Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today's post soundtrack:

It's only Tuesday, but this week's been one of those that has my head in a deep fog.

Tired isn't even really the word to describe what I'm feeling—fatigue, perhaps, but a spiritual fatigue.

Do you ever just feel yourself marinating in discomfort? There's a million prayers on your mind, and none of them are especially urgent, per say, but you just feel... uncomfortable. And you're just soaking in it... it's pruning your fingertips and penetrating your pores until it's all you can bear to think about. Get me out of this, you pray. Please release me from this funk. And yet, there you sit.

Fr. Mike Schmitz said in a homily a few weeks back that oftentimes, when one successfully identifies and addresses some major sin in his life that's keeping him from God, he finds that a bunch of other little things also keeping him from God will suddenly present themselves. It's probably that whole "scales on your eyes" thing... when you remove one or two, they all start to fall.

Which, let me just say, is a wonderful thing. It's something to celebrate. Just the same, it's also a recipe for ample discomfort—because when the scales fall, you're no longer ignorant.

And that's uncomfortable.

Ugh. Ughhh. That seems to be the sound I'm making most this week. And the word "lament" keeps coming to mind... I'm lamenting. I know I'm lamenting. I feel sorry that I'm lamenting.

So I googled "lamenting," because that's what I do when I keep thinking about stuff—I google it.

And our good Lord in all His glory gave me the response I needed—a sermon by Pope Francis from June of 2013, in which he said, "A priest I know once said to a woman who lamented to God about her misfortune, ‘but, madam, that is a form of prayer, go ahead with it.' To lament before God is not a sin."

He went on to talk about the third chapter of Tobit—when both Tobit and Sarah lament to God, praying for death in desperation. The Lord answered their prayers with blessings:

At that very time, the prayer of both of them was heard in the glorious presence of God.
So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the white scales from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see with his own eyes God’s light; and to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as a wife to Tobiah, the son of Tobit, and to rid her of the wicked demon Asmodeus. For it fell to Tobiah’s lot* to claim her before any others who might wish to marry her.
At that very moment Tobit turned from the courtyard to his house, and Raguel’s daughter Sarah came down from the upstairs room.

So let us lament.

Let us complain to God about our discomforts, because He hears them; and in His infinite perfection, He answers our prayers with the grace and blessings we need to move on from lamenting.

Today's The Feast Day Of St. Maximillian Kolbe. Here's What He Can Teach Us About Neo-Nazis And Antifa

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chris Stefanick posted a moving video this morning of himself standing in Auschwitz, telling the story of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, whose feast day is today.

His memory stands in stark contrast to the violence we saw in Virginia over the weekend, perpetrated by two groups of extremists that have made hateful rhetoric and actions central to the means by which they carry out their missions.

From the moment Virginia declared a state of emergency on Saturday, the steady stream of Facebook posts, tweets, and general commentary from everyone from politicians to personal friends has been almost overwhelming. It seems everyone has an opinion on who bears the greatest responsibility, and that's entirely fair—when a life is lost the way one was on Saturday, a national conversation surrounding what could've prevented it seems to be the only appropriate response.

All of that being said, I've seen hardly any mention of God or faith in any of these opinions. Of course we should condemn racism. Of course we should condemn violence. But what is at the root, here? Why is it that we're suddenly reacting so angrily—and violently—to differing viewpoints?

Most would tell you it's Trump, but it's not. I'll never forget the last-minute road trip I made with two friends down to Louisiana for the 2014 senatorial runoff election—we listened to tail end reports of Ferguson unrest for much of the way down. This was long before the Trump phenomenon, yet we've placed the blame for this sudden civil discourse entirely on his shoulders.

Has he contributed? I'm not sure. But here's what I can say with surety:

I'll never be convinced that violent, hateful unrest like what we saw on Saturday is anything other than the product of a lack of God in our society. A lack of peace out in the world is a reflection of a lack of peace in the hearts of those involved. When we meet aggression with aggression and violence with violence, we exhibit a lack of faith in Christ and a separation from the suffering and persecution He endured during His time on earth. The peace required to face such aggression with humility, courage, and love for other human beings can only be acquired through a genuine encounter with the Lord in our hearts. If we do not have that peace within, we cannot exhibit it out in the world.

Maximillian Kolbe is such a moving, remarkable example of this peace. Stefanick explains in his video above that during his time in Auschwitz, St. Maximillian volunteered to take the place of a husband and father who'd been sent away to starve to death in a dark, locked room. This faithful, humble Catholic priest had such peace in his heart that he met the aggression of the Nazis with the ultimate sacrifice—the offering of his life. And Stefanick adds that the Nazi Commander trembled in his presence.

St. Maximillian lived in that room, starving, for twelve days. The Nazis finally ended his starvation with a lethal injection that took his life. And other camp members who knew him and what he'd done responded to his martyrdom by singing hymns throughout the camp.

This is a man who knew peace in his heart. This is a man who knew the love of Christ.

We cannot and will not deliver our country from this violence without this same sense of peace and this same faith in God's love. On this feast day of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, let us remember that.

WARNING: Viral Video Of Parents Teaching Kids To Masturbate Is Just ONE Example Of Abuse On Youtube

Monday, July 17, 2017

I came across this article earlier today about a video that's recently popped up on Youtube of parents teaching their children to masturbate. Please don't go looking for it—it's already garnered over a million views and counting, and it's public humiliation of the absolute worst kind.

Youtube is a pretty dark place if you know where to look. There's a lot to be said on this topic.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to 'The Donald' Reddit page. While it's true much of what's trending there ranges from pro-Trump social media posts to obligatory CNN-bashing (and an occasional Seth Rich conspiracy theory), I came across one article in particular—about Daniel Tosh, of all people—that I've not been able to get out of my head.

Tosh did a segment on his show, Tosh.O, in which he uncovered a disturbing Youtube channel called "Seven Super Girls." At face value, the show could be seen as mostly-innocent—young girls taking part in bizarre activities that aren't so much overtly sexual, as much as they're sort of strange and confusing. A kid—say, between the ages of 7-12—might find the videos funny.

But Tosh points out that, in looking closer, there's not a chance in hell its kids who're racking up billions of views on these videos.

Tosh points out that The Beatles' video, "I Want To Hold Your Hand," has 13.7 million views.

One of the most popular "Seven Super Girls" videos, titled, "Lucy's Morning Routine," has 137 million views.


Here's his clip:

I've watched this segment all of twice and it makes me so sick, I can't get it out of my head.

These girls are being exploited—and by their parents, nonetheless, who are, in most cases, either directly involved with the filming and production of the videos or are auditioning their young children out to the people who are.

Why? Because once you surpass a certain threshold of views and channel subscriptions on Youtube, assuming you're not breaking any copyright laws by using music or video you don't have rights to, the video-streaming giant will pay you for every video you post.

Yes. You read that right. Parents are auditioning their children out to these sick video production channels because they're making major dollars in the process.

And this isn't anything new. Just a few months ago, a Maryland couple was arrested and had their children taken from them because of the mental torture they'd been performing on them as part of their Youtube channel, DaddyOFive.

The channel broadcast the abuse under the guise of "pranks"—but these weren't kids playing pranks on kids or adults playing pranks on adults. These were two adult parents publicly humiliating their children and recording it for the world to see. Naturally, because we live in a sick, disgusting place, these videos also racked up huge numbers of views.

Here's the video they issued as an apology:

And now, we arrive at this article I found today—parents filming themselves teaching their children how to masturbate and posting it online.

It should go without saying that I'm not going to link to it. These sick, deranged parents would only make money if I did.

Aside from all of the obvious issues we should have with what's happening in this video, I'm more disturbed than anything at these parents' willingness to exploit their children's innocence and essentially place them directly in the hands of people who will abuse it.

It's a parent's role to protect his/her child. Pope Francis talks about this in his encyclical on the family. He says that the family unit is meant to be reflective of the love God has for his children. A parent's love is meant to be an earthly reflection of the love has for each of us—that is, unconditional love absent of rejection, selfishness, or abuse.

Obviously, we live in a broken world. We live in a world befallen by sin, where there's no perfect love and no perfect people, and sometimes lives don't look the way they should. But there is no excuse for what these parents have done, and continue to do, to their children.

The devil does his best work when he successfully coerces us into corrupting the most innocent members of our society.

And we're seeing this constantly now—children who are allowed to dress and behave like the opposite gender because someone, at some point, put it in their heads that they "feel" this way. And parents going so far as to give them hormone therapy medication before they've even hit puberty.

There's a reason that we have laws to protect children from engaging in sexual activity before a certain age. And there's a reason that mentally-healthy human beings physically recoil at the thought of child pornography and child sexual abuse—because it's wrong. It's unnatural. It goes against our very existence as human beings to engage a child in something that their sweet, new, innocent minds cannot understand or comprehend.

And the worst part—the very, very, very worst part—is that hardly anyone talks about this.

Tosh's segment aired months ago—MONTHS AGO—and it's gotten virtually no coverage otherwise (aside from Reddit—some seriously good dudes are on Reddit, I'm convinced).

These "Seven Super Girls" accounts continue to post videos EVERY DAY and they're there for any pervert who's looking for them, right in plain sight. And for every pervert who clicks on any of those videos, a little girl's parents are heading straight to the bank.

This is sick stuff. Lord, does our world need prayers.

The Monika Lewinsky Effect: Questioning Our Approach To Kathy Griffin's Controversial Image

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The morning that Kathy Griffin released the photo of herself holding a bloody mask of President Trump, I was watching Monika Lewinsky's 1999 interview with Barbara Walters (I literally cannot even remember how this happened—I fell down a very deep Youtube hole, idk). One of links that Youtube recommended when the 80-minute interview was over was Lewinsky's much-more-recent TED talk on cyberbullying, and the role her story played in how we use the internet today (she refers to herself as "Patient Zero" of the internet crucifixion culture we've grown accustomed to since then).

So as I've observed coverage of Griffin play out, and as I watched her apology video, and then her press conference, I've been thinking a lot about Monika Lewinsky. Lol. I know, maybe bizarre.

But there is something to this.

Kathy Griffin took her situation to the next level last week when she cried at the podium of a nationally televised press conference over the consequences of her own poor decision-making skills.

A lot was said that wasn't true, much of it by her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who's a famous (infamous?) civil rights lawyer, most recently known for her public take-down of Bill O'Reilly on Fox News.

But there was also a lot said that did have truth to it—claims to Griffin's right to free speech, for starters. And what I'm about to say will inevitably be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out: as Americans, we should not pride ourselves on our freedom of speech if we do not also enact it.

Here's what I mean:

A number of conservative speakers have been forcefully denied access to college campuses because of pushback by the universities, kicking and screaming (and in some instances, more serious violence) by protestors, and a general blowback on the internet for their message and ideas.

And the conservative side of the aisle is (rightfully) critical of this. They say liberal university administrators and lefty activists are stifling people who have a right by the First Amendment to say whatever it is they want to say when they're invited to speak at these campuses. Conservatives say that denying them that right is an attack on the American values we hold so dear.

I'm willing to make the argument that Kathy Griffin could and should be lumped in with the Ann Coulters, Ben Shapiros, and Ryan T. Andersons of this narrative.

Griffin is the most recent subject of this trend in our country that's stamping out the First Amendment. True to her grotesque sense of humor, Griffin created an image that offended the vast majority of people who saw it. It's clear some people were not offended, however, because just as she took the image down, it had already garnered thousands of retweets and shares on social media (everyone knows a retweet presented without comment is totally an endorsement, come on). Now I, in absolutely no way, support or agree with the image she made—nevertheless, her right to make it is protected under the First Amendment. By way of the law, she did nothing wrong.

That didn't stop social media users, and politicians, and journalists, and the Trump family... from calling for her to be fired from her job, dropped from her contracts, and boycotted pretty much across the board. And I suppose that just as Griffin owns a right to free speech, so do all of the people I listed above. They're free to pressure CNN to do that. But just the same—is it right?

I don't agree with Kathy Griffin, nor do I especially like her... but does that make it right to assault her via the internet the way so many of us did? Here's where I think of Monika Lewinsky, who's been the butt of jokes on the internet before the word "meme" was even in the dictionary. There is so much power in the small gesture of a keystroke. We wield so much opportunity when we post online—and those people who have a following beyond their own circle of family and friends have an even greater responsibility.

It's time to take responsibility, and for all of it. Griffin should have been more responsible with the broad audience that she has access to. But does her wrong justify our right to annihilate her for it?

I think that's something for us to think about.

Here's How We Know The EU's Immigration Laws Are DEFINITELY To Blame For European Terror

Monday, June 5, 2017

The UK voted to leave the European Union because people were terrified of the immigration situation—and now those fears are coming to fruition. The situation we are seeing now is absolutely in direct correlation to the loose laws that Europe has, and there's zero room to deny it.

Let me tell you how we know:

The suicide bomber that killed 22 people in Manchester just over a week ago had traveled REGULARLY back and forth between England and Syria, where his family had ties to an Islamist militant group. I mean, this is insane? This guy had been on a terror watch list for more than 5 years for extremist behavior and sympathizing with terrorists. Personal friends and people he knew from the mosque where he worshipped reported him to the government more than FIVE TIMES because of sketchy stuff he did, and this guy was still somehow frequently traveling back and forth.

We’ve seen similar cases with these other terrorist attacks, one of which was in Sweden—the guy was an asylum seeker whose visa had been revoked, and the police had shown up at his house to deport him TWO DAYS before he attacked a bunch of people. This is just insane! If our immigration policies aren’t protecting us from THIS, then what are they protecting us from? And Europe has invited it, and been inviting it, for years.

But what’s even more insane to me is that Americans refuse to learn from these mistakes. We’ve been lucky thus far. And isn’t that sad? We had the worst terrorist attack in history on 9/11, and yet, we’ve met Trump’s travel order with anger. Not just resistance—ANGER. Who are you so angry at? I promise that if your answer is anything other than, "islamic terrorists," your anger is deeply misguided and misdirected.

There are so many misconceptions surrounding this ban. First of all, the intent was that it would be temporary. It’s a 90-day ban until we get a proper vetting system in place. 90 freaking days! 3 months! Are you kidding me? That’s a NOTHING price to pay for the safety of the American people. And people call it a “muslim” ban—again, not accurate. This is a ban that singles out high-risk nations. Do they have a high percentage of muslims in these countries? Unfortunately, yes. Is the brand of terrorism we know today inextricably tied to the muslim faith? Also, unfortunately, YES.

The President did an amazing thing two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, and it seems almost every other nation in the world except our own (and maybe Germany bc Angela Merkel hates him) is praising him for it—the President looked the muslim world in the face and said, “this is not a war between faiths. This is not Christians against Muslims. This is a battle between GOOD and EVIL.” And then, he challenged them: “DRIVE THEM OUT. Drive the terrorists out of your mosques and your places of worship.” YES!! We should be PRAISING him for this!! It’s about time a world leader stands up and speaks the truth on this issue—and we need MORE of this, not less.

Our Secretary Of Defense James Mattis gave a remarkable interview on Face The Nation about terrorism and our national security just over Memorial Day weekend. He said what we’re dealing with is an ideological war. We are fighting a war against ideas, not a specific race or nationality. So the only answer is to humiliate them and annihilate them. We have to suck their recruitment efforts dry, and destroy the pockets of fighters we're aware of. If we don't, they will go back to their scattered native countries and continue to spread their ideology, but in a fashion that's much more difficult to target. We CANNOT let this happen, and open borders will only make it more difficult to do so.

So while I sympathize with Ariana Grande and Katy Perry, who think we should all just live in solidarity and just, ya know, “love on each other,” or whatever, that fundamentally will not work here. If cultural immersion worked—if it worked to simply welcome these people into our homes and our neighborhoods and our society—the suicide bombing in Manchester would not have happened. Salmen Abedi was a "normal" 23-year-old guy with normal friends. He funded his terror efforts with his STUDENT LOAN money. And when he bombed Manchester Arena, he was wearing $300 Nikes and an outfit that any one of my guy friends would have picked out at the mall.

This ideology is ELUSIVE. And we cannot afford to ignore that fact, because it will continue to cost us lives.

If you’re worried about climate change, great. Good for you. You care about the earth and that’s fantastic—it’s the only one the good Lord gave us. But to behave as though the world is burning and simultaneously ignore the very real, immediate, existential threat that we face in islamic terrorism today is not only foolish, it’s deliberate. And it’s wrong. And if you’re choosing to ignore it, you’re on the wrong side of this battle.

It is time to wake up.

An Open Letter To Tomi Lahren: Stop Making Me Look Bad

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tomi -

You and I have a lot in common. We're both conservative, both women, both 24, and both passionate about politics and current events. We're also both markedly opinionated and outspoken about our beliefs. Good for us!

I've kept an eye on you as your career has escalated because I admire you for many reasons. You're especially bold in your 'Final Thoughts', which takes a notable amount of courage and gumption—God knows you get a lot of hate on social media, so I respect your thick skin and perseverance. You're also incredibly well-spoken, which I've found is not the norm amongst conservative women our age, so I'm grateful for that—you're clearly intelligent, and I love it. I'm always happy to see fellow smart girls find success.

Recently, though, I've got a bone to pick with you. It's been my experience during my short time in the work world that older, more experienced professionals are hesitant to trust girls like you and me. It's not that we're bad at what we do, or that we're not smart, or capable—they're simply hesitant to take us seriously.

I used to work in a job where my boss made me feel valued for what I did. He complimented my hard work, my willingness to go the extra mile, and my patience with difficult coworkers—but he also winked at me every time he passed my desk, and responded to my request for more responsibilities within my role with, "well, you're very young."

Do you see what I'm getting at here? It's a fight for girls like us to be taken seriously in the work world. We're expected to prove ourselves before we're given a chance, meanwhile men our age and with comparable experience are often given those chances first. I've got to be reliable. I've got to be mature, trustworthy, sincere, serious, and I've got to be very, very careful.

Tomi, you have not been careful.

You've been loose with your words, reckless with your actions, and you've mishandled your conflict with The Blaze in a very public way. I'm happy for you that it's over. I'm sure it was stressful. I'm sure you're relieved to have your Facebook page back, which was rightfully yours to begin with. Those are very good things.

But yesterday, you did an interview with Playboy, and quite frankly, I've had enough. First of all—Playboy? Really, Tomi? You're a strong, outspoken, opinionated woman, and you lent your voice to the single publication most infamous for objectifying women? Be serious.

And second, I don't care how you feel about abortion. I really don't. I'm pro-life, but I don't care whether you agree with me or not. What I do care about, however, is how frivolous you've looked as you've flip-flopped from one stance to the other. I get being unsure how you feel about an issue, but here's my advice: if you're unsure, don't comment. It is really, REALLY that simple.

I sympathize with the struggle you've had these past few weeks. Truly, I get it. But for the sake of your fellow 24-year-old smart girls, get serious.

And stop making us look bad.

The Quiet Confidence Of Ivanka Trump

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm continuously impressed with Ivanka Trump and how well she carries herself, even when met with the most humiliating and hostile sentiments of those around her.

This photo was taken today at a women's summit in Germany, where she was booed and "hissed" at (do women seriously hiss at other women? that's grotesque) for referring to her father as a "champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive."

The moderator of the panel acknowledged the hostility of the crowd and confronted Ivanka, saying, "You hear the reaction from the audience. I need to address one more point—some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he's such an empower-er for women."

And once more, we witness her incredibly poised demeanor in the well-spoken and gracious response she gave (per POLITICO):
“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.
Her tone was not defensive, nor did she so much as grimace at the question she received. There's a level of self-awareness and restraint here that we fail to give her credit for.

It's very easy for us, as both consumers of the mainstream media and American voters, to forget that these people are just that—they're people.

When we think of Donald Trump and his relationship with women at this point in history, our minds jump immediately to the recording released prior to the election of his conversation with Billy Bush. The things that were said were shameful, wrong, and have no place in American society, let alone American politics. It is appropriate to acknowledge that and to hold him accountable for what he said.

Nevertheless, as a daughter myself, I observe Ivanka's willingness to stand by her father with admiration. She has not defended his behavior, which would be wrong—rather, she's chosen to remain loyal despite his character, however deeply flawed it might prove to be.

I fight the urge to compare her to Chelsea Clinton as a public figure because I think my bias in comparing them would be obvious. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that the media approaches the two women from very different angles. While some outlets continue to, for all intents and purposes, plead Chelsea Clinton into a campaign announcement, Ivanka's media coverage from those same outlets is critical, negative, and maintains, however subtlety, that she should be personally held responsible for her father's splintered relationship with the female gender because she, herself, is female.

This is a difficult position to place a man's daughter in. I struggle to recall a time that Chelsea Clinton has ever been asked to defend her own father's promiscuity, and the one time I can recall was met with such aggressive criticism by the mainstream media that no one ever dared ask such a question again. And while she is placed on a pedestal, Ivanka is "hissed" at by her fellow woman, even as she speaks of promoting women and families at a public forum.

I was especially impressed with Ivanka in her interview with Gayle King earlier this month. King asked Ivanka if she had a response to critics who accused her of being "complicit." Her response was commendable (via CBS):
"I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and, and hope, uh, that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens. It’s how he was in business. It’s how he is as president."
And in this one statement alone, we witness the quiet confidence of Ivanka Trump. She feels no need to justify herself to the public, and there's something to be said for that level of self-assurance. It is clear she does not receive validation from the American people, which is important: it means her commitment to her values is not contingent on the approval of others. This is remarkable.

I fear that women are missing out on an incredible role model by so quickly jumping to criticize Ivanka. Many could say—and probably do say—that her loyalty to the President is self-serving, or necessary for her own professional success. I see it differently.

Ivanka has earned what she's built. While I recognize the opportunities that inevitably come hand-in-hand with having the name 'Trump' on your birth certificate, she's not been given all that she has. She is educated, professional, and successful by her own right. And yet, she has chosen to leave her empire behind (in some sense) to serve her father and the public in the White House.

How many celebrities are estranged from their famous family members? How many women wrestle with their self-worth (or lack thereof)? And how many experience behavioral crises at the hand of their damaging fathers?

It is clear Ivanka Trump is not one of those women. So why are we so quick to condemn her?
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