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Alessandra Stanley, NYT TV critic recently reviewed the new HBO series Girls, which she writes is the “much anticipated comedy about four single women in New York.”  I have not and will not be watching that show but I found Ms. Stanley’s review of it rather enlightening.  What she finds to be the theme of Girls is that “[t]he economy fluctuates, neighborhoods blossom or decay, but men never cease to disappoint.”

Some 40 years after the sexual revolution, all this sex, immorality, and “freedom” for women has failed to improve the lives of young women at all!  Basically, Stanley declares the sexual revolution and feminism to have been an absolute unmitigated failure;  well, okay, she doesn’t actually declare that, but it is really her point:

Lena Dunham’s much anticipated comedy about four single women in New York, which starts on Sunday night, is worth all the fuss, even though it invites comparisons to Carrie Bradshaw and friends, and even though it incites a lot of dreary debate about the demise of feminism. There are obvious parallels between “Girls” and that earlier HBO series, but the theme of female friendship and romantic disappointment stretches back long before, all the way to the early 1940s and Mary McCarthy’s first novel, “The Company She Keeps.”       

One reason that “Girls” is unsettling is that it is an acerbic, deadpan reminder that human nature doesn’t change. There was a lot of sex in the ’60s, but not much sexual revolution. For all the talk of equality, sexual liberation and independence, the love lives of these young women are not much more satisfying than those of their grandmothers. Their professional expectations are, if anything, even lower.

That’s right, feminism is dead and despite all the sexual escapades, the lives of women have not improved.  Based on this television show, the lives of twenty-something women are unsatisfying, humilating…in fact, downright debasing.  The characters include the lead, Hannah who is described by Stanley as “unpleasant in ways that are only occasionally endearing” and a “parasite sponging off her parents,” and Jessa who “is a sexual free spirit but not particularly joyful.”  These girls are being portrayed as having all the fruits of the women’s movement, being freed from the expectation of marriage and motherhood they are free to pursue careers, relationships without commitments, and self-interested hobbies and leisure activities.  Why then are the young women of Girls so unpleasant, selfish, unambitious and unhappy?  Could it be that the fruit produced by the radical feminist agenda is not as sweet as we have been (repeatedly) told?

Perhaps becoming self-aware halfway through her review, Ms. Stanley admits that Girls portrayal of modern femininity might be seen as “a cautionary tale” but cannot bring herself to admit in print that this apparently accurate portrait has it’s underlying roots in the failure of the feminist movement and the sexual revolution.  Instead, she backs off her previous indictment and then takes a swipe at those of us who see and call the failure for what it is.  She sniggers:

The depiction of slacker life in New York, which includes tattoos, drugs, casual sex and abortions, is presented with wry humor, but it could easily be interpreted as a cautionary tale written by the religious right: the lifestyles of these modern women, untethered to responsibility, faith or morality, are parables that could scare Amish youth away from Rumspringa and wayward Mormons back into their temple garments.       

Har har, see what she did there?  She admits that all the drugs sex and abortions “could” be viewed as an indictment of the modern hedonism, but only by weird anti-cultural sects like Mormons and the Amish; you know, the “religious right”.  No rational religion would condemn all this sex and unhappiness, and the only good Christian for the Left is one that is shacking up with their significant other.  Only the fringe folks like you and me get all uptight about commandments and moral living.  I can hear her sniggering at her own cleverness, because of course nothing works better for the liberals like dismissing legitimate worries over the effects of immoral societies as dangerous fringe thinking.

One can guess what Ms. Stanley would make of the teachings of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, in which he correctly predicted the effects of contraception on the relationship between men and women. 

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

I don’t know if Ms. Stanley as read Humanae Vitae, but maybe the writer and star of Girls, Leah Dunham has because the “liaison”-the, er, sexual hookup- between the lead character Hannah and a character named Adam is described by Stanley as “debasing”:

Adam lets her visit his apartment for sexual gratification — his own — and ignores her desires; most of his sexual fantasies seem borrowed from video games and porn videos. He is just as callous about her feelings…

Pope Paul VI predicted the outcome decades ago, and was vilified, and shamefully much of the vitriol was from the clergy and laity of the Church.  However, he was right.  Contraception and the freedom of the sexual revolution did not advance the cause of women.  We have become things, objects, tools.

Here we have a cable series that is being described by people who profess to know these things as “gritty”, an “honest romp the through New York City’s social landscape [sic]”, one Huffington Post critic going so far as to compare her twenty-something woman writer experience point by point to that of the Girls main character.  I will assume that the HBO show is then, basically reality for many 20-somethings and that makes me sad for them.  In a world in which these girls can have attachment-free sex at any time, can pursue careers and self-interest leisure activities freed of the burdens of matrimony and motherhood…well, aren’t they supposed to be happy?  Didn’t they get what they were promised would buy them happiness?  Based on Girls, it would seem not.  As Ms. Stanley of the NYT portrays it, these women seem to be selfish, debased, joyless, ambitionless, and unsuccessful. 

But what do I know?  I am a cave woman, expected to be barefoot and pregnant by my Neanderthal husband.  At least, I’m pretty sure that the staff of the NYT thinks so.

[note: for whatever reason, my original essay got eaten and I’ve tried to recreate it from memory.  It’s late now and I am bummed because my original was much better.  Perhaps my memory will improve with sleep and I’ll edit this tomorrow.]

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I don’t watch Bill Reilly so I missed this when it aired.  However, it was brought to my attention and I’m posting it here.  Thank goodness some people in the media are still interested in truth.  The New York Times makes me ill.

Anyway, here is Bill Reilly of FoxNews refuting the liberal leftists immediate and very public assessment that the horrific murders in Norway were wrought by a “Christian Fundamentalist”.

 

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So…the research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has posted a blog entry on its research that purports to show that interest in Catholicism is dramatically down.   The author comes to this conclusion by virtue of CARA’s research which shows that Google searches for the word “Catholic” are down not only domestically, but internationally.  The headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism Falling Online?” sounds alarming and I’m sure it is meant to be.  It certainly rattled me when I saw it linked over at NewAdvent.  I can only conclude that our reaction is supposed to be

Oh, woe is us!  The sky is falling on our New Evangelization! 

to which I can only respond

Poppycock

You heard me.  The Henny Penny headline is only part of the problem I have with the article.  I looked over this “research” and no one should be drawing ANY conclusions from it…except to say that people aren’t looking up the word “Catholic” on Google.  Big deal. That hardly means a lack on interest in Catholic things on the internet.

I know this both intellectually and personally.  Intellectually, the gaps between this “research” and the author’s  “conclusion” are very wide, so wide that we can dismiss his conclusion.  In other words, I am saying that the data–while it does not negate the author’s conclusion — by no means answers the author’s question, posed in his sensationalized headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism falling online?”, a question which the author answers affirmatively.  The author, Mark Gray writes, “the data shown… indicates that people may be less likely to be looking for Catholic content now than in the past.”  Hmmm. 

In his assertions, Mr. Gray is guilty of several reasoning errors known as Fallacious Generalizations:

Overgeneralization / Sweeping generalization –  The author takes the research of Google and concludes that fewer people are using Google to look up the word “Catholic” therefore interest in Catholicism has waned.  However, even a person with a most rudimentary exposure to research techniques can immediately notice the limited nature of the underlying research.  Google, while the most popular search engine, is by no means the only search engine.  Furthermore, there are thousands and thousands of searches that can involve Catholic doctrine, theology, history, worship, prayer, culture, teachings, arts and news that do not use the word “Catholic”.  Examples?

  • “Pro-life resources”
  • “Pope in Croatia”
  • “Theology of the Body”
  • “Saints and martyrs”
  • “How to say the Rosary”
  • “What is the Assumption”
  • “Refute sola scriptura”
  • “counter Reformation”
  • “beatification of John Paul”

Argumentum a silentio “You do not Google, therefore you are not.”    It did not show up in the limited research, therefore, it must not be.

Fallacy of Division – “Since “Catholic” is a less popular search term today, the trend shows people are not interested in Catholic things.” (Substituting a part for a whole).  See examples listed above.

Finally, I can see absolutely from personal experience that folks out reading Catholic websites, blogs and resources are most likely NOT ‘googling’ them to get there and certainly not by typing in “Catholic” in the search bar.  I get almost no visitors using the term “Catholic”.  One of my top posts of all times is the one I did on the myth of unlimited Vatican wealth.  How do those folks find it?  by typing in

How wealthy is the Vatican?”

I kid you not.  I get 20 visitors a month from that search alone.   Seems people really, really want to know how wealthy the Vatican is and that search does not show up in the CARA data.   Nor does “how to pray the Rosary”, “Christian persecution”, and “little popes” all of which send me handfuls of visitors every month.  Searches on “beauty”, “late have I loved thee”, and “kneeling in church” also send me a significant amount of traffic.  I could go on, but you get my point.

I don’t Google “Catholic Vatican website”, do you?  I’d search Vatican website (on Yahoo! btw)– if I didn’t already know that the site is vatican.va.  If I want to know about a particular topic, I will most likely go straight to NewAdvent.org, USSCB.org, or Catholic Answers.  My browser knows to bring up First Things, The National Catholic Register, Zenit, and the Catholic News Agency.  I don’t ever Google those and I doubt you do.  That is why we have Favorites on our browsers, not to mention Feeds.

In other words, the use of the Internet is an ever-changing, dynamic thing and our society gets more sophisticated in its use all the time.  So fewer people are googling the “Catholic” word now than in years past.  That is a trend for Google to ponder, not necessarily one for Catholics in the new media to obsess over.   Plus heck, some of us think that Google is evilEvil like Disney

In conclusion, dear Reader, (and not a fallacious conclusion either)…however you got here to my webblog, I appreciate your taking the time to read this.  I hope you have taken a big breath and sighed a sigh of relief and remember:  the sky is not falling.  You can google it.

(on a side note, a big “Boo” to NewAdvent for posting the ad hominem research piece under the even more Henny Penny-ish title, “When you crunch the numbers, there’s no escaping it: Interest in Catholicism is falling online“.  Sheesh, people get a hold of yourselves.)

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It is estimated that the United Nations mission in the Congo is the largest and most expensive peacekeeping mission in the world.  The United Nations has 20,000 troops there.  20,000.  The UN has been on the ground there providing peacekeepers since 1999.  And what have all the billions of dollars, military manhours and brute strength achieved in Congo?

Peace?

Prosperity?

Stability?

Er…no.  What it accomplished is a new title.  Congo is now — according to the UN — “the rape capital of the world.”  Yes, that’s right.  In the Congo, where we have a gigantic UN peacekeeping force, 48 women are raped EVERY HOUR.  That’s some peacekeeping going on right there.  Way to protect the women and children, United Nations!

I guess it’s the best we can expect from our earthly princes over at our savior body, the United Nations.  At least the news reports of rapes and pedophilia by the UN’s very own troops it has had in the Congo for last decades have slacked off.  Or is it that the major media just isn’t reporting on these atrocities?  After all, the Food-for-Oil and rape scandals of the past barely made page 3 of the New York Times.  And although it was National Public Radio that reported this shocking news of the rape statistics in Congo, NPR did not even mention the presence of UN forces, nor their complicity in the ongoing rape of that country’s women and children. Not one mention of the multitude of accusations there. 

So you may well ask, because no one has really told you, what atrocities?  Well, to date UN troops have been accused of widespread rape, child sexual abuse, child trafficking, and pornography, in some cases systemic,  in Congo, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Sudan….basically everywhere there are UN troops stationed, there are reports of raping and sexual abuse of children.  And there are over 200,000 UN troops currently stationed around the world

Here’s what the UN’s confidential report from 2004, obtained by the Washington Post, said:

U.N. peacekeepers threatened U.N. investigators investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo and sought to bribe witnesses to change incriminating testimony, a confidential U.N. draft report says.

The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations’ standing in Congo.

The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a widening investigation into sexual abuse by U.N. personnel that has plagued the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission, U.N. officials said.

Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing,” says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. “Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated.”  (emphasis mine)

Apparently, troops from countries like Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Nepal (who were accused of raping a 10 year old girl inside a United Nations armored vehicle) did not receive the memo about the United Nations being the savior of the world, yada yada.  About how the new world order will lift up all mankind because mankind will save itself via well, the new world order.  And these troops are not remembering to act like saviors of mankind.  Apparently, they still act like conquerers, barbarians and such. 

It was with disappointment that the UN spokesperson dealt with reports surfacing in Haiti as far back as 2006.  They thought things were going so well there!  As the Washington Times writes,

Reports that peacekeepers raped teenage girls have surfaced in Haiti, where a United Nations mission so far had avoided the sexual abuse scandals that have sullied the international organization’s reputation in other parts of the world.

Has it truly “sullied” the UN’s reputation?  Has anyone truly questioned why this enormous body of mostly barbarian third world countries is given a blank check to send poorly disciplined, undereducated, racist troops into helpless, struggling countries with little or no oversight?

According to Wikipedia, the bulk of troops come from poor third world (sorry, I mean “developing”) countries because “peacekeeping” brings in alot of money for them.  Less that 4.5% of UN troops are from the EU and less than 1% from the US.  Here is the breakdown, according to Wikipedia:

Despite the large number of contributors, the greatest burden continues to be borne by a core group of developing countries, who often profit financially from their participation in such missions.[citation needed] The 10 main troop-contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations as of September 2010 were Bangladesh (10,736), Pakistan (10,691), India (8,935), Nigeria (5,709), Egypt (5,458), Nepal (5,044), Jordan (3,826), Ghana (3,647), Rwanda (3,635), Uruguay (2,489).

It doesn’t take a world geography major to see that these countries are known by and large for their despotic rulers and human rights abuses.

The UN has been in Congo since 1999.  The conflict is still ongoing there.   As far back as 2004, the UN’s own confidential report stated that sexual exploitation by U.N. personnel in Congo “appears to be significant, wide spread and ongoing.”  Citation.  Eight years later, we have a hell on earth for woman and children, a place where 1,152 women are raped EVERY DAY in what is generally thought to be an under-reported crime. 

So who is going to save these people, if the United Nations can’t do it?  The psalmist knows.

Hallelujah!  
Praise the LORD, my soul; I shall praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live.
I Put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save.  
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing.
Happy those whose help is Jacob’s God, whose hope is in the LORD, their God,  
The maker of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them, Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free;  
the LORD gives sight to the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects the stranger, sustains the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign forever, your God, Zion, through all generations!
Hallelujah!

Pray to the Lord our God for the safety and peace of the peoples of the earth.  Pray for the weak and helpless, the women and the children who are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Lord, hear our prayer.

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Jimmy Akin,

This is personal to you alone.

Do you ever wish you could ban people from the comment box?  Oh, say…someone who routinely hijacks other Christian apologists’/writers’/bloggers’ comment boxes and deftly turn attention to themselves? who seem almost pathological in their ability to confrontationalize (new word!), controversialize, and monopolize *any* conversation?

You know who I’m talking about.  :-P   You don’t have to answer.

Keep your head down and have a blessed day! 

Luce

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Are you familiar with what is happening in the Ivory Coast?  That is the African country with the contentious presidential election last fall, which most Westerners would not have noted at all if it weren’t for the fact that the Ivory Coast happens to be the largest producer of cocoa beans.  So those of us chocoholics may have read the headlines a few months ago that our chocolate may be rationed. But as to the details of what is happening in the Ivory Coast, who really knows and who cares and anyway, the reporting on it has been woefully superficial, so you know, who cares?

Well actually, I care…and not only because of the impact on cocoa bean production.  And I think you should care too.  Because if you are reading this weblog, the situation in the Ivory Coast probably affects you, too.

To bring you up to speed, in case you are one of the 98% of Americans who have no idea what is happening there: the election last fall resulted in a Northerner winning, and the incumbent Southerner refusing to leave office, and civil violence ensued and continues.   The “international community”, whoever that is, has found the election to be valid and support the Northerner’s cause.  The U.N. has “troops” there to uh, protect something, maybe civilians and of course the usual aid groups like the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders are also there.  But the largest charitable organization on the ground in the Ivory Coast is the Roman Catholic church.  That is because the Ivory Coast has been an increasingly Catholic Christian nation in the last decades.  In the 1980s, the estimate of Christians was 1/8th of the population.  However, recent estimates are that nearly 1/3 of the population are Christians, largely Catholic Christians.

The other large faith tradition in the Ivory Coast is Islam.  Perhaps 1/4th of the population are Muslims.

Demographically, the northern areas of the country have more Muslims, receiving a large influx of immigrants from Muslim neighbors to the north.  The southern parts of the country are where the Christian populations have remained and thrived.

Today, I read the sad news that an estimated 1,000 civilians from the southern village of Duekoue have been found massacred.  The machete-hacked bodies were found by aid workers in the places in which they fell.  The UK Telegraph report says that these civilians were killed by supporters of the Northern winner after his forces gained control over the village in the ongoing civil conflict.

An estimated 40,000 civilians fled to to the local Catholic mission, which is sheltering them as best they can, but the priests report that they are desperately low on food.

The Telegraph report has the usual quote from a U.N. official in charge who says they had no idea the killings were occuring.  (I would think it is hard not to notice 40,000 people running to the church, and the sounds of 1,000 souls being slaughtered likewise would seem hard to miss.)

Anyway, I’m blogging about this not because of what the newspaper reported, but what it failed to report.  The paper tells us that the supporters of the Northern winner slaughtered thousands of Southern villagers.  What it didn’t tell us was that the folks who died were predominantly Christians, living in a predominantly Christian town and those who murdered them were predominantly Muslim, coming in from Muslim territories.  That is the underlying reality to the political situation and civil violence.  To continue to ignore the importance of this obvious religious violence is proof again of the brazen bias of the major media.

For instance, despite the liberal BBC erroneously reporting 3 days ago that it was the forces of the incumbent president (a Catholic) who was doing the butchering in Duekoue, I note that they have not printed a retraction in light of the today’s revealed atrocities of the (Muslim) rebels.  In fact, reviewing the BBC reporting of the past days infuriated me for its bias, carefully edited reporting and slanted headlines.  The primary method taught in journalism schools must be how to report only the facts that support the opinion the media puppet-masters decide you should form, and the shameful BBC reporting is proof that they are nothing if not leaders in the sleight-of-hand shenanigans of the liberal press.

I have said it before, but the most persecuted faith people in our world today are we Christians.  The mainstream media will not tell us that. But it’s true

As for me, I’ll be praying for the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, a Roman Catholic and a man who very possibly may be killed by rebel forces in the coming days.  When his government falls, I believe we will be looking at the next Ethiopia, the next Somalia, the next Nigeria or the next Sudan. I’ll be looking forward to how the liberal press will gussy up that tragic development.

***Please pray for our Christian brethren in the Ivory Coast, and persecuted Christians throughout the world.  May God bring the martyred to eternal rest in Him and extend mercy and justice to the living and the dead.***

 

Note: I just stumbled upon this blog under the Telegraph’s banner which also derides the biased press coverage.  Check out Why does media coverage of conflicts such as Ivory Coast ignore history, religion and demographics? by Ed West.

 See update as of May 12, 2011

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The increasingly reliable Daily Mail‘s headline tells the tale:

Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief

The British daily has found the official with Britain’s National Health Service, Dr Daphne Austin being quoted in a BBC documentary saying:

‘We are doing more harm than good by resuscitating 23-weekers. I can’t think of very many interventions that have such poor outcomes.

‘For me the big issue is that we’re spending an awful lot of money on treatments that have very marginal benefit.

‘I would prefer to free up that money to spend on providing support to people who have much more lifelong chronic conditions.’

This official, we are told, advises what treatments and care should be funded in the West Midlands region.  In other words, lives depend on her authorization.  And she would “prefer to free up that money” than treating the babies.

She claimed keeping them alive is only ‘prolonging their agony’, and it would be better to invest the money in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled.

And what might be the ‘prolonged agony’ that would warrant killing these children? Why, “blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy”, of course!  What a horrible drain on society are the blind, deaf and disabled.  Do you think that Annie Sullivan thought much the same of her student, Helen Keller?  That Helen was a drain on the financial resources of her family and her country?  I doubt it.  

Why is this little throwaway article important to us Christians? Because we know intuitively that what this official is suggesting with respect to 23-week preemies is just the latest salvo in the war to drag Western society into a full-blown embrace of euthanasia for the disable, sick and marginalized. 

The Daily Mail helpfully introduces us to the horrible effects of allowing 23-weekers to remain alive. Meet Molly Griffith.

Apparently, The Daily Mail is not fooled by this doctor’s neo-rational argument.  Again surprising and delighting this Catholic blogger, the paper introduces us to Molly Griffith, who would ostensibly be the kind of child that Dr. Austin is looking to kill off.  When she was born prematurely at 23 weeks, she could fit into the palm of a hand.  She is missing a kidney, has epilepsy, and one side is weaker than the other.  But the NHS did not have the sort of cost-cutting twelve years ago, and she endured, growing into a happy, energetic and normal child.  And if the picture of Molly tells us anything, it is that “lifelong chronic conditions” do not deprive human beings of love, joy, intellect, meaning, and above all, life.  Euthanasia does.

 
Notably, the Church of England, bastion of moral relativism that it is, (again) declines to take a stand for life, morality and Christ.  Blessedly, The Daily Mail apparently will.
 
God bless The Daily Mail.

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