Uncivil Unions: July 2007: Archives

July 30, 2007

Out Of Focus...On The Family genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Out Of Focus

Occasionally, I like to see what the Christianists are up to and what they have to say about current topics of interest. Today I was treated to some of the best rhetoric I've heard in a long while...and I just had to share.

The folks over at Focus on the Family have two articles of interest posted on their website. Mr. Dobson runs a mean propaganda machine and these two offerings won't disappoint the flock. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did.

Marriage Down, Cohabitation Up

Expert says the U.S. is near a tipping point.

Marriage is declining, according to the annual “State of our Unions" report. The study from Rutgers' National Marriage Project also shows cohabitation is sharply on the rise.

David Popenoe, the report's author, said the long-term trends do not look very optimistic.

“You’re going to see it in children being kind of aimless, shiftless, having relationship problems," he said. “They grow up into adults who don’t marry, cohabit, have instability of relationships – basically, it’s a tragedy."

Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of issue analysis at Focus on the Family Action, said the study reflects the self-centeredness of today’s culture.

OK, so children of people who live together...as opposed to children living with parents who have a document stating that they are married...are "aimless" and "shiftless" and "have instability of relationships". Wow! Who would have known?

Now you'll have to excuse my skepticism but I'm slightly confused since I've known "aimless" and "shiftless" people who were married...came from married parents...and attended church on a regular basis. If I were to use the same reasoning found in this article, couldn't I offer the exact same hypothesis for children from married parents?

On the simple basis of logic, the assertion is absurd. Drawing a correlation between marriage and the attributes mentioned by Mr. Popenoe would be akin to me arguing that marriage is bad since the vast majority of homosexuals are the product of heterosexual relationships. Hmm...I guess that should lead me to be in favor of family values, eh?

The second article may be even better.

U.S. Votes to Accept Gay UN NGOs

The United Nations has accepted two radical gay-rights groups as official non-governmental organizations, or NGO’s. The vote to include them was made against the recommendation of a UN-panel. In favor: The United States.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Quebec are now officially able to have input into United Nations policy. Samantha Songson of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute says the head of the Canadian group is wasting no time in spreading his message.

The U.S. was among the nations that voted for the groups’ inclusion. Thomas Jacobson of Focus on the Family says it’s been U.S. policy since last year.

“There was a decision made that the US would support non-governmental organizations that were homosexual and lesbian based as long as there were not direct connections to pedophilia."

“They can do enormous damage. The primary battles that we’ve had for years at the UN are over sexual issues and over the construct of the family."

Huh?! So the United States government decided they could support LGBT NGO's if they weren't connected to pedophilia? I guess I missed the debate and discussion of this topic within the government of the United States as well as the press release that reported on this interesting decision.

I guess that must mean that the U.S. government wouldn't support the Catholic Church or the Vatican having any influence at the United Nations. After all, they allowed rampant pedophilia to exist for decades. Perhaps I'm wrong but the Pope routinely has a voice at the UN...maybe he gets an exception because of his Christian beliefs.

I certainly hope this also means that the government will object to NGO's that are affiliated with any church whose spiritual leader has committed adultery or hired male prostitutes for clandestine sexual encounters. It just wouldn't be good practice to allow such people to have a voice on the world stage.

Frankly, this is the kind of crap that organizations like Focus on the Family like to disseminate to their followers. Much like the Bush administration, they believe that if they repeat erroneous information often enough, people will start to believe it to be true. Isn't there a commandment that condemns that type of behavior?

Perhaps god grants exceptions to those who lie and deceive in the name of promoting family values and Christian living? I'm sure it must make perfect sense to Mr. Dobson...given his affinity for divinity.

They say god works in mysterious ways...so I guess his followers are simply doing the work of the lord when they encourage the perpetuation of more shiftless Christians. Yea, that's the ticket.

Tagged as: Christianity, Family Values, Focus on the Family, James Dobson, LGBT, Religion, United Nations

Daniel DiRito | July 30, 2007 | 5:44 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 16, 2007

Silver Ring Thing Student Loses Appeal genre: Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Silver Ring Thing

Lydia Playfoot, the sixteen year old student in the UK who sought to wear her purity ring to school, has lost her appeal to the High Court. Thought Theater previously wrote about the case here.

The Court ruled that the schools dress code did not discriminate against Playfoot. The judge argued that the ring was not a fundamental element of religious faith; rather a piece of jewelry. He suggested that the prohibition against the ring was not intended to silence Playfoot's views on abstaining from sexual activities prior to marriage.

A 16-year-old girl was not discriminated against after she was banned from wearing a "purity ring" in school, the High Court has ruled.
Lydia Playfoot was told by Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, to remove her ring - which symbolises chastity - or face expulsion.

The school had denied breaching her human rights and said it was "delighted" with the outcome.

Miss Playfoot said she was "very disappointed" by the decision.

She said the ruling would "mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organisations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practising their faith".

Headmaster Leon Nettley said: "Whilst we are clearly delighted with the outcome of the court hearing today, our success is tinged with regret that proceedings have needed to progress to this level."

"We have always respected Lydia's right to hold and express her views and believe there were many ways in which it was possible for her to do this during her time with us," he said.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "This is entirely the correct decision.

"The case was a manipulative attempt to impose a particular religious viewpoint on this school and, presumably, on other schools if this case had been won."

The judge ordered Miss Playfoot's father to pay £12,000 towards the school's legal costs.

Playfoot's case is a further demonstration of efforts by religious groups to challenge the prevailing laws that have long kept religion separate from the state. Further, it also highlights the attempt to characterize opponents of religious practices in the public sphere as anti-Christian thereby portraying religious groups as victims.

What proponents fail to realize is that if the state began to allow certain religious symbol and practices, they would be inundated with other requests and the school environment would soon become the battleground for a virtual religious war...which should clearly not be the primary focus of the education system.

Unfortunately, Playfoot's parents were likely behind the effort and they represent an increasingly vocal group of parents who seek to use their children as the vehicle by which they seek to contest existing laws in order to push their particular religious agendas.

Daniel DiRito | July 16, 2007 | 8:23 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 5, 2007

Silver Spoon? Nah, I Prefer Platinum genre: Nouveau Thoughts & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

It's All Rainbows

Not long ago I wrote about what I call our "Chain Letter Society"...the construct that we have become a society obsessed with being number one, being the best, being the person at the top of the pyramid. Parents seem to be teaching children that they are entitled, that they are the best and that the world will acquiesce to all of their needs and demands. I contend that this is not only a negative construct; it is going to handicap a generation that will struggle to understand why the world didn't react according to their expectations.

Much to my surprise, I found an article today that voices many of the same concerns. For the most part I agree with the author though I think he may place too much focus on forces outside the home. I'm more inclined to see the home as the primary source of this burgeoning problem.

I've included some excerpts below but I would definitely recommend reading the entire article.

Don Chance, a finance professor at Louisiana State University, says it dawned on him last spring. The semester was ending, and as usual, students were making a pilgrimage to his office, asking for the extra points needed to lift their grades to A's.

"They felt so entitled," he recalls, "and it just hit me. We can blame Mr. Rogers."

Fred Rogers, the late TV icon, told several generations of children that they were "special" just for being whoever they were. He meant well, and he was a sterling role model in many ways. But what often got lost in his self-esteem-building patter was the idea that being special comes from working hard and having high expectations for yourself.

While children may be influenced by television programs, the reality is that much of their behavior and their perception of the world are adopted from their parents. I could be wrong but if I were asked to bet what would happen if we took away Mr. Rogers (and his passing effectively achieved as much), the impact on the degree to which a child feels special or entitled will nary miss a beat.

Signs of narcissism among college students have been rising for 25 years, according to a recent study led by a San Diego State University psychologist. Obviously, Mr. Rogers alone can't be blamed for this. But as Prof. Chance sees it, "he's representative of a culture of excessive doting."

Prof. Chance teaches many Asian-born students, and says they accept whatever grade they're given; they see B's and C's as an indication that they must work harder, and that their elders assessed them accurately. They didn't grow up with Mr. Rogers or anyone else telling them they were born special.

By contrast, American students often view lower grades as a reason to "hit you up for an A because they came to class and feel they worked hard," says Prof. Chance. He wishes more parents would offer kids this perspective: "The world owes you nothing. You have to work and compete. If you want to be special, you'll have to prove it."

Don't get me wrong, I'm no proponent of teaching a kid to swim by throwing them in the lake...just as I'm not in favor of telling a three year old that they will win a gold medal because they swim well for their age. History tells us that reality is somewhere in the middle...it's the principle of the bell curve...a few people make up the extreme points and the rest are traveling shoulder to shoulder with the pack. I appreciate that mommy and daddy want the best for their children...but preparing a child for the world needs to be more than promises of bells and whistles.

In America today, life often begins with the anointing of "His Majesty, the Fetus," he says. From then on, many parents focus their conversations on their kids. Today's parents "are the best-educated generation ever," says Dr. Rosenfeld. "So why do our kids see us primarily discussing kids' schedules and activities?"

He encourages parents to talk about their passions and interests; about politics, business, world events. "Because everything is child-centered today, we're depriving children of adults," he says. "If they never see us as adults being adults, how will they deal with important matters when it is their world?"

I have a slightly different take on this final phenomenon. I think we've seen a gradual progression of the entitlement mentality and what parents are doing today is acting out the fulfillment of their own unmet expectations.

You see, they may be successful but the only relevant measure is whether they are as successful as their expectations. It depends on what they believe. While it may be reasonable to view their achievements as success, if they don't feel it as such, then the natural instinct is going to be to transfer that need to their children. It’s the, "By god, I'm going to do everything to make sure my kid doesn't miss any opportunities" mindset.

What we often fail to consider is happiness and how that is best achieved. Our consumption society is hyper-focused on a concept of happiness that is measured externally...what do you have...what is your title...how well known have you become. The problem with that notion is there will always be someone who has more, has a better title, and is better known. Perhaps we need to adjust our notion of happiness?

Image courtesy of www.worth1000.com

Daniel DiRito | July 5, 2007 | 7:33 PM | link | Comments (1)
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July 3, 2007

An Open Letter To Michael Glatze genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Authenticity

Today, Michael Glatze, a well known figure in the gay world and a former proponent of gay rights, wrote of his rejection of homosexuality in an essay posted at World Net Daily. I have posted Michael's essay below and I have followed it with my own open letter to Michael. I think Michael should be whoever he want's to be...but his choice to do so by attaching negative judgments to the lifestyle of other well-adjusted gays warrants a response.

From World Net Daily:

How A "Gay Rights" Leader Became Straight

By Michael Glatze

Homosexuality came easy to me, because I was already weak.

My mom died when I was 19. My father had died when I was 13. At an early age, I was already confused about who I was and how I felt about others.

My confusion about "desire" and the fact that I noticed I was "attracted" to guys made me put myself into the "gay" category at age 14. At age 20, I came out as gay to everybody else around me.

At age 22, I became an editor of the first magazine aimed at a young, gay male audience. It bordered on pornography in its photographic content, but I figured I could use it as a platform to bigger and better things.

Sure enough, Young Gay America came around. It was meant to fill the void that the other magazine I'd worked for had created – namely, anything not-so-pornographic, aimed at the population of young, gay Americans. Young Gay America took off.

Gay people responded happily to Young Gay America. It received awards, recognition, respectability and great honors, including the National Role Model Award from major gay organization Equality Forum – which was given to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien a year later – and a whole host of appearances in the media, from PBS to the Seattle Times, from MSNBC to the cover story in Time magazine.

I produced, with the help of PBS-affiliates and Equality Forum, the first major documentary film to tackle gay teen suicide, "Jim In Bold," which toured the world and received numerous "best in festival" awards.

Young Gay America created a photo exhibit, full of photographs and stories of gay youth all across the North American continent, which toured Europe, Canada and parts of the United States.

Young Gay America launched YGA Magazine in 2004, to pretend to provide a "virtuous counterpart" to the other newsstand media aimed at gay youth. I say "pretend" because the truth was, YGA was as damaging as anything else out there, just not overtly pornographic, so it was more "respected."

It took me almost 16 years to discover that homosexuality itself is not exactly "virtuous." It was difficult for me to clarify my feelings on the issue, given that my life was so caught up in it.

Homosexuality, delivered to young minds, is by its very nature pornographic. It destroys impressionable minds and confuses their developing sexuality; I did not realize this, however, until I was 30 years old.

YGA Magazine sold out of its first issue in several North American cities. There was extreme support, by all sides, for YGA Magazine; schools, parent groups, libraries, governmental associations, everyone seemed to want it. It tapped right into the zeitgeist of "accepting and promoting" homosexuality, and I was considered a leader. I was asked to speak on the prestigious JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2005.

It was, after viewing my words on a videotape of that "performance," that I began to seriously doubt what I was doing with my life and influence.

Knowing no one who I could approach with my questions and my doubts, I turned to God; I'd developed a growing relationship with God, thanks to a debilitating bout with intestinal cramps caused by the upset stomach-inducing behaviors I'd been engaged in.

Soon, I began to understand things I'd never known could possibly be real, such as the fact that I was leading a movement of sin and corruption – which is not to sound as though my discovery was based on dogma, because decidedly it was not.

I came to the conclusions on my own.

It became clear to me, as I really thought about it – and really prayed about it – that homosexuality prevents us from finding our true self within. We cannot see the truth when we're blinded by homosexuality.

We believe, under the influence of homosexuality, that lust is not just acceptable, but a virtue. But there is no homosexual "desire" that is apart from lust.

In denial of this fact, I'd fought to erase such truth at all costs, and participated in the various popular ways of taking responsibility out of human hands for challenging the temptations of lust and other behaviors. I was sure – thanks to culture and world leaders – that I was doing the right thing.

Driven to look for truth, because nothing felt right, I looked within. Jesus Christ repeatedly advises us not to trust anybody other than Him. I did what He said, knowing that the Kingdom of God does reside in the heart and mind of every man.

What I discovered – what I learned – about homosexuality was amazing. How I'd first "discovered" homosexual desires back in high school was by noticing that I looked at other guys. How I healed, when it became decidedly clear that I should – or risk hurting more people – is that I paid attention to myself.

Every time I was tempted to lust, I noticed it, caught it, dealt with it. I called it what it was, and then just let it disappear on its own. A huge and vital difference exists between superficial admiration – of yourself, or others – and integral admiration. In loving ourselves fully, we no longer need anything from the "outside" world of lustful desire, recognition from others, or physical satisfaction. Our drives become intrinsic to our very essence, unbridled by neurotic distractions.

Homosexuality allows us to avoid digging deeper, through superficiality and lust-inspired attractions – at least, as long as it remains "accepted" by law. As a result, countless miss out on their truest self, their God-given Christ-self.

Homosexuality, for me, began at age 13 and ended – once I "cut myself off" from outside influences and intensely focused on inner truth – when I discovered the depths of my God-given self at age 30.

God is regarded as an enemy by many in the grip of homosexuality or other lustful behavior, because He reminds them of who and what they truly are meant to be. People caught in the act would rather stay "blissfully ignorant" by silencing truth and those who speak it, through antagonism, condemnation and calling them words like "racist," "insensitive," "evil" and "discriminatory."

Healing from the wounds caused by homosexuality is not easy – there's little obvious support. What support remains is shamed, ridiculed, silenced by rhetoric or made illegal by twisting of laws. I had to sift through my own embarrassment and the disapproving "voices" of all I'd ever known to find it. Part of the homosexual agenda is getting people to stop considering that conversion is even a viable question to be asked, let alone whether or not it works.

In my experience, "coming out" from under the influence of the homosexual mindset was the most liberating, beautiful and astonishing thing I've ever experienced in my entire life.

Lust takes us out of our bodies, "attaching" our psyche onto someone else's physical form. That's why homosexual sex – and all other lust-based sex – is never satisfactory: It's a neurotic process rather than a natural, normal one. Normal is normal – and has been called normal for a reason.

Abnormal means "that which hurts us, hurts normal." Homosexuality takes us out of our normal state, of being perfectly united in all things, and divides us, causing us to forever pine for an outside physical object that we can never possess. Homosexual people – like all people – yearn for the mythical true love, which does actually exist. The problem with homosexuality is that true love only comes when we have nothing preventing us from letting it shine forth from within. We cannot fully be ourselves when our minds are trapped in a cycle and group-mentality of sanctioned, protected and celebrated lust.

God came to me when I was confused and lost, alone, afraid and upset. He told me – through prayer – that I had nothing at all to be afraid of, and that I was home; I just needed to do a little house cleaning in my mind.

I believe that all people, intrinsically, know the truth. I believe that is why Christianity scares people so much. It reminds them of their conscience, which we all possess.

Conscience tells us right from wrong and is a guide by which we can grow and become stronger and freer human beings. Healing from sin and ignorance is always possible, but the first thing anyone must do is get out of the mentalities that divide and conquer humanity.

Sexual truth can be found, provided we're all willing and driven to accept that our culture sanctions behaviors that harm life. Guilt should be no reason to avoid the difficult questions.

Homosexuality took almost 16 years of my life and compromised them with one lie or another, perpetuated through national media targeted at children. In European countries, homosexuality is considered so normal that grade-school children are being provided "gay" children's books as required reading in public schools.

Poland, a country all-too familiar with the destruction of its people by outside influences, is bravely attempting to stop the European Union from indoctrinating its children with homosexual propaganda. In response, the European Union has called the prime minister of Poland "repulsive."

I was repulsive for quite some time; I am still dealing with all of my guilt.

As a leader in the "gay rights" movement, I was given the opportunity to address the public many times. If I could take back some of the things I said, I would. Now I know that homosexuality is lust and pornography wrapped into one. I'll never let anybody try to convince me otherwise, no matter how slick their tongues or how sad their story. I have seen it. I know the truth.

God gave us truth for a reason. It exists so we could be ourselves. It exists so we could share that perfect self with the world, to make the perfect world. These are not fanciful schemes or strange ideals – these are the Truth.

Healing from the sins of the world will not happen in an instant; but, it will happen – if we don't pridefully block it. God wins in the end, in case you didn't know.

My open letter to Michael:

Dear Michael,

I read your posting at World Net Daily and I wanted to share some of my own thoughts on your thoughts and the larger subjects of sexuality, religion, and authenticity.

First, let me say that your words express an inner anguish that seems to have been your companion for many years. I have great sympathy for your heartache. Your attempt to resolve that anguish is noble, however your efforts to extrapolate your own journey as a tonic for all that ails others within the gay community is sadly misguided.

I don’t know you so I hesitate to offer my observations without one important caveat. Your life has been lived by and large in the public sphere…first when you embraced homosexuality through YGA and your many other activities…and now as you embrace an alternate reality that you have chosen to share through World Net Daily. Therefore, I make the assumption that both then and now, it has been your choice to submit yourself to the scrutiny of others. If I’m wrong, my apologies.

You note that YGA “was meant to fill a void" for young gay Americans…something not so “pornographic". Is it possible that YGA was meant to first and foremost fill your own void and to combat your own issues with pornography? Let me elaborate. You see pornography is not the unique domain of homosexuals…it is available to virtually all sexual persuasions and curiosities…and one has the free will to partake or to pass.

I’ve read gay newspapers and periodicals for many years and I’ve always known I had the discretion to read and view those articles, advertisements, and photographs of my choosing. When you speak of homosexuality as being “by its very nature pornographic" isn’t it plausible that what you are actually explaining is how you elected to define your own affiliation with homosexuality? Keep in mind that one can affiliate with heterosexuality in the very same manner…maybe you have yet to discover that prerogative.

You also state that “homosexuality is not exactly ‘virtuous’". Clearly, virtue is not innate to any sexual preference…just as it isn’t innate to Italians, Caucasians, tall people, people near the equator, or people who drive yellow cars. Virtue is a chosen state of being that is available to all humans. Your proximity to virtue during your homosexuality was a function of your actions as a human being with free will…not something one can definitively obtain or be denied as a result of some affiliation. If you lacked virtue, YOU lacked virtue…being gay need not separate one from virtue.

You indicate that “homosexuality prevents US from finding our true self within. We cannot see the truth when we’re blinded by homosexuality." The quest to find ones self should never be sought through affiliations. The fact that you couldn’t find communion with your self while you identified as a homosexual is not an indictment of homosexuality…it is an indication of your own internal conflicts…conflicts you played out in the public arena then and conflicts you now purport to have resolved in an alternate reality…once again seeking to air your process on the public stage. Unfortunately, your process now is not necessarily any more authentic than your process then.

What remains consistent is your need for others to affirm who and what you are whenever and wherever you tell us what you are. Don’t take this wrong, but I recall a time when I would fret about eating in a restaurant by myself…all I could think about was what others may be thinking it said about me. In a conversation with a wise friend, I mentioned my hesitation and she offered this observation, “Daniel, what makes you think you’re that important or that relevant in the minds of other diners? Why you are there eating alone is only meaningful to you."

You see it was my perception that was flawed, not my situation. I was living outside of myself and relying on outside feedback to affirm myself…an exercise in futility. May I suggest you remain in the same predicament though you’ve altered your scenery? You proceed to state that you became aware of your homosexuality when you “noticed that I looked at other guys" and that you resolved your desires by paying attention to yourself. You continue by stating, “Every time I was tempted to lust, I noticed it." Your words are clues to your own flawed perception. How you see other men…lustfully…is of your making…it is the perception you brought to your experience with homosexuality. The men you lusted after were not the issue…it was what you carried within.

Unfortunately, you attempt to apply your reality to all other homosexuals…once again illuminating your need for external affirmation…and in your current circumstances you need to vilify that which you no longer want to inhabit your psyche. Sadly, electing to announce your heterosexual affiliation is not the equivalent of extinguishing your flawed perceptions nor does it mean you will approach your heterosexuality any differently than you did your homosexuality. The healing of the heart is not an external event that is subject too, or a function of, ones proximity to any particular societal construct…in this instance heterosexuality.

You then pivot towards religion and your search for, and discovery of, your “God-given self". Lacking in that observation is the realization that others may already be in harmony with their god-given selves. You see, may I regrettably suggest that you suffer the belief held by so many who identify as born again…you presume that everyone else must have lost sight of their god-given identities and is therefore in need of rebirth. May I posit that this is once again demonstrative of your need for external validation of your processes, your identity, and all that you experience? In other words, you are still a victim of your inability to embrace an identity of your own volition absent reinforcing feedback.

Your words provide further insight into your struggle. You state, “Lust takes us out of our bodies, “attaching" our psyche onto someone else’s physical form". More telling words may have never been uttered. What you describe is your own persistent psychic wound that manifests itself in the objectification of others in order to fill an internal void…one you must believe to be insatiable and outside your capacity to repair. You see, your demons are just that…your demons. While you may find comfort in believing that every other homosexual has the same demons…that belief is merely a defense mechanism your ego employs to assuage the pain.

I would also speculate that the mindset you held put you in contact with people suffering similar struggles…thereby allowing you to reach your misguided conclusion that all homosexuals were like you. As difficult as this may be to hear, the friends I have would have little difficulty identifying you and your particular perceptions and the flawed judgments that they foster. That reality likely limited your exposure…but it certainly did not serve as a legitimate basis for your current hypothesis. You see, all that you have identified in your diatribe against homosexuality is that portion of your identity that you subconsciously find detestable. I’m sorry for your dilemma but I reject your conclusion.

Near the end of your essay, you state that “homosexuality took almost 16 years of my life and compromised them with one lie or another". Shame on you. That statement is an affront to everything else you ask us to embrace. At what point will you take personal responsibility for your own behavior? The pursuit of truth is not a construct you get to strap on when it serves you and pine for when you lack the wherewithal to seek it.

What you need to strive for is authenticity. Your persona as a cheerleader in the latest and greatest uniform of your liking is simply the measure of your inauthentic self. Your predicament is sad and I feel for you…but your carelessness and your cavalier capacity to tear down whatever no longer serves your fragile identity is indefensible and unacceptable.

The fact that you now wrap yourself in the glorious guise of god may once again serve your masked and manipulative inner master but it puts you no closer to truth. You contend that god wins in the end because you have chosen to co-opt god to augment your own disenfranchisement from self-truth. While you have hitched your wagon to this particular iteration of truth, it doesn’t mean you have found truth. You have simply found a new mechanism of certainty that can be substituted for the ever elusive identity that in the end has ironically come to define who you are and who you aren’t.

Michael, I hope you’re able to find peace…but I have to implore you to do so without attacking those who have journeyed much further along the path.

Regards,

Daniel

Daniel DiRito | July 3, 2007 | 2:56 PM | link | Comments (129)
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July 1, 2007

Love, Marriage...And A Baby Carriage? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

And A Baby Carriage

James Dobson must be scratching his head. While opponents of gay unions tout the argument that marriage should be reserved for the joining of a man and a woman in order to procreate, the average American seems to see the priorities of marriage a little differently. In less than twenty years, having children has fallen significantly on the list of factors important to a successful marriage. In a wake up call to evangelicals, sex is viewed as more than the means to having children and couples seem to be focusing on building strong, healthy, and equitable relationships.

The Pew Research Center survey on marriage and parenting found that children had fallen to No. 8 on a list of nine factors that people associate with successful marriages — well behind "sharing household chores," "good housing," "adequate income," a "happy sexual relationship" and "faithfulness."

In a 1990 World Values Survey, children ranked third in importance among the same items, with 65% saying children were very important to a good marriage. Just 41% said so in the new Pew survey.

By a nearly 3-1 margin, those surveyed said the main purpose of marriage is the "mutual happiness and fulfillment" of adults rather than the "bearing and raising of children."

The survey's findings buttress concerns expressed by numerous scholars and family policy experts, among them Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project.

"The popular culture is increasingly oriented to fulfilling the X-rated fantasies and desires of adults…. " she wrote in a recent report. "Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison."

From The Pew Research Center:

Pew Research Graphic

OK, perhaps I'm an idiot but if mutual happiness and fulfillment isn’t the essential ingredient in a marriage, just what will keep two adults together and what will they have to offer to their children? Frankly, I find the news encouraging...couples are finally realizing that getting married and bearing children isn't the equivalent of purchasing a new car. Bringing children into a bad relationship serves one misguided purpose...placing children in unhappy homes where they will learn the dynamics of unhealthy relationships and receive their indoctrination into the failed notion that having children will hold a marriage together.

I recently visited my parents in my hometown, a small city in southern Colorado. Each year the city has a parade celebrating the spring blossom season. While at the parade, the one thing that caught my attention was the number of young women who were tending to a brood of children...women who appeared far too young to have so many children in tow. Even more concerning, many of them appeared to be single parents.

My concern is that our preoccupation on abstaining from sex is simply facilitating pregnancies. Here's the equation. Parent’s often guilt children into promises of abstinence while failing to promote healthy relationships and providing essential sex education...education that seeks to inform children about contraception and the need to consider the consequences of casual and unprotected sex. As such, the degree to which religious doctrine drives this country's view of sex has made it nothing more than a topic of right and wrong, good versus evil. In our efforts to prevent pre-marital sex, little focus is placed upon cultivating loving relationships.

As children begin to date and have relationships, they find themselves torn between their guilt about having sex and their natural desires. When their desires win out, they frequently skip over the need to be mindful of the possibility of pregnancy. Further, I suspect that subconsciously, these children are also aware of their parent’s view of morality, abortion, and the sanctity of life...an awareness that tells these children that if a baby is the outcome of a sexual encounter, it will help offset the notion that sex outside of marriage is wrong. Essentially, the thought process suggests that so long as a child is the result of sex, the sex will have some plausible justification.

Therefore what happens is that sex and pregnancy become the means to marriage with little focus on the creation of meaningful relationships. Children become preoccupied with the need to justify sex such that they tell themselves that every relationship is the precursor to marriage. In the end, the desire to have sex facilitates the motivation that they must conclude they are in love. At that point, getting pregnant and having a baby affirms that love and provides some measure of justification for the sexual activity...and a marriage.

Many questions touched on America's high rate of out-of-wedlock births and of cohabitation outside of marriage. The survey noted that 37% of U.S. births in 2005 were to unmarried women, up from 5% in 1960, and found that nearly half of adults in their 30s and 40s had lived with a partner outside of marriage.

It seems to me that understanding the psychology behind these numbers is far more important than making moral judgments. I tend to view the changing numbers as part of a process of evolving views on relationships. There has always been a tendency to glamorize yesterday's relationships...but in truth...the historical numbers tell us little about the quality of those relationships...the only measure that I believe has relevance.

Clearly, many of the people married in the middle of the twentieth century stayed together because it was expected, because their religion required as much, and because divorce was unthinkable. Regardless, staying together wasn't a measure of the health of those relationships or the type of impact it may have had upon their children.

Having children under the umbrella of a marriage doesn't necessarily equate with happy and healthy childhoods just as rising births outside of marriage need not equate with unhappy and unhealthy childhoods. Our focus on the morality of the numbers obstructs an objective evaluation of what makes for happy and healthy relationships and children. Little emphasis is placed upon truly understanding those dynamics.

Let me be clear. I'm not stating that today's relationships and the high number of children born outside of marriage indicate a preferred situation. I am stating that until we focus on the ingredients to successful relationships absent all of the moral directives and the inordinate attention placed upon measuring the prurient vs. puritanical quotient, we will make little progress and we will simply perpetuate more of the same.

The good news is that this latest study may suggest that young people are beginning to reject some of the antiquated and ineffective equations and starting to focus upon other ingredients that are likely essential to building healthy and long lasting relationships...relationships that will be able to nurture children if and when they are chosen.

I find the self-examination implied by this data to be a positive development…one that may result in children being raised in families that can provide positive role models and that can begin to move away from the current reliance on the morality espoused in the doctrines of religious institutions...a morality that dictates a black and white, one size fits all mentality.

Perhaps if we shift our focus to understanding our innate human condition, we can begin to build relationships that sanctify rather than vilify the diverse traits that make us who we are. Isn't it time we make self-awareness the precursor to the selfless act of child rearing?

Daniel DiRito | July 1, 2007 | 8:33 AM | link | Comments (0)
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