…the Power of a Little Foresight:
Along the lines of a TED talk (or an “idea worth spreading”), without actually being a Ted Talk (but still “an idea worth spreading”), here is a riveting You Tube presentation from a panel discussion of just two months ago at the University of Notre Dame. The topic is pornography. This talk is not done on an academic or theoretical level. These four panelists (two on the production side of the pornography industry and two on the consumption side) talk about the impact that pornography has had in their lives:
1. Donny Pauling– a successful producer of porn, eventually being offered a contract from Playboy to develop a lucrative new line- and how the industry not only ruined the lives of those he seduced into it (many young, naive 18 year old college freshmen), but also how it ruined his life.
2. Chrissy Moran– a model who earned $15,000 a month just from her pornographic website alone and was considered one of the most desired, ‘successful’ and beautiful porno ‘actresses’. She shares how she came into the business, what it was like in the business and how and why she got out. Her testimony dispels the common myth that women who do this do so freely and happily- and the myth that porn hurts no one because the women who participate are ‘consenting adults’.
3. Sam Meier– a married man who struggled with pornography for years, beginning in college. His testimony highlights the innumerable destructive consequences of simply viewing pornography. He talks about the degradation in his relationships especially with his wife (Beth)- how it almost destroyed their marriage and ruined his life. Sam now works to help other men who find themselves feeling compelled to turn to pornography
4. Beth Meier – Sam’s wife. She shares how pornography affected her own self worth (“Why am I not enough?” “Why does he tune me out and not want me but wants strangers?” etc. etc.) She asked for a divorce. Her testimony banishes the theory that porn is ‘harmless’ and hurts no one outside the viewer.
These are real people and real stories. As the gentleman introducing the panelists states, this discussion delves deeply into the topics of intimacy, freedom, power and longing-
According to one panelist, pornography is a $14 BILLION per year revenue industry, exceeding in dollar amount that of the NFL. The frequency of use of porn is higher than the frequency of use of iTunes. The statistics show that the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11, and brain studies show that it impacts neurologically — watching porn, scientific studies have shown, actually produces male brain shrinkage.
I found this so compelling. Please watch and share-
Other links worth checking out related to this topic:
-Watching Pornography Damages Men’s Brains- here.
Jason and Crystalina Evert (Their website, Chastity Project, here)
-Matthew Fradd’s site to help you overcome pornography. Includes a “battle plan”, “ask an expert” and “encouragement” – here.
Matt Fradd (His website is here)
Matthew was addicted to porn at a young age. Matthew is from southern Australia. At age eight, he found pornography in his grandfather’s shed and became “hooked.” By age 12, he was stealing porn from neighborhood stores, and by his teen years had acquired a vast pornography collection.
He commented, “No one had to tell me it was a bad thing. I knew it was shameful. I was hoping I’d grow out of it.” Matthew’s teen years were sad; he recalls how he dressed all in black and wrote suicide poems. His father discovered his porn collection, but only expressed mild disapproval.
In 2000, Matthew spent two weeks in Rome for World Youth Day, and was inspired to become Catholic. In the confessional, he admitted his addiction to pornography, and received mixed responses from the priests to whom he went. Some suggested it wasn’t that serious, but he recalls one who told him, “That’s a terrible preparation for marriage.” Matthew said, “That’s what I needed to hear. I didn’t want to justify my porn addiction, but admit that it was wrong.”
In fact, Matthew stressed, the first thing someone who wants to get away from pornography must do is admit that it is wrong, stop blaming others, and make a commitment to change. For Matthew, now 27, the struggle to be porn-free has been “brutal.” He related, “Every day I wake up and decide what kind of man I want to be. Purity is not a destination one arrives at, but a daily battle.” -From Catholic World Report, Jan. 21, 2011
-The My House Initiative: Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s anti-pornography effort – here.
-US Church Helps Ex Porn Star Come Back To Christ- here
“I don’t think they (people who watch porn) have the whole truth. I think that they are buying into the lie that the porn industry puts out there. . . because what you see on the video isn’t really what’s taking place. You know, you don’t see in between scenes where girls are physically sick because of the trauma … you know, you don’t see the porn stars out back snorting coke ….or getting high…trying to cope with it. You know, you don’t see the disgusting, gross stuff that goes on…the unhealthy conditions…what you see is just a small snippet…. on my first porn set the thought that kept going through my mind was ‘this will be over soon…this will be over soon…’ Once you’re done, you’re so relieved.”
“I suppose it (watching porn) would be an easy trap to fall into.… (but) Anyone who watches porn – even just clicks on the internet site- is actually contributing to the victimization and degradation of these women.”
“Drugs are a huge part of it (to numb and escape) and they drive you into a really dark, dark place.”
“After leaving the industry I actually went to a psychiatric ward because of the trauma I endured.”
-Christian Leader’s Dire Warning About Porn, Horror Flicks and Demonic Possession- here.
-Catholics Come Home- facts and help- here
-Integrity Restored- Helping Catholic Men Break Free from Pornography here
-Reclaim Sexual Health “Brain Science of Behavior in the Light of Faith” – here
-The Serenellians Catholic Apostolate is composed of lay and religious who dedicate themselves to combat the evils of pornography and assist those affected by it to bring hope, encouragement and strength –here.
-Porn: The Marriage Wrecker from Catholic Match – here
-Strengthen Your Marriage After Porn here.
-Rebuilding Trust in Marriage After Pornography: here.
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS :
“(the) porn generation (is) people 30 and younger who sit around and watch porn with their parents- but we just call it things like “Two and a Half Men”. We know what’s going on. They might have their clothes on but when you’re laughing about that sort of activity with your parents then it becomes easy to recruit you into porn….”
“We were very good at making it seem like it was their idea. ..Manipulation. I did that by telling them porn wasn’t for them when they first came into my office (but then) they’d be around my very lavish lifestyle…I started them off doing soft core and alone- get them used to the money then slowly (get them into harder things)… It was very easy to recruit.”
“I would slowly watch the lights go out (of their eyes). This isn’t the part of porn we like to see. We think this is the polished video..”
“On screen it is amazing and attractive, but we don’t see the girls curled up in a ball in a corner in a fetal position between takes or sucking their thumbs because their minds are so blown away by what they just had to do, or have to have surgery to repair damage done to their body.” – Donny Pauling, former porn producer of photography and film
A good society is a society in which it is easy to be good. By that definition, we do not live in a good society. With porn use at an all time high, the stability of families and our culture itself is threatened. Share this link. Share the video. Share the resources available. Support someone you know who struggles with pornography. If it’s you, today you can begin to a path of purity, healing and true joy in the ultimate enjoyment of sexuality that God intended. I’d like to close with a Bible quote from the Serenellian Catholic Apostolate website. More prayers can be found here. God bless you, your marriage and your family!
“When you come to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
undisturbed in times of adversity.
Cling to Him, forsake Him not;
thus, will your future be great.
Accept what befalls you;
in crushing misfortune be patient.
For, in fire gold is tested and worthy men
in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and He will help you.
Make straight your ways and hope in Him.
You who fear the Lord, wait for His mercy.
Turn not away, lest you fall.”
– Sirach 2:1-7
Thank you to TERESA TOMEO of Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection” for having me on as a guest this morning to talk about being “big hearted” and about my book BIG HEARTED: Amazing Stories for Everyday Families. She is so good at what she does and made me feel right at home.
I have been given many little treasures throughout the decades of my life. One of these is a little leather-bound (falling apart) book, Talks With Our Daughters by Sister Eleanore from 1925, and published by Benziger Brothers, printers to the Holy Apostolic See. I thought I would share some of the words from this little treasure here with you. I have not seen it anywhere else. I’m not sure it has ever been reprinted. The context is that this book was written for young ladies. Sister Eleanore was an educated woman with a Ph.D. who taught Catholic girls in school. She wrote a series of talks for their benefit. The language in Sister’s writing is somewhat formal, very much in keeping with other similar books of the day, but the message she shares is beautiful and timeless.
This first installation (Part 1) deals with giving girls an appreciation for their value and worth as unique individuals made by God. Sister gently challenges each to be her best self, and in doing so she offers an unique and unrepeatable gift to the world.
The quality of any race or people is determined more by its women than by its men. Men dominate in the wold of external activities, but emotionally they are influenced by women for good or for evil. Though the relations between men and women are freighted with illusion, out of this illusion come great virtues: chivalry, the magic of the home, and the hope of the nation. The teacher and friend of girls, therefore enjoys a privilege which brings with it a fearful responsibility. Along with their secular education, girls must be taught those religious principles upon which character is founded . The whole meaning of Christian living is contained in the two great commandments enjoining the love of God and the love of neighbor. It is the purpose of this little book to set forth in a series of talks some ways of observing these commandments in such manner as to aid the …girl, and perhaps others, in the development of character.
…Beauty, is not, as so many think, a mere external; it must come primarily and chiefly from within. Yet, it is possible so to permeate oneself with the beautiful that it becomes part of oneself, just as sunlight permeates air. There is no real difference between the air of the day and that of the night; yet the former is filled with light. In like manner is charming personality permeated with beauty of soul. In these days when the subtle powers of darkness have been loosed upon earth as never before, it is very necessary that the young woman face the light of truth and idealism and make her soul so clear and free from evil that this sunlight of beauty may shine through her being…
The first commandment of all is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy
whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with they whole mind, and with thy whole strength.”
When the long twilight shadows creep from the west across the world and the children of day begin to drowse, perchance, sitting alone in your room, you fall into pensive mood. The gloaming hour, drifting slowly downward in its mantle of darkness to which the failing fingers of the day still cling, brings the brooding sky so near that you can almost look beyond it. Through your window you see the faint tracery of the leaves against the heavens and you watch the stars come one by one into the blue. Mayhap you reflect that among those millions of leaves and stars no two leaves and no two stars are exactly alike. Perhaps your soul travels on the swift wings of your imagination to the remotest corners of the world, passing over the millions of people who may be, as you are, dreaming in the solemn stillness of this sanctuary hour. Possible you are arrested by the thought that among all these people there are no two persons exactly alike. What then, of you?
Generation after generation has lived and died upon the earth; generation after generation will live and die upon the earth. but you have never before lived among men, and another you never will live among them in the years to come. How wonderful then, how important is this first and only YOU…
….You ask yourself, In what are you so wonderful and so important? Modest though you be you must answer that the reason is in your very self, because you are infinitely loveworthy. Long, long before the first star was set int he firmament, long before the earth brought forth its first green herb, you existed in the heart of your eternal Lover. Everlastingly He has seen you as you now dream in this twilight hour. Eternally, as a lover must, He has watched over you, has joyed in your happiness, has sorrowed in your sorrow, has rejoiced in your success, has lamented in your failure. ..What a Lover is He! …In human love there is always the danger of instability. If you love in a selfish manner, you fear that your dear one may prefer another before you, you fear lest at some time there be some lack of confidence between you, you face the possibility that your ideals may be disappointed by some weakness in the object you regard…If on the other hand you love unselfishly, you (may have) doubts of yourself…In your natural wish to fill the life of your loved one with sweetness, you (may) lament your impotence. But your divine Lover can do all these things for you.
At every dawning a throng of little joys…run out from under the throne of God to brighten your waking hours. Among them may be some little griefs, with rainbow wings, because they know that they shall be treasured for eternity when their sad work of the day is done. The joys would far outnumber the griefs even if you were the saddest of men…
…God made this only YOU, first for Himself, then for your own sake, and finally that you might be of service to others. Since he has made only one YOU, he has designed for you from eternity a special place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, there is a special human life on earth that you alone can live, and there is a particular work in the world which you alone can do…
…In this quiet hour of meditation…enter into yourself and study your strength, your weakness, your abilities, your incompetencies. ..
Your Beloved…wants others to share His bliss in you. He therefore gave you intelligence, beauty, charm, in a word., He made you lovable…Have you, perchance, spoiled God’s handiwork in you? Have you failed to keep your beauty of soul and mind and body? have you allowed selfishness to destroy your charm? Have you developed your mind at the expense of your heart…? Ask yourself these serious questions.
If happily you have kept and augmented your intelligence and beauty and charm, have you allowed others to share them with you? Do you spend yourself that others may have joy in you? there is in you hidden loveliness that no one else can ever possess. Are you going to your grave without letting others see it? If you do, you will have deprived them of something which none but you can supply. A leaf is only a little thing, and yet the first leaf to fall from the tree mars the summer beauty of the whole…If one heart fails to contribute its individual gift to the spiritual wealth of humanity, the loss is not only irreparable, but of everlasting consequence.
Will you occasion such a loss? You may do so if you fail to speak the little word of kindness that means so much, if you fail to do for others the little deeds of self-sacrifice. The only road to happiness is the road of self-sacrificing service. If you think of yourself, as you should, only in terms of eternity, what will the transient trials of a day mean to you? If you waste no time in brooding over your difficulties, you will have more time in which to overcome them. You will have also more time in which to help others in their troubles. As you look back over the day that has just gone, you will see that the truly happy moments have been those in which there was the least thought of self...Today has gone forever, but you can look forward to the morrow. Night unfolds the earth and your twilight hour is ended. you must go to your work or to your play or to your rest. May the spirit of this hour remain with you then and always!
-Sister M. Eleanore C.S.C.,, PhD
photo courtesy of APKDad
Open your door?
They got that.
Hold your coat so you can slide in?
Real men still behave like knights in shining armor and there are, despite some ideas to the contrary, still plenty around. Moms and dads are training their sons even as I type….
Here is my latest from Today’s Catholic News: Chivalry is not dead with Catholic men….
You will not hear about this in many places. Please pray for Venezuela and share this video so others will know what is happening there. The video starts to mention that country around 4:45, but it’s worth listening to the whole video from start to finish, to get a good understanding of what is going on there, and also the dangers of socialism-
How is this relevant to every family who cherishes freedom?
When countries look the other way at the human rights violations happening right here in this hemisphere (government representatives, fully armed, attacking unarmed, peaceful students), that allows the evil and errors to fester and spread. To cherish our freedom, we must first pray for these people, second bring awareness about the situation, and third, do what we can to safeguard our own freedom.
Please pray for Venezuela!
The Mister and I just had a romantic dinner in the basement, served by two little girls. The main course was Fisher Price peas and pizza, real water from a sturdy, plastic teapot and Cheez-Its. We were entertained by music playing on daddy’s cell phone and the evening ended with a rousing rendition of The Village People’s “YMCA”. Yes of course we danced with the waitresses.
Planning doesn’t create spontaneous family moments like these; so often these special moments just ‘happen’, when availability meets creativity and openness. Even if we were to have tried to design this quality evening, likely it wouldn’t have come off like the spontaneous one did. “Mommy! Daddy! Come downstairs! We have a surprise!” interjected itself into my husband’s and my evening like an unexpected kiss. Planning is all fine and dandy but you simply can’t blueprint everything in real life.
Unprompted, sweet, relationship-building moments that occur from spending a quantity amount of time with those we love form the basis of daily family life. We often hear the phrase “quality time” tossed about, as though it were separate from quantity time, and something to be aspired to independently from abundant hours, days and weeks. In reality, however, quantity time trumps the often aimed-for quality time any day, for ironically when opportunities are plentiful quality time appears, and takes care of itself.
One of the best gifts Catholic (or any) parents can offer their children is the generous giving of their time. In forty years, it won’t matter to a child that his dad earned more than enough to purchase a huge entertainment center for the basement if by doing so it meant his father’s absence in working weekends, evenings and other spare moments. The extra vacation, boat or address in a premier neighborhood means less to a child than backyard ball tosses with Dad on a regular basis or the daily relaxed interaction with a present and loving Mom.
Many parents must work long hours to provide necessities for their families. They are to be admired. But there is a prevalent notion in modern society that certain things are necessities when in truth they are not. We must distinguish between the two. Some parents fall into the trap of thinking their children need more things than they really do: electronics gadgets, the latest and greatest toy or in-style clothing. The truth is, so long as a child’s basic needs are met, he is generally happy and will thrive. Luxuries like 4-H membership, swim team involvement, baseball or dance class can be good and enriching, for sure, helping a child develop his or her particular talents, but their importance is significantly less than simple one-on-one attention that a parent offers to his child. As we all know, true happiness and the ability to become one’s best possible self comes from nurturing, love and attention, not stuff, even good stuff.
Giving time is a challenge for sure. Beds must be made. Meals must be cooked. Clothes must be folded and clutter put away. Money must be earned to provide basic needs. But nothing is more important than scooping up the little one tugging at your sleeve, hugging her and showing her the bird perched out the window, and listening to the expressions of the little thoughts on her mind.. When children arrive home from school one of the parents needs to be there, waiting, ready for that quality time that might pop up anywhere, at any moment. Nothing says love like our presence.
Yesterday, I was reading a science book about earthworms with my 8-year-old daughter. My girl begged to put on our boots and go into the garden to dig. She wanted to find worms to put in a glass jar and observe. I didn’t want to go. I was comfortable. I had a schedule. It was wet and icky outside. I am not a fan of worms. But I looked at my daughter, imagining the day she’ll leave for college. I wanted to give her another memory and another token of my love in this fast changing life of ours. I said ‘yes.’ We sloshed through the mud surrounded by misty air and the smell of the spring earth. My daughter tried to coax the worms, “Come on little guy” as she poked gently with a stick. We giggled. We sang a few songs. Quality emerged from quantity. Again.
We parents give our children many gifts. We work hard to provide safe homes for them. Good meals for them. Warm clothes and learning experiences. This is how we demonstrate unselfish love to our children. In our parental caring, however, we should remember: the gift of our time and ourselves is actually the most thoughtful and best gift of all.
Originally appeared in Today’s Catholic News and Integrated Catholic Life, May 2013