John Jalsevac

Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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August 3, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – At some point yesterday I was scrolling through a rather mundane news article on an equally mundane news site, when my eye was suddenly drawn to the lascivious photo of a beautiful woman prominently featured on the left-hand side of the story. Superimposed on the photo was the headline, “Actresses’ first nude scenes.” And then the words, “Click here.”

I confess that, as attractive as the invitation seemed, I didn’t react quite as the proprietors of the website evidently intended. I did not “click here.” Instead, I got mad.

As a proud, chest-thumping moral Neanderthal, I still believe that sex should be reserved for people who are married, and even then, only with each other (that’s a joke). Indeed, so primitive is my moral code that I even take seriously that much-maligned (and misunderstood) Gospel stricture that “He who looks at a woman lustfully is already guilty of adultery with her in his heart.”

This, of course, has interesting ramifications for someone like myself, who is required to work all day, every day, on the internet. Most of us spend so much time immersed in media that we no longer see it clearly, or have any concept of what life is like apart from it. But if we stepped back for a moment from the bizarre virtual reality into which we have willingly immersed ourselves we would realize that the internet and television are completely, and absurdly, saturated with sex.

Those who have no particular interest in pursuing what is traditionally called “purity” (i.e. reserving sexual thoughts and actions for one person – viz. one’s spouse) may not have noticed this. For such a person, the provocative ads, prurient celebrity gossip, and increasingly ubiquitous sex scenes and soft-core porn come and go, and may or may not be indulged in depending on his or her mood at the time. No big deal either way: if the constant bombardment of sexual stimuli leads to an uncomfortable build-up of sexual energy, there’s always porn and masturbation to turn to for relief.

But try for one single day to stand sentry at the gates of your mind against any sexual thoughts involving any person other than your spouse, and you will be given a rude awakening into how vast is the horde of uninvited interlopers. Surf Facebook, read a news article, browse the latest movie trailers, watch the latest drama (or the news for that matter) – and, if you wish to avoid sexual titillation, you will find yourself switching the channel, clicking to a new page, or covering up part of your screen, for about as much time as you actually spend surfing or watching.

By this point, most online publishers, for instance, have realized that Jennifer Lopez’s sculpted bottom, or Victoria Secret’s latest super-model, or the ‘50 hottest sex tips’, are much more likely to translate into “click-throughs” - and, hence, more pageviews, and more advertizing revenue – than an article, say, about, well, just about anything else.

Such publishers, of course, are simply catching up with what retailers have long known. As C.S. Lewis once put it: “There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance.”

Necessity requires that, to a point, we accept things as they are and get on as best we can. When it comes to the preponderance of soft-core porn on television, at the checkout counter, in our movies, at the mall, on our street corners, on the internet, we simply have to do our best to avoid the “near occasion of sin” and pray for the grace to get through relatively unscathed. After all, sexual temptation is hardly new. But yesterday, being abruptly presented with the unwanted, unwelcome, and unapologetically blunt option of ogling a cornucopia of nude actresses, or remaining faithful to my wife, made me step back and take in the cultural landscape.

And, as I have already said, it made me mad.

Consider, for instance, that the entertainment industry has successfully marketed to millions of our children pop starlets whose single ambition in life seems to be to outdo their rivals in shocking the moral sensibilities of the age—which, given the dullness of the aforementioned moral sensibilities, by this point simply means doing everything short of having actual intercourse on stage and in their music videos.

Even movie trailers – prefaced with the increasingly laughable statement that they have been “approved for all audiences” – are more and more playing host to snippets of explicit sex scenes, nudity, and suggestive motions inclusive, with only the “important parts” strategically covered up. But, really, how important are the “important parts,” when confronted with the sight of two nude bodies intertwined, labored breathing and all? The actual movies, of course, don’t leave nearly as much to the imagination.

This is to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of explicitly pornographic websites that have given rise to a prevalence of sexual addiction, even amongst many of our children and youngest teens, that truly boggles the imagination. Ultimately, of course, this is the Rome to which all these other paths lead. Inflame the passions sufficiently in myriad more subtle ways, and then provide easy access to hardcore pornography, and it is only a matter of time before most people follow the rabbit hole to the very bottom. Which is why the pornography industry is raking in billions of dollars every year.

There are those who say: “So, you want to remain chaste? Then don’t look at pornography, don’t click on the links, don’t look at the ads, don’t read the gossip.” Which is all well and good. Except that it completely fails to take into account human nature, not to mention the near omnipresence of sexual stimuli in our culture. Such people may as well say, “Pluck out your eyes,” or “Cut off your ears.” Someone did once say something to that effect, but the Church (except for one notable exception) has typically interpreted the remark as dramatic overstatement.

We can no more “turn off” our senses than we can stop the sun from shining. And as long as the senses are performing their tasks well, and the body is otherwise healthy, the sight of the human form presented in a sexual manner will entice, and set in motion certain thoughts and desires. Of course, as free human beings we have the capacity to reject those thoughts and desires, to gain control of our reactions (and that, indeed, should be our goal), but if we are continually being bombarded with unwanted and increasingly explicit stimuli, the effort to stand aloof can be mentally and spiritually wearing: so much so that for many in a sex-saturated society such as ours, defeat may seem practically inevitable.

In this world there will never be any freedom from temptation, and those who seek to coercively eradicate all occasions of sin are rightly labeled fundamentalists, and dangerous. But it is not Puritanism to argue that one should not have to be bombarded with invitations to see “actresses’ first nude scenes” while simply wishing to read about latest poll numbers, or the weather. If we were walking along the street and someone walked up to us and shoved a copy of Playboy in our face, we would rightly be offended and angry. And yet, we tolerate precisely such behavior from advertisers, publishers and entertainers every day, behavior that can only be termed a form of spiritual assault. It is little different from a drug pusher who offers the first hit “free,” except that the pushers of pornography have the additional advantage of being able to deliver the first “free” hit with or without the viewer’s explicit approval.

This article is not endorsing any particular solution to the problem. The question of how to redress the excesses of a society in which sex has been blown out of any sense of proportion, is a complex and multifaceted one, and cannot, for instance, be reduced to a simplistic legal solution such as enforcing laws against pornography (although that might not be a bad place to start). If I hope for anything it is simply that my readers will share in my anger, for anger is the first and necessary reaction against an injustice. Every day we are being taken advantage of by people “who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us.”

Let us reject their advances and send them the message loud and clear that “no means no.”

 


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

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By Hilary White
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Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


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Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

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Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15 requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

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But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


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Two very different ways to respond to Pope Francis’ unrecorded interviews

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By John-Henry Westen

In the last few weeks another series of interviews with Pope Francis surfaced and have again left many Catholics scratching their heads.  Headlines all over the world had the Pope saying that two percent of priests are pedophiles, but is that what he said?  Even though the Vatican spokesman did issue a clarification, that question and others remain unanswered.

Critical reactions to these interviews have been interesting not even so much for their contents as from whom they arise.  These are the observations of some of the most faithful Catholic Church watchers today.  The folks pointing out these concerns are not, as many would assume, ‘“far right-wing-holier-than-the-Pope” types, but mainstream Catholics known for their loyalty to Pope Francis.

Phillip Lawler is the founder of Catholic World News, the first Catholic news service operating on the Internet. In part of his criticism of the most recent interview, he states: “Why was Pope Francis speaking with Scalfari without having first established clear ground rules for the conversation—rules that would certainly include recording and verification of any quotes?”

(To comprehend the situation accurately it is necessary to have an understanding of the man whom the Pope has allowed to interview him.  Eugenio Scalfari is relatively unknown in the West even after the fanfare of his papal interviews. LifeSiteNews has produced this piece to assist that understanding.)

Lawler recalls: “Back in October the Vatican had been embarrassed by an ‘interview’ in which [Scalfari’s] reconstructed quotes caused an uproar, and the Vatican press office was forced to issue an awkward ‘clarification’ which only added to the confusion.”

In addition to that clarification of the October Scalfari interview, the confusion and uproar got so bad that the Vatican removed the interview from their website, where they had it posted in the section containing the Pope’s speeches. Interestingly, that interview resurfaced two weeks ago on the Vatican website only to be removed again after a new round of criticism.

A blogger at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register offered an observation similar to Lawler’s but with a little more bite. Pat Archbold writes, “The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.” Archbold advises his readers with characteristic sarcasm, “So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews.”

A second unrecorded conversation with the Pope makes news

Another write-up of an encounter with Pope Francis also caused a stir.  Brian Stiller, an Evangelical leader from Toronto was part of a delegation of Evangelical Christians who met with Pope Francis earlier this month. In his July 9 account, Stiller puts in quotes this statement he attributes to the Pope: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

That led noted priest-blogger Father Dwight Longenecker to first caution that the quotes are “Brian Stiller’s memory of the conversation.” 

Then with the caveat of not actually knowing the whole conversation, Fr. Longenecker says “it would not be unusual for a Catholic priest of Pope Francis’ generation to feel that way.”  He explains that he has “heard from numerous convert clergy over the years who said when they went to their local Catholic priest and expressed the wish to become Catholic the priest told them it wasn’t necessary and that they could do much more good to Christ’s kingdom and the Catholic church by staying where they were and evangelizing within their own denomination.”

“Now this strikes me as rather troublesome on several levels,” says Longenecker. He notes he had himself once used that line with a Protestant friend, to which his friend replied, “You don’t want to convert me? Why not? I don’t have much respect for your religion if you think so little of it that you don’t want me to share it!”

“He basically called me out on what was a little lie on my part. I wanted to be nice to him [so] I said I didn’t want to convert him. He said our discussion would be much better if I admitted that I did want him to become Catholic. He was right. I did. I still do.”

Inside the Vatican

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin has reported that unnamed “Vatican officials are uneasy and perplexed” about the interview. Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002 and has since covered the pope for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

“The officials’ discomfort also extends to the Pope’s spontaneous telephone calls to strangers, a couple of which implied he deviated from Church teaching but, being private and unrecorded conversations, are difficult to verify,” he wrote for Newsmax.

From the outset of the Francis pontificate, there were these unrecorded and yet published interviews – the first was from a meeting with Latin American religious leaders in June 2013.  That was the one that had Pope Francis speaking of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and also about being concerned about Catholics who would count rosaries to offer prayer bouquets.

At the time LifeSiteNews published nothing on that first unrecorded interview even though almost all other news services did.  Shortly thereafter I was at the Vatican inquiring about that unrecorded but reported-on encounter and was assured by various Vatican insiders that the communication was not accidental but intended – to me at the time a rather startling revelation.

But that same assessment came later from another Vatican quarter, a man who speaks German as does the pope and also shares the pope’s religious order.  “Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” said Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio in a May interview with The Atlantic. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Two different ways to respond

One of the most disturbing outcomes of these ‘interviews’ is that the words and interpretations of what is being said by the Pope, while they may be clear for the German Jesuit, are remarkably unclear for the vast majority of Catholics.  Catholics who know well their faith, its moral teachings, and the reason for them are few and far between. They are able to discern that the Pope cannot mean to undermine Church teaching; that those teachings are unchangeable.

But most people are taken in by the media’s false interpretation that ‘who am I to judge’ involves a new acceptance of homosexuality; the false possibility for legitimately-married Catholics to divorce and remarry outside the Church and still receive Communion; the idea that the Church should quiet down on her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage.”  All of those false conclusions were drawn from previous Francis interviews.

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There are two ways forward for faithful Catholics in such a situation.  One way – a way that is most tempting - was recently recognized as a growing tendency by blogger Father Ray Blake. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said.  “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

In leading up to that observation, Blake noted that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.”  He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

However, Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. According to Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.”

He told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues.  He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.


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