Saturday, November 05, 2005
Friday, November 04, 2005
Canon, Tradition, Fanfic, and St. Jane of Austen
I haven't been over to Enbrethiliel's blog for an Elf's age, so I was delighted to find Zadok linking to her posts on "Scripture and Tradition in Jane Austen" and "The Value of Reading Fan Fiction". Good stuff. Especially the link to a G.I. Joe alternate world epic. Mmm, Eighties goodness....
Thomas a Kempis, Political Philosopher
I've been reading The Imitation of Christ for my audioblog, as I mentioned below. This little quote caught my eye. It seems to explain perfectly the state of politics in America, in a perfectly bipartisan way.
If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.
Zeal for Thy House Consumes Me
Postings like the one below seem perfectly appropriate the day I post them. The next morning make me feel like I'm kicking a puppy. I mean, here's poor Quoque, just trying to do his best, all excited about the vision of Christian life presented by Dressing with Dignity... and here I am, raining on his parade. How mean and nasty I am.
(Well, this is no news to the good Lord, actually. More time in the Cell of Self-Knowledge for me.)
But when I point out that there are plenty of people out there who would tell the traditional ladies that their mantillas are immodest head coverings, I'm not joking. It's something that people I know well might indeed be forced to say, at least for themselves. They have chosen to practice Orthodox Judaism in all seriousness, and thus are busy hiding their hair from everyone but their husbands. I wouldn't do it myself, and certainly I would prefer them to practice the fullness of the Covenant over here across the Tiber. But I honor their dedication.
But then, I can honor them because they're not sitting around telling me that I must cover my hair, my wrists and my ankles. They're not even saying that to other Jews or Orthodox Jews. They're practicing it for God and their own good. They aren't condemning me for not taking on the same burden. Similarly, you can be a nun without insisting that everyone wear a habit, or a Florida-people pantsuit, just like you. In fact, that's kinda the point of being a nun.
Telling all women that all pants are all immodest is putting an unjust burden on other people. I have no objection if someone chooses not to wear skirts, or not ever cut her hair, because she feels it's a better or deeper way to live her Christian faith. I do have an objection to being told, even by implication, that I'm a hussy if I don't do likewise.
I am living well within divine, human, and canon law where clothing modesty is concerned, and I know my rights and duties as well as any Christian alive. If you try to tell me otherwise, I will laugh in your face. If you call me to live my faith more deeply through the clothes I wear, I will be more likely to listen. But frankly, modesty is not an issue that concerns me, because clothes and dating don't concern me much. Dressing plainly is already second nature to me. If I bought myself a whole new wardrobe of determinedly modest clothes, that's when I'd be flaunting myself.
I'm a lot more worried about my intellectual lack of modesty. I'm reading The Imitation of Christ for the next few Saturdays over on my audioblog, and hooboy, is it topical for me.
If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.
So I think I'll shut up now.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
What's Pants for the Goose....
You know, it would be really nice if people behaved with common decency. It would be nice if ordinary modesty came back. It would be really nice if Christians advocating modesty weren't so often huge and officious twits.
For example, let us click on over to the humbly named Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus and observe the blogger's discussion of "The Problem of Pants". (Thanks, Speculative Catholic.) It seems that it is vital to the world to point out that the cut of pants into legs creates a sort of arrow pointing upward at the female private package.
And yet, on the principle of the splinter and the GREAT HONKIN' OAKEN BEAM, it doesn't occur to this pure-minded blogger that the cut of pants inevitably points still more directly at the male package. Which is external, and outlined for all to see, by the cut of pants. I mean any pants, guys, not just tight ones.
It always astonishes me that men don't think about these things. For some reason, the burden of modesty always is supposed to rest upon the women, while men are apparently considering themselves sexless creatures lured to wrong by women flaunting all they own. I hate to break it to these men, but what's sauce for the goose is definitely sauce for the gander, and always was. Sorry your mommy never filled you in.
Pants were counted immodest in Jesus' time -- something worn only by wild horse-riding barbarians. Legionnaires' leather skirts were counted immodest by the Jews, who wore full-length robes. The necessity to ride horses and the utility of the clothing brought pants back again and again, but what a pain to sew until modern times! So pants kept going right back where they came from, until the last few centuries.
But even when pants came to stay, men who were not fashion-forward guarded their modesty. History is full of elaborately modest male underwear. Jackets and coats were long and covered the rear and front of pants from view. Until the last few decades, no decent man would sit around the house even in his undershirt; and going out into the front yard required undershirt, shirt, jacket, and snappy hat as well as pants. Somehow, I don't see a lot of traditional men taking care to hide their musculature or cover their bare arms; but that was the way it used to be.
In the end, a good deal of modesty is in the eye of the beholder as well as the wearer. And if the beholder of female pants is a gentleman, he will politely fail to look at the exact same areas that ladies fail to see on men. It's called chivalry. It's called a social contract. It's called risking a punch or slap if you look at my pants in any less respectful way.
And if you non-hypocritical male advocates of modesty go to kilts, be sure to wear a sporran and learn how to sit right. It'll help protect you from the world being able to see up your skirts as far as I was able to see up NQP's argument.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Whited Sepulchres R Us
Apparently, Loretto High School in California believes in teaching its students the good old fashioned values of "sit down, shut up, and pay to be oppressed". Why, it's a good thing to have a Catholic teacher at a Catholic high school support abortion on the side, and escort children to their entirely legal executions. It's a bad thing to blow the whistle. And if your mother blew the whistle and the local paper revealed your name and lack of shame at your mother's horrid behavior, you must of course be expelled over the weekend. By Fed Ex, yet.
If this place were a real Catholic school, and a real preparatory academy, this is what our young lady would have received:
This rose is awarded in Mary Ward’s name to a young woman whose Christian commitment is expressed by her positive influence on others, which leads them to a deeper understanding and expression of their own faith. This outstanding student is active in countless service activities and defines leadership in every sense of the word.
Never mind, Katelyn. I'm sure Mary Ward herself will send you a rose, even if she has to go through the St. Therese version of Fed Ex to do it. :)
The Holy House had an open door.
When Mary came there, pregnant, poor,
Joseph did not turn her away.
He let her in. He told her, "Stay."
When Mary walked with a pregnant girl,
She told her hope was in the world,
To keep the child who waits within.
Hers saved the world, and her, from sin.
The Holy House held a Boy who spoke
To the Temple elders, to all the folk.
He had to teach them, so He spoke out.
It's His Father's business he was about.
The Holy House held a family of three
That never would sit and let evil be.
It's a great disgrace to the Bridegroom's Spouse
To expel such folk from the Holy House.
(I suggest that the student and her family would be far more comfortable over in this parish, St. Luke's of Brookfield, WI, which has traded a big money fundraiser for the assurance that they're not inadvertently supporting a very distasteful group called Girls Inc. The pastor's quote: "It's a bargain we'll just have to pass up. The cost is too high. Our integrity isn't for sale.")