Thursday, June 21, 2012

Breakdown of the Family–not when women left the home, but when MEN did…

Are you ready for a new adventurous topic?  Great!  Because this post will begin a new discussion concerning the male dynamic in a culture that supports new feminism.  Our first contributing male author is Kevin Ford.  His bio states: "Kevin Ford is married to his wife Mary, and they have two young daughters. He and his family currently reside on their farm in southern Kansas. Kevin is a full-time organic farmer with a degree in Theology from Benedictine College, and he actively promotes the Catholic Land Movement and the benefits of rural life for Catholic family and culture."

    I recently read an article by Kevin in the Distributist Review (, that peaked my curiosity so much I had to inquire about it.  Though the whole ideology behind his article, I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around, three key elements drastically caught my attention. First, the breakdown of the family began not when women left the home, but when men didSecondly, the etymology of the word Hus-Bond literally means House-Bound.  And thirdly, he questioned our economic system of wages and offers a different idea.  When contacting the Distributist Review for permission to repost, Richard Aleman from the review offered this further explanation of that third point:

    “The main thrust of Distributism is local production for local consumption, so while its agrarian aspect is central to restoring ownership, what we are mostly talk about is decentralizing the economy away from urban areas and restoring it by growing local economies. This is key in order to regain widespread ownership away from urban concentration (which enables the wage society) and back into small towns. The small town needs farmers, but it also needs "mom and pop" retail businesses, clothing manufacturers, graphic designers, and so on.   This is what we call "the parallel economy". If we want to regain a toehold on our economy we will have to create the new Main streets that will rival Big Business and reduce the size of government.” (emphasis added)

    What could be more “New Feminist” than speaking about the necessity of the MAN being at home!   I’m curious to see what you all think about this… I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet, but it was so very intriguing to me!  Here's Kevin's article:

"A little more than a year ago, I quit my job as a theology teacher at a Catholic high school to become a full-time organic farmer. I like to call myself a “Catholic farmer”, because I am striving to live out the Church’s teachings on marriage and the family, as well as Catholic social teaching, in my work and in the daily life of my family. I had been contemplating a return to the land for several years, and I finally opened myself to the grace needed to take such a leap of faith. I feel as though my story is a microcosm of the Catholic Land Movement as a whole. I doubt if any will follow exactly the same path, but hopefully some will end up on the land, working to restore Catholic culture, just as I did. After much prayer and discernment, I have narrowed my reasons for returning to the land to the following: restoring Catholic family life, bringing wholeness to our lives, regaining simplicity, and building Catholic community.
In our world today, nothing comes under attack more often than marriage and the family. In this modern assault, I felt it necessary to flee to the fields in order to provide an environment that is natural for family life, one where my children could flourish. City life with its “damnable conveniences” as Fr. McNabb, O.P., called them, is often a source of great temptation. The pagan temples and idols of today are not so clearly perceived, because they are often disguised in masks of pleasure, convenience, and materialism. To me, a return to the land marks a radical departure from the frivolity of modern city life as I seek to live a life that is meaningfully fruitful. Pope Benedict XVI has stated: “The rural family must regain its place at the heart of the social order.”1 The rural family has traditionally been the backbone of healthy cultures. Never in history has the mass of humanity been concentrated in the cities as they are today. Pope Pius XII speaks very wisely of the benefits of rural life for families in his address to Italian farm laborers:
Your lives are rooted in the family—universally, deeply, and completely; consequently, they conform very closely to nature. In this fact lies your economic strength and your ability to withstand adversity in critical times. Your being so strongly rooted in the family constitutes the importance of your contribution to the correct development of the private and public order of society. You are called upon for this reason to perform an indispensable function as source and defense of a stainless moral and religious life. For the land is a kind of nursery which supplies men, sound in soul and body, for all occupations, for the Church, and for the State.2
I can add very little to what the good Pope of happy memory already stated. I sought a place for my family to live out its life in totality without the distractions that city life often brings. I found that place far from the glitter of city street lights, way out in the country whose nights are lit by heavenly lights alone.
The Church and the Land

    As I labored away from my family during my first three years of marriage, I became acutely aware of a great lack in the way our economic system is set up. As I taught theology to high school students, I would often find myself thinking about my own children and the difficulty I would have passing on the faith to them, simply because of how much time I must spend at school. I did not doubt the dignity of the teaching profession. However, I doubted the wisdom of our modern age that insists on men working separate from their families, and always seeking after a wage. As I began to study the breakdown of the family so characteristic of our times, I began to realize that the breakdown of the family could be traced to the implementation of the wage system. 
    What I realized is that the family didn’t start to fall apart when mothers left the home for the work place. Rather, the family’s disintegration began when fathers left the home and the land for the convenience of a city wage. Further studies brought further revelations. The etymology of the word husband was absolutely fascinating. Hus-Band literally means house-bound. When a man was married he became house bound. There in the home with his wife he would bring forth a family. There in the home he would work and provide for the family; everything was centered around the home. The home was not a place to return to after work, but rather it was the place of work, it was the center of life, and it was the stability that fostered healthy families. I realized that what I wanted was a life that was whole, one that had integrity. I wanted to live, work, and pray with my family all the time, not just in the evenings or when I was off work. I wanted to be a husband in the true sense of the word, and I wanted to be a father who was always there. Working towards a self-sufficient life on the land offers me the opportunity to truly be a father to my children. I can’t express in words how beautiful this has been.
    The third reason I returned to the land was to regain simplicity. Reading Eric Brende’s book, Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, profoundly impacted my views on modern technologically-saturated life. I began to increasingly question the necessity of so many of man’s modern inventions. ... This was especially evident in farming where machinery had nearly destroyed the small farmer and created many demands for time and capital that could not be obtained on the farm. The byproduct of animal power was increased soil fertility through manure. The byproducts of machinery were used oil, broken parts, old, rusting machines on the back forty, and pollution of all sorts. I also noticed that a horse’s food could be provided on the land, but very few farmers had ways to provide fuel for their machines. It is not that all machines are bad, but the scale to which technology has infiltrated our lives led me to take my family down a different path. Now we analyze our technology piece by piece and look carefully at its effects on family life. If it is truly more harmful to family life than helpful, then we simply don’t need it. ... We find that with less technology, we suddenly have time for activities we previously couldn’t squeeze in. Without the time in front of the television, we find time to read together, sing and dance with the piano, or simply sit out back in the evenings and watch the chickens scratch about (chickens can be a source of great hilarity, believe it or not). This simplicity gets rid of excess distractions and leaves us with more time for one another.
The final reason I returned to the land was in hope of rebuilding Catholic rural community...
Flee to the Fields
Our faith is sacramental, and therefore it is not meant to be only a spiritual reality. Catholicism with its sacraments corresponds to man in his entirety. We who are embodied souls need a faith that is both physical and spiritual. Thus we seek in some way to incarnate our Catholic life on the land and to share that life with others. I went back to the land because I believed there I would find the ideal environment in which to raise my family. There I could be a father who was present for my family. It has been a beautiful journey, and it is really just beginning. It is my hope that one day I will be surrounded by like-minded Catholic neighbors, all striving together to build a new Catholic culture. Going back to the land has radically changed my life and my goals. It has transformed my way of thinking, and it daily encourages me to be a better man. By throwing myself into the hands of providence, I am forced to give my fiat or give up. Those are my only real choices. Yet, I have never done anything so rewarding and at the same time so difficult. I hope many others will follow in my footsteps, and that one day we may have a countryside filled with Catholic smallholdings once again. Vivat Christus Rex!" - Kevin Ford.

Interesting, right?  No, I'm not ready to go buy a farm!  ;-)  But some of the ideas are very intruiging and definitely worth pondering.  So, what do YOU think? 

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!  And please use initials or first name or even pseudonym instead of simply “anonymous” so we can have some way to distinguish each person in the discussion.  Thank You!)

Please SHARE!
follow me on Twitter!! @newfeminism

1. Message of his Holiness BENEDICT XVI to the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the Celebration of World Food Day, from the Vatican, 16 October, 2006
2. Speech delivered by His Holiness to the delegates at the Convention of the National Confederation of Farm Owner-Operators in Rome on November 15, 1946, #4.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beyond the Bikini

Wow!  I have been overwhelmed by the intensity of the discussion the last post created!  This is wonderful!  This is just the type of discussion new feminists need to be having!
If you missed the excitement, check it out! Catholic Girls in Bikinis 

I just wanted to follow up that post briefly.  (And I do mean briefly, because I have a fantastic topic for the next post: men!  With male guest author…oh yes, you’ll love it!)

I see three things happening in the last discussion:
First, a provocative statement made about bikinis, though it truly was about modesty.
Second, whether agree or disagree, most women (who posted or just emailed me ;-) took a side on the bikini statement.
Third, each side seemed to defend against what they assumed was the opposing position.

Do you want to know what I think?  I think you are all right!  

THIS is the beauty of new feminism!  We are not against one another; we are seeking the same goals.  I see women who defended the bikini as defending feminine beauty.  What I hear in their arguments is that we should not be ashamed of our bodies and that God created us beautifully, that sometimes a one piece is more scandalous than a bikini and that feminine beauty will always be attractive to men.  They also referenced that it’s not only what we wear that is important but how we act, what we say and what we think.

And you know what, they’re right!

The women who defended the author against the bikini had great points too!  What I hear from them is that we need to teach our girls what is right and good about our bodies.  We need to show them how beautiful they are – so beautiful it should be respected!  We need to lift others to God in how we dress, what we say, how we act – not draw attention just to ourselves. 

So, I believe they are also right!

With new feminism, we do not have to judge.  I don’t believe any of you would look at a girl and think less of her because of what she is wearing.  On the contrary, I know my heart extends with love and assumes the best always striving to give the benefit of the doubt.  (Judge not lest you be judged…)  It’s easy to be defensive and reactionary, but new feminism gives us a third side!  We can take the best of both worlds, find the commonality and move forward!

So, it’s about more than the bikini.  We must move beyond the bikini and cut into the depth of the real matter.  Modesty.  It’s a word that even to me sometimes makes me wrinkle my nose thinking of women and girls in shirts buttoned up to their chins and skirts down to their ankles.  It’s saddled with so much mucky baggage that it’s hard to understand it for what it is.  In a world that prides itself on being able to “sell” yourself and your qualities in order to get hired or get that promotion, modesty is foreign and awkward.  And yet, for a beautiful woman (or even young lady), modesty says, “Thank you!  I am beautiful!  I am blessed to be so!  But it’s not by my doing, but God’s gift to me!”  She does not deny her beauty, but embraces it as a gift from God.

Forget the bikini vs the tankini vs the one piece discussion.  It’s not what one puts on that makes a person, but it’s what is in one’s heart that determines what one puts on.  The same two women could be wearing the same cute dress to mass and yet one woman looks lovely and even gets compliments while the other draws attention, walks with chest out, speaks loudly and seems to be desiring excessive attention.  It’s not the clothes; it’s her heart.

With all of you so right, perhaps I may press it a bit further!  I think it’s one thing to understand how a woman is comfortable with her God given beauty, but it’s an entirely different thing to imagine how men see a woman’s body.  Their minds are “programmed” differently if you will.  We as women truly have to stretch our minds to begin to comprehend that what might be simply “adorable!” to us, might lead men into arousal mode.  We want to pretend they are like us and can shut it down like we can, but men and women are different. 
Here’s a short clip discussing the study I spoke of.  Only 3 minutes, please watch it before reading on!

 Did you know that was the origin of the bikini?!  I didn’t!

So, what I see here are two issues: 1st – the beauty of a woman’s body as a gift from God and our need to elevate her amazing femininity.  And 2nd – the issue of taking into account the difference of how men think and finding a way to incorporate that into our understanding of ourselves and how we present ourselves.

 What I heard recently, and thought it was interesting was this:  a teenage girl asks her youth leader how does she know what’s right or wrong to wear.  The leader responds after much thought, “I know you are praying for your future husband and that’s wonderful!  Think about your future husband right now as a teenager and he’s looking at another girl in her swimsuit.  Whatever you don’t want him lusting over on her, cover that up on yourself.”

Interesting thought!  What do you think? ;-)

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
And please SHARE with others!

Follow me on Twitter!! @newfeminism

Join the Movement! !!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Catholic Girls in Bikinis

Many people find this post first on my blog (I wonder why! haha!) - Here’s a short clip to start you off!  Only 3 minutes, please watch it before reading on!

To follow on our them of sexuality and young girls, here is a wonderful piece by a contributing author!  Grace Marie Rose lives in New Orleans with her husband and 5 children.  As a youth director, she has a particularly unique view!  I know you’ll enjoy this one!  So without further ado, I introduce to you, my sister, Grace Marie:
“So, when did you decide to give up the battle for modesty with your daughters and let them wear bikinis?”  
    This was the question I recently asked some beautiful Catholic women whose teenage daughters were at a co-ed arena with fairly skimpy bikinis.  Some were string bikinis and others were strapless tube tops.  The answers varied.  However, the gist of what I heard was that at some point the relationship between the mother and daughter consisted of only fighting about clothes.  In order to preserve their relationships, the mothers chose to drop that fight and work on their relationship instead.  Other moms expressed the limits that they set for the teens at different ages.  As a mother of young girls, this intrigued me.

     In my line of work, I have had a chance to witness a wide variety of teenage girls in summer attire.  I have noticed several trends in our faith-filled Catholic girls of today and it really comes down to their parents!
     First, there are the girls whose parents probably bought them cute bikinis when they were toddlers, thinking how cute and innocent they were.  These parents are the ones who thought that boyfriends and girlfriends in kindergarten were cute and may have even encouraged it.  As teenagers these girls are simply told to save sex for marriage.  Many of these girls will be able to do this, but it is a struggle as they find themselves in awkward situations time and again.
    The second group of teenage girls have parents who are more active in their faith.  These parents draw lines – yes, you can see this movie, but not that one; you can wear this suit, but not that one.  These parents understand what is right and good, but often have a hard time sharing their faith with their children.  These teens may have only been coming to mass or youth group because their parents made them.  Their parents are stricter about what bathing suits they can wear, but it creates fights because, to the teen, it is all about rules and lines.  These are the girls who may wear leggings under a short skirt just to get out of the house, but then take them off when they get in the car.  These girls know their family is different, but don’t fully understand or want to embrace it.  I probably fit into this category myself as a teenager.  These teens even have lines that they draw for themselves (because they can see the good in what their parents are telling them), but also get into sticky situations because it is still all about how far you can go and where to draw the line.
    The third group of girls I have met are aghast at what their friends wear.  These are girls who purposefully choose to wear bathing suits with cute skirts and tops that cover their midriff.  I overheard one of these girls recently remark, “I couldn’t have just come from mass, I’m wearing jeans!”  I am not saying that wearing jeans to church is always wrong, but she was able to strongly defend her stance as others teenagers questioned her.  Her view on clothing had a lot to do with her view of herself in the eyes of God.  She was very confident in who she was as a Catholic young woman alive in her faith.  It is harder to figure out what these parents are doing right with their teens because I hardly see these parents!  These are the girls who are coming to church and adoration and youth group by their own volition.  They are alive and on fire in the Faith, and are beautiful in every way!  These girls still struggle, but their struggle is heard when they are not feeling as strong and they simply blame their parents (“yeah, my mom makes me wear a one-piece”) even though everyone around them knows that it was their own desire to choose it.  It is these mothers who I have to figure out, for those are the teenage girls I want my daughters to be like! 

     In looking at these mothers, they are just as active in their faith as the mothers in group two.  
What is the difference?  I think (and I could be wrong – I am still trying to figure this one out myself!) that these women focus more on teaching their daughters what a child of God IS, not what a child of God IS NOT.  Someone once shared with me that in order to teach FBI investigators how to spot counterfeit bills, they are made to study real bills over and over and over.  In this way, they are so familiar with the real bills that they can spot the counterfeit ones quickly and easily.  It is the same with the Truth.  These women do not focus on telling their children what is wrong over and over and over.  Instead, these ladies teach and model for their daughters what is right and good on a daily basis.  One of these moms recently had all of her children cancel all of their activities for a week because the children were not getting along.  Instead of punishing them and telling them to stop fighting, she simply told them that they needed to work on their relationships with each other first and foremost.  So, they spent a week at home, having family time, growing in love of one another.  These mothers are the ones who remind their daughters that they are daughters of the King!

     When I was in college, I read Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye and one of the biggest things that I still share with teens is that modesty and chastity are not a line, it is a direction.  What I realized was that my modesty was not about what I could not do.  Instead, it was about what I could become!  It was an arrow, a direction toward God.  “In whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything for the glory of God!”  Everything I do, even what clothes I wear needs to be for the glory of God!  My kids tease me about this quote and ask, “Even just 1% for myself?  What about .5%?”  However, they already know my answer, “EVERYTHING for the glory of God!”  It is only when our sights are set on Christ and His glory that then we’ll realize what we have the potential to be and what we are striving toward.  We will stop looking behind us trying to figure out this line and, instead, run in the direction of purity and chastity!

     I think that the only way we can avoid the choice to fight about clothes or have a relationship with our daughters is to pass this idea on to them.  It certainly helps if we can start when they are young as they form their identity.  However, it is never too late to come to this realization and understanding of who we are.  It is about the positive, not about the negative.  I have witnessed girls changing as they studied John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (through the TOB for Teens series).  Just look at the Facebook pictures of girls you know and love.  You will see very clearly who each girl is through their pictures.  I messaged one such model of modesty, letting her know that I noticed and encouraging her in her modesty and purity (this was not a girl with whom I had more than an acquaintance relationship so I really did not know how she would take it).  Her response was beautiful: “ Thank you so much Mrs. Grace Marie! Dressing modestly is something I try really hard to do.... Its nice to know my efforts don't go unnoticed!”

     Yes, that’s the strength that I pray for in my own daughters now and always!  May all of us remember that we are daughters of the King and that everything we do should be for the glory of our Father!” – Grace Marie Rose.

What wonderful insight!  Thank you, Grace Marie, for the thoughtful reflection.  You have given us so much to think about!

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
And please SHARE with others!

Follow me on Twitter!! @newfeminism

Join the Movement! !!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sexuality, Power and Young Girls

[note:  hi there!  It’s been crazy around here the last couple of weeks, so I apologize for the delay!  But get excited!  We have some great posts coming up in the next few weeks, 3 contributors stories/thoughts waiting in the wings!  Before we launch into it, let’s reflect on a new topic… ]

What are the most powerful forces in the universe?  Some would argue they are the instincts to self preservation and species preservation.  So next to the need to keep oneself alive, our sexuality presents a powerful presence. 

Why do we speak of a “battle of the sexes”?  We talk about this tension because our very differences ignite the air around us!  Some would call it a vibrant complementarity others call it a fight for power.  Either way, the differences between masculinity and femininity have led to joy as well as tears.

(This is merely a blog post, so I won’t be able to expound fully, but feel free to engage the conversation in the comments section.) 
Because women have not been understood by men, (we think differently, act differently, operate differently), many civilizations of men have suppressed women to the status level of a slave or a child.  Even in the United States, only 120 years ago, women were as property that men owned.  Her wages, should she work, would be the right of her father or her husband.  This, clearly, is an injustice.  That is just one example; you could find plenty similar examples (even in some cultures today) where women are second class citizens just because of their sex.

Yet, during all these situations, men still desire women, though they don’t understand them.  Women were used, in some cases, as a means for men’s sexual release and nothing more.  Women, rightfully, began to rise up.  They saw the injustices; they saw the belittlement of women and men walking away from sexual encounters without a care.  They sought to bring equality. 

But sexuality is powerful, and a taste of power can fan a lust for power.  Instead of preaching feminine virtues of modesty and self-control, some of these women took the game of the battle of the sexes and flipped it on its head.  They didn’t change the game to include women, they played by men’s rules and swapped the roles.  Men had gained power by using sexuality to dominate; so they desired the same right.  Without thought of what it would do to femininity, they seized the power and ran with it.  Drunk in the untouchable power of “the protection of women” stance, they could influence every aspect of society.  Enjoying their status (regardless that it was earned through masculine definitions of domination and power), they heralded the sexual revolution.

Strip off the protection of modesty and “archaic” ideas!  In fact, strip off everything and let’s have fun!  Far from raising women to a place of equality, we have lowered them to the base level of “if it feels good, do it”.  Women are the moral compass of society, as women are respected, there lies the level of the society.  But what does this radical view do to the next generation?  Where does it leave future women…and what about future little girls?  (again, so much more could be said here, but space does not allow…)

What do we have today?  
Lolo Jones
A young US Olympian, Lolo Jones, announces she is a virgin and plans to save herself for marriage.  She becomes public enemy #1. How ridiculous could she be?  How idiotic!  Doesn’t she know no one does that anymore?  She has been attacked on so many levels and yet, she holds her own.  Why is a young woman who chooses to show self-restraint now the enemy?  Because if the idea gets into people’s heads on a national level, it will put a huge crack in that pedestal of power they have created.

1st Place - 6.78 - US Open 28 January 2012 - Madison Square Garden, New York

Yet, we are holding on to this political power at what expense?  Young girls are encouraged to be promiscuous, because “they’ll do it anyway”, but here’s a condom to keep you “safe”.  Were our minds, souls meant to live this way?  What about addiction?  Are the sex education courses in our public schools which promote “safe sex” creating a generation of sex addicts?  When a person is addicted to something are they ever really free to live a normal life? 

Young girls, just beginning to develop and completely insecure in who they are as persons, let alone women, are almost pushed into these relationships by peer pressure and no adult back-up.  Why can’t we encourage respect and self control?  Why let our little girls go through situations that will scar their psyche for life.  Waiting to engage in sexual intercourse until one is married is not a burden that chains you down, it is a path to freely live a happy, healthy sexual life without scars, without blame.  

It is the freedom & equality, not power, that we should truly seek.

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please leave comments below!)
And please SHARE with others!

Follow me on Twitter!! @newfeminism

Join the Movement! !!