Friday, November 4, 2011

Quick Takes! Marie Bellet, Norwegian wisdom, and a little tiger







1) You may not have noticed, but I am not churning out the posts the way I used to. To avoid blogger burnout (I'd hate to see the Bubble burst!), I've had to slow way down. I hope I won't lose any of you if I publish only once or twice a week, but I have to find balance, especially coming into the holiday season. Of course, it's not as if the action stops when the posting slows, since there is still quite the discussion going on under the last post. We are well into the second page!


2) The fallout from the post entitled "Leila's sins and shortcomings on public display" "Why I never should have had eight children" has been too much fun!

For starters, Marie Bellet emailed me! If you don't know who Marie Bellet is, then I am thrilled to be the one to introduce you! When I was just a wee lass with four children (probably around the same time I was pondering that fifth child), Marie was my constant companion. Her first album, What I Wanted To Say, was written when she had seven small children (she has nine now), and the songs were so incredibly synchronized to my own life and feelings that I often told people it was like she was singing me spiritual direction. I could write a whole post on each of her songs and its meaning to me. Marie added more albums through the years, and I love them as well. Lo and behold, she emails me words of encouragement after having read "that post" and then sends me copies of her brand spanking new album, Everything Changes, which fits perfectly with the time of life and motherhood she and I have reached today. Moms in their forties and fifties with some grown children will especially relate!

I really could go on and on, but I will end by saying that I have two copies of her new CD that have not been spoken for, and if you tell me why you want one, you may be a lucky recipient! As those of you who have yet to receive your Bubble onesies know, it may take me some time, but I will get them mailed eventually. I plan on a random drawing if we have more than two takers.


3) More great responses from "that post" included emails from Catholic brothers and sisters as far away as Portugal and Brazil (LifeSite has an edition in Portuguese!), the gift of a wonderful book from the Jeub family, Love Another Child (which they do well, as they have 15 kids!), and this remarkable video sent by the Schweitzer family, made by their son Josiah about his little sister with Down Syndrome:


Wasn't that cool?


4) Switching gears now, JoAnna found a quote from a pseudonymous Norwegian blogger reprinted on John C. Wright's blog yesterday, and it eloquently states what I have often pondered but didn't know how to say:
I never fail to be amused by how sex transforms liberals from hard-headed sociobiologists into velvet-minded romantics. From a strictly biological perspective, the ultimate purpose of sex is procreation alone, and the pleasure we derive from it is simply nature’s little stick and carrot. Why, then, this irrational and adamant defense of non-procreation and anti-natalism from people who otherwise jump at any opportunity to smugly wax prosaic about man being just another animal or the Darwinian origins of everything from organized religion to the nuclear family? 
The reason, I believe, is duplicitous. To liberals, sexual hedonism is not valuable because it brings pleasure, but because it serves, Rousseau-style, to tear down the deleterious influence of civilized society. Had liberals really been friends of sexual joy and pleasure, they would have realized that sex is more valuable when it is limited or mystified by things such as pre-marital chastity or modest clothing. These things turn sex into the best it can be — a sacred ritual — rather than simply a biological act no different than defecation or sleep. 
Thoughts?


5) Last year I met JoAnna in person at the Bioethics Defense Fund "Passion for Life" benefit, and this year I'd love to have more blogger meet ups! The Witness for Life Honoree for 2011 is Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, and that alone is worth the price of admission. This annual event is one of the most inspiring nights of the year, benefiting one of the most important pro-life organizations out there, whose work is not typical but is desperately needed. Sign up here, and I'll see you there on November 18!


6) My little tiger! The cute baby fingers just kill me… ahhhh!!!



7) Get prepared. My next post is a guest post by the brilliant Joe at Shameless Popery, "The Most Important Question in the Gay Marriage Debate", and it's a great follow-up to One Man's post about gay "marriage" and civil rights. I can't stay away from that topic for too long, because it's too important culturally to let go. Join us, as it's sure to get interesting….



Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!

81 comments:

  1. Adorable tiger, and I love how you aren't afraid to stir the pot! Off now to read some of the posts you've linked to :)

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  2. That is an adorable tiger!
    Wish I could be one of the people to meet you in person. If you're ever in MN, look me up!

    "That post", I knew, was going to go far and wide. It spoke to so many people and gave so many the encouragement that we all need as parents. I still have yet to read it to my husband...

    Ok, I'm going to try to sleep now, I've been having insomnia lately with this pregnancy and it's killing me! (Not to be dramatic or anything.) :-)

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  3. Kudos on that great post. That's what I love about the internet and evangelization. You write what you are inspired to write and then the Holy Spirit uses it in ways you may not even ever know - and in many that you do know. How wonderful you made all those contacts! Cute tiger.

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  4. "The reason, I believe, is duplicitous. To liberals, sexual hedonism is not valuable because it brings pleasure, but because it serves, Rousseau-style, to tear down the deleterious influence of civilized society. Had liberals really been friends of sexual joy and pleasure, they would have realized that sex is more valuable when it is limited or mystified by things such as pre-marital chastity or modest clothing."

    Has this person read Rousseau? And to think that sexual hedonism allows people to feel free at the degradation of society? What? And sex is not mystified by any type of clothing. And plenty liberals support monogamy, etc. For lots of reasons.

    For the record, I think the most important question in the Gay Marriage debate is why straight couples aren't okay with getting civil unions???
    -Zach

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  5. Oh my gosh, your 'tiger' is adorable!

    Love that video. Love. love. love. it :)

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  6. And sex is not mystified by any type of clothing.

    Zach, I believe strongly that it most certainly is. Why do you think it's not?

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  7. Love that video!

    That is one adorable tiger! I'm a sucker for. Any fingers too. Oh and toes... Love love love baby toes!

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  8. And Zach, what do you make of the first paragraph? That was the most compelling part to me.

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  9. And sex is not mystified by any type of clothing.

    Don't tell Victoria Secret. They sell the opposite of modesty and it's still mystified.

    Great tiger, mama. Is that in honor of St. Gertrude, patron saint of cats? :)

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  10. Does this make you a Tiger Mom??? :)

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  11. Leila,

    Congratulations on your blog post getting noticed by so many AND getting published in Spanish! So awesome!

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  12. Re: #4--YES, YES, YES!! I've long thought that, but lacked proper articulation. Am writing a post for my "serious" blog on family size and urban spaces, and will probably grab it for the post!

    Thanks!

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  13. Wow, I was mentioned twice! I'm bathing in the reflected glory. :)

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  14. You guys are so funny!

    And Zach, this explains why I can never support "civil union" laws. (If I thought I could at one time, those days are gone.)

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/08/catholics-your-misguided-compassion.html

    You see?

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  15. Zach, I may have misunderstood your question. You may have been asking why heterosexuals don't want to be in "civil unions". Well, why should they? Marriage is an institution as old as man and woman themselves, not a recent construct of a government. Why should we need "civil unions" when we are able to be married? Marriage requires a man and a woman, able to consummate their one flesh union (intercourse) which is ordered toward the procreation of children.

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  16. Love the tiger. Amazingly small world but as I want to stay anonymous I won't comment further. Interesting quote about the Liberals. Not sure if I agree. I think people have sex for all sorts of different reasons liberals or otherwise. No one would even bother with sex if it was just to bring down society.

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  17. BNA, I agree that the second half of the quote is debatable on several levels. I think most western people (the mushy, apathetic middle) live to maximize their pleasure and minimize their suffering. Thus, sex is bascially used to "feel good". Nothing transcendent.

    I disagree that "no one would bother with sex if it was just to bring down society". I think they would bother with it because it's still the highest natural pleasure on earth, even if by debasing it they don't experience nearly the fullness of the pleasure and joy it's meant to bring.

    What do you think of the first half of that quote? I think it's dead on.

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  18. Awww, he still does have little baby fingers! But he looks so grown up!

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  19. I would love that CD! After spending most the day trying to help my college freshman son register for classes...when he was allotted the last registration time and so it was a sudoku puzzle of times, locations, classes, requirements, and spending part of my day praying for my college junior who is 10 hours away and has a high fever and strep throat, intermixed with a dog getting sick, playing trains with a 3 year-old, taking tylenol to a 12 y-o with brand new braces, etc, ...I could use some spiritual enlightenment put to music!

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  20. Lucky7, you've more than earned it!!! Email me at littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com!

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  21. Yes, I think the first half of the quote is dead on. My comment about the sex was if it was ONLY to bring down society, that is, without the pleasure aspect. I guess I just don't believe the liberals are all that organized as to say: let's go around having lots of sex, all different types with all different people and bring society down. The sex thing is nothing new, as is evidenced by past civilizations. I prefer to think that Satan uses our concupiscence for that purpose. But perhaps you are thinking more about the gay agenda? And that's a whole other issue...

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  22. Oh the Down Syndrome video is perfect. Love it!!

    I wish I could go to that event! I would love to do all those fun things. Some day!

    I dunno how you don't get burnt out from all of the comments. Big time kudos to you.

    Your Tiger is precious!

    Happy weekend!!

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  23. That quote about sex reminds me of this, by Naomi Wolf: http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html

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  24. Leila,

    The government marries folks whether they commit to making babies or not. You can't support basic legal equality, like hospital visitation rights, health insurance claims, etc., because you think allowing people those things will make you go to hell? No, I don't buy it.

    The first paragraph made me laugh. It's a good satire of many liberal thinkers. Frankly, not everyone gets all poetic about sex, and many have poetic arguments about other things too. It's a poor but funny generalization.

    "From a strictly biological perspective, the ultimate purpose of sex is procreation alone, and the pleasure we derive from it is simply nature’s little stick and carrot."

    Not only is that wrong, it's also not even wrong. Sex is sooo complicated in biology. Dolphins have sex for pleasure. Almost every day. In ecology there are things like "proximate" and "ultimate" causes, which can help explain why certain structures were selected. It is never so simple as sex=procreation. Sex has more meaning than that, even to less intelligent animals: it can determine dominance and social structure.

    "I think they would bother with it because it's still the highest natural pleasure on earth"

    No it's not. And you're generalizing Western thoguht and liberal thought again. I know you won't read Dawkins, but perhaps an anthology of secular thought might interest you? I'm not particularly interested in going on a long debate right now, but I'll agree to do some reading if you do the same?
    -Zach

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  25. Not only is that wrong, it's also not even wrong. Sex is sooo complicated in biology. Dolphins have sex for pleasure. Almost every day. In ecology there are things like "proximate" and "ultimate" causes, which can help explain why certain structures were selected. It is never so simple as sex=procreation. Sex has more meaning than that, even to less intelligent animals: it can determine dominance and social structure.

    So, we are just like animals? I can't figure out what you position is. Are we like animals, and so we can use sex to determine dominance and social structure? Animals don't have to give consent when another animal forces sex on her, right? That is straight "biology". So, why is it different with humans, if we are just like animals? And if you tell me we are not just like the other animals, then what sets us apart? Why would it be wrong for a rapist (or a nation of rapists) to say that forced sex is simply part of what we "do" instinctively, or to determine social structure or dominance?

    I truly am asking. I don't get it.

    Not the highest natural pleasure on earth? I'm guessing if you took a survey, most humans would think it is. However, there could be people who say that skydiving is a better "rush" or whatever. I guess so, but that would be the exception to the human experience, not the rule. And of course, union with God is infinitely more pleasurable than any human experience at all, but that is a supernatural pleasure, not merely natural.

    I wish I had time to read all the great secular works. Unfortunately, this blog is about all I can do (when I read a book, it's gotta be something I really want to read, as my time is so limited and my list is so long). So, I will have to learn from you, in the combox. And I don't think you need to read too much about Catholicism, because you were once a devout Catholic, no? You know a lot about what we believe and why.

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  26. Mary, wow!! From a non-Catholic source, too. Yep, so much of that is true, and it's so sad.

    I would love for Zach or the others to comment on that article. How can they deny it? I want to hear. Zach?

    (And here is the link straight to the first page; the other link took you to page two)…

    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/

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  27. "sex is not mystified by any type of clothing" said Zach. But Naomi Wolf has an interesting take on that, in the link. I do hope you will read and comment, Zach. The college boy in the article said there was no mystery in sex (he has sex to "get it over with") when he starts to date a girl. It's so common. Profanation of something is simply taking something sacred and making it common. The culture has profaned sex. It's so sad. He says there is no mystery. So, it is, for him, as our Norwegian said, "a biological act no different from defecation or sleep."

    We have lost so much.

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  28. Sorry, misplaced parentheses really bug me. Forgive?

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  29. I know she introduced this to be ironic:

    “Mystery?” He looked at me blankly. And then, without hesitating, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.”

    He's right.

    What Wolf, and yourself, are arguing for is an aesthetic, which in itself may have a mystery to it. But the physical act of sex contains very few mysteries.

    In regards to your questions on my position on animals....I wasn't presenting any! Because animals are animals. We are animals, in the sense that we share the same biological characteristics as animals (heterotrophic, multicellular, etc.). When I say humans are animals, I mean that. I do not mean that I think we are purely driven by instinct and Pavlovian drives. And that's what every biologist means when they say: humans are animals.

    Animals don't have to give consent when another animal forces sex on her, right? That is straight "biology". So, why is it different with humans, if we are just like animals? And if you tell me we are not just like the other animals, then what sets us apart?

    Nope. That sounds like rape (SOUNDS, I say, not IS). I know it sounds silly, but there is a certain element of choice in the animal kingdom. Look, when I talk about non-human animals, I am NOT trying to draw parallels with us. I AM trying to point out that the natural world is more complicated than you make it sound.

    What sets us apart? Opposable thumbs? Language? Certain critical mental processes that allow us to do things like plan, make goals, and see the world in other viewpoints? Alcohol dehydrogenase?

    Forced sex in humans DOES determine social structures between individuals. That's a fact, and there's not a right or wrong about it because that's what happens.

    See, I want to sit and explain why it's wrong to rape, but it's pointless. I can argue from any number of viewpoints why we can have sense of what is good and what is bad without God, but you simply will not buy it because you have a serious case of confirmation bias. Unless I include a reference or a nod to a higher power you will simply disqualify it. Countless arguments have been made by better thinkers than I, and it's admittedly exhausting to try and present them in a good light when they're disqualified immediately. Do you know what I'm saying? I'm saying Peter Singer is a bad person and there are many atheists who agree. Do you think they are illogical? Why are so many atheists good people?
    -Zach

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  30. Maybe it's me, Zach, but I have a hard time understanding what you are saying or trying to say.

    But the physical act of sex contains very few mysteries.

    Since I'm pretty sure we all know the mechanics (and he and she both know that), I doubt that he was referring to just that. Did you read her statement before that, to him? Did you get the point of the article? Do you agree with it?

    Now, this thing about rape. I'm simply asking why it is morally wrong for humans to rape each other, but we don't say it's morally wrong for a dog to "rape" a dog? (Unless you want to say that animals are being immoral when they force other animals to have sex? That implies moral reasoning… Do you believe that animals can morally reason? Non-human animals, that is.)

    Do I think atheists who think Peter Singer is a bad person are being illogical? Well, it depends… why do atheists think he is a bad person? Because of his stance on infanticide? Michelle has basically his beliefs on that. Is she a bad person? I'm confused, and you'll have to be more specific.

    As to "Why are so many atheists good people?" Again, what does that mean? What does it mean to be a "good person"? I want to know from your perspective what that means, and I will answer it as best I can.

    Personally, I believe all people are sinners, and we all make decisions every day about whether to live the virtues, or to go the other way. No grave sinner is beyond redemption, and no saintly person is above falling into the abyss.

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  31. Also, MaiZeke has said that truth exists and is discoverable but has no source. Do you agree? That there is no source for objective truth? But it still somehow exists?

    See, I had one really sweet atheist tell me that she had never thought about the concept of truth before, but that after she thought about it, truth was (to her) synonymous with opinion.

    That makes sense to me, that an atheist would think that. I accepted it and did not challenge her further, because it absolutely made sense. I don't know how it could be otherwise in a godless universe?

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  32. I would love to have gone to the BDF this year, especially since I missed last years. But it's not the timing for me. God has other things that He wants me to attend. I do hope to make it to the BDF one of these years. You will have to update everyone afterwards.

    Blessings.

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  33. Here,

    This is a (relatively) short essay on the matter.

    http://www.skeptic.ca/Biblical_Ethics.htm

    While I accept the general form of the moralistic argument, I think it applies more forcefully to theism than to atheism. This objection is as old as philosophy. Plato, the first systematic philosopher, raised it against divine command theories of morality in the fifth century BCE. He asked divine-command moralists: are actions right because God commands them, or does God command them because they are right? If the latter is true, then actions are right indepen­dent of whether God commands them, and God is not needed to underwrite the authority of morality. But if the former is true, then God could make any action right simply by willing it or by ordering others to do it. This establishes that, if the authority of morality depends on God's will, then, in principle, anything is permitted.

    I don't have the time today, so hopefully Anderson can take my place temporarily. Her essay flows easily. She takes some liberties in her biblical citations, and she is admittedly rather focused in her critiques of theism (you'll note that not all of her critiques will apply to Catholicism). But it's good.
    -Zach

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  34. Plato is great, but he's pre-Christian and does not speak for me nor the Church. The Church's position is very clear: God is the source of all Truth because God is Truth. It's His essence.

    There you have the Catholic position.

    But what I asked was your position. What do you believe to be the source of truth? If it's not God, then it's… ? You? Someone else? Nothing (as MaiZeke says)?

    I would say that you and other atheists still have some semblance of truth and a moral law because God wrote it on your hearts (natural law).

    And, if you could address the other questions I posed, that would be great, if you have time!

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  35. Hmm, good people and bad people. Not buying it. But that did make me think of this post by former atheist Jen, at conversiondiary.com: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2008/07/good-people-bad-people-truth-and-lies.html

    Will you read it, Zach, and let us know what you think?

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  36. Manda, yes! That is the perfect post to apply here, and I have often thought back on that post and that photo.

    I would truly appreciate Zach's take on that.

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  37. Yeah, I'm thinking you didn't read the essay. Just because Plato is pre-Church doesn't mean his arguments don't apply to theism in general.

    I would say the "source" of truth is objective reality. The universe is here and acts according to its laws whether I perceive it or not. So, right, there is no "source" of truth, as truth is simply the explanation of things.

    Jen's philosophy of atheism wasn't particularly refined.

    Manda, I meant good people colloquially, not that I think there are people who necessarily good or evil at their core. And frankly, saying "natural law" is written on the hearts of every person is a philosophical copout. You can't show it to be true or not true.

    Seriously, if God is the source of Truth then why is his Bible so screwed up?
    -Zach

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  38. I would say the "source" of truth is objective reality. The universe is here and acts according to its laws whether I perceive it or not. So, right, there is no "source" of truth, as truth is simply the explanation of things.

    But truth isn't the "explanation", truth is truth and then we try to explain it. The explanation is not the truth. Truth would exist whether anyone could explain it or not. And truth is more than just "how things happen". That may apply in explaining how the physical world "works". But that is not the case with the moral law. If that were the case, we could not say anything after establishing the "truth" that some people feel much pleasure and happiness in raping others, or stealing.

    But that says nothing about objective rightness or wrongness.

    I think what you said to Manda is the copout, actually. So, define it then, you brought up "good people" -- what is a "good person"? Please, define.

    As to that last sentence: It's so elemental and false an argument against Christianity, that I actually can't believe you used it. Really? Are you speaking of the seeming "contradictions" in the Bible? You've never encountered an answer to that in all your studies? I think you need to reference book on your shelf: Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft, or else some C.S. Lewis books, or any of dozens more. I thought you were beyond that? It's sort of like when people say that we believe that God is "an old bearded man in the sky". I tend to think we are dealing in Square One or else people who are just mocking, or having a little fun with Christians who don't know how to answer. Anyway, I didn't expect the "Bible is so screwed up" line. Oy, vey.

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  39. I'm speaking of nonsense about how wives should submit to their husbands, which I've brought up before and it was never addressed. Or how God in the Old Testament wantonly endorses the killing of innocents. Or how the moral code laid down in books like Leviticus is so absurd no matter what time period or history you're in. Or how anyone can take seriously literature that we know was written by the hand of man.

    As for truth, no, it's not an explanation, but effectively it is. Truth is a condition of existence.

    Good person.... as stated, I was speaking colloquially. To be more explicit, what is the incentive for those without a divine moral code to do good acts, or, to not do bad acts.

    Tell me Leila, do we need the Bible and God to tell us that murder and rape are bad, or is that the only thing that keeps you from being a good person?
    -Zach

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  40. Just popping in, but I would support Zach's point of: "Not only is that wrong, it's also not even wrong. Sex is sooo complicated in biology. Dolphins have sex for pleasure. Almost every day. In ecology there are things like "proximate" and "ultimate" causes, which can help explain why certain structures were selected. It is never so simple as sex=procreation. Sex has more meaning than that, even to less intelligent animals: it can determine dominance and social structure.", but only to a point. The overarching purpose of sex is to reshuffle DNA and produce offspring. Yes, there are other ancillary effects, but there is no getting around the fact that it is about procreation. Nietzsche (or then again, it might have been Schopenhauer) believed everything we do is actually all about the "will to sex", meaning all of our drives ultimately come down to the march towards maximizing our reproductive capacities.

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  41. Zach,
    I have some of the same issues with the Bible that you do and have asked some of those very same questions to myself repeatedly. One way I look at is that you have to look at the Bible as a whole, particularly the New Testament, and get the "gist" of the message. I would submit, that if you read the N.T., you come away with a general picture of who Jesus was, and what he stood for. Also, I think that many of the cultural norms that you and I take for granted are part of our Christian, Western culture.

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  42. Zach, have you ever tried reading a Bible commentary at all? Or the works of Scripture scholars? All of your "issues" with the Bible are pretty weak and have been rebutted time and time again, ad nauseum, by Catholics and other Christians. Some have been addressed on the blog before (for example, Why Is the God of the Old Testament So Mean?)

    Why is it nonsense that wives should submit to their husbands? Please note the next part of that verse, which says that husbands have the equal obligation to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Is that nonsense too? Then there's this great explanation from Jennifer Fulweiler @ Conversion Diary.

    If you could specify a verse where you believe God "wantonly endorses the killing of innocents," we could explain why your interpretation is incorrect.

    What studies have you done to determine that the Levitical moral code was "absurd"? What's absurd about it?

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  43. "First, we want to remind ourselves that punishment from God is a sign of His love, not His hate. Parents know that punishment is an important part of taming a child's natural self-serving (and often destructive) impulses. A parent is willing to inflict temporary suffering on his beloved child (a spanking, a time-out, a grounding, etc.) in the hope of sparing him a greater suffering should his impulsive behavior continue and become a habit."

    What. I'll quote a relevant verse:

    "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them." (Lev 20.13)

    That is one of many actions that has the punishment of death. That does not sound like temporary suffering.

    As for absurdity... have you read Leviticus??

    "...If a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean."

    "But among those that chew the cud or have divided hoofs, you shall not eat the following, the camel, for even though it chews the cud, it does not have divided hoofs; it is unclean for you."

    "The anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting. The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is in the tent of meeting before the LORD; and the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from the bull of sin offering: the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is around the entrails; the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins; and the appendage of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys, just as these are removed from the ox of the sacrifice of well-being. The priest shall turn them into smoke upon the altar of burnt offering. "

    Mary, I am not sure getting the "gist" is enough if I see serious flaws in the work for me to accept Christianity as truth and a religion I should be observing.

    It's nonsense because there's no reason a woman can't be head of a household. Because as far as heading a household is concerned, there's nothing remarkably different about men and women that makes men better at it, except that which culture has endowed them with.
    (cont...)

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  44. And lastly, from the essay I procured earlier:

    Consider first God's moral character, as revealed in the Bible. He routinely punishes people for the sins of others. He punishes all mothers by condemning them to painful childbirth, for Eve's sin. He punishes all human beings by condemning them to labor, for Adam's sin (Gen. 3:16-18). He regrets His creation and in a fit of pique, commits genocide and ecocide by flooding the earth (Gen. 6:7). He hardens Pharaoh's heart against freeing the Israelites (Ex. 7:3), so as to provide the occasion for visiting plagues upon the Egyptians, who, as helpless subjects of a tyrant, had no part in Pharaoh's decision. (So much for respecting free will - the standard justification for the existence of evil in the world?) He kills all the firstborn sons, even of slave girls who had no part in oppressing the Is­raelites (Ex. 11:5). He punishes the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great great-grandchildren of those who worship any other god (Ex. 20:3-5). He sets a plague upon the Israelites, killing 24,000, because some of them had sex with the Baal-worshiping Midianites (Num. 25:1-9). He lays a three-year famine on David's people for Saul's slaughter of the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1). He orders David to take a census of his men, and then sends a plague on Israel, killing seventy thousand for David's sin in taking the census (2 Sam. 24:10-15). He sends two bears out of the woods to tear forty-two children to pieces, because they called the prophet Elisha a bald head (2 Kings 2:23-24). He condemns the Samarians, telling them that their children will be "dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open" (Hosea 13:16). This is but a small sample of the evils celebrated in the Bible."
    -Zach

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  45. Zach, did you read more than the first paragraph of Gayle's post? Did you read the post by Jen Fulweiler that I linked?

    Have you read any Scripture commentaries that explain the rationale behind the Levitical laws?

    In fact, have you ever read any version of Bible apart from the Skeptic's Annotated version? (FYI, P.Z. Myers is not a reliable source of Scriptural exegesis, either.)

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  46. As for truth, no, it's not an explanation, but effectively it is. Truth is a condition of existence.

    I have no idea at all what you just said.

    JoAnna, thank you for addressing Zach and the Bible questions. Mary, the New Testament gospels are historical, and they are meant to be read as actual history. It's not some kind of analogy. Each part is true and meaningful. You said once that Jesus' main mission was to teach us to be compassionate to one another. That is not at all why he came. He came to die for our sins and open the gates of Heaven. He came to save us and give us the Truth and found His Church.

    Zach, God is the author of life. We have no right to take another's life, but God can give life and can take it. Why? Because we are His creatures. Life is something HE created. There is no injustice when the Author of Life gives and takes life. And, if you recall, unlike the atheist worldview, death is not the end of life. Life continues forever. The innocents that died in the OT? They received their justice. Justice would not entail that innocents be damed to hell. So, don't worry for those innocents which God allowed to die. Really, He loves them more than you. God is not just a bigger, more invisible version of you or me. He is Life. He is Truth. He is Justice. He is Mercy. He is Love. He is not like you or like me. Don't bring Him down to that level.

    As for those committing sodomy that you mentioned. Remember, those are mortal sins. Mortal means deadly. Even if the penalty back then were not death, the eternal penalty of willfully committing such sins is eternal death (hell). Nothing inconsistent there. Back then, deadly sins merited death, and today, we have Jesus who came to reconcile God to Man and give us infinite mercy, a way to repent and turn back to God. But for those who won't? The sins are still as moral. They bring spiritual death.

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  47. Joanna,

    Have you read the apologetics behind Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Confuscianism, Taoism, etc.?

    Probably not, because they're basically professional excuses. Theology and apologetics are fields that serve to find an answer they already have. Which sounds like bad academics to me.

    And I have read versions of the Bible. I have the NRSV in my apartment for reference. I did used to be Christian, so I am familiar with some "commentaries" and "explanations". Or, like I said, excuses.

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  48. Zach,
    started to read the essay, and will comment further, but something jumped out at me:

    "But that can't be right. Every society whether or not it is founded on theism, has acknowledged the basic principles of morality, " Hmmm....can she point to an atheistic society in history? Not an atheistic movement, but a whole society? I was not aware there were any.

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  49. Leila, you did not address why God kills and punishes innocents in the OT.

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  50. By the way, we see many times in real life that the innocent suffer with the guilty. Have you heard how pro-choicers feel about the unborn? They are innocent victims of their parents' sins (or in the case of a rape, the fathers' sins). Yes, the innocent suffer. Children suffer for the sins of adults every single day in this nation, from the selfishness of divorce, of hedonism, of drugs and drunkenness, of greed, or sloth, of lust, of anger, etc., etc., etc. The innocent always suffer for the guilty.

    The difference is that with God, that is not the end of the story. For you, as an atheist, there is nothing but the suffering. It ends. Injustice remains. There is no ultimate justice, there is no ultimate reconciliation, there is no ultimate healing, there is no ultimate HOPE. There is no hope. It's dark. It's sad.

    I'm sorry that you live that life in which hopelessness and injustice hang in the air, and that's all there is.

    But we Christians know that any suffering on this earth is very, very far from the end of the story.

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  51. Mary,

    I think she's referring to more than just atheism and theism. Deism and Pantheism are fairly prevalent in history.

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  52. Oh, but I did, Zach. But you see, you assume that God commits an injustice by allowing the innocents to die with the guilty. Again, you misunderstand, and you are making God into a bigger, invisible version of you. No, He authored life, and he can give and take it at will, with no injustice being committed at all. His justice waits for the innocent as well as the guilty. The innocents have nothing but joy awaiting them. Don't mourn for the holy innocents. Mourn for the guilty.

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  53. And I'm still waiting -- WAITING -- for someone to give me the step by step refutation of what is presented here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-jesus-really-die-and-rise.html

    How did it go down? Step by step, please. Something reasonable. I have yet to hear it.

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  54. Every society whether or not it is founded on theism, has acknowledged the basic principles of morality

    natural law natural law natural law natural law

    The conscience came from somewhere….

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  55. The innocent may suffer from the collateral damage of the guilty, yes, but I'm talking about God directly punishing the innocent. Which you pretty much dodged. It's not even that he allowed it, he actively participated. Like the massacre of the first-born sons in Egypt?? Sorry, but that's inexcusable.

    I'm going back to the study grind for the week. It's been fun folks.
    -Zach

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  56. Leila, I hate to have to say this, but I'm going to have to ask you to stop referencing me on here. I should be able to lurk without feeling the need to defend myself over and over. You've said before that your blog is a civil exchange of ideas, and for a while I thought it was. But when one person is consistently brought up as a bad example, when I'm tempted to enter conversations not because I feel I have something to add but because I see myself misrepresented, then it's really not a civil discourse any more.

    When I said I've enjoyed our conversations here, I did mean it. If you were bringing me up and giving an accurate assessment of what I've said instead of twisting it through your own interpretation, I would be fine with it. If you brought me up only to shred my arguments to pieces, I would be fine with that too - heck, that's why I comment here at all. But both here and on the last post, I'm not seeing that. I'm seeing things that I know I didn't say with my name attached to them, and I hope you can understand why that bothers me.

    Incidentally, I've just written a blog post about truth, and I've taken a direct quote from something you've said on here before. At one point (I don't remember which post) you said to Zach, "Being totally honest here...but if your view of life and humanity were true, I would shoot myself." Rest assured that your name is not included - I'm interested in judging ideas, not making an example out of anyone. I only wish I could get the same sense from your blog.

    Thanks,

    Michelle

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  57. Dodged? You've dodged so much of what I've asked that I've forgotten most of what I'm still waiting for you to answer. But I did not dodge. You just don't like the answer that their is no injustice in God giving and taking life. He is the Author of Life. No one had a "right to be created by God" in the first place. The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away.

    It's not even that he allowed it, he actively participated. Like the massacre of the first-born sons in Egypt?? Sorry, but that's inexcusable.

    And if the firstborn innocents were to live in Heaven for eternity in bliss, then where is the injustice, exactly? Because he took them early?

    ??

    Again, you, a creature and not the Creator, have no right to decide who lives or dies (that would be "playing God", get it?). But God gives life and sustains it as long as He wishes. He is sovereign, not you.

    It's not a dodge, you just don't like the rules of the game. You want to be like God, or else you want God to be like you (us). But that's not even in the paradigm. Only God is God. Sorry.

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  58. Michelle, when I reference your words (and I will continue to do so), I will make sure to screen shot them so that they cannot be misconstrued. I will not stop referencing them. If I misrepresent you, I will correct it. The last thing I said was a direct quote (about the small baby being less of a person than a ten-year-old… I corrected my initial statement that said "less human" [we Catholics believe all humans are persons, so sometimes I use one for the other, my apologies].

    You may use any of my words at all. I stand by every single thing that I say, unless I correct myself and find that I was in error. Otherwise, use my name anytime. It does not bother me.

    Like I said, I will continue using anything you have said her on the blog, as it is a public forum, and available for the whole world to see, as you knew when you wrote it. The combox is always open to you to correct the record, and I will go you one further: If you want to write a guest post to explain how you've been misrepresented here, please write it. I will publish it in its entirety.

    What do you say?

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  59. Yikes, sorry for the typos!!!

    But I sure do hope you write that guest post for me, Michelle.

    And when Zach used Peter Singer as an example of a "bad person", then why was it not fair to ask him (a friend of yours) if you were a bad person because you held the same views as him? Was that out of line? Why?

    If you don't have the same views as Peter Singer, then tell me where you differ?

    I want to be fair, so tell me, and it will be on the record.

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  60. I second Zach's opinion on the head of household thing. I know several women who are the heads of their households, and things are great. Although, Jen has some good points, I just know many counter examples.

    JoAnna, do you have any other references to answer Zach's linked essay about the apparent depravity of the God of the O.T. ? I have serious issues with it as well. I don't find Gayle's points to be all that convincing.

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  61. Zach,
    Both Deism and Pantheism point to a God, or an ultimate cause, and therefore some ultimate reality or Truth. So, I guess I don't think those are supporting arguments for evidence of atheist societies that are highly moral.

    I would say that Buddhist or Jainist (not sure if that is a word) societies might be a close option, but it seems they are both based on the idea of getting to Nirvana: an ultimate Truth. So there is some ultimate reality of Truth that should be the goal of existence.

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  62. "Do I think atheists who think Peter Singer is a bad person are being illogical? Well, it depends… why do atheists think he is a bad person? Because of his stance on infanticide? Michelle has basically his beliefs on that."

    This. This is why I broke my comment silence, because this is not at all something I said. You've twisted my words to make it sound like I support infanticide, which I'm certain I said I did not support. Quotes? Quotes are fine. No need to take screenshots, because I do trust you to copy and paste. But when my words are twisted to fit your interpretation of them, I hope you can understand why I find that frustrating.

    I truly appreciate the offer for a guest post, but "Michelle" is a pseudonym, so fortunately the only thing at stake is my reputation among the other commenters here. I had been planning on continuing our conversations when I was less busy and could devote more time to them, but I feel they've devolved into fruitless arguments where you and the other commenters set out to prove me wrong from the start. There's no real discussion that way, and that's too bad.

    Perhaps, if I give it some time, I'll once again feel that it's worthwhile to comment here. I do love a good argument, and I do love having my ideas challenged. But with time constraints (read: every minute spent not reading papers and studying is, technically, a minute wasted) and my mixed feelings on the motives behind this blog, I'm not sure I'm ready to come back yet.

    And so for now, I'm going to retreat back into lurking. If I see myself misrepresented, I'll let it slide. Fighting each statement would require an entire discussion in itself, and I don't have the time or energy for that.

    Michelle

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  63. "Do I think atheists who think Peter Singer is a bad person are being illogical? Well, it depends… why do atheists think he is a bad person? Because of his stance on infanticide? Michelle has basically his beliefs on that."

    This. This is why I broke my comment silence, because this is not at all something I said. You've twisted my words to make it sound like I support infanticide, which I'm certain I said I did not support.


    Michelle, then set me straight. How do your ideas differ from Singer's? You told us that newborn babies are less of a "person" than ten-year-olds. Personhood determines rights, in your mind, including the right to life. So, set me straight.

    For my motives, please read the "Please Read First" link. I'm not a liar, and you can trust that those are my motives. :)

    And, do you think Singer is a "bad person" as Zach says many atheists do?

    Thanks!

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  64. Mary, I'm sure there were widows in NT times who were "heads of households". But that was a deviation from the ideal, correct? For children to be there, there has to be a father in the picture somehow. The child didn't create itself. Or maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean by "heads of households"? Are you talking about breadwinners? Of course women can be breadwinners. But, unlike what Zach thinks, men and women are essentially different, as are mothers and fathers.

    If men and women were the same, then why is Zach a homosexual? It would be just the same to be with a woman. I truly doubt the only thing that attracted him to his boyfriend (or any man) was a particular piece of anatomy that a woman does not have. Nope, there is a difference between men and women, in essence, not just anatomy.

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  65. This idea of a "depraved" OT God...

    Mary, if a painter destroys his creations, is he depraved?

    And, what if in the destruction of his creations, he transforms them into something infinitely greater. Is he depraved?

    Is there an injustice in a painter destroying his works, or is that within his rights?

    See, I can't wrap my mind around the idea that the Author of Life has no right to give and take as he sees fit, especially as no innocents are ever lost and no injustice ever occurs, not to the slightest degree?

    Tell me how that equates to depravity? I'm seriously wondering.

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  66. No, Leila, I'm sorry. I don't have time for a huge discussion right now, and that's why I hesitated to comment at all. I'm sure that I've at least touched on most of these points before, so I don't think anything I'd say right now would get us any closer to mutual understanding.

    With that, I'm out. But because I hate leaving on a sour note - that is one adorable tiger. :)

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  67. Aw, thanks! :)

    But you could have answered pretty succinctly and clearly. If it's that complicated, then maybe it's not a very coherent, focused philosophy? Principles should not be complicated. Principles are simple.

    Ours is this: Every human being is a human person with full human dignity and the same right to life as every other human being on the planet. All humans are created equal. No one is better or more worthy of life than another.

    Anyway, let's leave it to the readers to decide.

    Thanks!

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  68. Mary: you might find these articles helpful, especially the third: 

    http://www.jimmyakin.org/2004/04/spiritual_heads.html

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0004.html

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/feminism/fe0017.html

    Zach, yes I have. Did you know that Tibetan Buddhism condemns homosexuality among practicing Buddhists, for example? 

    Re: your issues with Leviticus, I recommend the commentary The Book of Leviticus, if you are genuinely interested. You can find a description of the book and its contents here.

    Michelle, I find your request to Leila bizarre. You chose to put your comments on her public blog and now you want her to stop referencing what is out there for public consumption? If you feel you're being misrepresented, by all means clarify, but requesting that the blog owner stop discussing comments left on her own blog is nonsensical. If you're that paranoid that you'll be misrepresented, delete your comments so they can't be referenced anymore.

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  69. JoAnna, thanks for providing the links!

    My biggest frustration on the blogs is not the fear of being misrepresented (I have too much of a big mouth for that), but the frustration that I cannot get others' positions laid out clearly enough for me to understand. So much murkiness. And beyond the murkiness, I can't get people to stick around and answer the questions. So many of them get danced around and then ignored.

    Ironically, if Michelle deletes her comments, then the record is wiped clean of her statements and she might be misrepresented more severely than before. I hope she keeps them up, but I totally get if she wants them gone. Perhaps she's even been rethinking some? I hope, at least on a certain topic that was very difficult.

    Michelle and all the other respectful commenters are always welcome here. :)

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  70. Can't sleep (heartburn + active baby), so I went searching for another article I remembered, & finally found it:

    This expands upon what Leila was saying re: justice for innocents: Hard Sayings of the Old Testament

    Also, one of Jimmy's recent podcast episodes partially dealt with Old Testament interpretation and is worth a listen.

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  71. Mary, more food for thought:

    God cannot be guilty of injustice to anyone. First of all, by definition he is perfection, and His attributes don't allow for any vice or depravity. He is Goodness itself. Goodness cannot, by definition, be bad. It's a contradiction in terms. Not possible, or what we call "nonsense" in the literal.

    Think of this: God owes us nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. And yet He created us in His own image, out of love alone, and allows us to "be like He is" -- we are destined for divinization (yes, it's true).

    By contrast, we owe God everything. Everything we have is because of Him.

    He owes us nothing (yet He died for us) and we owe Him everything (yet we judge Him and even imply His depravity).

    It's backwards, utterly.

    I love this, for perspective:

    "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways
    And My thoughts than your thoughts."

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  72. JoAnna, that is one darned stinking good Jimmy Akin article! And, I love how Catholic minds are in harmony on these things. Our faith is cohesive and I love that I can read through and say, "Yes, that is what I was thinking, but couldn't say well" or "That is an angle I hadn't thought of, but which fits perfectly into our faith tradition and understanding."

    Good gracious, why wouldn't everyone want to be Catholic?? Come on guys, we (and Jesus!) are here with open arms! It's such a great place to be, I can barely stand it some days! :)

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  73. I don't think anything I'd say right now would get us any closer to mutual understanding.

    And one last thought, Michelle. I am not looking for a "mutual understanding". I am trying to find out what you believe and have it somehow make sense to me (even if your premise is wrong). It's why I can say that Peter Singer's position makes sense to me. He holds a position I believe to be evil, and yet he makes sense. He says that any attempt by pro-"choicers" to say there is some big difference between pre-viability and viability or between viability and birth itself is totally arbitrary. He admits it freely and calls out those who try to make such delineations seem scientific or based on some hight thought, etc. He admits it's utterly arbitrary and in my mind he is being totally logical in saying so.

    See, that makes sense. So, I wouldn't press him further if we were having a discussion on that point. I would accept and move on.

    I want to get to the point where I actually understand the logic of your points and that it makes sense to me. So, we don't need a "mutual understanding", just something that I can say, "Oh, that makes sense even though I utterly disagree."

    Hope that in itself makes sense. It's late, ack! Need sleep...

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  74. Leila et al,
    My comment on head of households was in reference to females I know who make, basically all of the decisions regarding the family and household. One of these females I know is absolutely the boss. She calls the shots in everything. She has a very dominant personality and her husband seems fine with it most of the time. They both work, and he defers to her on most if not all, matters.

    I think being the ultimate decision-maker, leader in the household has far more to do with your personality type than your sex.

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  75. Mary, I've seen it too. I think we live in an era where a lot of men have been emasculated. It's one thing to be a strong woman (I think my husband would not call me a shrinking violet, ha ha!!), but it's another thing to emasculate a man (or to have a man who simply will not be anything but passive). I think that can be a real problem. Either way, what Paul said about being "submissive" or "subject" to husbands is not at all what the left (and many fundamentalists) want to say it is. And as has been noted, how many people go on to discuss the next part, about husbands needing to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (i.e., service and sacrifice until death?)? Why is no one up in arms (or lauding) that part?

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  76. Mary, the more I think about it, the more I recall having conversations with friends over the years and those women who do "most of the decision making" and most of the heavy lifting so to speak are incredibly resentful of having to do it all. They resent passive husbands terribly, to the detriment of the marriages. One of these ladies who used to even cry about it was a secular lady.

    Have you noticed that? I don't think these ladies confide this to everyone they meet, but it's often simmering there and they do get resentful (we want "MEN" to step up and be men!). I think it's a real problem today.

    Now of course I am not talking about dominance and control, which is what so many will pipe in and accuse the Church (or me) of saying. But that would be a terrible misrepresentation of the truth.

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  77. "My comment on head of households was in reference to females I know who make, basically all of the decisions regarding the family and household. One of these females I know is absolutely the boss. She calls the shots in everything. She has a very dominant personality and her husband seems fine with it most of the time. They both work, and he defers to her on most if not all, matters."

    This used to be my marriage, when we were first starting out. My husband never put his foot down (I think out of fear that I would leave him). This was before we got serious about our faith or our marriage. He ended up with a drinking problem, and our marriage almost ended. A wise, male, older friend of mine coached me on allowing my husband to become the man God made him to be by allowing him to be the head of the household. This doesn't mean I'm less or don't have as much say on things, but it's allowing him the dignity and respect he was made to have. We make our decisions together, and he loves me truly and deeply and always seeks my advantage in everything. But if there is something I want to do, and he sees a danger or a reason for saying, "no, I don't think that's a good idea, here's what we want to do and why" I defer to him as the head of household.

    I didn't have any faith in him before to make decisions for us, and in the process I was holding him back from growing up and being a MAN. He has grown SO MUCH and I am SO attracted to and in love with the person he has become, simply because I got out of the way, and started encouraging him and building him up with my words, instead of putting him down or making him feel like I thought I was smarter than him and could handle the decisions concerning our family better than he could. His growth has *shone* in every area of his life, he is clearly happier, more confident, and professionally he is thriving.

    ***His aunt was the woman you described, too, Mary, and she had 4 kids and a husband who never said anything and let her rule the roost...then one day out of the blue he broke it to her that he found someone else and was sick of being treated that way.

    I am a regular commenter, but want to post this anonymously so that I can protect my husband's identity.

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  78. FYI, the Marie Bellet CD's are both spoken for, and moms with little ones, you must get her CD "What I Wanted to Say." You will cry a cathartic cry!

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  79. First of all, thanks so much for stopping by my little blog. ;-) I admire how well you keep yours up considering how busy you are! I have four and feel spread so thin.
    Second of all, I love, love, love Marie Ballet. I had forgotten about her until I read your post...I, too, had the "What I wanted to say" cd. Hmmm, now to find that little treasure...

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  80. Love love love Marie Bellet. I have What I Wanted To Say and A New Springtime. Often when I'm having a hard day, one of her songs pertaining to that particular mode I'm in will pop in my head. She's gotten me through many mornings. :)

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