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Archive for the tag “york”

Why children’s lives have changed radically in just a few decades

Childhood has changed out of all recognition, says Barbara Beck. What does that mean for children, parents and society at large?

“When i was a kid, we were out and about all the time, playing with our friends, in and out of each other’s houses, sandwich in pocket, making our own entertainment. Our parents hardly saw us from morning to night. We didn’t have much stuff, but we came and went as we liked and had lots of adventures.” This is roughly what you will hear if you ask anyone over 30 about their childhood in a rich country. The adventures were usually of a homely kind, more Winnie the Pooh than Star Wars, but the freedom and the companionship were real.

Today such children will spend most of their time indoors, often with adults rather than with siblings or friends, be supervised more closely, be driven everywhere rather than walk or cycle, take part in many more organised activities and, probably for several hours every day, engage with a screen of some kind. All this is done with the best of intentions. Parents want to protect their offspring from traffic, crime and other hazards in what they see as a more dangerous world, and to give them every opportunity to flourish.

Originally published in The Economist on January 3, 2019 and can be found here.

Opinion: The Ts are out to erase the Ls, Gs, and Bs

Get the popcorn ready because they don’t even see it coming — at least most of them don’t.

For decades the LGB’s have mastered the Saul Alinsky method in dealing with orthodox Christians and all those holding to traditional morality – “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The bigot label has been applied to Bible believers with such precision that only a fool would confuse who has won the hearts and minds of the culture on the issue of sexuality.

No, the imminent blindside coming for LGBs won’t be originating from the religious boogeymen they’ve soundly defeated in the courtroom of public opinion. It will be coming from their fellow sexual revolutionaries – the Ts.

It has long been a political axiom that revolutionaries will eventually turn on one another. It’s the nature of a revolutionary after all. There’s always a new cause, a new victim, a new enemy. And while the vanquishing of the Bible bangers and street preachers have brought these wildly divergent sexual lobbies together to unite in a common cause, anyone paying attention can see what’s coming.

Take this video clip from the 2019 gay pride documentary, “Are You Proud?” and listen closely to what the transgender activist says at the very end.

In 2019 documentary about gay pride ‘Are You Proud?’ someone proposes that in future lesbians and gays shouldn’t exist. A far right politician? No, a trans activist.

If you didn’t get all that, she says (quite presciently and logically I might add):

“It’s quite challenging to LGB people, because if gender is on a spectrum, then homosexuality doesn’t really exist cause it can only exist in a binary. So when it comes down to it, it’s really just two people, or maybe three, or whatever, loving each other. It has nothing to do with sexuality.”

If you listen closely, you can hear the transgender jackhammer busting a gaping hole in the foundation of everything this movement has claimed for the last three decades. The very nature of lesbianism, gayness, and bisexuality rests on the presupposition that there exists a so-called “gender binary.” That is, there are boys and there are girls.

  • A lesbian is a female who has romantic and sexual attractions to other females.
  • To be a gay man is to be a male who has romantic and sexual attractions to other males.
  • Bisexuals are those who are either male or female, but who experience romantic and sexual attractions to both males and females.

Meanwhile, the entire premise of transgenderism is the belief that there is no “male” nor “female.” Instead, all beings exist on a sliding scale of gender identity, which makes any appeal to a male/female gender reality oppressive.

In transgenderism, lesbianism is a ruse because you can’t really be female, and what you’re attracted to can’t really be female either. Ditto that for gayness and bisexuality. They don’t really exist; they can’t exist if transgender theory is to be accepted as viable, legitimate, and true. In other words, as the activist in the video states, “homosexuality doesn’t really exist.”

It’s kind of funny to think that not long ago gay crusaders were standing in solidarity with transgender culture warriors in demanding that society not “erase” trans identity. Seeking to erase lesbian and gay identity is a most peculiar way of saying “thank you,” it would seem.

By Peter Heck and published in Disrn on December 11, 2019 and can be found here.

Parents’ Suit Against Christian High School Dismissed On Ecclesiastical Abstention Grounds

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In In re Prince of Peace School(TX App., Sept. 23, 2020), a Texas state appellate court dismissed on ecclesiastical abstention grounds a suit by parents whose children were expelled from a Lutheran high school after the parents accused school personnel of harassing and bullying their children in connection with disciplinary issues. The court said in part:

Parents’ claims are premised on allegations that Prince of Peace failed to hire qualified staff and appropriately supervise its staff’s interactions with Students, including by failing to report suspected abuse of Students by its staff. Defense of these claims rests on Prince of Peace’s internal and religiously-informed policies and code of conduct. Judicial resolution of the claims would thus require impermissible intrusion in Prince of Peace’s management of these matters.

You can learn more about this issue here.

It’s time to put down our swords in the culture wars and talk about the Bible

So says Jimmy Gator in the 1999 film Magnolia. Twenty years later, that line retains its authenticity. There’s just no point in denying that everything has a back story.

Tom Holland is an acclaimed British writer, who has risen to fame as a popular historian over the last 15 years.

His most recent book, Dominion, is an intriguing attempt to recover our culture’s past, in spite of our best attempts to look the other way.

Holland’s target is the place of Christianity in shaping the Western mind, and his point is simple: we’re all kind of Christian now.

This might come as a surprise to many, both believer and unbeliever. Our contemporary moment works with a baked-in back-story about the waning of religion.

Belief has moved from being normal to being optional, and a fading option at that.

Holland has no quibble here, indeed his own personal story includes surrendering his childhood faith, and he remains philosophically agnostic, albeit sympathetic to Christian morality.

No, this is not an argument for reconversion. Instead, the point of Dominion is far more subtle, and for that reason, far wider.

Why would a culture believe weakness is strength?

Holland claims that Christianity has revolutionised our posture towards everything: be it religion, sex, power, love, or people, our secular age remains instinctually Christian.

Surely not, I hear you say, and fair enough too. We’re not in the mood for this right now. But 500 pages of compelling historical narrative and lively vignettes do offer plenty to chew on.

How Christianity’s iconography gets lost in translation

For example, if you think religion becomes authentic only when freely chosen and personal, then you’re riding in a slipstream partly forged by descendants of the Protestant Reformation.

Or when we all praise humility as a virtue, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so. Why would a culture come to believe that the way of weakness is the way of strength?

Holland, along with many others, argues that this ethic has a date-stamp, because it is the story of Jesus that functions as a fountainhead for seeking the good of others above my own personal honour.

Take the pre-eminence of love as another example. The Beatles proclaimed all we need is love, and Taylor Swift just released an album which she says is a love letter to love itself.

Yet Dominion points out that our veneration of love as the chief end of life and our compass point for ethics has strong roots in the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and St Augustine.

Finally, it seems obvious today that every person is entitled to dignity and rights.

It’s “self-evident.” Except that it isn’t. For as the historian Lynn Hunt has put it: “if equality of rights is so self-evident…why was it only made in specific times and places?”

What do we want to keep from the past?

Dominion argues that the democratisation of dignity rests upon the biblical claim that we are all made in God’s image.

This was then augmented by the early Christian claim that all people, no matter their social location, can experience salvation through Jesus.

How much is a prayer worth? The answer is about $4.30

It leads to the potentially uncomfortable conclusion that human rights originate because of the presence of religion, rather than its absence.

For each of these examples there is plenty we should debate. Dominion functions well as a first word rather than a last word.

But the book raises vital questions about the social function of history in general, and the meaning of our history in its particulars.

One of the general values of history is that it reminds us things didn’t have to turn out this way.

Values and practices don’t spring to life of their own accord. They have an origin and a story. It could have been different; it was different.

Which presents us with a challenge about how we assess our present and our future.

What do we want to keep from the past? And if we want to keep it, can we adequately nourish that future while we ignore or disparage the past?

But it is the particulars of our Western history that prove most intriguing in this work.

We can’t avoid Christ — for better or worse

Dominion concludes with a chapter examining how the values of Christianity are now wielded by a secular culture as weapons against the church.

In a world where we treasure personal freedom, praise acts of charity, and where we prioritise generous inclusion, Holland suggests that the moral disputes at the heart of our culture are between rival versions of Christian ethics.

Unpacking the baggage of colonialism as a Christian

For the witness of history says that the same Christians who practised radical generosity to the poor also practiced intense forms of religious practice and piety.

What was a seamless garment for them is now torn fabric in our modern culture wars. Even our art bears poignant witness to this tension.

Within the story world of the Handmaid’s Tale there are multiple instances where the text of the Bible is used by both oppressor and oppressed. So who does the text speak for?

If Holland is right, then it seems unavoidable that, as a culture, we need to talk about how we read and sift the Bible and Christian history.

From the most ardent believer through to those who’ve never darkened the door of a church, it would do us well to know how we arrived here, and confess that we all use the past with confirmation bias.

But we might want to take a moment to put our swords down and ask — have I read this text right? Do I have the story straight?

As the historian Margaret McMillan has said: “We use history to understand ourselves, and we ought to use it to understand others.”

If we are talking us here in the West, we can’t avoid Christ and the Christian movement, for better or for worse.

By Mark Stephens and published on November 3, 2019 in Abc.net.au and can be found here.


California Christian School Must Abide By COVID-19 Restrictions

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In County of Fresno v. Immanuel Schools, (CA Super. Ct., Sept. 15, 2020), a California state trial court judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering a 600-student Christian school near Fresno, CA to cease holding in-person classes as required by state and local COVID-19 orders. The court said in part:

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has observed in a recent consequential concurring opinion that “[t]he precise question of when restrictions on particular’social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement. Our Constitution principally entrusts ‘[t]he safety and the health of the people’ to the politically accountable officials of the States ‘to guard and protect.’ When those officials ‘undertake[] to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties,’ their latitude ’must be especially broad.’” (South Bay United Pentacostal Church V. Newsom (2020)….

Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.

You can learn more about this issue here.

The truth about the porn industry

Gail Dines, the author of an explosive new book about the sex industry, on why pornography has never been a greater threat to our relationships

The last time I saw Gail Dines speak, at a conference in Boston, she moved the audience to tears with her description of the problems caused by pornography, and provoked laughter with her sharp observations about pornographers themselves. Activists in the audience were newly inspired, and men at the event – many of whom had never viewed pornography as a problem before – queued up afterwards to pledge their support. The scene highlighted Dines’s explosive charisma and the fact that, since the death of Andrea Dworkin, she has risen to that most difficult and interesting of public roles: the world’s leading anti-pornography campaigner.

Dines is also a highly regarded academic and her new book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, has just come out in the US, and is available online here. She wrote it primarily to educate people about what pornography today is really like, she says, and to banish any notion of it as benign titillation. “We are now bringing up a generation of boys on cruel, violent porn,” she says, “and given what we know about how images affect people, this is going to have a profound influence on their sexuality, behaviour and attitudes towards women.”

The book documents the recent history of porn, including the technological shifts that have made it accessible on mobile phones, videogames and laptops. According to Dines’s research the prevalence of porn means that men are becoming desensitised to it, and are therefore seeking out ever harsher, more violent and degrading images. Even the porn industry is shocked by how much violence the fans want, she says; at the industry conferences that Dines attends, porn makers have increasingly been discussing the trend for more extreme practices. And the audience is getting younger. Market research conducted by internet providers found that the average age a boy first sees porn today is 11; a study from the University of Alberta found that one third of 13-year-old boys admitted viewing porn; and a survey published by Psychologies magazine in the UK last month found that a third of 14- to 16-year-olds had first seen sexual images online when they were 10 or younger – 81% of those polled looked at porn online at home, while 63% could easily access it on their mobile phones.

“I have found that the earlier men use porn,” says Dines, “the more likely they are to have trouble developing close, intimate relationships with real women. Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don’t want or enjoy porn sex.”

Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes “the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships,” says Dines. “Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanisation of an oppressed group . . . The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls’ sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire.”

Images have now become so extreme that acts that were almost non-existent a decade ago have become commonplace. From studying thousands of porn films and images Dines found that the most popular acts depicted in internet porn include vaginal, oral and anal penetration by three or more men at the same time; double anal; double vaginal; a female gagging from having a penis thrust into her throat; and ejaculation in a woman’s face, eyes and mouth.

“To think that so many men hate women to the degree that they can get aroused by such vile images is quite profound,” says Dines. “Pornography is the perfect propaganda piece for patriarchy. In nothing else is their hatred of us quite as clear.”

Born in Manchester, Dines moved to Israel in 1980, aged 22, and soon became involved in the women’s movement. An event organised by the feminist consciousness-raising group Women against Pornography in Haifa – in which pornography was shown – changed her life forever. “I was astounded that men could either make such a thing or want to look at it,” she says. From then on, she knew she had to campaign about the issue.

There were two images from Hustler magazine that she found especially shocking: a cartoon of a construction worker drilling a jackhammer into a woman’s vagina, and one depicting a woman being fed through a meat grinder. “I was newly married and told my husband that night how appalled I was, which he fully understood,” she says. “If he had said I was a prude I don’t think I could have stayed with him.”

The couple moved to the US in 1986, and Dines has taught at Wheelock College, Boston ever since, where she is professor of sociology and women’s studies and chair of the American studies department. She is something of a lone voice in academia. Aside from what she says are “a handful” of colleagues across the US, most contemporary scholars are positive about pornography, and Dines thinks this is due to both a fear of being considered in alliance with the religious right and the view that pornography represents and champions sexual liberation.

“Many on the liberal left adopt a view that says pornographers are not businessmen but are simply there to unleash our sexuality from state-imposed constraints,” she says. This view was reflected in the film The People vs Larry Flynt, where the billionaire pornographer of the film’s title – the head of the Hustler empire – was portrayed as a man simply fighting for freedom of speech. Dines disputes these ideas. “Trust me,” she says, “I have interviewed hundreds of pornographers and the only thing that gets them excited is profit.”

As a result of her research, Dines believes that pornography is driving men to commit particular acts of violence towards women. “I am not saying that a man reads porn and goes out to rape,” she says, “but what I do know is that porn gives permission to its consumers to treat women as they are treated in porn.” In a recent study, 80% of men said that the one sex act they would most like to perform is to ejaculate on a woman’s face; in 2007, a comment stream on the website Jezebel.com included a number of women who said that, on a first date, they had, to their surprise, experienced their sexual partner ejaculating on their faces without asking.

Sexual assault centres in US colleges have said that more women are reporting anal rape, which Dines attributes directly to the normalisation of such practices in pornography. “The more porn sexualises violence against women, the more it normalises and legitimises sexually abusive behaviour. Men learn about sex from porn, and in porn nothing is too painful or degrading for women.” Dines also says that what she calls “childified porn” has significantly increased in popularity in recent years, with almost 14m internet searches for “teen sex” in 2006, an increase of more than 60% since 2004. There are legal sites that feature hardcore images of extremely young-looking women being penetrated by older men, with disclaimers stating all the models are 18 and over. Dines is clear that regular exposure to such material has an effect of breaking down the taboo about having sex with children.

She recently interviewed a number of men in prison who had committed rape against children. All were habitual users of child pornography. “What they said to me was they got bored with ‘regular’ porn and wanted something fresh. They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped a child.”

What can we expect next from the industry? “Nobody knows, including pornographers,” she says, “but they are all looking for something more extreme, more shocking.” She recently interviewed a well-known pornographer, while his latest film played in the background. It contained a scene of a woman being anally penetrated while kneeling in a coffin.

In Dines’s view, the best way to address the rise of internet pornography is to raise public awareness about its actual content, and name it as a public health issue by bringing together educators, health professionals, community activists, parents and anti-violence experts to create materials that educate the public. “Just as we had anti-smoking campaigns, we need an anti-porn campaign that alerts people to the individual and cultural harms it creates.”

“Myths about those of us who hate pornography also need to be dispelled in order to gain more support from progressives,” she says. “The assumption that if you are a woman who hates pornography you are against sex shows how successful the industry is at collapsing porn into sex.” Would the critics of the employment practices and products at McDonald’s be accused of being anti-eating, she asks pointedly.

The backlash against Dines and her work is well-documented. Various pro-porn activists post accusations about her on websites, suggesting she is motivated by money, hates sex, and victimises women to support her supposed anti-male ideology. Salon.com reported recently that the sex writer, Violet Blue, had launched a pro-porn campaign to counteract an anti-porn conference that Dines and colleagues held last month. Dines is regularly criticised by pornographers in the trade magazines and on porn websites and she tells me that her college receives letters after any public event at which she is speaking, attacking her views.

Does she ever feel depressed by all this? “It gets me down sometimes, of course. But I try to surround myself with good things – my students, colleagues, and my family.” She says the blueprint for her aims is the eradication of slavery in the US, which was achieved despite the fact that every single institution was geared to uphold and perpetuate it. “What is at stake is the nature of the world that we live in,” says Dines. “We have to wrestle it back.”

By Julie Bindel and published in The Guardian on July 2, 2010 and can be found here.


Order To Stay Away From Basilica Did Not Violate RFRA

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In De Bèarn v. United States, (DC Ct. App., Sept. 10, 2020), the District of Columbia’s highest local appellate court held that a stay-away order barring appellant from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception did not violate his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gaston DeBéarn was arrested on charges of destruction property after he entered the Basilica yelling about the need to restore the traditional mass and ran to the altar knocking over candle sticks. A court issued the stay-away order as a condition of releasing DeBéarn before trial.  DeBéarn twice violated the order and was also charged with two counts of contempt. In rejecting DeBéarn’s RFRA defense, the court said in part:

“Not just any imposition on religious exercise creates a substantial burden; a burden must have some degree of severity to be considered substantial.”…

At trial, appellant noted that the Shrine was his “favorite” place to attend mass and that he did not “go to other churches” because they are “just not as beautiful as that one.” He acknowledged, however, that he could go to other churches. “With so many alternative places to practice [his religion],” we are satisfied that the stay-away order imposed on appellant as to a single Catholic church “d[id] not force [appellant] to choose between abandoning [his] faith and facing criminal prosecution.”…

You can learn more about this issue here.

Confessions of a Soccer Mom: Early Sports Specialization Put My Kid at Risk for Injury

For young athletes like Chloe Ford, year-round conditioning, proper nutrition and rest are important to prevent injury.

I admit it. I was one of those parents.

My daughter was going to be the one to get a full ride playing soccer for a Division 1 school. She might even compete on a national stage (2023 World Cup, here we come). Fueled by coaches’ praise, sideline chatter and a hefty dose of mom pride, I confess I got a little, um, caught up.

All humility aside, the truth is my girl can dominate on the pitch. And she truly loves the sport. So much so that she never wanted to play anything else. Why would she want to be a bench warmer in basketball when she can stand out on the soccer field, she said.

That’s why year after year, starting at age eight, I gave in to my daughter’s pleas for more playing time. I followed her coaches’ recommendations to seek out the next challenge so she could remain competitive among her peers. Soon the fall club season was followed by a winter indoor league, which ran right into spring club ball and then a summer elite league.

We weren’t alone. Most of my daughter’s teammates were following the same roadmap, playing one sport year-round.

Risks of Early Sports Specialization

The problem, of course, is that we now know that allowing kids to focus solely on one sport — especially when there’s no off-season — puts them at greater risk for injury.

With sports like soccer and football, the risk of contact injuries like fractures or concussions increase the more often a child plays. For baseball, tennis, running and other sports that require repetitive motion, kids are more likely to experience overuse injuries.

According to a 2013 study, adolescents who spend more hours per week than their age playing one sport are 70% more likely to experience overuse injuries. So an eight-year-old, for example, should practice one sport no more than eight hours per week to reduce her risk for injury.

“Kids’ skeletons and muscle groups aren’t mature yet,” says orthopedic surgeon Winston Gwathmey, MD. “Plus, their mechanics and techniques aren’t well developed, so they may be putting additional stress on the same parts of their body again and again without an opportunity to rest or heal. That’s when they get in trouble with injuries.”

In some cases, overuse injuries can have lasting consequences, adds Gwathmey. “Kids’ bodies can break down and they can have an injury with long-term effects that end up ruining collegiate aspirations,” he says. “For example, in baseball, pitchers may have an accumulation of damage to shoulder or elbow that can negatively affect performance.”

Tips to Avoid Overuse Injuries

The best way to avoid overuse injury: diversify. Kids should participate in a variety of sports during the year that engage different muscle groups. If your son plays baseball in the spring, then soccer or cross-country running in the fall may be a good option because he’ll be giving those upper extremities a break.

Of course, if your kid is stubborn like mine and refuses to play anything but her number one sport, then you’ll need a plan B to help keep her healthy and injury-free. For all young athletes, Gwathmey recommends conscientious year-round conditioning, which includes:

Cross training

Establish a weekly regimen of a variety of exercises to work different muscle groups and improve endurance and flexibility, such as bicycling, swimming and yoga. Weight training may be incorporated into the regimen. But don’t overdo it because too much bulk can strain the growing skeleton, says Gwathmey.


Incorporate dynamic stretching (active movements that encourage full range of motion) into a warm-up. Do static stretches (holding positions that extend the muscle) after training to loosen up muscles and joints and prevent injury.

Eating right

Fuel the body with a healthy mix of:

  • Protein to build muscle
  • Calcium and vitamin D to promote bone health
  • Plenty of calories to maintain a healthy body weight and keep metabolism in check.


Take a break during the week to allow the body to heal. Better yet, take a season off from time to time.

Early Sports Specialization May Not Lead to Future Success

Kids who are serious about playing sports at the next level are likely to listen to this advice, according to Gwathmey. “I think if we educate kids and their families about the risks of early sports specialization and the importance of diversification, cross-training, proper nutrition and rest, then we can break through and they’ll be smarter about how they participate in sports.”

Is Your Child Ready to Get Back in the Game?

Schedule a sports physical today.  Part of this education is making sure athletes and their parents are realistic about the chances of playing at the next level. Only a small percentage of high school athletes will play a varsity sport in college. Gwathmey reminds me that kids who make the cut are going to be the healthy ones who can actually perform.

This soccer mom gets that message loud and clear. My daughter is now a junior in high school and is just beginning the college recruitment process. She still has a full soccer schedule, but she has embraced her summers off, she eats right, and she humors me now and then and joins me for yoga. College soccer may be in her future, but maybe not. And that’s ok. She’s healthy and happy and it’s been a joy to see her play and excel in a sport she loves.

By Holly Cooper Ford and published on August 15, 2019 in blog.uvahealth.com and can be found here.


C. S. Lewis’s Last Written Word: We Have No Right to Happiness

In two previous columns (see Has the American Dream Turned On Itself? and Freedom, Limits, and the ‘Right’ to Happiness), I’ve been reflecting on the American Dream, the pursuit of happiness, and our changing definitions of freedom.

The last written work that C. S. Lewis delivered before his death in 1963 was an opinion piece for the Saturday Evening Post called “We Have No Right to Happiness.” This brief essay lays out the problem of separating “happiness” from obedience to the eternal law, and it shows tremendous foresight in how the right to “sexual happiness” would inevitably alter our view of happiness in general until the very heart of civilization would be threatened. Below, I’ve published Lewis’s article in full.

C. S. Lewis: ‘We Have No Right to Happiness’

“After all,” said Clare. “they had a right to happiness.”

We were discussing something that once happened in our own neighborhood. Mr. A. had deserted Mrs. A. and got his divorce in order to marry Mrs. B., who had likewise got her divorce in order to marry Mr. A. And there was certainly no doubt that Mr. A. and Mrs. B. were very much in love with one another. If they continued to be in love, and if nothing went wrong with their health or their income, they might reasonably expect to be very happy.

It was equally clear that they were not happy with their old partners. Mrs. B. had adored her husband at the outset. But then he got smashed up in the war. It was thought he had lost his virility, and it was known that he had lost his job. Life with him was no longer what Mrs. B. had bargained for. Poor Mrs. A., too. She had lost her looks—and all her liveliness. It might be true, as some said, that she consumed herself by bearing his children and nursing him through the long illness that overshadowed their earlier married life.

You mustn’t, by the way, imagine that A. was the sort of man who nonchalantly threw a wife away like the peel of an orange he’d sucked dry. Her suicide was a terrible shock to him. We all knew this, for he told us so himself. “But what could I do?” he said. “A man has a right to happiness. I had to take my one chance when it came.”

What Is a ‘Right to Happiness’?

I went away thinking about the concept of a “right to happiness.”

At first this sounds to me as odd as a right to good luck. For I believe—whatever one school of moralists may say—that we depend for a very great deal of our happiness or misery on circumstances outside all human control. A right to happiness doesn’t, for me, make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall, or have a millionaire for your father, or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic.

I can understand a right as a freedom guaranteed me by the laws of the society I live in. Thus, I have a right to travel along the public roads because society gives me that freedom; that’s what we mean by calling the roads “public.” I can also understand a right as a claim guaranteed me by the laws, and correlative to an obligation on someone else’s part. If I have a right to receive $100 from you, this is another way of saying that you have a duty to pay me $100. If the laws allow Mr. A. to desert his wife and seduce his neighbor’s wife, then, by definition, Mr. A. has a legal right to do so, and we need bring in no talk about happiness.

Happiness and Natural Law

But of course that was not what Clare meant. She meant that he had not only a legal but a moral right to act as he did. In other words, Clare is—or would be if she thought it out—a classical moralist after the style of Thomas Aquinas, Grotius, Hooker, and Locke. She believes that behind the laws of the state there is a Natural Law.

I agree with her. I hold this conception to be basic to all civilization. Without it, the actual laws of the state become an absolute, as in Hegel. They cannot be criticized because there is no norm against which they should be judged.

The ancestry of Clare’s maxim, “They have a right to happiness,” is august. In words that are cherished by all civilized men, but especially by Americans, it has been laid down that one of the rights of man is a right to “the pursuit of happiness.” And now we get to the real point.

What did the writers of that august declaration mean?

Meaning of Natural Law

It is quite certain what they did not mean. They did not mean that man was entitled to pursue happiness by any and every means—including, say, murder, rape, robbery, treason, and fraud. No society could be built on such a basis.

They meant “to pursue happiness by all lawful means”; that is, by all means which the Law of Nature eternally sanctions and which the laws of the nation shall sanction.

Admittedly this seems at first to reduce their maxim to the tautology that men (in pursuit of happiness) have a right to do whatever they have a right to do. But tautologies, seen against their proper historical context, are not always barren tautologies. The declaration is primarily a denial of the political principles which long governed Europe; a challenge flung down to the Austrian and Russian empires, to England before the Reform Bills, to Bourbon France. It demands that whatever means of pursuing happiness are lawful for any should be lawful for all that “man,” not men of some particular cast, class, status, or religion, should be free to use them. In a century when this is being unsaid by nation after nation and party after party, let us not call it a barren tautology.

But the question as to what means are “lawful”—what methods of pursuing happiness are either morally permissible by the Law of Nature or should be declared legally permissible by the legislature of a particular nation—remains exactly where it did. And on that question I disagree with Clare. I don’t think it is obvious that people have the unlimited “right to happiness” which she suggests.

‘Sexual’ Happiness

For one thing, I believe that Clare, when she says “happiness,” means simply and solely “sexual happiness.” Partly because women like Clare never use the word “happiness” in any other sense. But also because I never heard Clare talk about the “right” to any other kind. She was rather leftist in her politics, and would have been scandalized if anyone had defended the actions of a ruthless man-eating tycoon on the ground that his happiness consisted in making money and he was pursuing his happiness. She was also a rabid teetotaler; I never heard her excuse an alcoholic because he was happy when he was drunk.

A good many of Clare’s friends, and especially her female friends, often felt—I’ve heard them say so—that their own happiness would be perceptibly increased by boxing her ears. I very much doubt if this would have brought her theory of a right to happiness into play.

Clare, in fact, is doing what the whole western world seems to me to have been doing for the last 40-odd years. When I was a youngster, all the progressive people were saying, “Why all this prudery? Let us treat sex just as we treat all our other impulses.” I was simple-minded enough to believe they meant what they said. I have since discovered that they meant exactly the opposite. They meant that sex was to be treated as no other impulse in our nature has ever been treated by civilized people. All the others, we admit, have to be bridled. Absolute obedience to your instinct for self-preservation is what we call cowardice; to your acquisitive impulse, avarice. Even sleep must be resisted if you’re a sentry. But every unkindness and breach of faith seems to be condoned provided that the object aimed at is “four bare legs in a bed.”

It is like having a morality in which stealing fruit is considered wrong—unless you steal nectarines.

And if you protest against this view you are usually met with chatter about the legitimacy and beauty and sanctity of “sex” and accused of harboring some Puritan prejudice against it as something disreputable or shameful. I deny the charge. Foam-born Venus . . . golden Aphrodite . . . Our Lady of Cyprus . . . I never breathed a word against you. If I object to boys who steal my nectarines, must I be supposed to disapprove of nectarines in general? Or even of boys in general? It might, you know, be stealing that I disapproved of.

Sexual Impulses and Preposterous Privilege

The real situation is skillfully concealed by saying that the question of Mr. A’s “right” to desert his wife is one of “sexual morality.” Robbing an orchard is not an offense against some special morality called “fruit morality.” It is an offense against honesty. Mr. A’s action is an offense against good faith (to solemn promises), against gratitude (toward one to whom he was deeply indebted) and against common humanity.

Our sexual impulses are thus being put in a position of preposterous privilege. The sexual motive is taken to condone all sorts of behavior which, if it had any other end in view, would be condemned as merciless, treacherous, and unjust.

Now though I see no good reason for giving sex this privilege, I think I see a strong cause. It is this.

It is part of the nature of a strong erotic passion—as distinct from a transient fit of appetite—that makes more towering promises than any other emotion. No doubt all our desires makes promises, but not so impressively. To be in love involves the almost irresistible conviction that one will go on being in love until one dies, and that possession of the beloved will confer, not merely frequent ecstasies, but settled, fruitful, deep-rooted, lifelong happiness. Hence all seems to be at stake. If we miss this chance we shall have lived in vain. At the very thought of such a doom we sink into fathomless depths of self-pity.

Unfortunately these promises are found often to be quite untrue. Every experienced adult knows this to be so as regards all erotic passions (except the one he himself is feeling at the moment). We discount the world-without-end pretensions of our friends’ amours easily enough. We know that such things sometimes last—and sometimes don’t. And when they do last, this is not because they promised at the outset to do so. When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also—I must put it crudely—good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adaptable people.

If we establish a “right to (sexual) happiness” which supersedes all the ordinary rules of behavior, we do so not because of what our passion shows itself to be in experience but because of what it professes to be while we are in the grip of it. Hence, while the bad behavior is real and works miseries and degradations, the happiness which was the object of the behavior turns out again and again to be illusory. Everyone (except Mr. A. and Mrs. B.) knows that Mr. A. in a year or so may have the same reason for deserting his new wife as for deserting his old. He will feel again that all is at stake. He will see himself again as the great lover, and his pity for himself will exclude all pity for the woman.

Society Built On Sexual Happiness

Two further points remain.

One is this. A society in which conjugal infidelity is tolerated must always be in the long run a society adverse to women. Women, whatever a few male songs and satires may say to the contrary, are more naturally monogamous than men; it is a biological necessity. Where promiscuity prevails, they will therefore always be more often the victims than the culprits. Also, domestic happiness is more necessary to them than to us. And the quality by which they most easily hold a man, their beauty, decreases every year after they have come to maturity, but this does not happen to those qualities of personality —women don’t really care two cents about our looks—by which we hold women. Thus in the ruthless war of promiscuity women are at a double disadvantage. They play for higher stakes and are also more likely to lose. I have no sympathy with moralists who frown at the increasing crudity of female provocativeness. These signs of desperate competition fill me with pity.

Secondly, though the “right to happiness” is chiefly claimed for the sexual impulse, it seems to be impossible that the matter should stay there. The fatal principle, once allowed in that department, must sooner or later seep through our whole lives. We thus advance toward a state of society in which not only each man but every impulse in each man claims carte blanche. And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart, and will—one dare not even add “unfortunately”—be swept away.

By Trevin Wax and originally published on October 3, 2019 in The Gospel Coalition and can be found here.

Ministerial Exception Doctrine Does Not Apply To Hostile Work Environment Claim

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Middleton v. United Church of Christ(ND OH, Aug. 26, 2020), an Ohio federal district court held that the ministerial exception doctrine does not preclude a minister bringing a hostile work environment claim, at least where the claim does not involve the court in excessive entanglement with religious matters. The court said in part:

[A]fter examining Middleton’s first cause of action, the court concludes that it does not implicate “any matters of church doctrine or practice.” … Middleton’s hostile workplace claim involves allegations of racial and gender harassment that are wholly unrelated to Defendants’ religious teachings. ….

Nevertheless the court went on to dismiss the hostile work environment claim, saying in part:

While Middleton describes interactions that are unprofessional and unpleasant, none of the alleged conduct was physically threatening or humiliating. At most, these sporadic comments constituted “offensive utterances,” which “do not rise to the level required by the Supreme Court’s definition of a hostile work environment.”

The court held that plaintiff’s breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims were barred by the ministerial exception doctrine.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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