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Cognitive Dissonance

It must be intellectually difficult to be Barry Obama.  On the one hand, you would have to believe that it is perfectly okay to leave an infant in a linen closet to die.

On the other hand, you would have to believe that it is completely monstorous to pour water down a known terrorist’s nose.

Impressive.

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Fathers and Daughters

Perhaps my worry about handling a teenage daughter is a bit premature, given that my daughter will not even be born until November.  But some recent articles and blogospheric chatter have caused me to start thinking about what a father (or a mother, for that matter) can do to teach a teenage daughter about chastity and sexuality.

First, there is the grotesque series of videos brought to us by our friends at Planned Parenthood, called Take Care Down There.  (Warning: click at your own risk.)  The Planned Parenthood videos were thoroughly critiqued by Kathryn Jean Lopez yesterday at National Review Online.  One of the videos (I confess that I have not been able to bring myself to watch all of them) apparently encourages teenage female masturbation as a safe alternative to other sexual activities.  Writes Ms. Lopez:

So abstinence to Planned Parenthood means masturbation? No wonder they think abstinence education is a total waste of time. They can’t get their minds out from Down There. They can’t believe that if you challenge young people to want more than what they see on TV and in the movies, they’ll take you up on it. Planned Parenthood just doesn’t get it; abstinence education can never be about simply saying, “Here’s what you can do so no one gets pregnant but you can still get some sexual kicks.” It has to be part of a greater education: a character education. A physical education. A moral education.

I know that chastity is the ideal.  But as a human, and as a man, I also know that many or most of us, myself included, have failed to live up to that ideal.  We are, after all, fallen, imperfect creatures.

A follow-up post at The Corner includes an e-mail from a father of a teenage girl, who argues that among parents’ biggest fears for their teenage daughters are pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and that other issues are of lesser concern as a practical matter.  Lopez responds:

Culture is overwhelming. Hormones are running wild. Examples of living a full life are lacking. But we need to want and expect and teach more. Again, that’s what real abstinence education that’s going to have a shot at working will do. It has to be offered in conjunction with parents and teachers and churches who consider these kids fully alive persons whose characters are being formed and who deserve to be treated and think of themselves as more than lustful animals.

A beautiful statement of the ideal.  And just because the ideal may not be practical in today’s culture does not mean that we should not encourage our children to live up to the ideal, and serve as good examples ourselves.

A later follow-up includes a note from a high school teacher and father of a seven year old daughter:

I have only a seven year old daughter, but also teach high school, so I can see the teen-age side (and fear for the future…)

As you say, the culture is overwhelming and all, but fathers are just cutting the best deal they can get as you can tell.

You must consider this one unavoidable fact with girls today: They are not future wives and mothers. That sort of thing is for women in their later twenties. Teenage girls into their mid to late 20s are entertainment for males—they put out and pay their own way. It seems they only consider marriage when it gets tougher to keep their youthful looks and figure. That seems to get them to “settle down.” The men in their lives resent this change from fun girl to wife. They take off. This wife/mother stuff is not what these men bargain for. You see that in the movie Juno.

So, if girls are not mothers/wives in training, they are still pretty enough to attract lots of male attention. And to what end? To provide entertainment for their male admirers, not to catch a husband. In later years, they find that finding a husband is very difficult, and keeping one once the looks fade is even tougher.

I see this tragically in my female colleagues, where SO many of these fine women have either been thrown away, or are not worthy enough for marriage now that they are in their late 20s and 30s. These women crab on endlessly at how “inappropriate” the girls are. That may be true, but I think they really just realize that in a few years those are the girls the available men will want.

So, this father does not like the future for his little girl. To me it is all pretty bleak.

Sounds bleak to me too.  Obviously, I come to no conclusions in this post.  I can say that I think this father’s observation is pretty accurate, and I speak from the position of a relatively young (29) man, who was himself in college not that long ago.  I know that this was the attitude of many young girls, whether implicitly or not. Dating is about having fun, and having fun can, and often is, about sex.  It is not about getting to know people, finding a connection, thinking about the future.  It is about pleasure (usually the pleasure of the male) in the here and now.

So, back to my original question: what is a father of a daughter to do?  Throw up his hands and hope that his daughter is “safe?”  I don’t think that’s the answer.  I want to teach my daughter to value herself as a whole person.  I want, with my wife, to serve as an example.  But the force of teenage hormones is pretty strong.

I would love to hear from more experienced fathers how they have, generally or specifically, handled issues of human sexuality and chastity with their daughters.  These issues are far from academic; it’s a jungle out there.

Cross-posted at Catholic Dads.

Black Gold

So Barack Milhous Obama wants to impose a “windfall profits tax” on the oil companies to pay for an additional stimulus package, the goal of which is to help citizens deal with high energy prices. I challenge anyone to think of a more economically illiterate policy.

Essentially, Milhous’s plan is (1) confiscate property belonging to the shareholders of energy companies, (2) distribute that property to citizens, so that the citizens can (3) pay the money back over to the oil companies.  The circle of economic life.

It is easy for populist demagogues to cry for higher taxes on evil faceless corporations.  But we forget too easily that corporations are legal fictions – a corporation is merely a state-recognized tool for people to organize a business venture.  A tax on a corporation is, in reality, a tax on that corporation’s shareholders, employees, and customers.  When a corporation is required to pay higher taxes, the money to pay the tax will come from decreased dividends, decreased wages, or increased prices.  As the great Walter Williams has said, corporation are, in this sense, not taxpayers.  They are tax collectors.

Furthermore, who is Barack Obama, or who is anybody, for that matter, to decide what constitutes a “windfall profit?”  Milhous likes to mention that ExxonMobil earned $12 billion in profits last quarter.  He fails to mention that the company paid over $30 billion in taxes in the same quarter, and that its profit margin represents only about 10% of its revenue.  Let’s tell the whole story, Milhous, unless you’d rather focus on scoring cheap political points by deliberatly misinforming the American people of the economic facts.

Catholics for Obama

If I were the person now that I was four years ago, I would without a doubt be an enthusiastic supporter of this group.  After all, I would have argued, the individual’s conscience, informed by the sages at the National Catholic Reporter, could allow him to weigh Obama’s support for abortion rights against his positions on the real issues of Catholic social teaching, such as universal health care and surrender in the face of radical Islam.

The complex intellectual gymnastics required to be a Catholic supporting such politicians became tiring, so I affiliated with the anything-goes Episcopal Church, which, of course, worships at the alter of Planned Parenthood.

I challenge anyone with any intellectual honesty or integrity to square Obama’s position on this not just with the teachings of the Church but with any sense of natural morality and decency:

The source was Sharon Dunsmore, a nurse in a hospital NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) who wrote a small booklet about the experience. One day on the job she had been summoned “stat” to the delivery room to deal with an “oops abortion” — a failed abortion in which the baby unexpectedly survived, or, as Dunsmore quoted the pediatrician on the scene, “had the audacity to survive.”

The team struggled as to whether to continue intubating the child — now a little boy, not a “fetus” — who clearly was not going to make it, mangled and destroyed as he was. He gasped for air as the doctor left the room, allowing nature to take its cruel course, leaving the boy with Dunsmore. No further medical care would be administered.

Typically in these situations, the infant is left alone — on a cold metal table, in a corner, on a bare bed, in a trash can. Dunsmore did not have the heart to do that. She stayed with the boy.

In her account, Dunsmore went into painstaking detail about what happened next — the breathing, the wetting — with such vividness that I, a mere distant reader, couldn’t decide whether to cry or vomit. Recalling the scene she described never ceases to make me sad. She wrote of how she named him “Tiny Tim,” took him in her arms, held his little hand, and sang to him: “Jesus loves the little children….” The little boy fought as best he could, but to no avail. She whispered “goodbye” to him, and told him he “did matter to someone.”

Nothing short of disgusting.  God have mercy on us.

I Confess

I have a confession to make.  A confession about, of all things, confession.  I haven’t been in awhile.  A long while.  So long I cannot really even remember my last confession.  I know that it happened sometime while I was an undergraduate, which would be sometime between 1997 and 2001.  In the past five or six years I have bounced around spiritually, mostly between liberal Catholicism of the “National Catholic Reporter” sort and Anglicanism (not that there’s much difference).  In just the last week or ten days, I have had some kind of revalation calling me to return, in full communion, to the True Faith of the Apostles.

Tomorrow I plan to receive the sacrament of reconcilliation, reconciling me to God and the Church.  I can’t wait.

An excellent post on the topic of confession, among other things, can be found at WDTPRS.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

I could not let today pass without a reference to Saint Ignatius Loyola, being the good Jesuit-educated young man that I am.  Raise a glass of Spanish wine today, for the greater glory of God, and find God in all things today.

Dreams From My Daughter

I had a dream the other night.  I was sitting across the kitchen table from my 14-year old daughter.  The details of our conversation I do not remember, but the vision frightens me.  My daughter will some day experience teenage agnst.  Will I be able to guide her?  To reassure her?  To provide an example for her?  I feel so grossly inadequate for parenthood.