Bought with a Price: A bishop speaks out against Pornography

Take the time to read the excellent Pastoral Letter by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, VA on the dangers of pornography. In it, he destroys many of the arguments of those who see pornography as a moral neutral, or sadly, even a positive good. He shows that it does not good for anyone involved: the producers, participants, consumers, those in relationships with any of the above and is destructive to society as a whole.

I would argue that pornography is one of the chief dangers we face in our nation today. With its ubiquitousness, pornography and its effects reach virtually everywhere in our society, corrupting minds and souls. Other dangers like terrorism, environmental damage, etc., only affect our short lives. Pornography affects our eternal souls.

A few years ago, I was talking to a coworker about a picture of Britney Spears he had on his desktop. (This was before her skank-ification had reached its current levels.) I forget exactly how it came up, but I pointed out to him that it was pornography. He said he didn’t see how. I responded with a definition: “Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal. ” He responded by saying “Oh, you and your conservative definitions.” I responded, “Dictionary.com” But that’s how far it’s gotten: sexually provocative pictures are considered “normal” as they person pictured is wearing some modicum of clothing.

Continued after the break with excerpts from the pastoral letter…

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Mary, Mother of God

Catholic Exchange – Your Faith. Your Life. Your World.

One day in the early fifth century, a priest preached a stirring sermon in the presence of the patriarch of Constantinople. His subject was the holy mother of Jesus. The preacher continually referred to Mary as the “Theotokos” meaning “God-bearer” or mother of God. This was no innovation — Christians had invoked Mary under this title for at least two hundred years. Nevertheless, at the close of the sermon, the patriarch ascended the steps of the pulpit to correct the preacher. We should call Mary the Mother of Christ, said Patriarch Nestorius, not the Mother of God. She was the mother of His human nature, not the mother of His divinity.

His comment sparked a riot. And the dispute rocked not only the congregation, but the entire empire. Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, immediately recognized that Nestorius’s Marian theology was a symptom of a much deeper problem, a problem with the incarnation itself. For to deny Mary the title “Mother of God” makes of Jesus a dichotomy, a split personality. It would mean that God had not really embraced our humanity so as to become human.

So in 431, the Council of Ephesus met under Cyril’s leadership and solemnly proclaimed that Mary is indeed rightly to be honored as the Theotokos, the Mother of God. It proclaimed that from the moment of His conception, God truly became man. Of course Mary is a creature and could never be the origin of the eternal Trinity, God without beginning or end. But the second person of the blessed Trinity chose to truly become man. He did not just come and borrow a human body and drive it around for awhile, ascend back to heaven, and discard it like an old car. No, at the moment of His conception in the womb of Mary, an amazing thing happened. God the Son united Himself with a human nature forever. Humanity and divinity were so closely bound together in Jesus, son of Mary, that they could never be separated again. Everything that would be done by the son of Mary would be the act both of God and of man.

So why does the Roman liturgy celebrate the Octave of Christmas as the Feast of Mary the Mother of God? Because this paradoxical phrase strikes at the very heart of Christmas. The songs we sing and the cards we write extol the babe of Bethlehem as Emmanuel, God-with-us. He is so with us that after Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin of Nazareth, the Divine Word can never again be divided from our humanity. What God has joined, let no man separate.

The Catholic Church today completes its eight day celebration of Christmas (the Octave of Christmas) by honooring Mary’s motherhood. It’s a fitting way to close our celebration for the reasons quoted above: if Mary is not truly the mother of God then God did not truly become man, like us in all things but sin. To deny the motherhood of Mary is to deny the Incarnation.

Today in History – January 1st

45: BC Julian Calendar introduced

379: Death of St. Basil

1356: The Pope publishes the “Golden Bull”

1515: Death of Louis XII, King of France

1735: Paul Revere born

1752: Betsy Ross, who, according to legend, made the first American flag. born

1863: The Emancipation Proclamation, declared the previous September by Abraham Lincoln, took effect. It declared freedom for slaves in all areas of the Confederacy that were still in rebellion against the Union.

1895: J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Dircetor. born

1901: The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed.

1902: 1st Rose Bowl game held in Pasadena, California.

1907: The Pure Food and Drug Act becomes law in the U.S.

1909: Barry Goldwater the 1964 Republican candidate for president born

1909: London astronomers hint of sightings of a planet beyond Neptune.

1912: British-born Soviet master spy Harold “Kim” Philby born

1919: J. D. Salinger, author of ‘Catcher in the Rye’. born

1925: Edwin Hubble announces our galaxy is just one among billions of others

1927: Massachusetts becomes the first state to require automobile insurance.

1934: Alcatraz officially becomes a Federal Prison.

1945: France was admitted to the United Nations.

1953: Country singer Hank Williams Senior, 29, died of a drug and alcohol overdose while en route to a concert date in Canton, Ohio.

1959: Fidel Castro led Cuban revolutionaries to victory over Fulgencio Batista.

1975: A jury convicted former Attorney General John Mitchell and former White House aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman on all counts in the Watergate cover-up case.

1979: The United States and China held celebrations in Washington and Beijing to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

1984: The break-up of AT&T took place as the telecommunications giant was divested of its 22 Bell System companies under terms of an antitrust agreement.

1986: Soviet television aired a five-minute greeting from President Reagan and Americans got the same from Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the first such exchange between the superpowers.

1987: More than 2,000 Chinese students, defying a government ban, held a pro-democracy rally in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

1988: President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev exchanged optimistic New Year’s greetings, expressing mutual hope they would reach an arms control treaty on strategic weapons within six months.

1988: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher distanced herself from US vows to punish whoever bombed Pam Am Flight 103, saying in a TV interview that revenge “can affect innocent people.”

1990: David Dinkins was sworn in as New York City’s first black mayor.

1991: President Bush called top advisers to the White House for a fresh assessment of the Persian Gulf crisis.

1992: Boutros Boutros-Ghali succeeded Javier Perez de Cuellar as secretary-general of the United Nations.

1994: The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

1997: Kofi Annan assumed the title of United Nations secretary-general.

1998: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that 2% milk no longer “low fat.” Also, in a move to reduce birth defects, food manufacturers were required to add the nutrient folic acid to enriched breads, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice and other grain products.

1999: The euro, the new single currency of eleven European countries, officially came into existence with the start of the New Year.

2002: Twelve European nations adopted the euro in the most ambitious currency changeover in history.

2002: Michael Bloomberg succeeded Rudolph Giuliani as New York City’s mayor.

This is sad news

FoxTrot to Cease Dailies

Bill Amend’s popular FoxTrot comic strip will go to a Sunday-only publication schedule as of Dec. 31, 2006, announced Universal Press Syndicate today. The last daily will be Saturday, Dec. 30.

I had missed this news. FoxTrot is one of my favorite current strips. (ZIts being the other.) The morning comics page just won’t be the same without it.