The Gospel Truth

The Banality of Nudity

January 26, 2015
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One of the great conflicts in human existence has been the clash between free will and individual conscience. It is a never-ending battle that often wages in the soul of any conscious human being.

When I was 19 the temptations of the flesh nearly overwhelmed me in the Augustinian sense of the word.

Southern author Pat Conroy has the most graphic description of the workings of lust in the mind of an 18-year altar boy at Midnight Mass in 1962, in his autobiographical novel The Great Santini.  The contrast between the spirit and the body has never been better described.

I read a religious pamphlet that said that people like me could not wear paper bags over our heads. We had to encounter the world, as it was—sinful, imperfect and filled with the workings of the world, the flesh and the devil.

The  Catholic Church has not been very helpful in that regard. It only emphasized the negatives.  I was to abstain from any impure actions, desires and looks.  Prayer seemed to be my only defense…and of course the paper bag.

Yet as I grew older the temptations multiplied as women shed two-thirds of their clothing on the street and virtually all of it on the beach. In denying my body its natural instincts I made it a constant source of temptation, fear and anxiety.

This was years before Saint John Paul II’s revolutionary tract on the Theology of the Body, which in essence taught men how to look at the feminine form…even in their her nude state with respect, appreciation and even joy.  He stressed that nudity in itself was good but stressed the proper context and how it was received by any onlookers.

This was basically the point the priest writing in the pamphlet 50 years ago was making when he suggested that I thank God for making them so beautiful. It took me a long while but eventually I came to adopt this attitude in my thinking.

The human body, especially the female body, has had a variegated place in human history. Each page seemed to have the apple juice of Eden all over it.

Modernism has always had its own concerns for nudity and self-expression that lacked the moral framework of John Paul. It has led to a virtual cult of the body.

On the way to early Mass on any Sunday, I have always marveled how religiously devoted the gaggle of runners, bikers and walkers were, as they plied their energies to stave off the inevitable.  I have always wondered if they took as much care and concern for their souls as they did for the bodies.

The body used to be referred to as the temple of the Holy Ghost. Now millions flock to health clubs and spas that have become the new temples for the body.     According to one critic, to idolize physical perfection is to treat our body as a god.   It is a narcissistic self-love that seems devoid of Divine love.

Attitudes toward the human body involve many other aspects. Where freedom is present, nudity cannot be far behind.  It is the nature of things. Personal and social nudity seems to have ubiquitously breached the usual parameters of tradition, culture and modesty.

One place to find a lot of nudity is the notorious California Esalen Spa.  In her personal memoir spa specialist Sharon Thom wrote in a revealing article Fig Leaf in the Wind, explaining that the freedom of being nude at their resort was a great leveler.

While some nudity is a given in massage therapy, one therapist in training had to bear all for her instructors and fellow students.  It was a valid part of the training.   It was the most liberating event in her life. You can’t hide behind clothes anymore, because you don’t have any ON!! 

As for sports one would be surprised to find how many people have reverted back to the Greek Olympics where all their athletes, men and women competed in the nude. Many people currently play tennis, golf, swim, bike and hike without the need for clothing, except maybe a helmet for bikers.

Naturism is the philosophy of living in harmony with nature without any feelings of  lust or shame.  Nude Beaches and nudist resorts are the most common venues for social nudism.   The World Naked Bike Ride is held annually in cities all over the world. America is fast becoming a series of nudist enclaves where people betray an Edenic return to the Garden.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Burning Man Festival, a postmodern carnival of the absurd where nudity is fully acceptable. The weeklong event is held every year in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada, beginning the Monday before, and ending on, the American Labor Day holiday.  And of course National Nude Day is celebrated every July 14th now.

New York Times theater reviewer Ben Bratley commented a few years ago full nudity has been a customary part of the mainstream Western theater since the 1960s and ’70s… But I have never been confronted with as many male chests, buttocks and genitalia as I have in visits to Broadway and West End theaters during the last six months.

Probably the most famous play, where famous actresses have bared all on a regular basis, is The Graduate. The play was written by Terry Johnson.  Anne Bancroft played Mrs. Robinson, a middle age woman who seduces much younger Dustin Hoffman, in the movie.  While Bancroft used a body double for her nude scene in the movie, actresses who played Mrs. Robinson on the stage didn’t have that luxury.   Such theatrical luminaries as Linda Gray, Kathleen Turner, Morgan Fairchild, Anne Archer and Lorraine Bracco are among the actresses who have bared all in this play.

The only personal experience I have had with nudity on the stage was in 1995 when my wife and another couple saw the Broadway play Indiscretions, starring a frumpy Kathleen Turner.   It was based on a farce by French playwright Jean Cocteau.   In one scene a young man sits happily in a bath basin soaping himself. A young woman, dressed in what might politely be said to have barely covered some of her Victoria Secrets sauntered down a long and perilously high spiral staircase.

As the tensions in our foursome started to tighten in our second row seats, all I could think was, one of two things was going to happen.  She was going slip off her Teddy and get in the tub or he was going to stand up.  I am not certain I was relieved or disappointed when the latter happened. I looked at my wife and the other couple who seemed to be staring straight through the moment. I found out later the young actors were Jude Law and Cynthia Nixon.

Performance Art is on the periphery of the increasing nudism in Western culture. These artists often use the human body as live sculpture and even architecture.   They range from the esoterically astute Serbian Marina Abramović, who explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind to the mildly deranged Karen Finley whose claim to fame is cavorting on stage in her chocolate covered body.

Abramovic’s latest exhibit was at MoMa in New York City a few years ago where pairs of mixed naked couples, stood facing each other in a narrow doorway. To enter the next room visitors had to squeeze between them.

Ever since Lady Godiva, in the 11th-century, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to a legend, rode naked – only covered in her long hair – through the streets of Coventry in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants, especially women have used their naked bodies to protest injustices, alleged and sometimes imaginary throughout the world.  Women from the pro-animal PETA in this country to Ukraine’s FEMEN, women are still baring their breasts and other body parts to raise consciousness toward their respective causes.  Recently one of the latter was arrested at the Vatican.

To illustrate how far it has gone, there is no better example than in the recent book, The Seven Deadly Virtues. In the chapter, written by on Chastity by Matt Labash, he cited an exhibit during the 2000 Republican National Convention where there was a Q&A session with legendary porn actress Nina Hartley. The politically opinionated Hartley held court, wearing nothing but a serious demeanor.

The reaction of the crowd of mostly men was a mixture of boredom, insouciance and polite acceptance. To paraphrase the late Hannah Arndt American culture suffers from the banality of nudity—over-exposure to the point that God’s greatest creation will lose the human respect it just;y deserves.  While not of the above is overtly immoral, nudity’s ubiquity is our cultural reality.  We should all make our moral peace with it because it is not going away and there is a shortage of paper bags.


A Touch of Aristotle

September 12, 2014
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I was recently reminded of the old Broadway play Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand. I remember taking a friend during Christmas week in 1965 to see what proved to be her last performance.

I most remember the song People. It was a wonderful ballad that expressed the deep human need that we have for other people.

In retrospect, I guess the lyrics expressed comedian and heroine, Fanny Bryce’s sad lament on how she envied those who really needed people. To her they were the luckiest people in the world. Even today I tend to well up every time I hear that song.

This brings me to a fascinating article in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

Boston College Professor, Richard Kearney, wrote the article, based on a discussion he had with his students in a class on Eros, entitled From Plato to Today.

Some of his students were bemoaning the fact that most of the romance  they were having had been impersonalized by the Internet and the social media. They missed that real human connection that virtual or casual hook-up sex can never provide.

Many of Kearney’s students realized the tragic irony of this kind of physical connecting: that what is often thought of, as a ‘materialist’ culture was arguably the most ‘immaterialist’ culture imaginable — vicarious, by proxy, and often voyeuristic.

These are prophetic words for a culture on a downslope.

The professor then took this mundane and earthy discussion to a much higher plane, as he outlined the philosophical and moral dichotomy between Plato and Aristotle that has plagued Western relationships for 2000 years.

Today’s cyber world of virtual dating reminded him of an updated version of Plato’s Gyges, who could see everything at a distance but was touched by nothing! Kearney questioned whether we were entering an age of excarnation, where we obsess about the body in increasingly disembodied ways.

As Kearney states if incarnation is the image become flesh, excarnation is flesh become image

It is not surprising that Aristotle would see things in a completely different light.   In perhaps the first great work of human psychology, his De Anima, (The Soul) Aristotle declared the human touch to be the most universal of the senses.

Touch, thought Aristotle,  is the most intelligent sense because it is the most sensitive. When we touch someone or something we are exposed to what we touch. We are responsive to others because we are constantly in touch with another person.

Aristotle was challenging the dominant prejudice of his time–against the human body–one he himself had embraced in earlier works.

The Platonic doctrine of the Academy held that sight was the highest sense because it is the most distant and mediated; hence most theoretical, holding things at bay, mastering meaning from above.

Aristotle lost this battle of ideas!

The Platonists prevailed and the Western universe became a system governed by the soul’s eye.  Sight came to dominate the hierarchy of the senses, and was quickly deemed the appropriate ally of theoretical ideas.

According to Professor Kearney Western philosophy thus sprang from a dualism between the intellectual senses, crowned by sight, and the lower ‘animal’ senses’ stigmatized by touch.

It was ironically Western theology, despite its proclaiming the Christian message of the Incarnation The Word made flesh — that all too often confirmed the strange dichotomy with its anti-carnal doctrines.

How many millions of souls grew up thinking that their souls were housed in some kind of evil monster.

Kearney believes that  this negative attitude prompted Nietzsche’s declaration that Christianity was Platonism for the people who gave Eros poison to drink.

Plato’s thinking prevailed for over 2,000 years, culminating in our contemporary culture of digital simulation and spectacle.  The eye continues to rule in what Roland Barthes once called our civilization of the image. The world is no longer our oyster, but our widescreen.

His way of thinking on the inferiority of the human body has infected Western culture ever since. Its presence has been noted in Gnosticism, Jansenism, Puritanism and the Victorian attitudes that still bear poisonous fruit in the 21st century.  He was also responsible for the Manicheanism that infected the early mind of St. Augustine on sex and marriage.

Like Aristotle before him, Saint John Paul II fought some of the prejudices of the times with regard to nudity and the sanctity of the human body in his once highly celebrated but largely forgotten series of sermons on the Theology of the Body.

For all the fascination with bodies, our current technology is arguably exacerbating our carnal alienation. While offering us enormous freedoms of fantasy and encounter, digital Eros may also be removing us further from the flesh.

Kearney offers a fascinating twist on pornography, which is now an industry worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide. Seen by some as a progressive sign of post-60s sexual liberation, pornography is, paradoxically, a twin of Puritanism. Both display an alienation from flesh — one replacing it with the virtuous, the other with the virtual. Each is out of touch with the body.

This movement toward privatization and virtuality is explored in Spike Jonze’s recent movie Her where a man falls in love with his operating system, which names itself Samantha. He can think of nothing else and becomes insanely jealous when he discovers that his virtual lover, Samantha, is also flirting with thousands of other subscribers.

I have to confess my early infatuation with ‘Siri’.  She was the only woman I have ever encountered who would do anything I asked her…until she got sort of …Dumb!  She must have been a blonde.

Eventually, Samantha feels sorry for him and decides to supplement her digital persona with a real body by sending a surrogate lover. But her plan is a complete failure — while the man touches the embodied lover he hears the virtual signals of Samantha in his ears and cannot bridge the gap. The dichotomy between digital absence and physical presence is unbearable. Something is missing: real love in the flesh.

Full humanity requires the ability to sense and be sensed in turn: the power, as Shakespeare said, to feel  what wretches feel — or, one might also add, what artists, cooks, musicians and lovers feel.    We need to find our way in a world of touch again. We need to return from head to foot, from brain to fingertip, from iCloud to earth.

Since I started getting a regular massage twice a-week four years ago, I have come to relish the feel of a human’s touch. I think touch is one of the ways we will always need other people.  It is how God intended it.

Only an atheist like Jean Paul Sarte could define Hell as ‘other people’.

I touch people all the time…and relish when a friend puts a gentle hand on my back or shoulder…even for just a second…To me it is a form of human validation…I see you…you exist…I feel you..accept my hand as a communication of those feelings.

Massage therapy has helped me also take the full incarnational measure of my body as intimately fused with my soul. As I say in my unpublished short story, The Hands, in her hands his body and soul had quickly become whole again, dispelling any Platonic notion about separation…they were reunited in a paroxysm of emotion that transcended life and even death. To me that is the meaning of Aristotle’s touch!

 


Our Soul’s Natural Home

August 20, 2013
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In grade school the nuns taught us that our bodies were temples of the Holy Ghost.

I don’t know how many of us really understood what the teaching meant though it did sound really nice to most of us.

I wonder if they even teach that concept in today’s Catholic schools.

Temples for our souls

It probably does work its way into talks on chastity and sex and of course any workshop on late pope, Blessed John Paul II’s theories on the Theology of the Body have to have some allusions to the reverence that we should pay our natural bodies.

Americans love their bodies.  We spend billions every year taking care of them with hygiene and beauty products, gym and spa visits, painful and dangerous exercise routines, vitamins and many other ways of increasing their longevity and to many their immortality.

Look at how many liberals or vegetarians lobby against polluting our bodies and those of others with cigarettes, second-hand smoke, alcohol, fatty foods, bad carbs and even meat.

We glorify our bodies in books, TV shows and photography.

If I see Terry Bradshaw in that weight-loss commercial one more time I will….!!!

Man’s effort to capture God’s creation

Now if the Church could get some of these same people to see the dire effects of pre-marital sex, pornography, marijuana and drug use, reckless driving and alcohol abuse, just maybe they might be able to see beyond the flesh and understand the teachings about the human person.

The human body had been the traditional subject of art for centuries if not millenia.

The nude form, male or female has often run up against censorship.

This negative attitude emanated from the pagan philosopher, Plato who helped establish the duality of man’s body and soul as a principle of Western Civilization.

Once the two were separated philosophically ethical and moral divisions were not far behind.

The Christian religion before John Paul had this strong sense of the body, especially the female being a near occasion of sin.

A source of evil?

Most Platonists and later many Christians acted as if they were uncomfortable in their own bodies, mainly because they believed the souls were made for heaven and the body for the grave.

The early Puritans had an insulting attitude toward the human body that the Bible clearly said was created in the image and likeness of God.

Other philosophies and religious view, like the Jansenists, the thinking of St. Augustine and others inflicted terrible  psychological damage on maturing young people.

Father Robert Barron’s Book Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual master has a marvelous chapter, entitled The Human Body was made for Ecstasy.

Went into the mind of St. Thomas

Father Barron reported that according to Aquinas human beings should make peace with their own bodies and renounce the heretical views of the Puritans and the Jansenist Catholics’ tendency to demonize the body and its pleasures as an evil inimical to the will of God.

The story of Adam and Eve with Eve as the temptress that ruined Paradise for everyone has had a long run among moralists and millions of Catholics and Christians.

Unfortunately thanks to Freud who empathized the mental side effects of repressing normal urges, modern society has gone 100% the other way, mistaking libertinism, promiscuity and license for liberation and freedom.

Too many have followed philosopher David Hume who argued that reason or conscience had to become a slave to the passions.

Our society treats any kind of nudity as a prelude or invitation to sex.

John Paul taught that nudity had it correct places–and that in our minds the human body should be divorced from sex except during those rightful times between husbands and wives.

That’s what has been wrong with our society for so long and the liberals are as guilty as the conservatives in perpetuating these misanthropic and misogynistic views.

ESPN Magazine recently published its new annual body magazine.

The pictures of several well-known female and male athletes—all nude– look and appear like visions from the Parthenon of ancient Greece.

One of my new heroes is golfer Gary Player who was photographed for the magazine.    The Australian Player is 77 years-old and does 500 sit-ups every day.

My new hero

Those who will be shocked by these photos should rethink their attitude toward the human body.

There is nothing suggestive or indecent about any of the photos.

The editors were careful to cleverly block out any sign of genitalia in all their subjects.

In a way this is the only dishonest thing about the issue.

John Paul says that we are all male and female.  Our distinctive sexual organs are an important part of what makes us male or female. They don’t define us as sexual objects but relate to the essence of our personhood.

To him pornography was showing too little,.

The Mets perfect body

In the name of prudence and even modesty ESPN has ironically done that.

I know perfectly well why they did that.   To have followed the pope’s TOB would have invited condemnation. censorship and disdain from the people I described above.

I have to admit that much of the above affected me for much of my early life.

I think my attitude has changed to the point that I see a pretty women, not as an object of sex or any prurient urges but as a beautiful example of God’s creation.

Modesty and chastity  have often argued for keeping the female totally in wraps.

The West has nearly completely rejected that idea well into the 21st century to the disadvantage of women everywhere.

Women now represent little more than commercial objects.

It was these attitudes—a disdain for the human body and the reduction of the person, especially the female person to a sex object that the pope hoped to counter.

 Agnieszka Radwanksa 

Church condemned her naked truth 

The Catholic church in Poland can’t handle the naked truth about tennis star Agnieszka Radwanska.

Shortly after Radwanska’s tasteful and relatively modest photos appeared Poland’s Youth Crusade severed its ties with the fourth-ranked tennis star over her immoral behavior while the hierarchy blasted her for her semi-nude spread.

I find it incredulous that John Paul II”‘s native country and a European country to boot would still hang on to this antiquated views on the human body.

This has seriously contributed to the infantilization of millions of men.

It is these contradictory and warring principles that rob human life of much of its daily happiness.

Aquinas believed that contrary to all this, the soul was most at home in a human body.

The soul and body always belong together and the joys and pleasures of both will be astronomically magnified in Heaven.

Barron says Aquinas also wrote that the sensible delights that come from sexual intercourse was greater in paradise than it is on earth.It is absolutely not the case, according to St. Thomas, that pleasure and carnality are signs of  or inducements to sin.

The truth of the human body

Fresh from the creative hand of God, the human being was if anything, sexier than she is at present.  This is true because sin diminishes some of the sensibility of the body.

Sin has only rendered the bodily passions disordered and hence less intense and less deeply satisfying.

Maybe this is why there always seems to be something missing–a hunger for something more.

That something more is God and the life He has promised us in Heaven is the place where our human bodies  will be returned to us some day.

While the world loves to celebrate the human body never forget that the reason we have such unique bodies is to provide an earthly home for our souls.

When the two are rejoined in heaven—hopefully–at that moment our souls can finally be at home.


Skin Deep

August 15, 2012
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How important is our skin to us?

It is the coating that holds our bodies together.

Without it we would be oozing fluids and other human parts all over the place.

Skin of itself is often not very attractive.

Just ask any dermatologist.

Wrinkles, pimples, cysts, even the dreaded melanoma, all mar the pristine beauty of nature as we age and experience life in the flesh.

More than skin deep

I was told as a young man that even the nude women of Playboy Magazine had to have their perfect bodies airbrushed to hide their imperfections.

I remember an old Jerry Lewis movie where the subject of skin came up and with all the lustful yuk-yuks he could muster he said it was the upholstery that gave meaning to one’s skin.

In talking about skin in the philosophical sense, the term flesh or upholstered skin is really what is important.

Liked female upholstery

Pulcritudinous flesh was an evil for several religious groups many centuries ago.

The Gnostics, Cathars, Jansenists and Manchians all believed that the flesh was sinful and allured man to commit all form of sexual acts.

Many old word attitudes, like Puritanism which came to Massachusetts Bay in 1630, and even the Medieval Church regarded the human body as a dangerous source of temptation that had to be covered and almost hidden from public view.

Some of those archaic view still exist today.

John Paul II and his revolutionary Theology of the Body firmly established the true understanding of our bodies, both men and women, as being made in the image and likeness of God.

I have mentioned several times that the values of massage therapy as a form of, not only physical therapy, but also well-being, joy and even bliss resonate with his TOB.

Fosters well-being

Lena, my therapist has told me that in Russia they instruct new parents to massage their newborns regularly because the sense of touch is so important to their early development and can create a stronger emotional bond.

I once asked her how she got into her profession.

She learned her craft early from her mother, now a retired medical doctor, still living in Ukraine.

She did massages to put herself through medical school.

When Lena came to this country one of her first jobs was at a dentist office.

The dentist’s sister was a massage therapist.

She began moonlighting with her and after a while she advised Lena to pursue a professional license because the state had made it a requirement.

Because of her extraordinary skills, I call Lena the Natural, an allusion to the character, Roy Hobbes in Bernard Malamud’s book, the Natural.

In the movie Robert Redford played an aging baseball players who is trying to re-enter a game he left as a young man after a deranged and suicidal woman shot him in her hotel room.

Lena’s namesake

The event was inspired by the real-life shooting of Philadelphia Phillies first base man, Eddie Waikus, who in 1950 was nearly killed by a mentally ill woman in Chicago.

Late in the movie, Hobbs admits that his goal in life was to be such a great ball player that when he walked down any city street in America, people would point to him and say.:

That’s Roy Hobbes…he was the BEST there ever was!

I am convinced that if enough people had regular massages from Lena people would say there goes Lena…she’s the BEST RMT there ever was!

I once told her that for her massages to have lasting value to me, I had to find some root or connection with my religious faith.

I just didn’t want these glorious feelings to be ephemeral or fleeting.

She helped me to recognize the integral link between body and soul that religions sometime distort into what they call the Cartesian dichotomy.

Our souls are the repository of everything we are.

All or emotions, feelings and thoughts are there.

They make up the core of our personality.

Americans often call this center of our being–heart.

The musical Damn Yankees and the wonderful song, You gotta have heart…miles and miles of heart illustrated the importance of heart.

In Japan they call it Wa.

The soul cannot be in harmony unless our bodies are.

And conversely if our souls are troubled or at war with themselves in the case of moral vices and personal troubles, the body will suffer as a result.

When my mind is troubled my flowglow vanishes immediately.

They had to have heart

Since the soul is where we live, it is akin to the Owen Wilson movie, You, Me and Dupree, where a single man with few prospects, finally develops his personal talents as a motivational speaker.

The movie concludes with his telling thousands of people, especially his best friend, Carl to get in touch with his inner being–his Carlness–those things that make them who they are.

What Dupre means is essentially the positive benefits I derive from a regular massage.

There is also a kind of spiritual and metal bonding that goes with regular massage therapy.

It has led me to think hard about the eschatology of human life,  that is the things that really mean something.

I recently finished a book, The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality, by Ronald Rolheiser O. M. I.

In it he describes the Incarnation in language that I have never heard before.

The Incarnation is nothing less than the central teaching of the Catholic and many Christian faiths.

The Holy Longing

Simply stated it is the mystery of God taking a human body and dealing with humans in a visible and tangible way.

The word comes from the Latin phrase in carnus, which means in physical flesh.

This is human flesh in its raw, brute, physically tangible and unplatonic humanity.

In other words God assumed the human nature of man to go along with his divine nature and spent 33 years living as one of us but with a much more significant destiny.

It is arguably the most important event in the history of the world.

With his mystical union, coupled with his suffering and death, he raised mankind to a new level of hope and redemption.

According to Rolheiser, God assumed human flesh so that every human could become a church, a sacrament and every child would become Christ-like.

Most people do not have trouble thinking of Jesus’ body as needing nourishment,  having a sexual body that was subject to pain, sickness and death.

The problem arises from the fact that we cannot attribute the same physical reality to the whole Body of Christ that he left behind, namely the Eucharist and his Church.

Most important Christian teaching

Most people think the Incarnation stopped when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.

Rolheiser believes that the importance of the Incarnation continues in history.

The God of the Incarnation has real flesh on earth–our flesh–and speaks to us in the bread and butter of our daily lives, through things that have skin–historical circumstances, our families, our neighbors, our churches and that borderline-pyschotic friend who painfully reminds us that we are not God.

But the direction and power is always with God.

As part of his plan God has chosen to work through us and metaphorically through our skin to give reality to his power.

When Lena does one of her massages, she is as Rolheiser believes giving skin to God—both hers and the one she is working on.

Her powerful fingers and arms are doing God’s work to unleash her people’s bodies from their pains, suffering and deterioration.

In doing so she gives fly to their imaginations, spirits and souls so that they can soar to deeper understanding of what life is supposed to mean.

As a result the body is free to find a rebirth in a deeper union with its soul so that the whole person can re-emerge in a harmonious union that will be pleasing to God.

I admit that on the surface this appears as something out of a New Age manual but I firmly believe it is all founded in my Catholic faith, which I think I have taken to a higher plateau.

As she has proven to me time and time again, her hands are working much more than skin deep.

She has taken my being to a much higher level as she can with anyone who will surrender to her touch.

Researchers are learning how massage soothes aching muscles.

Giving skin to God

As Rolheiser says the baton has been passed on to each one of his followers to continue his work of loving one’s neighbor and doing random acts of charity and forgiveness.

It is Christ alive in our lives and in Lena’s hands that works through us to achieve this.

The term skin deep takes on a whole new meaning.

It has become clear to me that skin during a massage has a message much deeper than the surface of the human body.

I primarily owe my understanding of this to the lady with the heavenly touch.


A Hungry Heart in a Chinese Restaurant

February 2, 2012
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I try to use my treadmill twice a week.

I doubt is if there is a better metaphor for American life now than that instrument of self-torture.

Image Detail

A metaphor for human life

The economic and political situations, not to mention the many threats from terrorism at home and abroad are so unsettling that relaxation is hardly possible.

So many of us are stuck in an endless cycle of work, eat, shop, kids, carpool and maybe sleep that there is little time to contemplate what does it all mean.

Millions of people are like the the wanderer who seeks out the Buddhist monk on a mountain top in the Himalays, trying to find the meaning of life.

Even the denizens of the shanties and haunts of the poorest neighborhood, some people wonder what their lives must mean if anything.

This is probably the eternal question—why was I born?

As a first grader at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, the third question of the Baltimore Catechism purported to answer that question.

Baltimore Catechism No. 1

Can answer the most important question

This natural examination of one’s life, according to Socrates makes life worth living.

Scholars spend an entire lifetime attempting trying to understand the near unfathomable mysteries of life  wih little recognition from the general public.

Even Hollywood has to get into the act.

Cinema directors and producers produce big budget films with the philosophical input of a sophomore in college that usually experience a broad appeal at the box office.

The most important of these have been Month Python’s The Meaning of Life and Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life.

The Meaning of Life is a 1983 comedy film by the Monty Python team.

Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life [DVD]

A restless cycle of birth, eating, loving and dying

The feature film properly opens with the human faces of the six Pythons placed on the bodies of fish who are swimming aimlessly in a tank at a restaurant.

Upon seeing that one of their fellow fish is being served to a customer they begin to engage in a brief philosophical conversation on the meaning of life.

As the movie painfully trudges along through the Seven Stages of Life, including sex, war and old age, it takes a satirical look at the Catholic Church’s view on masturbation and contraception.

It is replete with such catchy songs, as Every sperm is sacred!

Their MOL is no threat to William Shakespeare.

Quite simply people are born, fight wars, get married, have sex, get fat and old and die.

There is little of a coherent philosophy underscoring that the fact that its producers were in it strictly for the laughs than any pretense at making any meaningful explanation for human life and history.

Terrance Malick, known for his serious cinematic exploits, took a much more ambitious route with his TOL.

The Tree of Life is a 2011 American drama film with experimental elements written and directed by Terrence Malick and starring Sean PennBrad Pitt, and Jessica Chastain.

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Sophmoric theology

Malick’s film chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man’s childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with imagery of the origins of the universe and the inception of life on Earth.

A mysterious, wavering light that resembles a flame flickers in the darkness. Mrs. O’Brien (Jessica Chastain) recalls a lesson taught to her that people must choose to either follow the path of grace or the path of nature.

In the mid 1960s, she receives a telegram informing her of her son’s death at age nineteen.

Mr. O’Brien (Brad Pitt) is notified by telephone.

Five billion years in the future, life on the planet Earth is destroyed, incinerated by the Sun as it expands into a red giant and then left alone as a desolate, lifeless frozen planet still orbiting the Sun, which by that time has turned into a feeble white dwarf.

The film relies heavily on flashbacks.

In the present, adult Jack leaves work.

Riding the elevator down he experiences a vision of walking on rocky terrain.

He tentatively walks through a wooden door frame which is erected on the rocks.

On a sandbar, Jack is reunited with his family and all the people who populate his memory.

His father is happy to see him.

His mother is overjoyed when Jack’s memory resurrects his dead brother.

She thanks Jack, kissing his arm twice.

Jack’s vision ends and he leaves his building smiling.

The mysterious, wavering light continues to flicker in the darkness.

I think Malick is like so many armchair theologians, who are clueless as to what the meaning of life really is.

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Malick got some things right

It was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who pointed out that the human heart–the anatomical one , not what you see in ads for Valentine’s Day, is missing a piece at the top.

It is that missing piece that all human beings seek.

Unfortunately most look in all the wrong places.

They look in accumulating more wealth, finer clothing, faster cars, larger homes, more elegant trips to Europe.

They look for better or at least more frequent sex with a faceless line of thinner, fleshier, taller, shorter partners whose names seem to fade to black as soon as the moment of passion has started to wane.

At the end none of these fleeting moments of satisfaction, ever seem to be enough.

Some will say that life is like eating at a Chinese restaurant every night.

Their souls are hungry for more just three hours later.

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Hungry three hours later

Why is that?

There can never be a heaven on earth.

Our pleasures were made, not to satisfy but to entice for the real pleasures that will undoubtedly come in the next world.

All here is but a dim reflection of what the Lord has prepared for us.

The momentary high of good feeling from a jog in the park or a delicious meal fades as the realities of life replace the physical sense of exhilaration.

No matter how great the sensation, reality always sets in as life moves on.

This explains why millions have dropped out of society with drug, alcohol and even sexual addictions.

They keep looking for their next artificially-induced high.

At my age I have decided to smell the roses—I don’t really like the smell of coffee.

I have been trying to find those fleeting moments of wonder in a child’s smile, a pretty girl walking past me, a good book or film.

I have a massage twice a week no and for that time I can just let my soul and mind drift all over my interior universe.

I have learned to let my physical high transcend my body so that my soul soars even higher than my bodily sensations.

Then there is the flowglow as I call it that can last a few more days until the reality of everyday living intrudes.

This is not a New Age kind of high.

It is deeply rooted in my Catholic as I have tried to link it with John Paul II’s revolutionary Theology of the Body.

My massage gives me what can best be described as a foretaste of Heaven.

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Can transcend the body 

St. Augustine knew all about special highs.

He knew from painful experience that our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

Only then can we satisfy the insatiable emptiness of of our hungry hearts..


One Pilgrim’s Progress

January 5, 2012
5 Comments

During our bi-weekly Men’s Bible Study at my Church last week, old Charlie, one of my two liberal nemeses, mentioned that he had picked up a copy of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, published in February, 1678 and read it that afternoon.

Christian, an everyman character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centers itself in his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “Celestial City” atop Mt. Zion.

Christian is weighed down by a great burden, the knowledge of his sin, which he believed came from his reading the book in his hand.

Life is a difficult journey

Charlie’s religious’ curiosity got me to thinking about my own journey as a cradle Catholic.

I was born into a faith that had existed for nearly 2000 years.

It had survived devastating attacks from without and from within.

It has endured a history or bloody persecution in which thousands of its faithful were ripped apart by wild beasts, crucified, burned alive and thrown off high cliffs, drawn and quartered–all because they believed in the Divinity of the Christ.

It has launched crusades and burned a few thousand heretics at the stake in defense of the faith.

It is a religion that is filled with mystery, ceremony, pomp and high circumstance.

It has smells that excite and calm, music that raises the spirit and comforts the will.

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Sacraments and mystery

Theologically it soars like the eagle as it tries to touch the hand of God.

It can cure disease, ease suffering and prepare for the final moments of life.

It is a church of over one billion people.

It has as many different strains of thinking as a library does.

But being a faith of deep and high-minded ideas, sometimes it confuses.

Sometimes it frightens.

For all its attendant holiness, its leaders sometimes seem caught in a whirling vortex of  charity and unadulterated power that idly dismisses reason and moral logic in favor of pragmatic results.

Some of its popes have done the work of the enemy.

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Alexander VI, one of the notorious Borgias

Others have been saintly.

Most have been ambitious while others mediocre.

The Church is a very human institution— a veritable living contradiction.

I once asked a priest during a Christmas Mission at our parish if he had any advice for someone who had been born into the pre-Vatican Church but came to his full religious maturity during the initial reforms of the Second Vatican Council, called by Pope John XXIII.

I don’t really remember if he answered my question or if any of the 60 other people in attendance could identify with my dilemma but my mere stating the question was enough for me to come to an understanding of my feelings and thought about my relationship to the Catholic Church.

I am alas caught twixt the old and new Catholic Church.

There are many things about my birth church, which is vastly different from my adult church, that I relish.

As a child, rules, the actual law and order of the faith were deeply instilled in me, by habited nuns and serious priests.

Along with the Baltimore Catechism they laid the foundation for my faith.

We all learned the dogma of the faith by rote memory with a diligence and certitude that armed us to face the three major enemies, who competed for our immortal souls–the world, the flesh and the devil.

As Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday might have said, we knew the facts.

Like Joe we knew the facts

I doubt if the same could be said today.

The Church’s teaching on sexual morality was complicated.

Most of our parents excused themselves from telling about the facts of life.

It was just too embarassing for them to broach.

Modesty forced most of them to  shroud their bodies from our view and as an only child I had no siblings who could have explained my contradictory feelings about my own anotomy.

We were taught our bodies were the temples of the Holy Ghost, yet they were also the snares of the devil.

We were warmed about improper touches to ourselves and to others.

Girls were taught to dress modestly—no long pants, though I do remember a few occasions when they wore Bermuda shorts.

Most dirty magazines of the day were, not what anyone would call pornographic but more of the naturalist pulp magazines of nude sunbathers.

In the stash by the high school

I remember a friend, discovering a stash of such magazines in some weeds down by the local public high school.

His widowed mother had assured him he could could look at pictures of naked women as long as he did not get aroused.

To me this was my very first instruction in what I now understand as John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

It was this friend who actually instructed me and a few others in the facts of life.

The God I was taught in those days was also more a God of Justice than a God of Love.

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My first lesson was in the weeds of a high school

I have to admit He was scary, freightening and seemingly elusive.

I remember being yelled at in the Confessional by a priest, who warned me of the powers of Almighty God.

He literally put the fear of eternal damnation within my soul at that moment.

In retrospect, I think that is really unfair to God.

But in a way it did work.

I have kept the faith all these years.

I have avoided most of the near occasions of sins.

After studying under the Jesuits for 11 year, I was able to rationalize those I couldn’t avoid.

I have been faithfully married to the same woman for over 45 years and still look at women in the same appreciative way that I adopted in the bushes at Forest Hills high school.

However the abject legalism did take a toll on my understanding of God’s divine mercy and the Agape side of His unlimited personality.

The early Christians knew the meaning of Agape

For most of my life I have been a habitual worrier who is relieved when things are over, instead of enjoying the joyful moments of my life.

But the new church is different.

The church of love and forgiveness has replaced the church of law and order.

In the Church of divine rules, I had tried to micromanage everything and had left nothing up to God

The new church is the worst nightmare of Doestesky’s Grand Inquistor, who cursed God for making men with a free will and granting them the freedom to practice it.

He cursed God for freedom.

During Holy Hour I have learned to open my soul and and heart in an honest and true way so that my life is more open to His grace.

The priest called my last confession–beautiful.

This would never have been possible in the old church.

I have learned to accept my body as it is and realize that it was made in the image and likeness of God and was not something dirty and offensive

However people still need honest and realistic rules—like the 10 Commandments and Jesus’ perfection of them with the emphasis on loving all other human beings.

The modern ideas of relativism and secularism have infected the culture and with it, in may places the church and its members.

 The modern church has literally thrown the Christ child out with the bath water.

Scandal, indifference and moral confusion abound.

I see many others who do not have that the double-grounding in the faith that I have.

Maybe even old Charlie would agree that this pilgrim has made some progress in his journey to that celestial city.


Nude Beaches in Heaven? PART II

December 9, 2011
4 Comments

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.

500x699 Last Judgement Michelangelo

A controversy for centuries

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.

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One pope wanted to whitewash the whole fresco

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.

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Some of the draping had to remain

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.

How to Give a Full Body Massage to a Girl

In massage therapy there should be no conflict between modesty and nudity

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.

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Bathers in a natural state in Europe

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.

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Lust is often in the eye of the beholder

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.

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My vision 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.

Gozzoli, Benozzo - Renunciation of Worldly Goods and The Bishop of Assisi Dresses St. Francis (detail) - Renaissance (Early Italian, "Quattrocento") - Fresco - Saints - Chiesa di San Fortunato - Montefalco, Italy

Renounced all his worldly goods

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!


In the Name of the Father…

November 16, 2011
4 Comments

I can’t remember how old I was when I learned to bless myself with the sign of the cross.

My mother might have taught me or perhaps it was my first grade teacher, Sister Ellen Marie.

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I probably learned how to do this in grade school

It is startling to me, some 62 years later that the sign of the cross and its physical representations seem to have lost their place in American society.

The cross as a religious sign is under siege.

Many people say that they are offended when people demonstrate their religious faith.

They say, not in words, but in attitudes that we must relegate such devotional moments to the privacy of our home.

Perhaps in the closet is the only place suitable because we might offend visitors, delivery men and the like.

Well homosexuals aren’t in there any more.

That should leave some room for us.

To me this is a more than a subtle form of discrimination.

On a deeper level, it has all the earmarks of a modern form of persecution.

I really don’t understand the threat that my Catholic faith has to these forces of prejudice whose pedigree runs hundreds of years…at least to the French Revolution.

Jesus Christ was a simple carpenter to most of them and He preached a revolutionary gospel of love and brotherhood.  Most people like that idea.

I don’t see the problem with that, except maybe for the fact that He left the beginnings of a Church behind that developed a strict moral order in line with his sermons of charity, lust and turning the other cheek.

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What are they afraid of?

Then of course there is the Divinity thing.

Christians have to acknowledge a power much greater than themselves or any government they might create.

Perhaps that’s the rub.

People, especially liberals and other well-educated people see themselves and their will as more important than His.

Maybe it is Jesus’ axiom that the truth shall set you free!

Whose truth?  Certainly not that of a secular government that manufactures its truth daily.

Maybe that’s the reason Marx and his heirs have made it a point to destroy Christianity.

Or maybe it goes back even further than Communism.

Maybe it is the Augustinian dichotomy of the City of God versus the City of Man.

Maybe Nero was the first representative of the latter.

I recently viewed the 1932 movie, The Sign of the Cross and was amazed at the stark contrast between the world of Rome and the promised world of Jesus.

Was risque for its times

It was one of Cecil DeMille’s great religious epics and at that time movie producers were pushing the envelope over the accepted levels of modesty and individual chastity because of declining attendance due to the hard times.

The Catholic Church in Chicago led the charge in producing a self-enforcing code that was handed over to the Will Hays Office and became known as the Hays Code in 1930.

The Eponemous Will Hays

From 1930 to 1934, Hay’s Production Code was only slightly effective in fighting back calls for federal censorship.

However, things came to a head in 1934 with widespread threats of Catholic boycotts of immoral movies.

DeMille’s Sign was at the center of this growing national controversy and probably the main reason for the establishment the Catholic Legion of Decency, which became a formidable benchmark of morality until 1978.

The Sign starred Frederic March and a relative unknown, Italian actress. Elissa Landi.

But the real star turned out to be Claudette Colbert whose notorious milk bath stole all the headlines.

She playfully splashes enough milk so the world can get a fleeting full look at her breasts.

Tame by today

To me that salacious scene is quite tame by our post-modern standards but I can see their point in 1932.

I don’t have any way of knowing how many lustful thoughts emanated from those few brief seconds of visible flesh in 1932, but I can honestly say her playfulness probably exceeded the parameters for intent for John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

She definitely wanted the audience to sneak a peek.

Yet in retrospect I do believe her brief exposure did have at least one redeemable feature.

It helped to provide the sharp contrast between the modestly clad Christian women and the courtesans of Emperor Nero’s pagan court.

While the film was over-dramatized and the filmography primitive compared to our own times, the story of the Prefect of Rome and his obsession with a young Christian woman was very compelling.

It was not only a love story but one of how the purity of a Christian woman who believed in something higher, could tame the passions of a Roman pagan so  much that he gladly followed her into the lions’ den and a gruesome death.

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Followed her into eternity

Parallels like that seem lost on the audience of today.

The scenes of vivid and overt savage persecution were gut-wrenching.

But Jesus had warned them that the world would persecute them.  And it still does.

The Romans enjoyed their games.

Besides the standard gladiatorial combats, there  were graphic scenes that served as a near-comic backdrop of African pygmy warriors fighting Amazon women.

Just an appetizer for the pagan Romans

But all this was really the appetizers.  The Romans had come to see the Christians play the lions.

Nubile Christian women who were obviously naked, though strategically placed flower leis did provide a brief modicum of modesty, were tied to posts as lions and even gorillas got ready ready to devour them.

Humiliation and mutilation

While this had a salacious value for many moviegoers, I saw it as a warning as to what my faith can actually cost.

Fortunately for us today, the only lions we let in the arena are from Detroit and the Christians don’t have their own formal team.

That brings me to the saga of Tim Tebow and his career in the National Football League.

Tebow won national acclaim by leading his Florida Gators to two national championships and winning a Heisman Trophy to boot.

His passing style is unorthodox and not very well suited for the pros.

Yet as he showed at Florida, he has all of the intangibles of poise under fire, character and leadership.  And he knows how to win!

To date he has won three of his four starts for Denver this year.

These traits cannot be taught or acquired.

He also engendered the wrath of millions of pro-choice people, who chided his mother for not having aborted him when he was in utero 23 years ago.

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad Video Commercial Pam

The Tebows angered the left

Their joint prolife ad at a recent Superbowl was just too much for the choice crowd.

Tebow also prays during games by genuflecting after a key play.

Some opponents have responded by mocking his religious devotion on a field similar to the games where they ate Christians, not tackled them.

In a sport where many consider womanizing an adjunct to their prowess on the field, Tebow’s celibacy until marriage is regarded as unpopular as a blind side tackle.

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His critics call this pose--Te-bowing

According to the New York Times, he can be seen as polarized between those who can lionize him (not eat him) as a mythological athlete and those who resent the idea that Tebow taps into some power on the field.

To me this is just another subtle form of persecution and I will always be a Tebow fan, not just for his uncanny ability to always prove the experts wrong but for his undying faith in God.


Thank Heaven for Little Girls….

July 13, 2011
6 Comments

When I was young there was something about French actors that literally repelled me.

I really don’t know what it was but the dulcet tones of Charles Boyer, who seemed top have a ubiquitous presence on evening TV would make me squirm.

Maurice Chevalier was very old when I first saw him.  For elderly actors I much more preferred Walter Brennan or even Gabby Hayes.

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My favorite old guy

Chevalier did have one memorable performance in the touching film Gigi that I saw in  the theater.

I really did like his enigmatic rendition of his signature song,  Thank Heaven for Little Girls…

The key refrain was because they get bigger every day.

Ah, leave it to those romantic Frenchman!

They couldn’t fight or work hard but they knew how to appreciate women.

How times have changed with the women’s movement.

The whole relationship between men and women is so drastically different from when I was young.

So different that I am not surprised that the gay population has increased greatly these past 40 years.

I just saw a production of Chorus Line and the prettiest woman in it, the one with the best figure, and the most seductive charm was in a 17-year relationship with her partner, a female doctor in Colorado.

What’s Frenchman to do?

The woman’s movement has also brought with it some very unintended consequences for women.

One thing their leaders cannot combat is that most cultures prefer boys.

It is literally a boys world  when it comes to being born.

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It’s a boys’ world

It’s just the way things have always been.

From my one real psychology course at Fordham University I learned that there was a ratio of 105 males conceptions to 100 female.

This modest imbalance was nature’s way of leveling the playing field because at that time at least—1963–men were much more likely to die earlier than their female counterparts due to wars, highly competitive business and just the natural recklessness that having gallons of testosterone pumped through veins causes.

All women had to worry about them was dying in childbirth and marrying a brute of a husband.

Now women fight wars, die from heart attacks in the board room, engage in reckless behavior–who knows I’ll bet many get regular testosterone shots— and others still marry brutes…when they do get married.

Now a brutish boyfriend or live-in is more a threat than most of the other dangers.

Mara Hvistendahl has published a new book that details another worry women have–gender selection.

The full title is Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls. and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.

Now a woman’s choice has resulted in, not only the loss of a human life, but the abnormal decrease in the supply of women.

The first statistics I saw related to gender selection was from the Peoples Republic of China that now has an approximate 120-100 ratio of males to female.

That’s got to be a lot of sex-starved Chinese soldier running around.

The Chinese culture favors males as does most Asian countries.

Was this the fault of Confucius?

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Confucius’ fault?

I remember a study from many years ago where of a particular 100 abortions in India, 99 of them were unborn females.

In this country the male has always been the more preferred because of what it means to the father and to the culture.

When most people lived on farms, it was mostly a labor thing.  men worked the fields and women didn’t.

There was only so much milking and housework, sewing and cooking that had to be done.

I didn’t own a farm but I was so glad that my first child was a boy.

Is that fair?

No but it is the reality of the past and that attitude still prevails.

I have met two tour guides on the several trips I have taken, named Kendra and Tommi.

They were obviously named for their dads.

I have yet to met a male tour guide named Annie or Barb.

But these are all free choices are they not?  Isn’t that what choice is all about?

Choosing what one wants or is popular?

Isn’t that what choice is all about?

That means that choice, which to most leftists is a sacrament that every women should receive or exercise, now has two dark sides.

Baby Boy/Girl Twins Photo Gallery

Which one had the better chance of being born?

Hvistendahl says that worldwide there are over 160 million missing girls.

No they are not missing.

They are dead, just like the millions of males that have been butchered since Roe v. Wade made a woman’s womb a battleground.

Is this of importance to Hvistendahl or is she more worried that those nasty anti-choice people will use this as an excuse to outlaw all abortions?

I find that being stuck on a horny dilemma.

Of course in China there is no choice.

They have a coerced abortion policy because of an over-supply of people.

Unfortunately for little Chinese girls, they don’t have a great feminist movement that theoretically slaughters its unborn on an equal basis.

This is another wrong for President Obama to right–abort all babies?

The green in this country would fully support this while the feminists have remained almost totally silent.

I am certain the gays will support selective abortion because fewer women mean more men without sexual satisfaction.

The sad fact is that the only people who would really sympathize with the author are the same ones that want gender equality, such as that promoted by Pope John Paul II in his historic Theology of the Body.

Had a keen insight to the mysteries of the sexes

Abortion is just not a threat to missing girls but there are millions of missing boys as well.

Abortion is not evil because most people prefer to have a son.

It is evil because it takes a human life and while snuffing out hope and a chance at doing something.

Perhaps the criticism Ms. Hvistendahl is getting will make her consider the illogic of her feminist affiliation.

On this my 100th posting, let me share an aside about missing children with you.  Millions watched the Casey Anthony saga unfold.

 It was OJ II but without the poetry.  

Peter Singer a distinguished professor at Princeton has long advocated that parents should have the right to dispose of any child up to the age of two.  

Let me see, Kaylee was just a few months north of that arbitrary mark.  Makes you wonder.


About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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