Chastity in a Box? (with a Glimpse at YOU from Ascension Press)

Continuing with Book Week.  Box #2 raises a question that doesn’t get asked often enough: What part do chastity-education programs play in teaching teens (and grown-ups) about the right use of their bodies?

My thoughts follow, but first you should show know what was in the box:

YOU from Ascension Press.  I reviewed AP’s Theology of the Body for Teens: Middle School Edition some years ago, and liked it immensely.  A first glance at YOU is similarly positive.  It’s a much bigger and deeper program, and from everything I’m seeing among teens in the circles I run in (church-school-sports), YOU looks like a solid answer to a very serious need.

As I flipped through the books the other night, several things caught my eye:

  • The advice for how to teach teens is dead-on.
  • The parent booklet gets right to first things first.  It’s like they know they only have a paragraph to win us parents over.
  • The curriculum, as will the best Theology of the Body presentations, starts with the bigger picture, lays the essential groundwork on the dignity of the human person, and leads from there into a positive message about the goodness and appeal of chastity.
  • YOU is working off ideas that have been tested with teens over and again and found to work.  (Not surprising, given who the authors are.)

It’ll be a while before I get a chance to read the leader’s guide and parent guide (leader’s guide contains the full text of the student book) cover to cover, as well as watch the whole DVD series.  Thus I wanted to flag this series now, because I’ve got a very positive impression at first glance, and if you’re planning programs for your parish you might want to request your own review set rather than waiting on someone else’s opinion.

Where do ready-made chastity programs fit into the big picture?

If you phoned me this afternoon (please don’t) and asked me what I recommended for taking your generic typical-American-parish from zero to full-steam-ahead on teaching teens chastity, here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Start with a good parent-centered introduction to chastity, such as Family Honor’s Leading and Loving program.  There are lots of options for meeting formats, but (using L&L as an example) I strongly recommend investing the time and energy into spreading the program out over six weekly sessions rather than doing a single big-weekend event.  This gives you time for parents to get to know each other, to have time to talk with the leaders in detail, and to begin to form a small group atmosphere.  It lets parish leadership begin to identify the parents who are in the best position to help other parents.  It also gives lots of time for listening, and thus for learning where parents in your parish are coming from and what questions or difficulties they are having.

–> Make sure you’ve got the depth of back-up resources to assist parents with their concerns.  At a minimum: NFP instruction, good pastoral help with thorny marital irregularities, some resources for dealing with pornography, and access to support for parishioners grappling with same-sex attraction (personally or via a friend or family member’s situation) such as Courage. It’s no fair telling people they need to radically change their lives, then wishing them good luck and washing your hands.

2. When parents are ready to start sharing the message of chastity with their teens, do a parent-teen joint program.  There are any number of options, and many of them (Family Honor is an exception) assume parents won’t be present. Don’t go there.  You need the parents totally involved and on board.  Your six hours in front of an eighth grader are nothing compared to the influence of the parents.  Even if the program you select doesn’t call for parental presence, adapt it to make it a parent-teen program.

3. Keep working discipleship on all the parts of the Catholic faith.  Salvation isn’t about sex-ed alone.

Hint: Check out the Jesus is Lord program, which works for college students too.  Just sayin’.

4. Programs like YOU will have the most impact if you roll them out after you have a critical mass of parents who are actively seeking to foster chastity in the home, and a critical mass of parishioners and parish leaders who are disciples.

I’m not saying there is no fruit that comes from grabbing a random teenager who’s fully immersed in the wider culture and subjecting the child to a few weeks of Catholic teaching.  Good things can happen.  But the reality is that an hour of your life in alien country rarely makes you want to join the aliens, if you were heretofore perfectly happy back home in Depravityville.  More likely, you’ll go home thinking you met a bunch of crazy people and thank goodness you’ve escaped.

Making disciples is work.  YOU looks like it’s got loads of potential as a help in that work, which is why I mention it now.  But making disciples is long, slow, constant work.  There are no short cuts.

Related:  Registration for the Theology of the Body Congress (9/23-25/2016) is still open.

YOU by Ascension Press - Catholic Teen Chastity
Image courtesy of Ascension Press.

Active Participation and the Things We Do with our Bodies at Mass

So let’s talk about the feet of Jesus.

God becomes Man, and the prophet sent to prepare the way for Him declares, “I am not fit to untie his sandals.”  We can imagine our Lord untied his own sandals most of the time.   She may or may not have been the one to remove his shoes, but we know the sinful woman did wash those feet.  That woman might or might not have been Mary Magdelene, but Mary certainly did know those feet as well.  The feet she saw pounded through with nails weren’t generic metal feet hanging in your hallway, they were the feet she had held and caressed and perfumed.

I have a friend who is a nursing student, and she tells me that when she has downtime working in the critical care unit, she’ll fill the hours by going around and washing the patients’ feet and massaging them with lotion.  Very sick patients typically have feet in horrible condition and a desperate hunger for human touch, both.

When Mary Magdalene met the resurrected Jesus in the garden, she wasn’t like Thomas who asked to see the pierced hands and side; had she asked, it probably would have been to see the feet.

File:Tolentino Basilica di San Nicola Cappellone 14.JPG
Cappellone di San Nicola, Basilica di San Nicola da Tolentino, Tolentino, Italy, courtesy of Wikimedia [Public Domain]

***

In my absence from the internet, another Catholic food fight has broken out over the question of what people should do with themselves during Mass.  The latest round concerns the direction priests point their feet.  Where your feet go, you go.

Because humans are body and soul both, what we do with our bodies at Mass matters.  The Mass can’t happen if the priest stands in a corner and prayerfully wills it to be so.  Human wills express themselves in bodily action.  In carrying out the actions of the Mass a priest makes the Mass happen — it can happen no other way.

The other sacraments are the same.  Thus the question of feet is important.

***

We Catholics get fervent in our opinions about what everyone should do at Mass because we know deep in our souls that our bodies matter so very much.  Thus we’re fifty-some years in to a massive Catholic food fight over how we laypersons might best carry out “active participation” in the sacred liturgy as mentioned in Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Says the Church:

In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

[Paragraph 14.]

It’s a food fight that typically devolves into two questions: Who else can we put a cassock on, and how do we persuade Catholics to sing more?

So I want to tell my story about active participation in the Mass, and singing, and the feet of Jesus.

File:Vasnetsov Maria Magdalene.JPG
Maria Magdalene, 1899, Viktor M. Vasnetsov (1848–1926) [public domain] via Wikimedia.

***

I like words.  I am the person who pays attention to the words of all the hymns we sing at Mass.  I like to sing at Mass, because I like having all those words about God and to God moving through my body and coming out of me.  I was pretty happy at St. Populus, my home parish, where every Mass was a folk Mass in the best meaning of that term: We served up a four-hymn sandwich sing-along every Sunday, always and every time meant to be that part of the Mass when everyone joined in with gusto.

The actual amount of gusto varied.  But that was the goal.  It was a goal that I loved.

Then my husband reverted to the Catholic faith (good) and I discovered that he could sing (interesting) and he became a cantor at St. Populus (variable).  There wasn’t another bass available to help him with his cantoring skills, so he drove down to Our Lady of Classical Choirs and pestered the choirmaster until they got tired of his badgering and agreed to teach him to sing.  One thing led to another, and I ended up with 50% of my family in the choir loft at not-my-parish.

The trouble with OLCC, in addition to being not-my-parish, was that half the time you couldn’t even understand the words they were singing — even if it was English.  The sound bounced off ancient plaster mercilessly.  Furthermore, whether you could understand it or not, the bulk of the Mass on any given Sunday was done in the style of Not a Sing-Along.   I was aware that the whole thing was purported to be exceedingly beautiful, but couldn’t we all just have four nice easy hymns to sing together as a group?  Please??

***

Then some things happened.  One thing was that I was now living with three people who played this strange, purportedly beautiful, music around my house all the time.  I got to know the music better.  It was no longer weird sounds bouncing around a tall building, it was something my ear understood and could make sense of.

Another thing that happened is that over at St. Populous we had a little Latin club going on Friday mornings for about a year, long enough for we ignorant laypeople develop to a working familiarity with the meanings of the words that tended to bounce around during the Gloria and Sanctus and all those other things that were Not a Sing-Along down at OLCC.

I am persuaded that I am the Bread of Life is all the proof anyone needs that ordinary people aren’t quite as stupid as our betters pretend.  If you can teach we slobs in the pews to memorize the key points of John chapter 6 in an irregular, non-rhyming, voice-cracking, genre-less song, than we slobs can probably learn all the other, much easier, supposedly-too-hard-for-us stuff as well.

File:Piero di Cosimo 027.jpg
St. Mary Magdalene, Piero di Cosimo (1462–1521), [public domain] via Wikimedia.

***

The final thing that happened to me was decrepitude.  OLCC became an appealing parish to me for two reasons:

  • There was a wall I could lean against.
  • No one would try to speak to me.

Not-my-parish for the win.

I remember this night at Mass when active participation ceased to be about marching around or singing along.  I was at OLCC, sitting in the pew because standing was not on my to-do list (decrepitude), it was some feast or another, and the Gloria was going on forever, and ever, and ever.  The choir would sing some line of the Latin, and then sing it again and again in fifty different variations of hauntingly beautiful soaring tunes.  Then on to the next line.

Not a Sing Along.

It was a Pray Along.

I finally got, for the first time in my life, a chance to pray the Gloria with something that felt like justice.  No more wincing at the splendor of tu solus sanctus then quick keep moving, time for the next big idea.  Each idea, one at a time, washing over the congregation, swirling around in a whirpool of words, seeping into our thoughts and wetting the soul’s appetite for the next line of the prayer.

***

It isn’t that they don’t ever do hymns or plebeian Mass settings down at OLCC.  Nor do I have any less love for a good rousing Sing Along Mass.  Singing is good for you.  It’s good for all the parts of you, and it would be a strange and disastrous thing if we pewsitters all gave it up and used no other part of our bodies than our ears at Mass.

Curiously, the part where feet come into it was during a Mostly Sing-Along Mass down at OLCC.

File:Tizian 050.jpg
Noli me tangere, Titian (1490–1576), [public domain], via Wikimedia. I have no idea why the artist thought Mary Magdalene would think the gardener worked naked except for a loin cloth and a long white cape.

***

Because I am decrepit, I can’t always sing, or can’t sing the entirety of a Sunday’s pewsitter parts.  Because I am a word-person, lately sometimes I do the very weird thing of standing there with the hymnal open, mouth shut, eating up the words with my mind while the congregation sings them aloud.

This past Sunday, though, I was unusually decrepit even for me.  I found a seat against the wall, and didn’t even bother trying to lip sync the Our Father.  I was pretty happy to just be standing-along during the bulk of the standing parts.  I was secretly pleased that the side aisles were relatively empty and all I had to do was wave to a couple people several rows behind me during the Sign of Peace, and then I was freed to go back to my still, silent bubble.

I didn’t know, on Sunday, that Internet Catholics were busy arguing over which way priests point their feet.  The readings were not exactly about feet, except that they were.  The Law living within us, He is the image of the Invisible God, the parable of Mercy-Made-Flesh.

We don’t have to guess what active participation might mean, because Sacrosanctum Concilium tells us straight out:

11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain [28] . Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

It means that when our Lord comes to us, we recognize Him and respond accordingly.

The carrying out of those laws governing valid and licit celebration aren’t the stones of an empty tomb.  The carrying out of those laws is the business of our bodies doing what our bodies are made to do.  What do our bodies do? Our bodies are the means through which ours souls express themselves.

File:Ambrosius Benson - Mary Magdalene - WGA1890.jpg
Mary Magdalene , Ambrosius Benson (circa 1495–1550), [public domain] via Wikimedia.

Related:

File:Francken-simon-Rennes.jpg
The Meal at Simon’s House, 1637, Frans Francken the Younger (1581–1642), via Wikimedia [Public Domain]

#TOBTalk – Because It’s All About Sex

Another girl in the accounting department and I both reverted to Christianity after we got married.  (Recall – I actually converted at work.  By which I mean, literally in a meeting with the customer.  Yes indeed.) So one day we were standing there in the cube farm when I learned this fact, and I knew enough about her past life and mine to be able observe in solidarity, “It’s a lot easier to become a Christian after you’re married.”  She knew what I meant, and she agreed on the spot.

Mortal sin is a potential hindrance to conversion every time.

Just being married, though, didn’t put me out of the woods on that point.  The priest who ushered me back into the Church helped the spouse and I get our marriage convalidated, introduced us to NFP, and generally kept us pointed in a safe direction.  I was finally learning the fullness of the Catholic faith.

A couple years in, Family Honor hosted a Theology of the Body conference in Charleston, not unlike the one coming up this fall in Southern California.  I packed up the baby and went.

A decade and some later, I’m still unpacking it all.

The trouble with Christians is that we’re both body and soul. The tendency is to treat Christianity as being only about your soul, as if it were the “real” prize and your body were just the packing peanuts.  Don’t ingest, don’t expose to open flame . . . just kind of keep the packaging from making a mess and you’re good.

Our bodies aren’t packaging.  Our bodies are an integral part of us, and how we live in them is what our Christianity is.  When we say humans are made in the image of God, male and female, the human body is part of that divine image.  We literally can know something about God by looking at our bodies.  Our bodies and souls, together, provide a snapshot of God.  That’s what it means to be an image of something.  My photo isn’t me, and it doesn’t tell you everything there is to know about me, but it is an image of me. It does reveal things about me you wouldn’t know if you didn’t have the photo.

Even when we talk about mortifying our bodies, in pious Christian language speaking of “hating” the flesh, what we mean is this: Use it properly.  Live a rightly ordered life.  To prepare your soul for heaven is to prepare your soul for your heavenly body.

One of the things I do is teach sex-ed.  I write about a lot of things, but I write about topics like porn, and BDSM, and name-that-thing-nice-girls-don’t-talk-about, because what we do with our bodies is what we’re doing to ourselves.  You matter.  You were created to be treated with love and respect.  We live in a world where people have no idea what that looks like.  They don’t know what it means to be loved and respected.

That’s what the Theology of the Body is about.

What does love really look like?

***

Sometime in the months leading up to my conversion, I failed to fill out my time card at work properly.  The department secretary, a Christian, came and told me I hadn’t given her the form I owed her.

I started making excuses in my defense.  She said, “I forgive you.”  I kept making excuses.  She kept repeating: “I forgive you.”

This was utterly foreign to me.  I had no understanding — none — that it could be possible that I did something wrong, and someone would acknowledge it was wrong and simply forgive me.  No recriminations.  No gloating.  Nothing.  Please just fill out the form now, our relationship is restored.

There’s a long list of before-and-afters for me as a Christian.  People who knew me before my conversion can vouch for the fact that I was no picture of saintliness.  People who know me now will observe that my principles have radically changed, but my ability to live up to those principles is still woefully lacking.  We call ourselves “practicing” Catholics because we still don’t have it right, even after years of trying.  We’re still practicing.

Studying the Theology of the Body doesn’t make me holy.  But what it does do is make it possible for me to try — because I finally understand what it is I’m supposed to be trying for, and why, and how it works.   We can’t practice a skill we don’t even know we’re supposed to have.  And when that skill is living in the half of your being that is integrally connected to the other half your being, well, wow.  It’ll change your life.

#TOBTalk image courtesy of http://kennedybrownrigg.com/tobtalk/.

 

 

When People Tell Your Kids that Porn is Just Fine

I have a daughter who adores rabbits, and therefore she knows what porn is. “No, dear, you can’t have that particular bunny sticker,” I had to explain several years ago, when she was searching Amazon for, well, bunny stickers.

Why not? She wanted to know, of course.

“Because that’s the logo for a company that sells pictures of naked ladies.”

No need to discuss sex, or what makes porn distinctive. She can intuitively know, by the simple fact that she shuts the door before changing clothes or going to the bathroom, that selling pictures of naked people is wrong-headed.

She has a righteous indignation about the purveying of pornography because a perfectly good rabbit has been co-opted into the works. At her age, I expect she feels as badly for the rabbit as for anyone.

***

The children’s grandmother has a stall in an antique mall. It’s one of these old brick factories that’s now home to a hundred or so vendors of everything that turns up at estate sales. If you want a case of Coca-Cola, unopened, from 1967, this is your place. I have to stay out of there because my sponsor at Vintage Books Anonymous threatened to stage an intervention.

The kids have been going to help their grandmother keep her stall clean and organized since as long as they’ve been old enough not to be a menace to porcelain. They dust knick-knacks and re-fold linens, and put out the latest crop of dishware, and they love doing it. The owner of the mall and the other vendors who work the counter know the kids, and the kids know them.

This week while working at the shop, my nine- and eleven-year-old daughters, always on the lookout for bunny figurines, came across a basket of Playboy that one of the other vendors had displayed on the front counter of his stall.

It’s not just an antique mall anymore, it’s a porn shop.

“Does the owner of the mall know about this?” my husband and I asked, when we heard about it late that night. The vendors stock their own stalls, there’s no central merchandise system.

“Yes. She told him he had to tape the covers shut.”

Ah. I see.

We’re knowingly putting out pornography for children to find as they hunt through the acre of treasure.

“It was right next to the big display of pocket knives,” one of my daughters said helpfully. Because you know, boys are interested in those sorts of things.

Things People Tell My Children About Pornography

But they’re vintage Playboys. I got that argument. It was related to me secondhand by my children, who’d been told that by someone at the shop; I heard it again directly from one of the vendors at the shop. As if dusty porn were somehow not porn.

I told the story to the kids of Msgr. Roth of blessed memory, who preached one Sunday about living out your faith all week long. He’d gone to visit a parish family, and they’d realized too late that their porn was sitting out on the coffee table. They apologized and put it away. Not in the trash—just out of sight. “Don’t put it away for the priest,” he said to the congregation. “You shouldn’t have that in your house at all. If it’s not okay for the priest to see, it’s not okay.”

I don’t know which family he had visited, but I know that I got a babysitting job for a family from church that year, and that was how I got my chance to see what’s inside the covers of Playboy. Apparently church people don’t hide it for the babysitter, either.

But they’re taped shut. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re selling pornography at your store. You’re telling the world that it’s fine to buy and sell this stuff. You’re making the decision to attract buyers of pornography to your business.

But that guy who runs the stall is just trying to make a living. That’s right. He’s decided he wants to profit off the exploitation of women and the uncontrolled lust of those who find pornography so compelling.

I didn’t use those last terms with the children. But I did explain to them, when the topic came up again, that the suicide rate among women involved in the porn industry is astronomical for a reason. They can appreciate why.

Don’t Keep Calm, Don’t Carry On

“I can tell you are very emotional about this,” I was told when I phoned in my complaint.

Yes, indeed. Discovering that people are knowingly putting out pornography for my children to find makes me emotional.

There are times when calm is not the answer.

What kind of sick person thinks we should feel calm about this?

As I told my children, who were well aware I was in rare form over this incident: Women are dead because of what this industry does to them. It is right to be upset about that.

The reality is that we Trumpers think the exploitation of women is AOK. It was fine for those church families way back in the ’80’s, so why wouldn’t it be fine now?

One of the children expressed, in a later discussion, some of the nonchalance they’d absorbed from the world around them. And thus I explained: To tolerate the buying and selling of pornography in your place of business is to say that you think it’s just fine for girls like mine to be exploited this way.

If it’s not okay for your sister to be treated that way, it’s not okay for anybody’s sister to be treated that way.

Parents: Would you be willing to paste your daughter’s face on that centerfold?

Doesn’t feel so wink-wink-giggle-giggle when you look at it that way.

Related: Marcel Lejeune has good handbook out now, written for those seeking to overcome their addiction to pornography. Cleanesd: A Catholic Guide to Freedom from Porn is right to the point, and includes a compact, readable introduction to the deeper issues of the faith behind the right appreciation of human sexuality. Highly recommended for anyone who’s concerned about this issue, whether it’s a personal problem or you just happen to care about your fellow humans.

Cleansed - A Catholic Guide To Freedom From Porn

Cover art courtesy of Pauline Media

About My Mom . . .

. . . Something I can say with certainty:

There was never a moment of doubt, not a single moment, but that my mother loved all of us children with her whole heart.  She was, and in eternal life remains, the very embodiment of maternal love.

***

I can say the same of my grandmothers, stepmother, mother-in-law, grandmothers-in-law, a whole host of aunts of assorted stripes, and a collection of other fine women who have been mothers to me.

I am very well supplied.

IMG_4938

Photo: My mother’s baptism cross, and a heart pendant my stepmother gave me.  Love them both.

 

I’ve got a new book out! Me and thirty of my favorite co-authors, that is.

The general update on me is that I’m holding steady.  No particular news to report, and I’m still keeping up the torrent of punditry at Patheos.

But look .  . I accidentally went and got published again!  Here’s the scoop:

Now out from CatholicMom.com: As Morning Breaks, Daily Gospel Reflections.  It’s available as a Kindle book (very affordable – $2.99), but FYI if you want to get this as a gift for someone, it’s not necessary to own a dedicated device in order to read it. Any PC, tablet, whatever, can read Kindle books, just download the free software from Amazon.

 

What’s in the book?  A reflection on the daily Gospel reading for every day of 2015.  This is from the team at CatholicMom.com, so if you’ve been reading those Gospel reflections online, it’s that.  You can preview the first month, which lets you get a taste of each contributor’s style and the kinds of ideas that will be coming your way each day.  If you just want to see my name in print, scroll down to the 16th.

Why is this book better than a bake sale?  Because you can support a good cause without your kids whining over who got the bigger brownie.  All the proceeds from the sale of the book go to help underwrite the cost of keeping CatholicMom.com up and running.  FYI if you weren’t aware, CatholicMom.com is basically the largest womens’ mag in the faithfully Catholic world, brought to you free everyday thanks to the contributions of dozens upon dozens of volunteers who give their time and labor to make it happen.

It’s the place where aspiring Catholic writers are incubated, and it’s the place where established Catholic writers who get paid for everything else they publish still turn up to contribute their work pro bono.

It’s a good cause, and you get more than your money’s worth for what you buy.  Check it out.

About that sweet ‘lil prostitute next door . . .

She doesn’t want to be there.  One of the most offensive and pernicious lies in the film industry are those “cheerful prostitute” characters.  It’s all well and good to write nuanced characters.  But the whole happy-whorehouse thing isn’t just cheap tricks for lazy writers who can’t think up real stories.  It’s the glamorization of something that, if it happened to you, would destroy your whole world.

***

I will spare you the thought exercises, since I try to keep this blog shiny clean.  But don’t tempt me.  I’m a writer, and that means I can make you see things you didn’t want to see.  Just go ahead right now and throw into the trash every DVD you own that perpetuates that lie.  And change the channel, forever, if you see it on TV. Thanks.

 

7 Takes: Sinner’s Guide to NFP Giveaway Day

1.  If you didn’t come here from there already, go visit our hostess.  She’s got an especially entertaining set of takes up, including a bit of other interesting bookishness, Tom Clancy edition.

2.  Of course you want this book:

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Famiily Planning by Simcha Fisher

That is why you’re here today, right?  Excellent.

3.  I read this book.  This is how I know you want it. Or, if you answered #2 incorrectly, you would want it if only you were in your right mind this morning.

3.5: What if you already have a copy?!  And now it’s too late to win one!  You’re allowed to enter and win for a friend instead.  See?  Thanksgiving present.  Perfect.

3.75: As I told you last week, it’s AOK to enter this contest, win the book, and never come back to this blog again.  I so don’t care and am not keeping track.

4.  Here’s the scoop on the book, and why you need to reform your ways if you didn’t answer #2, 3, 3.5, or 3.75 correctly:

(A) You know how you hate NFP?  You use it and all, or you would, but it’s maybe not the rapturous experience that you always dreamt of, when you first read the words “cervical mucus”?  This book is about that.  NFP Frustration.

(B) The book doesn’t talk about cervical mucus.  It doesn’t have 10 Ways to Get a Better Temp Rise, Faster! Now! A Full 4/10ths of a Degree or Your Money Back!!

Most books are better if they don’t include that.  –> Except if you’re trying to learn NFP.  In which case the amusing way in which this contest is being run will help you with that.

(C) Every stupid thing about NFP ever. said. by some idiot who clearly has a Josephite marriage and prefers it that way (did Joseph?  I’m skeptical.), REFUTED!  Blammo!  In YOUR PLACE crazy people.  Done.

(D) Except charitably.

(E) Downright Theology of the Body, if you must know.  Only, it’s not, “I drank the TOTB water, and now I drool unicorns and rainbows.”  It’s more like: “Hey!  TOTB Water!  You can brew beer with that!”

(F) It’s a short book.

(G) There were points where I did not laugh out loud.  I laughed so hard sound would not come out of my body.  I would have rolled on the floor laughing, except that I was laughing too hard to fall out of my chair.  I’m sure it was weird looking.  There are certain chapters you might not want to read in public.

(H) We aren’t doing the whole alphabet.

(I) But I thought up another thing: This book is the perfect marriage book.  So if you know somebody who’s married, or who is thinking of getting married, this would be a great gift.  I’ve been married 47.5% of my life.  I know what it takes.  Simcha’s nailed it.  On the head.

(J) It’s pronounced “Sim-ka”.  Like the “ch” sound in “School”.  Because Simka’s so chool.

(K) Yeah, I was saying it wrong too.

(L) I didn’t ask how to pronounce “Fisher”.  We’re all just winging it on that one.

5.  How to Enter the Contest

[UPDATE: I made an easier entry method over at AmazingCatechists.com.  Go there for the simple name-and-a-comment version.  You can also make it your 4th entry, if you’ve done all three here.  Now back to how it works here . . .]

The giveaway takes place 100% 98% in my combox.  I just cleaned out my spambox, but you’ll be more likely not to end up permanently moderated if you don’t choose a name like, “Free Nike’s Cheap” or “Real Louis Vuitton.”  If your name is also the name of a famous piece of merchandise, or includes a grocer’s apostrophe, you might wish to use an alias for this one.

To enter the contest, leave a comment here in this post.  Not a different post.  This post.  Give yourself a username (it can be anything, but if you win, Simcha’s going to call you that name), and leave an e-mail address in the field that asks for it, which only I the moderator can see, a nobody else. If you like, go get yourself a free e-mail account solely for this contest, if that’s the way you roll.  You don’t need to fill out the “website” field, though if your entry is especially amusing, people might want to know about you.

You get up to three entries within your comment.

Entry #1: Say something nice to Simcha!  Examples of winning entries:

“Hi, Simcha!”

“Thanks for writing this book!”

“Your kids are cute!”

“I’m not stalking you, Simcha, I just want a free book, that’s all!”

Entry #2: There’s nothing in Simcha’s book about how to actually use NFP.  So tell us where you learned NFP, or give us a link to a useful website you like, or something else that will help the puzzled people who have no idea why 4/10ths of a degree is so, so, important.

#2: Alternative: If you have no clue about those 4/10ths, you can say that.  You could also say something like, “I don’t know why cervical mucus is such a big deal,” or “I wish I could be as cool as you NFP-using ladies, but instead I answered the call to holy orders, but I need this book for my couple that does marriage prep, and the finance council won’t give me $4.99.”  Or whatever.

Entry #3: NFP.  Discuss.

#3 Alternative: Tell us a good joke.  Something clean, or I’ll have to edit it.

6.  You don’t have to do all three entries.  But you increase your odds of winning if you do.

7.  The drawing will be done using accounting methods, not literary ones.  You don’t have to be clever to win, you just have to vaguely sort of follow instructions.

The contest closes at Midnight on Monday, November 4th.  By “Midnight”, what we mean is sometime after midnight in NYC, and probably no sooner than about 4 – 5 AM Tuesday, later if we’re lucky.  By “Tuesday”, what we mean is, “A day that comes after Monday, and it might even really be Tuesday.”

If you are the winner, I will announce your username from the combox on this blog so that everyone knows, sort of, who won.  I will also e-mail you using the address you gave me.  If it becomes apparent that you expired from the shock and pleasure of it all, we’ll pick a new winner.

–> Simcha will then send you your copy of the book in the digital format of your choice, from her collection of possible digital formats.  She’s really nice about helping technically-challenged people figure out how to open their book.  I tested her on this to make sure.

Enter now!

Sinner’s Guide cover art courtesy of Amazon.com.

August 1 Rally for Religious Freedom at the White House, 11AM

If you’re in the DC area and didn’t get this in your inbox already, latest on the rally for religious freedom at the White House:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Greetings Jennifer,

We’ve had a huge response to our call for an August 1 demonstration by WSFT. So it’s a GO.

We have a permit from the Park Service: 11:30-12:30 Lafayette Park, Washington DC, Pennsylvania Ave. at 16th, (In front of the White House!! yea!). Can start assembling around 11:00.
We’ve ordered about 60 signs. Will need you to bring your own too though! About 3’x3′ or 2’x 3′, and NOT on sticks please.
Some possible slogans?
  • Women For Religious Freedom
  • Women Against the HHS Contraception and Abortion Mandate
  • Women can Speak for Themselves !! [Pelosi/Sebelius, etc…..]
… and others dreamed up by your fertile brains. Try to keep them short, punchy, and positive!
I probably have 75-100 women coming now. Would be great to have about 50 more!
In the spirit of WSFT, I will need you to arrange to get yourselves there and home please.  I don’t have a spare minute to arrange for proper drop off and pick up spots or other transportation. I’m so sorry but I just can’t….
But WSFT will organize marshals, first aid, water and a series of two minute speeches, by our members.
I have some speakers. FOR SPEAKERS, YOU WILL HAVE A BULLHORN, NOT A MIC, and are limited to two minutes each please.
I could use few more speakers who work at religious institutions but want them to be free to choose insurance coverage that respects their religious integrity.
After the rally, there is the possibility that we could go to the Capitol Visitors Center and meet some female staffers or Representatives. We are working on this. We would need to cab to the Capitol, 16 blocks away.
Finally, I am working on personal meetings with Biden and Sebelius staff to present our current total of signatures, I’ll keep you apprised.

Speaking of Curiosity: DC Area Anti-HHS Demonstration August 1

Curiosity‘s coming.  Meanwhile, passing a quick note from Helen Alvare, in case any of y’all will be in the DC area on August 1:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Hello Jennifer:It’s time to make some intelligent noise here in DC, across the street from the White House.

Women Speak for Themselves has obtained a permit to occupy the famous Lafayette Park, August 1 (yes, in three weeks…), in order to speak out against the HHS Mandate imposing contraception and early abortion insurance upon religious institutions and individuals.

I know the deadline for the mandate has been extended to January 1, 2014. But it’s Summertime, and many of us have the flexibility to spend a day (the former deadline day) here in DC at a brief (one hour) rally, from 11:30-12:30 pm.

We will do several things:

1. Carry signs and hear a series of brief (2 minute) speeches against the Mandate. I assume these will have two themes, corresponding to the different women we have in our group: a) that women care for religious freedom…its loss will have real consequences for us! And b) that many women are uncomfortable or worse with government pushing the simplistic and often harmful agenda that contraception is the pinnacle of women’s freedom and equality.

2. TELL THE PRESS IN ADVANCE TO COME SEE THAT MANY WOMEN CONTEST THE CLAIM OF SOME WOMEN (Rep. Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius) TO SPEAK FOR ALL WOMEN.

3. Speak to any members of the public/DC tourists who walk by and give them our letter.

4. Walk a contingent over to HHS and/or V.P. Biden’s (America’s most highly placed Catholic!!) office (I’m trying to secure appointments with both offices), and deliver our nearly 41,000 signatures.

So usually I am asking you to do LOCAL stuff.  This time, I want you to come to D.C. if you can.

I only need about 150-200 women, because that’s what I told the Park Service.

But I REALLY need you!

I also need:

1. Hand-made signs (We will have some printed in advance,…but we need more). Nothing on sticks; it’s forbidden.  I will send suggested messages if you want to use them,  later in July.

2. I NEED A NURSE WHO CAN DO FIRST AID AT THE RALLY (Park Service requires)3. I need about 15 women to give two-minute testimonies re either topic pertaining to the mandate. Email me if you would like to. I would need to see them in advance please!

4. A volunteer to video so we can put on our website.

5.  Women ready to chat with any reporters in advance or during.

6.  Five women who will “marshall,” i.e. help keep crowd orderly and know what to do in case of quick evacuation.

I’m trying to keep this “simple” but effective, intelligent, FEMALE and press-worthy.
Will you help?

In hope,
Helen

http://womenspeakforthemselves.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WomenSpeakForThemselves
https://twitter.com/womenspeak2012

RSVP to one of the links above if you can make it.  (I can’t.  But don’t let that stop you.)