Mattingly on VT

I won’t try to add to the discussion of the VT tragedy, but I really like what Terry Mattingly has said:

This column was syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service on 04/18/2007

You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You know the shoe I’m talking about — the religion shoe. When the Virginia Tech University story broke, you began clicking from website to website, channel to channel, seeking information and, then, something more.

You’ve seen photos of mourners in pews, offering comfort and seeking solace. You know that believers will pray and that journalists will keep aiming cameras at them, because, that’s what Bible Belt people do. People in southwest Virginia put scriptures on big road signs and build huge crosses next to Interstate highways. They pray. It’s a good photo, but it’s just prayer. Right?

No, you’re waiting for a real religion angle to surface, a crazy one linked to violence and power. After all, religion surfaces in so many bloody stories these days.

Plus, you know there are politicos here inside the Beltway who are sitting, TV remotes in their hands, waiting to grade the candidates. Will Barack Obama get the tone right, with the right mixture of scripture and concern? Will Hillary Clinton look chilly? Will anyone in the GOP herd look both presidential and pastoral?

You know the pope will say something and that — no matter what he says about the mysteries of life and death, good and evil — it will appear in news reports as a naive cry for peace and for an end to violence.

Then again, journalists know that the Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University is up I-81 from Blacksburg. So maybe he’ll come to Virginia Tech and talk about jealousy, broken hearts and the sexual revolution. Or maybe Pat Robertson will say — something, anything. Then, on the other side, perhaps the atheist version of Robertson could call a press conference and say this tragedy is more evidence that life is random and without purpose. That would work.

You’re waiting to find out what video game the shooter played all hours of the day and night. Did he go to see the movie “300” one too many times? Was he driven by Satan or too many “Left Behind” novels? People on both sides of the sacred vs. secular divide need to know. You’re waiting to see if he killed more women than men. You want to know if the big massacre started in the classroom of an evangelical professor who once witnessed to the shooter and made him mad. You heard reporters say the shooter was Asian and you immediately thought: Asia? What part of Asia? What religion was he?

You’re waiting for something that points toward the source of this evil. Am I right? And if you remember the Columbine High School massacre, you may be thinking of that column that journalist Peggy Noonan — a traditional Catholic — wrote about the “culture of death” hours after that hellish day.

She wrote: “Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of sound and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar; they go through him again and again, from this direction and that. The sound from the television is a wave, and the sound from the radio. … The waves contain words like this, which I’ll limit to only one source, the news:

“… took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the show aired … said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide … is thought to be connected to earlier sexual activity among teens … court battle over who owns the frozen sperm … contains songs that call for dominating and even imprisoning women … died of lethal injection … had threatened to kill her children. … had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself … protested the game, which they said has gone beyond violence to sadism … showed no remorse … which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student … which is about her attempts to balance three lovers and a watchful fiance…

“This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody.”

You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. You want to know the eternal “why” in “who, what, when, where, why and how.”

I know that I do.

Terry Mattingly ( directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.

Being Right and Behaving Badly

I am in one the ‘liberal’ denominations that you hear about all the time. You know the one. In my view, when Anglicanism is done right, it is hard to beat the beauty and wonder of its liturgy and piety. My Holy Week was a prime example. Our church is of the orthodox and traditional bent and does not go along with the (breaking) winds of revisionist religion.

One common trait I’ve noticed, however, is that when conservatives become embroiled in the ‘culture wars’ of the church and the state, then something quite awful can happen. If you happen to hold the right views on a matter, then ‘all is fair in love and war.’ That is, we turn a blind eye to our own sin and our own sinners.

Therefore, our priests and heroes, if they are caught in grave sin, we think and say they are being ‘set up’ my the liberal elite. Our guys can steal and cheat and if they are called on the carpet then it is the ‘revisionist’s fault’ for exposing the wrongdoing.

Isn’t there another way? Are not the ‘culture wars’ just a convenient way to cover up our own sin? Isn’t it easier to see the speck in the other’s eye than the log in our own?

We need to call wrongdoing wrongdoing, even when the sinner is one of our own. And we also need to humbly get on our face before God and plead at the Table, “Surely it is not I Lord!”

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

While Holy Week can be exhausting, this is what I signed up for. I truly enjoy the Triduum and the journey to the great Passover of our faith.

I never tire of watching the faces of parishioners who participate in Holy Week. Two images were striking this go around. One was the tearful experience that so many of my folks had while venerating the cross on Good Friday. I saw in their expressions so much gratitude and thanksgiving–a rare attitude in our day.

The second image was the little girls (two of which were mine) in the back of the church dancing and ringing their bells while we were singing the recessional hymn (Alleluia, Sing to Jesus!).

I sometimes make Holy Week out to be a test of my piety and endurance, as if my holiness is contingent on my ability to ‘bring it’ to all the services.

But isn’t Holy Week about those two basic things: gratitude and Joy!? Our ability to be pious can never come close to Christ’s power over sin and death.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Harvard Abstinence

From Yahoo News :

By JESSE HARLAN ALDERMAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 22, 2:39 PM ET

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sometime between the founding of a student-run porn magazine and the day the campus health center advertised “Free Lube,” Harvard University seniors Sarah Kinsella and Justin Murray decided to fight back against what they see as too much mindless sex at the Ivy League school.

They founded a student group called True Love Revolution to promote abstinence on campus. The group, created earlier this school year, has more than 90 members on its page and drew about half that many to an ice cream social.

Harvard treats sex — or “hooking up” — so casually that “sometimes I wonder if sex is even a remotely serious thing,” said Kinsella, who is dating Murray.

Other schools around the country have small groups devoted to abstinence. On most campuses, they are religious organizations. Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have Anscombe Societies, secular organizations named after an English philosopher and Roman Catholic. True Love Revolution is secular as well.

Some feminists, in particular, have criticized True Love Revolution’s message.

Harvard student Rebecca Singh said she was offended by a valentine the group sent to the dormitory mailboxes of all freshmen. It read: “Why wait? Because you’re worth it.”

“I think they thought that we might not be `ruined’ yet,” Singh said. “It’s a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It’s a relic.”

Others on campus have mocked the group. Murray said his friends take pleasure in loudly, and graphically, discussing their sex lives just to taunt him.

“On campus there is such a strong attitude of pluralism and acceptance, but then it doesn’t extend to this,” Kinsella said.

In the student paper, The Harvard Crimson, columnist Jessica C. Coggins praised the group’s low-key approach and scolded Harvard students for their “laughter at the virgin.” She said students on the campus, which has 6,700 undergraduates, should “find a different confidence booster than making fun of celibate peers.”

True Love Revolution members say the problem starts with the university. They say Harvard has implicitly led students to believe that having sex at college is a foregone conclusion by requiring incoming freshman to attend a seminar on date-rape that does not mention abstinence, by placing condoms in freshmen dorms, and by hosting racy lecturers. (Harvard students have also launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring racy photos of undergraduates.)

“Sometimes that voice on campus is so overwhelming that students committed to abstinence almost feel compelled to abandon their convictions,” Murray said. He acknowledged he “slipped up” and had sex earlier in college but said he has returned to abstinence with Kinsella.

Dr. David Rosenthal, director of Harvard health services, disputed the notion that the university promotes sex.

He said students mistakenly think everyone on campus is having sex. The National College Health Assessment Survey, which included Harvard and hundreds of other campuses, found that about 29 percent of students reported not having sex in the past school year. For the 71 percent who are having sex, it is crucial to promote safety, Rosenthal said.

“Some students may have a feeling that acknowledgment is condoning,” he said, “and it’s not.”

It takes a lot of guts for these college kids to do this–I applaud them. What I find the most amusing is Rebecca the young feminist. The article says:

Harvard student Rebecca Singh said she was offended by a valentine the group sent to the dormitory mailboxes of all freshmen. It read: “Why wait? Because you’re worth it.”

“I think they thought that we might not be `ruined’ yet,” Singh said. “It’s a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It’s a relic.”

“That culture we have that values a woman on her purity.” What culture is she talking about!?