NYTimes op-ed has a piece The Flight from Conversation by Sherry Turkle. Here’s
some of her point:

In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being
in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough
of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we
can control: not too close, not too far, just right. I think of it as a
Goldilocks effect.

Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the
self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can
delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much,
not too little — just right.

Human relationships are rich; they’re
messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with
technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this.
But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that
over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

We
are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to
a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook,
all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and
friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for
conversation.

We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite
is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely.
If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be
lonely.

I remember after Facebook for a year, it seemed everybody who met and
had a conversation had to add each other on Facebook. It seemed reasonable
if I can assume to see the person regularly that adding eachother on FB
made sense. But I realized I was more concerned with people on FB halfway
across the country, while ignoring my next door neighbor, my classmate, and
everyone else. It was easier to pretend the world in front of me was
irrelevant than the allegedly self-affirming text message from somebody
that never reached the real depths of real affirmation.

The piece also introduces the idea that we flee to social media in order
to escape or cure loneliness. Loneliness is incurable really. In some way,
we are all alone, and we have to learn how to be ourselves alone, without
having the incessant need to hover from one shallow interaction to the
next. I know it sounds cliche, but we need to accept ourselves first.

Obviously, she does not address prayer and meditation, which are
activities that we can cultivate our alone-ness. I believe that some people
are called to be single, and some called to be celibate, to disclose the
fact that we as humans are all born, and all die alone. You won’t whither
into a eccentric geriatric merely by balancing your rich conversational
socializing with deeper richer genuine alone-ness.

shallow social network connection in exchange for rich conversation

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In Health news, Teens are more depressed, anxious, and paranoid then
ever
. If I were to describe my life as a teenager, I would say I was
depressed, anxious, and paranoid. I do not know the degree by which it can
be measured, or if it was strong enough to merit medication.

Many of the assumptions behind this, is that the economy is effecting
young people in a negative way. Perhaps it is, perhaps there is more stress
and tension around the house. I think that I was 17 before I paid attention
to the news. I have no reason to believe that the average teenager is
concerned about news on a global or national scale. I was too overwhelmed
by the difficult things happening in and around me. Many teenagers are
oblivious to the magnitude of the financial crisis over the past year,
because they are attuned to be reared in a little endless entertainment
bubble. I do not think that this was an exception for me, even if we could
not afford as many state of the art entertainment products as many of my
neighbors and friends. Some quotes from the article deserve a look.

“We have become a culture that focuses more on material
things and less on relationships,” said lead researcher Jean Twenge, author
of “Generation Me” and an associate professor of psychology at San Diego
State University. Twenge said this focus is affecting mental health on a
societal level…

The researchers cannot say for sure which societal changes are behind
this change, but looking at students’ responses concerning things like the
importance of money or the value of family and personal relationships,
researchers say an increasingly materialistic culture is likely at
fault…

And we “might need to re-think preventing and treating depression,”
Burmeister said… If increased materialism and decreased community are
really to blame

The most likely culprit of teenage depression is that changes in our cultural values are making them more anxious, depressed, isolated, and stressed-out.

Jezebel, which is the sexy feminist sex online mag, is shocked and flabbergasted at oversexualized sexy “lad mags” like FHM, and the like… because, well, they don’t have the moral courage comparable to a rapist. Check out the article here.

There has been this narrative, which has become an unquestionable infallible dogma in our society, whereby which, all naysayers will be ostracized as prudish and sexually repressed… And what is it? “You must submit yourself to the almighty power of your pelvis!”

Intermingled with this date-rape-drug cocktail, is the unreflective and subconscious anthopological assumption that has been beneath many perspective of young people: You are nothing more than a monkey, therefore just give yourself totally and unquestionably to all of your appetites!”

Okay, for those of you without a sense of humor, this is called hyperbole, and I hope it has at least caused you to think critically about issues that pop-culture and academia forbids you to think critically on. If at least, you can think that you are more than your sexuality, this should be a reason for you to think so.

The standard, or the paradigm, of our sexual-self-image hinges upon where it stands in relationship to the rest of ourselves. I think that the old narrative, the narrative of memory that is alluded to by all the adults of our chattering class, is that our sexual-self-image is either irrelevant, or at least absolutely and completely shameful and despicable. So, we swung to the opposite extreme, where shamefulness is forbidden, and we have all kinds of twentysomethings depressed hooking up, etc. And the effect is different for girls and for boys. Girls hate themselves, get eating disorders, etc. if they do not measure up. Boys, on the other hand, learn to worship the sex-goddess image incarnate in whatever oversexualized pop diva maxim magazine pays homage to, and are thus, being trained to be incapable of seeing women as human beings.

I could really go on, but for those interested in actually thinking, instead of just doing whatever your public school teachers, your favorite rapper, and the mainstream media are telling you to think, then give this a look, and a thought. The narrative of unrelenting sexual expression is inherently and deeply flawed, insufficiently human, and contributing to a culture where harm is not only acceptable, but mandated.

According to a new study, people can’t tell the difference between quotes from British “lad mags” and interviews with convicted rapists.

Tuesday, the Washington Post covered a story on Christian Hip Hop at Church. The article can be found here.

A few claims were made in the article that were worth considering.

Embracing hip-hop as a means of reaching young people who are turned off by the traditional church does not compromise one’s faith.

I thought it could be obvious that Hip Hop is not contrary to Church, in the same way any cultural art expression is. It goes without saying, for myself, hip hop only led me closer to God.

“When we think about the original prophets and how they were telling their stories, hip-hop is really the story about a community,” said the Rev. Ciara Simonson, a Howard graduate and an associate minister of Michigan Park Christian Church in Northeast Washington.

Can God speak through Hip Hop? Would the prophets use Hip Hop? I believe so. I believe God loves us enough to speak to us in a way that makes sense, by a means that we will hear. A lot of hip hop artists use the term ‘dropping science,’ referring to the art of speaking wisdom poetically, whether for the sake of educating the youth or inspiring social change. Therefore, a lot of Hip Hop music is actually parallel in its goals as the Prophetic and Wisdom literature of Sacred Scripture.

Ward said the church has been slow to allow contemporary expressions of worship.

There are often debates about whether Hip Hop can or should be used in Church. Usually, proponents of it are people who just don’t get hip hop, who think that the choices of liturgical music should be focused on outreach. As a lifelong hip hop fan, I believe I would be more offended if I were to come across it, not merely because, as some people think, it appears to be irreverent, or lacking in beauty. The paradigm of almost all hip hop music is more like a lecture then praise, worship, or adoration. I wonder if it may work in the sermon in some settings. For one, like a hip hop show, the fans, or the congregation are more apt to praise the rapper, then God. In addition, I think synthetic music in Church is problematic, when natural music can be used.

It is not that hip hop is lacking in any spiritual element, it is that the majority of consumers of popular rap actually consume some of the most vulgar rap music, and therefore will likely be turned off by the use of hip hop music in Church. For the consumer of a hip hop form truer to the culture, like myself, we have such a high standard of hip hop, that when the Church exploits mediocre music for ‘the glory of God’ it feels more shameful then anything. It is a delicate balance, that purveyors of outreach, I cannot imagine, could actually successfully execute as genuine worship befitting God, Most High.

Finally, as a practitioner and critic of Hip Hop music, I imagine that Hip Hop as worship/liturgical music wouldn’t only be a failure of Worship music, but a failure as Hip Hop music. For the most part, I imagine a handful of 40-50 somethings who want to clap their hands to the rhythm wanting to subject a bunch of teenagers to lousy Hip Hop music, thinking it will appeal. SMH. Unfortunately, quality Hip Hop music does not have mass appeal, nor does it have Mass appeal.

However, this article, nor the people quoted, do not actually explicitly say that Hip Hop music is appropriate for Church. I think the issue merits a discussion

“We really have a message of hope,” said The Ambassador, a.k.a. William “Duce” Branch. “Anyone can feel like a misfit, but we want people to know that God has a solution.”

“…the hip-hop generation needs the church, because while hip-hop is an expression, it is the church that heals.”

In my experience, hip hop only goes so far, and God has to do the rest. Hip Hop is a gateway, a means of sorts, that can lead one to God. Augustine admits that Platonism became a doorway in which he had to pass in order to accept the Christian God.

Washington Post, Hip Hop, Theology

A woman saw me the other day, and commented on how hip my dress is.  I typically wear Vans or Chucks with my habit.  In this case, I was wearing solid black jeans with my Priest Collar shirt, and a stylish Sweatshirt.  Of course, that has more to do with Fashion, then with Homiletic Content.

Most people don’t go around saying “We want our Priests to be more fashionable!!!” Even the most materialistic, superficial sorts. Nobody stops going to Church because a Priest is not fashionable or hip. Priests tend to have a certain amount of leeway. On the other hand, most people don’t have experiences with priests who go overboard with trying to be hip, fashionable or relevant. Since it is so infrequent for a priest to be touching on pop culture at all in a homily, most people will not be thinking “Here we go again.”

Gaudiem Et Spes tells us to “Read the Signs of the Times.” That might mean being knowledgeable about what is popular. Some people think it means changing Church Teaching to Keep up with what is relevant. I think that it means understanding what is beneath people’s yearnings, and finding what in our tradition speaks to that, or finding a new way to communicate the Gospel to that. In reality, I believe that God & His People already have what is necessary to the human heart, it is usually that we don’t know the right way to say it. an example would be to find an instance in a recent film, like Iron Man, and finding something that mirrors our faith, then highlighting that aspect of our faith that really matters.

In this case, a priest refers to Jersey Shore. The writer is not interested in Jersey Shore analogies in homilies.  I wouldn’t be either.  Although, I do believe, by and large, we need not always be dependent on appealing to the “New Thing.”  I mean seriously, don’t we have a wealth of knowledge, tradition, mysticism, and doctrine to appeal to as well?  Further, there are just some things in our Pop Culture that are just disgusting, and I would find it insulting to think that a priest is trying to appeal to my level or tastes using something as disgusting as Jersey Shore (or MTV for that matter). The Priest is insulting me, myself and perhaps the entire Church by going that low.

Is being a Hip Priest Overrated?

yes

there is a missing stat there, it should say 100% of sisters and nuns and consecrated women are awesome!

59% have a Bachelor’s Degree

Today’s sisters and nuns are like really smart.  There was a time when you entered the convent without much of an education, and it would have been standard for your average woman entering marriage.  Truth is it is typical for your average woman to marry after receiving a college education and career, same could be said of those going into the convent.

…19% Asian… 10% Hispanic… 14% Foreign Born…

By and Large Religious Orders in this country are diverse… in fact increasingly more diverse than your average Catholic Parish community.  I think people will look to us to witness the best way to live in harmony with those who you are different from.

20% participated in a World Youth Day

that is to say maybe twenty percent are youths? lol.  World Youth Days are having a tremendous effect on Vocations.

65% regularly prayed the Rosary, 64% regularly took part in Eucharistic adoration.

I do believe the more we foster the Rosary and Adoration, the more we will foster vocations.  I would probably include stuff like Lectio, and Liturgy of the Hours, although it is not to say that all women religious who are validly called express that in their spirituality.  But it Adoration and the Rosary are clearly significant factors.

51% reported that a parent or family member discouraged them from entering religious life; 26% of moms and 16% of dads encouraged them to consider a vocation.

This is significant.  More than half of women considering are encouraged.  To me that means that any young woman I would meet who is considering or decided on that, I would make more of an effort to specifically encourage them.  I would even want to do more to lend support to them in their discernment.  Something wonderful happened to me when God called me, and affirmed my decision to give everything for him.  The most amazing thing I could ever share with somebody is to consider the decision likewise.

It would be good for you to consider being more encouraging of your friends, and eventually children to the wonderful world of religious life.  Even if you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you are not called, you would do yourself good, young women, to get to know a Women Religious, Sister, or Nun, or get to know a community, so that you have no apprehension should your friend or daughter consider such a calling.  Whats the worst that could happen?  I mean seriously?  God could call you to give up everything, and you find heavenly joy in following God without reserve?  I mean what is the worst that could happen?  You could find sublime fulfillment in doing God’s will even if it is subversive to our pop culture paradigm…

39% were encouraged by a parish priest…

Let’s hope that I am one of those 39%… There are more girls I know that I would wish to consider it that I am unsure how to tell them lol!

Some stats on Today’s Sisters and Nuns… BTW did I say they are AWESOME!

I did a study this past spring on the oversexualization of teenage girls, based on a report of task force of the american psychological association (found in the link)…

And find, that, unfortunately, a lot is being said on bullying, but not a lot is being said on the oversexualization of teenage girls.  unfortunately, I have met too many young and attractive girls who have admitted to hating themselves, and having eating disorders.  So I did this study, and presentation in honor of them…

I found that, teenage girls were more likely to be depressed as a result of body image then boys.

Self consciousness was way more likely to interfere with their ability to perform at their capacity in school, then with boys.

Girls are targeted by the media, more then anyone, to objectify themselves.

Teenage girls, are probably under more pressure, from school, from their family, from their peers, from extracurricular activities to be overly concerned over their body image, then could be humanly possible.

Of course, don’t get me wrong, there are several young women who may have never been effected, and none of this ever got to them.  But I guess if one poor teenage girl has ever had a broken heart, felt alone, or hated herself, it does need to be addressed.

Unfortunately, there have been several teenage suicides, linked with bullying, and the sharing of explicit media that would ruin the reputations of teenagers.  The sad thing is, that the teens themselves create their own embarrassing videos and pictures, and the teens or share them with friends don’t have a conception of the long term consequences.  And people want to do something to stop the bullies.

But, are any of these people asking if the proliferation of internet porn is putting pressure on teenage girls to look like the porn models their boyfriends look like?  Is anybody asking if the amount of oversexualization of teenagers in television shows is lowering the bar for how much faith we have in teens to do the right thing?

It is very easy to point fingers at the mean people, the bigots, and the insensitive jerks out there… I don’t know that it is as easy to point the finger at ourselves for the way we, as a culture, have encouraged teenage promiscuity, libertarian use of pornography, birth control and the like.  How many of us have been daring enough to tell a teen, that we have faith enough in them, that they can live a sexually healthy chaste life by God’s grace…

teen suicide, bullying, and body image on adolescent girls