It is difficult to read the newspapers, listen to the news on TV or the radio and not come away with a very bad feeling about the state of our society and the relationship it has with its most vulnerable people.
No, I am not writing about the unborn. I’ll save that for another day.
But it is not that far removed from this most pernicious evil.
I am thinking about the war on little boys.
It seems that the clerical scandal that rocked the Catholic Church, as it has not been rocked since the days of Martin Luther, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Predators now seem to have been also lurking on several the college campuses and any where young boys can be found.
The stories at Penn State, and Syracuse University are probably just the first to make the headlines.
I can only imagine that there will be others.
These sexual deviates are as ubiquitous as the drunken uncle or lascivious brother-in-law. Every family has at least one.
As someone who has been exposed to a modicum of Thomistic philosophy, I have always sought causes for historic events.
Fairly or unfairly, I look first to the women’s movement that sent shock waves through American social and sexual relationships in the late sixties.
Since then women have challenged and confronted men in every aspect of their existence.
Where lines of gender separation or specialization had been historically and socially
established, women have broken through with a fiery anger that has incinerated anyone or anything that had the temerity to get in their way.
As a result adult men, especially the leadership of many of our Catholic colleges have failed to stand up to many of their outlandish demands.
I am not saying that women should have stayed barefoot, uneducated and pregnant–only that they shed their traditional sexual and family roles with such an alacrity that it was, not only blood curdling, but also destructive to, not only family life, but the civilization as well.
And this was done with a selfish disregard for the unintended consequences of their angered approach.
It is only Christian charity that prevents me from saying that much of the destruction of traditional society was not intended.
I think the women’s movement of the 1960s has also done terrible things to the relationship with mothers to their offspring, especially their sons.
Many sociologists have started calling our culture a feminized culture.
The hands that once rocked the cradle with tenderness, selflessness and maternal love, now seem to have another agenda that is for want of a better word–misandrist.
Many brave psychologists say this has caused many young to suffer from a perpetual adolescent or what professionals may arrested development.
Many women have coddled and desensitized their sons to their own masculinity that millions have become wimpy, non-competitive and emotionally emasculated.
I would argue that this is partly the reason so many young men are either attracted to other men and or boys and have become easy pickings for all the chicken hawks stalking their natural habitats.
Some mothers have made their sons so cognizant of the existence of predators that to many of them, every man they meet is a potential rapist.
This is an outgrowth of the feminists who think that every man is a rapist and that Christian marriage is nothing more than legalized rape.
As a result many men have become innocent victims of their undue vigilance on the mothers’ part and have had their lives ruined and even spent time in prison where child molesters live as long as a turkey in late November.
One need only remember the case of defrocked priest, John Geoghan, who had over 300 notches in his molesters belt before being imprisoned.
While his was a heinous crime that cried to the Heavens for punishment, it was not a capital crime.
The acclaim or indifference surrounding his brutal murder in a Massachusetts prison in 2003 at the hands of a glory-seeking convict, Joseph Druce, is curious because most of our enlightened society abhors capital punishment by due process.
It is the same incongruity that also approves of over a million executions in the abortion clinics each year.
To modern couples, and their children of choice–what the Chinese call, imperial children boys have a much higher status.
Their abuse must be avenged, even including an unceremonious death at the hands of an assassin.
One need only remember the Amiraults at Fells Acres Day School in Malden, Massachusetts, the McMartin Preschool case in California, and the Glendale Montessori School in Stuart, Florida where the owners and directors of these day care center were wrongly accused and subsequently convicted by an overzealous prosecutor who sensed the political potential of this issue.
I have been aware of this over-reaction to the growing epidemic of sexual predators that has befallen our once virile nation.
It is has something that frightened me in my own personal life.
It has gotten to the point that I never like to be alone in a restroom with a young boy.
For the record, I have never had any sexual attraction for any boys or men my entire life.
I fear more their over-protective mothers.
One personal incident will suffice as illustration.
I was in a Best Buy about 10 years ago. The call to nature came and so I headed back to the restroom.
As I got near the entry, I passed a young mother with her recalcitrant five or six-year-old son.
I just had a premonition that really frightened me.
It was akin to Claudia, Pilate’s wife, warning him not to have anything to do with Jesus.
I remember praying to myself–please God make her take him to the ladies’ room.
God wasn’t listening or He knew I needed what was about to happen.
I rushed it and did what I had to do in record time and was washing my hands when this little boys walks in and starts to belly up to the bar.
Before getting there and fortunately before unzipping, he looks at me and with all undue seriousness says:
Don’t you touch my penis.
I hope the dreaded shock of my worst fear that had just come to life did not show on my face.
I nervously said: The thought had never occurred to me.
I immediately had this vision of being led away with my hands cuffed behind my back, mumbling something like, but officer I never touched the kid!
I quickly made for the door just as another man came in.
I must have broken all fleeing alleged child molester records for a return to my get-away-car.
All of this is not to discount real predators–only to say that both men and women should be reasonable about this dreaded subject and start thinking out of the box about the war on boys, which is nothing more than a miniaturized war on men.
At this time of the year every Tom, Dick and Nancy that has access to anything from a laptop to a crayon is writing the definitive essay on the true meaning of Christmas.
I know this is true because I did it for the Mindszenty Report last December.
I thought I would try to approach this revered but common subject from a different angle.
It is obvious that Christmas has had its meaning changed by the deliberate vagaries of time and culture.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.
My earliest memory of this revolutionary feast was, not the anticipation of Christ’s birth, but the anticipation of Santa, who was to bring me all the toys I could imagine.
Christmas is the time of joyous and nervous waiting, followed by a brief period of enjoyment that ended way too quickly.
That childlike sense of what was to come is akin to what Christians and Catholics call the Advent Season.
It is not unlike the desire for a happier and a better life than the one we experience on earth.
The transcendence from the mind of a child with his self-centered desires is not that hard to translate into something more elevated and even supernatural.
The Christmas season, which now seems to start sometime in July, is a composite of many different feelings and memories.
I was talking to a Jehovah’s Witness the other day and he said that he only celebrates the spiritual renewal of Christ’s birth.
While I admire his singular focus I thrive on both sides of the Christmas coin.
Christmas’ secular activities, all in moderation, are a part of the human condition and no one should denigrate them.
I enjoy the gift giving and the smiles it brings to children of all ages because I still remember what a shiny and glitzy package could do for my struggling spirits as a child.
Then there is the holy side with Midnight Mass, the hymns of Christmas and the festive meals with friends and family that underscore the true meaning of the season.
I feel no guilt in enjoying the secular side of the Christmas holidays.
My wife and I have been going to New York City at Christmas for years, just to see the colorful lights and the tree that dominates Rockefeller Center, right across from our special place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The two seem like a perfect complement to all the promise of the year-end season.
I think it is possible to turn that part of our celebration into a pervasive sense of joy that melds both the material and spiritual sides of our complex nature.
The joy of being with friends and family also has a deep transcendent value that can uplift our feelings and momentarily appease the yearnings for the life to come.
The Christmas spirit, both secular and religion, can be easily ingrained in our hearts and minds and spread to everyone who crosses the path of our journey of life as long as we do not lose sight of our final destination.
Even the Nativity scene at St. Pat’s seems to meld both the secular with the religious.
I especially like the Christmas music–both the spiritual and the secular.
From the 12 Days of Christmas, Silver Bells and Deck the Hall with…to O Come, O Come..and O Little Town of Bethlehem, nothing lifts my spirit and prompts me to ponder the joyous wonders of Christmas time at home.
I think my favorite hymn has to be Silent Night, written by Franz Gruber.
I think this Christmas classic is pregnant with meaning and wisdom for our troubled times.
It is basically an oxymoron, that is a parable of Christmas promise to the world Jesus came to save.
There is also a loud warning inherent in His promise.
Christ was the only leader of a world religion whose birth was announced several centuries before it happened.
His birth and salvific death caused a universal reverberation that has has echoed through over 2000 years of history to every corner of the world.
He promised that the world would hate and persecute those who followed him.
Since His birth there have been few if any silent nights because for the first time in history, people had to choose a side.
One had to be for Jesus or against Him.
There is and never will be any middle ground.
Lukewarm became as vomit in His mouth.
Since His birth two millennia ago, there has been a noticeable divide that has cleaved mankind into two identifiable factions.
Of course there were wars and violence–one need only skim through the Old Testament to understand that the lot of most men was plagues, pestilence and violent death.
But Jesus’ promise of a better world, not of this world with its eternal peace and love, was too much for many people to fathom.
The Church He left behind has launched crusades, endured religious wars and seen legions of its followers murdered for their belief in Him.
The Prince of Peace had brought a spiritual claymore that has cleaved the human race into two warring sections.
Today this cleavage has erupted into a wholesale culture war between a culture of life and a culture of death.
It has become a civil war that has split countries, states and families.
While Jesus did not will that this happen, He predicted it would because He knew the limitations and powerful drives of His creatures.
While His direct intercessions have been limited, He has always been there to help those who sought His assistance.
Some saw it as a threat to their power and august position in life, while others just did not want to stop doing what they had been doing.
In current times, it has created such a reaction in His enemies that many have literally declared a war on the Christmas season.
A calculated and determined clique has attacked every vestige of religious and even secular celebration of His joyous season that to even mention His name in an innocuous phrase of Merry Christmas is to invite the wrath of the PC police.
This virtual war on Christmas had changed the landscape so much that many public schools have started referring to the season of Jesus’ birth as the Winter Solstice.
This has the celebratory potential of a hockey game in downtown Honolulu.
With a president in a White House, who seems to have an antipathy toward all religious fervor, especially Christianity, it makes one more aware of the very threats, not only to Christmas but to our entire perception of religious freedom.
This is all a sobering reality that hangs amid the celebration and exuberance that characterizes the Christmas season.
But it should not be any surprise to any who are aware of God’s Silent Night.
Here are photos of the accident from my recent post. You can view the after and the here after.
This photos was taken just five days later.
I know I have been writing a lot about Heaven lately but I have been in no immediate hurry to go there, that is until last week.
I had a serious accident the other night.
One that quite possibly could have killed me.
It was an auto accident without the car.
I can only describe it as a possible suicide attempt.
I gave new meaning to the term, hit the ground running.
I assume its author meant with one’s feet and not head and face.
We were a meeting for the Foundation for Special Education for Children at the palatial home of one of our members.
As we were walking to the car I realized that I had forgotten my mailing list.
So I literally raced to their front door to retrieve the list.
I never made it.
The approach to their home is on an incline with one small step leading to a plateau that fronts a small staircase.
I was running toward the latter and never saw the former.
I either became airborne or merely skidded on my face.
I thought I had hit the stairs and had broken my neck.
While my wife impatiently waited in the car, she started to wonder what had taken me so long.
She did notice a small group of people gathering by a mass or a lump on the ground.
Little did she realize that bloody mess was her husband.
The first person to reach me was the widow of a former hockey player.
She had seen a lot of cuts and bad scraps and stated that she did not think I needed the ER, which relieved me immediately.
Our Director, a prominent priest in the diocese was the one who thought 911 might be necessary.
He also wanted to know if there was another priest around who could offer me the Last Rites since he had his new golf pants on, which my wife had given him.
The next day I saw my doctor and he prescribed several x-rays of my neck and damaged knee.
The results came back the next day.
The x-rays were all negative and I should heal quickly but I would still be ugly.
At my favorite restaurant the next morning the owner told me to leave since I was scaring her customers.
The next evening at my Christmas confession after sitting down to face the priest, he politely told me I should get behind the screen and put a bag over my head.
The family says I can’t be in the annual Christmas picture.
My daughter plans to buy me a mask from the Phantom of the Opera.
This would have all been risible except for the fact that this was not new for me.
I had been there and done similar things several times before.
It was as if I had an innate death wish that I keep failing to fulfill.
I am like one of those Japanese pilots that devastated our navy during the waning years of World War II in the Pacific…the infamous Kamikaze.
Having studied Japanese history, I think I have a bit of the Kamikaze in me, except I don’t want to die–it just looks that way
The Kamikaze is commonly translated as Divine Wind.
This Divine Wind is credited with saving Japan from a Mongolian naval invasion in the 12th century.
The Imperial navy resurrected it to save the home islands from the expected American invasion.
My first attempt at a crash landing occurred in 1955 in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, where I spent most of my summers with my maiden Aunt Mal.
My father had brought up my old bike–I would get my first “racer” after my September birthday.
I had heard of the play, Three Men on a Horse, so I decided, along with friends who were also brothers to try three boys on a bike.
We started at the top of one of the steep hills in the area and were going at a great speed with one brother on the handlebars and the other on the cross-bar with me at the wheel.
At the foot of the hill was a pick-up truck.
I immediately jammed on the brakes and we all flew head over heels into a pile of rocks.
My head was bruised–the bike had landed on me–and I had but a few scratches from the thistles that were adjacent to the rocks.
The next spring I was riding on my new bike up to the local high school to play stickball with Max.
The night before there had been a terrible storm and an elderly couple had been electrocuted by walking through a puddle with a live wire in it.
My protective mother urged me to be careful and watch out for ‘falling’ wires.
At least that’s what I thought she said.
So I am riding and looking up at all the wires above, thinking one is going to fall on me and fry my 12-year old body.
Some poor new father, who had just experienced the birth of his first child, turned the corner in his car as I peddled across the street.
He hit my front tire and I went flying.
My bike was mangled, not unlike my glasses at the recent accident.
I had a small abrasion on my upper leg but that was it.
The recent incident is more reminiscent of my next incident, as it was the same eye.
The year was 1962 and we had our homecoming game with Syracuse University.
They were stomping us 24-6 at half time.
The Crusaders rallied and only lost 30-20.
I was so elated by our manly come-back that back in our dorm I challenged Mike Schoering to run past me.
He lowered his head and came at me and I swung around to drop him and crashed into the corner of a wall. We were at the intersection of wings in the building’s figure H.
I am looking up at the ceiling while people inquired who is it?
At the emergency room, my most memorable moment was meeting a really beautiful blonde, who was like a vision from a dream…maybe a delirious dream.
Ignoring my pain, I asked her for her symptoms. Oh I have an eyelash in my eye was her melodious reply.
Wow! I was in love but a male nurse–how I hate male nurses–quickly closed the curtain between us and she vanished from my life forever.
I think there is a best-selling triology about a Swedish girl with an eyelash or something in her eye?
Thanks to my roomie I made it to the dance that night but my head was approximately the size of a beach ball.
By Tuesday both eyes were blackened like a racoon’s.
In 1971 I was finishing my course work for my Ph. D.
During the summer I organized with others a pair of teams from my townhouse neighborhood and the History Dept. at St. Louis University.
We had lost the first game when I played for the History Dept.
In the second match I was on the neighborhood team when in the last inning, with a lead I decided to get us another insurance run.
I whacked the ball off the shortstop’s glove and as it rolled into short left field I legged it for second.
The second base person was a wide-hipped professor of mine, Gordon Kirk.
I tried to dive between his legs because I couldn’t see the base and knocking him over was out of the question.
Never having done that before I did not extend my hands and arms and literally crashed into God’s earth.
My humerus departed from the rest of my shoulder and I felt like Bonnie and Clyde in their dramatic death scene that was frozen in cinematic time for what seemed like an eternity.
I was declared out and while my brother-in-law took me to the ER we lost the game.
Some years later I was playing tennis with the same brother-in-law when an errant bounce with unbelievable backspin came right at my face–I had not won a point from him since we had started playing.
In my effort to save the point I managed to hit myself right in the head.
Blood gushed from my other eye–not the one from the wall in our dorm.
He took me home to show his sister and she just shook her head as we drove to the same ER where my shoulder had been examined.
A pretty young nurse took all my paperwork and then abruptly turned to leave and I loudly asked her: Will I see you again?
She curtly turned and replied emphatically: No!!!
In my shaken but not stirred state all I could think to say was No, I don’t mean socially!
As I write this, I am forced to think that if I am really a part of the Kamikaze mindset, I am not very good at it.
This reminds me of the joke about the Kamikaze who flew 44 unsuccessful missions.
At the rate I am going, I might win a Darwin Award.
Probably not, because you have to successfully kill yourself to get one.
* The last three years of my radio program on WGNU I used the Rocky Theme—Gonna Fly Now! And I did!
In Europe where people seem to have a much less sensitive attitude toward nudity, even public nudity, lust does not seem to be as rampant as it is here.
Perhaps it is just the idea of the forbidden fruit that inspires lust.
I am not implying that everyone should be nude all the time only that it is time we reassess our attitudes on it.
The promptings of the devil must be avoided but in itself the human body is a beautiful creation and must be respected, not a mere object of lust.
Pope John Paul II was a European and he had a much healthier view–morally and otherwise about his own body.
But it wasn’t always that way–even in Europe.
Nudity in art became a bone of contention in 16th century Rome when Pope Paul III asked the famed artist, Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.
When executing his Last Judgement Michelangelo used his artistic licence to paint scenes, depicting numerous nude figures, including a female and a male saint.
Many accused him of immorality and obscenity.
The Pope’s own Master of Ceremonies Biagio da Cesena said felt it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns.
While the pope, who paid an enormous fee to the artists loved his creation, his papal censors scurried for paint-on fig leafs, girdles and other modesty garments.
A campaign, known as the Fig-Leaf Campaign was organized by Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini to remove the frescoes.
Daniele da Volterra, was commissioned to cover the figures nakedness with loincloths and veils.
His intervention earned him the nickname of the maker of breeches.
He covered barely enough to assure the painting’s survival.
Pope Clement VIII, 1592-1605, wanted to whitewash the whole wall.
Fortunately he never did but the cover-up work and helter-skelter touch-ups continued deep into the 18th Century.
For years Pope John Paul tried to have all the modesty shields removed from the fresco because he felt they demeaned the human body and demeaned Michelangelo’s art.
With the restoration of the chapel in the 1980’s and 1990’s his restorers said they had removed the 17 most recent breeches, leaving Volterra’s and a few others–23 in all–that would have damaged the painting if removed.
John Paul gave his imprimatur to the finished work, but it came with a stern warning that the splendor and dignity of the human body must be viewed in the light of its creation by God
But it can be appreciated in its entirety for what it represents, the visible sign of the invisible unity of the Triune God.
The pope also said the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty.
We should not equate nudity with moral shame.
Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person…
The human body is not in itself shameful.
Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person.
Since I started with massage therapy and researching the pope’s Theology of the Body I have taken John Paull’s words to heart.
I think I now have a more proper respect and understaning my body and its relation to the Triune God.
If I have been created in the image and likeness of God, my body must be essential good, even my naked body and not something dirty.
The doctor’s office, a shower room at the Y, the privacy of one’s home and the massage table are all places where modesty has to come to grips with a person’s nude body.
What about a nude beach?
I doubt if St. Augustine would ever have been found on a nude beach.
I know a couple people who have been to nude beaches.
The first is a middle age woman whom I have known for about 11 years.
She and her husband came to America from Eastern Europe 20 years ago.
Their attitudes about nudity are different from ours and more relaxed.
On their trips to the Caribbean on at least on two occasions they went to a nude beach on St. Martens.
There were mostly other Europeans there and with everyone in the same state of undress there was a natural aura to the beach.
Of course there are nude beaches and there are nudes beaches!
The only discomfort she felt was the voyueristic eyes of some people at the restaurant some 70 yards away, who were fully dressed.
The second time they went she felt more relaxed and they spent the time talking with others as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
For the first time in her life since she was a child, she said she felt truly alive as the sun and the cool ocean water refreshed her entire body in a way that was virtually indescribable.
According to the pope, in their context any shame or discomfort had to come, not the nude bathers, but from the lustful intent of those who did not know how to morally view other human beings in their natural state.
I might add there is probably more lust committed from viewing the skimpy clothing and provocative outfits that characterize our sex-saturated culture than on any nude beach.
The pope has said that pornography does not show too much but too little.
But admittedly this is probably not for everyone, especially not all Americans.
A case in point is my other friend who went more to a nude beach out of curiosity but kept his swimming trunks on.
Part of the problem is our tendency toward concupiscence–that inner drive in us that spoils the good and natural things of life.
This is the real enemy in life–the force of human degradation that seeks to drown our human integrity in a slough of mud and filth.
The pope was trying to counter this tendency in people to turn the appreciation of natural beauty, especially that of the human body into unadulterated lust.
Maybe St. Augustine and the other anti-body heretics are somewhat responsible for this regrettable situation.
I am thinking of the Gnostics, the Cathars and the Irish Jansenists who all had a hateful disgust for God’s creation of the human body.
To his dying day, Pope John strove to counter this insult to God ‘s view of our basic humanity.
That brings me to the title of my post–finally!!
So are there nude beaches in Heaven?
Well my idea of eternity is to walk on the beach and look out at the ocean.
Ever since I made a retreat in Senior year at Holy Cross, I have thought of the rolling ocean, seemingly the eternal ocean as a sign of eternity.
It looks like it went on forever.
I also love the water and the sun.
Presumably in Heaven there is no need for any clothing once we get our glorified bodies.
I mean we wear clothing for warmth and modesty.
Heaven must be even better than Hawaii every day of the week, so the cold is no problem.
Without sin, lust or jealousy why would we wear clothing?
What a beautiful way to commune with our fellow saints–no pretenses or hiding anything?
St. Francis of Assisi thought nothing of going au natural to protest the materialism of his age.
There would nothing but true heavenly bodies and I don’t mean the kind in Las Vegas or New Orleans–we would all be awash in the infinite warmth of God’s love.
I may be wrong but my attitude is far healthier and more in line with God’s plan of creation than it was eight months ago.
The heavenly possibilities are endless!