Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

It's official.

Men. Are. Pigs.

I know this gets screamed all the time by all different types, but in a number of cases, it is really and truly true.

Well, no, that's not quite true. To say that a man is a pig is a contradiction. We have become all too fond of denominating an adult male by use of the term "Man," but the truth of the matter is that it is not that simple. It is, unfortunately, not automatic.

Better to say that many who we call men are in fact not, but merely boys trapped in an adult body without the faculties necessary to have achieved the noble title of "Man."

Some of you may recognize the image above as from an ad campaign by Trojan™ condoms, which basically implied that a man was a pig unless he carried Trojan™ condoms on his person. This is because, of course, it's okay to intend to have sex with a woman you just met, after both of you have become mildly to extremely inebriated, so long as you have "protection."

Of course.

The only protection needed in those circumstances is a bottle of mace. Or a shotgun.

The astute observer will by this point have noted that that campaign is not exactly recent, and that there must be another impetus for this particular post, and they would be right. Because they are astute. Why don't we get together and call ourselves an institute?

Sorry, Paul Simon makes me happy.

I recently had to pull out the "It's time to stop the rape jokes, they're not funny" card in a group of personages who will remain more or less anonymous. This is, unfortunately, not the first time I have had to pull out this card with this group. The time before, one of the males in question made the assertion that another person was "raping" him, because they were on a team together and he had been told to take care of some administrative work for the team.

After he had repeated his protestation several times, to the effect of, "Seriously, what you're doing right now is basically raping me," I quite simply told him that that was not funny, and that it was time for him to stop. He didn't understand, protested that it's just a joke, to which I simply replied that I know too many women who have been raped to make any such joke funny. It is not funny. You should stop.

He kept asking me why I was getting angry with him, to which I replied that I am not - and I wasn't, really, any more than I would be angry with a puppy that hasn't been house trained, though the pressure was indeed building - and eventually had to resort to interrupting him every time he opened his mouth with, "<Name>, let's drop this. This conversation is over. Drop it."

Bad enough, but unfortunately not as bad as this afternoon.

The discussion of several of these personages, the young male involved in the above encounter included, drifted to their current respective stocks of alcohol, and the uses thereof, which then led to this aforementioned young male expounding upon his technique for hooking up with freshmen:
So, basically, this is how I hit on them <approaches another guy to use as an example, putting his arms around the other's shoulders>, and then I say, "Let's go back to my place, I've got a hot tub," but then by the time we get there, I don't have a hot tub, but it doesn't matter, because she's forgotten why she came in the first place, so she thinks she just came with me for everything else.
After making it clear to him in no uncertain terms what I thought of that, he defended himself, saying that he was getting drunk too, and those girls made the decision to go to that party and get drunk. Others of the young males defended him in this, blaming these young ladies, because obviously these males in question wouldn't be doing this if these girls weren't showing up at these parties drunk.

No. No. No. No, No, NO, NO!!!!!!!

Even granting that these young ladies are making poor choices, I allowed, do you not see your own hand in building this situation? Do you not see how you are enabling this? If you recognize it as not good, then why are you being a part of it? If she is that drunk, she is too drunk to give consent. If she is that drunk you cannot assume consent.

At some point during this conversation I told the young initiator of this line of discussion, "So basically, as the father of a daughter, you're the type of man I'll be coming after with a shotgun."

They agreed, but continued to defend themselves. After all, it is my responsibility to not raise a slut for a daughter, they said, also referencing Chris Rock: "Daddies, it's your job to keep your daughters off the pole."

And you know what, they are absolutely right, it is absolutely my responsibility to raise a daughter who has too much self worth to even interact with this type of cretin.

But what about the daughters who had no fathers, or whose fathers were abusive <insert appropriate sentiment here />? You acknowledge that their "daddy issues" are a brokenness, but more over say that it makes them fair game?

You are not men. Not even boys, because boys at least have some innocence. You are predators. You prey on the weak who you should be defending, defending them even against themselves.

You claim that it is not your fault while you objectify women, making it clear that the type of woman you want to be with is one who is hot and puts out. Are you truly so blind to your part in this? Let those with eyes see.

It used to be that courage, honor, valor, integrity, these were the things that made you a man.

It seems that to today's society, what makes a man is the condom.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New Contact Info

As promised, I am posting to let you know I have updated the discussion page.

New contact information for blog related communication.

As you were.


East Meets West

So as many of you know, I've got a bit of a background in the martial arts. Specifically, I hold a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and orange belt in Hapkido, have studied under both the WTF and ATA styles of Taekwondo, and have had exposure to (seminars or integrated into other martial arts training) Judo, Kungfu, Kumdo, and Systema.

I have also had the honor of serving as an instructor at under Masters Hegland & Shilkaitas, from whom I earned my degree, and as a TA for Grandmaster Yong Chin Pak, who truly is a legend. My dad started teaching me Taekwondo when I was 9, so you could say I've basically grown up around the martial arts.

As many of you also know, I have a keen interest in Theology and Philosophy. My dad pointed out to me (some time ago) that one of the things he enjoyed the most about Taekwondo in college was how the tenets taught by Grandmaster Pak, reflected the way of behaving in which we are trained in our Christian faith; Courtesy, Integrity, Self Control, Perseverance, and Indomitable Spirit.

A warning here, there a few major ways in which eastern religions/philosophies tend to fall away from the truth; Contradiction, nihilism, determinism, and "emptying yourself."

In brief, logic - a product of the west - is founded upon the principle of non-contradiction. That is, one cannot say that a statement (the ball is green) and its opposite (the ball is not green) can both be true at the same time. Many eastern philosophies reject this notion, which draws in a great number of mystic-type pseudo-theologians, but really prevents and real progress from ever being made in any direction, philosophically speaking.

Secondly, with regard to nihilism and determinism, a number of philosophies espouse a total negation or destruction of the self, and promote the concept of a re-incarnation cycle in which we live countless lives until we "get it right."

Along with the issue of nihilism, the Zen concept of emptying yourself can be dangerous if one is not careful. While there is nothing wrong with meditation - in can be very healthy for mind, body, and soul - there are many ways it can be perverted. As a contrast, in Christianity, when one empties oneself, it is for the express purpose of being filled by Christ. We decrease that He might increase, as John the Baptist said. If we simply empty ourselves without any intention, we can open ourselves in dangerous ways.

But all that aside, as far as the way of behaving is concerned, the same basic tenets seem to appear between east and west, and there is a strong tradition of mysticism from the east, which we honestly sometimes lose in todays techno-centric world.

The point I'm getting at is that I have long admired the warrior monks, albeit their much romanticized film versions. The concept of drawing closer to the truth while honing your body appeals to me though I am not very physical myself. Something with the phrase "mens sana in corpore sano" - a healthy mind in a healthy body.

To that end, I have wondered for some time now about what it would be like to start a Catholic order of warriors. Maybe it's a guy thing, but there is a simple and profound closeness and contentment in struggling against another with nothing but your own wits and skills. And there is a truth that when your mind is the master of your body, it is freed to attain nobler pursuits than before, when it is not always fighting for dominance.

I need to find them again, but I composed a series of prayers related to the 8 elements of the Palgwe and Taegeuk form sets taught in the WTF. They have yet to be reviewed by a priest, but my thought was to have them integrated with the forms, so that the practice of the form becomes itself a prayer, a physical expression of love for God by the utilization and maintenance of His temple.

The training would be... interesting. I'm contemplating making the training itself in Latin, though I lean towards the Korean in which I learned the techniques, or English because the rest will be hard enough already. Students would learn not just the physical, or even the mental and spiritual which is currently taught, but more, training in classical forms, hand to hand self defense, sport sparring, weapons, and of course Theology and Philosophy.

The outcome: The Philosopher Warrior. They are gentle, not because they are weak, but because they withhold their strength. They are humble not because they lack in ability, but because they know their ability is a gift, and a responsibility to be used in the service of others. They seek the truth, in word and in act, purifying thought by the sweat of their brow, bonding with each other over the clash of words and the clash of blows.

Their minds are honed into weapons of truth, seeking out what is right in charity and compassion. Their bodies are healthy, strong, able to defend others, clean temples of the Holy Spirit, contemplating the mystery of Christ's Sacred humanity while they discover their own.

Plus, with the end coming 2012*, wouldn't you rather be roaming the post-apocalyptic plains of the midwest with a band of Catholics survivalists?

* N.B. I don't actually believe the end of the world is in 2012. I don't know when it is.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Fourth Joyful Mystery

Him Whom You Presented in the Temple
The Presentation

The Fourth Joyful Mystery can be somewhat of a challenge for me, honestly.  It's the one right after the Nativity.  We already had the High Holy Day of the mysteries come up, and now we're just walking back and forth, and doing some stuff according to the law, and... Well, sometimes it just feels like the day after Christmas.  Nice, but nothing too special.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

The beauty of the presentation is that not only is it a sign of how Christ comes as a fulfillment of the law, but also because it is in a way the first unveiling, the first time that he is presented in public in the scriptures.  

"But what about the night of the nativity?" you ask.  "What about the shepherds, and the Magi?"

Well, by analyzing scripture, the Magi did not come until at least 41 days after the birth of Christ, after the presentation.  We know this because the presentation occurred after the days of purification for mother and child were completed, which Leviticus 12:2-4 numbers at 40.  

More than that, Matthew tells that the night the Magi came to pay Christ homage, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt at the command of an angel, which means they came after the presentation had been accomplished.

As for the Shepherds, they're a pretty small group, and not really what we would think of as the "general public" per se.  So aside from them and maybe the family who Joseph and Mary may have been staying with, the presentation at the temple really is the first time that Jesus is presented to the world.

That's what makes this a big deal.

So it is that we come to the Temple, the Mosaic prescription for their purification having been satisfied.  Remember how important the first born was to this culture, especially the first born male?  He was the one who would become the head of the family one day.  He was the one spared during the Passover when every other first born male in Egypt died.

More than that, that practice was a prefigurement of this very event.  It was a part of Jewish custom so that in the fulness of time, when the only-begotten Son of the Father, the first born of all creation was born as a human, he would be consecrated to the Lord in his sacred humanity.  

Here we are in the Temple, " present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, «Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord...»" (Luke 2:23).  This is where Mary gives us her son, brings him to us in public for the first time, and it is here that something very special happens, described by Luke 2:25-35:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.  It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.  He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." 
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 
"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
His words are considered so important that they are called the Canticle of Simeon, or the Nunc Dimittis, after the first two words in Latin (Now you dismiss), and is included in Compline (Night Prayer) in the Liturgy of the Hours.  However, what I'd really like to focus on for the remainder of this post is the last part, which he says to Mary directly.

"Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted, (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

If you have ever seen the image of two hearts side-by-side, both radiant and on fire, one wrapped in a crown of thorns and the other pierced by a sword, this is why.  They are the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  In this passage, Simeon is foretelling the sorrow of Mary to see her son crucified, to stand at the foot of the cross, offering Him to His eternal Father.

So we too ask that as our mother, given to us through John at the foot of the cross, would present us and consecrate us to the Lord.  One very beautiful way to do this is to complete the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary according to Sr. Louis de Montfort.  I can't vouch for every opinion on this site, but it does have some great resources, including this guide to the devotion.

Mary, our Mother,
Whose heart was pierced by a sword of sorrow,
Reveal the contents of our hearts and minds.

Show us where we fail to live
As children who have been presented to the Father
By our baptism.

Pray for us to your Son
That seeing our failings, we may bring them to Him,
to live the abundance of life which He promised.