Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could”

This monologue, “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could”, begins with an introduction by Ensler talking about how she works with the homeless. This a very noble line of work indeed, and anyone who has done it knows how difficult it can be but also how rewarding. Homeless people are some of the classiest and smartest people one could run across.

Ensler puts forward the theory that since almost every homeless woman she has met has been abused sexually, they flee home, associating home with the memories of their rape or abuse. This story is a true one, told to Ensler by one of the woman she met in a shelter. This woman is now in a committed lesbian relationship with another woman she met at the shelter. I have already detailed Church opposition to homogenital relations in my essay “The Church Makes True Love Possible.” I would add that helpful books on this matter are those by Father John Harvey, founder of Courage.

The monologue involves a woman recounting memories of her childhood. She tells us at age five she liked to touch herself, and that her mother yelled at her for it. The girl was never told why not to, and consequently, thought that she had rubbed her vagina off. When she gets beat up at school by a boy who punches her in the vagina, she is yelled at again, and she is treated as if she is the one to blame. Later, she is impales herself on a bedpost, and then is raped by her father’s friend.

At age thirteen, she is in the car with a neighbor who is twenty-four. The woman begins to passionately kiss her. The young girl stays over at this woman’s house. The woman gives her vodka. “The alcohol has done to my head and I’m loose and ready…Then she does everything to me and my coochi snorcher that I always thought was nasty before, and wow.” The woman then teaches her how to pleasure herself. “She makes me play with myself in front of her and she teaches me all the different ways to give myself pleasure so I’ll never need to rely on a man.” She never sees the woman again, and the speaker says that the experience was her “surprising, unexpected, politically incorrect salvation.” She says that this woman took her vagina and “raised it up into a kind of heaven.”

I cannot imagine the pain that this woman went through as a child as I had no similar experiences. However, I know that trauma is many times the cause of interrupted psycho-sexual development and of same-sex attraction. The Church does not condone homogential relationships.

What amazes me is that people do not object to the fact that this girl is thirteen. The girl states that the woman made her masturbate herself. The girl is made drunk before she is taken advantage of. Lastly, the girl is thirteen and the adult is twenty-four. This is statutory rape. If the adult was a man, this would be frowned upon. (Does this remind anyone of the priestly sexual abuse scandals?) However, since the relationship is homosexual, it is considered okay. None of this scene is compatible with what the Church teaches. The woman copes with her problems in the wrong way, and offers these wrong answers as viable options. This is exactly what I meant when I said

There is nothing wrong with using the human experience as a point of discussion. Sometimes, however, we misunderstand our experience and come to wrong conclusions about it. This is exactly what The Vagina Monologues does and it needs to be critically examined. This can only be done in a classroom. It is impossible for it to happen as long as the play performed outside the classroom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"My Angry Vagina"

This skit is one long rant. Once more, masturbation is encouraged. This scene is particularly and unnecessarily vulgar. The rant is, for most of the scene, about nature, and not anything that men can do to help women. I'm sorry you have to bleed once a month, but there isn't anything I can do about that. It's nature. Don't be angry about it. There's nothing that can be done.

EDIT: Re-reading, I noticed that the author complains about doctor's using rubber gloves when examining her vagina. Is she seriously opposed to sanitary precautions?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Heresy in The Heights

Today as The Heights begins publishing again, we begin a new segment, titled Heresy in The Heights. Any sort of nonsense that is found in the paper will be debunked here.

In an article titled "Faculty panel challenges stereotypes", Professor Joseph Breines speaks about the inequality on this campus between those who are heterosexual and those who suffer from same-sex attraction. The article says, "He said that Catholic, heterosexual students have a socially accepted right to privacy that GLBTQ students do not enjoy because GLBTQ students have to either come out or be in the closet."

Reminds me of this CNN clip.

We either speak about sex lives or we don't. It works the same for both types of people. There is no third way.

"My Vagina Was My Village" and a Vagina Fact

This scene, "My Vagina Was My Village", is for the rape victims of Bosnia. The piece is poetic in tone and tries to cope with the suffering involved with rape. I will not speak against this piece.

Then there is a vagina fact on masturbation. It speaks of the unequal treatment that the two sexes get in terms of masturbation. Women used to be punished with a clitoridectomy but castration was not a punishment for men. The only problem with the way this is written is that it tacitly promotes masturbation for women and men, instead of shunning it as the sin it is.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Because He Liked To Look At It"

In this scene, a woman is ashamed of how her vagina looks, until she meets a man named Bob. They have intercourse shortly after meeting. Clearly, non-marital intercourse is a sin, but I don't want to make too big a point of that here, as many movies make contain the same sin, and this scene doesn't claim that it is morally acceptable. I do want to make a point of noting that Bob says over and over again that he wants to see the woman in this monologue, and by that, he means her vagina. He tells her that she is her vagina. Objectification? Yes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"The Vagina Workshop"

Probably one of the most problematic scenes in the play is “The Vagina Workshop.” The monologue is a tribute to Betty Dodson, author of the book Sex for One: the Joy of Self-Loving. Betty Dodson runs workshops in which she teaches women to masturbate themselves. This monologue is about precisely that.

In a previous post, I linked to Christopher West and theology of the body to give a primer on masturbation. For my own thoughts, please see my essay titled “The Church Makes True Love Possible.”

The scene continues the false perception that women are their vaginas or that it is the most important part of their bodies. (If a vagina is the most important part of a woman’s body, is a man’s his penis? If he loses his, is he no longer a real man? We see how shallow this is.) The woman who runs the workshop says that the clitoris “is the woman, the essence of” the woman. The scene ends with the woman masturbating.

As a college aged man, I see how many of my peers are addicted to masturbating. Many have no idea that it’s wrong, and many think that overcoming the sin is impossible. Guys tell me they are ashamed but think that they have no hope of overcoming this sin or that they’d be abnormal if they did what they know to be right. Does this scene help in any academic way? No. It is simply an exaltation of sin. This should not be performed on a Catholic campus. In a classroom, a professor could point out the errors involved. In this context, no good can come from it.

The Church Makes True Love Possible


Author and speaker Christopher West says that the reason college students are so interested in sex and drinking is because they crave the Sacrament of Marriage and the Holy Eucharist. He continues by stating that these same people don’t know that this is what they want because they think that binge drinking and hook-ups are as good as it gets. He compares this to the people who think that Easy Mac is real macaroni and cheese. West believes that what the Church proposes about marriage is not only beautiful, but he calls it good news. Most American Catholics don’t believe what the Church teaches about sex. This sharp dichotomy stems from a misunderstanding of what the Church has to say, which was elaborated best by Holy Father Pope John Paul the Great.

Everyone wants love. This is a common human experience. John Paul the Great says that Scripture teaches this is part of man’s very nature. Man is said in Genesis to be made in God’s image. While this has mainly been taken to mean that humans have reason, John Paul adds that the way in which men and women love each other is a part of this. Genesis 1:27, “God created man (mankind-haadam) in His own image. In His divine image He created them; male (zakar) and female (uneqebah).” Both men and women are part of the image of God. To understand this, one must understand the Trinity.

God is three persons, all co-eternal, who constitute one Being. God the Father has existed from all time. In the same way that humans have an idea of who they are, the Father has an idea of who He is. Because God is all-knowing and all-powerful, His knowledge is so perfect that it is another Person: the Son. Scripture tells us God is Love. It says this because God loves mankind, but also because His very nature is love. The Father has an infinite love for the Son, and the Son, who is infinitely receptive of this love, also has an infinite love for the Father. This love they share is so strong that it is a third Person: the Holy Spirit. There love is fruitful, free, total, and faithful.

The new commandment that Jesus gave to His Church was, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loved the Church by giving His life up for the Church on the cross. This love was freely given, a total self-gift, and was fruitful in the fact that it merited graces for the salvation of the world. The “it is finished” that Jesus spoke on the cross was referring to His joining together God and men’s souls in a marriage. This marriage is consummated each time the Eucharist is received. That is where the Creator gives Himself freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully to His Bride, the Church.

Using these concepts, it can be easily understood why the Church teaches what it does on sexuality. When a couple marries, they stand before each other, God, and the Church and commit themselves to love each other as God loves the Church. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church…” This commitment is to be freely made, totally made, kept faithful, and be fruitful. While Moses permitted divorce and remarriage, Jesus calls remarriage adultery. God’s plan in creation was to join two people together forever. Everyone understands the concept of body-language. A rolling of the eyes signifies some sort of frustration or disgust. The conjugal act is a profound statement of body language. To have intercourse is to say, “I give myself to you freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully and I accept you freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.” To allow a marriage (or any form of polygamy) after someone has said this to someone else is a lie. A person can only give his life up to one person at a time. (Since Jesus says that there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage in Heaven , it is permitted that marriage be “until death do us part.”) Divorce and remarriage, then, is nothing more than serial polygamy.

Similarly, sex outside of marriage is a lie with the body. When a dating (or adulterous) couple has intercourse they are lying to each other. Their bodies say, “I give myself to you totally forever” but neither of them means to say this. The adulterous couple cannot say this because they already have said it to someone else, and the dating couple doesn’t mean it because if they did, they would already be married. Until a couple has made the commitment at an actual wedding, it remains a false promise. Many people say, “I don’t just have intercourse with anyone; I wait until I’m in love.” While this is noble, it is misguided in that love is something that can be cloudy. The dating couple may (or may not) be in love, but they aren’t enough in love, or they would be married already. Therefore, sex outside of marriage is clearly not an act of love but one of hurtful deception, and couples who want authentic love will struggle to remain chaste.

However, true marital love can only be made real in a state of purity, and purity is much more than avoiding sex before marriage. Many people sneer at purity, but purity, properly understood, is a beautiful thing. Jesus says that anyone who has lust in His heart has already committed adultery. Lust takes people and pulverizes their uniqueness, treating them as objects instead of persons, just like communism treated people as cogs in a machine and capitalism can treat people as capital to be used. The other must never become an object of sexual satisfaction but always remain an other to love. This is not to say that intercourse shouldn’t be pleasurable; it should. Pleasure, however, is to always remain a side-effect and never the goal of intercourse. Once it becomes a goal, intercourse becomes selfish. The husband and wife are no longer giving themselves to each other in love freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully, but using each other as living toys for masturbation.

Before marriage, people must strive to avoid masturbation. Marriage is not a solution to a chastity problem but a vocation that requires the ability to live a life of chastity. Fathers should take care to train their sons to be real men of virtue who can control their bodies. Many people say that masturbation is so wide-spread and harmless that it shouldn’t be looked down upon; however, this is false. If a man enters into a marriage without having been able to live a life of chastity before, he will only be changing the means of his masturbation. Now the woman is the object of pleasure for him instead of his hand. He cannot give himself freely because he has no self-control. The fullness of love will not be possible because the man is still self-centered, turning love in upon himself. Masturbation mocks the gift of sexuality that God gave to man. While chastity is difficult, and for teenagers may seem almost impossible, all things worth doing take effort. This is certainly one of those things, as what is at stake is the ability to experience real love

Contraception is intrinsically related to masturbation. Probably the most controversial of all Church-teachings, it is also one of the most beautiful.
The Church, nevertheless, in urging men to the observance of the precepts of the natural law, which it interprets by its constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. This particular doctrine, often expounded by the Magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.

One of the marital vows is to be fruitful: open to life. Some people argue that as long as the couple is open to life over the course of the marriage, not every act has to be. This is nonsense, like saying that a couple can be faithful most of the time over the course of their marriage, but that certain acts can be unfaithful. The Church permits couples to use Natural Family Planning, which is 99% effective in preventing births. The method charts a woman’s fertility, meaning the couples who think a pregnancy would not be the best thing for the family at this time (to use NFP for an entire marriage would require grave reasons for doing so), simply avoid having intercourse during a woman’s fertile period. This is now highly developed and is actually more effective than using a condom. Because it is so effective, many people say it is simply “Catholic contraception” and that the means of achieving the result shouldn’t matter. If people thought about this, they would realize that this is absurd. If a man needs money, he can rob a bank or get a job. Everyone sees one as ethical and the other as not, even though the results are the same. The same holds for NFP and contraception. Pope John Paul the Great said, “In the common viewpoint it often happens that the method, separated from the ethical dimension proper to it, is put into effect in a merely functional and even utilitarian way. By separating the natural method from the ethical dimension, one no longer sees the difference between it and the other methods. One comes to the point of speaking of it as if it were only a different form of contraception.”

Once more, this is about body language. The contracepting couple says, “I accept all of you except your fertility.” As Pope John Paul the Great says, “This extension of the sphere of the means of ‘domination of the forces of nature’ menaces the human person for whom the method of ‘self-mastery’ is and remains specific. The mastery of self-corresponds to the fundamental constitution of the person; it is indeed a ‘natural’ method. On the contrary, the resort to artificial means destroys the subjectivity proper to him and makes him an object of manipulation.” This is not about legalism but a lived-relationship with the Creator and true love with the spouse. A couple who uses contraception or sterilizes one of the spouses turns loving intercourse into masturbation. Married couples who make the switch from contraception to NFP say that it has transformed their marriage for the better.

Homosexual activity is one of the hardest of the Church’s teachings on sexuality to explain. This may have something to do with the fact that people who do not experience same-sex attraction feel as if they are forcing their lifestyle on those who do struggle with these feelings. Scripture is clear that God made man and woman for each other, and since homogential activity can never be procreative (fruitful), it does not mirror God’s love in the inner life of the Trinity or Jesus on the cross, and therefore, is sinful. It makes sense to allow someone who has lived the gay lifestyle and now lives the Gospel explain the Church’s teachings. David Morrison chronicled his experience in the book Beyond Gay, and his work is an immense contribution to the subject. He reiterates that sexuality not tied to life can easily become a form of objectifying the other, and then continues,
The Church recognizes that men and women, in a very real sense, lack something in their personalities and persons that they can only get from the other. The attraction between men and women unlike that documented among same-sex couples, is rooted strongly in the desire for and exploration of the other. By contrast, same-sex couples often find attractive one another’s similarities, even to the point, noted in one interview in The Male Couple, of feeling as though they share each other’s bodies and breath. In the attraction of man for woman and vice versa there is a desire for the other as other; in same-sex couples there is often the desire for the other as redundant .

Jesus Christ gave an invitation, “Come, follow me.” It is important that Christians grasp the magnitude of this call. While all men desire to change to be better people, Dietrich von Hildebrand points out that this is a grander challenge for the Christian. “It is, in other words, the adequate consequence of our consciousness of being in need of redemption on the one hand, and our comprehension of being called by Christ on the other. Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence.” Following Him means abandoning all that keeps man from God: every sin.

Maybe some people remain unconvinced that God is not trying to ruin all their fun. These same people need to be reminded that God is all-knowing and also all-loving. He desires nothing but the happiness of everyone. He made all people; He knows how they were designed to live. He knows what fulfills their very nature. Father Michael Himes pointed out in a homily once that the Scripture says, “If you abide in My word, then you are My disciples, and you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free” and that says that people should note the order. If people abide in His word, then they will understand the Truth. Sometimes it isn’t until someone lives the Church’s teachings that they understand that this is what is really going to fulfill them. People seem so willing to try to fulfill themselves with distraction after distraction. They are willing to try drugs, alcohol, and a different sexual partner every weekend. If people are so open to trying new things, why not the Church’s teachings?

Friday, January 25, 2008


The next scene are various women talking about their periods. Other than one woman using a witchcraft in it and another woman masturbating, which is contrary to Church teaching, there is very little in this scene that is inappropriate.

For more on Catholic teaching on mastburation, see Christopher West.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Boston College in the News

Not only is Chelsea here campaigning for her mother and being protested, but What Does the Prayer Really Say has posted today on the extraordinary usage at BC.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"The Flood"

“The Flood” is about a woman who had a negative experience on a date and then stopped interacting with her vagina. The same silliness about personifying vaginas is found.

In the introduction, the author laments how one person she interviewed was seventy-two and had never looked at her vagina. She had also never had an orgasm nor touched herself except while cleaning. Being a man, I obviously don’t know what it is like to have a vagina nor do have never seen my own. I asked a woman about why she thought Ensler would mourn the fact this woman never looked at hers. She said that while there are plenty of reasons to look at one’s vagina, it is never necessary. She thinks that Ensler believes that the vagina is so crucial to a woman’s identity that without investigating it, a person is not truly a woman. Obviously, a woman needs to know she is a woman and come to terms with this. This is part of psychosexual development. However, does a woman need to see her vagina to be a woman? Blind men do not see their penises. Are they lesser men for it? No. Only a person who misunderstands what it means to be a person would be so obsessed with genitalia to think this. As for only touching herself while cleaning, this seems to be correct behavior. Women who masturbate are not liberated but enslaved. Men, too, should not touch themselves in the way that Ensler suggests.

As for the remark about an orgasm, if she were married, this would be sad indeed. She would be missing out on some part of her marriage. On the other hand, since she is not married in this scene, this shouldn’t be so shocking. One does not have to have had an orgasm, to have had sexual experience, to be a fully integrated person. The single, chaste life is completely human. Only people obsessed with pleasure, in a Freudian sense, would say otherwise.

In between each scene there are facts about vaginas. The first one comes after the scene “The Flood.” There is nothing wrong with the fact as it is presented.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Blind Faith and Obedience to Holy Mother Church

I am posting this e-mail I just sent to a friend because I thought it might be useful to my readers.


Hey ______________,

Last night I was walking back from my friend’s apartment and thinking and praying about what we had said at Sons about faith and I thought that I should e-mail you with my thoughts that I was trying to convey but explained more thoroughly. When you said that you thought that blind obedience could be a bad thing after I spoke, I kind of assumed that it was a reaction to what I had said, as I’ve had people tell me before that I do favor of blind obedience, especially when I say things like, “Lord, I have no reason to cast my net again but because it is You who tell me, I will cast.” That’s why I jumped back in by saying that there is a role for understanding, and you were making a very good point, but the understanding comes after faith, as Saint Anselm wrote.

After further reflection, this was what I thought of. You know we live in a society affected by moral relativism and hedonism. Many times this causes people to appeal to their conscience and the fact that they don’t understand what our Church teaches to justify various behavior which we cannot condone. I am not judging these people, far from it, I was once one of those people, and I understand the difficulty and temptation of all of this, but I can certainly in hindsight say that for me thinking that I could understand everything about right and wrong was rooted in an intellectual pride.

The appropriate response to a Church teaching we don’t understand is not to disregard it until we understand it. (I am not saying that this is what you were suggesting, but I just wanted to clarify on this matter what I was trying to say.) The appropriate response is to accept it and to then seek to understand why. This often seems like blind faith but it is not. We have a good reason to trust our Lord and to believe His Church because He promised to guide her in what she teaches us. If we believe in our Lord (which isn’t blind, as it can be strengthened through reading books like the Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Father Tacelli and Peter Kreeft or Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis) and we believe in His promise, then everything follows from that. This is supernatural faith. On a more natural level we might similarly say, for example, I understand every other teaching on Mary but this one in particular I don’t. However, since the Church has been right on everything else on Mary, I can assume she is right on this one as well.

Saint Ignatius Loyola is a great model for us here. At the end of the spiritual exercises, he provides for those who have made the exercises with eighteen rules for having correct sentiments we ought to maintain within the Church. The rules are not to be given to everyone but only to those the retreat master thinks should receive them. The rules are given at the end of the retreat because without the radical foundation of a personal relationship and encounter with Christ, they are meaningless, but they are useful here, and so we should look at them even though I don’t know if you have done the exercises. The first rule is, “Always to be ready to obey with mind and heart, setting aside all judgment of one's own, the true spouse of Jesus Christ, our holy mother, our infallible and orthodox mistress, the Catholic Church, whose authority is exercised over us by the hierarchy.” The thirteenth is “That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and directed to Salvation, is the same.” And the ninth is, “To uphold especially all the precepts of the Church, and not censure them in any manner; but, on the contrary, to defend them promptly, with reasons drawn from all sources, against those who criticize them.”

I find this very important, ______________, because many people do not want to listen to the Church to see if what she preaches is correct. I once did a little experiment (which had been done before me, I was not original in doing this) where I asked a group of practicing Catholics if they accepted the Church’s teaching on contraception as taught in Humanae Vitae, and they all said no. I then asked if they had ever read Humanae Vitae, and no one had read it. No one had even read any books that summarize or try to defend Humane Vitae. Faith, in their case, was not seeking an understanding. Interestingly enough, many had read books against the Church’s teaching. Without making any judgment of their character, we can say that in this instance, this is not the right posture to have towards the Church and the teaching of our Lord which she transmits to us. Our Lord has given us the Church as a teacher and guide, and we should treat Mother Church as such because we have faith in Him.

Please forgive my rambling. I hope this e-mail contained something that was of meaningful. If you would like to share your thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Keep the faith.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Hair" and the Questions

"Hair" is about a husband who is insensitive to the needs of his wife and a marriage counselor who is not supportive of the wife and who thinks that the man should have what he wants because "marriage is a compromise" even if it physically hurts. This scene is one of the less controversial one for Catholics. However, there is one problematic thing: this quote, "You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair." Men are not supposed to fall in love with a vagina but the woman to whom the vagina belongs. Men are supposed to learn to love women for who they are, which includes their body. They aren't supposed to fall in love with the body.

The next two scenes are a just the answers to two questions Ensler asked women. What would your vagina say and wear? Some of the answers are sexual in nature and things that should not be said in public because they will arouse men, possibly to lustful thoughts. We are to avoid being the source of sin for people. "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42). However, once more we see here that the vagina is personified. The question what would one’s vagina say is just as ridiculous, “What would your knee wear?” The answer is, “My knee would wear exactly what I would wear, as my knee is a part of me.” Ensler is asking what the person desires to wear at her innermost being but chooses a vulgar way to do it.

As for saying, she is asking the woman what she, as a person, wants to say about her sexuality. The vagina says nothing, but the person does. As above, Ensler is simply choosing a vulgar way to say what she wants to say. (And while she might say I only think it’s vulgar because I’m uncomfortable with the word vagina, I would add that it would be vulgar if the same question was asked of a man and his penis.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Script Introduction

The Vagina Monologues script has an introduction, and there is a second introduction before the first scene. The second one I will not comment on.

All I desire to say about the first is this:

Ensler says, “Slowly, it dawned on me that nothing was more important than stopping violence toward women—that the desecration of women indicated the failure of human beings to honor and protect life and that this failing would, if we did not correct it, be the end of us all. I do not think I am being extreme. When you rape, beat, maim, mutilate, burn, bury, and terrorize women, you destroy the essential life energy on the planet. You force what is meant to be open, trusting, nurturing, creative, and alive to be bent, infertile, and broken.”

Eve, I don’t think you are being extreme. Your goal is noble and the charities you support do work. This cannot be denied. The question is: is this play the right way to do this?

We shall see.

Gloria Steineim's Introduction to The Vagina Monologues

As promised, we will now begin our scene by scene analysis of The Vagina Monologues. The text being used is the V-Day revised edition, 2001 by Villard Books.

The first section is a forward written by Gloria Steinem. She begins and ends her reflection with bookends about the sacredness of the vagina and how her foremothers did not know theirs were sacred. She argues that if they knew it was sacred, they would not have been ashamed of it and referred to it by such things as “down there.” They would have used the proper terms for it. I cannot claim to know whether or not her foremothers knew about the sacredness of our bodies and the sacred gift which is our sexuality, but I can say with certainty that many times, we do not name what is sacred. Could it be that by naming the vagina, it has lost, not restored its sacred power? I do not know.

Steinem desires what many Catholic feminist theologians desire, which is to remake god in their image. As I’ve posted before, God is not male or female in and of Himself, but in relation to us, He has revealed Himself as masculine for a good reason. LINK Steinem sees this as patriarchy. It actually has nothing to do with patriarchy, which has at times in the past and to this day plagued Christianity. However, we must seek the Truth and to live in the Truth, and not be reactionaries and live the opposite of the current error to an extreme. Steinem is a reactionary.

Steinem makes a good point that the 1960s only made women more available to be used by men. I would argue that The Vagina Monologues never goes past this. She looks up to and fondly remembers Betty Dodson, who spoke openly and in favor of masturbation, something opposed by the Church because of its misuse of sexuality for utilitarian purposes. She also sees lesbianism as a good, something also not approved of by the Church.

Steinem makes a bold claim that the Church’s real subconscious reason for believing in Original Sin is that man is born of a woman and that women are dirty. This belief is completely incompatible with Christian orthodoxy, which believes in Original Sin because it is blatantly clear that we are estranged from God. Pascal claimed it was the only completely verifiable doctrine of Christianity. We see that we want to do good but there is something wrong with us that we don’t do good. Christ came and poured Divine Life back into us who had lost it through a sacrament: a symbol with real effects. We are washed clean of this Original Sin, and we call this new life. It is new life in Christ. Steinem rejects Christ and therefore must come up with her own unverifiable theories of why Christians do the things they do.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Contra Letters in Support of The Vagina Monologues

About two months ago, I was sent a letter written by Father Kevin Wildes SJ in support of The Vagina Monologues. He is the president of Loyola University in New Orleans. I would like to respond to both his letter and the other letters of support from Catholics which are posted on the same page as the V-Day website.

The first letter is from Richard Green. Richard plays the typical, “if you’re opposed to this, you’ve never seen it” card. Two years ago when I tried to lead a campus wide debate on the issue, this was said to me continuously by those who wanted to silence me. There were several people who were actually interested in an exchange on the matter, and they never accused me of having not read it. These people who sat down with me all said the same thing to me, “It’s just a comedy-show; how can you be opposed to its content? Besides, it raises money for a good cause.” This is the exact problem with the show. People view it as comedy, and it is lewd comedy. There are serious, intelligent, meaningful scenes in the show, and I am not objecting to those. I object to the rest of the content, and I argue that because this content serves the exact opposite purpose of the intent of the play, it should not be performed. Many places host an event called Take Back the Night, which focuses on the same women’s issues involved in the play and does so in a way consistent with the dignity of women.

The second letter is from Leah Reschly who asks, “Why is this [the play] ‘offensive’ when it teaches what the Church is attempting to communicate, namely that we need to educate against using human bodies (in this case, women's bodies) as objects??” The reason is because it does not teach what the Church communicates as will be documented here in the scene by scene analysis beginning in less than two weeks. If this is what Leah thinks, then she does not understand the subtleties of objectification. Objectification of women will continue to exist until lust is rooted out from men’s hearts. The Vagina Monologues does not try to root out lust but encourages lust. It simply tries to control lust: lust is okay if it is agreed upon.

Leah then shows that she does not understand what sexuality is for. Her letter, written in response to Bishop D’Arcy’s letter on the play, says that procreation is not an important in sexuality. She portrays sexuality as being about playfulness. This is contrary to Catholic teaching, which says that sexuality is about a renewal of the wedding vows and a gift of self. Fun is a result, not the goal, of sexuality. If fun is a goal, necessarily the intercourse is utilitarian.

Leah doesn’t believe in absolute truth in regards to sexual morality and the dignity of the human person. She asks if there must be only one truth. The answer is yes, in the same way that there is only one answer to 2+2.

Finally, we come to Father Wildes letter. Coming from a priest, this letter is all the more scandalous. People point to this as if it represents a legitimate view, but Father Wildes is mistaken on this point. He portrays the issue as one of academic freedom. However, this is a great misunderstanding of what academic freedom is. He says

While academic debate may be intense, it ought to be done in a way that women and men can express different views. Loyola University, like any university, is committed to the free expression of ideas and the rigors of debate.

This is probably the most used argument in favor of allowing The Vagina Monologues on campus. However, the performance of the play on Boston College’s campus does not fall under the category of academic freedom. Father William Most wrote an article called, “Sophia, goddess? in which he gives an excellent definition of academic freedom. “Academic freedom means the right of a properly qualified professor, lecturing in his own field, to put out his own opinions without hindrance.”

There are five ways in which the play does not fall under the category of academic freedom. The play is not being used in the classroom and does not involve a professor teaching. As Father Shanley, president of Providence College, wrote in his letter, “Prohibiting a theatrical production of The Vagina Monologues does not prohibit free inquiry about the play. All members of the campus are free to read, study, and discuss the play in various settings, especially the classroom.”

The second reason that this does not fall under academic freedom is that Boston College students know that this is entertainment. I stated this already above, in reference to my discussions with people on campus. I am sure many people will doubt my assessment of BC students’ view on this matter, and so I quote from The Heights article by Laura Mueller, “Monologues is triumphant in its voice and message” (February 20, 2006).

To lighten the mood after particularly dark scenes such as these, a sexily-clad French maid, played by Nadia Aboussir, A&S '09, entered with a crowd-pleasing "Happy Fact" about the female clitoris. The most interactive actress in the performance, Aboussir would ask for the audience's help in proclaiming that the clitoris is the only organ that exists "purely for pleasure," and that it has 8,000 nerve fibers, or twice as many as the penis.

Her constantly upbeat, high-pitched cries were usually accompanied by pelvic thrusts and tongue flicking, making for truly comical intermissions from the authentic monologues. The only detraction from Aboussir's performance was her accent, which sometimes sounded British or South American, but rarely French. Nevertheless, her moments on stage were clearly audience favorites, as people shouted and laughed with her as she trumpeted the happy nature of the clitoris

The third, fourth, and fifth reasons all tie together. It does not follow the principles of the field of ethics. At a Catholic university, Catholic ethics take as a known the teachings of the Magisterium. These are articulated well in many documents but in a way that will speak to the current college generation in the theology of the body addresses. The third reason is, therefore, that the play does not take these principles as a given and holds them up for debate. The fourth is that it does not teach the truth but proposes something false as the truth. To hold the principles to be in question is one thing, but then to come to a different conclusion is an unacceptable error. The fifth stems from this: students at Boston College pay to receive a Catholic education. To be fed something other than a Catholic education is an attack on social justice (false advertising). They have been lied to and are victims of fraud from the administration who does nothing to stop the play.

Loyola University, as a Jesuit university, is rooted in a tradition of Christian humanism that seeks to understand the human experience. To understand that experience - and to improve it in the long term - we must first listen to it. For too many centuries "human experience" has been seen through the eyes of a few individuals and small groups of people. Today, we are more conscious of the diverse views of human experience that are present in different races, cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. We are conscious of the voices that have not been heard in the past. Among these voices are the important, and for too long overlooked, voices of women. When it was developed a number of years ago, “The Vagina Monologues” was done as a vehicle to empower women to speak of their experiences as women…. To exclude the play from a Catholic campus is to say, either that these women are wrong, or that their experience has nothing important to say to us.

There is nothing wrong with using the human experience as a point of discussion. Sometimes, however, we misunderstand our experience and come to wrong conclusions about it. This is exactly what The Vagina Monologues does and it needs to be critically examined. This can only be done in a classroom. It is impossible for it to happen as long as the play performed outside the classroom.

There are people who say that the play has no place on a Catholic campus. But this position misses the reality that the play has provoked a good deal of conversation among women and has helped them to name the dehumanizing attitude and behaviors which reduce them to sexual objects.

Naming the dehumanizing attitude and behaviors which reduce women to sexual objects is a good thing indeed. I would add, however, that the play never gets to the root cause: lust. Furthermore, ends never justify the means. There are other ways to achieve this end without the misguided means involved. I have proposed such ways before, as has Father Brian Shanley.

Now that all of the common arguments in favor of the performance of the play have been dismantled, we will critically examine the play in order to show how it is in conflict with Church teaching, and must be removed from Catholic campuses.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Mitt Romney

As we await the results in the Iowa caucus, I offer for your study this document. Who created gay marriage in Massachusetts. Could it be Mitt Romney?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Virgin Birth

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury said that he didn't think that the Virgin Birth was necessary for one to believe in the Anglican Communion. He also made other comments about the number of the Magi, where they were from, and other matters. All of these comments were fine, but I am slightly confused as to how one can deny the Virgin Birth and remain an orthodox Christian. If Christ had an Earthly father, where did His divinity come from? It seems that to deny the Virgin Birth is to either deny logic or believe that Christ was adopted into the Godhead, instead of being God from the moment of His conception. This seems to downplay God's deep love for us, as the Incarnation, that God would be a zygote, shows His great humility.

Heresy of the Year

There was one heresy that came up so many times this fall semester at Boston College, I am giving it the heresy of the year award. That heresy is calling God Mother. This little oddity, found occasionally in the early Church, was rejected as time went on. People like Julian of Norwich did it, as well, but she was never canonized. Her theology is not endorsed by the Church. In charity, I simply presume that as a mystic, Julian was having a lot of powerful experiences and having trouble communicating them. Pope John Paul the First also once called God Mother, but popes are not impeccable. He did not succeed in getting into any Church document his views on this matter.

I think the reason this idea is so prevalent at Boston College is because people do theology from the ground up instead of top down, in the manner in which our Lord came to us. Many times people think that we call God Father because He is like an Earthly Father. This is false. "Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven" (Matt. 23:9). Our Earthly fathers are named after our Heavenly one. Similarly, our true mothers are Holy Mother Church and Blessed Virgin Mary.

I do sympathize with feminists who are confused on this matter. Many of them say that we have lost the feminine in God. They make a very important point that God is actually the fulfillment of male and female. The Catechism says, “In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman” (370). Both of us are made in His image. Doing theology from the bottom up is what causes the confusion and when this happens, we are making God in our image. Sadly, some members of the Boston College theology department openly admit that they do theology bottom-up.

Looking at the Trinity, we see how the Father loves the Son freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully, and the Son receives this love. The Son is called the Son because the Word Incarnated as man. However, in the Trinity, the Word takes on a feminine role. Similarly, feminine imagery is used in Scripture for God. God is like a mother-hen or a woman looking for a lost coin.

However, God is masculine in relation to us. We, the Church, the Body of Christ, are the bride of God. Jesus is the bridegroom. We see this imagery in the Song of Songs. In the conjugal act, the man actively puts something and leaves something in the woman, and the woman actively receives. This is the image we use with God’s grace. If we freely open ourselves up to it, God will pour it into us. In his interactions with us, God acts as loving parent and as masculine. We have only one masculine parent: the Father.

How we pray will reflect how we think about God. This principle is called lex orandi, lex credendi (as the Church prays, so she will believe). While we sometimes address God by other titles, “Lord” and “Savior” for Christ or “Creator” for God, these are functions. Father is not a function. When we pray, though, even if we emphasize one of God's other roles, Jesus commanded that "Father" be an essential part of our prayer. Whatever else God may be, we must understand Him as Father. It is important we not call God “Mother” or any members of the Trinity “she” as this goes against the specific instructions of Christ, even if we don’t understand fully how calling God these things will affect our thought belief.

Event of the Year

For the most important Catholic event of the year, I have chosen the released of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum." I truly think that this is the most significant event to happen in the Church since the sexual abuse scandals broke. Of course, I would put this in the positive events category.

In my mind, I am not a liturgical traditionalist. I am simply a faithful Catholic. Now, it seems to me that after the council, something was lost. This something was a sense of the sacred. Vestments went from beautiful to plain (and sometimes ugly). Candle sticks were removed. Incense was used less frequently. Church music began to sound like Celine Dion. Everything that once said, "This place is different; this place is sacred" was removed. When effort is made to make Mass beautiful, it shows that the Mass matters to us. Moms love it when their kids come home after picking weeds and give them as a gift, thinking it's a bouquet. For a 30 year old to do this, shows a lack of sincere effort. God accepts our childish gifts but at some point we put away childish things and give him truly adult gifts. We worship Him with solemnity and beauty.

A lot of people, missing this beauty, yearned for the 1962 Missal. Some people went into schism over it and others remained faithful and suffered. Pope John Paul the Great told bishops to generously allow their faithful to have access to the 1962 missal. He was ignored. Pope Benedict, a gentle and loving shepherd, decided that he had to go out and find the lost sheep, said that any priest can offer the Mass according to the 1962 missal once a day (with some exceptions). No longer were the faithful going to be denied what they had a right to simply because a bishop was opposed to their tastes.

This will clearly have repercussions throughout the entire Church. I make two predictions. The first is that we will see an increase in solemnity in what is being called the ordinary form of the Mass. We have seen this begin to take place in Rome, with stunning vestments and the return of an altar crucifix and candles on the altar. We aren't going to go back to the days before the council. The faithful does not want that. Our Holy Father does not want that. What will happen, though, is the unity between before and after the council will become more clearer, and the way into the future will be guided by tradition.

My second prediction is that as the extraordinary form spreads, and more people in my generation experience it, they will fall in love with the Mass (either form). They will finally understand the Mass, and it will enrich their understanding so much that many young men will respond to God's call to the holy priesthood. These men will not just join orders like the FSSP, for as diocesan priests, they can offer both forms. Diocesan seminaries will be filled and renewed with youthful zeal.

May our Holy Father serve as Supreme Pontiff for many years. God bless the Pope!

Oddity at Mass

Have you ever been at Mass and heard

Through him, with him,
in him, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, all glory and
honour is yours, almighty
Father, for ever and ever.

replaced with

For it is through him, with him,
in him, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, all glory and
honour is yours, almighty
Father, for ever and ever.

Looking at it, isn't that an improper sentence? Shouldn't it read

For it is through him, with him,
in him, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, THAT all glory and
honour is yours, almighty
Father, for ever and ever.

Better just stick with the approved text.