Friday, September 08, 2006

But really, I'm glad I'm not a teenager again

Great article in the National Catholic Register, "Counter-Cultural Conquerors: Teens Transformed by the Theology of the Body." It deals with the challenges young people face with raging hormones, peer pressure, and what the media tell them to do with themselves.

The priest who is teaching this "theology of the body" notes that

many teens don’t see the inconsistency between what they profess in church and, for example, what they listen to on the radio. Today’s music, the priest points out, is rife with degrading messages and pounding, primal prompts to live immorally.

Meanwhile many of the fashions on display at Mass seem more suited to a beach club than to a spot before the altar on which Jesus Christ’s holy sacrifice is offered.
I'm not a fan necessarily of kids listening ONLY to a station like WGTS in Washington, but so much of what passes for music today is raunchy (I know, I'm sounding like my parents!). And the majority of Christian music is lame, but that's another discussion. But the point of this article is the inconsistency for Catholic kids mentioned above. Also, how many teen girls watch, for example, "Sex and the City" and think that's a how-to manual for their social lives? How many guys think that, thanks to "The Real World" and the like, they can do any girl, anywhere, anytime?

I am a firm believer in abstinence until marriage; as Rush Limbaugh says, it prevents pregnancy 100% of the time that it's tried. It's true that many Catholic teens who pledge abstinence, falter. But not all of them do.

And I appreciate the point made about how Catholic girls (and others) dress. There are two sides of this coin, one of which was explained to me as "How a girl/woman dresses is none of my business." There is something to be said for that; if I'm lusting over someone dressed in a low-cut whatever, who's got the problem, her or me?

But if there's anything women often don't realize, it's the effect on guys from how they dress. Just because they CAN be alluring, doesn't mean they SHOULD. Who knows what they'll attract? I am in no way saying young women should be in burqas so that they don't become Foul Temptresses, but a little something left to the imagination is a good thing. And I want to make it perfectly clear that no woman ever invites rape or other violent crimes by how she dresses, although certain clothing can indeed bring unwanted (and, of course, wanted) attention.

The response of this girl in the article heartens me:
“I look at the way I present myself to people differently,” Katie says.
When I look in my college yearbooks, I'm surprised how little skin my female classmates showed. None of them would even think of wearing pants low on their hips or showing their navels. But since that was the mid-80s, and the girls were wearing those oversized T-shirts and sweaters with huge letters on them, maybe they were wearing burqas after all. :-)

And for guys, I have never felt that shorts or T-shirts were appropriate clothing for Mass.


Mary Beth (mbinkc) said...

Amen, Cygnus! I totally agree with you on this. Going through 12 years of Catholic school wearing uniforms, there was never an issue as far as dress codes. But that was then (I'm 41 now)...and those were all school masses. As a kid, if I even tried to wear jeans to Sunday mass, you better believe that I was sent back to my room to find a dress or a skirt. And I BLAME (lol) my parents for this harsh, cruel punishment!! Thank goodness that my parents and my school were so bold, so insistent, so MEAN as to make me realize that I was going to God's house, and how did I really want to present myself? I think there's a lot of parents out there today who are to blame for this disregard, because they are guilty of it themselves! Showing up in their tennis attire, their KC Chiefs jerseys (sorry, no Ravens fans allowed in Kansas City!!), etc. I will never forget one Sunday just as Father Carney got to the altar, a woman with her two kids came rushing in and sat down. Before he even started mass, he said something to the effect of "Well, I'm glad you could find the time to fit God into your busy tennis schedule!" A little harsh, maybe, but an eye-opener, yes.
So, just wanted to let you know that not only am I keeping up on reading your blog (brownie points pleeze :-)), I'm also very much in the same mind set as you when it comes to this subject (as well as quite a few others, I might add!) Keep up the great work.
Mary Beth
a.k.a. mbinkc