Monday, April 29, 2013

Stating the obvious

I had planned a different post for today, but after battling this stupid bladder infection over a second weekend (new antibiotic now; seems to be working, finally, I hope...) and trying to get caught up on a few chores today now that I'm starting to feel a bit better I'm a bit less coherent than usual (and you thought that wasn't even possible).

So, instead, I'll share a few links to things elsewhere which do a very good job of stating the obvious.

1.  Amy Welborn is right.  The media doesn't want to cover the Gosnell trial because people in the media don't think he's wrong.  Sure, it was tacky of him to wait until those unwanted fetuses were technically out of their mothers' birth canals before snipping their spinal cords, but whatevs--the customer paid for a dead child, and she gets a dead child, so what's the problem here?

2. Chris Broussard is right.  Christians do believe the following, as he put it:
"If you're openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that that's a sin," said Broussard, comparing homosexuality to any other sex outside of marriage. "If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ."
So long as we're clear that we're talking about a lifestyle which includes or is centered around homosexual sex acts, then yes, Christians believe that's a sin.  Sure, there are Christians who have "evolved" away from that belief, usually the ones that bless fornicating couples and ordain open atheists, but who died and made them God, anyway?

3. Hector Molina is right: trying to "sell" religion to the unchurched by presenting Jesus as "the original hipster" is the same kind of well-intentioned bad idea that leads to round churches, Marty Haugen songs, and the Rite of Dismissing the Children So They Can Go Color Things.

4. Mark Shea is right--conservative Christians are going to be increasingly targeted for social adjustment in the military, where they will probably end up being disciplined one day for saying such Christian things as "marriage is between a man and a woman" or "sex outside of marriage is sinful."  Of course, pretty soon conservative Christians will likewise be increasingly targeted for saying such things in public, in writing, in schools, in hospitals, in libraries, in corporate jobs, or just about anywhere outside the actual walls of an actual church building, because that's what today's left means by the concepts "freedom of speech" and "freedom of religion."  Oh, but don't worry; gay "marriage" isn't going to hurt anybody.

5. Magister Christianus is right:  There is something seriously wrong with a culture in which girls ages 4 to 14 perform at a charity event dressed like Vegas showgirls complete with sequined bras and bikini bottoms, and with a booty-shakin' dance routine to match.  What the Hell (literally) is wrong with parents that they see nothing wrong with this?

6. Rod Dreher's Catholic priest friend who visited him recently is right: things are (slowly) getting better in the Church--and the presence or absence of joy in someone's life isn't some kind of optional extra, but something really important.

It's nice when so many people out there are so right!


Magister Christianus said...

Thanks for the plug, Red. Hope you get better soon!

Kirt Higdon said...

With respect to number 5, MC provides no video for the show he so strongly objects to, says he didn't watch it himself, admits he doesn't "get" dance, and only grudgingly concedes its legitimacy as an art form. So I'd take his criticism with a shaker full of salt, especially since the parents seemed to like it. The link to the Dance Legacy asks what is wrong with parents who see nothing wrong with it. I compared the site to several local sites of performance dance groups which train kids and Dance Legacy's site is pretty typical, although with stronger emphasis on discipline and commitment. The comparison to Las Vegas showgirls (a vanishing breed who are not dancers) is something MC just pulls out of the air.

He objects to the costuming, but feathers and sequins aside, dance costuming is simply what is usually worn beachside, poolside, at the gym, or in warm weather just around town or at the park. Yes, the performance dance scene can be unwholesome and sinful as various books on professional ballet have indicated. Like anything good, it can be abused. But to state the obvious, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with studios like Dance Legacy.

Red Cardigan said...

Kirt, I have to agree to disagree with you on this. Putting little girls in leopard-print bikinis or other skanky outfits and then having them swivel and grind to music with overtly sexual lyrics is inappropriate for girls ages 4-14 (and for anybody else, frankly). The art of dance doesn't somehow trump basic standards of morality and decency, and it's not at all wrong for Magister Christianus to label these girls as "a pedophile's dream" because that's exactly what they are.

I think the same thing about kiddie beauty pageants and other "art" forms that rely on the sexploitation of children, by the way.

Kirt Higdon said...

Erin, I'm definitely missing something here. Did MC or someone else provide you with video of the performance which he says he did not look at? Because there is nothing on the DL website or in his article about leopard-print bikinis or music with overtly sexual lyrics. And if abbreviated outfits alone are inappropriate for young girls or anyone else under any circumstances, then a net is being cast broadly enough to ensnare tens of millions of the general population in their everyday life, not just dance studios and dance teams like DL. This is starting to sound a lot like the Catholic version of Taliban dress code.

Magister Christianus said...

Kirt, the comparison with Vegas showgirls was not pulled out of the air. It was what they were pretending to be. The set featured a "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign with flashing lights. The girls wore gold sequined bra and colored bottoms that corresponded with their age group, e.g. red for the youngest, green for the middle, etc. Matching color feathers adorned their heads and extended from their waists to flutter over their backsides.

Not only did I not take video, but it would have been perverse in the extreme for me to have posted it on the Internet if I had.

As for the justification that this is the kind of apparel worn on the beach, that is no justification at all, for that, too, is wrong.

Kirt Higdon said...

Thanks for the clarification, MC. So apart from the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign which gave rise to the showgirls comparison, I was correct in surmising that there were no leopard skin costumes, no songs with suggestive lyrics, and yes the criticism of immodesty was meant to apply to average beach attire as well. I'd assume it would also be meant to apply to much gym attire, most performance dance attire for adults, much if not most athletic and circus performance attire and much average warm weather outdoor wear. As I said, a very wide net indeed.

Speaking as someone educated in Catholic schools (pre-Vatican II) from 1st grade through bachelor's degree, I was always told that modesty was relative to the culture and that wearing clothes usual to the culture was not immodest per se (i.e. excluding intent, behavior and other context) because the dress was too commonplace to be a proximate occasion of sin for the vast majority. Were all of my teachers (mostly priests, brothers and nuns) wrong over all those 16 years of schooling?

Red Cardigan said...

But, Kirt, by those standards both Gwyneth Paltrow's naked-side-panel dress and a gay rights protestor's total nudity are perfectly modest for their settings. I don't think that's right, no matter how many priests or nuns would say so.

Kirt Higdon said...

Erin, a gay right protestor's total nudity is specifically designed to provoke by its immodesty. That's why it's called a protest. It's designed to be an occasion of sin, albeit the sin of anger rather than lust.

The Paltrow dress, which I would have neither seen nor heard of absent your calling my attention to it, is probably marginally immodest by the standards of Hollywood red carpet events. It's more ridiculous than provocative, more likely to induce laughter than lust.

Kirt Higdon said...

BTW, Erin and MC, the Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes that "The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another". (CCC 2524). I recall the mini-controversy when topless women danced and one was even a lector at a Mass of Bl. John-Paul II in Papua New Guinea. When Italian journalists questioned this, Bl. John-Paul replied "It was innocent".

In the US and most other countries, women showing up at Mass topless would be considered very immodest and this would probably only happen as a protest intended to offend. Abbreviated costumes in dance performances or on the beach, however, are not considered immodest. Cultural context is not just for Pacific islanders.

Red Cardigan said...

Kirt, let's take a look at the *rest* of the CCC discussion on modesty:

2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

Dressing little girls up like Vegas tarts is voyeuristic exhibitionism. Sorry if you happen to like it; it's wrong.

Kirt Higdon said...

Thanks for the extended post from the CCC, Erin. I ask all to note that there is no specific condemnation, indeed no specific mention of dancewear, swimwear, sportswear or any other style of clothes. In other words, we are not dealing with instrinsic evils like abortion, contraception, sodomy, adultery, etc. but with a subject which is highly contingent and contextual.

What I like or don't like is irrelevant and the only kids dance performances I've ever seen were just a small part of larger shows which involved mostly adults. Most attendees at kids performances are their parents, which MC indicates in his post.

I prefer to participate in amateur performances and have done a couple of swing dance flash mobs, for which I was condemned, sight unseen, by a Catholic blog commenter on the grounds that swing dance is immodest. She was forced to back off when I posted a video of the performance on the blog. (I think it was Mark Shea's old blog before he went to Patheos.)

eulogos said...

I have seen elementary school talent shows in which young girls (prepubescent girls) performed to popular songs whose lyrics were definitely sexually suggestive, with sexualized movements. It wasn't that the costume was indecent so much as that the content of the songs and the movements of the dance were sexualized. But then, the elementary school (grades 1-4) next to my house (until it was destroyed by the 2011 flood) had a DJ come and play adult popular music every spring for its end of the year outdoor picnic/game day. In my opinion children that young should be playing Farmer in the Dell and London Bridge is Falling Down, not listening to songs about sexual passion, with a sexual beat. I recall from those years that we felt deliciously naughty when we said "Tommy and Sally sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes Sally with a baby carriage." (I have heard versions in which it is Tommy with the baby carriage but that would never have occurred to us.) That is actually a pretty healthy message!

Kids dancing in leotards would be fine. But little girls wearing sequined bras? Doing dances in which they shake their bottoms? Just not acceptable.

Susan Peterson