Monthly Archives: April 2013

As we near the end of Lent…



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I was greatly amused to read this column in Monday’s Redeye (Chicago rag published by the Tribune targeting yuppie commuters). It’s straight out of a modern-day Rules:

Today, I urge girls everywhere to embrace the hashtag #girlsagainsttexting. This is not a joke or a suggestion. This is an order. We as a gender must reclaim the power that technology has stolen from us. I want this hashtag trending until every man in Chicago realizes we no longer will put up with the communication equivalent of wearing a sweat suit to the airport.


Here’s the harsh reality: Guys will put forth the least amount of effort required to get the desired result and often are texting several girls at a time. If you’re getting weekend texts to meet up, you’re an option, not a priority.


Over at Acculturated, Mark Judge says what I was trying to say, only better.

The thing is, people change. At least they’re supposed to. If they don’t then they die.

At The Atlantic, Emily Esfahani Smith has a nice article on relationships vs. ambition. I would argue that ambition is hardly the problem. America’s main problem is that we’re focus on achieving things that just don’t matter than much.

In Praise of Prudence. A neglected virtue, for sure.

The fantastic Kay Hymowitz on HBO’s Girls. Article may not be appropriate for sensitive types.

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Friday Quote

Unmarried people […] easily yield to the illusion that the source of their unhappiness is their unmarried state, their lack of truly human attachment. But does a married person in such a situation not experience exactly the same in his relationship to his wedded partner, or indeed to any person in his relationship with them? Deception and self-delusion have led many astray while the true character of their depression remains hidden. They do not understand that they are entangled in the most unusual struggle with themselves and that their opponent is neither “the institution ” nor “a vow,” nor the marriage partner or colleagues at work[…], but their own wounded “I”. The root of all evil is that “love of self to which Evagrius reduced all eight generic “thoughts.”

From Fr. Gabriel Bunge’s Despondency

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Get married young OR ELSE

The internet has been up in arms because a high powered, successful feminist named Susan Patton recently wrote to female Princeton undergrads and told them in no uncertain terms that they should be getting their MRS degrees while studying there. Her reasoning was that they would never have access to such a large pool of eligible men again.

The reactions were predicable. The left (feminists in particular) was outraged. The right nodded along with Ms. Patton, gleeful that a feminist agreed with their cultural views. Thankfully, there were sensible voices.

While I am sympathetic to Ms. Patton’s views because I like the idea of masses of undergraduates marrying and making a life together, creating families and stability, the reality is most undergraduates are not ready for the kind of responsibility marriage requires. This is partially because most undergraduates do not have a good understanding of who they are at that stage. Many people who get married so young end up divorced. Perhaps they did not know what they should have been looking for in a spouse. Perhaps they were too scared to graduate into the world of adulthood while single. Perhaps they didn’t know what their deepest values were and married someone whose core values turned out to be incompatible. The nice thing about marrying after the age of 23 is that you have figured out much of the above. And marriages between older (read: mature) people tend to be more successful.

The disturbing, narcissistic undercurrent of her letter is that ignores the other half of the Princeton population: The men. Her call to action conveniently does not mention them and their desires. Male Princeton undergrads, watch out! Man-hunting women are on the loose! Another person should not be the personification of One’s Goal to Get Married because He Is Eligible and No One Will Match Up Again and Oh No, Time’s Running Out.

As David French said:

You’re old enough to marry when you possess enough wisdom, character, and emotional maturity to recognize that you are no longer the center of the universe, and you can and should love another person more than you love yourself.

That person won’t necessarily be a fellow ivy league classmate.

In college, students should focus on picking a degree, studying hard, making connections, and learning about who they are. If a spouse comes out of that, great. But it shouldn’t be a goal of attending university.

P.S. Fun fact: Susan Patton is divorced from her Princeton husband.

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Today, I’m sharing my Grandma’s words with you. They were written to her 5 young granddaughters as she was facing uncertainty in her battle with colon cancer. She eventually won and even outlived her oncologist by at least a decade; she and my grandpa, Ray, were married 59 years.  While the advice to teenagers might not apply to our Orthogals readership, I left it in as there might be a time where you, the reader, might need to pass it along. Keep in mind a few things about the late-1980s:  HIV/AIDS was a huge fear and its diagnoses was a death sentence. Two, Grandma (and America) had seen the rumblings, full force, and after-shocks of the sexual revolution and feminism.

Except for a few things noted for clarity and full names altered where appropriate, below is verbatim from her hard copy.


            Some three score years ago I was a younger girl, a teenager like you. Since that far away time, I have been mother of two beautiful daughters, and today I am grandma of five equally beautiful granddaughters, budding into their teens. My greatest joy is to know 4 of the 5 have already committed their lives to Christ.

It is to you that I’d like to pass on some encouragement by sharing observations I’ve made over the years, esp. now before C. catches up with me again. [ed note: C. being cancer]

GROWING UP. Teenage is not easy nor carefree. (We oldsters may look back on it as such, but that is because the later years we found to be much harder!) It takes time, yes years, to learn who you are, and why you are here on earth. Who are these parents, these siblings? Why do I go to church, obey my parents? Why do I go to school? Why do my parents restrict some of my activities, warn against some relationships, encourage others?

This most important period of your lives should not be cut short. It is a time to grow, to question. A time to mature, “to know thyself,” said the Greeks, who added, “Nothing in excess.” Happy are you little ones to be brought up in a Christian home, where the Lord is at the top of all lists of priorities, and where you have a good example of parenthood & marriage set before you. Oh, yes, they may not “get with it” in every way, but you’ll be surprised how much they’ve learned when you are grown up!

Concentrate during these teen years on studying and learning about yourself and the world. Especially study the history in the Bible and of the secular world and learn its lessons vicariously, so you won’t have to repeat them. Get all the education your heart desires. Prepare yourself to be independent and earn your own way while you are single; this may come in handy any time during your life. Go to college; study anything that interests you. Women now can go to any college, pursue any field, many formerly forbidden their sex: they can be lady astronauts, research scientists, etc. [A family friend’s] daughter is majoring in dramatics at Harvard University, the oldest university in the U.S.

In case you eventually marry (and I hope you all will), give some consideration to courses that will be helpful as wife and parent. Education courses, esp. educational psychology will help you understand yourself and your children; nursing, dietetics, etc. are useful. I found all my liberal arts courses, esp. history, useful as a mother & as a Bible student, which became my hobby; one exception was 5 years of French, I wish now had been more Latin & Greek. Your parents can advise further.

College age is the time to keep your mind busy with intellectual pursuits. Do not be dismayed by your peers showing off engagement rings in their senior years. Admittedly it is the time when those wild hormones put most pressure on you. But don’t be deceived by the myth that early marriage is the only solution. Jesus was a teenager and also lived through the twenties without marriage. How did He do it? I believe his mind and heart were so intent on why He was here – to do the Father’s special will for Him – that His intellectual and spiritual concentration made His 20 years of celibacy possible.

God does not ask us today, men or women, to be celibate. College age and delaying marriage gives us time to observe and explore the social world. Study the young people of the church and of the world. Make friends of God’s children, advises the hymn. A good home & church environment are helping you see the unhealthy results of the sexual revolution that brought down God’s wrath upon Sodom and AIDS on the world today. Let SAVE SEX FOR MARRIAGE be your motto instead of “safe sex.”

CAREER? Have you a dream you’d long to realize? A talent you’d like to develop? A profession you are serious about preparing hard for? Whatever it is, do plan to pursue it and give it a try, before you get married. Your grandma did not have to make a choice – yes, she was a jilted teenage, but the Democrats established NYA for college students, and there I was guided into teaching as a career. After grad school at Peabody College, I taught 2 yrs at Georgia State College for Women, 1 yr at N.E. Missouri State Tchers College, was offered an art position at Pepperdine in 1943, before deciding I’d rather be a Navy Officer’s wife. At least I got the career urge out of my system, satisfied I could be a successful teacher; tucked away my teaching degrees and notes, just in case! I’m so glad there’s never been a case to retrieve them.

During the teaching years I met many dedicated and professional teachers. But those I knew best confided they would prefer marriage and family life. I once asked wonderful Miss Martha S., one of Ray’s Topeka teachers, why she never married. With no hesitation, she pointed to Ray and said, “He didn’t come along soon enough.” Thanks, Martha.

There was classmate Marjorie K., in Dr. W.C. Curry’s Anglo-Saxon class at Vanderbilt Univ, across the street from Peabody College in Nashville. Dr. Curry tried to discourage Marjorie from pursuing a doctorate in English literature. He said he felt the discipline too grinding for women, that their career should be marriage. “But what’ll I do until the right man comes along?” pleaded Marjorie.

MARRIAGE. I tried to discourage a daughter from marrying in her teens, although she had satisfied our request that she finish college before getting married. She countered, “But Mom, you make marriage look so good!” I guess you can’t win everything!

But with all its attractiveness, girls must realize that it means the end of their girlhood independence. Identity is change from the complete self, to sharing self with a partner, becoming one flesh with the man you love. This is God speaking. This is the commitment you make in your wedding vow before God and many witnesses. There is no time now for dreams about fulfilling your self apart from your husband. No time to think about “self-image” or worry about “self esteem.” Everything is “our” from now on, 100%. The Holy Spirit even says we are “to obey our husbands,” which I prefer to translate “defer to his wishes & decisions.” This, experience has taught me, is easier and preferable to being totally responsible myself. There, Cathi, is my answer to your compliment that I always deferred to your Dad! [ed note: Cathi is Laura’s mother/Dorothy’s youngest daughter]

My biggest beef about the Women’s Movement was their insistence upon women putting SELF before husband & children, as Patricia O’Brien (THE WOMAN ALONE, 1973) did in the 1960s. She was admittedly a disciple of Betty Friedan, & both divorced. Lately, followers of Friedan & Co. are reaping the rewards of the selfish feminist doctrines; society is a mess today, with its high divorce rate, fatherless children, schools trying to educate undisciplined children, the loss of basic Christian family values. To say nothing of crime, drugs, suicide, loss of respect for government where there is “spiritual wickedness in high places.”

CHRISTIAN FAMILY. Teenage Granddaughters, the Lord is counting on you to shed His light in the world’s darkness. Just don’t feel that you have to marry early, because it is traditional. Give that special man you choose to spend your life with equal time to mature & discover who he is. You will both understand your calling as Christian parents because you have the Lord and His Spirit to guide you. And someday you can write an encouraging letter to your grandchildren.

With love,


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Roger Ebert, we will miss you.

Roger Ebert died today.

As Anna put it, “Ah, hell, he was a great writer.”
Everyone knows he was a stellar film critic, with a killer sense of humor and an unforgettable way with words.

But I learned two things about him today.

One is that he was a clever chef who could make damn near everything with a rice cooker. The cookbook is called The Pot and How to Use It, but he posted the short and snarky version on his blog.

Throw in salt by the handful if you want to. Aunt Mary would get nervous: “Don’t you think that’s about enough?” Hell, I don’t care. Take a good look at that microwave oatmeal you’ve been eating. It’s loaded with salt, corn syrup, palm oil and coconut oils–the two deadliest oils on earth. But it’s high fiber, you say? Terrific. You can die of a heart attack during a perfect bowel movement.

I have some potato soup bubbling in the Pot on my countertop now. (Thanks, Anna! Good call.)

But the most beautiful thing I learned about him was that he loved his wife. 

Roger was having dinner with Ann Landers when they met. He used introducing Eppie (Ann) as an excuse to get Chaz’s card.

I liked her looks, her voluptuous figure, and the way she presented herself. She took a lot of care with her appearance and her clothes never looked quickly thrown together. She seemed to be holding the attention of her table. You never get anywhere with a woman you can’t talk intelligently with.

I love the way he speaks about her.

Her love letters were poetic, idealistic and often passionate. I responded as a man and a lover. As a newspaperman, I observed she never, ever, made a copy-reading error. I saved every one of her letters along with my own, and have them encrypted on my computer, locked inside a file where I can’t reach them because the program and the operating system are now 20 years out of date. But they’re in there. I’m not about to entrust them to anyone at the Apple Genius Counter.

It was a partnership.

I sensed from the first that Chaz was the woman I would marry, and I know after 20 years that my feelings were true. She has been with me in sickness and in health, certainly far more sickness than we could have anticipated. I will be with her, strengthened by her example. She continues to make my life possible, and her presence fills me with love and a deep security. That’s what a marriage is for. Now I know.

So long, sir. We’ll miss you.

Pictures here, words from his 20th anniversary love letter last July.

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Words of Wisdom

As a practical matter, are you praying? Pray for patience, because you don’t know if you’re going to meet somebody this month or this year. Whoever comes into your life you want to have some prayers of protection so your life isn’t more complicated by it, because you really don’t need some idiot in your life.

On the one hand a good challenge adds spice, and you can grow by leaps and bounds, but not everything we invite into our life is easy to handle.

And on the other hand, pray that you can be a blessing for the fellow. So that he looks to you to be his ally, his best friend, a source of inspiration. So if you’re witchy and feeling entitled and all that kind of stuff, the poor guy might be thinking that he should have chosen more wisely. Who knows.

…People improve with age. You’re really not missing anything by not settling into a relationship this year. I’ve liked getting older each year. I’ve liked myself and who I am and how I can be with another person.

-Brigid’s mother

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