Showing posts from July, 2014

Pop Culture Monday--Why Terrible People Sometimes Make Great Artists

About a week ago, Kanye West gave an interview to GQ magazine, where he weighed in on a number of topics.  As is often the case with 'Ye, he said a number of insane and ludicrous things.  I was particularly struck this quote, in which he discusses the content of a 45 minute toast he made to himself at his wedding to Kim Kardashian recently:

And what I talked about in it was the idea of celebrity, and celebrities being treated like blacks were in the '60s, having no rights, and the fact that people can slander your name. I said that in the toast. And I had to say this in a position where I, from the art world, am marrying Kim. And how we're going to fight to raise the respect level for celebrities so that my daughter can live a more normal life. She didn't choose to be a celebrity. But she is. So I'm going to fight to make sure she has a better life.

The notion that "celebrities" are some sort of persecuted minority in society, and that he is planning to b…

More From Dr. Popcak

Did you know it was "NFP Week"?  I certainly did not, until I was informed of it by our old buddy Dr. Popcak.  No surprise, he is a big proponent of NFP Week, and has been writing a series of posts on in celebration of this date on the calendar.  I would like to talk about yesterday's post, but before I do, a couple of notes from the Monday post.  First, I was pleased to see that Dr. Popcak acknowledges that approximately one out of every fifty Catholics are actually using NFP (i.e. 2%).  I've mentioned the same statistic before, but I am not sure people truly understand what 2% of the female population actually means.  For example, that's approximately the same percentage of the overall population of women who are U.S. military veterans.  Or, in another direction, it is the percentage of British women who prefer their man to wear a Speedo at the beach.  It is a very, very small number of people.  Nice to see a bit of reality creeping into the NFP discussion.


New Series--Pop Culture Monday

I have been meaning for some time to talk about things other than religion on this blog, but it seems like I can never quite get around to doing it.  So, I am going to try out a new series called "Pop Culture Mondays."  This will be a series of short or medium-size musings on something in the broader culture that interested me over the course of the week.  We'll see how it goes.


According to the Billboard Charts, the Number 1 R&B/Hip-Hop song in the U.S. this week belongs to the woman shown at the left.  She goes by the name Iggy Azalea, and she is a 24 year old originally from Australia.

Her song "Fancy" is clearly a big hit--it was Number 1 last week on the overall Billboard Chart.  It is one of those classic "earworm" songs, in that it is incredibly catchy and sticks in your head whether or not you want it to do so.  For earworm songs, a discussion of whether the song is "good" or "bad" is somewh…

Book Review/Reflection--The Philadelphia Eleven

The Philadelphia Eleven, by Darlene O'Dell, is a book about the first eleven women ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974, in Philadelphia.  Their story is interesting for many reasons, but most significantly because it was done "irregularly"--by three retired bishops without official permission from the Episcopal Church as a whole.  The book touches on that, as well as the fallout in the aftermath of the ordinations and the efforts of those women to function as priests given their "irregular" status.

To understand the story, the book does an excellent job of laying out the political situation in the Episcopal Church in the early 70s regarding women's ordination.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which meets every 3 years, consists of two bodies--the House of Bishops (all active and retired Episcopal bishops) and the House of Delegates (consisting of four clergy and four lay people from each diocese).  In 1970, the Gener…

What It Is Like To No Be Listened To

I am very fortunate.  I am a white male, with a professional degree, living in the United States of America.  As a result, I tend to be listened to.  It is unjust that my whiteness and maleness and professional degree-ness makes me listened to when others without those qualities would be ignored, but that's the way it is. And I'm not going to pretend that I don't take advantage of this fact, and enjoy the fact that people listen to me.   
In fact, there is really only one trait I have that causes me not to be listened to--I'm short.  I'm 5'5", which is well below average for a man in the U.S.  There are times--not often, but they happen--where my height causes me to be ignored or dismissed.  I try very hard to put on a good face when this happens, because I don't want to fall into the stereotype of the belligerent, Napoleon-complex dude.  But I can tell you without hesitation--the experience of being ignored for being short sucks.  Really sucks.
In a …

Holy Sex!--Final Thoughts

Posts in the Series:

Part 1.1
Part 1.2
Part 1.3
Part 2.1
Part 2.2
Part 3.1
Part 3.2
Part 3.3
Part 4

On a plane flight last weekend, I read a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called Learning to Walk in the Dark.  The core concept in the book is the distinction she draws between "solar" and "lunar" Christianity.  "Solar" Christianity, the standard way that Christianity is presented, involves a positive, pro-active, affirming message.  The news is good, your fears can be overcome, your struggles can be dealt with.  Solar Christianity provides a very clear (and comprehensive) set of solutions to your problems, or at least a set of tools to understand and manage your problems.  Those solutions are consistent, clear, and unchanging.  All you have to do is to remain in the light.  Because outside the light, there is the darkness.  The light and the darkness are wholly opposite, fundamentally opposed categories--everything belongs to one world of the o…

Holy Sex! Part 4--Problems?

We come now to the last section of Holy Sex!, which consists of a series of short chapters that attempt to address problems that might crop up along the path to Infallible Loving.  By definition, this section is a mixed bag, and I have already addressed the most substantive chapter that deals with objections to NFP.  So, I'm just going to hit the chapters that stand out.

Chapter 16 is about female sexual dysfunction.  I am pleased to see that he identifies "poor technique" as potential cause #1 of why a woman can't orgasm, and he advocates manual stimulation of the clitoris as a potential (at least partial) solution.  He also suggests that excessive negativity one's upbringing around sex can be a cause, which is also constructive.  But then he drifts into "guilt about past promiscuity" as a possible cause, which is problematic.  While Popcak is sticking to the story that "eroticism" leads to massive psychological wounds around sex, my experien…

Holy Sex!--Part 3.3 Getting Down to Business, Part II

Chapter 12 is about foreplay.  Most everyone acknowledges that foreplay is good, and this chapter is no exception.  Popcak makes the interesting but seemingly effective choice to break foreplay down into the various senses.  So, for example, under seeing he discusses things like wearing lingerie, under smell he suggests to use scented candles, etc.  There is nothing revolutionary or earthshaking here, but the suggestions are solid and reasonable.

He also provides an unambiguous defense of oral sex.  Some might be puzzled as to why oral sex needs defending, but the traditional position of the Church opposed oral sex--hence the reason it was traditionally grouped with anal sex under the heading of "sodomy."  So, Popcak is stepping out a bit on a limb here, and he deserves his kudos for that.  He also makes clear that oral sex goes both ways, subject only to the One Rule.  Good on him for recognizing the needs of the ladies in this realm.

I could see how his constant use of rel…

Holy Sex!--Part 3.2. Getting Down to Business, Part I

Chapters 11 through 13 is where we get to the nitty-gritty of Infallible Loving.  Chapter 11 is yet another framing chapter, albeit more focused than the previous ones, Chapter 12 deals with foreplay, and Chapter 13 deals with intercourse.  Needless to say, this post (and the next one) is going to be the real "Sheer Silence After Dark" portion of the review, so fair warning.

Before diving into the three chapters and dwelling on the weird parts, I want to talk about the good parts of these chapters.  First, it is clear Dr. Popcak's heart is in the right place.  He comes across in these chapters as utterly sincere in his desire to lead couples to have a good relationship and good sex.  Whether or not his proposals actually accomplish this is a separate question, but the intention is there.  You have to give him credit for trying very hard, particularly as he is fighting the headwinds of Catholic doctrine and practice.

Second, it is clear that these chapters are written wit…