I just heard Carly Rae Jepsen's song “Call Me Maybe” on the radio. At first, I thought it was an innocuous and snappy little pop song, but then the lyrics of the chorus section revealed it's true nature. She sings: “Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here's my number, So call me, maybe?” First of all, it is never a good idea to give a man you just met your phone number. But her voice sounds so sweet, she makes it all seem so innocent and harmless. But this song is in line with a disturbing trend in pop-music ushered in my Kesha's “Tick-Tok,” Rihanna's disgusting “S&M” and the loathsome Katy Perry's “Waking Up in Vegas” and “Last Friday Night.” These songs celebrate a sort of new young woman: who doesn’t fear getting drunk around men, loosing control, or being sexually promiscuous. It's the end result of the failed sexual revolution: sleeping around with no consequences and no responsibilities. This careless attitude, if taken seriously by the young and impressionable, sets women up for violence and abuse. It takes women off guard. They end up doing idiotic things like leaving a night-club with a man they hardly know. And for this reason, Jepsen's music is all the more dangerous. For, it starts with the basic fundamentals of dating rules and survival techniques. Women and particularly girls then acquire a false sense of security. This is sugary teen-pop barely concealing a deadly message.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
There are no accidents in life. On my recent trip to Rome, I rented a small apartment not far from the Colosseum. One of my first duties, once I arrived, was to find the local church. Thankfully, in Italy, the neighborhood church is usually the tallest building in any given area. About one block away was the incredibly beautiful Santa Maria Dei Monti. In any American city this would be a Basilica or a Cathedral. In Rome, it is just one of many spectacular buildings. When I walked in, nothing about the interior architecture or decoration was particularly impressive. It was typically Baroque. Above the main altar was the Icon of Our Lady of the Mountains. Many churches in the Holy City have Romanesque and Byzantine Icons; the most famous being Our Lady of Perpetual Help at Sant'Alfonso di Liguori all'Esquilino. The first Mass I attended in Rome was at this lonely Church. The Mass was not well attended. Afterward, I noticed a small shrine to the left of the sanctuary. Under glass, was a beautifully carved statue of a reclining man. On closer inspection, I noticed a marble plaque on the nearby wall. This was the tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. I thought for a moment: Wasn’t he the mendicant traveler who was mentally ill?
When I got back home, I bought a book about Benedict Joseph; sadly there are currently none still in-print. Though he died in Italy, he was of French origin. He was born into a comfortable bourgeois family in 1748. He was an especially religious child. His parents noticed this and sent him to live with an uncle who was a priest. When he became of age, he tried to enter a series of religious communities, being released from all of them after a short time. Although extremely pious, some type of emotional disorder was blamed for his failure to endure in one monastery after another. Finally, he became a wandering pilgrim, going, on foot, to all the major Catholic sites in Europe. Towards the end of his life, he settled in Rome, often sleeping in the Colosseum. He made daily rounds at the major Churches and Basilicas. In 1783, he collapsed and died at Santa Maria Dei Monti where his remains are today.
What can be learned from the life of St. Benedict Joseph Labre? First of all, we must all be subject to, and follow, the will of God; especially when it collides with our own dreams and desires. Benedict greatly wanted to be a religious, but the Lord had other plans. Secondly, there are many ways in which one can serve God and the Church. Perhaps, Benedict was mentally ill, he still discovered his path to salvation. Thirdly, we should all be “fools for Christ.” This vocation, though more widely recognized in the world of Orthodox asceticism, can be embraced by everyone. Being a “holy fool” does refer to acting in a strange manner or someone's lack of intelligence, but giving up all worldly affectations, social norms, and conventions in the name of Jesus Christ. The most famous example in Western Christianity is St. Francis of Assisi. This is a radical form of self-abandonment that can not be taken to it's most extreme levels by everyone. But we can all go against the surging tide of contemporary culture and it's failed morality. In order to do this, you must set yourself apart. Become open to ridicule. Take up the Cross and follow Our Lord. Not easy, but in the end, worth the effort.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
About a year ago after learning that Staples, the national office supply store, donates money to Planned Parenthood, I switched my business to Office Depot. Well now what to do? Yesterday, I found out that Office Depot is a major backer of Lady Gaga's “Born This Way” Foundation which, among other things, promotes the homosexual lifestyle to our young people. Besides this, Lady Gaga has repeatedly and unapologetically used Catholic imagery in her music-videos to promote her sick sexual fantasies. This is in addition to her crude and semi-psychotic influence upon music and culture. I wish we could go back to a time when you walked into a locally-owned store and knew who the proprietor was.