Tag Archives: Male and Female He Created Them

Lead and Follow

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Most architecture schools have a Beaux-Arts Ball every year.  This comes from the tradition of L’Ecole de Beaux Arts, the famous Parisian/classical school of architecture, which had a Ball de Quatr’Arts every year (the Four Arts Ball)–a fancy masquerade event where all the students and professors got together and partied.

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(For the sake of the author’s wish to remain as anonymous as possible, if you recognize this place, please don’t mention it and instead simply observe the beauty)

My school’s Beaux-Arts Ball was this past weekend, and it was at an undisclosed very beautiful location.  I believe it was built around the turn of the 20th century (I could be wrong) and is ornamented so intricately it’s gorgeous.  The ball was held in this location last year as well, and the first thing everyone did upon walking in was go “OOOOH!” and start photographing the inside.  Monumental staircases, balconies, alcoves, and the most delightful gilt detailing–all done in a sort of Indian style, with bodhisattva and elephants all over.  It is funny to me that everyone finds this place so beautiful because my school tends to lean in the Adolf Loos direction: ornament is crime and structural rationalism is pure and elegant.  It is also proof to me that beauty is not dead and still has an effect on the soul.

However, the discussion of the gorgeous location is not the point.  The point I am trying to discuss is the loss of actual dancing.  I am in the swing club at my school and learned quickly that you can do West Coast Swing to most pop songs.  But not most “house music” because it doesn’t really have a rhythm that can be danced to.  You can sway from side to side and step on alternate feet and move your arms and call it “dancing,” but there’s no actual technique or lead-and-follow or footwork involved.  What has been lost is the beauty of the partnered dance, where there is a clear lead and a clear follow and the leader’s job is to make the follower look beautiful.  The follower’s job is to do whatever the leader tells her and make sure she doesn’t go too far from him.  I spent the entire night counting the time of the “music” in my head, trying to find one that could have West Coast danced to it.  The selections were few, far-between, and not very good, so I was glad to find one once in a while.  But only one of my guy friends actually knows how to dance West Coast and he was elsewhere… so I tried to do it on my own.  It’s really, really hard–that particular dance is a slot dance, and I require momentum and control: in short, I need a leader.

When I looked out at the dance floor, I saw what looked like a writhing orgy of black and skin (architects always wear black; I stood out in blue).  The style of “dance” was what is called “grinding,” and it is pretty much obscene… not to mention that very few people show up to Beaux-Arts sober (being in the sober contingency is a little frustrating sometimes).  The whole thing made me sad.  What has been lost is an appreciation for culture and beauty, as well as any skill in dancing whatsoever.  Most dances which would qualify as “ballroom” dances are inherently gendered: the lead and follow is built in.  It requires sacrifice and submission on both parts; the leader is in charge of making all the decisions, whether he wants to or not, and the follower has to obey, whether she wants to or not.  Otherwise, they’ll go nowhere and probably run into each other.  And I really like that; it means that “Do you want to dance?” becomes a question which doesn’t involve some guy trying to rub himself all over you with music so loud you can’t hear yourself think and instead an opportunity for humour as you try to learn his leader-signals (each leader has his own little quirks) and follow what he tells you to do, while sometimes (or often) having to stop and say “wait, WHAT?” if his signals don’t translate to actions well.  It requires genuine attention on the part of both parties, making the social aspect more apparent as you can actually talk to each other.

Everyone should know some kind of real dance, even if just a little.  Gentlemen, learn to dance; especially if you are actively looking for a nice young lady.  I can virtually guarantee that she will be quite impressed if you know how to dance properly.

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Distinguo

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Something has been bothering me as of late.  It is rampant, and particularly egregious on college campuses.  This issue is the intensely fallacious tendency to compare libido to hunger.

To begin, those who even consider the idea are working under a false set of premises.  Not only is their world-view painfully skewed towards Idiocy, but They Fail Biology Forever.  You do not become emotionally attached to the food you eat at dinner.  Sure, you’ll favour some over others.  And if something is particularly tasty, it may release endorphins.  But oxytocin is completely out of the picture when eating dinner–however, it is the reason women “go crazy” and become possessively attached to men after sex.  It’s the same hormone shows up right after childbirth, allowing mothers to connect with their children.  Chemical bonding is strong.

Not to mention that one’s sex drive is, unlike hunger, not necessary for the survival of the person experiencing it.  People die of hunger all the time.  I have yet to hear of someone (outside of truly bad fanfiction or The Onion) who died of sex deprivation.  I’ve heard of it being used as a method of persuasion (Lysistrata, anyone?) but never actually heard of anyone dying from it as a direct cause.  (If it has ever really happened, post it in the comments please.  I’m curious.)

The problem here is that, while libido and hunger are both innate human cravings, the act of sex carries with it a LOT more implications than the act of eating food.  You can taste around, try foods, etc–and your body isn’t thinking that you are bonding yourself to this food for life.  That’s what it thinks when you sleep with someone, however: that’s why all the hormones and chemicals go crazy.  Your body is hard-wired to be monogamous for life.  That’s what it really wants.  And isn’t modern society all about treating our bodies well and giving them what they want?  In all serious matters, you think of both the short and long-term consequences of your actions.  If you want to get in shape, you develop a regular exercise routine (that’s the short-term) and then gradually get in better and better shape (that’s the long-term).  If you want to become a professor of philosophy at a university level, you must first go through undergrad, a Master’s program, and a PhD program.  The short-term is picking your schools and the long-term is the end goal, something you desire.  For some reason, though, college students are willfully ignoring the long-term consequences of their actions (and these actions come in many flavours) and instead choosing to live solely in the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for seizing the day (carpe diem, anyone?), but somehow you need to acknowledge the fact that you will wake up in the morning and face the consequences, be they good or bad.

To Know and to Love

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(This is a simul-post with Ignitum Today.)

It’s a commonplace we’ve all heard in one form or another: “Love is blind.”  But is it really?  It may be true that our passions, in their uncultivated condition, can color falsely our way of seeing, but even this has in itself the seed or material for seeing truly and bears within itself a truth about human nature, indeed about reality itself.  Even uncultivated passion and desire show that human beings cannot live “within themselves”: we are always looking beyond ourselves for what will complete us and give us rest, and this thirst reaches down to the roots of our being.  We might even call our existence a “going out of ourselves,” an ex-istence.  However, following this thread to the kind of love that sees rightly requires us to go beyond the imperfect, damaged love that comes so easily.  In this condition such love remains, in part at least, a “love for me,” a self-love in which I go out of myself just to take hold of what I love and to keep it for my own satisfaction– a love, in short, which is also part exploitation.  Insofar as love remains of this kind, it grows back in upon itself, frustrated from its proper outward orientation and blossoming-forth.  Only a love that has been purified of this imperfection, as free of the alloy of exploitation as possible, can begin to see what it loves without the damaging factors that have given love the false name of “blind.”

This kind of love, though it acknowledges its need for the one it loves, does not thereby reduce the beloved to an object of exploitation for its own satisfaction.  Rather than oppressing or disfiguring the beloved in this way, such love first gives room for the beloved to be as she is—to show herself forth as she truly is, not as selfish intrusions would objectify her.  This first step of “going out of ourselves,” then, does not reach out to exploit what we love but instead watches and waits with attentiveness, even with reverence.  The first step of love is not a step forward but rather a step back.

This reverential letting-be, in which the lover sees what she loves as it shows itself, involves a recognition of what is loved as purely given– whether it be a moving musical masterpiece, a beloved spouse, or the Giver of all that is good.  Ultimately, to gaze with loving eyes (true-loving eyes, that is, formed by a love purified of self-love) is to see the truth about what we gaze upon, to recognize it as gift, as sheer gratuity and thus as beautiful.  This goes for all things but holds true in a particular way for that particular kind of love which is romantic: in the midst of the myriad imperfections and flaws that damage our actual loves, in itself this kind of love embodies with radical intensity something of the reverence, the wonder, and the awe which arise from recognizing things as gift.  Through this kind of love, unique in how vividly it impresses itself upon so many of us, one person begins to see the irreplaceable beauty and splendor of another—the full richness and goodness of the creature God creates in love.

We might say this represents the only true way to know something as it really is, as loved into being by God.  Since our own acts of knowledge are themselves but the faintest retracing of God’s own knowing the created order into being, and since this act of God’s knowing is the same as the one act of God’s love, we only begin to know things as God knows them—as they are in reality—insofar as we begin to share and participate in that loving-knowing-creating which is God’s one eternal act.  Real knowledge, then, is not a matter of some imagined neutrality (coldness)—all too often a mask for the will to power, for the desire to exploit—but rather of reverence before the face of the beautiful, gratitude for the gift, love for a beloved creature of God.  The philosophical traditions of the West have posited two categories for things, corresponding to the different ways we relate to them as objects of knowledge: sensibilia— sense-ables, things we first come to know through our senses– and intelligibilia— intelligibles, things we come to know only through our abstracting intellect.  With this insight about love, however, we might say that both meet as amibilia— lovables, to be received and cherished in gratitude because recognized as the sheer good gift of God, who alone is Creator of both “things visible and invisible.”  To know a thing rightly requires us above all to be able to see through eyes that recognize things as unmerited gifts, gratuitous expressions of God’s bountiful love.

For human beings united in a bond of love, this recognition of gift means each is constantly re-discovering the other, reawakening to the amazement of first recognition.  Here our relationships, fallen but redeemed by Christ, can at their best echo something of that vision of Beauty Himself, in which the blessed are ever discovering anew greater depths of God’s love.  Just as true lovers are drawn toward each other through the transcendent Third who sheds His love upon them both, the blessed are ever drawn out of themselves in ecstatic abandon toward the God who by His love makes all things new.  Far from being “blind,” love alone lets the scales fall from our eyes so that we can contemplate the truth, wherever it is found, in ever greater depth.

What’s with the veil?

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Ever asked that question, or heard it asked?  I’ve done both–as well as quite a bit of research on the topic in order to find the answer.  I’ll try to condense it here in bite-sized pieces and a Q&A format.

So, really.  What’s with the veil at Mass?

My standard short answer: because I am in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Implication: God is truly present in the Eucharist and deserves every respect.  By veiling my head, I humble myself before Him, as is appropriate.


Doesn’t that make you feel inferior?  Men don’t cover their heads.  They take their hats off.  Why shouldn’t they cover their heads too?

Excellent question, albeit a little common.  It does not make me feel inferior–I’m simply fulfilling my role as a member of Christ’s Body, the Church: the Bride of Christ.  Men, while also part of the Church, are more like Christ by their very nature (that nifty little genetic thing called “XY”).  This does not mean that men are inherently any holier than women, or more faithful, or anything of the sort–simply that, by nature of being male, they are more like Christ.  Because Christ is the Head of the Church, men leave their heads bare.  Women, on the other hand, are representations of both Mary and the Church–the Holy of Holies.  This gives them a degree of sanctity which men do not have, since women–like Mary, the Mother of God–are female.  They are inherently mysterious creatures (ask any man and I can guarantee he will vouch for this–even if it is phrased as, “well, I don’t understand them, if that’s what you mean” because that is EXACTLY what I mean) and that which is  mysterious is hidden.  Hence why women hide themselves before their Almighty God: the veil is an external sign of an inherent and transcendent truth.  The veiling of a woman’s head is a profound representation of the unique femininity and sanctity which they possess.

But men and women are equal.

Equal–but different.  Now I don’t mean “separate but equal” (I know you’re thinking that, history-buffs.  I swear there should be a Godwin’s Law for slavery.) but, quite literally, “equal but different.”  I am completely equal to Quill in dignity (I have a soul, so does he; I was created by God in His own image, he was too) but absolutely different (think physical, chemical, genetic, spiritual, emotive, etc).  You cannot expect men and women to be exactly the same–they simply are not created for that.  (Plus, the world would be a much more boring place, if you think about it.)

If men are like Christ, and women are only like the Church, doesn’t that still make women lesser?  Christ is GOD.

Yes, and the Church is the Bride of Christ.  In matrimony, the spouses are equal in dignity.  Because Jesus IS God, and the Church is His Bride, and the components of the Church (all of us) were made in His Image, we share in His profound dignity.  I am not saying that the Church is equal to Christ –not remotely.  But Jesus condescended to us and became human, and all humans, as God’s creatures, made in His Image, are equal in dignity.  Therefore, the Church and Jesus are equal in dignity and this does not make women lesser.

So you don’t cover your head in the presence of men, and you don’t cover all your hair.  Right?

Right.  Those specific veiling requirements are both associated with Islam, not Catholicism.  Sadly, however, the practice of veiling is often solely associated with Islam and rarely (if never) comes to mind when referring to the post-conciliar period of Catholicism.  Some women opt for what my family affectionately refers to as “doilies”–small circular veils pinned atop the head.  I frequently wear a simple hat instead of a veil at many churches because veils are so infrequently seen that I do not wish to distract my fellow Mass-goers.

Where do I get one?

Catholic stores, online… some bloggers make them and sell them.  I’m hoping to create a list of Catholic artists and post them into a separate page on the site, so if you make veils or rosaries or artwork, send me a link and I will make sure you are represented!