Random Thoughts on Men, Women, God and Theology of the Body

Some random thoughts inspired by  St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  The thoughts shared are not ones that I’ve fully fleshed out (but have revised somewhat from the original post when published) but are more of a train-of-thought put down in writing so that perhaps I can come back to them later in more depth.  If these ideas inspire some of your own, please share them in the comments. We all benefit from hearing and considering different points of view.

Males in a certain way highlight the image of God as One.  One who is other to his creation like a father is outside the process of nurturing and growing new life.  A father relies on the mother’s willingness to accept him, nurture and develop the life of their child within her, and to make room for him within the mother/child bond.  God, too, does not impose on us.  He reveals Himself and calls us to accept Him, cooperate with Him in creating new life, whether physically or spiritually, so we can share with Him the fruit of our works.  Our working with God reveals to us our dignity as sharers of His image.  St. John Paul II wrote “The man—even with his sharing in parenthood—always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood” from the mother… ”  “Fathers must insert themselves into the bond between mother and child as a ‘second other’ by an initiative very much like that of adoption.” wrote author John W. Miller in Biblical Faith and Fathering: Why We Call God Father.

Philip saw a lecture on this artist, Brian Kershisnik and said that this painting, entitled "little father" was how he felt when he saw his wife breastfeeding their children--helpless.
Little Father by Brian Kershisnik This painting seems to depicts the feeling a new father has in relation to his wife and child. It’s important that mothers make room for the father within the mother/child bond and to nuture and encourage all the family relationships, as shown in the painting below.

Image result for Brian Kershisnik

Females in a certain way highlight the image of God as Trinity insofar as she features the deep interpersonal intimacy and communion among and between persons.  Pregnancy shows this communion in the most obvious way in which the bond between mother and child which is so exclusive and deep that even though they are two distinct persons, they seem as one.  God desires to share His intimate life and love of the persons of the Trinity with us.  He wants us to be in relationship with Him in which He lives in and through us.  He desires this deep and intimate communion with us so much that He uses the humble instruments of  bread and wine, “the work of human hands” in which to transform them into His body and blood so that we can have His very life living within us.  St. John Paul II wrote “In the light of  the “beginning,” the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude toward human beings—not only towards her own child but every human being—which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more.”

Related image
Another painting by Brian Kershisnik. “Climbing Mother” This painting seems to show the deep communion between mothers and children. The children seek out her care, nurturing, warmth, comfort and the safety of her arms. This is much like how we seek the comfort and support of God when we are at our most vulnerable.

To be clear, to highlight a certain aspect of God for the male and female, doesn’t mean one should be limited by it because each of us is called to fully image God as both One and Trinity as an individual.  However, man and woman together is also a full image of God in that each person is wholly and completely a human person whose dignity as such should be respected just as each person of the Trinity is a recognized person but they are also called into intimate communion to serve one another in love.  Man and woman shouldn’t be thought of as 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 but rather should be seen as 1 + 1 = 3.  This is most clearly seen in the creation of a new human life.  The child is not a portion of two halves that made a whole in which now there are thirds.  This is another whole person from two whole persons.

In order to be fully integrated as a human being, we need to fully develop ourselves and understand who we are as an individual and to understand the dignity we have as a unique soul who has been endowed with the ability to reason and to have dominion over our place in the world.  However, as an individual it is not good for us to be alone as it was not good for Adam to be alone.  We are called to communion with others to be able to give and receive love just as the persons of the Trinity have this reciprocity of love among them.

A male-centered world view and radical feminism seems to value individual autonomy and the role of dominion over the earth (the image of God that is One and that is more prominently featured in the male) over and above the more female-centered world view of interpersonal relationships in a communion of love (the image of God that is Three that speaks of a deep sharing of life and that is more prominently featured in the female.)

What needs to be brought to everyone’s attention is that neither is better than the other nor should one way of being be valued over the other because if either feature is missing, then you don’t have an image of the true God, you have a false god.  A solitary being (either male or female) who has no “other” (whether a complementary partner or a life concecrated to God) to fulfill the purpose of communion is stunted and sterile, physically and spiritually.  They remain a solitude.  Beings who look for communion but only to fulfill themselves without recognizing and respecting the “other” as another person with their own dignity, will consume or take all of another so that the “other” no longer exists.  This also produces a sterility that fails to multiply.

Image result for theology of the body meme order of use order of love

To be human as an image of God is to recognize your individual dignity as a person and to respect the individual dignity of other persons while sharing in communion with them by the giving and receiving of love.   This sharing in communion is not limited, of course, with other human beings but helps us to know and understand our relationship with God.

There must be a deep respect for the individual person and their liberty that comes from their dignity.  There must also be deep respect for that which is intimate and relational between individuals in a way that does not seek to dominate but to give and hope to receive in return.  Each individual should ask themselves how they can serve the “other” but shouldn’t seek or demand to be served but rather can indeed hope to be served in kind.  If that service is not returned by the one to whom it was given it is really no matter because every service rendered to another for God’s sake WILL BE richly rewarded by God at the perfect time and place of His choosing.  We can rest in this trust in Him.

Image result for Brian Kershisnik
by Brian Kershisnik

” The major challenge the contemporary woman faces today is not equality but rather identity.”

Related image

The following quote is one I read on facebook this morning…..

Cardinal Scola of Milan argues that the major challenge the contemporary woman faces today is not equality but rather identity. Women will always fall short of the mark if they only compare themselves to men’s essentially masculine achievements. Women will never realize what their own unique feminine contributions to family, society and Church may be if they continue to measure themselves only by the standards men have achieved. Women must look into their own minds, souls and bodies to discover what contributions that they, and they alone, can offer to society. Someone asked Napoleon who was the greatest woman in history. Bonaparte answered, “The one with the most babies.” The emperor might have given this answer with his tongue in his cheek but his response is absolutely correct. Motherhood is the unique female contribution to society, family and Church. Women must look first to those roles in world history that no man can ever fulfill. Others note that daughter, sister, wife and mother are clearly roles unique to women. Such roles must not be ignored even while women pursue wider careers. The alert daughter and the aware sister have gifts to offer a family and a neighborhood that sons and brothers cannot. The observant wife and attentive mother have talents not found in the best of husbands and fathers. Femininity, unique to womanhood, is a divinely instilled response to life that only a woman may discern. Feminism ignores womanhood, bent only on remaking women in the image of men, robbing females of their distinctive destiny that goes back to Eden.

In stressing equality over identity modern society manages to distract women from the ongoing attack on the very nature of womanhood, on the very essence of femininity. Abortion, contraception, sterilization, surrogacy are plainly attacks on motherhood. Divorce, cohabitation and single motherhood are obviously assaults on the dignity of woman as wife. Pornography certainly exploits women who are daughters and sisters. Women truly have to ask themselves what particular vocation, what special role in society, what exceptional contribution to the human race, can they make through their feminine gifts that no Boy Scout or male CEO or heavy-weight athlete could consider or achieve. The era when educated women could expect only to be school teachers, nurses, or secretaries is still within memory. Since then women’s contribution to science, medicine, technology, education, business and athletics has been greatly enhanced. But progress must not be at the expense of true womanhood. Scouting badges, social advancement, and vocational success must be achieved by a deeper appreciation of one’s true self not by the imitation of someone else’s accomplishments.

My thoughts –

There is nothing wrong with women pursuing traditionally masculine pursuits IF they are so inclined.  There always has been and always will be outliers and those on the fringe who live in a way that doesn’t conform to social norms.  BUT what we have today is a push to strongly encourage all girls and women to reject the gifts and talents that are uniquely feminine in favor of tradtional masculine pursuits and that must stop.  Young women shouldn’t feel ashamed to reveal their desire to marry and raise a family.  It used to be acknowledged that motherhood had tremendous influence in moving society in the right direction simply by raising children with well-defined character and values who grew up to be valuable, contributing members to society themselves.  Now, being a mother is denigrated by being “just a SAHM.”  It’s believed that the power to influence society is “out there” somewhere rather than in the home.   The real truth is that home life and family has tremendous power and influence for good if the task of upholding it is undertaken as the sacred duty that it surely is.   While women shouldn’t be relegated to the home by law, it should still be seen as THE most influential domain in terms of it’s value rather than the least.  It should be a mark of honor for women who choose to spend a portion of their life serving the family at home.

Image result for contemporary paintings of mother and familyIt will take both men and women to acknowledge that the uniquely feminine contributions are important or even MORE important in shaping the character of our nation and neighborhoods than what goes on in the wider world.  It is a much forgotten idea that government, business, education, science, technology and medicine are all meant to be at the service of the most fundamental unit of society, the family and the individuals that make it up.  Unfortunately, what  we see today is that the individual is seen as not a member of a family unit that must be protected but as a unit of production that is meant to serve industry as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.  Very little to no thought is given to that person’s responsibilites and obligations to the family in which they belong.  The individual is at the service of the state or corporation rather than the other way around.  We need more women and men who will speak out about the family being the center around which decisions and policy are made.  We need men and women to value family and to see that the work done there is of the utmost value to both the individual and society.  It is then that women will value their identity as women and all of society will operate in service of the family which always was and always will be women’s unique domain.

Related image
Vincent Van Gogh Three Pairs. I like this painting because for me it depicts the idea that the wearers of these shoes were out working all day but at the end of that day, they return home to the place where the real service of their work was directed. The wearers of these service-worn boots should find a loving embrace, a hot-meal and a clean, comfortable bed, making the service they provided more than worth the effort.

The woman’s task is not easy–no task worth doing is easy–but in doing it, and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all national happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed. ” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

A Woman Who Attended Both the Women’s and Pro-Life Marches Shares the “Downright Stunning” Differences.

Image Credit:TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images

“Being physically at the marches, it is easy to recognize differences between the two. In fact, some of the differences were downright stunning. Take a look for yourself, perhaps you will agree.”  Antonia Okafor

See her article here in the Independent Journal Review

 

How about…..

…..instead of women needing to lock up their private parts to protect themselves from rape by muslim refugees, someone comes up with a contraption to lock up the private parts of muslim male refugees to keep them from potentially raping?  Perhaps as a condition of admittance? ….or better yet, just don’t let them in in the first place.  Let’s not make it necessary for women to wear the modern form of a chastity belt.

“AN ENTREPRENEUR from Germany has created trousers with the aim of protecting women from possible sex attacks while they are out jogging – and the first 150 were sold out immediately.

The trousers come with a lock for women’s intimate areas and an alarm, so would ensure the wearers were kept safe from any sex attacks.”

Read full article here

Do Women Set the Bar of Morality in Civilization?

Image result for mother of god

An often-repeated quote of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is

“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood.  When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

I’ve seen various discussions (sources below) around the web regarding this quote.   Some say this is foolishness.  “Everyone knows men are the leaders and women are the followers so it’s men who determine the level of morality in civilization.”  Some take it as a compliment to women’s seemingly natural higher virtue, which if embraced and lived out by women, men will automatically become more virtuous as well.  Some are offended that it seems to imply that women are solely responsible for morality and everything bad in the world is because women are failing to hold things up by not taking seriously this responsibility.

First, the good Archbishop didn’t say women’s behavior is the end-all-be-all of civilization.  He said, the level of womanhood is the level of civilization “to a great extent.”  It can have a great influence but it’s not the only factor.  Second, the problem with all of these opinions about the quote is that most people have never bothered to read The World’s First Love which is the full text from which this quote is lifted.  If they read it, they would first see that the Archbishop is talking about the ideal of humanity that we should aspire to as Christians, while acknowledging that without Christ, we always fall short.   When he speaks of women in the text, he is not speaking in terms of what women are in terms of virtue but instead speaks of what the ideal of womanhood has to give the world.  They would also see that the book is about Mary, the Mother of God, who is the ideal in terms of what men and women should strive to be.  He writes,

God has to have two pictures of us: one is what we are, and the other is what we ought to be. He has the model, and He has the reality: the blueprint and the edifice, the score of the music and the way we play it. God has to have these two pictures because in each and every one of us there is some disproportion and want of conformity between the original plan and the way we have worked it out.  The image is blurred; the print is faded. For one thing, our [5] personality is not complete in time; we need a renewed body. Then, too, our sins diminish our personality; our evil acts daub the canvas the Master Hand designed. Like unhatched eggs, some of us refuse to be warmed by the Divine Love which is so necessary for incubation to a higher level. We are in constant need of repairs; our free acts do not coincide with the law of our being; we fall short of all God wants us to be. St. Paul tells us that we were predestined, before the foundations of the world were laid, to become the sons of God. But some of us will not fulfill that hope.

There is, actually, only one person in all humanity of whom God has one picture, and in whom there is a perfect conformity between what He wanted her to be and what she is, and that is His Own Mother.

When the Archbishop mentions “the level of womanhood” in his quote he is speaking not so much specifically about the behavior of women but more along the lines of how accepting society at large is of the ideal of womanhood in the person of Mary.    When virtues like humility, obedience, self-disinterested love, purity of heart which in turn leads to sexual purity, and love for Christ are valued by all in society and by a willingness to have Mary as our role model, then the level of civilization will be raised.  Womanhood encompasses all of these things because Mary, as The Woman, the new Eve, is our ideal for what God wants us to be.  Perfect conformity to Christ.  What does perfect conformity to Christ look like?

It’s having the humility of Christ, the obedience of Christ, the self-sacrificial love of Christ, the fiat to our crosses like Christ, the purity of heart which leads to purity of body like Christ.

In a sense, when women live up to the ideal of womanhood, men can be inspired to live up to that ideal because it’s the blueprint written on the hearts of all humanity for which we were created.  This inspiration shouldn’t be mistaken for it being the responsibility of women to  set the bar  of morality for men and therefore uphold the level of civilization. It simply means that in the heart of the ideal man resides a love of virtue and when he sees it displayed in the noble character of a woman striving to meet that ideal, he will be inspired to strive all the more to meet it as well.  However, when humanity has no love of virtue because they desire license over freedom within virtue’s bounds, then civilization will suffer and decay.   Those who live by virtue and noble character will be hated and despised.  It takes the turning of individual hearts to Christ who will then be able to see the beauty of Mary as the perfect model for humanity.  We can honor Mary as the ideal of womanhood and the role model for all because the ideal is based on an imitation of Christ who is the embodiment of love.

The bar for morality is not set by men or women but by Christ and meeting that bar is modeled by Mary.  Mary in her womanhood, is the ideal for us to strive for.   Mary perfectly conforms to Christ.  We, in imitation of her, are called to this conformity as well.  When the dignity of  true womanhood, the womanhood of Mary, is valued, upheld and honored in society, then civilization will flourish.

Sources

https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/07/towards-a-non-romantic-theology-of-women

https://donalgraeme.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/lowest-common-denominator/

 

 

 

 

I’m Stunned and Shocked at the Trump Victory….and Elated Because I am a Trump Voter

The day before the election I determined that I wasn’t going to watch the results because I was sure, given the polling, that Clinton would be elected.  Despite the fact that I didn’t think he was going to win, I wanted to vote Trump, not only because his policy positions were ones I could support, but also because I wanted to add my voice (small as it may be) to the rejection of the establishment on both sides of the aisle.

Of course when the evening of election day rolled around, curiosity got the better of me and I jumped online to follow the facebook/twitter feeds and running blog commentary of both well-known conservative voices (Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Kellyanne Conway, Conservative Treehouse) and those of ordinary people whose opinions I’ve come to respect through their online writing.  The first thing I came across was an announcement that “He’s winning Florida.  Most of the vote is in and the ones that aren’t in yet are from red counties.”   It was then that the glimmer of hope that I kept squashing down the last few weeks every time it crossed my mind that perhaps the polls are skewed and not actually a reflection of what’s going on, began to grow.  I thought “I’ll just see how he does in FL, OH and NC before I decide whether to call it a night or to stick it out longer.   Little did I know that I would be sticking it out until Hillary finally conceded and Trump gave his victory speech around 3 am.

The entire evening was a nail-biter with the agonizingly long wait for PA to be called for Trump and with that their 20 electoral votes that would put him solidly at 274 for the win.  Needless to say, I got to bed around 4am and powered through the day yesterday on 3 hrs sleep so I didn’t have the brain cells to give any commentary here.   Today, I have some thoughts and observations to share.

1. I voted for Trump for his policies.  Now I expect him to deliver.

2.  I’m deeply concerned about the fact that universities feel the need to offer “safe spaces” for students who are so traumatized over the results that they need professional help to process their feelings.  How are these emotionally stunted adults supposed to learn to deal with disappointments by treating them like preschoolers?  It’s cruel to coddle them like this.  Michael Bloomburg points out in the New York Post, “…one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views.”  Also, “How to study, cooperate, listen carefully, think critically and resolve conflicts through reason — those are the most important skills in the working world, and it’s why colleges have always exposed students to challenging and uncomfortable ideas.”

There are BIG parenting fails that need to be dealt with if our young people are reaching adulthood unprepared to deal with disappointment or uncomfortable feelings.  Offering play doh, crayons, bubbles, cookies and frolicking puppy videos to help them deal or feel safe keeps these adults at the emotional maturity of pre-schoolers.  Is it the acceptance and the over tolerance of  single moms, dead beat dads, helicopter parenting, and children being raised full-time in institutional settings from their infancy that is contributing to this?  I think, yes, yes, yes and yes.  The loss of our ability to reason before we react is concerning.

3. This isn’t all students though.  “In more than 20 years at UM-Flint, I am sure that these support services were never provided after previous elections, and certainly not in 2008 or 2012,” according to economics Professor Mark Perry. “And if the outcome of the election had been different, I am confident that either no emails would have been sent out to the campus community, or they would have been announcements for post-election campus celebrations, rather than an announcement for a campus ‘vigil.’” Source

Personally, if I was a liberal I would be embarrassed that this coddling had to be done every time one of my ideals failed to materialize.  I would wonder why my conservative counterparts don’t need a safe space when a liberal is elected and their conservative candidate faces defeat.  What was it about their parenting that made them better able to deal with their feelings instead of being crippled by them?  But then again, liberals aren’t know for their ability to think this deeply because they can’t get past their feelings in the first place.

4.  The ridiculous claims from some that this election was about sexism.  The election was only about gender for staunch feminists that voted for Hillary because they wanted the “highest and hardest glass ceiling” finally broken. People may have voted FOR her because “gender” but I doubt that any voted against her for that reason. The only sexism was on the part of feminists against “white male power.”

5.  The equally ridiculous claims from parents who didn’t know what or how they were going to tell their children about their new President or how their children were sobbing and terrified that he had been elected.  Who the hell instilled that fear other than their parents in the first place?  These are the children that are going to need college safe spaces.

6.  This excellent article that Trump voters were hidden in plain site.

Please add your commentary.  Agree or disagree freely.  I promise I can handle it.

She Admits They Are a Person But Denies Them the Most Basic Right to Life

Image result for hillary clinton abortion meme

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

Vote Trump for their sake….

Image result for donald trump

“I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.  Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me.

You can take the baby and rip the baby from the womb of the mother, and I won’t allow it.

“…. I’m putting pro-life justices on the court.”

If We Are Going to Elect Our First Female President…

Is the glass ceiling an outdated idea?…I want it to be someone women can be proud of.  Someone with honesty, strength of character and strong moral values.   Hillary Clinton is not the woman I can be proud of and say “Look at what women can do.  Look at the strong, yet compassionate leadership that women are capable of.”  She, frankly, would be an embarrassment to women.  When women cheat, back-stab, lie, believe they are above the law and are corrupt in their race to break the so-called glass ceiling, they bring themselves down to the lowest behavior of the worst of men.  They may break the glass ceiling in terms of title and rank but they haven’t left the ground floor in terms of raising up the best of what we humans are capable of being.

“In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place in thought and action which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’ in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.” St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae