Friday, February 27, 2009

Vatican: bishop's apology on Holocaust not enough

The Vatican requires that Bishop Williamson disavow his views, not "apologize" for causing other people to be offended. But it doesn't matter. About 90% of those who heard the original story will continue in their belief that the Catholic Church has reinstated a Holocaust denier. Why do you suppose this is?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Muslim woman arrested for arranging the rape of dozens of women in order to recruit suicide bombers

A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow parishioner Russ Smith alerted me to the story. There aren't too many stories more horrific than this one.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

On February 16, 1966, James Brown recorded the greatest R&B ballad of all time. The Godfather of Soul's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" has subsequently been covered by several major popular singers such as Cher, Celine Dion, and Seal. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it #123 in the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time. And though the magazine says it was Brown's "abject singing" that made the song's "almost biblically chauvinistic" lyrics sound "genuinely humane," I'd have to say Brown sung the way he did because he believed what he was singing about:

This is a man's world
This is a man's world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing
Without a woman or a girl

You see man made the cars
To take us over the road
Man made the train
To carry the heavy load

Man made the electric lights
To take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water
Like Noah made the ark

This is a man's, man's, man's world
But it wouldn’t be nothing
Nothing without a woman or a girl

Man thinks of our little baby girls
And our baby boys
Man makes them happy
'Cause man makes them toys

And after man makes everything,
Everything he can
You know that man makes money
To buy from other man

This is a man's world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing
Not one little thing
Without a woman or a girl

He's lost in the wilderness
He's lost in bitterness
He's lost,
He's lost….

Right now, I'm reading George Gilder's Men and Marriage. The book is an absolute masterpiece; I can't put it down. Here's an extended quotation:

"In the man's desire, conscious or unconscious, to identify and keep his progeny is the beginning of love. In a civilized society, he will not normally be able to claim his children if they are born to several mothers. He must choose a particular woman and submit to her sexual rhythms and social demands if he is to have offspring of his own. His love defines his choice. His need to choose evokes his love. His sexual drive lends energy to his love and his love gives shape, meaning, and continuity to his sexuality. When he selects a specific woman, he in essence defines himself both to himself and to society. Every sex act thereafter celebrates that definition and social engagement.

"Without a durable relationship with a woman, a man's sexual life is a series of brief and temporary exchanges, impelled by a desire to affirm his most rudimentary masculinity. But with love sex becomes refined by selectivity, and other dimensions of personality are exchanged and developed. The man himself is refined, and his sexuality becomes not a mere impulse but a commitment in society, possibly to be fulfilled in the birth of specific children legally and recognizably his. His sex life then can be conceived and experienced as having specific long-term importance like a woman's [i.e., woman naturally bear children while men do not].

"Obviously, the most enduring way to make this commitment is through marriage. Yet, because sexual liberals deny the differences between the sexes, their explanations of why there are marriages and why marriage is needed and desired ignore the central truth of marriage: that it is built on sex roles...

"As a social institution, marriage transcends all individuals. The health of a society, its collective vitality, ultimately resides in its concern for the future, its sense of a connection with generations to come. There is perhaps no more important index of the social condition. It is the very temperature of a community. A community preoccupied with the present, obsessed with an immediate threat or pleasure, is enfevered. A social body, like the human body, can run a very high fever for short periods in order to repel a specific threat or to meet an emergency, a war or domestic crisis. But if it finds itself perpetually enfevered, it begins to run down and can no longer provide for the future. Its social programs can fail to work, its businesses can fail to produce, its laws can become unenforceable. The will and morale and community of its people can founder. A society, apparently working well, can stand impotent before its most important domestic and external threats and opportunities.

"The sense of social vitality and balance does not 'just happen.' In civilized conditions it is love, marriage, and the nurture of children that project a society into the future and make it responsible for posterity... [I]n general it is only through love for specific children that a society evokes long-term commitments from its members.

"That is why the social temperature of single men is so high--why they end up so often being sent to war or jail or other institutions, and why they burn out so young. A society does not run into real trouble, however, until its culture begins to adopt the unmarried male pattern, until the long-term commitments on which any enduring community is based are undermined by an opportunistic public philosophy. The public philosophy of the unmarried male focuses on immediate gratification: 'What did posterity ever do for me?' A society that widely adopts this attitude is in trouble.

"The power of woman springs from her role in overcoming these socially and personally self-defeating ways of men...

"The ideology of the sexual liberationists sees society as a male-dominated construct that exploits women for the convenience of men. In evidence, they cite men's greater earning power, as if economic productivity were a measure of social control rather than of social service. But it is female power, organic and consitutional, that is real--holding sway over the deepest levels of consciousness, sources of happiness, and processes of social survival. Male dominance in the marketplace, on the other hand, is a social artifice maintained not for the dubious benefits it confers on men but for the indispensible benefits it offers the society: inducing men to support rather than disrupt it...

"Any consideration of equality focusing on employment and income, therefore, will miss the real sources of equilibrium between the sexes. These deeper female strengths and male weaknesses are more important than any superficial male dominance because they control the ultimate motives and rewards of our existence. In childbearing, every woman is capable of a feat of creativity and durable accomplishment--permanently and uniquely changing the face of the earth--that only the most extraordinary man can even pretend to duplicate in external activity.

"Women control not the economy of the marketplace but the economy of eros: the life force in our society and our lives. What happens in the inner realm of women finally shapes what happens on our social surfaces, determining the level of happiness, energy, creativity, morality, and solidarity in the nation" (pp. 14-18).

As James Brown sang,

This is a man's world
This is a man's world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing
Without a woman or a girl!

Brown, himself, must have known very well the futility of the pleasure-seeking male life. After all, he made a career out of distilling male lust into music for the dance hall. Perhaps the pathos of Brown's performance arose out of an internal conflict between love and lust, between faith and temptation. But I'm no psychologist, and I know next to nothing about James Brown's life except that he was married four times and probably had several illegitimate children.

The point is not to crap on James Brown, it's to highlight a perennial human problem. You see, when temptation enters Eden and the serpent dangles (no pun intended!) the promise of divinity before her, woman is given a choice. She has a choice to take the fruit or refuse it until she may legitimately possess it. If she is not deceived by the promise of instant godhood (remember, there is a link between sex and spirituality--e.g., marriage is a "mystery" of Christ and the Church) and witholds herself until the proper time, eternal life (i.e., the perpetuation of the human race) is assured. But if she takes the fruit prematurely, disaster is inevitable. What she thinks will be pleasure enjoyed with her man turns instead to her undoing. Man will begin to care more for the fruit than for her. The fruit is actually a distraction from the real thing, for Woman is the authentic meaning of Man's natural life. Woman shall be saved through childbearing, as the apostle says, and man is saved through woman.