Friday, December 30, 2011

28 Days on the Pill

Interesting to think about. How much DO we know about the birth control pill?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lady Gaga: A Struggle?

I'm curiously and oddly fascinated by Lady Gaga. After all, she's catchy . . she turns heads . . . she's crazily successful in the music world . . . and she's a talented vocalist. And yet, that odd fascination is just that: odd. I can't think of a more odd persona than Lady Gaga in the music industry at the moment. Her music has always made me wonder, "What the heck . . . really . . . is up with her music?"

She's an interesting woman to take a look at.

I was glancing through this today, and this caught my eye:

"What we see in Ste­fani, or Lady Gaga as she is called, is a strug­gle. A con­stant inner con­flict, between express­ing and explor­ing her dark­est and most ter­ri­fy­ing thoughts and feel­ings, and doing what she knows is right and what will make her the hap­pi­est on the deep­est level, the level of truths that don’t change. It’s a strug­gle between find­ing a way to be unique while still try­ing to be pop­u­lar. It’s about fight­ing to expose the things we think are great about our­selves, while hav­ing a war with those things that hurt our con­fi­dence and self-​​image. . . We all do our best to present an image that will impress oth­ers, but when life presents ques­tions we can’t fig­ure out, where will we go for answers?"

A struggle. Lady Gaga's music, music videos, and the image she's created have always seemed to me to be one of a struggle - a breaking away from what is traditional in an attempt to create something, to rebel against something, a shock, to be a "goddess" in some sense, all in an attempt to get something she can't find. It's not something that is spelled out, but the struggle seems to be present. We all struggle. And then the question comes: where do you go for answers?

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dating Culture: A Renaissance

**Sorry, I thought I had already posted this!**
A while ago, I got to spend time with some of my favorite high school girls and guys—the kids in my home parish’s youth ministry. On this year’s Puritas retreat, the girls learned that they should be pursued, and were now asking, “Why doesn’t that ever happen?” They must not have been satisfied with the guys’ answers, because when I entered the room, the flustered kids all but demanded to know my answer. My initial thought was that more guys would pursue girls if they had male role models and if girls were more modest (I’ll explain another day). I still think those are two important factors, but the more I thought about it, I realized that if I were an average, well-intentioned, adolescent boy, I wouldn’t be pursuing anyone either.
I would pursue a girl if it was as simple as going on a date, non-committally, to spend time together and get to know each other better, but not if it segues into this weird, amorphous crescendo from friendship to exclusivity. Putting myself in the shoes of an average, well-intentioned high school boy who is interested in an average, well-intentioned high school girl:
They know each other and they’re interested in/attracted to each other—this is good and healthy. But then if he initiates any sort of “pursuit,” he’s expected to suddenly be pseudo-committed to her, even if all he wants is to get to know her better. Now they’re “talking but not official,” and there’s this unwritten rule that he can’t be “talking” with any other girl, even though they’re not “official” (I resent the term official here, by the way. There’s nothing official about being boyfriend/girlfriend). “Talking” nebulously escalates into something more serious, and the boy had better be happy with how things ended up because if he backs out now, he’ll be labeled a jerk and everyone will say he led the girl on. When, again, ALL HE WANTED in the first place was to get to know the girl!
I could go on and on, but my point is: no boy in his right mind would pursue a girl in the way that the high school dating culture encourages him to do so. It is purposeless sacrifice (considering the low number of high school relationships that lead to marriage).
In the last blog posts, I have set out to describe the dating cultures I’ve witnessed, from junior high school to college. The characteristic that weaves each group together is ambiguity. Neither parents nor the culture at large communicate an expectation of “how far is too far.” Instead of a clear dating vocabulary, we have adopted phrases like “talking” and “hooking up” that give multiple impressions of what is going on. Texting and chatting online tend to diminish authenticity, accountability, and boundaries. Where previous generations have had clear stages with understood social implications and levels of commitment, we have a total lack of structure. Unintentionally, today’s young couples often end up “sliding instead of deciding” into undefined, pseudo-committed relationships without purpose.
A riveting conversation with my grandparents (married since 1955) confirmed my suspicion that their generation was right on track in one place where my generation gets fuzzy. Imagine a world where you could accurately perceive the intentions of someone of the opposite sex. Envision going to a school dance and being certain that you both consider this a date. Picture yourself spending a couple hours at dinner with someone of the opposite sex without the pressure of misleading him. They had this clarity! We can’t rewind the culture to 1955, but we can pause and clean up this mess a little.
My fellow adolescents, I propose a change in how we roll. Let’s bring back definition and intentionality in how we develop relationships. I propose four stages with names and purposes that could help us think about dating differently:
  1. Dating: spending time with individual member(s) of the opposite sex
    Purpose: Developing friendship with one or more members of the opposite sex and
    learning the sort of person you would like to marry
  2. Boyfriend/Girlfriend: Maintaining a steady, devoted relationship with one member of the opposite sex
    Purpose: Deepening friendship while mutually discerning whether God is calling
    you to marry each other
  3. Engagement: Preparing to receive and live the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
    Purpose: Deepening friendship with your fiancé, while making arrangements for your
    wedding and your marriage
  4. Marriage: A covenant or partnership of life between a man and a woman, for the purpose of the spouses’ well-being, and for conceiving and raising children. For Catholics, marriage is a Sacrament.
    Purpose: Helping each other get to heaven through family life
Approaching dating in this way will not solve all of our dating troubles, but it might open the door for more clarity. Once we understand what we’re doing and why, we can more easily recognize what behavior is appropriate, with whom, and when.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Last Baby?

I found this on one of my favorite blogs today and thought it was worth sharing....Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

- Pat Archbold @ the National Catholic Register

We’re not supposed to feel this way. We’re supposed to be the strong ones. Us men, we face facts, we see things as they are and we move on.

Except I don’t want to move on.

My wife loves babies. The smell of them, the feel of them. She likes ‘em chubby and happy. I do too.

My youngest turned four years old a few weeks ago. She is getting to be so big it is amazing. But her growing up creates a situation in our house that we have never had before. There is no baby.

Ever since our first baby 11 years ago, my wife and I have had a baby in the house. One baby didn’t get to 2 years old before a smelly little playmate joined the household. There was always a baby and that is the way we like it.

But the thing is we got married a little later in life and now we find ourselves on the back end of our forties. We thank God every day for the blessing of five beautiful children. We never imagined we could have even that many and I am eternally grateful.

As my little one celebrated her birthday, my wife made some comments about how she might very well be our last. We are always open to life, but biology is biology. At the time my wife spoke wistfully of missing that anticipation of a new life, a new family member, a new beautiful little person for us to take care of coming to us. She will miss it, she said. I would miss it too, but that is life. We move on.

So the last few weeks she has made a few remarks about how one day we will have grand-kids and how great that will be. She seems to be accepting it. Good. I laughed, but I didn’t really give it much thought at the time. But I did today.

At mass today, a young couple with a little baby sat right in front of us. I looked at the little guy and I felt this big gaping hole where my heart was supposed to be. I felt a sense of loss for the babies I will never have. I am not supposed to feel this way, am I?

I realized there and then how much I would have loved to have another one (or five) and that I don’t like the fact that the door to that part of my life may be closing. I don’t want to face facts, I don’t want to move on. I want to hold another little Archbold in my arms, a chubby little smelly Archbold.

My wife and I have been so blessed by a good God and if this is the family He wanted then so be it. And I am sure we will make great grandparents one day. But I think I will hold onto the crib a little longer. Facts are overrated anyway.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

TLC’s Virgin Diaries: Everything You Need to Know About Virgins?

     Well, no one can accuse TLC of false advertising. As expected, “Virgin Diaries,” was an hour-long, nearly painful display of awkwardness. Throughout the show I asked, “What do the producers want us, the audience, to think? How do they hope we will react?” The answer to those questions was pretty obvious: the six protagonists were portrayed as little less than a circus side show, as TLC implicitly hollered, “Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Come see six real, live, abstinent adults!”
     The word of the day is syllogism. This may help you on the SAT. Wikipedia tells me “A syllogism … is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two or more others (the premises) of a certain form.” For example, the producers wanted their viewers to arrive at the following syllogism:
Major premise: All the people on this show are incredibly weird.
Minor premise: All the people on this show are virgins.
Conclusion: All virgins are incredibly weird.
     Here’s the problem: the show focused on the one thing that all six people were not doing, having sex. This makes about as much sense as producing a show (and drawing conclusions) about six people who don’t eat broccoli or six people who have never had braces.
     A virgin may or may not be weird. A weirdo may or may not be a virgin. I have friends who have reserved kissing for marriage. Not one of them regretted it, and not one of their weddings imposed a moment of repulsion or discomfort upon their “dearly beloved” family and friends.
     I am a 22-year-old virgin, by choice. It’s not that I have never had the opportunity or desire to have sex, it’s not because I believe sex is bad, it’s not because I’m afraid of the consequences. I am a virgin because the virtue of chastity is such a worthwhile pursuit. I strive to be pure in my thoughts, words, and actions so that I can see others as God sees them, and treat them as such. I dress modestly because I recognize that my body is valuable and therefore worth protecting, and because I profoundly respect men who train themselves to look lovingly at women, not lustfully. I practice chastity because I desire to give myself (which includes my sexuality) to my future husband with as much integrity and wholeness as I possibly can. As a result, I live a life filled with confidence, joy, and freedom. I am enjoying this season of my life (which, gasp, does not include sexual activity) but I look hope to get married someday. When “someday” comes, I can guarantee you, I will not regret choosing virtue over “experience.”