Cootie Shots and Conundrums

TBM Topic 17: Emotional Chastity

“Cootie Shots and Conundrums” by Julie Robison
“Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Easy Bake Love Story” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

In the second grade, I received a cootie shot/ anti-boy inoculation from a retractable lead pencil. Don’t worry, it was given to me by a professional- my seatmate had given them to nearly every other girl in the class too. From then on, I was (mostly) immune to male charms. I was one of the few girls still playing soccer with the boys in junior high. I focused on making good friends, both male and female, in high school. I was realistic about dating in college, following the sage wisdom of my parents: A date isn’t a proposal. A dance isn’t a commitment. Enjoying another person’s company doesn’t mean you’re meant to be together forever.

Emotional chastity is about protecting your heart. It does not mean being unwilling to give it, but rather, give it selflessly, without regard to return. A perfect example of this is Elinor from Sense and Sensibility. She really liked Edward, but when she found out he was secretly engaged to another woman, she protected her feelings and let life play itself out. On the opposite side, her sister Marianne committed crimes of emotional exhibitionism. Fortunately, for us readers as well as both Dashwood sisters, true love wins out in the end.

I’ll give a more probably example: menfolk as friends. I’ve never believed the old adage of “men and women can’t be friends.” I think such generalities are poppycock. Friendship, like love, is a choice and an action. Attraction, on the other hand, is not.

On of the biggest conundrums women face today is the acceptability of “friends with benefits.” Girl meets guy. They become friends. They’re not interested in each other, so they only pursue friendship. Then, something changes. They start to feel attracted towards each other. What then?

One of possibility is to pursue a relationship.

Another possibility is to have a mature conversation and decide friendship is the best course of action.

Then, there is technically a third option. Really, a fraction of a choice, an algebraic mixture of the above: the friendship as the core, plus the heart-break, minus the commitment, and plenty of unknown variables. Friends with benefits is possibly one of the worst violations of emotional chastity. The benefits are purely physical. It is a utilitarian friendship where two people seek something from the other person. Neither party will grow as a human being because humanity needs virtue and goodness, not consensual vices or an emulation of shallowness, to flourish.

Here are two recent Hollywood examples:

Exhibit A, “Friends with Benefits” (2011)

Exhibit B, “No Strings Attached” (2011)

I would like to point out that both movies involve the complication of falling in genuine love with the other person. Do you think anyone would want to watch the movie if the people only submitted to their animalistic natures, opposed to rising above the banal situation towards the true, goodness and beauty of Love?

What a conundrum the modern world is in! Even if one does not participate in the friends-with-benefits arena, watching these type of movies, reading chick lit and endlessly daydreaming about a future with someone you have not had that type of conversation with is hazardous to feminine mental health. The unrealistic expectations set up by thinking about handsome men and allowing one’s mind to wander into fictional romance does not allow the heart to grow towards genuine love, which comes with time, honesty, purpose and virtue.

Self-control, therefore, is what is most needed in emotional chastity. It means not dwelling on the good times. It means not over-analyzing every word a cute guy said to you. It means not planning out one’s future with the man you’ve started dating or just met. It is not easy, and requires constant vigilance. This does not mean one cannot enjoy romance, consider the future or giggle over cuteness. But people want mature love, which can only be achieved through pure intentions and not rushing into emotional bonds.

The best advice I’ve been given on the subject came from my bestie Julia, before I started dating B. It also happens to be the advice I gave her before she started dating her now-husband. To achieve happiness in life, you have to be content with yourself. More importantly, though, you have to be content with your situation.

If you are single and praying every night for love to find you, I suggest praying instead for God to give you purpose in your singleness. This, like most things, may only be a season, and use it as a way to serve God more fully. If you feel called towards the vocation of marriage, God will provide.

If you’re still feeling like you’re in a pickle, I suggest an old-school cootie shot. All you need is a #2 retractable pencil and a second grader to administer a dose of perspective!

Summer Readin’, Having A Blast!

TBM Topic 14: Summer Reading

“Summer Readin’, Having A Blast!” by Julie Robison
“Bright Maidens: Summer Reading” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“In Which I Pretend Perfect Weather Exists” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

I wish I could tell you more about my summer nights than the sad fact that I got home from work around 9:30 p.m. last night and was so tired/ too frazzled to write (I write for work; too much typing and thinking yesterday). Alas, my summer days are driftin’ away and oh! Oh, those summer nights… reading late before bed. I recorded a video of me briefly discussing the six books I am into right now. I’m technically juggling more than six books right now, but such are the reading habits of a chronic multi-tasker!

Julie’s book list
Second Friends: C.S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation by Milton Walsh
Thy Will Be Done by St. Francis de Sales
Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings -by Jack Kerouac, text by Ed Adler
Surprised by Canon Law by Pete Vere & Michael Trueman
Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam by Cardinal Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict XVI and Marcello Pera
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

What are you reading right now? Tell me more, tell me more!

Bonus: Fr. Schall on why it’s better to read a few authors than to stray through many.

Ain’t Tat Something

TBM Topic 12: Tattoos

“Ain’t Tat Something” by Julie Robison
“In Memory Of” by Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
“Needle and the damage done” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Last Tuesday, I drove my brother north to his interview with the Navy. I was struck by the number of times the Lieutenant asked him if he had any tattoos. I found out later that the Navy allows tattoos if they are covered by conventional clothing (i.e. chest, back), but not otherwise. I am not sure why this is, but it made me think of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Parker’s Back.”

O.E. Parker, the protagonist, had been in the Navy. Nearly his entire body is covered with tattoos, with the notable exception of his back. Parker was “as ordinary as a loaf of bread” and began getting tattoos put on his body after he saw a man at a fair who was tattooed from head to foot. “Until he saw this man at the fair,” wrote O’Connor, “it did not enter his head that there was anything out of the ordinary about the fact that he existed.”

Parker later falls in love with Sarah Ruth, who was “forever sniffing up sin.” She was the daughter of a “Straight Gospel preacher,” and was the first woman he met who did not approve of his tattoos, calling them “a heap of vanity.” He is not religious or interested in it, but still wants to make an effort to please his wife, who constantly threatens his lax language with references to Judgment Day.

The Christ

And so, Parker decides to get a tattoo of the Byzantine Christ on his back for her. It takes the artist two days and Parker pays $20. The tattooist (and later, men at the pool hall) asks if Parker has gone and “got religion” and if he is “ saved” now. “Naw,” Parker replied; “I ain’t got no use for none of that. A man can’t save his self from whatever it is he don’t deserve any of my sympathy. …I married a woman that’s saved, ” is his defense. Parker believes she’ll like it because “She can’t help herself… She can’t say she don’t like the looks of God.”

Sarah Ruth, in  fact, doesn’t like it. She takes a broom and whacks him on the back again and again, screaming “idolatry!” at her husband; “I can put up with lies and vanity but I don’t want no idolater in this house!” When she sees the face of the Christ, she says she doesn’t know him. When Parker says it’s God, she asserts that God “don’t look. He’s a spirit. No man shall see his face.”

I love this short story. Mainly for its mockery of the assertion that God is merely a spirit, which is practically a denial that Jesus is the Word made flesh and lived on this earth, but also for its social commentary. Parker’s mother, for instance, “wept over what was becoming of him” after he got his first tattoo (and then began to drink beer and get in fights). She will not pay for his tattoos (except for the one with her name on it) and attempts to drag her son to a revival, before he runs away from home and joins the Navy. His wife barely tolerates the tattoos, and prefers him his sleeves rolled down and fully covered. Before her, he found that women were attracted to his tattoos and men liked to gawk at his new tattoos. He never felt satisfied for long, and always yearned for another tattoo, filling the space, searching for his next one. It’s a beautiful and physical image of a man looking for personal fulfillment.

I do not think tattoos are an issue of morals or faith. The argument that one should respect one’s body can easily be countered by examples of people who disrespect their body by overeating and/ or drinking, indulging in sexual appetites, and violence. In terms of my Catholicism and tattoos, there is nothing in my beliefs which sway me here or there on tattoos.

There is no right or wrong answer on tattoos. My own opinion, of course, generally thumbs its nose down at tattoos. There are, of course, exceptions and double-standards. I don’t mind them on males nearly as much as I despise them on girls. There are also industries where outside appearance matters– in banking, law, and medicine, for instance– visibly noticeable tattoos would not be tolerated.

For me, the bigger question is why: Why are you getting that tattoo? Why are you putting it there? Why are you inking something permanently to your largest organ?

a depiction of Parker’s back

Apparently tats are big chick and/ or hipster magnets. I’m sorry, I meant “tattoos.” I was trying to sound hip, which I am not. In all seriousness, tattoos do hold a fascination for many people. I cannot suppose why, but O’Connor gave me an inkling into such a sentiment.

Near the end of “Parker’s Back,” O’Connor wrote, “Parker sat for a long time on the ground in the alley behind the pool hall, examining his soul. He saw it as a spider web of facts and lies that was not at all important to him but which appeared to be necessary in spite of his opinion. The eyes that were not forever on his back [of Jesus Chris] were eyes to be obeyed. He was as certain of it as he had ever been of anything.”

In the end, in the Resurrection of the body, God-in-Three will not be concerned with the marks on our body, but the state of our souls, our pursuit of truth and our love of God and each other. A tattoo is not going to disrupt our journey towards God, and it should not be a distraction to believers or non-believers alike. One day, when we see the face of God, that will be something to stare at; but for now, tat’s tat!

Do you have a Twitter? Follow us! @BrightMaidens

In addendum: If you want to know why this post is late, read here. If you want to read Will’s guest post, click here.

What Are You Reading?

I’m back, after a loooong time. Can’t promise consistency, but at least content. Volume 21, baby!

one

This week, I bought more books than my New Years’ Resolutions allowed*. I said 3? Well, I meant 8! It’s summer, does that count for anything?

I also renewed two subscriptions (First Things and The New Criterion) and took out a third (Touchstone, because its price was blessedly and severely reduced). I sadly am letting one of my newspapers go, though, and am happy to still have my Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Register, Financial Times, and The Magnificat.

Have you bought any good reads lately? Are you supporting excellent writing and the advancement of intellect?

two

Elizabeth is always marveled by how much I read. I thought I’d share the five books I am currently reading (yes, at the same time; I like multitasking):

I got this one for Christmas and am loving it:

Edith Stein and Companions On The Way to Auschwitz by Father Paul Hamans

This thick one will be finished before the summer is out – fantastic and meticulously written and researched:

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun

This one is really interesting and insightful:

Philosophy 101 By Socrates by Peter Kreeft

B. lent me this one, and it is hil-arious:

A Practical Guide to Racism by C. H. Dalton

I am listening to this one in the car, and it is, of course, just wonderful:

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

In July, I’m going to start Brighton Rock by Graham Greene for my long-distance book club with Tessa and Brenna! Excited to read more Graham Greene – I love The Heart of the Matter and The Power and the Glory. Highly recommend both as well, if people are looking for summer reading recommendations.

Up next: Christopher Dawson, Zora Neale Hurston, Pope Benedict XVI and some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

three

Here is my blog referral of the week: Born After Reagan

My friend Logan started it a few months ago, and now I am excited for the 2012 election just so I can read what he has to say about it!

Why yes, we did meet Ron Paul together three years ago:

CPAC 2008
four

The topic for next week’s Bright Maidens‘ post is picked! Next Tuesday, please join us in discussing “Catholic Modesty.”

If you’re a first time participator, all you have to do is write on the same subject and post your response to the topic on our FB wall. Wa-la! If you’re not on FB but still want to participate, e-mail it and we will post it for you to share with the group. If you’re on Twitter, our hashtag is #brightmaidens (with an ‘s’ on the end!) to share posts and tweets.

Also, Bright Maidens refers to we three girls, but we have both males and females participating. The male hashtag on Twitter is #cathdudes if you want to read some some cool Catholic dudes.

A re-cap of last week’s topic, a response to Max Lindenman’s article on “Dating Nice Catholic Girls”:
Elizabeth: On Reading Confused Catholic Writers
Trista: Please Don’t Call Me A Prude
Julie: Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!

Elizabeth makes a list of all the contributions too, so please check our FB page later for that!

five

I’ve been home for a week, and am still actively learning to adjust to a new sleep schedule, being back at work, and hearing people talk to me in English. As happy as I am to be home, South Korea was an amazing experience. I’ll give you a sneak peek from my weekend in Busan:

This is a kimbab, and the best thing I ate in South Korea (stay tuned!)
Best bathroom sign EVER.
The Eastern Sea, a.k.a. The Sea of Japan. But they don’t like the Japanese, so don’t call it that, please.
The Busan fish market. I’m going to have a whole post on food.

six

I’m also going to have a whole post on drinking in South Korea. Here’s me trying authentic Korean beer for the first time:

So innocent.
There are so many patron saints of beer; they obviously did not invoke any of them!

seven



I bought Adele’s latest album, 21. I seriously do not know why I waited so long. It is wonderful, soul-filled and beautiful.

Here’s “Someone Like You” with Adele talking about why she wrote the song. Warning: I teared up a bit.

She’s a two months younger than me, too. Gives a girl perspective!

Okay, one more, this one upbeat: “Set Fire To The Rain”

SHE IS SO AMAZING. Buy her music. Make her famous and wealthy, she deserves it. I want her singing forever and ever.

Happy Friday, friends! See Conversion Diary for more. Also, say a prayer for Jen! She’s having her baby on Wednesday!!

*I’ve been miserably failing to follow most of my New Years’ resolutions, actually, which is why I take the book buying limit one so seriously!