The other day a headline in USA-Today caught my eye. It was entitled Naked TV Taking Off. There seems to be a plethora of participants sans clothes programming under the heading of Reality TV that tapes middle age men and women in various motifs trying to act natural.
According to journalist Ann Oldenburg as Survivor, the granddaddy of all survival reality game shows, kicks off its 28th season Wednesday (8 p.m. ET/PT), a new wave of survival-TV series is rolling in. Among them: Fox plans a show that will play out over the course of a year; a second season of Discovery’s titillating Naked and Afraid arrives in March; and Syfy’s Opposite Worlds gets ready to crown a winner.
Each episode chronicles the lives of two survivalists—a man and a woman—who meet for the first time and are given the task of surviving a stay in the wilderness naked for 21 days. After they meet in the assigned locale, the partners must find and/or produce water, food, shelter, and clothing within the environment.
The events of each couple’s quest play out in a single episode. Partners strip down and meet each other. They are provided with rough cross-body satchels containing a personal diary/camera—for use when the camera crew is not there at night—and a map. They all wear identical necklaces with a center bead, which is a microphone, and some personal jewelry is allowed.
I saw a two-minute clip of this show and it was tame by anybody’s standards. Sure there are a lot of bare bottoms but any hint of genitalia is blocked by mysterious white light balloon, giving lie to the advertisement that this is a reality show.
The above article also pointed out: We’ve got The Bachelor. And we’ve got Naked and Afraid. So why not mesh the two?
VH1 has just announced it has given the green light to Naked Dating, a one-hour weekly series that will explore the art of romance free of pre-conceived notions, stereotypes — and clothes.
No jewelry, no phones and no conventions of society to get in the way.
Each episode is its own date, following a man and a woman as they each date two different suitors. At the end of the episode, the two will analyze what they’ve learned and decide on whether or not to move forward with their prospective love matches.
But of course this will all be done in an exotic locale and everyone will be naked.
I even found a website devoted to Naked Yoga.
On the surface all this appears to be innocent and relatively harmless.
I know that many will signal this as further proof that Western Civilization as we once knew it has officially ended. Nudity is everywhere–stage, art galleries,dance recitals, theater and movie theaters.
Perhaps something different is going on. During my formal history studies I learned of the Pendulum theory, which held that life and history are always changing. Both are in a constant state of flux, heading into the future.
When it comes to ideas, trends, fads and historical movements at some point it will reach its end and start coming back to the other direction.
Now this is not a perfect theory when applied to American social mores but it does offer some insight.
Our society has become so satiated in a sewer of pornography and perversion that it has suffered an overload that threatens the emotional stability of millions of Americans and their families.
Since the human body has been a battleground for many of these searches, what better place to look for the harmony of body and soul that seems to have vanished from our culture.
According to Bobby Schindler’s article on the legal murder of his sister Terry Schiavo, namely the Dehydration Death of a Nation, …we have become a nation that spends billions trying to find the perfect while ignoring the condition of our collective soul.
Perhaps the pendulum has gone as far as it can go. Just maybe this flood of naked TV programs that do not seem to appeal to the prurient interests of men and even some women will help them extricate themselves from the moral morass that has entangled their souls.
During the 16th century Western culture suffered an overload of rituals and devotions to the human soul that furthered devalued the importance of the human body.
In this ignoble attempt its leader saw fit to throw the body’s Creator out with the medieval bath water of Puritanism, Jansenism and Gnosticism—all which thought the body was an evil mechanism created in the devil’s workshop fraught with temptation, sin and eternal death.
This situation gave birth to the Enlightenment that led to Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey and the so-called sexual revolution that threw the human soul out the window.
What we are experiencing now is their thinking taken to its inevitable logical conclusions of sexual excess, and perversion.
Both these historical events appear as a complete rejection of the perfect union of man’s body and soul into one indivisible human being,
Perhaps Naked Yoga with its visible pudenda and phalli is a new attempt to bring the body back to its Edenic status and total integration.
I think this was signaled in Saint John Paul II’s work of the Theology of the Body, which sought to bring back a human way at looking at the human body.
Saint JP II urged people to treat the bodies of others as being a person and not a thing.
I have not seen a truer indictment of America’s culture of death than this basic statement.
Along similar lines there is the story of Junior Lindsey Stocker, who failed a dress code check at Beaconsfield High School in Quebec.
Stocker tried to explain: when I started explaining why I didn’t understand that rule, they didn’t really want to hear anything I had to sa… I felt very attacked …adding that many of the rules in the dress code appear to specifically target girls.
She left the classroom and printed off about 20 posters inspired by an image on Tumblr that read: Don’t humiliate her because she is wearing shorts. It’s hot outside. Instead of shaming girls for their bodies, teach boys that girls are not sexual objects” and posted them around the school.
In my opinion her shorts were not immodest or suggestive.
This is the pure personalism of the late saintly pope. Her adult message to schools was that they should teach boys to respect their female classmates as persons and not sexual objects.
Perhaps Naked Yoga and the naked TV shows are secular attempts to tap into this corporal theology.
If one looks at these men and women in their natural state doing nothing more than very athletic yoga exercises, one should be thinking along with the pope and see them, not as naked objects but as beautiful creations—all made in the image and likeness of God.
According to Saint John Paul II this by no means signifies that impurity of body is identified simply with partial or total nudity. There are circumstances in which nudity is not impure. If someone uses it to treat the person as an object of pleasure – even if it is by bad thoughts – he alone is the one who commits an impure act. Impurity of body only occurs when nudity plays a negative role with respect to the value of the person. One can say that what happens then is a de-personalization….
I think the bifurcation of man’s body and soul probably happened during the days of St. Augustine. He had been a subscriber to the Manichean heresy in the 5th century that saw the human body as detestable and a vehicle for temptation, sin and eternal punishment.
Many of the hang-ups good Catholics suffered from and still may suffer from can date back to this time.
Of course this does not mean that we should deny sin and that we are free to express our sexuality in any way that we wish.
Sin flourishes when we treat others as things!
The truth of these words was echoed in an interview of Glenn Beck on Fox recently where the social commentator said, religion teaches us to love people and use things. Today’s society teaches us to love things and use people.
If a woman saw a man as an individual, she would not flaunt her sexuality in his face but dress with a modesty that flatters her entire body without emphasized her erotic zones.
What we need today is a healthy attitude toward the human body. If humans, especially the sexually high-wired American male can ever learn to substitute love and appreciation for women and their bodies the world would be a nicer place and we would all be that much closer to Eden.
Innocence in mind and heart has become a lost virtue in our increasingly godless society.
While parents often tried to protect their children from learning the harsh and often cruel realities of the world until at least they reached puberty, today purveyors and despoilers of this youthful innocence have entered into the playroom with early sex education, vulgarities of all sorts and adult fads in dress and speech.
Peer pressure through the social media among those who have already gone over to the other side makes childhood even more difficult.
The term baby doll has long represented a sexually active young woman with child like characteristics or even sometimes a pre-teen who has been thrown into the adult mix of sexual trafficking the drug culture.
She seems to be the avatar of the future for young women.
This is all a sad and serious commentary on the state of America’s fallen society.
Kids grow up physically much faster today as so many diets seemed laced with all kinds of synthetic hormones that reduce the puberty age to near-kindergarten age.
This has made it even more imperative that those untainted by the world, the flesh and the devil maintain a spirit of childlike innocence and wonder that can ward against these influences.
This does not mean that one should be immature or a Peter Pan in mid-flight who just refuses to grow up.
To the contrary it means that adults make a conscious endeavor to look, not at the sordid side of the block that society is selling but on the sunny side where faith, morality and all the personal virtues of self-giving and sacrifice can preserve that sense of purity in one’s heart and soul.
While the body grows, the soul develops natural antidotes of faith, hope and charity to combat the external forces that would tear it apart.
The old Brooklyn Dodger, catcher Roy Campanella used to say that to play baseball there has to be a lot of the little boy in you.
I have always quipped that I was only 12 years old emotionally and that I was terrified of the eventual onset of puberty with its attendant pimples and girls and the like.
There may be some truth to that in that since I have noticed a pattern in my life with my own, children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren that they all seemed to outgrow me at and about their thirteenth year.
They were all cool with me before then. They usually laughed at my corny jokes and I could down and dirty with them on the floor as we rough-housed, played all sorts of athletics games–indoors and were generally a menace to anything breakable.
But when the clock struck thirteen, Dad, Uncle Bill or Daddy B wasn’t quite as cool or as fun to be with. When they laughed at my jokes I often felt they were laughing at me.
I think this is the reason that I have begged all of the above to skip the years as Pat Boone wrote one time Twix twelve and twenty.
I think I knew that society would take that innocence away from them and they could no longer share my simple joy of living and experiencing what I call the sense of Wow in everyday things.
I have seen that 1000 yard stare as they used to call the look of soldiers who had seen too much and done too much that could be shared with the people back home.
I see a similar look–the stare of the teenager. It is a cold and hard stare that looks through you. It means to me that they have gotten themselves involved sexually way before their time and they feel themselves like a rudderless ship just spinning around in a vortex of despair and guilt.
Fortunately most survive.
When they turned 20 they usually revive a little more interest in me. But it is a different kind of relationship and little like it was before. The natural teacher in me took the baton from my child within. We now talk of what it is like to face a world full of wonder, surprises and grave consequences.
Through all these changes that little child of wonder is still alive and well and living in the nursery of my soul.
Every time I spy a little child in a stroller or seated in a high chair at some restaurant—especially the little girls–I see the face of God. I see it in their smiles, their laughter and occasionally in their tears. It is this simple joy that lifts my soul and finds sunshine where often there is darkness and even evil.
I remember John Wayne saying as his character Davy Crockett in the epic film, The Alamo when seeing a little dirty-faced girl leave with the civilians during the last hours of the Mexican siege, it a shame they have to grow up.
His unspoken words were …and see all this death, destruction and cruelty of war.
Matthew’s Gospel tells us that unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps that’s what the epitaph of addict and poet Francis Thompson’s tombstone means: when you get to heaven look for me in God’s nursery.
I hope that counts for me and my 12-year old emotions, although I do plan to first make a stop at that special beach I have written about in a prior two-part post.
13) In the spring of 1972 I received my doctorate from St. Louis University. While it never materialized into a real career it gave me the necessary tools to handle a lot of different things. While my teaching jobs were never fulltime that freedom allowed me to write and most importantly spend 28 years behind a radio microphone discussing the issues of the day. It was WGNU radio that provided me with a forum to learn more about human nature and truly find out just what I believe and why I believed it. It was better than a Ph.D. I was also the station’s general trivia champion twice.
14) In 1974 I had my first professional article published in St. Louis Fan Magazine. I called it The Greening of a Cardinal Rookie. The Cardinals gave me my first press pass so I could interview third baseman, Ken Reitz who had broken in the September before. He gave me six quotes in the locker room and I wrote 3500. Even then I knew how to expand and embellish.
15) On May 9, 1974 I appeared on the NBC Today with Gene Shalit for three and half minutes. I was there to talk about my baseball history course at Maryville College. I argued that it was probably the first accredited course of that nature in the Midwest.
16) Hall of Fame sportswriter Bob Broeg started calling me the Baseball Professor. I parlayed that into my own TV show on local cable that ran for 17 months. I wrote, produced and starred in this baseball variety show, named The Baseball Professor, I did it all except film it. No notes just my memory and fast-speed voice tempo. I think all of 11 people saw at least one episode of this unique show.
17) It was after the visit to Cooperstown that I had an epiphany at the Albany airport. I decided to start a historical society for the old St. Louis Browns. One of their former players, Rick Ferrell had been inducted along with Pee Wee and I was saddened by the fact that no team would retire his number like all the other inductees. (I don’t think he ever had a number with the Browns I later learned.) We are celebrating our 30th anniversary which is eight more than the number of living members of that defunct St. Louis team. (22)
18) Having grandchildren is sometimes a lot better than having children. I will never forget the first one. Unlike her daddy I saw her just minutes after her birth. From such a tiny red little human being she has grown into the fine figure of a young woman, now preparing leaving home for college this coming fall.
19) Her brother could not have been a better athlete. He has excelled at every sport he has ever tried and were it not for his penchant for concussions—one each in football, basketball and lacrosse–who knows how far he might have gone. He has now taken up tennis, his dad’s game. And after a slow start he won his last his last five varsity matches before Districts. For years we really bonded while playing Madden Football. I must have a little of his aggressive spirit because I got tired of losing 60-0. Once I learned how to play I would beat him at least 40% of the time. He just hated that. And when I beat him in three of four chess games–look out!
20) Their baby sister was born with a small hole in her heart. She had open-heart surgery at 18 months and now can run a mile in 7:18. I never could run one that fast. She has the same aggressive spirit as a dad and brother. And she is a whiz with the books and a fantastic volleyball player, slated to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
21) My daughter’s only child is our intellect. With a verbal IQ of 153 she we have been talking politics for years. She’s almost 12. Six years ago she informed me she was a liberal Democrat because she loves their principles. She reads more books than I do, acts, sings and even ran for Student Council. For her poster she chose the Most Interesting Man in the World, the Mexican beer guy, who happens to be my new hero.
22) The best vacation my wife and I ever went on was the trip to Southern France where we spent a week on a French yacht the Le Poniard that we boarded in Nice. While traveling all up and down the Amalfi Coast, one evening after a sumptuous dinner we stopped to see Stromboli belch fiery lava while we listened to Pavarotti on the top deck of the boat. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
23) One of the greatest nights of my public life occurred at the Birthright dinner in 1996. I was given their prestigious Monsignor James Hartnett Award for service to the organization. It was more than an honor because I had known Monsignor for many years. He not only baptized my third child but introduced me to Stan Musial. What made it even more special was that the dinner occurred on my 56th birthday with 700 hundred of my closest friends in attendance. But if that was not enough for some reason I had hoped that Bob Costas would be there. Why I don’t know. I just prayed for it. To my knowledge he had never attended one of these dinners. Whom should I see leaning against a wall as I enter the reception area but BC himself. In talking to him I discern that he is totally unaware who the birthday boy is and I don’t tell him. When my acceptance speech was over he rushed up to my tables and got down on one knee to apologise. I thought I had died and gone to heaven right then and there.
24) Massage therapy has been the elixir that has giver new joy to my older life. While she is relatively new to my experience I had the good fortune of getting a series of massages from a young therapist in Florida quite by accident. (Does the name Wally Pipp mean anything?) She had a kind and gentle aura that warmed the cockles of this old man’s heart. She is the kind of woman who should be ministering to old people because she had patience, understanding and a kind heart that made me feel very special in her presence. It is fitting that I saved my regular MT for last! Her magic hands have not only provided me with a boatload of inspiration–three articles, one play and a short story–but have been a foretouch of the world yet to come that has made everything else pale by comparison.
I am thankful for all these many memories!!!!
I have long been a fan of Jack Bauer or his alter ego actor Kiefer Sutherland who has passionately portrayed the hero over several years of his acting career.
While this post has nothing to do with 24’s recent reprise, I wanted to borrow its format to capture the 24 best moments of my life to date.
Some of which follows were single events while many were more symbolic of a much larger body of special memories that have comprised my life since my 1943 birth.
1) I once told a writer that my first conscious memory was the evening of the 1948 presidential election when my father was so upset late at night, listening to the results of Harry S Truman’s upset victory over Republican Thomas Dewey I remember vividly my was standing in my parents’ bedroom. The lights were out but I could still see the light of the little white table radio that reflected my father’s dissatisfied face. Six years later my dad took me to my first ball game on May 29, 1954. Pee Wee Reese, my favorite player hit a home run at the Polo Grounds in the top of the ninth that won the game 4-2. Willie Mays and Gil Hodges also hit long balls.
2) I spent many summers with my maiden aunt, Marie-Louise, whom I had christened “Mal.” I especially remember teaching her about the Brooklyn Dodgers and Roy Campanella their black catcher who quickly became her favorite player. We also watched a lot of wrestling. We both loved Antonio Rocca, allegedly from Argentina. What a great athlete he was.
3) My favorite memory of my mom, which I shared at her funeral Mass 13 years ago, concerned my strict orders for her not to open any mail from the College of the Holy Cross, the school I so want to attend in 1961. I remember coming home from Xavier HS and seeing her standing in the doorway, nervously shaking an envelope at me. I dropped my school bag and raced to her. She promised she never opened it! With my mother offering nervous encouragement that she was sure I was accepted, I frantically tore the envelope apart. To my great pleasure mom was right. I was now a member of the great Class of 1965. Why was she so encouraging? She had steamed it open in order to be prepared to comfort me if I had not made it. What a mom!
4) On my 18th birthday I took a crazy redhead–I found out that all redheads are essentially little nuts—to see Camelot on Broadway. It starred Richard Burton, Robert Goulet and some unknown, Julie Andrews as Guinevere. All on the same stage! At her door Mary honored me with a present–a lovely tie.
5) At Holy Cross I had a wonderful roommate for three years, whom I miss dearly. He died of a massive stroke 12 years ago. During a fall prom weekend I had inadvertently run into the corner of a wall and split my head open. I had to go to the emergency room. Meanwhile Peter had moved all my clothes to our dates’ rooms so I could change there. I did make it through the weekend thanks to him though my head swelled up to twice its size on one side and it hurt every time I moved my head.
6) The next year I stayed up at school so I could attend the Boston College football game on our campus. Our team was terrible and B.C. had enjoyed an outstanding season. The game was held just eight days after President Kennedy’s assassination. We beat them 9-0. I also wound up with three dinners that day. I had a lot to be thankful for.
7) One of those dinners was at the home of probably my best lady friend during my college days. I saw a good deal of her those last two and a half years. But best of all I loved talking to her. She was bright, intelligent and witty. We spent 45 minutes on the phone the day after the Kennedy assassination just talking about it. I also saw her on the stage in one her college plays, Medea. During her title role performance, she had to refer to her breasts. I think I turned crimson. How times have changes. I have heard my only daughter drop a few F-bombs during her many stage performances in St. Louis and New York.
8) After college I went into the Catholic Lay Extension Volunteers. They sent me to Charleston, Missouri to teach history and coach basketball at St. Henry’s HS. This is where I met my future wife. I remember vividly the first time I saw her–it was at her grandfather’s memorial mass. She had a little Boo-Peep hat on. We were married 11 months later. I have countless memorable moments with my wife. Unfortunately many of them are not suitable for a family audience. So to keep my PG rating let me say that the best thing about my wife is her happy aura–that special way she can fill an entire room with her Irish warmth and vitality. These are qualities that I cannot quantify, bottle or consume.
9) We had three children. With #1 son, I remember seeing him all cleaned-up a few hours his birth in July of 1967. It was just a few hours after his birth as her doctor told me to go to class where I was studying for a Master’s degree. I remember his hands–big like two catcher’s mitts. I took him to his first baseball game when he was four. It was with the Mets and the Cardinals. To keep him happy all I had to do was feed him. In the top of the 9th he yelled out Mets go home! And so did we.
10) My daughter was born in St. Louis, unlike her NY brother. I remember feeding her early in the morning. She had colic and so I would fix her medicine, warm the bottle, put her in the little Pumpkin seat we had and read the newspaper while trying to find her eager little mouth. I think I invented multi-tasking.
11) #2 son was a bicentennial baby. Like the popular Shell Oil commercials of that time, the doctor did a moment in recognition of our 200th anniversary while delivering him. He was 23 inches long and prevented his mother from enjoying any meals the last three months of gestation. When He was 13 I took him out of school so we could see Super Bowl XXIII. In the last two minutes Joe Montana led the drive that resulted in the winning touchdown right in front of us. In fact I was on one of the highlight films that year.
12) In 1972 I drove to Louisville, Kentucky to interview Pee Wee Reese. I spent the day waiting for him at a friend’s house. I interviewed him in the same room where Roger Kahn interviewed Pee Wee for his legendary book, The Boys of Summer (1972). Twelve years later I took #2 son to his induction in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.