On all this chivalry stuff

Honestly- I don’t care. I’m not particularly bothered by cultural norms that teach politeness, nor if politeness in American culture (especially the South) dictates a bit of extra niceness to women. Who knows, it could help make up for, I don’t know, the rampant sexism in our society and maybe it could help teach people that, women are people too and not pleasure objects or whatever. If it floats your boat and helps you in your pursuit of virtue have at it, and yeah, it shouldn’t be a completely blackballed term.

That being said, if you’re going to play this whole chivalry game, you respect not just certain kinds of women who are “feminine enough” to merit your graces, but everyone. That means you open the door for the models, the good Catholic girls, the tomboys, you offer your coat to the nerds, the feminists, the housewives, the athletes, you give up your seat the hippies,the i-bankers, the lesbians, the rude people- EVERYBODY. To do otherwise reinforces the really crappy ideas of “chivalry” and sexuality that came to a head post- Industrial Revolution.

(Like seriously-  think of the chivalry of the Victorian era and remember- it was this lovely sexual code that made it completely okay not only to give up your carriage or lifeboat to a woman, but also to annul a marriage because the husband found out that his bride had- egads!- PUBIC HAIR!!!)
And you do not hold them to some sort of standard of femininity, or see your actions as means of teaching this poor, wayward society what proper, Catholic, biblical gender roles… No. No, and No. You are polite and kind because it is the decent and charitable thing to do.

So: tl;dr- if you want to be charitable and polite, that’s fine. If you want to reclaim the word “chivalry” to reflect a just, equitable, and respectful society that’s great. But do not use your actions to wrestle others into their “proper place”, and do not mistake western cultural practices for God’s vision for humanity.

Kay? Kay.

Lessons in “Betrothed Love” That I Really Ought to Have Learned Before Now

Youth can be woefully ignorant, and young love perhaps even more so.  I like to tell myself that I may be less ignorant than others, but that’s a lie and we all know it- particularly my confessor.

Anyhow, after five months of engagement, here’s some things I’ve learned (most of which I’m positive someone told me already):

10. I have a lot of crap. And it’s a problem. And I have to move it into our apartment in six more months. That’s even more of a problem. This could have been avoided if I had heeded my papa’s biannual pleas for a closet purge. Or if I didn’t have a vocation to marriage and ended up going off to convent. Whoops.

Sweetheart? Aren’t you so stoked to be moving things for me?

9.The wedding industry is completely absurd- particularly the markup on food if it’s a “reception.” I think it might actually be cheaper to just take everyone out to dinner and just buy some handles of booze for everyone to share

8. Marriage has actually become about “celebrating the couple and their love” and not about community or family or, you know, the sacrament. #bigfamily/bigweddingproblems

7. I don’t like shopping and planning as much as I thought I did. I still like pretty dresses, though.

6. I really don’t understand why people would not get married in a church. All sorts of other philosophical and theological reasons aside- it’s SO much cheaper.

I don’t understand why the Church won’t let me dress like this for MY wedding

5. More ceremony ranting: being original is stupid. No one’s going to remember that you were the only one to have hand-made napkin rings, or that you had little mustache placecards on all their seats. Ever. They’ll think about it for about a day afterwards and when they run into you for the next six months, but that’s it. So stop freaking the hell out and spending your time on so many random details when you could be, oh I don’t know talking to your fiance, writing friends, having a brewsky with other pals, having a life?

4. Really people? All I want is a little set of photos so that I can convince my kids that I was actually young once and scare my daughters by how much they look like me. I don’t want to go through this or heaven forbid THIS. (NSFW, dreadfully immodest, and just poor taste. You’ve been warned)

3. On that note, chastity is hard, folks. Really f’ing hard (pun totally intended).  Also no one out there in the chastity movement world really talks about it in a sane way. (Except JPII and a handfull of other sane folks. But then again they’re outside of the “movement” thing, and I digress)

3. I really want to be married (and no, not just for the reasons above). I’ve been surprised, however, by how much of a challenge it is to work on building a life with someone and then have to go back to your own home at night instead of curling up with him/her.

2. I’ve also been floored and humbled by just how much I still have yet to discover about my fiance- especially in our spiritual lives and in learning just how his mind works.

1. This whole idea of putting off marriage for reasons x,y,or z is just silly (assuming you have a vocation, want to make it work, blahblahblah).

I’m interested to see what I learn in pre-Cana.

Bold Claims: Soccer ed.

I’m super nervous watching the US-Guatemala game, and bummed that we’re in this position in the first place… I also don’t want to watch the debate.

In the meantime I’m going to take it upon myself to introduce a new feature: Bold Claims. The basic idea is something like this:

1) One of us makes a random bold claim

2) We use tongue-in-cheek evidence to support our assertion

3) Readers and other Babes try to knock it down

4) The original babe has to write an essay about the original topic. It must either support her original position, addressing all the (substantial) points made or may agree with the dissenters, but for a different reason. Snark permitted, and in no way does the bold claim or latter essay have to be something you actually believe.

Soccer is the most Catholic of all sports.

Evidence:

 

JP II We Love You!

Toddler Poo

After spending an evening dealing with it, cleaning it up, and having to deal with its stench, I’ve come to an earth-shattering conclusion, folks:

The Catholic blogosphere is like toddler poo:

Run away in horror now, while you have the chance

It’s usually soft, warm and squishy, and normally isn’t that big of a deal or mess. While it is the remains of real, much more nourishing, sustenance, and thus it isn’t always pleasant, it’s also not horrible once you get used to it, and it can tell you a lot about the health and state of your toddler/blogger/Church. Is it tired, is it getting enough nutrition, is it getting sick, is it about to have a breakdown, does someone need a nap or time-out?

The toddler/blogger and people close to him/her are pretty proud of whatever the maker produces, but when you try to show anyone else what was made, pretty much everyone else just smiles and nods so that they can get away and you can think they’re actually proud of you.

Normally, it’s packaged well and is easy to clean up, or -even better- you can just flush it straight down the drain. Occasionally, however, there’s an accident, and stuff gets messy. Normally this is an honest mistake- a miscalculation by an innocent kid or someone just trying to get the hang of it all, and you really can’t be mad at the cute little innocent thing. But once in a while, they just decide to s*** on someone or something you really hold dear- like your brand-new, really pretty and flattering dress.*

Oh, and there’s a lot of it. Loads. You’re welcome for our adding to the mess.

*Nate, buddy- when you’re old enough to read this, consider yourself very, very lucky. 

Story of a Saint

The first time I encountered the idea of sanctity being a thing that real people could actually do, I was a freshman in college doing readings for Spanish class. I was young, overly-engaged, liked being popular and probably caused way too much trouble in her local parish. Essentially, I was a teenager. But here, in the Life of St. Teresa was a nun- a saint- MY patron saint- who had many of the same characteristics, especially when she herself was a teen! She engaged questions about the self and our relationship with God and the Church- it also didn’t hurt that she was so gosh-darned snarky.

Today was her feast day. May we learn through her example to be total bad-asses. And also to follow the Christ.

It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is a great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies and have a vague idea, because we have heard it, and because our faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond and in the outer wall of the castle – that is to say in these bodies of ours.- The Interior Castle, First Mansion

Twenty-something Cultural Angst

Or: Addie rambles about her realizations working in the white-collar world

After moving into a new city and doing the whole non-profit thing for a few months (and therefore dropping off the map of the blogosphere-again) I think I can say I’m really not cut out for it- and I’m not really sure it’s good for society.

Now don’t get me wrong- I like my armchair theology and complaining about the culture as much as anyone else. But I’m wondering- what good is it all this complaining if we’re not forming a positive image of what the world ought to be? Some cultural projects do this- or at least get close to bringing part of the picture into focus: First Things, Fare Forward, and several other Catholic blogs come to mind.

The problem for this young, disillusioned woman is that most of the think tank sort of jobs are just not serving anything- or at least the good they serve is a vague idea. I’m not saying they’re wrong- and I think that they do a lot of critique that is necessary, because let’s face it- our culture is pretty damn screwy and unless someone speaks up and changes things, it’s going to hell in a handbasket.

I’m not quite willing to say there’s a problem with the system, because my job right now has me dealing with the nutters ALL THE TIME, and I can only imagine how much worse the nutters might be if there wasn’t a moderating force. Still, I wonder if we might be better off if some of us got out of our fat cushy armchairs and just served people: get your catechisis, get your education, and actually go do things. If you want to stop abortion- go set up a clinic. If you want to stop liturgical abuse, get involved on your parish or diocesan council. Blah blah blah. And yes- I know people already do this,  but is it more than those who just talk about it? Then again, this may all just be me realizing that I don’t have the personality type that can endure constant cultural commentary.

Looking forward, I don’t expect my next job to be amazing. I don’t expect it to be my life’s work, or to change the world. What I do expect is it for it to be doing something for someone besides myself, and for it to be helping me and my fiance.

Oh yeah, that’s the other problem- my job still doesn’t really pay.

10 (Completely Absurd and Innapropriate) Catholic Halloween Ideas

All Hallow’s Eve is only three weeks away! Still looking for a costume? Do you lack the professional makeup skills to be a zombie? Have you been an elf or Harry Potter character every year since you were eleven? Is being a vampire too trite, Mormon abstinence porn-y, or bloody ridiculous? Think that being a Sexy Ninja Turtle or Sexy Hamburger is just too immodest/absurd/insult to everything good and holy?

Fear not! The Babes are here to salvage your dreams of a spectacular Mischief Night!

10) Una Catrina– Because Mexicans know how to celebrate the Day of the Dead, ok.

Also it involves pretty dresses.

9) St. Polycarp: Assemble three or more friends willing to don a Magicarp costume. Replace the crown with a miter.

8) Go as America’s most infamous influential Catholic family, The Kennedy Clan! Be sure to include rum-running Joe and give periodic speeches on the separation of Church and state, how your Catholic consciences totally lead you to your positions on abortion, contraception, marital fidelity etc. Actually, no… on second thought, don’t do that- just look pretty and smile.

Extra points if you can pick up a Taylor Swift, Marilyn Monroe, or Terminator during the course of the night.

7) Women’s Liberation/Women’s Health: Dress up as a giant vagina or uterus, create handcuffs and chains out of condoms, smother yourself a pool of hormones and stick a copper rod through yourself. Meanwhile, yell at the top of your lungs about how all this is necessary to escape misogyny and male oppression.

6) Take the prettiest young Irish-American you know (come on- you know who he is), and… persuade him to go as Paul Ryan.

5) Scare the pants right off all the immodest women you see by going as a “pigeon-toed guy with a scaly neck”. (Note: This costume requires that one speak only in Latin.)

4) Stuff yourself and 40 of your closest girlfriends into a minivan and go as Nuns on a Bus!
Don’t forget your polyester, mumus, and copy of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican! (Extra points! Bring a Womynpriest! Or take your show on a boat!)

3) Remind the secular culture that persecution of the Catholic Church has its consequences! Don a mask, grab some gunpowder, dynamite, or other explosives, and walk into the nearest government building as Guy Fawkes!

Disclaimer: Babes in Babylon is in no way responsible if you’re actually stupid enough to do this. Also emulating cyberterrorists is a bajillion times cooler than actual terrorism- cyber or otherwise. Keep it safe and classy, folks

2) If you don’t get out much, have a pasty complexion, and like the idea of the Church Militant, consider a costume as an albino assassin priest- otherwise known as a member of Opus Dei (Dan Brown ed.).

1) Or for something truly terrifying…  LITURGICAL PUPPETS OF DOOM

Random Thoughts on the Ultimate “Un-Cool” that is Contemporary Christian Music

On First Things today, Peter Blair offers a plea to Christian artists out there to stop producing “Christian Art” and start making true art of real beauty if they want any hope of transforming our culture.

As I’ve been driving back and forth up and down the East Coast this summer, I’ve listened to may fair share of Christian music on the radio, and honestly, I’m confused by two things. 1) Why does it need to be called “Christian” music and 2) why “positive” or “encouraging” music a euphemism for the genre? And thus tonight I ramble on my confusion.

1) American culture is perhaps defined by its individualism- therefore, everyone can have a club for themselves, where their own subculture reigns supreme (I know, I know, we all know this). Yet, there is still some sort of “mainstream”- especially in the controlled markets of radio and cinema. So-called Christian music seems to mar both aspects of the Christian call to be in the world but not of it: instead of branching out to all persons and creating a catholic (small c) atmosphere that branches out to speak to all of society, it instead sings to those who are already “saved,” and instead of rejecting this American temptation to ghettoize and slant facts to fit one’s worldview instead of taking our fallen world as it is, and transform it by example- not just sticking to one’s own bright and positive bubble.

2) Ok, so since when has the Cross been “positive” and “uplifting” alone? What about the whole humility and penitence thing that comes along with Joy? Don’t get me wrong- are we called to rejoice? Of course! And is all Contemporary Christian Music all yippy-skippy all day every day?? Nope. And sure the Gospels and the Crucifixion and Resurrection are the most positive and glorious thing- indeed what redeems all that is sinful and base and all that! But come on: don’t make your celebration of those gifts so flat and boring and so gosh darn just BAD- at least if you want it to be enticing. The same can be said (and has been) about Christian movies such as Fireproof- and the marginally better Bella and There be Dragons.*
This ultimately may be why I’m Catholic and not Evangelical.

To be fair, our world could deal with a lot more positivity, a lot less sin, and an emphasis on truth and virtue. From personal experience, I can say that Christian music is pretty positive and peppy and at least isn’t an affront to morality. But it is an affront to good taste, and even one’s conscience if we’re willing to go out on a limb and claim beauty as a virtue as essential to the proper understanding of Truth.

*Yes, I went there. Eduardo Verastegui, eres guapisimo y tienes buenas intenciones. Pero Bella es demaciado “vanilla” y “preachy” para ser arte. Sorrrrry

All That Needs to be Said on “50 Shades”

I was going to write a full post on it, but seeing as I have not read the overhyped Twilight fanfiction book, I think I’ll let it speak for itself.

(Warning: the second video contains words pertaining to the female anatomy, and honestly gets old after about oh, 30 seconds. If you think it would be offensive or dangerous to your soul, by all means don’t watch. However, the first clip is a wonderfully tasteful rendition. I do think that they both highlight the absurdity and pathetic reality that something so base and crude and horribly, horribly written is a best-seller and turn-on. But that’s just me.)

A Brave Attempt

I was thrilled that Pixar was finally doing a movie with a female protagonist, much less a Pixar take on the princess story.  So, I rushed out opening day to see it with my little 3-year-old cousin, and I cried. So did my uncle and everyone over the age of three. Seriously.

(The 3-year-old didn’t shed a tear, in case you were wondering. She just laughed and asked why things got boring.)

Then I saw it again.

I have to say I was disappointed, and for many of the reasons Steven Greydanus enumerates in his criticism.

Credit Michael DePippo

… Brave falls short of the greatness of Pixar’s best achievements. The mother-daughter relationship in the first act is too one-sided, detracting from a key reference later on to a side of their relationship that hasn’t been established. While Merida is certainly right to reproach herself in her dealings with her mother, the film could be clearer about what it thinks about the arranged betrothal and her method of dealing with it. Merida’s contrition in a key scene is somewhat undercut by the sweeping social experiment that follows, and her efforts to unravel the magical bind she has created aren’t as intuitive as they should be…

However, the little egalitarian in me was screaming for a different reason: instead of, at last, a balanced, strong female character or a balanced, complete family, or even, heck, characters that didn’t fall into popular cliches we got, well, Brave.

Most problematic are the family dynamics. Yes, there were two parents, and the father, King Fergus, is funny (actually, very much so). But he is also, frankly, a clown. Save for the prologue, King Fergus is completely useless for anything but a laugh in every single scene- and it’s not for a lack of opportunity. In the number of pivotal scenes in which he appears, the father has the ability to play mediator and hero, and has the chance to listen, bridge the gap between mother and daughter, unite the family, overcome his own pride, as well as the opportunity to play a key role in the film’s denouement. Instead, Fergus’s best scene is one where he imitates his daughter. 

Fergus’s general flatness coupled with the sheer buffoonery and incompetence of the rest of the male characters (save for the wee triplets, who don’t even talk) allows the film to fall into an old and cliched trope: Men are idiots.

While this silly portrayal does make Merida and Elinor seem more sensible, on the whole it does no favors to the female characters. In comparison to her husband, Elinor seems like a shrew, and is relegated to the role of the “strict parent”: she is the sole disciplinarian and a seemingly arbitrary rule-maker throughout the first half of the film. Merida, on the other hand, is naught but a teenager bumping heads with a mother who just doesn’t get it, and her life would be so much better if she were under her father’s humorous rule. When she needs Fergus to calm the civil war practically starting under the his nose- and needs him in a personal way as well- however, Fergus is of absolutely no help, and irritates the situation further with a wild goose bear chase. Instead, it’s women to the rescue: Merida (with a bit of help from her mother) steps in- all strong and brave and eloquent and understanding. This shallowness robs what could have been a truly magical transformation of its substance, leaving the audience with a flat and flimsy trick.

Frankly, I find this schema Brave sets up insulting both to men and women: I want the men in my life to be strong men. Not because I have some 50-Shades-esque desire for domination, or whatever, but because I know that to be the strongest and best woman I can be, I need to walk and fight with other strong individuals in my life- both male and female. True femininity – much less egalitarianism- can not be reached if my sisters and I have to take care of blithering idiots of husbands and brothers- much less sons.

True, the portrayal in Brave may not be this harsh or blatant (at least upon first viewing), but it’s the thought that counts. It seems as if Hollywood cannot find any way to affirm “girl power” besides taking all the men and replacing them with brainless castrati. I’m just disappointed that Pixar couldn’t escape this fate.

Yes, it is a gorgeous film visually, and I really cannot stress that enough- everything from the shadows on the forest floor to the richness and texture of the tapestries to the breathtaking panoramic views is beautiful.  However, even though it took two directors and over 7 years, I desperately wish it was what it could have been, which was SO much more than the film now showing in theatres. Brave could have been an interesting re-casting of the fairy tale. It could have been a sharp criticism of American culture mistaking independence for rejecting some our dearest relationships- particularly within the family. Brave could have been a phenomenal commentary on tradition and its organic progress and change. The scaffolding for such greatness was there- the plot and themes existing within the film could have supported such weight- and with just a few minor changes (and one character overhaul) Brave easily could have been a Pixar legend.

Instead it reduced itself to triteness and projection. It still pushed emotional buttons- it was a tear-jerker, but it lacked the depth of emotional growth and substantial change, as was found in Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3, Wall-E, even Up. It made me tear up because I’ve been a petulant teenage daughter at times, but because of the flatness of the characters and the emotional momentum that they take from the film, those warm fuzzies were only good for one show.

And so, it was a brave attempt, but at the expense of a false “strength” and a few good laughs, I’m sorry to say that Brave fell short from being the courageous, magical film it could have been.

Well, Here Goes

After long sessions of gchats, emails, and phone calls discussing what exactly is going on with our generation- we’ve decided to start a blog.

Pray for us, and if there’s anything horrendously inaccurate, heretical, offensive, crass, less-than-virtuous, or just plain wrong– let us know in the com-box. Or just pray for us. Or both, actually. We like pretending we’re actually talking to someone out there.