December 22, 2010

MOVIES: "THE FIGHTER"



The buzz is true. “The Fighter” is a contender. An Oscar contender. If you ever, ever doubted Christian Bale’s acting chops (after those stiff Batman performances—hey, maybe the Batman WAS stiff and Bale is just playing to character)—get yourself to a cinema and be prepared to gape. “The Fighter” (based on a true boxing story) could be either Dicky (Christian Bale), a one-hit (literally) wonder, “the pride of Lowell, Mass.,” now washed up and on crack, OR his brother Mickey (Mark Wahlberg, who puts in an interestingly gentle and almost contemplative performance). Bale totally nails the Boston charmer/wiseguy attitude, Boston accent and mumbling-and-talking-in-bunches which isn’t easy to do. The entire cast gets it, too. Amy Adams, as Mickey’s girlfriend Charlene, latches on to the immediate, in-your-face, rapid-fire, Bostonspeak. Amy plays against type here as a lovely toughie who could probably hold her own in the ring, and is firmly in Mickey’s corner, even over against his family. Melissa Leo—whom we just saw in another Boston story, "Conviction," as the evil small-town police chief—plays the boxers’ scheming manager Mom.

The opening sequence is a wonderful introduction to the love between the brothers, their place in the community, and who they are as people and sluggers. This story never lets you go, there are no lags, only plenty of Oscar scenes, moments and performances, without them posturing to be “memorable.” Masterful movie-making all around. David O. Russell (“Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees”—both also starring Mark Wahlberg) directs, and it probably doesn’t hurt that one of the screenwriters is a native of the Bay State and also wrote the gritty “8 Mile.”

Dicky has always coached Mickey, but Mickey’s career is going nowhere and Dicky’s addiction is becoming a liability. Will Mickey stick with family or take advantage of other opportunities? This is the deceptively simple choice Mickey has throughout the movie. “The Fighter” has miles and miles of heart. You almost want to be part of this crazy, brawling, dysfunctional family that sticks together like glue. Almost. The dialogue is some of the real-est, non-stop, conversational banter I’ve heard in movies in a long time.

“The Fighter” is rated “R” for “language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality.” The instances of the “F” word are certainly pervasive and it’s used constantly both as an expletive and a verb, but the drug abuse is an object lesson, and “sexuality”? We see Charlene in her underwear, there’s implied sex between her and Mickey, and off-screen oral sex performed on a john by a prostitute in a car. The violence is not excessive or glorified—it’s just what this family does, the family business, almost matter of fact—but the punches during the fights are audio-enhanced to sound like oil drums thudding around inside a cement mixer.

God/prayer/religion are natural and interwoven like they really are in the lives of people of faith. Children are ever-present, and although they don’t have many speaking parts, they are important, precious members of the family who count, and about and around whom important decisions are made (even if the adults are often acting like big kids).

Definitely a feel good movie (after the bruises and cuts heal) about wanting to make your mark in life, and doing it for your family and the place on the map you call home.

OTHER STUFF:

--Make no mistake. This is Christian Bale's movie. Without the character of Dicky (and Bale's embodiment of him) this could have been a middling movie. Bale has managed to make his character a backdrop, a landscape for the whole film, thus enabling the other actors to shine. Amen.

--Sugar Ray!

--Like the actor who plays the pivotal role of the serial killer in “Changeling,” actor Jack McGee does such a realistic turn as Dicky’s and Mickey’s stepfather that you forget he’s an actor, too! (But I could also feel that in real life he is a New Yorker, and so he is. New Yorkers are truly unedited because they have a completely closed worldview--they have it all figured out, and they know New York is a world-class, world-vital city. Bostonians ARE edited because their worldview is not quite closed. For all their bravado they hesitate, they're not sure, they don't have it all figured out, they're still open and they have the "small city," "little brother" complex, especially toward the city of New York.)

--The extremely short epilogue of the real Dicky and Mickey doesn’t say much at all, but is just tastily random.

--“You owe me $200!”

--Christian Bale is a sold-out-to-his-art actor. Period.

--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? Well, “Fighter” certainly shows how a MAN can be USED for his body, how others can use his body as a commodity to make money. The female prostitution is a sad note. The premarital sex is not taken terribly lightly because both Mickey and Charlene are people of integrity in other aspects of their lives, and Charlene’s main concern is for Mickey to the right thing for himself, and even breaks up with him until he does.

--The soundtrack exposes Michael Brook as a fine connoisseur of the best music of the 70’s (even though the story is set in 1993) and present day. He includes at least two Boston bands: Aerosmith and the DropKick Murphys.

--The way Bostonians (and I’m sure they’re not alone) don’t want their own to get ahead is shot through this movie. (“Thinks she’s superior ‘cause she went to college!”)

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December 11, 2010


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THEOLOGY OF THE BODY


THEOLOGY OF THE BODY – “LOVE & RESPONSIBILITY”
FATHER THOMAS LOYA – DECEMBER 11, 2010


Metaphysics of love:
Senses – cognition – impression – emotion. Our culture gets stuck at the first two. Feelings are not the sum-total of reality. Our culture has such a hard time understanding this, because it’s all subjective. Feelings are like indicators on our dashboard, they are pointing at something else, asking us to look at something else, take some kind of action.

But our ultimate value should be THE TOTAL PERSON. Our goal is “integrated love.”
There is a kind of backlash today—some couples today are only wanting to use sex for procreation, and do things like having sex in the dark, half-clothed, trying to diminish enjoyment! (But this, too, is a kind of utilitarianism! It would make God utilitarian, also—just using us and not loving us.) There is a belief that all pleasure is bad (p. 59), but the Church has condemned this heresy a long time ago! (Manichaeism).

Sooo…we can’t “use” sex just for pleasure OR just for children. It has to be both, otherwise it becomes utilitarian—even for good purposes! K.I.T.=Keep It Together (see movie “Bowfinger”). Can’t separate LOVE and LIFE. Human beings can even understand how they are PARTICIPATING WITH God, (not being used by God).

The evolution story: “We have sex to procreate and keep the race going” is just a little tiny piece of it and doesn’t take into account the whole person, and is not EVEN utilitarian, because nature is blind and can’t have a will or purpose!!!

Advent/Christmas is nuptial: God, the Bridegroom coming to wed the Bride, HIM coming to participate in OUR humanity, wedding humanity to Himself. And this is directly connected with our sexuality, because it’s about INTIMACY AND INTIMATE UNION. The whole liturgical year is ONE MOVEMENT: even the gifts of the Magi foreshadow his death and resurrection.
The Church Fathers called Christmas “the great condescension.”

Q: “What’s the morality of participating in erotic, racy love scenes in movies, because you’re supposed to enter into the experience of the character?”A: “Know yourself, monitor yourself.” There are layers of insincerity in a sense there. Those actors are not really in love with each other. [Other levels of insincerity with body doubles also!] All acting is “lying,” in a sense. The author of TOB was an actor and playwright! [Aristotle believed in acting, Plato did not.] [Sr. Helena thinks there’s a lot of work to be done in this area, now that we have TOB.]

There is something unique that happens in “love between man and woman”—they develop to a fulfillment of themselves as persons. This kind of going out to the “other” does not happen in same-sex relationships.

p. 78—If “love” is based only on attraction/feelings (which are of their nature fleeting!), we are basing love on something fleeting! Sometimes we project qualities on people that aren’t there.
Father said he is counseling couples who are not married (pre-marriage counseling) as though they are because they are living together and living a married lifestyle! And usually, the man doesn’t want to commit and the woman is trying to get him to! [WE THINK WE ARE BEING SO “NATURAL” AND FREE, BUT WE ARE WORKING AGAINST NATURE BY SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE. NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE MEANS THE MAN WILL BE BONDED TO THE WOMAN AT MARRIAGE.]

FATHER TELLS THESE GOOD YOUNG CATHOLIC MEN (who aren’t even having sex before marriage): IF YOU’RE NOT SEEKING MARRIAGE, DON’T DATE. YOU’RE HURTING THESE WOMEN.

COUPLES LIVING TOGETHER BEFORE MARRIAGE HAVE A HIGH DIVORCE RATE because they’re playing at something and expecting to derive the full benefits by only going halfway. THE MAN IN PARTICULAR DOES NOT FEEL THAT THIS IS AN EXCLUSIVE RELATIONSHIP (AND RIGHTLY KNOWS THIS BECAUSE MEN ARE MORE ABOUT EXTERNALITY). We need to just keep affirming that 1) you want true love 2) God wants you to have true love 3) HERE’S HOW TO GET IT....! [“Sex and the City” is all about that: wanting the benefits of commitment without the actual commitment: trying things out, trial run, etc.]

Young couples today are good at the subjective but terrible at the objective! Perhaps couples of the past were good at the objective, but not so good at the subjective. JP2G says: feelings are GOOD, but is that ALL there is?

p. 79--Don’t do the… “I love you because….” No. We love the WHOLE person, not just their qualities.

In counseling, Father asks couples having problems: Go home and just look at each other as a Christian man and Christian woman in a Christian home (forget that you’re married). What does that mean in everything you do and say? What would a day in the life of the Holy Family be like? What’s your real family life like? How do I get them to match? (3 sheets of paper) It’s called a “family covenant” because it’s above everyone and everything. It’s higher than all those involved.

Q: Should couples get married younger?A: Yes—the vocational part of life (wife, mother, religious, husband, father, priest) is put on hold for a long time. And then the reversion to the faith happens, the vocation rises up. It’s almost a new area of ministry. [New York City has become a city of singles!] It takes a harder toll on women, in a sense, because they are told you must have a career (whereas men would be working/providing for the family anyway) and then they get totally involved in that, and motherhood requires a much greater commitment/cost/involvement physically, etc., on the woman than fatherhood does on the man, the biological clock for women is much shorter, juggling career and motherhood is much more difficult for women, etc., etc.




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December 8, 2010

FIRST EVER U.S. MARIAN APPARITION APPROVED TODAY! FROM GREEN BAY, WI, 1859

Our Lady spoke about evangelization and catechesis!



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MOVIES: "WARRIOR'S WAY"



At first I thought I was watching the worst movie of 2010. But it somewhat ameliorated itself. But the beginning is a true mess. On many levels. “Warrior” should have scrapped the beginning and made it match the rest of the film—it was finding its way for a long time, dragging us along, embarrassed for it. Writer-director Sngmoo Lee offers up a martial arts film (“Crouching Tiger” style) with a surrealist twist. But it’s also a Western. And a comedy. And it doesn’t really work. The U.S. Bishops/Catholic News Service http://www.usccb.org/movies/ gave it an “O” rating, that is, morally objectionable, and I agree.

Yang, a ninja warrior (South Korean actor Jang Dong-gun—a fine thespian) spares the life of a baby princess from a rival tribe (this baby, Annalin Rudd—cutest on film since “Babies"--is somehow actually acting, and with better reaction shots than many of the adult actors!), and flees to America’s Wild West to hide. He runs a laundry, plants a flower garden, and meets tomboy Lynne (a little too precocious and precious Kate Bosworth, but it was a tough role) to whom he teaches the art of fighting with knives and swords.

The town is filled with all the usual suspects: the town drunk (the awe-inspiring Geoffrey Rush—what in tarnation is he doing in this film?), the savage U.S. Calvary Colonel (Danny Huston, who surpasses even Dong-gun’s quality performance—no wonder: his father is director John Huston, his half-sister is Anjelica Huston), the midget from the circus (Tony Cox), etc., who don’t really seem to have much of a connection to each other until the final showdown when they band together to save their collective necks.

There is much (even some mostly-hinted-at sexual) sadistic violence and carnage. The long end-battle is pure, gratuitous, choreographed, ain’t-it-cool violence. What’s most disquieting is that cute-as-a-button Lynne (because her whole family was murdered) has a huge taste for revenge that the usually quiet and dignified Yang makes sure she gets to satisfy. But, we shouldn’t be too surprised at Yang, because he is a trained assassin who must “destroy everything he loves,” and his ninja-master comes to the land of the free and the home of the brave to remind him so.

The love story build-up is slow and sweet as the lovers get to know each other as persons, and each other’s deepest values/dreams. There’s a lovely scene in the desert under the stars where Yang and Lynne do a kind of romantic dance with swordplay. Films are supposed to find new ways to say: “I love you” and “Warriors” does. Quite well. Until….

The ethic at the end—which has been simmering all through—is so profoundly unChristian, un-life-affirming and un-Theology-of-the-Body (but so are many classic Westerns!) that nothing short of a round rejection, a sounding “strongly disagree!” is in order. Or, as the movie would say: We should “put the greatest distance between” ourselves and this film.

OTHER STUFF:

--Why is “Warrior” un-Theology-of-the-Body? SPOILER ALERT! Because the man walks away from family. St. Joseph STAYED, people! Mary and Jesus needed him. WITH them.

--From a recent book review I did of “Myth of the American Superhero”:

The American Monomyth:
“A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition; the superhero then recedes into obscurity.” (p. 6)

The authors contend that the American Monomyth of heroic redemptive violence is unique to America by contrasting it with the “Classical Monomyth”:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” (p. 5, from “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell, p. 30)

One of the main differences between the Classical/American Monomyth is that in the Classical Monomyth, the hero returns as an integrated, mature adult to the community, who can serve in new ways, whereas the American Monomyth portrays a lone, celibate [the authors use the term “sexless” which I believe is inaccurate] hero who disappears.

Some say that Americans are living in a “postmythical” culture, but the authors disagree. They believe there is a clearly recognizable mythic pattern in American pop culture artifacts (films and TV) such as Rambo, The Matrix, Star Trek, Star Wars, Left Behind, and even Touched by an Angel.

The American Monomyth derives from tales of Judeao-Christian ideas of redemption (linear) rather than pagan (circular), and secularizes them, makes them about temporal matters only. The “supersaviors” are replacements for the Christ figure.

--At least the fighting (which I do not enjoy, unless we’re talking hockey here) is artistic. But so much surround-sound-blood-gurgle-spurting and heads-popping-and-rolling and throats-slitting that it rivals “300.” Yeesh.

--SPFX did nothing for me. But then again, they never do. I’m convinced that SPFX are almost totally a guy thing. We women are in it for the drama, emotions, romance, story.

--Annalin Rudd (the baby princess) is just such a natural! Her parents must be very proud.

--Every time I harshly review movies, I ask myself: And what have YOU produced???

--The most peaceful person I ever met was an AAA guy in Los Angeles when my alternator exploded on the 405 late at night. I mean, he had those imperturbably peaceful eyes like Yang, and it turns out he was a serious practitioner of Aikido.

--Cinematographically, the close-ups are great. Lee really excels at close-ups.

--Good soundtrack.

--“Gallipoli” is one of the best war films ever made. Shows the reality. The fragility of human beings. That we are not made for war. (Not even the toughest of warriors.)

--There’s something just wrong about women-warriors, killer-girls. When did we start to see a proliferation of them in film?

--Anachronistic automatic weapons in the old-time Wild West. Seems to be the only anachronism in the movie. Just had to ratchet up the mayhem I guess. The rhythmic pounding of the “artillery” almost becomes a sick* soundtrack at a certain point.

--Kate Bosworth is very pretty.

--When Yang is young and in training, his ninja-master tells him his heart isn’t hard enough, that he has the heart of a “priest.” Hmmmm.
_______
*original meaning of word “sick,” not “cool”

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December 5, 2010

NUNS' FAVORITE NUN MOVIES


A real nun: Sr. Mary Thecla, fsp

1. “The Trouble with Angels” 1966/”Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows” 1968—“Showed different personalities in community, how we’re not perfect, how virtues like patience are needed.” Some liked the sequel better than the original. Others didn’t like the sequel at all. “Rosalind Russell potrayed a mother superior who was a blend of strength and sisterly love." “This movie STILL wants to make me be a nun” (from a Sister in religious life over 40 years). “Realistic enough.” “This movie has endured.” “Rosalind Russell expressed the right emotions at the right times.” “Great nunny, idealistic, can-do, spunky spirit. Nuns aging gracefully.” "Nuns loving and forming a generation of younger women who will not share their lifestyle, but the nuns don't look down on the pop culture, they just give the young ladies values and inspiration."




2. “Sound of Music” 1965—“The mother superior was inspiring.” “Mother superior’s theme song ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is a great summation of religious life.”

3. “Song of Bernadette” 1943 (winner of 4 Oscars!)

4. “Bells of St. Mary’s” 1945—The sisters don’t seem to mind the maudlin movies as opposed to the priests who do not suffer them at all. They somehow find them inspiring before and after entering the convent themselves. The question here also is: Was the Church “acting” like this and was Hollywood “reporting”? Was society a little more actually “like this” at the time? Was there a certain earnestness, high ideals, keeping up of appearances, perhaps some denial mixed in? Was American society as a whole truly more innocent and simple as depicted? Remember, these movies were made on the heels of the Depression (when the cheeriest songs ever written played on the radio to keep people’s spirits up: “Always Look for the Silver Lining,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” etc.) and World War II.

5. “Doubt” 2008—Several sisters agreed this was realistic to the times it portrayed (and of course, this is the overwhelming consensus of anyone who did the Catholic school experience of these times), and several mentioned the “gristle” scene as very true! Sr. Aloysius also rocks the casbah.

6. “Come to the Stable” 1949 

7. “Dead Man Walking” 1995—“The most realistic/authentic, best-developed character of the reality of a particular nun ever.”

8. “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison” 1957—“More realistic than most.”

9. “Sr. Act I” 1992—Nuns always mention the freezer-raiding scene for ice cream as very realistic. (Also, the songs about Jesus being our honey are the heart of religious life.)

10. “Painted Veil” 2006—(Diana Riggs as a nun again!) “Wise, down-to-earth mother superior.” One nun liked this line from Mother Superior: “When love and duty are one, grace is within you.”

11. "Entertaining Angels--The Dorothy Day Story" 1996--Sports an intelligent and engaged nun who can match wits with the pre-conversion Dorothy Day.

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November 24, 2010

NOVEMBER 26--FEAST OF BL. JAMES ALBERIONE, SSP



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ALBERIONE FILM: DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURED ON SONY WEBSITE!

Danny Hidalgo, dp for the Alberione film, has been featured along with Spirit Juice Studios on Sony's video equipment website! Sony VideON Biography - Daniel Hidalgo Check out Danny's work on music vid "Move Merchants," then arrow right to watch Rob Kaczmark's "To Be Born" trailer, a pro-life short. (I've seen a rough cut of the 17 min. film and the trailer doesn't even begin to do it justice.) We're so proud of Rob and Danny and so grateful to be working with them!
Danny is on the Appian Way here, recreating the Apostle Paul walking into Rome....


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November 23, 2010

MOVIES: "FAIR GAME"



“Fair Game” is one of those very-recent history movies, based very tightly on a true story. It’s actually two stories evenly balanced into one: that of Ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn looking all Michael Douglas-y) and his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts). These two distinguished actors knock their respective roles out of the park.

The historical anecdote is, of course, the lie that started a war. The lie that Saddam/Iraq had a nuclear program, was enriching uranium and had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The “proof” was that the country of Niger had been providing the materials—something Joe Wilson disproved on a fact-finding mission. In retaliation for Wilson not going along with the “program” to get the war on, and instead turning to the news media to out the lie, Valerie’s identity was revealed to all the world by none other than the White House/U.S. government itself.

This action of disclosing the identity of an American spy was illegal, and although the chain of command went all the way up to the Vice President, it was underling Scooter Libby who eventually took the fall.

Since the start of the Second Gulf War took place almost ten years ago, this film can be very instructive for younger people who did not live through these events, so fresh in older minds. In fact, there is a movement in education to use these types of films in history classes—while simultaneously checking the films for accuracy and comparing them with reality. Many actual TV newscasts of President Bush and others are heavily interwoven throughout the film.

All is pretty much exactly as I remembered it unfolding. Even the mood of the country is recreated: the fear and panic right after 9/11, the patriotism, the accusations of disloyalty to America and the troops if one was against going to war, the fact that 50% of Americans thought Saddam had attacked the Twin Towers (making the connection as they heard the war drums rattling every day in the media), the “shock and awe” as the bombing of Baghdad began. Another comment is made about us recently having been allies with Saddam during the Iran/Iraq war: “We put him there.”

This incident was a pretty clear-cut one. Other news stories can tend to get all murkified and we wind up with what one character says in denial and defeat: “Who knows what really happened?”
Much of the film centers on what the stress of it all did to Joe and Valerie’s marriage, their decision to fight, their love of country, their love of truth. (One does have to ask, however, about the truthfulness of being a spy! The filmmakers must have anticipated this, because at one point, Valerie is asked how she can look people in the face and lie, and she responds: “Know why you’re lying, and never forget the truth.”)

Both Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have written books about their experiences.

OTHER STUFF:

--What is it with the name “Wilson”? (“Charlie Wilson’s War”)

--I just realized how much my friend Michelle Halm looks like a raven-haired Naomi Watts. And have told her so.

--I bet Sean Penn loved making this movie and “sticking it to the man.” Ha ha. Although I don’t care for his leftie politics, I applaud him profoundly for his humanitarian work: Katrina, and especially Haiti.

--Fascinating brief (real) footage of skeptical faces of the representatives of various countries at the U.N. as Bush makes his case to go after Saddam.

--Do NOT invite Joe Wilson to your next dinner party.

--The great title is a quote from Karl Rove who said: “Joe Wilson’s wife is fair game.”

--I really admired Joe Wilson when he spoke out. He really was all alone. I’m glad he has a movie now.

--If you like “Fair Game” you’ll like “Spy Games” (fictional) with Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, about how the U.S. sometimes treats its friends, what spying might be like, and what the spy might ultimately have to do to avoid their own government.

--Other good Iraq/Afghanistan War movies: “Brothers at War” (documentary), “Restrepo,” “Three Kings” (1st Gulf War—heavily watched by soldiers DURING the 2nd Gulf War), “Jarhead (1st Gulf War),” “Hurt Locker.” I have reservations about all these movies, however, because none really show the horror and repercussions of war.

--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? A beautiful portrayal of getting through extremely tough times in a marriage.

--Saw this film in Boston—a very politically-active, ideological city. Mostly upper middle-aged audience. There was a kind of reverent silence during the whole thing and the audience didn’t move till halfway through the credits. I love my people. :]

--Great speech at the end about what it means to be an American.

--As much as I was (and am) against the war in Iraq (and women in combat!), even I got swept up for a few days with that amazing photo-op of the young blonde female soldier being handed a flower by a grateful Iraqi woman as the statue of Saddam was pulled down in Baghdad. The power of image, the power of narrative, the power of wishful thinking, the power of nationalism, the power of interpretation, the power of power.

--Can someone please tell me why we REALLY went into Iraq?

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November 13, 2010

"LOVE & RESPONSIBILITY"

“LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY”—FR. THOMAS LOYA—10/13/2010



p. 45--“Instinct”and “urge” mean the same thing more or less.

Man is capable of rising above sexual “instinct” and other “instincts.” The sexual urge is the strongest of all urges because it has to do with our very EXISTENCE.

The sexual “urge” is a "vector of aspiration from which the human person grows and perfects themselves from within." When we live according to the sexual order, it orders our whole being and we progress and grow. E.g., a man becomes fully a man only in relation to woman (not just an individual woman, but, e.g., a priest toward the Church, the feminine). A priest’s relationship to the Church perfects both himself and the Church. IT MUST BE COMPLEMENTARY IN NATURE for the perfecting to happen. A man cannot fully perfect another man.

That’s why our sexual drive is so strong—because it’s what perfects us in every way! People attack Christopher West for being “too sexual” in his presentations, but actually, we are not “sexual” enough! We have to be like God, more like God. How? Through love and life which is what our sexuality is all about.

We are not responsible for what occurs independent of our will in the sexual sphere (senses and emotions), but we are fully responsible for what we do with it (sense and emotions and will).
To understand ourselves in terms of the spousal element of our being is to understand everything about ourselves. Gender has a revelatory nature. Our genders reveal God!
What about hermaphrodites? (Who prefer to be called “intersex” today.) Doesn’t change anything. Even though it’s a kind of departure from the norm, it doesn’t change anything about the fundamental order of creation or human nature. The fact that we talk about it as an exception also shows this. But hermaphrodites are also sexual/spousal beings! They too, need to make a gift of self! (And receive the gift that others are.) Everything “TOB” applies to them, too. Even if our bodies/sexual organs, etc., aren’t perfect, it doesn’t matter, because sexuality isn’t just physical, it’s also spiritual/emotional/psychological/social!

A human male is attracted to the whole value of what is feminine, not just her body for “reproduction” like the animals. Same for the woman attracted to a man. We each have a value that completes the other. It’s not just about mating and sexual satisfaction.

To talk about sexual “orientation” is amorphous/too generic, we are attracted to a specific PERSON (or should be). It’s personal. [Sr. Anne: A woman who was in a lesbian relationship for many years eventually married a man and had kids. She says she is still not attracted to men. She is only attracted to her husband.]

LOVE is a phenomenon of people only, not animals. It’s fundamentally different FROM the sexual urge. It involves the whole person. Love is given its definitive shape by acts of the will at the level of the person.

What should couples do/not do when dating? BE HONEST TO THE SITUATION. Are you really going to get married? Don’t treat dating like mock-marriage, marriage-lite. It’s not. Only marriage is exclusive. Don’t treat dating like it’s marriage. Maybe not even call it dating, call it “friendship,” and once it’s a solid Christian friendship/brothers & sisters in Christ [“Today I marry my best friend” is a great marriage-sentiment!], you can advance to “courtship” because you’re purposefully heading toward marriage. If you’re not thinking about marriage, don’t get so intimate (of course not sex, but also not the other intimate demands that marriage would put on each other: call me every hour, don’t even look at other women/men or talk to them, etc.). Don’t put each other in an either/or situation: Either this leads to marriage or I’ll be heartbroken. This is also why too much physicality will BOND you to each other and make it very, very difficult to break up even when you should!

Our world says: If you don’t act on all your urges, it’s unnatural! But the truth is the opposite! AS HUMANS, it’s unnatural just to follow our urges! It’s natural to HUMANS to regulate our lives according to our WILL, exercising our WILLPOWER.

[Our culture is both BLINDLY SUBMITTING TO NATURE (but only in our sexual instincts), and REBELLING AGAINST NATURE (in things like contraception and natural conception), and CRUSHING/CONTROLLING/MANIPULATING NATURE (genetic engineering, pollution, raping natural resources). Why do we have to treat Nature as Sacred? Cause it’s all we got! God made it and is working through it. The invisible—the spiritual and divine--is made visible through the physical.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. –Romans 1:20

Through faith we perceive that the worlds were created by the word of God, and that what is visible came into being through the invisible. –Hebrews 11:3

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. –Colossians 1:15]

NFP—to use unnatural means to contracept damages the love-relationship between persons and that’s why it’s wrong. [Because it’s going against the nature of the act, the nature of love which is SACRIFICIAL. It must start with our love of/TRUST in God, otherwise we’re NOT going to trust Him with this huge area of our lives. We need to make room for God!]

Everything rises and falls on what goes on in the bedroom, that’s why we WANT God and the Church in the bedroom! The bedroom is the sanctuary of the human race. The woman’s womb is a tabernacle which the man must approach as a priest approaches the tabernable.

If we’re contracepting, you’re not just doing it in the bedroom, we’re doing it everywhere else: “contraceptive mentality.” [Closed to God, closed to "the other," closed to anything I don't tightly plan in my own life.] Soooo…one can practice NFP with a “contraceptive mentality” if one is totally closed to life.

It’s not biological determinism…it’s God’s Creation/Order working through “biology.”

Q: Do you have to accept God to accept the natural order/natural law?A: No, but it helps.

National Catholic Bio-ethics Center shows all the science that is being suppressed (e.g., the contraception/abortion/breast cancer link)! The National Cancer Institute is adamantly suppressing this stuff!

Q: How define natural law?A: Our objective and subjective interaction with Nature. [And we ARE Nature, too!] VJP2G said: We are subject and object at the same time! We are subject to Nature, and object IN Nature, but we can also step back and reflect on our existence as the acting person/subjective subject that we are.

[VJP2G does use human experience as a starting point—the phenomenological method--(but AUTHENTIC experience). This is how VJP2G purified Kant! We can do things wrong for years and then say: “But this is my experience.”]
Fr. Loya: That’s what’s meant by a totally, totally HONEST and thorough examination of our experience….


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November 11, 2010

MOVIES: "RED"


“Red” is a good time. A bloody good time. There’s tons of shooting and violence, but come to think of it, there’s not much blood, only a sizeable body count. This is tongue-in-cheek violence—not even earnest violence-as-entertainment, but violence as comedy. Am I making any sense? See, R.E.D. means “Retired and Extremely Dangerous.” Bruce Willis (Frank Moses) is R.E.D., the best C.I.A. agent that ever there was. He and his cronies (Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and king-of-quirk John Malkovich) come out of retirement because something fishy is going on involving a hit list, a 1981 cover-up in Guatemala, and the Vice-President of the United States of America. Oh yes, and Frank takes along Mary-Louise Parker (Sarah)--a mousy government phone operator who reads spy-romance novels--whom Frank has been crushing on. (Willis and Parker are a delightful comedy-action team.) All Sarah can say is: “Wow!” as she lives the dream.

If you don’t like violence (ridiculous or not), you won’t like “Red,” and you especially won’t like seeing Helen Mirren firing round after round after round of machine gun volleys (she also expertly fires other automatic weapons) in her white evening gown. (At a certain point the noise was rivaling “Public Enemies.”) Me? Because this movie is from DC Comics—although our heroes don’t have ANY superpowers—the tenor of the violence just didn’t faze me one iota. I didn’t, like, WARM to the violence, or laugh at it (except the “real estate agent” with the RPG on her shoulder). Oh dear, maybe I’m jaded. Maybe there’s something in me like there is in Helen Mirren’s character who pretends to be content with flower arranging in her retirement, but finally admits to taking contracts on the side because she “misses the excitement.” But I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt. And I certainly wouldn’t kill anyone. But the excitement part is attractive. Oh dear. Even truer confessions: After watching the trailer, I DID want to see Helen Mirren fire a gun. Oh dear.

Karl Urban plays William Cooper, Frank’s active C.I.A. nemesis, to perfection. You just can’t take your eyes of this guy he’s SUCH a good actor. Audiences should clamor to see more of him. At a certain point I realized one of the reasons he stands out. It occurred to me: this guy is hiding an accent. He’s dropping “r’s.” Sounds Australian, but could be British. Turns out: New Zealand. He doesn’t hold himself like an American, he doesn’t gaze like an American actor, doesn’t walk American, doesn’t make American facial expressions, doesn’t phrase American. There’s an intensity, a stick-to-the-part-like-glue quality about his acting that is more British. Anyway, he’s great. And he has “cute hair” (Frank Moses).

We are here, there and everywhere in “Red”: Chicago, New Orleans, Virginia, Florida, NYC, introduced by cheery postcards and local music.

Beneath the jocularity is a serious message about what our C.I.A. really does and is capable of. As in movies like “Syriana,” there’s a division between good guys and bad guys in the government system, and in “Red,” the real bad guys are the arms dealers, the private sector, the defense contractors. There’s a repeating Hollywood message here about how America can still be “good”: if individuals, even within corrupt systems, can do their conscience, do the right thing, and of course, put love and family first, and sacrifice all when required. Perhaps this is a much more sober movie than it originally appears to be. We’re not supposed to laugh at any of the true tragedies (like a massacre in Guatemala), but we are supposed to laugh at everything else. As Oscar Wilde said: “If you’re going to tell someone the truth, make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Sometimes it feels to me like America is “whatever we want it to be.” Like we’re making everything up as we go along. Especially in our storytelling, in our American imagination. And I just kept thinking while watching “Red” how familiar we are with weapons of war (large-scale warfare is carried out in domestic settings in “Red”), and is it just a coincidence that we are fighting two wars right now as more and more violent movies (it seems) are hitting the theaters and I see every day in the news some other young Chicagoan or Illinoisan who has given their lives overseas? The attitude in these films (as well as all the uber-violent previews before the movie) seems to be: “It’s just violence.” Could Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” be applied here?

OTHER STUFF:

--Why isn’t “Red” in IMDB?

--Quite a few laughs in this movie.

--Kidnappee to kidnapper: “You can’t just go around duct-taping people. People are basically decent: talk to them.”

--This could have been a one-joke movie: Elderly C.I.A. operatives back in action. But it’s not. Not even with 93-year-old Ernest Borgnine in charge of a C.I.A. archives so secret it doesn’t exist.

--Frank’s entire house—decked out for Christmas--is COMPLETELY, COMPLETELY decimated by black ops. And it doesn’t even wake the neighbors.

--John Malkovich looks very old. And he’s only 57. And it doesn’t look like the make-up.

--A mildly-grisly hanging scene didn’t bother me. I’m beginning to worry about myself.

--Frank is accused by Victoria (Helen Mirren) of being “gooey on the inside.” Hmmm. Thinking of Theology of the Body, maybe that fact that our bodies are physically “gooey” on the inside is a message that we SHOULD be “soft” on the inside—vulnerable, malleable, able to be moved, tender….

--This is a good, OLD-fashioned spy-caper-comedy. People of a certain age will enjoy it more than others, being more familiar with Cold War and Vietnam War era tropes, as well as the aging actors. Mature, youth-challenged people were whooping it up in my theater.

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November 8, 2010

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY & THE NEW EVANGELIZATION

“The New Evangelization” is a term coined by Ven. John Paul II the Great to describe the current-day need for the evangelization and re-evangelization of countries and areas of the world that are historically Christian, but for various reasons are no longer so, or are Christian in name only. Pope Benedict XVI has taken up this clarion call with regard to Europe in particular, as he witnesses Europe’s attempts to deny even the factuality of its Christian roots. Pope Benedict even instituted a “Pontifical Council for New Evangelization” this year.

The “re-evangelization” of countries is not new. There are precedents wherein a country/people received the “kerygma” (the initial proclamation of the Gospel) from early missionaries, but the local Church was: left without pastors, lacked a systematic structural development, reverted back to native religions, fell into heresy, fell away, converted to other religions due to invasions, etc. The parable of the Sower and the Seeds is very applicable here! India claims to have received its kerygma from the Apostle Thomas himself. England received the Faith early on but was in need of re-evangelization soon after. The Potawatomi Indians in Michigan were baptized by a missionary priest and taught the Our Father in Latin, but did not see another priest for many years (their recitation of the Our Father was proof of their baptism to subsequent missionaries!)

What does John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” have to do with his “New Evangelization”? Everything. Although he did not connect the dots himself --most likely out of modesty*—the correlation is vital, at least for Western civilization. How so? There is no evangelization without the evangelization of culture. Individuals belong to cultures, and the Gospel must not only transform the individual but the culture through “inculturation.”

Why the need to evangelize cultures? “Culture” is everything that makes us human: art, work, recreation, leisure, athletics, family life, rites of passage, social networks, politics, food, dance, literature, drama, rituals, and above all, worship. For the Gospel to “stick” and be effective, it must permeate all these areas.

Today, “pop culture” is the dominant culture. Some would call it “American culture” or “media culture.” Some disdain pop culture as “low culture” versus the “high culture” of classical music, the “great books,” etc., but the fact is, the pop culture has all the earmarks of a bonafide culture. And it’s the ONLY culture many young and not-so-young people claim allegiance to.








I was just in Milan/Rome, and guess whose face is EVERYWHERE: on billboards, T-shirts, calendars, even in religious shops? Marilyn Monroe. Everywhere. (Pop culture can also be retro-chic!) As VJP2G also said: “Man is the way of the Church” (Redemptor Hominis). We do not have the luxury to hang back, stand aloof from the roads that the masses travel on. We must “duc in altum,” “put out into the deep,” put out into the wild and wooly watering holes of the pop culture if we are to bring and be Christ, Way, Truth and Life to souls.

As Vatican II taught us, there are “seeds of the Gospel” present in every culture. There is a need to “baptize” what is already good in a culture and “purify” what is not. What are the “seeds of the Gospel” present in today’s Western, so-called “post-Christian” and pop culture? A fascination, obsession, and unswerving commitment to the body, the sensuous, the material, the beautiful, what can be seen, felt and experienced. And John Paul II said: Fine. We can start there. This was VJP2G’s genius in his Theology of the Body. Instead of STARTING with the spiritual, the soul, the mind, consciousness, i.e., what CANNOT be seen, he said: Let’s START with what we CAN see. The physical. The body. As VJP2G’s official biographer, George Weigel, notes, the Theology of the Body has and will continue to turn the entire theological and philosophical world (secular and religious) upside down (or right-side up!) by giving it a new starting point. A universally verifiable starting point. And this starting point cannot be divorced from God because it is Creation and Creation is a doctrine and now we are squarely in the lap of God.

But didn’t we always start our catechesis with Creation? “God made the world”? Yes. However, we Western Catholics are card-carrying members of our particular Western culture which is “Cartesian,” that is, which espouses and lives out of a mind-body split at its very core (see Waldstein’s Introduction to the new edition of the Theology of the Body, “Male and Female He Created Them”). This flawed philosophical underpinning undermines and overrides whatever we are taught by the Bible and the Church, and guides our everyday choices.




The fact of that matter is: We do not HAVE bodies, we ARE bodies. We are embodied spirits and spiritualized bodies. The definition of the human person IS body and soul, together forever.


Is Theology of the Body something new or something old, then? It’s both. It’s a new synthesis of eternal truths. John Paul II, a master catechist, has arranged the deposit of the Faith in such a way that it is immediately accessible to all, because he starts where we all live: our bodies, love, relationships. Jeff Cavins says that what we learn about our Faith through the years often amounts to a “pile of Catholicism” that might even seem like a bunch of true, but unrelated facts. John Paul II has taken the jigsaw puzzle box of the Catholic Faith and assembled the pieces together so that we can see the beautiful complete picture and plan of God for the human body, the human person, centered around Creation/Incarnation/New Creation. Now we can see how everything is interconnected: how the Eucharist connects to Marriage, how the Magisterium connects to the Church’s social teaching, how the Liturgical Year connects to our cycles of fertility, etc. As Fr. Thomas Loya says, “The Theology of the Body is the delivery system for the sum-total of the Church’s wisdom.”

Perhaps we could even say that the Theology of the Body IS the New Evangelization—both content and method.

__________
*Although modesty is a virtue WITHIN the Theology of the Body, there is no need to be modest ABOUT the Theology of the Body. :]




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October 15, 2010

MOVIES: "CONVICTION"


What if you were someone’s only hope? What if that someone was your brother? That’s exactly the position Betty Ann Waters (the plucky Hilary Swank) found herself in in 1983, when her brother, Kenny (the amazing Sam Rockwell), was convicted of murder. Wrongly, she believed.
Based on a true story that took place in Ayer, Massachusetts, Betty Ann becomes a lawyer in order to exonerate her brother and works unceasingly for 18 years on his behalf.

This fine little drama (could it be that dramas are returning to the Cineplex?) also stars the exquisite Melissa Leo as Kenny’s arresting officer. Minnie Driver is Betty’s law school friend who gets involved, and Juliette Lewis does a truly patheticomic turn as one of Kenny’s old girlfriends. If the highest compliment you can give an actor is that their performance was a “revelation,” Juliette Lewis was a “revelation.”

Betty Ann and Kenny basically grew up wild and running in the streets, were placed in foster homes, and Kenny always found himself in trouble with the law. When he grew up, he was an easy target to pin the gruesome murder of an elderly woman on. The flashbacks of the pair as little playmate-hoodlums explain why they are “joined at the hip” in adulthood and are so fiercely devoted to each other. The filmmakers plant doubt in our minds about Kenny’s innocence, but Betty Ann never doubts her brother.


The actors pretty much nail the Boston accent, cadence and tough-but-charming attitude and swagger, especially Sam Rockwell.


Like Diane Lane in “The Perfect Storm,” and Uma Thurman in “Motherhood,” Hilary Swank is just a little too classically good-looking and refined of carriage, movement and demeanor to convince that she’s “average.” But her acting is truly in the moment and genuine. She can’t help the looks.


It’s difficult to say more about this film without giving away the ending. Was he innocent or not? Does he get out or not? You’ll have to see for yourself. The sacred trust of all movie-goers must not be broken. Remember how well audiences kept secret the ending of “Sixth Sense” and “Harry Potter” books and movies?


In the vein of “Erin Brockovich,” “A Civil Action,” and “The Hurricane,” “Conviction”’s uniqueness lies in that it is a beautiful love story of a sister and brother, of the true meaning of family, and of laying down one’s life for another.


OTHER STUFF:
--Why do I always see Hilary in my mind’s eye in that hideous backwards navy blue clingy dress she wore at the Golden Globes? I need to get over that. And I must go on record to say that I actually loved Bjork’s swan dress at the Oscars (it wasn’t a real swan). Why here? Why now? Because we’re talking about dresses.

--The little kid actors are great (I recognize the little girl from “Letters to God”). It’s scary how good today’s young actors are. Is anyone else scared?

--Kenny’s daughter is played to understated perfection by the always-enthralling Ari Graynor (from Boston!) who looks somewhat like Ke$ha.

--The music is definitely tear-jerking, but not over-the-top: flowing piano and violins.

--Martha Coakley no looka so good in this movie.

--"Massachusetts" was filmed in Michigan. Fooled me.

--Female screenwriter: Pamela Gray. Yay!

--This movie should have been PG-13 (not R)--but for the use of the “f” word. It’s just not fair.

--HD report: Hilary has natural, beautiful facial lines (Minnie Driver? Not so much—perhaps hidden by all those curls?) Could it be that Hollywood is *gasp* allowing women to age gracefully??

--DO NOT READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH 'CAUSE IT'S A BIG OLE SPOILER!!!!!!!
OK--you were warned. What if Kenny HADN'T been innocent? Would it have been OK for Betty Ann to keep loving him? I KNEW he would be innocent because we had to have a Hollywood ending and audiences are not allowed to root for murderers (unless they're mafia). Also, in an unrelated(?) matter, it seems, in real life, the murdered woman's children are upset because they weren't consulted for the movie.

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October 13, 2010

MOVIES: "THE SOCIAL NETWORK"



Is “The Social Network” all that? Yes it is. At first, I didn’t even want to see it because while it was still in the making, media pundits were poking fun at it, like: “Who cares?” “Who cares about Zuckerberg?” “Is the beginning of Facebook really a story?” But then the buzz and the box office. Evidently there is a story here.

What’s the hook? I think there are four: 1) Facebook has changed the face of the internet and the world. It’s just a phenom too big to ignore. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLd9q88ohUs&feature=related (I always like to say that Facebook is what the internet was missing from the beginning—a kind of soul, personalization, the human touch.) 2) Like “The Revenge of the Nerds,” “The Social Network” chronicles the shift of power to the (now-called) “geeks.” Geeks who are not only off-the-charts brilliant, but understand the potential of technology and how people perceive and use it or CAN perceive and use it. 3) Like Bill Gates (an actor portrays him briefly in “The Social Network”), Zuckerberg seems to be a shrewd and ruthless young businessman who--for all his own social awkwardness--really does understand human nature. This understanding just doesn’t seem to work for him personally. 4) Understanding how people use today’s and tomorrow’s technology IS “the next big thing.” Those who cling to outmoded ways of thinking about technology will be thrown on the radiation-exuding landfills of history. The future is always about NEW IDEAS, not stasis, and the young Turks will supersede not only the old Turks, but one another in winner-take-all battles.

I kind of feel bad for the real Mark Zuckerberg. He has been thoroughly skewered in this movie. How much is true? Clearly the legal proceedings against Zuckerberg did not come out in his favor. Or maybe they did (since they were out-of-court settlements that a character tells Zuckerberg is like “paying for a parking ticket”). Zuckerberg is made to look like an ambitious, self-obsessed, controlling, scheming, misanthropic, arrogant, jealous person. And what’s worse, a double-crossing friend. But not greedy, not really. For him, money is only power, it’s only the symbol of a superior being. In the movie, Zuckerberg also finds himself to be superior due to his computer prowess, and says as much.

“The Social Network” is like a young man’s “Wall Street,” in that enterprise and entrepreneurship and VC and investors and stock holdings and forming new alliances and companies are all a great big game in the end. And it’s like “Wall Street” in the “talkie-ness” of the movie. But this is a good thing! The visuals and acting are just superb (our young actors today are pretty amazing). The music—Trent Reznor!—fittingly starts off as heavy electronica, and then mellows out and disappears into the fabric of the rest of the film.

SPOILER ALERT! But at the end, when he’s sitting on top of the world quite literally, Zuckerberg is left without the one thing he wanted most, or at least wanted as much as sitting on top of the world: Erica. What a perfect closing shot: Zuckerberg using Facebook to slowly send a friend request to her. There is little hope it will be confirmed, but he keeps hitting “refresh” over and over, waiting…. Love is the one thing that the masters and commanders of the world can’t master and command, can’t outsmart everyone else to obtain. One has to put self to the side, die to self to even really see the other person, the beloved, as “other,” not just an extension of self. One wonders if the silver-screen Zuckerberg could ever let go of self enough to develop this capacity.

In the first scene where he’s talking at his girlfriend with rapid-fire Spock-like logic, passive-aggressively accusing, attacking, needing and demeaning her all in the same breath, we wonder if Zuckerberg is a kind of savant who is just maladroit at normal social interaction. But he tips his hand too many times in the conversation, demanding that she “be supportive” and grateful because he is such a great boon to her life.

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? The seeds are definitely there. The inciting incident (for Zuckerberg to create Facebook) is Erica breaking up with him. His second impetus to expand Facebook is his second rejection by Erica. Sean Parker (Napster) recounts later in the film how he got started himself after being jilted by a girl. As we hear the men in “The Social Network” talk, it seems everything they do is FOR “girls,” albeit mostly to use them sexually, or rather engage in mutual sexual use of each other. But it’s still about the girls.

Erica knows her own worth AND knows that if she hitches her wagon to star Z, she WILL be going places and become incredibly wealthy. But she’d rather have love.

OTHER STUFF:
--Zuckerberg created Facebook while drunk. Imagine what he could have done sober!

--Some great, weighty-in-2010-hindsight* quotes: “We’ll just email it to a few people.” “That’s my roommate!” [one girl states this with horror—making it personal--about her friend’s pic being rated for “hotness”]

--The movie is mostly long legal hearings punctuated by flashbacks. But it works.

--The debauchery portrayed is reality on campuses. Run of the mill. Yawn. Just another day/night on campus. Sad. I’d say PG-15.

--Geeks like Asian girls.

--Geek-characters like Strawberry Twizzlers (or are those Red Vines?) like every other type of character in Hollywood.

--Watching smart movies makes me feel smart.

--Erica—the face that launched Facebook. Erica—the face that launched 500,000,000 friends.

--Guys write code and conduct business while girls do shots, do bong hits, dance half naked, play video games, go psycho on their boyfriends, get coke snorted off their midriffs, etc. Where IS Gloria Steinem when you need her?!

--Bill Donaghy (TOBI speaker) pointed out to me the immortal words of VJP2G: "The task of every man is the dignity of every woman." He said this is his new mantra, and I'm convinced that's it is the solution to everything, especially after seeing "The Social Network"--a great movie--but ALL the women in it are bimbos except for Erica, Zuckerberg's "the one." Men have to think of ALL women as special and worthy of dignity, not just "the one" they want to marry (even when women don't act according to their dignity and stoop to be whatever they think men want them to be--a result of original sin: "He will lord it over you, but your desire will be for him."). The divine order is that men lead. Women are whole persons without "a man," and we can affirm ourselves, but we long for men to respect us, appreciate us, tell us we're beautiful, see us as whole persons, love us as whole persons, interact with/relate to us as whole persons. If MEN did this consistently, women would auto-correct their undignified behavior because it wouldn't get them anywhere: the men wouldn't want it, ask for it, or reward it. I'll say it again: IN THE DIVINE ORDER, MEN LEAD. I don't care how politically incorrect it is to say that, it's the truth. MEN, PLEASE LEAD US WITH LOVE, because the sad truth is that many, many women will do absolutely anything for you and your attention.

--Glimmers of hope? In the movie, Zuckerberg says: "You can find 'hot, naked girls' anywhere on the internet. What people want to do is connect with each other, with their friends--it's the whole college experience." And according to the link above ("What the Hell Is Social Media?"), social networking has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the net. (Not sure how they're calculating that.)

--David Fincher sure knows how to make a movie ("Fight Club," "Benjamin Button").

--How long before we have a movie on the beginnings of Google?

--HD shows that twentysomethings have wrinkles and crow’s feet! Much more realistic. But I still like b & w and soft focus. You may say that I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.
____
*Hindsight is 20/10?

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THEOLOGY OF THE BODY--IN THE FIELD


So I'm at Mundelein Seminary, Chicago, this past weekend at a wonderful Marian Day arranged by some seminarians (http://www.materfidelium.org/) giving a talk on "The Handmaid of the Lord and the Feminine Genius." There's about 50 women attending the talk and 7 guys.


Ten minutes into my talk, this little old guy, all bent over, shuffles in with his walker (wife behind him). He turns to me and says: "You were waiting for the king." He sits in the front. I began talking about John Paul II and he calls out: "What does he know?" I ask him if he's my private heckler and he pipes down.


Next I say: "Men, why do you hold open doors for women?" Dead silence. A woman chimes in: "I think it's because they want to be chivalr--"

Me: "MEN."

Dead silence.

The ladies are bursting to fill in. Another woman raises her hand and doesn't wait for me to call on her: "I really think it's because--"

Me: "MEN."

Old guy (the king) in front: "To hold myself up." (I lose it and crumple on the podium laughing.)

Another guy in the back: "To get a better look?"

By now the ladies look very discouraged. "Well, maybe these men DON'T hold open the door for women," one offers.

Me: "John Paul II says it's because we women bear the lion's share of sexuality."
A middle-aged lady wrinkles up her nose like she has no idea what that means. Wow. Need I explain??? Yes. We are so in need of Theology of the Body (myself included). It's "Humanity 101."

Me: "Um, we have monthly cycles, we carry babies in our womb for 9 months, go through childbirth, nursing, nurturing....?"


The conclusion of my talk is that "the feminine genius" is...(drum roll)...MOTHERHOOD! (Whether physical or spiritual.) I cannot tell you the look of relief (and joy) on the women's faces. So many came up to me afterward and said: "I really know this and feel this, but it's so un-PC to talk about it!"


When I told a seminarian about "the king" and his "queen" (easily in their 80's) he said: "Oh yeah! I've been driving them around the campus all day on a golf cart. The wife refused to sit down, but insisted on standing up and hanging off the back of the golf cart. I was so scared she was going to bounce off, I was going 2 mph the whole time!"

Old people are the spice of life.

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October 11, 2010

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY


THEOLOGY OF THE BODY—JP2G’s “LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY”
FR. LOYA 10-09-10[Sr. Helena’s superfluous comments in brackets]


p. 24—We are persons. Everything JP2G says is based on this. “Nobody else can want for me.” “I must be independent in my actions.”

PERSONALISM:--We are only persons because God is a Person (we are made in the image of)--a person is always worthy of love, honor, respect, dignity--inalienable--we don’t just have instinct like animals, we can choose--self-determination--the only appropriate response to persons is LOVE. We are made for LOVE—to give and receive love. Anything less than this is dehumanizing, depersonalizing--verb “to use” can be used in different ways: tool, pleasure--The opposite of love is not hate but “use.”

In his marriage prep, marriage counseling, Fr. Loya tries to help couples to examine how they’re relating to each other.

p. 34—JP2G critiques “utilitarianism”“Pleasure must be subordinate to love.” We cannot just “use” someone for our pleasure. Only love can raise pleasure to an interpersonal relationship. Use-pleasure can disguise itself as love.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)—there’s a strain of utilitarianism here that is not readily evident because the desires/objectives are sincere and good in themselves: to have and love a child. But the child is subordinated to a subjective desire of the couple and the MEANS used to create this child are unethical.We are raised in a very utilitarian culture so it’s very hard for people to see this.

Utilitarians believe that the primary good is pleasure and tries to maximize pleasure for the majority. But pleasure is accidental, it’s not the primary aim. It comes about in the process of something else, and if it’s ordered properly, it can be totally legit. We can have pleasure in bad things, too, like revenge!

Pleasure and pain are always connected with a concrete action, so it’s impossible to plan them exactly like the utilitarians want us to do. They are somewhat elusive things.
If I accept utilitarianism, I must see myself as a subject who desires maximum pleasure, and must see myself as an object who must be at the service of the pleasure of others. [It doesn’t acknowledge persons! You can divide all philosophies into those that acknowledge persons and those that don’t. If you don’t, you’re already in trouble.]

A subjective understanding of “the good” leads to egoism. Mutual use, mutual egoism can happen where two agree to use each other (thinking it’s love). But they can’t confront each with anything unpleasant or it all falls apart! “No honor among thieves”—thieves like working together to steal, but when it comes to dividing up the loot….

We can only love God because He first loves us. So even the “need” we have for God comes from him.

Follow the “gift” trail. See what’s twisted and what the real gift is there underneath it.

Q: “Do men ‘use’ more readily than women?”A: “Yes, because they are task-oriented, goal-oriented, and so begin using things as tools to the goal. They also compartmentalize in their brains and can divide a woman’s personhood from her body, for example.” [But this is not what they’re called to be/do or meant to be/do by God. Society often gives men a pass on their “use,” but it shouldn’t.]

[We have to have a sense of OURSELVES as persons first. But people today don’t think they’re that great, that man is that great. There’s a great reductionism, minimalism. So we don’t aspire to anything greater than having some basic needs met, sometimes!]

The world sees things in terms of FUNCTION and POWER.The Church sees things in terms of SIGN and SACRAMENT.
“Empty nest” syndrome—couples didn’t take care of their relationships enough! They—in a utilitarian way—united around running the household and raising the kids.

What kind of gift can you give to another person if you don’t have a sense of yourself as a person? You can’t bring two half-persons together, or expect the other to supply your personhood.

[It has to be this order! 1st—sense of yourself as a person—love thyself 2nd—marriage relationship, person to person—love your spouse3rd—parent/child relationship—love your kids]

Parents feel pressured (by other parents) today to run around and be frantically busy or they’re almost “abusing” their kids! But what does it mean to be a successful human being?

Don’t answer questions for people! Just help people examine the words within the questions!
Why does the Church “go into the bedroom”? Because that’s where God is! AND that’s where all the problems of the world start because it’s so fundamental! It’s the fundamental place of love and life.

Justice—a person’s “due” is always to be treated as an object of love.

Same Sex Attraction (SSA)—is based on need and use because of the intrinsic disorder where the person struggling with SSA is trying first of all to become the complete male or female person that they are, so that they CAN be a gift to “the other.” But it can translate itself into a sexual expression (which goes nowhere). Men DO draw strength from each other’s masculinity (male bonding, etc.) because men are socialized externally, from things outside themselves. [Female SSA operates differently. See book: “The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction” by Hallman]

[Sr. Helena had to take over the techie operations here so there will be a gap in notes.]

Fr. Loya’s parting warning: Prudes and sexual libertarians both deny God’s saving power when it comes to lust. Father says that overbearing Catholic families who control and squelch their children are in danger of creating another [sub]sexual revolution that will rebel against this. He sees kids going hogwild for the first time when away from parents, eloping, etc. In confession, he says that these super-Catholic kids who know their faith inside and out are having huge sexual problems because they are completely unintegrated in their sexuality. [I have heard a lot of these stories, too. Yikes!]
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