Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

I’ve received a few jibes lately from Catholics, claiming that I must be a feminist. These comments are usually full to the brim with what are either implications or direct claims that I can’t possibly be a good Catholic, since I am … you know … the culture wars f word.

Truth told, I am a feminist. I’ve written about it, and, indeed, made whole speeches about it in many public forums. I don’t hide it. I’m proud of it.

In fact, I have a question for those of you who think being a feminist is such a terrible thing:

In a world with widespread and endemic rape,

In a world with female genital mutiliation,

In a world where women constantly suffer degrading name-calling,

In a world where many men consider it their right to beat and batter women,

In a world where baby girls, both before and after they are born, are routinely murdered, simply because they are baby girls,

In a world where the President of the United States calls women pigs and dogs, hints at incest, puts his own wife in a porn photo shoot (which pretty much answers the question, Does he love her? with a big fat “no.”) and is a serial sexual predator who sexually assaults women and brags about it in what he calls “locker room talk,”

In that world, why aren’t you a feminist too? 

I wrote about this last week for the National Catholic Register.

Here is what I said:

Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.

The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.

They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.

One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.

It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.

The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”

The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.

Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.

I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together;  even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.

 They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.

Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.

Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.

But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.

Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.

That is why we need both men and women in our government. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Music for Our Times Sounds Like This

Lang Lang playing the piano. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by digital cat https://www.flickr.com/photos/14646075@N03/

Lang Lang playing the piano. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by digital cat https://www.flickr.com/photos/14646075@N03/

I will never play this piece of music. It’s right up there with jumping the Grand Canyon flat-footed and breaking the sound barrier without an airplane.

In fact, I have to listen to hear it intelligently, and every time I hear it, I hear something else.

It’s Chopin’s Ballade No 1 in G Minor. I’ve taken to listening to it a lot lately, especially as it’s performed by various artists. It seems to speak of the times we are entering, at least to me.

Here is Chopin’s Ballade No 1, played in a grand manner by Rubenstein. This version includes the music so you can follow along as you listen. Be patient with it. There are a couple of written quotes at the first of it before the music begins. Notice how the Ballade changes constantly all the way through.

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Here it is, performed by Lang Lang. I love to watch him as he plays. He feels the music, is transported by it. His playing is more lush, with big emotionality.

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Here is a thoughtful interpretation by Martha Argerich. Do you hear the more introspective way she  approaches it, compared to Lang Lang, who is full-on with it? It’s also interesting to hear the difference in the pianos they use. Do you hear that?

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This incredible piece of music talks to us through each of these artists, and what it says is a bit different, depending on which of them has control of it. Their genius shows in that whichever one of them is playing, they are not just pounding out notes. They have control — although you sometimes feel as if their control is just barely there — of the music in the notes.

I change my mind a lot about which interpretation I like best. They’re all so good, each in a different way. Do you have a favorite?

It amazes me that people can do this. Chopin heard this music before he wrote it, felt it before he heard it. These pianists are able to overcome the technical difficulties and complexity of this piece of music to master it to the point that they can then take it and put pieces of themselves back into it, making it their own.

We are wondrously made. Chopin wrote this wonderful music after the partition of his beloved country. He somehow managed to pull the longing, the chaos and the clash of this disaster out of the piano. The history of the Ballade alone nominates it as music for our times. But the Ballade itself reaches across the century and speaks of today as if then was now.

It is not a marching tune. You would break your leg, marching to this. I can’t even tell for sure which key it’s in a big part of the time. The Ballade is a technical power house that only a genius like Chopin could tame into a not-quite form.

As I said, I have to listen to even really hear it.

Such is the genius of the human being.

Of us, who are fearfully and wondrously made.

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History Repeats in USA, But Evil Will Never Triumph

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

What happens when evil appears to triumph?

I wrote about that for CatholicVote. Here’s part of what I said:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. King Solomon

“Today’s families face challenges that previous generations did not face.”

We recite that cliché in somber tones, as if we were saying something profound. But King Solomon was right. There is nothing new under the sun.

A society run amok with sexual depravity? Look no further than Sodom and Gomorrah, or most of the ancient pagan world, for that matter.

Killing our children to free us to achieve for the corporate empires that rule our world? Change “career” to “good harvest” and “abortion” to “putting your children through the fires,” and you are right back in the pagan world, standing before Moloch.

Poison our elderly, disabled, sick, weak and frail in an act of “mercy?” Go back 70 years to the “useless eaters” of the Third Reich, being driven around in trucks with hoses piping the exhaust in on them. If that seems too pertinent, look at pagan societies that left their helpless members out, where the animals could kill them.

Sex selected abortion? Think of exposing baby girls by throwing them in the dump and leaving them to die.

What about drugs and the reign of terror exacted on families today by the drug addicts in their midst? What about incest? Or polygamy or Christian persecution?

There’s nothing new, not under the star we call Sol. It’s all been done before.

– See more at: http://www.catholicvote.org/history-repeats-in-usa-but-evil-will-never-triumph/#sthash.NhluMqGh.dpuf

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What if We Took a New Look at the Story of St Maria Goretti?

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

This is for those who lie in the field, the lake, the dump and the shallow grave. It is for the ones whose bodies will never be found, whose names will go unrecorded; for the forgotten, unidentified, unfound women who died at the hands of their attackers. Rebecca Hamilton

I know a simple way to turn St Maria Goretti into a saint that rape victims and battered women all over the world would turn to in gratitude and adoration.

Why don’t we look at her story from the angle that rape is a mortal sin, that it is a sin against the humanity of the individual person who has it done to them, and that it is a sin which is so ubiquitous that it keeps half the human race in fear?

How about if we approach the story of St Maria Goretti as an admonition for men to stop raping?

Yes, she appeared to her would-be rapist from beyond the grave, and yes, this moved him to remorse. But the story is not that she died “for purity.” The story is that he was a grown man who repeatedly tried to molest a child, then murdered her for resisting him, and she forgave him and appeared to him from heaven to save his sorry soul.

We might also consider her story in light of the reality of child sexual abuse. Her murderer was 20 years old. She was 12. He had been repeatedly attempting to molest this little girl before he murdered her.

I have a lot of love and tenderness toward a little girl of 12 who was murdered while fighting off her rapist. I have tremendous sympathy for a little girl who is being subjected to repeated sexual advances from her adult neighbor.

What I do not see is that she is a saint because she died rather than be raped; that the salutary tale we are to take from her story is that she died “defending her purity.” This is a view of little girls and women that has led to enormous suffering for women for millennia. In some parts of the world today, rape victims are expected to commit suicide because they have lost their “virtue.”

Let’s be clear about this: The one without honor is the rapist. The one who has no purity is the rapist. If anybody deserves death because of this crime, it is the rapist.

The truth is that the “purity” of a human being does not reside in physical virginity. It resides in a soul that rests in Christ. A woman’s “honor” is the same as a man’s honor: It is her honesty, her loyalty and her courage.

A woman’s honor has everything to do with whether or not you can rely on her word, if she will be honest in her dealings with the world and if she keeps her commitments. It has nothing to do with whether or not a rapist has destroyed her hymen.

Purity is a matter of the heart and soul, not the physical things that are done to a person. A comfort woman that the Japanese raped over and over again may very well have more honor than any of the people commenting on this blog, including me. A victim of sex trafficking may have a soul so pure that it rings like crystal when she stands before the Lord, while those who claim that she is besmirched and worthless are without honor, kindness or love.

The story of Maria Goretti is a story of child sexual abuse and attempted rape that resulted in the death of a child at the hands of her attacker. The miraculous element in it comes from Maria Goretti’s forgiveness of the man who did this. It is a forgiveness that reaches from beyond the grave.

However, even this element can be completely turned on its head if we follow the way that St Goretti’s story is currently told. Can child-murdering pedophiles be forgiven?

Yes.

There is no sin we can commit that is greater than God’s mercy in Christ Jesus.

Did Maria Goretti feel concern for her attacker that led her to come to him and seek his conversion from heaven?

Yes.

But that is because hell is so terrible, and because this child-murdering pedophile was so dastardly that her compassion reached out to him in love in spite of what he did to her.

Maria Goretti did not die to save her murderer. She acted in love after her death to save him. Her death is not a wondrous tale of how women are supposed to value their “purity” above their lives. It is a story of how a person who is one with Christ can forgive the unforgivable, just as Christ forgave from the cross.

It is not a story to be used to exacerbate the guilt and shame of other little girls, and indeed, of older girls, who are sexually molested by adults when they are children, or who are forcibly raped when they are older.

There is no requirement on any woman to resist her rapist to the death. Getting yourself murdered because of a misogynist notion of “purity” that says that a woman’s “honor” resides in whether or not she has had sex should never be taught as an ideal to little girls.

The way that St Maria Goretti’s story has been used harms rape victims. It adds to their shame and increases their misery. It can make recovery from this horrible crime impossible.

I have had enough in my young life of my fellow Christians turning their backs on rape victims. I once witnessed a church that actually voted on whether or not to allow a rape victim to remain a member of the church.

I have known rape victims who committed suicide over this kind of attitude toward them. I knew a woman who had been raped by 5 men who, when she encountered this kind of “why didn’t you fight harder, why were you at that concert in the first place” condemnation climbed into her bathtub, put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

I do not care — let me say that again — I do not care if I am the only person on this planet who speaks out against the abusive use of this saint’s story to shame and blame rape victims. I will still do it.

I do not care — I do not care — if every single person reading this blog opposes what I am saying.

Blaming and shaming rape victims is anti-Christ. Claims that He somehow or other regards half the people he made this way defame His holy name.

These women are Christ crucified, standing right in front of you. If you don’t get that, then you really are missing the whole point of Christ’s passion.

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ISIS Offers “Beautiful Young Girls” as Sex Slaves to Winners of Koran Memorization Contest

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Matt Lemmon https://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/

Evidently, ISIS is sponsoring a Koran Memorization contest in honor of Ramadan in which “beautiful young girls,” said to be as young as 12 years of age, go to the winners.

The contest announcement, which was posted on Twitter, is below.

From The Jewish Press:

‘Soldiers of the Islamic State, Commanders and Troops, Greetings and salutations upon the advent of Ramadan, May it be the will of Allah to accept our fasts and prayers May Allah protect us all from the fires of hell.

Da’wa institutions and mosques hereby declare the opening of the Qur’an memorization competition, To include the following traditions (chapters):

Surat Al-Anfal (Surah prey), (Surah a-Ta’uvah) Surat Muhmad, and Surat Patikha (Surat opening). The competition will be held from 1 Ramadan 1436 to 21 Ramadan 1437.

Those who wish to participate may register at the following mosques: Mosque of Abu Bakr, Mosque of Osama Bin Laden, Mosque of Abu Musab a-Zarqawi (senior Al Qaeda official, the founder of ISIS assassinated in Iraq in 2006), and the Al Taqwa Mosque.

Allah willing, winners will be chosen between 21 Ramadan 1436 and 27 Ramadan 1437.

Competition Prizes:
Grand Prize Winner: ‘Sabia’ (a young girl)
Second Prize: Teenage girl
Third Prize: Teenage girl
Fourth place: 100,000 Syrian pounds ($530)
Fifth place: 90,000 Syrian pounds ($477)
Sixth place: 80,000 Syrian pounds ($424)
Seventh place: 70,000 Syrian pounds ($370)
Eighth place: 60,000 Syrian pounds ($317)
Ninth place: 50,000 Syrian pounds ($265)
Tenth place: 50,000 Syrian pounds ($265)

We ask Allah the Great to ease and help you on your way in serving Him as He desires.
Da’wa Institutions and Mosques

 

 

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Pope Francis Calls Human Trafficking a Shameful Wound Unworthy of Human Society.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

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Taliban Attacks Pakistani School. Guns Down 132 People, Most of Them Children.

 

In an inexplicable bit of terrorist logic, the Taliban attacked a school in Northwest Pakistan yesterday.

Mohammed Khurrassani, a Taliban spokesman, said the murders of these children were in retaliation for Pakistani Army operations which they claim have killed hundreds of Pakistani tribesman.

The Taliban attackers murdered an estimated 132 people, most of them children, and wounded another 122. They made students watch as they burned a teacher alive. It is reported that they beheaded some of the children.

The thinking that goes into specifically attacking a school and slaughtering children as a political statement is beyond me. This sort of thing seems to be happening more and more. In 2004, Islamic militants attacked a school in Beslan Russia and killed 385 people, most of them children.

Boko Haram has made something of a career out of attacking schools and churches. On February 25 of this year, they attacked a Christian boys’ boarding school, killing 29 students. Later in the year, they attacked a girls’ school, kidnapping 200 girls. These girls were forcibly converted to Islam and, according to Boko Haram, then “married,” which I believe means used to concubines, by their fighters. A truce in which the girls were supposed to be returned never happened. In July, they attacked another school, killing 42 people, most of whom were students. Then, on November 10, Boko Haram attacked yet another school, killing 47 and wounding 79.

We’ve been hearing for years about the big, brave men who throw acid in school girl’s faces. And now it seems the world is going to be treated to an increasing number of attacks on schools and school children.

This is organized barbarity. It is also cowardice. I don’t know what they teach people in the Taliban, ISIS and Boko Haram, but real men don’t murder, kidnap, rape school children.

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The Story of Amazing Grace

 

Amazing Grace touches hearts as no other hymn. Here is the remarkable story of its author.

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Vatican: World Faith Leaders Pledge to Work to Stamp Out Human Trafficking

REUTERS594883 Articolo

Photo source: Reuters, via Vatican Radio

We call it “modern slavery.” 

“It” is the business of buying and selling people. 

Pope Francis hosted a group of religious leaders from many faiths who signed a pledge against modern slavery. Signatories included representatives from the Shai and Sunni Muslims, Buddhism, Orthodox, Jewish and Anglican faith traditions. 

I once did something similar to this. I hosted a luncheon for Oklahoma’s faith leaders, including many Protestant denominations, Orthodox, Catholic, Buddhist, and Muslim. 

I think that something like this could really change things, but it takes going forward. One event, one signing or one document, won’t do it. 

I am proud of Pope Francis for taking this first great step and for uniting the leaders of these faiths in this call for an end to human trafficking It is the essential first step to this change. 

From Vatican Radio;

(Vatican Radio) An unprecedented gathering of religious leaders from all corners of the globe took place in the Vatican on Tuesday for the signing of a joint declaration against modern slavery. Pope Francis joined Anglican, Orthodox, Jewish, Shia and Sunni Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist representatives in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, together with two young trafficking victims from Mexico and Ghana. Philippa Hitchen reports…..

No-one knows the exact number of men and women, boys and girls who are trafficked into prostitution, forced labour or the trade in human body parts. Some estimates put the figure as high as 35 million, but as one participant pointed out, it’s not the numbers that matter as much as the fact that every single one of those people could be your brother or sister, my son or daughter.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby first met Pope Francis in 2013, they identified the scourge of human trafficking as one of the most urgent priorities for both of their Churches today. Less than a year later, the ecumenical Global Freedom Network was set up to try and harness the commitment of believers around the world for practical action to eradicate this modern slavery by the year 2020.

This gathering of religious leaders in the Vatican today represents around 90 percent of the world’s population and the declaration they signed commits their communities to working together for the freedom of all people and an end to this lucrative trade in human life. In his words to the group, Pope Francis called it an absurd evil and a crime against humanity….

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Pope Francis: The Devil Hates Human Beings and Wants to Destroy Us

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