Tag Archives: morality

Presidential Politics and Romance Novels: A Treatise on Virtue

I’m not really on the ball.  If I were, I would have written days (weeks!) ago about the kerfuffle that erupted when an important donor for one of the presidential candidates joked about the good ol’ days when women would rely on an aspirin held between their knees for contraception.  All of the gory details can be found here.  Yes, we are still going round and round about this outrageous and offensive federal mandate for free contraception for everybody, no matter what.  Of course, the comment that raised so many eyebrows is about a long-lost period when women relied on self-control and virtue instead of pharmaceuticals or surgical procedures to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

One of my new-found favorite bloggers, Hyacinth Girl, had a wonderful analysis of the dust-up:

I’ve been listening to the coverage of Santorum’s big donor’s Aspirin statement. Since when has it been controversial to suggest that women used to value chastity? I mean, we don’t have a universal human right to be whores. Or do we? I can never remember. I’m not calling sexually active women whores, by the way. It just isn’t a big deal that Foster Friess makes a reference to the days when sexual promiscuity wasn’t celebrated or considered inevitable…Maybe we should take an honest look at where our society has gone with all this “progress” and how empty we’ve all become. I see a lot of sad, lonely, joyless people who have everything, including anyone they desire, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Once upon a time, Western civilization used to strive toward virtue: that is, moral excellence or traits which promote moral or ethical uprightness.  In the modern era, virtue is mocked, and morality is rationalized down to nothing.  “What’s right for me may not be right for you.”  It certainly does leave a person empty.

Rush Limbaugh had some very interesting remarks about the aspirin situation:

You boil it all down, what you end up with is something very simple.  Liberals want life without consequences.  Fail at your job, no consequences, doesn’t matter, there’s all kinds of government help.  Fail at being a father, no problem, there’s no consequences.  Sex, whenever you want it, no matter the outcome, no problem, we’ve got abortion, we got birth control pills, we got condoms, ah, no consequences.  And without consequences, there’s no virtue.  And that’s all Foster Friess was talking about.  Simply talking about women with virtue, pure and simple.  And the fact that so few people understand that is shocking.  Sad, but shocking.

So, as I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been reading historical romance novels.  This is in part, I think, a reaction to the incredibly depressing, gritty high-brow fiction out there.   As a break from all of that, I’ve consumed perhaps a dozen simple, breezy romance novels.  Most of them were mediocre at best; a couple were just awful.  A handful, though, were quite compelling with characters one becomes attached to.  (I have a strong feeling at least one post about the merits of historical romance novels for intelligent women is in the making.)

Aside from some easy entertainment, the novels do leave the reader thinking about virtue, believe it or not: justice, temperance, and fortitude.  With their settings in the extreme confines of Victorian morality, the novels cast a harsh spotlight on just how far we have “progressed” from even the palest sense of virtue.  Considering the fact that the government will sacrifice Constitutional liberties so that every woman in America can have free love without consequences, I wonder how we will ever claw our way back to virtue.  Where would we start?

Here’s a crazy thought: how about with the concept of intimacy and courtship?  In the olden days, using someone’s given name (certainly can’t use the archaic term “Christian name”!), was a sign of great intimacy.  In 2 of my favorites of the fluff novels, when the heroine finally uses the hero’s name rather than his title or a polite form of address, it is a turning point in their relationship.  As an aside, the Christian names in those 2 cases were Jude and Adrian.  Sigh.  Moving on.  If you need confirmation from a more respectable source for the appropriate use of names, look to Jane Austen.  (Regency, not Victorian, I know.)  You know, “Mr. Knightley” and “Mr. Darcy.”

Such a small thing, but it really caught my attention.  You see, it really vexes me when complete strangers use my first name.  For instance, where does a sales clerk or waiter get off calling me by my name when he or she hands me back my credit card?  Once when I was driving on to my local military base, the sentry at the gate checked my ID, reading the name I suppose, and then waved me on with a, “Have a nice day, (my name inserted here.)”  A simple “ma’am” would do very nicely.  I do not want to be “Miss Suzy” or “Miss Lori” to the children in my neighborhood.  It’s Mrs., thank you very much.  I want to be the one to allow that familiarity that comes with using my name.  I want there to be a clear distinction between acquaintanceship and intimacy.

Of course, it might be awkward for a Miss Woodhouse to hook up ever-so-casually with a Mr. Knightley.

The idea is that women (and men) might consider holding something back so the other will have to work to deserve that intimacy.  Barbaric, I know, denying instant gratification.  And yet, that little bit of self-discipline doesn’t cost taxpayers anything–unlike the contraceptives the government insists are a “right.”

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Civilization at its Finest?

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in America.  It was observed by tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, at the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.  We will never know for certain the actual tally of marchers, nor would Americans hear of the march at all if they only rely on major news outlets which neglect to report on it.  It is safe to say, however, that youth make up a sizeable number of those marchers.

It’s just in the nick of time that young people are waking up to the horror of abortion.  And it truly is a horror.  Michael Stokes Paulsen summed up the situation:

After nearly four decades, Roe’s human death toll stands at nearly sixty million human lives, a total exceeding the Nazi Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, Pol Pot’s killing fields, and the Rwandan genocide combined. Over the past forty years, one-sixth of the American population has been killed by abortion. One in four African-Americans is killed before birth. Abortion is the leading cause of (unnatural) death in America.

Indeed.  We are, in fact, such a beacon of advanced civilization that our president had this to say in his remarks about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

Why, that’s a politically correct bandwagon any young person could jump on, right?  After all, aren’t girls due the same opportunities as boys?   Sure.  Except that Obama’s words sound remarkably and eerily similar to those of a certain nutcase bioethicist, Anna Smajdor, who argues for the “moral imperative” of artificial wombs for the gestation of fetuses. Read for yourself:

In short, what is required is ectogenesis: the development of artificial wombs that can sustain fetuses to term without the need for women’s bodies. Only by thus remedying the natural or physical injustices involved in the unequal gender roles of reproduction can we alleviate the social injustices that arise from them.

When this medical advance is perfected, she argues, society will achieve a state in which women “are no longer unjustly obliged to be the sole risk takers in reproductive enterprises.”  Just like Obama, she emphasizes the requirement for women to

“curb their other interests and aspirations in order to have children at biologically and socially optimal times.”

Have we really come this far–that the President of the United States echoes the sentiments of extremist ethicists that pregnancy is an unjust, barbaric affliction forced upon women?  That abortion is actually a remedy for this injustice??

Youth of America: pay attention.

(Thank you to MercatorNet and BioEdge for getting the gears of my brain turning this morning.)

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I’ve Got a Crush on You…

Don’t tell Cap’n Handy.  I’ve got a major crush on Mark Steyn.  I turn on the radio at noon, hoping he will be filling in for Rush Limbaugh.  Sometimes I even turn off the radio if Rush is doing his own show.  Recently, I bought Steyn’s latest book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.  I know.  Doesn’t the title make you go weak in the knees?

I’m pacing myself, trying not to devour the whole book in one sitting.  After all,  one can only consider Armageddon for so long before despair sets in, right?  Not if my guy Steyn is telling the story.  He has this wry brand of humor that distracts his readers from the “we are so doomed” certainty and gets them laughing out loud instead.

Regarding New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his inability to manage the effects of the snowstorm of December 2010:

His Big Nanny administration can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger, but he can’t regulate it on to Seventh Avenue.  Perhaps if New Yorkers had appeared to be enjoying the snow by engaging in unregulated sledding or snowballing without safety helmets, Nanny Bloomberg could have scraped the boulevards bare in nothing flat.

Describing the ostrich-with-its-head-in-the-sand treatment of the Fort Hood massacre perpetrator:

Old watchword: Better dead than red.  Updated version: Better screwed than rude…And “Allahu akbar?”  That’s Arabic for “Nothing to see here.”

On his reasons for writing After America:

Nobody writes a doomsday tome because they want it to come true.  From an author’s point of view, the apocalypse is not helpful: the bookstores get looted and the collapse of the banking system makes it harder to cash the royalty check.

Funny and smart.  Sigh.

But one can’t read Steyn and nothing else.  As I was perusing one of my favorite sites for information about news and politics from an ethics standpoint, MercatorNet.com, I came across this piece by Mona Charen on moral relativism.  She discusses a study indicating that more than half of the 18-23 year-olds surveyed believe morality is a personal choice: “Moral rights and wrongs are essentially matters of individual opinion.”  So there are no moral absolutes.  Cheating: whatever it takes to pass, and grades are just some oppressive and artificial construct anyway.  Stealing: not good if it’s my stuff but OK if you are taking stuff from the rich to give to the poor.  Violence: what’s wrong with roughing up “the man” in the name of justice for the worker?  Murder: This one’s tricky, but it’s definitely fine if the soon-to-be-deceased is pre-born, terminally ill, or hopelessly sad (especially if a resident of the Netherlands).

Hard to believe?  Not really.  We are surrounded by the “no judgments” motto–in schools, support groups, online chatrooms, even Occupy Whatever gatherings.  It’s little wonder young adults pooh-pooh morality.  I weep for the future.

After such heady and depressing reading, it’s time for more Steyn.  He may be sounding the death knell of Western civilization, but at least he has a punchline.  Coming to page 203, I read these words:

Once it’s no longer accepted that something is wrong, all the laws in the world will avail you naught…Beating up a 96-year-old isn’t wrong because it’s illegal; it’s illegal because it’s wrong.  Not offering your seat to a 96-year-old isn’t illegal at all, but it’s also wrong.  And, if a citizen  of an advanced western social democracy no longer understands that instinctively, you can pass a thousand laws…and they will never be enough.

OK, so that wasn’t really funny at all.  But, how fitting.  Smart, funny, and timely.  Sigh.  I’m sure more comedy awaits on the next page.  Mark Steyn would never leave me despairing about a future full of “moral cripples” like Ms. Charen does.  (Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Mona.)  Maybe he will be hosting the Limbaugh program today.  Maybe he will publish a really witty column.  I’m not a stalker.  Really.  This is purely an intellectual thing.  Really.

 

 

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Living in the Land of Tolerance

Sometimes it’s hard being uncommon.  Especially when you know that you will be a social outcast for the forseeable future.  Lately the headlines remind me that things will get worse before they get better.  The most recent example is the decision by a California federal court judge striking down that state’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  The judge ruled that “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples,” and that those views are “irrational.”  He went on to describe marriage as merely “an expression of emotional support and public commitment.”

Let’s put aside for now my response to the judge’s opinion about marriage.  Instead, there’s the bigger picture to examine.  Rebecca Hagelin does this in a recent column.   She predicts a field day for those who wish to cram the new morality of Tolerance down our throats:

The judge’s ruling serves as a primer for the sex educators, liberal school boards, and social engineers who want our children to embrace the same reasoning. And their methods are frightening: They are using the power of big government to force their personal moral views of homosexual relationships on children and families across the nation.

She goes on:

School curricula and the mandated atmosphere of tolerance are already rolling over our children like waves eroding the shore; but now, the tsunami is headed our way. And the pressure for parents to be silent and conform to a “new morality” is everywhere. It’s in television shows, the movies, games and music; it’s in the schools, in advertising, in our courtrooms and boardrooms.

Let’s face it.  The presumption in this country today is that everyone is on board with what was taboo only a generation or two ago: abortion, embryonic stem cell research, couples shacking up instead of marrying, divorce, “hooking up,” openly homosexual behavior.  Now the taboo is questioning any of these behaviors. In the military world, for example, shack-up “families” are afforded almost all the same privileges as traditional families, even though this means passing ship movement information to non-dependents.  Objecting on the grounds that a couple is not married is akin to stirring a hornet’s nest.

I’m trying to raise my children with a set of firm values.  I want them to know that there are absolute truths, moral standards of right and wrong.  But as the notion of tolerance-no-matter-what becomes more ingrained in our society and government, believing in absolute truths seems more and more foreign.  I’m asking my kids to be truly counter-cultural.

Ms. Hagelin calls on parents to stand up for what they believe in and drown out the angry tolerance bombarding our kids.  Our Lord said: Be not afraid; I am with you always.  This is going to take a lot of courage and prayer and divine intervention.  I wonder–is there a patron saint for the uncommon?

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