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Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Very Unfunny Truth Bill Cosby has Taught Us

Bill-Cosby

Published at The Stream

It seems very likely that Bill Cosby is not the kind of man we thought he was. While he hasn’t been convicted of a crime, and perhaps never will be, there is a growing mountain of accusations, and now sworn court testimony, that reveal a pattern of grave and disgusting abuses on his part against women.

More than anything, this makes me very sad. I have been a Cosby fan for decades. I’ll say it — I love Bill Cosby. At least the public, creative Bill Cosby I’ve known all my life.

As a kid, I remember marveling to myself that Cosby made me laugh and care so much about some cartoon kid named Fat Albert.

I still remember the commercials he made for Jell-O Pudding Pops. The pudding pops were yummy, but Cosby’s charming antics made them just plain awesome. It was the treat to have back then.

I can’t count how many times I listened to his Noah’s Ark routine. We had the LP version (yep, a record player!), and my entire family would stop whatever else they were doing when they heard it playing, and come sit down and laugh. We’d laugh, and laugh, and cry, and hold our aching stomachs, and howl with delight. It was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. In fact, it still is.

Even without the benefit of seeing his hilarious facial expressions, we enjoyed cheek-hurting laughter time and time again. “Noah!” “How long can you tread water? Hahahaha!”

And his parenting routines? Classic. I still remember the one about him feeding his kids chocolate cake for breakfast, patting himself on the back for his ingenious insight: Eggs! And milk! In the chocolate cake!

Not until I became a mother did I fully appreciate the wisdom and accuracy of his repertoire of parenting jokes. Remember when he and his wife brought home their first child, a daughter, and they marveled at the adorable little poopy diapers she made? “Then one day, God put odor in the poo-poo…” It’s true!

And who can forget Little Tiny Hairs? Simply hilarious.

Cosby’s humor was unique and rare even 40 years ago. It’s practically unheard of today. It was classy, intelligent, clever, truly creative, and clean. He didn’t rely on profanity or R-rated (or worse), crass, derogatory, or sexually explicit material.

He was incredibly funny without ever assaulting my ears or my innocence.

And yes, I know how very ironic that statement is now. That’s why it makes me so very sad. A brilliant and happy legacy is now forever tarnished and left in ruins. A man with rare talent, beloved by so many for so many years, now will be remembered as a lecher and possibly a rapist.

I wish it weren’t so because I would have loved to share Cosby’s humor with my own children. Mostly, I wish it weren’t so because my heart aches for the women he has hurt, especially his wife. It seems clear that if nothing else, he’s guilty of serial adultery.

We are in dire need of learning the lesson his wreckage has to teach us about ourselves and our self-indulgent, debauched culture.

He was a master on the comedy stage; a slave to his own passions in real life, and those passions weren’t impressed by his accomplishments or his fame. They just took him down.

It may be unfashionable these days to speak of virtue, and positively appalling to speak of chastity, but such are precisely the remedies that would have saved Cosby’s life and legacy. They’ll save us, too, if we’re smart.

It’s a simple as this: work continually toward self-mastery and be happy, or live as a slave to destructive passions and be miserable and hurt other people. That truth runs completely counter to the directive of our culture, but with such a stunning exhibit of the culture’s handiwork, let’s have a good look at it, shall we?

What’s the key to self-mastery? Virtue.

“Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good. The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1804)

Which virtue in particular will help us learn self-mastery? Chastity.

“Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.” (CCC 2339)

“The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.” (CCC 2341)
“Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life.” (CCC 2342)

It’s a terrible shame that Bill Cosby’s remarkable genius was sullied by destructive passions. But the point is, the potential for such disaster is not outside our doors, not just out there in the fallen world, but within our own selves. No one is immune to temptation or struggle in this life.

Still, each one of us is charged with the task of mastering those passions which will otherwise destroy us and those around us. The good news is that we’ve been given the means to do it. Pray for supernatural strength and practice virtue, particularly chastity, every day. Flee from the devil, resist temptation, and if you fail, don’t give up the long and exacting work of self-mastery. Start again. Exercise freedom properly, and choose what is good and honorable. We each have everything to gain if we do, and everything to lose if we don’t.

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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Independence Day

John Adams on Independence Day or “the Day of Deliverance”:

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
-John Adams, letter of July 3, 1776 to his wife Abigail

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Posted by on July 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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An Old Letter We All Must Read Again

Time to make sure we live up to this description once again.

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.” 

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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