Friday, November 16, 2007

Loyal Daughters and Sons

Tonight, I saw Loyal Daughters. No: Loyal Daughters is not a moral black hole planted on the main stage of Washington Hall, sucking in such near-by notables as the Main Building, the Basilica, and the fine dorm of St. Ed’s. Yes: Loyal Daughters had some elements that I could not particularly agree with such as the Vagina Monologues-esque skit that somehow managed to find its way in there. Yet, whether or not the directors and writers intended the play to affect me in this way, Loyal Daughters struck a chord with me, and what I was told never to support set me on fire to proclaim this message:

Men suck.

As a man, I am both able and obligated to say such things. Men suck because they refuse to be men; because when they embody and distort their already disordered and selfish desires, they become spawns of Satan – in all seriousness – reeking havoc on this God-given world; because they fail to realize the wonderful potential that God has given them precisely as men.

In response to this all-too-apparent problem in society throughout the ages, John Paul II proclaims in the Theology of the Body, a series of Wednesday audiences given by the late Pope, that a primary munus (duty, office) of men is to defend the gift of sexuality from the effects of concupiscence and, more precisely, protect and foster the most loving environment for the expression of that gift, especially as in conjugal union.

Our common perception, indeed, is that it is the woman alone who is obliged to say “no” if things get out of hand. This is a false notion which most likely stems from the often true stereotype that men are nothing but sex organs and a semi-functioning brain. But the Pope has higher hopes for men. He acknowledges that a good man is one who, by the grace of God, in waging war against the effects of sin in his own person and in the world, defeats the Devil and loves as Christ first loved us. Truly, it is not the woman who should say “no,” but always and everywhere it is the man who should never put the woman in that situation in the first place!

This dichotomy between spawn-of-Satan man and Christ-is-booyah man was rattling in my brain as the play progressed. It became clear to me that men have a remarkable amount of responsibility in this world. That is, men have the sole responsibility to protect the wondrous treasure which is woman. Oftentimes, as some of the skits powerfully portrayed, this responsibility is cast off, and men fail to be men. It is absolutely true: sometimes, men suck.

On one hand, I praise Loyal Daughters for making the need for good men so apparent. Often, no matter what the circumstances, women can be the victim of a man’s sexual assault and, quite simply, have no say in the matter. On the other hand, while we have seen a sort of “women’s” point of view on the matter, I see a special need for men on campus to see their own point of view. Men, on large scale, need to be at least introduced if not persuaded by powerful drama into becoming men of virtue.

This year, the play was officially entitled Loyal Daughters and Sons. I call for two plays: one, Loyal Daughters; the other, Loyal Sons. Both have their place. Loyal Daughters will not change and will continue to focus on the effects of sexual assault and violence against women (and also men.) Loyal Sons will focus more on the other side of things and the sheer ridiculousness that is men who do violence against women. Men need to see themselves both parodied and then shown what they could be by the grace of God. Perhaps this is the only way for them to decide to become better people.

We must educate our men if we want sexual violence to stop. Men and women alike need to understand that men, by nature, do not have to suck.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ode to Mothers

Monday, 12 November 2007, the Motherhood Resource Committee of Notre Dame's Right to Life group hosted a roundtable discussion on the umbrella-issue of abortion, looking at the many implications of this medical industry and the debate surrounding it. Being that the Motherhood Resource Committee was the host commission for the discussion, the session icebreaker invited the attendees to introduce themselves including a favorite characteristic about their mother. Random, right? Maybe, however I think that such a game brings to attention the underappreciation suffered by mothers, especial stay-at-home mothers, in today's culture.
Mothers rarely, if ever, get any recognition that thoroughly and completely takes into account all of their hard work. For the sake of sparing you, Oh-so Gentle Reader, a list of things moms do, I have attached a glorious YouTube video to this post of a comedienne singing a 2:55-minute summary of everything a mother says and does in a one day period. While the clip is quite humorous (and true: I know I've heard about 98.9% of those phrases from my mom's mouth), the songstress fails to include any accolades of a mother.
If you really think about it, mothers are kind of like benchwarmers. Most literally, they do warm the bench/seat at their childrens' sports games, recitals, plays, and etcetra. But, moreoever, they are almost always in the background of their childrens' lives and expect nothing in return for the loving care that they put into everything. You might be thinking, "That's what we have Mother's Day for." But is that enough?
I once read an article in which the writer proposed that we replace the title "Benchwarmer" with the more appropriate "Sideline Hero." This author describes the benchwarmer as having hero status as he willingly sacrifices personal glory for the betterment and success of the team. Is this same sacrifice not also exhibited, and more perfectly in the role mothers play in the lives of their children? Stay-at-home mothers sacrifice even more, passing up potential glory and success in the workplace for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, stinky diapers, and uprooted flowers from the front garden. What is even more beautiful is the mother who leaves behind the office and never looks back, never second-guessing her work as a mother. Beautifully heroic is the mother who lives for the sandwiches, diapers and surprise bouquets.
So, yea, sit back and enjoy this YouTube ode to mothers; however remember: you might drive your mom up the wall and she might yell all sorts of obnoxious things to you, but at the end of the day she thanks God for your and her life and looks forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Someone Coin the Term, "Permacloud"

As clouds settle into their fixed location above South Bend for the next three months, there is a particular danger of being overcome by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Info here. Especially for freshman who are struggling to stay on top of the overwhelming wave of gray in a scary, new world, SAD is more than just a phase; it is a potentially debilitating persistent mood which can disrupt the normal flow of life, lower grades, and decrease motivation.

You might think: “A few clouds and a freshman starts flunking? What a wimp!”

I tell you, the sun is more than that which gives us warmth, food, and light. In our very experience of that sun – the seeming eternal giver of life on whom Plato, Aquinas, and even Jesus Christ Himself depended – we obtain transcendent happiness which is not wholly present in our conscious but which sustains us and gives us the energy to carry out a day to the fullest. Though we are unable to identify this unusual quality of the sun working in us, we know when it is gone.

We see the effects of its absence in ourselves as laziness, misjudgment, moodiness, etc. We find ourselves longing to hole ourselves up in the dark caverns of our rooms and sleeping through the day. And I myself know the perilous dangers of hibernation eating. Without the sun, our lives, once bright and vibrant, turn dull.

Yet, there is hope. There is always hope. We have faith that, in a short while, we will see the sun again, and we know that at that time, we will be greeted by the sun with its warming rays. But hope is more than the faculty by which we expect a future event; it is the power and strength and encouragement we gain by our determination to work towards that event.

Who will be most able to enjoy fully the warmth of spring when it comes? Will it be those who have holed themselves up all winter or those who have allowed themselves to persist in their moodiness? Of course not. The ones that will be able to most fully enjoy the coming spring are those who have been not only anticipating it with a joyous heart, but living as though that spring were today.

Hope is strength. Therefore, freshman, live your lives in hope that you will see the sun again.