Saturday, May 31, 2008

Are You Kidding Me, Colorado?

Breaking News: My home state is full of freaks... and now they'll be sitting on the toilet to your left.

Turns out gender is a construct after all, and the hopelessly backwards practice of segregated locker rooms and bathroom facilities is about to be swept away by new legislation aimed at ending "discrimination" against "transgendered" folk long oppressed by the restrictive sexual dichotomy of masculine vs. feminine.

Yes, let us then enter into a whole new realm of discrimination, whereby my privacy and my physical safety are endangered so that Scott (who goes by Cindy) can feel okay about using the ladies room. Because hey, screw the sexual health and safety of young women and children in bathrooms and locker rooms, forget the rising epidemic of "acquaintance rape," increasingly common in communal dwelling situations (read: college dormitories. Trust me. It happens every day.)

Ugh, I'm too disgusted to write much more. But you get the idea. And let's be honest, this is much less about "inclusion" and "tolerance" than it is about normalizing pathological practices and behaviors and eroding the social and moral fabric of our civilization. But hey, that's just me.

Do you mind holding my purse while I go? Yeah, I'm talking to you, buddy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Modest IS Hottest, Recent Studies Show

How I'd love to read that headline... perhaps I'll write it one day. But I was shopping yesterday with an extremely fashion-savvy girlfriend and we noticed a prevailing trend that might just be taking hold as the mercury climbs... modesty in swimwear!

I know, I know... it almost seems an oxymoron, but hear me out. The swim skirt is making a comeback this summer, and it's gaining widespread acceptance on beaches and poolsides the world over.

I found this adorable and aptly-named company's website which features a host of adorable suits and accessories I wouldn't be ashamed to wear in the presence of my father. Check it out if you get the chance. And please, give your friends/sisters/girlfriends/wives etc. some serious kudos for endeavoring to dress modestly in a culture that reduces (0r enlarges) us to our cup size. It's not easy. But at least it's starting to look good!

Modesty is about showcasing what is beautiful and reserving with reverence what is more beautiful. We don't cover up to repress, but to protect what is not meant for public consumption. (When's the last time you saw a transparent tabernacle, people?)

Just as there is an appropriate time for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, in the context of reverent Adoration and Benediction, so also is there a fully appropriate time for the revelation of the human body, unveiled for the other in the mutual worship of the spouses. That's right, I said worship. As in, with my body, I thee worship (From the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican wedding vows.)

Totally appropriate, and totally hot. Take that, Hollywood.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Do I Want What He Wants?

I've been thinking a lot lately about vocation. What does it mean, really, to seek one's vocation and to discover it? Is it a moment of self-discovery, a flash of long-awaited insight? Or is recognizing your vocation more along the lines of a growing realization of that for which you were created?

If a vocation is a call by God, issued in eternity, awaiting our free response... then I guess it's always there. Waiting to be discovered, sure, but always present from the moment of our conception. So that whole Augustinian notion of restless hearts... might that restlessness be somewhat assuaged on earth once the call is answered?

Will there be a sense of rightness, a feeling of relief when we finally "pick up the phone?" asking the One on the other end of the line, in all sincerity, "What do you want?"

I don't know. And I don't know if I'll ever know, for certain. And that makes me feel... yucky.

I hate not being in control. And I am not, it turns out, in control. Of much. Of anything, some days. I'm a victim of circumstance in this crazy, sometimes hostile place we call reality. At least that how it can feel.

But here is where freedom comes into play. Real freedom, the freedom for which our world wrongly eschews in favor of the oft-touted freedom from (i.e. freedom from pregnancy, from morals, from consequences.)

I'm talking about the freedom which no circumstance can remove, the freedom of Victor Frankl's Theresienstadt, the freedom to look at my life today (not 5 years down the road) and either accept what has been given to me with gratitude and humility, or to rail against heaven and the unfairness of it all, cursing the One who has chosen to present me this day with crosses or roses, refusing to see the interchangeability of the two.

I still do wonder, will there be a day in the future, an "aha" moment where I'm suddenly there, living in the very thick of it, up to my ears in vocation? Or is it to be a series of days and weeks and months of sometimes wearily and sometimes cheerfully rolling out of bed and casting my eyes heavenward and asking "now what?"

What today? I can't see tomorrow, can't plan for 6 months from now, can't predict next year... but I can live today's vocation, whatever it may be. Student, sister, employee, friend, athlete, girlfriend, fiancee, wife, mother... they're actually all transitional, at least from an earthly perspective. So once I'm "there"... will I really be satisfied?

Pardon the profundity, but I tend to get really contemplative this time of year, at the advent of summertime and on the eve of that greatest of summer traditions: the first (local) Dave Matthews concert.

Really puts one in a philosophical mindset for some reason...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He's Laughing...

I'm sure of it. You know the saying, "you plan, God laughs?"

Well, He's laughing.

Thursday evening, 10:00 pm. Cruising along the Pennsylvania Turnpike at a healthy clip, triple grande cinnamon dulce latte in hand, I make my way to the coast, heading for the promised land of Washington DC for a dear friend's nuptials. Yellow floor-length bridesmaid dress in tow, complete beauty line packed "in case of emergencies" during pre-wedding primping, a week's worth of laundry that I was hoping to conveniently dump in a friend's washer, a semester's worth of textbooks, my cleats... oh, and the cable box I still owed (okay, owe) Comcast. You get the picture.

So along I sped, toting the majority of my worldly possessions in the back of my foreign gas-sipping P.O.S. when lo and behold, my pesky check engine light started to flicker.

Yes, that light. The very same light which has been on for the past 18 months. But up until this point it had always remained a constant, steady glow; never dimming nor brightening in all the miles of driving. It was reassuring, almost. A steadfast companion in all my travels. And now it was flickering.

As I pondered the implications of this most recent development in automotive performance, my car had a stroke. Or maybe a seizure. At any rate, the little Kia beast gave a mighty shudder, downshifted on her own, and gave up her spirit, coasting to a final halt at mile marker 131.

How's that for anticlimactic? Who wants to go out with a shuddering wheeze on the Penna Turnpike? The Kia was certainly humiliated. And I was, well... I was wearing a skirt and heels and clutching a dying cell phone. And a cooling latte. And did I mention that I had prayed for humility earlier in the week? A dangerous prayer, to be sure, but one that never fails to reassure any nagging doubts in God's existence. Go ahead, try it. I dare you.

I took this all in stride, staring dumbly first at the plaintively beeping cell phone in my hand and then at the not-too-distant billboard on my right that was advertising fresh sushi and hibachi at the next exit. 15 miles away. Yeah.

And then I did what any red-blooded American girl would do in a moment of crisis. I called my best friend.

Ring, ring. "Karen?"

She convinced me in a matter of moments to direct my next call to the local authorities and a tow-truck service, but not before ascertaining my exact location and announcing her immediate departure en route to my rescue. A side note: true friendship means never having to ask someone to pick you up in central Pennsylvania in the middle of the night.

So I called. And waited. And hitched a ride in the impeccably neat cab of a large tow-truck driver named Chad. He took me to the nicest Best Western this side of the Monongahela. And he took my car somewhere else. Somewhere private, I think... to die.

So in a whirlwind of related and unrelated events, I'm now back "home," car-less and surprisingly careless in spite of everything. I've been romanced by the providence of this laughing God over the past several days, as He's shown me over and over again who's calling the shots, who's providing for my needs, who's overseeing the details... He might be laughing, but I'm starting to crack a smile in spite of myself.

And if my life is, in fact, a sitcom, as I have long suspected... then this can only be good for ratings.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Run So as to Win

Or at least look like you're trying*.

I feel pretty tough just looking at this. I won't give my finishing time, as that would render me a little less tough...
(*posted for mom's benefit, please excuse the shameless self-promotion)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AmericanPapist: Not Your Average Catholic!: Catholic Cherie Blair defends her use of contraception

AmericanPapist: Not Your Average Catholic!: Catholic Cherie Blair defends her use of contraception

Here's a Shocker

I agree with something foxnews.com's Dr. Yvonne penned in Monday's "sexpert" column: cosmetic female genital alteration is abhorrent.

That's right, folks, cosmetic genital alteration. As in, let's see if we can't give you more of a Miss July centerfold look 'down there.' How very modern of us. How very sad.

And for once, Dr. Y and I are on the same page, as she extols the virtues of loving one's body "as is" and not trying to look like a supermodel/porn star/textbook example in a state of undress. But that's where the similarity ends. You see, this is the same column which only a week ago was extolling the virtues of mutual pornographic consumption to increase sexual stimulation and satisfaction.

Anyone else see a problem here?

Yes, of course, ladies. Lay down and roll over while your man gets worked up by a computer-generated composite of perfection that puts your naked body to shame. After all, it's only natural since men are visually stimulated. And while he's at it, you might as well join him. It can be a bonding moment for you as a couple, you know? Joining together in the mutual pursuit of using another human being for your own sexual gratification. Nice.

There's a catch, though. Because as he becomes increasingly stimulated by exaggerated and impossible images of anatomical symmetry, you may start to feel slightly, well, frumpy in comparison.

So maybe a breast augmentation? Sure, if it boosts your confidence. Cheek implants to round out that booty? Go for it, it's for the greater good of your sex life. Vaginoplasty to... hold on!

Here's where Dr. Fulbright jumps ship. Apparently, altering your body to look more like some other body is intrinsically disordered, needlessly unsafe, and demeaning to the inherent dignity of the female person. Yes, praise God!

I would encourage her to look further up that slippery slope we're hurtling down, and to ask herself where this momentum stems from. Could it be that pornography = dissatisfaction with the natural human body?

No, I go too far. There's no possible connection between women-watching-their-men-getting-aroused-by-watching-other-women and a competitive drive to, well, compete with these other women. (Who, incidentally aren't actual women, but rather, are composite images of several genetically-blessed bodies) But I digress.

At least Dr. Fulbright's come this far. Let's pray that she -and other "women's health" experts - start making these connections sooner, and start using their brains and their platforms to advance the dignity of their sisters rather than shackling them in heavier chains.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday

I ran a half marathon yesterday, and I'm freaking tired.



But not as tired as this guy:




And probably not as tired as this girl:


I'm just saying, a little perspective can go a long way...

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Father's Love

My dear friend Kevin (kevinmclarke.blogspot.com) wrote the following piece on the eve following his firstborn daughter's baptism, and I can't help but wonder if our Father feels the same way about each of us...

The Joyous Baptism of My Daughter

Now I will forcibly set aside from my mind for the time the ugliness of the world.
All the ills of the world will have to wait for a father's joy, as I have quite the topic at hand: my sweet daughter's Easter-season baptism!


On the eve of the baptism of my Sophia Therese, she kept quite the prayer vigil, remembering the words of the Lord, “could you not watch with me one hour?” She kept watch for at least four, from about 2 to 6 a.m. During her vigil, she complained most audibly and continually about being in the state of original sin. So, being as tuckered out as she was, she did not let out even a peep during Sunday Mass.

Sophia Therese, who was born on April 10, was also born on April 27—this time from the womb of the Church. The daily Psalm reading was Psalm 66 for the Mass on April 10 and Psalm 66 for the Mass on April 27. Here is part of the reading for both days,
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me.Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!


“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” Amen

After the proclamation of the Gospel, Fr. Ray Ryland gave a most moving homily. The Gospel reading, Jesus promised to send another comforter, the Holy Spirit, the parakletos (Jn 14:16). There is another comforter, because he himself is our comforter.

Christ is our advocate with God. “We have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1). But we must keep his commandments, the Scripture says, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). But how do we combine faith and works, as the Scripture says?

“Always do everything in order to please Jesus.” These are the words of St. Therese, who always makes her presence felt at the most important moments of our lives. She once told a sorrowful novice:

"Our Lord loves the glad of heart, the children that greet him with a smile. When will you learn to hide your troubles from Him, or to tell him gaily that you are happy to suffer for Him? The face is the mirror of the soul, and yours, like that of a contented child, should always be calm and serene. Even when alone be cheerful, remember always that you are in the sight of the angels. "

After these encouraging words, the time came for her baptism. Deacon Mark Miravalle blessed the water and invoked the saints. We reaffirmed our own baptismal vows (which my parents in like manner made for me) and promised to raise her in the faith in the presence of the entire Christian community, as Sophia Therese continued her slumber. Her mother and I beamed as we stood beside her most devout godparents.

My wife held her over the baptismal waters. As the blessing of the Father came upon her head through the water, she extended her arms in cruciform (perhaps imitating the crucifix hanging in our home, perhaps merely stretching, but it was a sign of the presence of Christ in her to her mother and myself).

When my wife and I were engaged, we consecrated ourselves, and all the fruits that our love would bear to the Blessed Virgin, under the title of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Being in person the most visible manifestation of this love, and thus already belonging to the Blessed Virgin, we offered Sophia Therese publicly to the Blessed Mother of God immediately after the baptism.

She remained peaceful throughout the remainder of the Mass. As I held her after I received Jesus in the Eucharist, I contemplated her purity in union with the Lord. I remembered the practice of the Early Church, whose members would genuflect before the newly baptized, reverencing the purity of the presence of the Holy Spirit in them.

I realized I was holding in my being Jesus Christ, the Holy of Holies, but I was also holding a holy child, made holy by the Spirit of Adoption that has rendered her a child of the Heavenly Father. Her adoption was ratified at the foot of the Cross by Christ himself, who made Sophia Therese his sister. So in a very real way, she is now more my sister than she is my daughter, because we have one God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every good gift.

And what a good gift she is! A new member has been added to the Body of Christ! “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”

Welcome home, Sophia Therese.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Different Sort of Pride

“Today is a significant milestone for which all Californians can take pride,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. “I commend the plaintiffs from San Francisco for their courage and commitment." ~House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the CA Supreme Court's decision to overturn gay marriage.

What, exactly, are the plaintiffs committed to? Destroying the institution of marriage? As a fellow Catholic, I'm a little surprised at Pelosi's eagerness to abolish one of the seven Sacraments...Not.

And you kiss the Pope's ring with that mouth, Nancy?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Equal Opportunity Pornography

Don't judge me, bro. Or my porn habit. At least according to the wisdom of Dr. Yvonne Kristin Fulbright, who is quickly becoming my favorite means of getting my morning blood pressure up...

Foxnews.com's resident "Sexpert" has another stunning top 10 list for us today: "Ten Sex Mistakes Women Make" and oh boy, is it eye opening.

Like, for example, ladies, did you realize that his copies of Penthouse or Playboy are not threatening to the stability of your relationship, but are in fact, useful for getting you both "in the mood?"

I suspect prostitution could be similarly justified if, in fact, base sexual arousal is what we're shooting for, here. "Sure honey, go ahead and use her/that/it to get yourself in the mood... I'll be right here waiting for you when you're ready to utilize me as a human trash receptacle."

Surely I don't intend to disturb monogamous couples who use pornography "responsibly" to heighten and enhance their sexual experience. Save for the minor detail that "monogamous pornography" is a big, fat misnomer. Pornography, by its very nature, is intrinsically opposed to monogamy. It is an invitation to make public what is private, an opportunity to expose for all what ought to be reserved for one.

If your spouse is viewing pornography to get himself/herself "in the mood" for sex with you, just what exactly is this saying about the quality of intimacy you two have within your marriage? Think about it: he has to use another human being to prepare his body to respond sexually to your body. It's all about use. And selfishness. And, quite frankly, it's the least sexy technique I can imagine.

Okay, honey, flip off the lights... I'll just be in the bathroom getting ready with my Playboy. When I'm aroused, I'll join you in bed, eyes closed and fingers crossed that I can conjure the airbrushed image of Miss July in place of the more, ahem, "realistic" body I share a bed with.

Yeah, that's romantic all right. And that definitely induces all kinds of warm fuzzies. Remember, women need to feel valued, safe, and beautiful in order to fully enter into satisfying sexual intimacy with their spouse. And what better way to tell a woman she's beautiful than to compare her to an airbrushed composite image of 5-10 nude models?

Mm-hmm. Backing up the list to the # 2 mistake... "Being Unresponsive in the Sack." Can you imagine why she might be feeling unresponsive, at this point?

See for yourself*.

(*Warning: may induce vomiting)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

(Concupi)scence You Asked

Does there come a point in the spiritual development of an adult Christian when the struggle to avoid sin becomes, well, less of a struggle and more of a habit? I guess I'll have to persevere a little longer (ha) before the habit of virtue is mine, but I do notice that areas that were once unbearable temptations are less, shall we say, attractive now that I'm conscious of my conscience, so to speak.

I was pondering this idea of practiced, habitual virtue last night as my best friend and I struggled mightily to extract from my movie collection one decently entertaining and only mildly scandalizing full-length feature to enjoy for girl's night. After discarding most of the stack, (including nearly everything that was produced mid-90's or later) we settled on Far and Away, immersing ourselves in Tom and Nicole's early romance. To give you an idea of how far back we had to dig in the 'ol cinematic collection to reach some semblance of virtuous viewing, let it be stated that this flick was viewed on a VHS cassette. A VHS. I didn't even know she owned a VCR. (Incidentally, we also sent telegraphs to some of our other girlfriends, inviting them to join us, but perhaps the wind had knocked out the telegraph towers, because, alas, no response...)

So into the land of class struggle and oppression and fiery Irish romance we dove, headfirst, immersing our imaginations in the world of Joseph and Shannon's star-crossed love. And minus a few fleshy scenes here and there, the pic was remarkably clean. And let it be stated for any who are unfamiliar with the story, the two main characters share a single bedroom in a brothel for the better part of 6 months, so if chastity is possible there, well then... I challenge anyone who has ever experienced co-ed dorm life to a higher standard than the world would hold you to.

Note the word possible. From the Latin potis or pote (able) + esse (to be). So we are able to be chaste, we have the ability to pursue virtue... but we are not necessarily inclined to such. As a matter of fact, I would argue that we are inclined to the contrary, to disregard virtue and to pursue vice, such is the unhappy condition of concupiscence, or our fallen inclination towards sin.

So just as Joseph reluctantly turned his eyes from Shannon's naked beauty each evening as she undressed for bed, Elizabeth and I grudgingly vetoed the movie Closer as a viewing choice for the evening, recognizing from the description on the box that this was a movie, and I quote, "we would have loved in our old lives," but could no longer enjoy in good conscience. Why? Were we not transformed by Christ and the renewal of our minds? Weren't we big girls who could handle a little adult content? Hadn't we changed?

Well, yes. And that's kind of the point. Real conversion and formation of a conscience and willed adherence to the moral order does not instill Christians with superpowers. We are no more immune to vice than the most debauched, uncatechized pagan on the planet. The difference between "us" and "them" is, essentially, nothing. The grace to live a life of virtue and chastity is a gift. The only difference is that some receive while others refuse. But even once you have received, each single act of virtue is in itself a rejection of sin. We are not suddenly empowered by an immunity to temptation. Jesus Himself was tempted. What we are empowered with, and by, is freedom. Freedom to choose rightly, to choose wisely, to reject what is easy and to embrace what was previously impossible.

Freedom isn't simply the absence of rules. That's anarchy, chaos, a universe in destructive disarray. Think physics and mathematics here, people, and consider the ramifications of rejecting law... this is a false notion of freedom, a thinly-disguised endorsement of disobedience that leads to death, not to life.

So freedom, then, is what enabled us to choose not was preferable, but what was ultimately more beautiful. It's easy to be complacent. It's hard to be virtuous. And it doesn't necessarily get easier, though the will does get stronger will exercise. Still, just as there are days when the treadmill is my sworn enemy and no amount of positive self talk is going to get me motivated and it takes some additional outside persuasion (my gym buddy) to get me going, so there are times in one's pursuit of the moral life when motivation from members of the body of Christ is crucial.

I'm never going to not want to sin, at least not this side of heaven. But I'm getting used to recognizing that desire to sin and choosing otherwise. Because I do, ultimately, have that freedom of choice. And thanks be to God, so do we all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

And Always Wear Your Sunscreen...

And then there was... one. I'm alone in Steubenville, Ohio now. At least it feels that way. And although it's raining and gray and I'm not quite sure summer is really headed for our valley, there's a certain peace that comes on the heels of graduation and all things greatly-anticipated. I am not done with my formal education... but I'm done here, and that is cause both for celebration and recollection.

While emailing a friend earlier today, I fired off a quick response to his (probably rhetorical) question concerning life after graduation. What to do, indeed, once one's "formal" education has ceased? I recommended the following, than decided I could shamelessly repost a slightly edited list for the purposes of fulfilling last week's Far-Seeing Friday obligation, so here ya go:

1. Pick up 3 books you've been wanting to read just because. They can be completely unrelated to your field of study, they can even be (gasp) fiction. Start reading. When you get bored/busy/tired, put one down and start another. Leave them in random places in your house, never to be cracked open again, and feel the astonishing freedom from guilt that accompanies reading for pleasure... or not reading for pleasure!

2. Go camping. (do I need to elaborate on that one?) Bring beer and marshmallows. I've learned more about life during a weekend in the dirt with friends than in entire semesters during college.

3. If you have the chance to go to a drive-in movie, take it. Bring lawn chairs and junk food and stay through both features and forget how tired you're going to be in the morning... don't analyze the movie unless you really want to.

4. Start writing. Not stuff you will turn in or even show anyone, but just answers and reactions to things that happen to you... you're the specialized expert in that field, no degree necessary, how cool is that?

5. Do something totally by yourself. Go to dinner or a movie. Go walk around downtown and watch people. Go up to the mountains. Go to the beach. Our culture is afraid of solitude. So, anything the culture rejects, I tend to be a little curious about. See for yourself.

And always, well, you know...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On... Nevermind

"Planned Parenthood Says Best Mother's Day Gift is Donation for Abortion"

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- With Mother's Day coming up this weekend, Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion business, has a message for moms: send us more money. Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sent out a fund-raising request this week:


"This Mother's Day, I'm honoring that legacy with a Planned Parenthood Federation of America Mother's Day gift. Join me," she wrote, "You can help with a gift to Planned Parenthood Federation of America today in honor of your mother or daughter, and on behalf of all the women," she added. "And, I'm proud that my own children carry on that legacy. That's what it's all about, isn't it?"

Let's think about this one. A financial gift to Planned Parenthood in honor of your mother or daughter? Okay, if there are two things in this world that are diametrically opposed, surely they are Planned Parenthood and motherhood. Let's use logic here, and reason the above statement:


"The best Mother's Day (day of celebration commemorating the gift of life given from mother to child, generally recognized with a token of affection in the form of chocolate, flowers, jewelry, or macaroni artwork) gift (freely given to indicate affection and or appreciation from the giver to the receiver) is a donation (monetary support given to advance a cause of the donor's choosing) to Planned Parenthood" ("family planning" organization which is responsible for, according to the American Life League, 1 out of every 4 abortions in the US, posting a record 289,570 performed during the 2006-2007 period.


So the best way to commemorate the gift of life transmitted from mother to child is to make a monetary gift which will ensure that this transmission does not happen in the future? I'm sorry, I guess I don't quite follow this line of reasoning.


I understand the need for Planned Parenthood to raise funding for its diabolical mission of destruction, ( I can use diabolical in everyday language, right?) but I'm not tracking the logic of using MOTHER'S DAY to promote abortions. That's like using Spring Break to promote chastity, or Mardi Gras to promote temperance. It just, well, sucks, as far as advertising campaigns go. But I guess these people aren't thinking with hearts or heads.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Check Yes or No

The following is a charming online quiz concocted by foxnews.com's "sexpert" Dr. Yvonne KristĂ­n Fulbright. It's charming...

Can You Handle Casual Sex?

"As those who have “been there, done that” will tell you, casual sex is not every lover’s cup of tea. People can have different expectations, emotions can come into play, and any sign of disrespect can turn into trouble. Your ability to handle a casual liaison depends upon your comfort with nonchalant sex, whom you’re with and why you’re attracted to it at a given moment in your life.

That’s why it’s so important to consider the following checklist. The more checks you have, the better you can come away from casual sex unscathed:

Are you looking for sex that involves less emotional responsibility and intimacy?
— Are you willing to have sex that may not be as emotionally and/or physically satisfying as sex with a committed partner?
Are you a fairly emotionally detached individual, not touched by others?
— Can you come away from a casual sexual escapade feeling fulfilled, content and glowing?
— Can you guarantee yourself (and your partner) that you’re not going to want more from this encounter?
— Can you guarantee yourself that you’re not going to fall emotionally for a casual sex partner just because you’ve been intimate?
— Do you have no qualms about having sex with somebody you’ve just met?
— Are you comfortable with the health risks that are involved in a non-monogamous relationship?
— Can you handle the stigma society puts on people who engage in casual sex?

Some of these may seem harsh, but it’s important to be honest about the situation.
People often underestimate their emotional needs and the emotions that can arise from casual relations. You need to know where you’re at, what you’re in for, and whether your greater needs can be met from these erotic engagements."

And once you've completed the questionnairre and decided to take the leap, here are some pointers...

Casual Sex Etiquette

"Feeling like a pretty good candidate for casual sex? Think you’ve found somebody who is game?
In pursuing such a rendezvous, be sure to consider all of the following pointers on etiquette. It will only save you lots of grief and trouble, and make your sexual adventures all the better and easier to navigate. After all, you are dealing with another human being, and emotions always somehow come into play ...

-- Approach the situation with caution, taking care to respect the other person.
-- Consider the expectations you have about casual sex. You cannot see yourself as having a future with this individual, and vice-versa. If you want a future with this person, then don’t start out so casually.
-- Communicate. State your expectations.
-- Don’t feel used, as you are also using. Own the situation and milk it for what it’s worth. Casual sex is not for the fragile.
-- Watch your alcohol intake, since drinking too much can increase your chances of engaging in behaviors you’re not ready for. Plus, alcohol can muddle your feelings about the situation, opening an emotional floodgate.
-- Always practice safe sex. Use condoms or dental dams, which are small, thin, square pieces of latex that can be used for oral sex. “Souvenirs” in the form of STDs are not necessary.
-- Plan for a graceful and easy exit when you’re tired of playing. You never know when you might want to come back to this lover for more …"

Any comments? I'm too ill to remark upon this at present...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Apparently 7 is the lucky number, at least for babies who have the ill-fortune of being murdered in utero. If mom is 7 months along or further, your death, dear children, is classifiable as murder.

6 months, 3 weeks and 6 days? Sorry, the charge now reads fetucide rather than homicide, with that unfortunate 24 hours rendering you just shy of qualification for personhood. Tell that to a mother in Indiana who was shot during an armed bank robbery last week and lost her twin daughters, ahem, fetuses, two days after being shot in the abdomen. Can you imagine? I think the conversation with the lead homicide detective might go something like this:

"Sorry, ma'am... can't imagine the pain you must be in. Don't worry, we'll find the bastard who did this and make sure he pays for what he's done. We'll throw the book at 'im, make sure he serves the maximum penalty:2-8 years in the slammer."

Though nothing can be done to restore the grievous loss this family has suffered, surely there is some additional and inexcusable injustice being done here, to deny the personhood of the two daughters whom only days before were nestled safely under her heart, awaiting their entrance into society at large in a mere 16 weeks. To argue that an additional 8 weeks would have given the girls "full personhood" and "qualified" them to receive additional rights afforded to, well, human beings.

But no, these daughters who were no doubt loved and very much wanted are nonetheless being recognized by the state of Indiana as "mere" fetuses who are apparently undeserving of the rights and protections afforded to older humans.

The plot thickens, however, when one pauses to consider the ramifications of assigning a chronological point in development as the origin of personhood. What about preemies? Yes, you know, those "fetuses" who are born at any point prior to 37 weeks gestation? If seven months is indeed the cutoff, there are a whole lot of children out there who ought not have been afforded the costly and invasive medical care necessary to preserve their tiny lives. After all, why waste money and resources on a second class citizen? How about the tiniest preemie in the world to date, Amillia Taylor of Miami, born at just 22 weeks gestation? Was she worth it? I mean, we're talking 2 and half months before the cut off, people. Can you imagine the cost and effort that went into caring for this little fetus post-partum?

But Amillia wasn't a fetus, even if she was small. She was a baby, because her parents wanted her. The twins? Well, their parents wanted them, too. But they died before their 7th month in the womb, so they were a pair of fetuses. Because they died. If they had lived, perhaps if an early labor had been induced, they would have been human beings, babies. But they died. And if the man who took their lives is eventually brought to earthly justice, that sentence will be closer to 6 years than 60. Because only murder incurs the maximum penalty, and only people can be murdered.

Go figure.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Far-Seeing Fridays

Sigh. Another week gone by, another 5 days of productivity preceding 2 days of coming leisure, which will be largely spent in a drunken sugar-coma, interspersed with bursts of activity in the form of Frisbee golf or chasing the dog/cat/college guy away from the grill before the burgers are ready...

In other words, folks, it's summer time. And at least in this neck of the woods, summer means BBQ. Grilling out. Cooking out. Call it what you will, but once the mercury tops 60 round these parts, (okay, or 49 that one day back in late January) back doors fly open and a vast horde of humanity pours out into yards and onto stoops and porches and decks to embrace that most pure and holy of all summer experiences: the first BBQ.

I was contemplating this annual rite of seasonal passage from spring (or never ending, omnipresent winter in this valley) to summer and appreciating the general sense of lightness that accompanies it. I mean, summer comes every year in this hemisphere... pretty much around the same time. But looking around my neighborhood, you'd think every one of us stepped blinking into the light after 13 years of imprisonment in a coal mine or a work camp in upper Siberia, throwing up our arms across dazzled, blinded eyes and cringing as the first rays of sunlight hit pasty white flesh.

And then, blinking, you begin to adjust. You notice the sweeter smell in the air, the softer feel of the evening, prolonged by a reluctant sunset that backs further and further away from the dinner hour until suddenly you're sipping wine around a table of dirty dishes at 9pm. And it's fine. It doesn't matter that you've been unproductive and it's late and there's work in the morning. There's a thrill that has returned to the mere act of living, a delicious excitement that accompanies the feeling of possibility accompanying each new day.

It's like a little glimpse of heaven, a reminder that all suffering is ordered to an eventual paradisaical bliss where the cold and the pain and the hardship of this life will seem, according to St. Teresa of Avila, at worst, "no more than a short night in a bad hotel."

God is good to give us the changing of seasons, it keeps us sane, gives our faith a booster shot. Early summer particularly. What can convince you of the existence of a good and loving God more effectively than the gentle strains of Jack Johnson drifting from a radio somewhere inside the house while you sit deck side listening to the distant laughter of neighbor children and the clink of Corona bottles?

Or maybe, just maybe, my seasonal affective disorder is beginning to lift.

Hand me my drink. Anyone up for a BBQ?