.” He went on to explain that greed had been the source for human progress. There is no doubt that many great inventions and breakthroughs came as a result of greed, but the problem with greed is that it always ends up making you do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Greed has a funny way of making integrity and moral boundaries seem much more flexible or even non-existent. Lying, cheating, stealing all become normal methods of operation rather than despicable acts. And in the end, the emptiness is still not filled. Take for example the culture of Enron just before its downfall (warning some adult language):
Notice the attitude of these traders. Who cares who gets hurt as long as I’m getting mine, as long as I’m moving up the ladder.
Most of us watch this video and say, “There is no way that I would ever be like that!” But greed, like other destructive vices often comes about slowly, subtly, without any signs that would cause alarm bells to ring.
Money itself is not bad nor is the desire to make money. Money is a necessary part of life, it’s just the way the system works. It’s a tool, and tools are neither good nor bad; their value rests in how they are used. Many people misquote the Bible as saying, “Money is the root of all evil.” But the verse actually posits that it is “the love of money” which is the problem. The man trap begins when we start defining ourselves by our material possessions – believing that money and its trappings are the answer to our happiness. It’s a small, but deadly twist in our natural desire as men to be providers and industrialists.
The problem with defining ourselves by what we have is that we never have enough.
There will always be someone that has more money, a bigger house, a newer car and cooler toys. We convince ourselves that if we could just have a few of those things we would be happy, the race would be over and we would be content.
But, it never happens. Even when we get the house of our dreams, soon a new neighbor moves in next door and builds a castle that would make the Royal Family jealous. And the cycle continues. Soon we find ourselves consumed by money, the slave, rather than the master.
Tolstoy once wrote a short story concerning greed in which a man named Pahom was given a wonderful, but unusual, opportunity to acquire some land. For a thousand rubles he was told that starting at sunrise he could walk around as large an area of land as he wanted and by nightfall, if he had reached his starting point, he would be given the amount of land his path had encircled.
Driven by his lust for land, Pahom rushed far away from his starting point, trying to gain more land than he could handle and ignoring signs that perhaps he was going too far. At the end of the day, the sun begins to set and Pahom attempts to rush back, realizing the seriousness of his error. But he is too late and drops dead a very short distance from his starting point, just as the sun sets. The story then reads, “His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”
Like Pahom, we often get caught up by the desire to add more, but in the end greed costs more than it gains.
So how does one go about keeping their hearts and hands clean in the area of money? The following are three simple, but highly effective immunizations:
1) Be Careful – Money is powerful. It’s allure can lead men to do things that breech their integrity and eventually ruin their lives. So it makes sense to be on guard. Being careful involves consciously monitoring your attitude towards the money in your life. Are you feeling desperate to earn more, constantly anxious that you don’t have enough, or jealous of others’ success? Your heart might be going down a slippery slope.
As much as we try to be aware of ourselves, it is always best to have friends and family that can act as mirrors for us. Ask those closest to you to tell you when they think your attitude is changing in regard to money and things. It may not always be the most comfortable question to ask, but it’s much better to catch a problem early than save your pride and fall hard later.
2) Be Generous – One of the best antidotes to greed is giving. There is something incredible that happens in people’s hearts when they give their money or possessions to others in need. Suddenly, the things we couldn’t live without aren’t so important after all. Giving keeps us from clinging onto our possessions too strongly.
I like to think of being generous as practicing being rich. Many people justify their lack of giving by citing insufficient funds. “I would give if I had more money,” is the common logic. The reality is, if you are not giving in your poverty, you will never give in your wealth. Generosity is a habit that must be cultivated, it doesn’t just spring up when the bottom line hits a certain level. People who don’t realize this often become even more greedy and less generous as their standard of living increases. So give early, give often.
3) Be Thankful – Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand after the tsunami as part of a relief team. The devastation was everything you would imagine and more. Villages completely wiped off the map, families of 5 or 6 people now down to 1 or 2, and lots of nightmares.
But, what struck me most was not the horror of the event, but the incredible spirit of generosity embodied by the refugees we met. People who had lost everything they owned tried to scrape together a few things to share with us as we went about rebuilding their homes. If anyone had an excuse to hoard their possessions and be a little greedy, it was these people. Yet, they were generous and gave us food, water, etc. with a smile on their face.
These refugees were richer than most Americans I knew, not in money or possessions, but in spirit. They understood that even after their lives were torn apart, they still had something they could be thankful for and something to give. This left a tremendous impact on me as I looked at my life and all of the incredible things I had been blessed with. It made me intensely thankful to live where I did, with the people I lived with and for the opportunities I had been afforded.
And maybe that’s where greed falls short causing us to look outside at money and things rather than inside. At physical wealth rather than the wealth of the spirit. In looking to money for fulfillment and happiness we always come up short, it simply can’t do the job. The sooner we understand this the sooner we can truly conquer greed.

 





VIDEO Fighting the New Drug (2’25”)

22 11 2013


We need to talk about pornography. Wait, don’t go. This is important. You see, pornography affects all of us.
It’s not a question of if you get exposed, but when. So what, right? Some people say it’s not a big deal.
They’re wrong. Viewing pornography changes your brain. That’s right, it actually CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
When you see pornography your brain is over-exposed with chemicals, the same chemicals that are released with hard drugs. They make you come back for more. Overtime your brain starts to rewire itself.
And it doesn’t take long until you crave it. You have to see more. You’re addicted.

And that ADDICTION takes over your life. It takes you away from your friends, your family, everything you love.
Addiction doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t think about your future. It just wants to be satisfied.

Now we know what you’re thinking, “It won’t happen to me.” Maybe you’re right, but what if you’re wrong?
Why take a chance? Get the facts about pornography. Fight the New Drug.

 








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