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Over the weekend a huge furore broke out in France with the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF head, in midtown Manhattan.  He has been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel chambermaid.  (Photo at left courtesy of Izrael.org.il.)

Before going any further, an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, or DSK, as he is known in France, was the top potential candidate for the Parti Socialiste (PS) in the 2012 presidential elections against the UMP (Conservative) incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.

The New York Times reported on May 14, 2011 (emphases mine):

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was widely expected to become the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, was apprehended by detectives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the first-class section of the jetliner, and immediately turned over to detectives from the Midtown South Precinct, officials said.

The New York Police Department arrested Mr. Strauss-Kahn at 2:15 a.m. Sunday “on charges of criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and an unlawful imprisonment in connection with a sexual assault on a 32-year-old chambermaid in the luxury suite of a Midtown Manhattan hotel yesterday” about 1 p.m., Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman, said.

Reached by telephone, Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer, said he would be representing Mr. Strauss-Kahn with William Taylor, a lawyer in Washington …

Early Sunday morning, Mr. Brafman said that his client “will plead not guilty.”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, had been expected to declare his candidacy soon, after three and a half years as the leader of the fund, which is based in Washington. He was considered by many to have done a good job in a period of intense global economic strain, when the institution itself had become vital to the smooth running of the world and the European economy.

His apprehension came at about 4:40 p.m., when two detectives of the Port Authority suddenly boarded Air France Flight 23, as the plane idled at the departure gate, said John P. L. Kelly, a spokesman for the agency.

“It was 10 minutes before its scheduled departure,” Mr. Kelly said. “They were just about to close the doors.”

Mr. Kelly said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was traveling alone and that he was not handcuffed during the apprehension …

The Port Authority officers were acting on information from the Police Department, whose detectives had been investigating the assault of a female employee of Sofitel New York, at 45 West 44th Street, near Times Square. Working quickly, the city detectives learned he had boarded a flight at Kennedy Airport to leave the country.

it was about 1 p.m. on Saturday when the maid, a 32-year-old woman, entered Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s suite — Room 2806 — believing it was unoccupied. Mr. Browne said that the suite, which cost $3,000 a night, had a foyer, a conference room, a living room and a bedroom, and that Mr. Strauss-K[ah]n had checked in on Friday.

As she was in the foyer, “he came out of the bathroom, fully naked, and attempted to sexually assault her,” Mr. Browne said, adding, “He grabs her, according to her account, and pulls her into the bedroom and onto the bed.” He locked the door to the suite, Mr. Browne said.

“She fights him off, and he then drags her down the hallway to the bathroom, where he sexually assaults her a second time,” Mr. Browne added.

At some point during the assault, the woman broke free, Mr. Browne said, and “she fled, reported it to other hotel personnel, who called 911.” He added, “When the police arrived, he was not there.” Mr. Browne said Mr. Strauss-Kahn appeared to have left in a hurry. In the room, investigators found his cellphone, which he had left behind, and one law enforcement official said that the investigation uncovered forensic evidence that would contain DNA.

Mr. Browne added, “We learned that he was on an Air France plane,” and the plane was held at the gate, where Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody. Later Saturday night, Mr. Browne said Mr. Strauss-Kahn was in a police holding cell.

Mr. Browne said the city’s Emergency Medical Service took the maid to Roosevelt Hospital for what Mr. Browne described as treatment for “minor injuries.”

Observations

1/ Many online have asked how a chambermaid enters an occupied hotel room. They can and they do.  It’s happened to me on more than one occasion — in four-star hotels. The first time was six years ago in Barcelona, when I actually had the Do Not Disturb sign out.  The woman knocked and immediately opened the door.  ‘Oh, I didn’t realise you were still here.’ The other times have occurred in the South of France where the maids knock once and then come in.  Generally, this is in the evening when they turn down the sheets and place chocolates on the pillows.

2/ For the past five years — since 1999 in Mr Sarkozy’s case — the PS and their water-carriers on the left (Le Monde, Libération, Marianne, Médiapart and Rue 89) have ruthlessly criticised the UMP for every wrongdoing — great or small (mostly the latter) — during that time.  Now they’re crying foul.  Get used to it, chaps.  You’re getting a good dose of your own medicine now.

3/ The PS thinks this was a set-up.  Okay, by whom? The PS itself would have been an unlikely culprit.  The only Socialist candidate who came close in DSK’s opinion poll rankings was François Hollande, and he doesn’t seem the type of man who would have engineered such a thing. I believe he would have fully supported DSK as a contender. The French say that some IMF member countries wanted a new chief from an emerging country.  Fine, but DSK had already announced his intention to stand down with a view towards the presidential elections, so that doesn’t seem to hold much water.  What about the UMP together with the French company Accor — of which Sofitel is a part?  Equally unlikely.  How probable is it that the UMP would be able to engineer this with Accor in a foreign country with full co-operation from a chambermaid and the police?  Highly unlikely.

4/ How is it that a lifelong Socialist tells IMF countries they have to rein in spending whilst he travels first-class and occupies a hotel suite?  This trip alone cost upwards of $10,000 — mind-boggling when millions of people from IMF member countries are out of work, living with extended families or in their own cars.  According to RMC (Radio Monte Carlo) reports on May 17, 2011, however, he paid out of his own pocket on this occasion.

5/ And speaking of the ‘little guy’ — whether guilty or innocent — how is it that DSK is implicated in such a scandalous way with a member of the working class with which the PS so closely identifies?

6/ Just playing Devil’s Advocate here, but how is it that so many people commenting on this story — women included — assume that DSK is innocent?  Why do only a handful take the chambermaid’s side?  Very telling about our view of men versus women, especially powerful and influential men (automatically innocent) versus low-salaried females struggling to get by (automatically guilty).

7/ As for DSK being under diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF, the Guardian says:

Strauss-Kahn, who does not have diplomatic immunity as head of the IMF, is expected to be brought before a state court on Sunday.

On May 17, RMC stated that he had a diplomatic passport with him.  Nevertheless, he is currently in isolation (for his own safety) at Riker’s Island — not the place one goes to make new friends.

DSK’s background

DSK has been married to career journalist Anne Sinclair since 1991. It’s the third marriage for him and the second for her. (Photo at right courtesy of marketpipeline.blogspot.com.) The NYT article referenced above states:

Mr. Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to I.M.F. employees and to his wife, Anne Sinclair, an American-born French journalist …

Both DSK and Sinclair come from privileged backgrounds, possibly accounting for their gauche caviar — champagne Socialist — perspectives. Beware of leftists — they are not always what they seem.  Wikipedia has this on DSK:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born on 25 April 1949 in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine. He is the son of Gilbert Strauss-Kahn, a legal and tax advisor and member of the Grand Orient de France, and Russian/Tunisian journalist Jacqueline Fellus. His family is of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish origin.

Allow me to interject a bit about the Grand Orient de France, also from Wikipedia:

The Grand Orient de France (GODF) is the largest of several Masonic organizations in France and the oldest in Continental Europe, founded in 1733 …

The Grand Orient advanced the concept of Laïcité, a French concept of the separation of church and state and the absence of religious interference in government affairs.[23] In the 1930s the Grand Orient was still hostile to Church interests, wishing to close private schools (which were predominantly Catholic), or failing that to reintroduce an insistence that only state schools could provide civil servants.[24]

This dislike of religious participation is still an official policy of the Grand Orient de France today.[25] The Grand Orient de France is concerned about a ‘silent revolution’ of a return of religion in society.[26]

Nicolas Sarkozy was once city councillor for and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, a beautiful suburb between Paris and La Défense.  The two men knew each other well, which is why Conservative Sarkozy supported Socialist DSK’s appointment as head of the IMF.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself:

Strauss-Kahn was first an activist member of the Union of Communist Students,[4] before joining in the 1970s the Centre d’études, de recherches et d’éducation socialiste (Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research, CERES) led by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, future presidential candidate for the 2002 election.[4] There, he befriended the future Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin (PS).

So, this chap whom everyone thinks has the world and its economy at heart is an ex-Communist, an unbeliever, a globalist and a Socialist.

Does DSK care about your retirement or those on low incomes?  In response, let me ask how much he really cares about a hotel chambermaid.  People who say, ‘This is serious.  The world’s economy could fall apart’ are talking through their hats.  Let’s not give DSK more credit than is due.  Belgium has been without a government for several months and is managing better than ever — their national debt is even going down.  In any event, don’t worry, the IMF has DSK’s temporary replacement covered:

Hours after its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in connection with the alleged sexual attack of a maid at a Midtown Manhattan hotel, the International Monetary Fund on Sunday named John Lipsky as acting managing director.

Mr. Lipsky, the I.M.F.’s first deputy managing director, is a former U.S. Treasury executive and onetime banker at JP Morgan. William Murray, an I.M.F. spokesman, said that Mr. Lipsky, who has been overseeing the logistics of the bailout of the Greek economy, would meet with members of the I.M.F. board in Washington later in the day, according to Reuters.

Well, we can all sleep soundly tonight knowing that.

On Ms Sinclair, Wikipedia informs us:

Sinclair was born in New York to Joseph-Robert Schwartz (changed to Sinclair en 1949) and Micheline Nanette Rosenberg, French-Jewish parents, who fled from Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II.[1] She is the granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg, one of France’s biggest art dealers. After completing part of her secondary schooling in the United States, she went on to finish in France. She then majored in politics at the Paris Institute of Political Studies and in law at the University of Paris.

Again, no ordinary leftist eating sardines out of a tin.  Ms Sinclair has spent her career in radio and television broadcasting, mostly conducting serious political interviews but also writing books along the way. Understandably, her blog has been quiet for the past few days.

DSK has form with women

The New York debacle has raised knowing eyebrows in France because rumours about his private conduct with women other than his wife have been circulating for several years.  Some — including Socialists interviewed on RMC (Radio Monte Carlo) over the past few days — have asked, ‘If these allegations are true — any of them — why don’t these women just say so?’  Uhhh, what woman would publicly oppose the head of the IMF, a man who knows everyone he needs to not only in France but around the world?

What follows is a potted history of DSK’s shadowy past with women — never mind the marriages.

The Guardian carries this story, well-known in France, dating back to 2002:

A local official of the Socialist party claimed that Strauss-Kahn had attacked her daughter, who is goddaughter to Strauss-Kahn’s second wife, in 2002.

Tristane Banon was in her 20s and writing a book when she approached Strauss-Kahn for an interview in 2002. In a TV programme in 2007, in which Strauss-Kahn’s name had been bleeped out, Banon allegedly described him as a “rutting chimpanzee” and described how she was forced to fight him off. “It finished badly … very violently … I kicked him,” Banon said. “When we were fighting, I mentioned the word ‘rape’ to make him afraid, but it didn’t have any effect. I managed to get out.”

Banon consulted a lawyer, but did not press charges. “I didn’t want to be known to the end of my days as the girl who had a problem with the politician.”

Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, told journalists on Sunday night she had dissuaded her daughter from legal action because she believed Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour had been out of character and because of close links with his family. “Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility,” she said.

She said Strauss-Kahn was “an otherwise warm, sympathetic and extremely talented man”, but the attack left her daughter depressed and traumatised. “My daughter, despite the passing years, is still shocked by these facts. Her life was completely upset by this affair and she was depressed for a long time.” She added that it was clear Strauss-Kahn had “difficulty controlling his urges”

In October 2008 the Telegraph reported:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was having a secret relationship with Piroska Nagy before she joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London

“While this incident constituted an error in judgment on my part, for which I take full responsibility, I firmly believe that I have not abused my position,” Mr Strauss-Kahn wrote in an e-mail to the IMF staff …

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, wrote on her blog that she had forgiven her husband for a “one-night stand” and thanked friends and acquaintances for their messages of support.

The Guardian has more:

An IMF investigation in 2008 cleared Strauss-Kahn of harassment and favouritism over an affair with a senior colleague but deemed it a “serious error of judgement”.

And, the affair left Ms Nagy confused and angry:

an indignant Nagy wrote to investigators saying:I was not prepared for the advances of the IMF director general. I didn’t know what to do … I felt damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” Nagy left her job at the IMF after the affair, and hinted at harassment of female staff, adding that her boss had “without question” used his position to seduce her.

Even men know about DSK’s proclivities (same link as the one in the previous paragraph):

Thierry Saussez, a former adviser to Sarkozy, who took part in the TV show with Banon, said: “All this stupefaction from people is sheer hypocrisy. Everyone in Paris has known for years he had something of a problem. Not many female journalists are prepared to interview him alone these days.”

In 2009, the radio satirist Stephane Guillon dedicated his morning comedy slot on France Inter to Strauss-Kahn’s “obsession with females”. Some commentators suggested his behaviour was a reflection of French culture. In 2000 French writers Vincent Giret and Véronique Le Billon wrote almost presciently in their biography of him: “There is only one thing this famous man has avoided … a fall from grace.”

So, no, there does not seem to be a conspiracy theory behind the fall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  If he is found guilty, it would appear that his appetites got the better of him, one way or another. As for the past, we shall await further updates. In any event, I hope that he comes to a full repentance.

Let this be a warning to us not to accept the great and the powerful at face value.  Nor let us fall so far into grievous sin that we lose sight of God and His great glory.  It may be too much to expect that DSK will see the light of Christ, but the rest of us can learn a cautionary lesson from his story.

Yes, God does work in mysterious ways (check out 1 and 2 Chronicles for stories of disobedient kings who suffered plagues, defeat, illness, even suicide). And sometimes He leaves us to our own devices:

32 But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (Proverbs 6:32)

28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  (Romans 1:28)

4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  (Hebrews 13:4)

7 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them also did evil things. They gave themselves over to sexual sins …  (Jude 7)

24 Give praise to the One who is able to keep you from falling into sin. He will bring you into his heavenly glory without any fault. He will bring you there with great joy.  (Jude 24)

Further reading from the weekend:

‘DSK inculpé pour agression sexuelle: le minute-par-minute’ – RMC

‘Soul Searching in France after Official’s Arrest Jolts Nation’NYT

‘Strauss-Kahn Arrest Comes at a Fragile Moment for the IMF’ – NYT

‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn in sex book claims’ – Telegraph

‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Was it a stitch-up?’Telegraph

‘Top French Politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn dragged off flight at JFK’ – NY Daily News

‘”Sex Assault” IMF Chief Is Denied Bail’ – Yahoo! News

Channel 4 in the UK has just finished showing the six-part Jamie’s Food Revolution, which documented Jamie ‘The Naked Chef’ Oliver’s attempt to get residents in Huntington, West Virginia, to improve their eating habits.

What follows is my open letter to Mr Oliver:

Jamie, I do wish that we knew each other so that I could have sat down with you before you filmed this documentary. Growing up, I lived in small- to mid-size towns and cities across America (my dad got transferred frequently, part of his job).  I know first-hand how many residents are friendly yet reserved to ‘outsiders’, people who haven’t lived there for three or four generations, as they have.

I can also tell you that you’d better say you like a lot of what you find in that town or else you’ll get an earful.  That means you don’t barge in, all guns blazing, to tell people whom you’ve never seen before that they’re fat, ignorant and in need of ‘change’.

I’ve seen almost all your documentaries and cooking shows in full, starting with The Naked Chef in the 1990s.  Yep, you were a cute, skinny Essex boy then.  Now, you’re a bit heavier, older and more like an experienced community organiser working a town.  (Hint: the ‘community organiser’ bit isn’t a compliment.)

It’s no surprise then that WDGG (‘The Dawg’) Radio‘s Rod Willis reacted the way he did to you. (Photo at left courtesy of delish.com — Jamie, Rod and radio sidekick Rocky.) Ditto dinner lady Alice Gue.  I met a lot of Rods and Alices when I was growing up.  They’re just regular folk telling you home truths in an uncompromising way. And what did you do but cry because they had the temerity to … disagree with you? Pull your socks up, mate.

You were fortunate in that Rod eased up on you during the 1,000-resident cooking session which appeared on Good Morning America.  But I do agree with him when he told Huntington News Net after the series premiere in March 2010:

I should have been a little more receptive to the [nutritious] things he was talking about and a little more cruel to him. I don’t think Jamie Oliver should be the one to tell us how to live our lives. After all, this guy is a rich, British b——d.

(That he is, Rod — a multi-millionaire several times over who lives in Primrose Hill in London now, well-shielded from fat people.)

Jamie, how much did you know about Huntington before you went there, other than an obesity statistic?  How much do you know about the history of the Appalachians?  I lived across the river from another city in West Virginia for a summer.

To get there, I crossed the Appalachians by car with my parents in the 1960s.  I know the conditions people were living in then.  They were dignified, God-fearing people from British stock who lived in dilapidated shacks. While all of President Johnson’s special funding was going towards the inner cities, these people had nothing.  They had to rely on growing their own basic crops on a tiny plot, raising a few chickens and were probably lucky to have meat once a week. I saw many women on foot carrying boxes of charity shop clothes from their nearest small town back to their shacks a few miles away. There was little industry in the parts we went through and few jobs.  It really was like Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Okay, I realise Huntington is a city, but how many people there have their roots going back to the mountains?  If you think about it, we may be seeing the first couple of generations for whom food — thankfully — hasn’t been an issue.  Granted, the type of fare on offer hasn’t been the best, as we saw from some of the youngsters and their parents featured in your show.  However, I would have suggested delving into the psyches and backgrounds of people like the Edwards family before hauling them off to the hospital for checkups.   Food means different things to different people.  I think you would have been surprised at the answers you would have received … if only you had cared enough to ask.

Incidentally, I contrasted the way you treated the people of Huntington with the way you acted towards the people in your inner-city television series.  Remarkable.  It didn’t matter that your inner-city ‘mates’ ate deep-fried food, did it?  No, that’s because those recipes came from their grandmothers.  It didn’t matter, did it, that they were still high-calorie, fat-laden dishes?  Apparently not.  Then you told us that the United States had stolen land which rightfully belonged to Mexico and that it should be given back.  Fair enough, you can air your views (again, you’re missing some history there), but there was no such empathy for something as simple as eating habits of the residents in Huntington, was there?  Even if some of those schoolkids were probably on the same socio-economic level as their inner-city counterparts.

And how could you expect those first-year students to know what an aubergine (eggplant) was?  Or what peas in a pod looked like?  Even in the most middle-class of supermarkets, they aren’t even on offer most of the time apart from on the East or West Coast.

So, no, I’m not surprised that Rod Willis and Alice Gue were offhand with you, even though they probably never watched one of your series. And you should have taken it like a man.  They weren’t being nasty to you as you alleged, just honest.

Let’s look at things from Alice’s perspective, shall we? (Jamie, I’ve borrowed a photo from your website to show the folks who Alice is — the lady in black.) In one episode, Alice expressed concern that she and the other dinner ladies would need to come in earlier to begin preparing meals for no extra pay.  Funny that, because I remember the English dinner ladies saying the same thing during your school lunch crusade this side of the pond.   Either that, or they would have to try to get some extra help in the kitchen.  Do you realise those costs need to be factored in to a school’s or a council’s budget — months in advance?  It didn’t seem to me in either case that you cared too much.

What’s more, rules in the United States for what goes on a child’s school lunch tray are remarkably bureaucratic.  And, yes, French fries do count as a vegetable. I’m not sure whether ketchup still does. I watched in amazement as you expected the rules to be bent and budgets to suddenly be increased just because … you asked?  The best scene for me was at the end as the ineffably polite lady in charge of local school food services, Rhonda McCoy, and the superintendent of schools suggested you discuss matters with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).  Why did that take you by surprise?

What Jamie’s Food Revolution showed us was yet another facet to your personality — the man who cannot bear to hear the word ‘no’.  You want to change the eating habits of certain people — not all, mind — and you go in swaggering and matey but don’t know a thing about where you’re going or with whom you’re dealing.  Many viewers saw a display of pride and arrogance which we certainly didn’t see in your inner-city series.

Maybe you and your dad should have a bit of a father-son chat concerning how you go about making these shows.  I’ve picked up a lot of useful culinary short-cuts from you over the years, but sometimes your desire to ‘change’ — not to mention control — some people and not others leaves me wondering about you and your motives.

Humility in all things, Jamie — humility.  Not to mention patience.  And a bit of understanding.

On that note, Cabell Huntington Hospital has just pledged another $50,000 towards your programme.

For further reading:

Jamie’s Food Revolution USA

‘Huntington Still Welcomes Jamie Oliver’Huntington News Network

‘West Virginia eats Jamie Oliver for breakfast’The Independent

‘Can Jamie Oliver Really Start a Food Revolution in Huntington, WV?’Huffington Post

‘Can Jamie Oliver Convince Americans to Eat Well?’Newsweek

‘The Food Issue — Jamie Oliver Puts America’s Diet on a Diet’New York Times

Many of us think that Satan’s works are pretty obvious.  ‘Oh, I’d know if I were being tempted’.  Yet like Christian error and heresy, subtlety is ever present.  It only takes a tweak here and there to fall into sin and unorthodox belief. 

Deus Pro Nobis (the title of which is taken from Romans 8:31 — ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’) has an illuminating post, ‘Discerning Satan’s Strategy’.  It illustrates Satan’s gentle snares and velvet traps.  After all, if he were obvious in his temptations, we’d be sure to say no!

The Revd Stephen Yuille, pastor of Grace Community Church in Glen Rose, Texas, tells us in his post how Satan operates.  Excerpts follow (emphases in bold are mine):

He tempts us where we’re weakest. He’s like the Amalekites, who attacked the Israelites. “He attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you” (Deut. 25:18). He knows our weaknesses. He tempts the ambitious man with power, the passionate man with beauty, the covetous man with wealth, the proud man with praise.

He tempts us when we’re weakest. David was a passionate man. As long as he was engaged in God’s work, his passions were controlled. The moment he succumbed to idleness, he was an easy target. He became unsettled and frustrated. His passions flared. And we know the rest of the story. What makes you a sitting duck? It may be idleness, carelessness, or weariness.

He tempts us by degrees. Satan will never appear to you in all his vileness. Why? He doesn’t want to shock you. He wants you to think you’re safe. And so, he tempts by degrees. He didn’t immediately tempt David to commit adultery. If he had, David would have been alarmed.

He tempts us with what we least suspect. Job loses all that he has. He loses his children. He loses his livestock. He loses his health. These were temptations. Yet Lot experienced his greatest temptation when his wife turned said to him: “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). At times, the very things we least suspect become the greatest means of temptation.

He tempts us when we’re melancholy. I’m not talking about clinical depression. I’m talking about seasons of melancholy. There are many factors that produce these. It may be diet, weather, or any number of factors. My point is this: melancholy gives Satan an advantage. Thomas Watson explains why. (1) It renders us unfit for spiritual duties. We fail to derive any benefit from them. (2) It makes us side with Satan in concluding that God doesn’t love us. (3) It breeds discontentment. This leads to impatience, ingratitude, or bitterness.

Rev’d Yuille has much more to read, with scriptural illustrations.  A most worthwhile post.

In my own life, faith is like a muscle.  Too many secular distractions — an extended holiday, perhaps — weaken that muscle. That may also be true for many of us. Letting up on prayer or Bible study can affect our relationship with Christ and His Church.  We become more worldly, turning to thoughts of material comfort or secular ambition.  We become fretful and agitated.  We become impulsive or angry.  We start focussing on our carnal appetites.  We get into a relaxed state spiritually.  Satan, meanwhile, is watching, moving in ever so gently.

There’s another element which ties in with this and melancholy may be a contributing factor.  There are days when some of us relive moments or periods in our lives when we could have handled situations so much better.  These may have been with family members, friends or colleagues.  We relive these scenes over and over, mentally chastising ourselves when we those whom we have offended have already pardoned us and when we have prayed for God’s subsequent forgiveness.  Of course, some of those sins may be lesser or greater.  Yet, where we have truly repented by resisting that offence further through the grace of God, our sins are as white as snow (Is. 1:18).  So, what is happening there to make us feel so miserable?  It’s Satan at work, getting us to obsess on the past.  He is encouraging us to feel worthless, weak and unloved. 

What then?  What do we do?  Every time that happens, take time out to pray the Lord’s Prayer or silently recite a relevant Bible verse to do with faith, comfort or forgiveness.  God loves us.  He created us.  He has forgiven us.  He won’t let us go.  Yet, our human frailty sometimes causes us to walk at a distance from Him.  And that is where Satan wants us — at a distance from the Lord. 

In other words, every moment we spend going over and over our old sins is another moment wasted.  A moment we could have spent in service to God or to others.  

This is why developing a regular plan of Bible study, worthy Christian reading and prayer is so important.  Forget going to the gym; it’s that muscle of faith that needs the daily exercise and maintenance.  Let Christ walk with you to help to pick up the strain.

Now and then the subject of appropriate Christian books arises.  Some of these are more man-oriented than Christ-oriented.  We need to be able to discern the two. 

Discernment is even more important when it comes to educating the young about sex.  Stacy McDonald of Your Sacred Calling — and the quiche recipe — has a post called ‘Bible Disguised as Fashion Mag?’ warning women about ‘Christian’ literature for teenage girls. 

Before selecting a book for your daughter or granddaughter, have a look through it.  It might be Christian in name only.  Some of these books focus on makeup, fashion and sexual experiences with only a tenuous reference to the Bible.  Such references are so tenuous as to be overshadowed by the content of the stories and advice therein!  Sadly, some of these publications — from reputable Christian publishers — may also have some form of the word ‘Bible’ in the titles!

The only way we can ensure our children — lasses and lads — grow up to be soldiers of Christ is by giving them sound Biblical knowledge from the start.  Here is my own short plan, which requires a lot of input from a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle:

– Make sure your youngster gets to know the Bible from an early age.  Instead of reading secular bedtime stories, why not choose children’s Bible stories instead?

– As the child starts to interact with his siblings and playmates, make sure he understands right from wrong, and explain why.

– Teach your child how to pray and ensure they can memorise the Lord’s Prayer, shorter Psalms and other prayers by the time they reach school age.

– When the child reaches the age of six or seven, teach them the Ten Commandments and Jesus’s commandments about loving our neighbour.  Keep reinforcing the message.

– Make sure they learn a child’s catechism.  Most denominations have them.  Spend time a few hours a week studying it with them.

– Know the Bible so that you can explain stories and reference passages in the Old and New Testaments.  Get your child comfortable with holding a Bible in his hands and reading Scripture for himself.

– Use people from Scripture as role models of fortitude, virtue and so on.  Study passages together with your child so that he seeks Scripture as a guide instead of the television, social networking sites or his classmates.

The key thing for parents (or other responsible family members) is to understand Scripture and their own church catechism.  Buying them a book alone will not help.  Buying one with ‘Christian’ on the cover may actually hinder their spiritual growth.

Point being — if we educate our children from birth to love, serve and fear (in a filial sense) the Lord, they will walk in His ways and be less drawn into temptation.  The kids I knew when growing up who were the least likely to be tempted by drinking, petting and other sins were those whose parents and extended families raised them in a loving manner compatible with the Bible.  They never had the ‘need’ for carnal pleasure that some of the rest of us did. And they went to large state schools!

As St Augustine said, ‘Love the Lord and do what you will’.  If we — and our children — truly love the Lord, we will not find ourselves tempted at every turn.

Here in the UK, the resignation of Liberal Democrat Cabinet member MP David Laws has gripped headlines for the past week.

Mr Laws had been Chief Secretary to the Treasury for nearly three weeks when the Telegraph late last week exposed his alleged financial irregularities through taxpayers’ money which as a result led to the revelation of his, heretofore secret, same-sex partner.

None of us, outside of Westminster and Mr Laws’s consituency, had even heard of him before the election on May 6.  However, thanks to prominent gay journalists, we are being encouraged to consider him as a martyr.  (I’ve nothing against Matthew Parris and Iain Dale, who do some fine work for conservative causes, but they’ve over-egged this one. I did a post featuring Mr Parris in this regard last summer.) 

It should be noted that Laws worked for a prominent investment bank after graduating from Cambridge.  His success at work enabled him to retire a millionaire before he reached the age of 30.

The Telegraph‘s Gerald Warner blogged on May 31:

If one fraction of the hagiography that is being heaped on Laws is true, it seems we should have regarded £40,000 as a small price to pay for retaining the services of such a genius … We have only ourselves to blame for being so mean about expenses. Why should a fat-cat Senior Nurse on £20,000 a year grudge subsidising a former vice-president of J P Morgan and managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd for the upkeep of his lovenest?

As the Diana-style emotional spasm soars into the stratosphere, a persistent theme is detectable: Laws must return to government as quickly as possible. That is the open agenda of his apologists. This indifference to ethical requirements regarding public money betrays the impatient contempt for the electorate that now characterises the governing elite. Why should someone who is one of us be hindered in his career just because he helped himself to a public subsidy that was not in keeping with the rules?

It seems Mr Laws is feeling the pangs of his Christian conscience. He had hoped to keep his sexuality a secret.  He appears to be ashamed of his current status, both in terms of what the biblically-literate would see as sexual sin and theft from the taxpayer. 

Cranmer explains (emphasis mine):

Only a few days ago, after an outstanding performance at the Dispatch Box, David Laws was being tipped as a future prime minister. Only a few weeks ago, Nick Clegg was playing his holier-than-thou and whiter-than-white cards in the leaders’ debates: the Liberal Democrats, he averred, were not tarnished with expenses sleaze ‘like the main parties’.

And now we have this revelation.

Let Cranmer be clear: this is not an issue of Mr Laws’ sexuality but of his financial probity. It is not a question of his right to a private life but a question mark over the public’s confidence in his financial judgement.

David Laws is effectively the UK’s chief accountant. It appears that he has been paying rent to his partner of nine years, amounting to a sum of £40,000. He insists that he has not personally benefited financially from the arrangement: indeed, it would seem that the taxpayer has made quite a saving. But if Mr Laws had been claiming welfare benefits whilst living with his partner, it would have amounted to theft. While he may not personally have benefited from the arrangement, his common-law civil partner most certainly has. And Mr Laws has ensured this. By assisting his partner to buy another house, he entered into a financial arrangement which, on paper, may be of no benefit to Mr Laws but which, in reality, benefits them both.

His Grace simply wishes to be consistent on this.

If this were a Labour minister,  ConservativeHome and Iain Dale would be baying for blood. As it is, the former is simply recommending that we await the verdict of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the latter is actually supporting Mr Laws, for whom he has considerable compassion and understanding (as he has for James Lundie).

Political blogger Guido Fawkes points out (emphasis in the original):

We should be harder on the misdameanours of politicians than we are on welfare benefits fraudsters, instead time after time they get told to apologise and not do it again or to just pay the ill-gotten gains back and carry on as if nothing had happened.  If you opt for public life you lose some rights to privacy, if you take taxpayers’ money from the public we have an absolute right to know how it is spent down to every last penny. Because legislators make the law it is surely right that we demand the highest standards from them, law-makers can’t be law breakers. If you don’t think you can merit the public’s trust beyond reproach, maybe public service isn’t for you.

Mr Laws may be brilliant, but almost everyone can agree that, at the very minimum, he appears to have done wrong by the taxpayer.  

No doubt, he will be back in the public eye in some future capacity.  Let us hope that he finds time for sombre reflection during the next few weeks.  In the meantime, let’s not make a martyr out of the man.  He doesn’t deserve it, no matter how much of a financial genius he is.

Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.  — Jonathan Swift

School’s out — or nearly — in the US.  Students in other countries are also looking forward to summer break in a few weeks’ time.

With the onset of warm weather in the Northern Hemisphere — Western countries, in particular — comes the season to take promising relationships that one step further.  What’s prompted this?  Partly last week’s Raquel Welch post and also the Telegraph‘s report of do-gooder UK government-funded condom distribution in parts of Africa

There is only one sure way to stop burgeoning rates of STDs and that’s abstinence.  In observing and reading about the animal world, they aren’t at it all year round;  they have mating seasons. Perhaps ours in the West is summer. Having said that, the idea that we have to be engaging in sexual congress as often as possible every week is a leftist construct.  See my posts on Georg Lukacs, the Frankfurt School and the Fabians. 

Since sexualisation of children and adults alike has become the norm over the past two generations, we are witnessing unprecedented levels of family and moral breakdown.  As I have documented, this is a design to destabilise society by destroying the family unit.   

It has been written that man, by nature, finds it difficult to be monogamous.  Maybe, although I do think this is also a leftist meme put about so that we can all claim helplessness in the face of sexual temptation and sin.  If it is true, I would posit that God gave women their more emotional natures to keep men in check.  Most women have sexual congress to bond more closely with their men.  If this is true in the West, then, surely it must be true in Uganda, where the UK’s DFID (Department for International Development) plans on distributing 45m free condoms to the 33m population.

Ironically, a commenter to the Telegraph article cited above points out that Uganda is one of the sub-Saharan countries which actively promotes abstinence and does so successfully.  It seems to me that most Africans have a good moral compass, so why do we need to spend taxpayers’ money by sending them condoms? Why not send good books instead? Has leftist social ideology permeated African countries over the past 20 years?  If so, they, too, probably think that something is ‘wrong’ with them if they aren’t seeking sexual gratification 24/7. 

Thank goodness that Uganda is unabashedly promoting family values.  The UK should back out of this condom programme and let Uganda manage its own affairs.

Coming back to the West now, an interesting PDF on condom use appeared in the Telegraph‘s comment section.  It is a British publication from the Family Education Trust entitled ‘The Condom Controversy: Safe Sex or Russian Roulette?’  It’s required reading for parents of children who are mature enough to consider having sexual intercourse.  Parents may wish to share some of the information with their children as a warning.  In short:

– Sexual relationships should be part of marriage only — they are not to be trifled with

– Condoms work within a 3% failure rate only when used consistently; sporadic or delayed use can raise failure rates as high as 14%

– Couples can contract various types of STDs (explained in the paper) with or without condoms, depending on their sexual history

Imprudent and careless sexual activity can also lead to cancers of the mouth and/or other parts of the body (cervix, fallopian tubes, anus). It can also lead to infertility. It is important for young people to realise that sex is not a game.  It carries with it serious risk when engaged in for thrills and has done for eons. 

Summer is a delightful time, full of memories to cherish for the rest of one’s life.  But too much delight can spoil a happy time.

All this week I have posted videos from the 1960s to illustrate our current problems concerning religion, sex, personal behaviour and politics.  What was said in these film clips is evidence of the progress of the ‘long march through the institutions’ that Antonio Gramsci and then the Frankfurt School advocated in the early to mid-20th century.

We are reaping the fruits of the seeds we have sown:

– engaging in watery, even heretical, Christianity

– believing that our technological advances call for a new sexual morality

– watching births out of wedlock, rape, sexually-transmitted disease and sexual deviance rise to unprecedented proportions

– thinking drug abuse helps us discover ourselves

– subverting the values of our nation in seeking our own personal comfort

Our churches seem determined to modernise, whatever the cost.  As is the wont of fallen man, we try to rationalise changes.  The Bible was written for another age.  Instead, let’s apply business models to the church.  Let’s throw in some Eastern religious practices because they make us feel transcendent.  Let’s put on some entertainment — deafening sub-standard pop hymns or amateurish skits.  Let’s put in a coffee bar — that’ll bring in the punters!  Well, here’s what happens when the Word of God is subverted.  If your pastor is not preaching from the Bible, refusing to talk about hearty repentance or omitting discussing the Cross or Risen Christ in terms of your salvation, chances are he is not practicing or advocating orthodox Christianity.      

Furthermore, we have no need for an ‘evolved’ anything with regard to Scripture or personal morality.  Man has always struggled with sin.  It is man’s inherent desire to justify his sin and disobedience.  We can do no other.  The Bible stories of infidelity and other sexual sins are no different to those we experience or read about today. This has been true throughout history. England went through a long period of licentiousness during the Georgian period in the 18th century, involving every sexual act possible in numerous houses and backrooms of ill repute. Indulging in these sins almost always hurts someone else.  Sure, sexual licentiousness is pleasurable to start with.  However, all too often someone gets hurt.  Generally, it’s the woman or (heaven forbid) girl involved, but men are not immune to being dumped, either.  And there are other means of suffering from indulging in sex — disease, unwanted children, feelings of inadequacy, suicidal thoughts — all brought on by going against the moral standards as set forth in the Bible.  There is no justification for disobeying Biblical precepts in this regard; personal, ‘enlightened’ pleasure is not a valid reason.        

Once we give ourselves over to temporal pleasure, it’s a short walk to other types of sin — crime — theft, murder.  Every day in the Western world, we read of horrific attacks, some of which are fatal.  So many people are now giving in to their own urges that we have muggings, stabbings and shootings on a daily basis.  Sex has broken down our familial structure.  This lack of structure leaves children without proper adult supervision.  Children turn to each other for acceptance, validation and structure — e.g. through gang membership.  This, too, revolves around self.  Robbing or holding someone up at knifepoint to ‘get what’s mine’.  Someone else’s possessions are not ours.  ‘Thou shalt not steal’.  ‘Thou shalt not murder’.  These are just two of the 10 Commandments!  But how many young people know that?

A trend that continues to escalate is the urge — perceived need — to tranquilise oneself, either through illicit drugs, prescription medication or alcohol.  At any one time, a number of us seek to deaden the mind.  Some in authority do not discourage this;  after all, a tranquilised person means someone who is easier to control.  Paradoxically, the more one is controlled as a citizen, the more depressed one becomes and the greater the need of mind-numbing.  In the 1960s, a number of young people followed Timothy Leary’s advice to ‘tune in, turn on and drop out’.  So, it’s tuning in to the zeitgeist — whatever’s happening now — then turn on with a mind-altering substance to explore another realm and drop out of society.  It was a radical idea at the time.  Now, it’s become conventional.  Prescription drugs to treat depression are all too common;  sometimes they are necessary, but I can think of any number of people who are not clinically depressed at all yet are able to get happy pills from their doctors to relieve the angst of everyday life.  Similarly, we are now so controlled by our governments — witness the explosion of thousands of new laws in the UK, the closed circuit television in our streets and speed cameras — that we long to deaden our minds through drink at the end of the day.  Ugggh!  We really should be breaking ourselves of these habits, which can lead only to a mental tropic of torpor.   

Finally, it appears as if we seek our own personal comfort above all.  Look at our advertising, which is full of slogans such as ‘It’s all about you’, ‘You’re worth it’ and ‘Indulge yourself’.  Yep, right.  So, when it comes to fighting for the ideals and values our country (name your Western nation here!) holds dear, we’re not interested.  So many of our fellow citizens are so self-centred that many of us couldn’t care less if our liberties disappeared tomorrow.  So what?  As long as we have chocolate, hair colouring, cheap takeaways and alluring perfume, we’re happy.  ‘It’s all about me!’  Fight in a war?  ‘Forget it.’  Volunteer work?  ‘Can’t be bothered.’  Voting?  ‘Sorry, I’ve got more important things to do.’     

We got into this mess through leftist thinking, popular psychology, ever easier educational curriculum and a move away from Scripture at home and in church.  It’s up to each of us to ensure that we start to reverse this trend.  Christian commentator Martin Olavsky, writing for World magazine, suggests the following in ‘Beck vs Wallis’ and ‘Just ice?’:

… isn’t one of the greatest injustices leaving kids without enough math knowledge to get a decent job and begin redistributing some money to themselves through hard work?

Challenge those who speak of “social justice” in a conventionally leftist way. If your local church is committed to what won’t help the poor but will empower would-be dictators, pray and work for gospel-centered teaching. If necessary, find another church.

A second: Try to recapture the term by giving it a 19th- (and 21st?) century small-government twist. The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute are trying to do this. I wish them success.

A third way: Accept the left’s focus on systemic problems but not its faulty analysis. Learn about the biggest institutional hindrance to economic advance for the poor: the government’s monopoly control of taxpayer funds committed to education and welfare. Work for school vouchers and tax credits that will help many poor children to grow both their talents and their knowledge of God.

Fourth and best: Tutor a child. Visit a prisoner. Help the sick. Follow Christ.

Some of you are already doing this — thanks and please keep it going!

Most of us would say that we keep the first Commandment: thou shalt have no other gods before Me.  Nevertheless, others may be a bit unsure.

The Revd Martin Downes at Against Heresies provided a helpful quote from Martin Luther on idolatry.  It is resonant even today and worth reading in full.  Here are a few excerpts (emphases mine):

That upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god …

If you have a heart that can expect of Him nothing but what is good, especially in want and distress, and that, moreover, renounces and forsakes everything that is not God, then you have the only true God.

If, on the contrary, it cleaves to anything else, of which it expects more good and help than of God, and does not take refuge in Him, but in adversity flees from Him, then you have an idol, another god.

Luther asks us to ‘examine our hearts’ accordingly.  Not a bad exercise.  Many good people get caught up in placing their confidence in the temporal: position at work or in the community, money, politics, social issues, food, botox, prescription drugs to tranquilise the mind, alcohol.  Most of us have fallen prey to one of these over the years.  Some of us are probably in thrall to one or two of them right now.

As a Lenten exercise, let’s do an examination of conscience asking ourselves when, where and how often we rely on earthly crutches to the point of idolatry.  Can we do without another drink?  Can we get through a stressful meeting without reaching for yet another muffin?  How often do we use retail therapy as a palliative?  Is the energy-saving lightbulb buying us salvation?  Do the social justice issues we espouse make us feel more worthy than they should?

Then let us pray for guidance and strength in avoiding these temptations.  A little of what we fancy is good — too much, though, and we become captives.

Like some of you, I can now remember five decades, start to finish.  It got me thinking about changing societal attitudes and mores.

This isn’t a particularly religious post, if at all, but decades start and finish in dramatically different places.  When you consider the first decade of the new century, you think of the dotcom boom and 9/11 in 2001 then of recession and appeasing our enemies in 2009.  The Left made further inroads into our society and laws were passed (with more proposed) which encroach on our personal liberties.  The state is ever-intrusive.

That aside, I went back to the 1960s to see what type of films were released.  Film is a good barometer of social change.  This is what I found:

1960 – the top 10 includes:

Psycho

– Spartacus

The Magnificent Seven

Swiss Family Robinson

The Time Machine

House of Usher

Although this was before universal film ratings came into being, only Psycho had what would have been an ‘R’ rating today.  Three of the films listed would have had a ‘G’ rating today.

Now, let’s look at the end of the decade.

1969 – the top 10 includes:

The Wild Bunch

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Easy Rider

Midnight Cowboy

True Grit

A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Of the top 10 listed, three had an ‘R’ rating, two were rated ‘G’, one ‘PG’, and the others had no rating. But, look how the themes had changed. We now had anti-heroes in the movies.  Directors explored more controversial, sexually-oriented themes.  The clear-cut morality had gone, and we had started to slip into relativism.

So, what happened and how did we come to accept these changes?  Ed Driscoll thinks that the late New Yorker film critic, Pauline Kael, had a significant part to play.  In his article, ‘How Bonnie, Clyde and Pauline Gunned Down Middlebrow Culture’, he explains:

Leftwing historian Rick Perlstein recently told Reason that “Bonnie and Clyde was the most important text of the New Left.” It certainly foreshadowed the radical chic that runs through the liberalism of the late 1960s, from the Black Panthers sipping Martinis in Leonard Bernstein’s salon to recurring parodies such Michelle Obama in camo and combat boots clutching an AK-47 on the cover of this week’s New Yorker.

Speaking of the New Yorker, how much did Pauline Kael’s championing of the movie impact the rest of culture?

Driscoll cites an article from The National Post which addressed the subject, focussing on the 1967 film.  It’s funny, but at the time, Bonnie and Clyde just seemed like a gangster movie kids weren’t allowed to see.  Yes, it was interesting and engrossing the first couple of times, but after that, it got a bit samey.  I didn’t watch it the last time it was on a few years ago.  Apparently, I’m not alone.

Most critics found Bonnie and Clyde empty and trashy. The crusty old New York Times guy, Bosley Crowther, then one of the most influential American critics, decided that Bonnie and Clyde failed to meet his narrow, simple-minded, painfully respectable standards. It was too violent, and he thought the love story of its doomed, hare-brained title characters was “sentimental claptrap.”

Kael, whose critical reputation was in its early stages, used Bonnie and Clyde as the opening shot in what turned out to be a war against middlebrow, middle-class, middle-of-the-road taste. Her New Yorker piece began: “How do you make a good movie in this country without being jumped on? Bonnie and Clyde is the most excitingly American American movie since The Manchurian Candidate. The audience is alive to it.”

Mmm-hmm.  Well, my mom was pretty open-minded when it came to new genres of film, and she’d lived during the Depression, so she knew Bonnie and Clyde’s story.  She thought the film version was okay, but not what the reviews made it out to be.  The best part for her was Michael J Pollard’s character, who, unfortunately, doesn’t appear that much in the film.  It’s a launchpad for Faye Dunaway, whom my mom didn’t particularly for, and Warren Beatty didn’t thrill her to bits, either.  But, the Pauline Kael sentiment made the rounds of all the national newspapers.  The critics — from towns and cities — across America largely echoed what she’d said.  Those glowing reviews were what drove my mom to the cinema.

Anyway, back to Kael.  Having seen the original of The Manchurian Candidate twice and having compared that to Bonnie and Clyde makes me wonder what she was doing at the time she wrote that review.  There is no comparison between the two.  The Manchurian Candidate wins every time.

See if this doesn’t sound pomo:

She announced no less than a revolution in taste that she sensed in the air. Movie audiences, she said, were going beyond “good taste,” moving into a period of greater freedom and openness. Was it a violent film?

Well, Bonnie and Clyde needed violence. “Violence is its meaning.”

… She liked the raw energy in the work of adventurous directors such as Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese. She trusted her visceral reactions to movies.

Yes! The ‘freedom’, the ‘openness’, ‘the violence’.  ‘Violence is its meaning’.  Give over!  I had a teenage cousin who picked up all these stock phrases and bandied them about at family gatherings.  Ugh!  ‘Oh, well, what would you know?  It takes sophistication and knowledge to appreciate film.  Film.  Not movies.  Anyone can watch those.’

But, I digress.  Our Ms Kael came a cropper.  The new films she lauded became the mainstream.  There were no more Doris Day movies or melodramatic romances or proper westerns.  Done, finito, kaput.  Kael’s mistake was that she (emphases mine):

assumed she was safe to defend the choices of mass audiences because the old standards of taste would always be there. They were, after all, built into the culture. But those standards were swiftly eroding … She and her admirers won the battle but lost the war. Acceptable taste became mass-audience taste, box-office receipts the ultimate measure of a film’s worth, sometimes the only measure. Traditional, well-written movies without violence or special effects were pushed to the margins.

She herself said shortly before her death:

‘When we championed trash culture we had no idea it would become the only culture.’

Yes, Churchmouse, and ..?  Try substituting ‘church’ for ‘culture’ and maybe you’ll see where I’m going with this. The odd bit of modernity for ‘the kids’ or ‘just this once’ soon became the only type of church service or Mass our children know.  And the authority of our denominations has been declining since the 1960s.  We always assumed ‘church’ and the ‘Church’ we knew would be there whenever we wanted, for us and future generations, but is it there today?  No.  And it may be too late in some cases to turn back the clock.  So, let’s try to reclaim what’s ours in orthodoxy and tradition whilst we still have a chance.  Complain about substandard services, point out the watery sermon, take a role that allows you to influence change … for the better.

Let’s not end up like Pauline Kael, who found the rug pulled out from under her entirely by accident.  She lost her culture.  We’re in danger of losing our churches.

On January 31, 2010, the Australian newspaper The Age featured a guest editorial by a 17-year old proponent of virginity. In ‘Guard Your Virginity.  Once Lost, It’s Gone Forever’, Alexandra Adornetto, a lovely looking young woman (you can see her photo at The Age), supports the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, a Catholic, who said he would advise his daughters to remain virgins until their wedding night.  Apparently, the Australian media went a bit mad over what he said.  I suspect the fact that he is a man, Conservative and a Catholic set the torchpaper alight. 

Please note that this is a frank piece and the article is just as frank!  You might want to keep this one away from the eyes of younger family members.  

Miss Adornetto says:   

I am not embarrassed to admit that my ‘gift’ remains unwrapped — at least for the time being.  Losing your virginity or ‘V-plates’ (as some of us like to call it) has always been a preoccupation of adolescents …    

We teens tend to use sex as a verb.  After a date or hooking up at a party, friends are likely to ask: ‘Did you sex him?’   

She advises:   

Wait for the right moment, the right person and the right situation.  Becoming sexually active is not to be entered into lightly.  I have seen too many girls damaged by a decision that was not carefully considered.  The results are usually confusion, loss of self-esteem and a cynical view of relationships. My problem with casual, random sex is that while it might be physically pleasurable, it cannot possibly be meaningful or allow for personal growth.   

Perhaps Tony Abbott simply understands that sex is a personal act that renders both parties entirely vulnerable … Teenagers are incredibly judgmental, despite their eagerness to try new experiences.   

I believe a girl needs to be emotionally and psychologically ready and secure in the knowledge that the boy doesn’t see her as a mere conquest.  I’m not saying she needs a ring on her finger, but knowing that the guy is going to stick around the next day should be a key determinant.   

And she warns about boys:   

Virginity is not highly valued among teenage boys, so many girls feel the need to rid themselves of it in order to move on to more rewarding sexual experiences.  But those experiences are not possible without someone who genuinely cares about your wellbeing.   

Listening to teenage boys ridiculing girls they perceive to be ‘easy’ leaves me feeling perturbed.  I imagine that the girls have invested emotionally while the boys seem able to detach emotion from sex.  Some graphically relate their sexual exploits and invent nicknames … And girls are just as prone to judging each other.   

And how!   

A girl’s reputation is still as important as it was in the last century:   

Let me assure you that the need for a good reputation is still alive and well in leafy, middle-class Melbourne.   

… Preserving one’s virginity for the right person may not be a popular view but there’s a lot to be said for it.  Given that threesomes and even group sex are not that uncommon among my peers, it wouldn’t hurt to revisit some traditional values.   

Some people are too concerned about being politically correct to admit that girls still need to be aware of their reputation.  Perhaps it’s time for school sex-ed programs to be about more than how to put on a condom.  Actions have repercussions and teenagers need to be aware of this …   

I must say that I found her mention of teenage orgies startling.  Oh, my. Does that really happen today? Well, you can imagine how this young woman’s opinion was pilloried in the comments.   

The day after I read Miss Adornetto’s article, I happened to read a thread at the Ace of Spades, which I regularly check for US political news.  They cited this article, originally from the Washington Post, saying that ‘studies show’ abstinence programmes work.  Fancy!  First, an excerpt:

Only about a third of sixth- and seventh-graders who completed an abstinence-focused program started having sex within the next two years, researchers found. Nearly half of the students who attended other classes, including ones that combined information about abstinence and contraception, became sexually active.

The findings are the first clear evidence that an abstinence program could work.

‘I think we’ve written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence,’ said John B. Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who led the federally funded study. ‘Our study shows this could be one approach that could be used.’

The research, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, comes amid intense debate over how to reduce sexual activity, pregnancies, births and sexually transmitted diseases among children and teenagers. After falling for more than a decade, the numbers of births, pregnancies and STDs among U.S. teens have begun increasing.

More nasty comments follow that one, many directed against Christians.  Sorry, but I know many people who are Muslim, Hindu and Sikh.  They don’t advocate premarital sex, either.  Their daughters and sisters would be in a lot of trouble.  Those families are close and they do not excuse moral laxity.  So, why do we?

Now, onto Ace’s and his readers’ perspectives in the thread, which is quite candid.  Ace says:

And if kids are thinking sex is a taboo and something frightening they shouldn’t mess with — Good. They should be thinking that.

Most kids will, unfortunately, begin having sex long before his or her parents want him or her to. And long before it’s prudent for him or her to.

But we have gotten to the point where ‘sexually precocious’ no longer means a girl who has sex at the still-almost-a-baby age of 14. Now that’s kind of normal, unfortunately. The new ‘Bad Girls’ are doing it by age 11 or 12.

When does it stop, and when do good-intentioned liberals realize that a bit of that judgmental, holier-than-thou, old-fashioned, cranky, unhip anti-sex attitude is useful and necessary especially as regards children?

I’ve said on this blog before that leftists are preoccupied with sex.  Doesn’t matter when, how or with whom — they see it as a ‘good thing’.  It’s part of the Critical Theorists’ ‘ long march through the institutions’. The theorists are long dead, but leftists in Western nations carry on. As Nancy Reagan said in the 1980s in her anti-drug campaign, ‘Just say NO.’  Sex will take care of itself.  There’s no hurry.

Anyway, in closing, onto a couple of comments from Ace’s readers:

I didn’t mind scaring … the many boyfriends [of my daughters] that came by over the years … Nothing overt or rude, I just left them all with the impression that I was quite serious.

Fear is a useful tool if employed properly. (19)

 And:

How about squaring this circle:  libs support zero tolerance for drugs, to the point that they will arrest students for taking Tylenol [paracetemol] while on campus, while at the same time trying to allow these same kids to get an abortion without parental/guardian/adult consent.  What?  Nevermind the pro-anti-abortion part.  How are these beliefs consistent? (35)

I particularly liked this one (emphasis mine), even though it has a fornicatory element to it:

I long for the days when women said no.  It was a challenge and a feeling of accomplishment when you were able to convince someone to sleep with you.  Now you can do it without putting in even a third of the effort.  It’s made men less respectful and forgetful on how to be gentlemen. (44)

Finally:

There were two major items that kept kids from having sex in the old days. First was community pressure under the taboos that viewed unwed mothers in a bad light.

Second was the financial burdens imposed when pregnancy occurred, either through early shotgun weddings or through child support.

We removed the first barrier in starting in the 60s with the beginning of ‘free love’ and we removed the second in the late 60s with LBJ’s great society.

There is little we can do to restore things to the way they were until we undo those two items. (49)

No one is saying that unwed mothers should be condemned, by the way, just that society (acceptance) and the government (public assistance) make it easier to do things that teenagers — and now preteens! — have no business doing.  And, people do remember who’s done what.  When I was growing up, all the kids at school knew which classmates’ parents ‘had to’ get married.  Some of those unions were happier than others.  The unhappy ones involved spousal or child abuse and alcoholism. 

Sex is serious business.  Young people really need to make sure they understand the cause and effect involved.  Yes, sex can change your life.  Depending on the circumstances, not always for the better.

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