Responses: The Gist [food for thought]

*”Stew” is a very funny word. 

There are a million different interesting things circulating around the internet. My reading list/bookmarks menu is becoming very active recently; it seems like everyone and their neighbor is sharing something on Facebook or tumblr that just begs to be read. These are some of the things (some a little old, though) that I’ve read: 

Catholic Bishop and Ateneo clash over liberal professors

*It’s like I’m writing headlines now. 

The gist: 150+ distinguished and probably awesome professors in Ateneo de Manila University signed pro-RH bill. Catholic Bishop Medroso (of CBCP and Episcopal Commission on Canon Law) says that the professors must be investigated. If found guilty of teaching heretical ideas or concepts against Catholic law, then they will be sacked and/or excommunicated.

Development: This issue was very loud online, especially on Facebook. Most people I knew were backing the opinion that the professors signed their support as individuals, not as representatives of the educational institution, and that the professors didn’t express their beliefs within their classes in a subjective manner (though some stories tell me otherwise). Several current and former Ateneans expressed their antipathy for what they perceive as an impingement on academic freedom. 

Whether or not the professors were unduly influencing the impressionable minds (if you say so) of the blue-blooded youth, the University had issued a statement backing the Church on the RH bill. 

My take: A Catholic institution should follow Catholic law, and by extension, its enforcers (the bishops, CBCP etc.). It has and never will be a democracy of ideas. There is no arguing. But to be serious, I do think that the bishops were overreacting, or being overly presumptuous. There has been no hide nor hair of converters stepping out of the Catholic kingdom because they were under these professors. Intelligent discourse and individual beliefs should be kept distinct. 

Related: Filipino bishops will also strip schools of their Catholic status if it is found that they teach anti-Catholic ideas. 

Historically, the Jesuit community has been on hot waters before for being an intellectual and free-thinking body. The Society of Jesus was expelled from the Philippines (as well as other countries recognizing papal authority) in the eighteenth century. Jose Rizal also studied in Ateneo, probably because he would have faced racial discrimination in other Catholic institutions. 

Honestly. The RH bill should just be passed already (this will require a longer discussion). 

Sins in the Church: varied, evolving and still frustrating

The Gist: The Vatican has added seven ‘mortal’ sins alongside the traditional deadly sins of pride, gluttony, avarice, sloth, lust, wrath and envy. They decided to add phrasal sins: Environmental Pollution, Genetic Manipulation, Excessive Wealth, Inflicting Poverty, Drug Trafficking and Consumption, Morally Debatable Experiments and the Violation of Human Rights. 

“Mortal” sins (different from “venial” sins”) condemn one’s soul to hell unless one repents before death. 

Development: This kind of popped out of nowhere for me. The seven new mortal sins are extensions of the traditional ones; they’re quite easy to connect. The ‘why’ of this new specificity is the question. Apparently the Pope found the “decreasing sense of sin” in the world positively horrid. It still doesn’t connect though.

My take: While I don’t understand why they had to do this (make things clearer? make it easier for us to confess? I’m not even sure if half the Catholic population knows about this change), I do understand how some of them are mortal sins. Actually just two of them: Violation of Human Rights and Inflicting Poverty.

The rest is subject to interpretation. I mean, environmental pollution is a natural by-product of human activity. It can be regulated. Promotion of it, on the other hand, may be a sin. They’ve got to be more specific about these kinds of things (especially on the case of “Morally Debatable Experiments”; I mean, who decides these things anyways?). Likewise, Excessive Wealth can’t really be a sin. In a very stable society with very little economic differences between classes (possible, maybe?), excessive wealth is natural and even inevitable. And it’s not bad if you want to secure your family (is it?). Drug Trafficking and Consumption is perfectly fine for me. Just be responsible, don’t coerce anyone (especially in the trafficking part) and don’t kill anyone. I refuse to call Genetic Manipulation as a whole to be worthy of eternal hell. It saves lives. Duh. 

Related: The Vatican/Church itself has committed an infinite number of sins. A specific site listed several which I found very intriguing and, as the section title suggests, very frustrating. I don’t understand how they can live with such a hypocritical tradition. I can’t find the link, though I’m sure plenty of sites host similar content.

Fifty Shades of Grey is killing my hope 

*Allow me to be melodramatic once in a while. 

The Gist: Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels (amusingly dubbed “mommy porn”, though that isn’t an image I’d like to see) took over bookstores and bestselling lists over the past couple of months. It’s extremely popular for a wide demographic (mostly women), ranging from my mom’s friends to eleven-year old acquaintances. The plot basically revolves around clumsy, sexually inexperienced and naive (though thankfully of legal age) Anastasia Steele and dominant, predatory, sexual god Christian Grey. With several chapters of development, Anastasia Steele –who, as I understand it, has never masturbated or even known about such things in her life — embarks on a BDSM sub/Dom-type relationship with Christian Gray. She falls in love with her hero, who is unattainable, closed off and miserable. 

My take: Thousands of people love it. Millions. While I don’t understand why people want to buy it (okay, so the porn is supposedly pretty hot), I understand that its entry in public consciousness is, in some ways, dangerous to the feminist movement and to literature itself. 

Because I have not yet read it (but trust me, I’ve read enough excerpts and reviews to know that I don’t necessarily want to), I’d rather refer several links that relate some insight to the books. 

(1) In the Fifty Shades trilogy, classical heroines such as Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet are repeatedly mentioned or referenced. They are used to contrast and compare Anastasia Steele (who is a literature student) and her sexual liberation by gaining power as a masochist submissive. The author presents it such that Anastasia has overcome what the classical heroines had not; that she gained equality and power and love. But, as this article suggests, this may not entirely be the case; Anastasia, in gaining power, lost her own self. 

(2) Relevantly, social conditions for women today are not as evolved as Anastasia likes to think. Is she being debased or empowered? While the latter is entirely possible in real-life BDSM scenarios, it’s not that likely in this fiction. Link. While I’m not very happy with the linked article, it’s got some reasonable points. What I’m not happy about are some of the comments –how can some people think that women and men are already equal in rights and privileges? 

(3) Over on goodreads.com, which is a book-rating site I highly recommend, 50 shades received a respectable 3.64 average rating. Most of the default reviews were those rating it 1 or 2 stars out of 5; the few reviews I read that gave any higher were interesting in their own right. I recommend Katrina Lumsden’s review, simply because hers has gifs. 

(4) The best reviews and criticism I found didn’t come from literature sites –it came from tumblr. Just for laughs (and be careful because you can never be too sure of what you’ll see), browse the fifty shades tag on tumblr. Also just for laughs: excerpts from the reviews of the haters.

BUT DON’T BE DISCOURAGED! I just find it a lot more fun to criticize something negatively. =)) Some people say that it’s really, really good (otherwise it wouldn’t have continued on with two sequels). The plot is apparently very engaging and the characters eventually become likable. Read it for yourself and then tell me, please. ;) 

And what’s so great about these books is that it makes sex and sexuality non-taboo. People just read it anywhere and buy it on the store with no hesitations even though it’s a mostly known fact that they’ll be reading through one of the lesser exposed sexual dynamics — BDSM. While no one’s shouting their fannish glee at the top of their lungs, this kind of personal assertiveness and acceptance of erotica into mainstream literature hasn’t been seen before. It’s a concrete benefit to 50 Shades of Grey (though obviously we’re still a long way off to an ideal kind of sexual liberation). 

Development: It might become a movie. 

I’d also like to mention that apparently the author, E.L. James, thinks “there [moan]” and “clitoris/clit/pussy/vagina” are synonymous. No, it’s not. It only shows how Anastasia was sexually naive and so was taken advantage of. And shut up about holy cows and inner goddesses. Also Christian. Christian, take care of your submissive. I mean honestly. Don’t be such an irresponsible sadist. That goes for everyone interested. 

Also, whoops. Word vomit for this part. 

Time is telling us something

The Gist: The more we cram at night, the more we get problems the following day. 

My take: We should probably sleep earlier.

Useful things are always being discovered

Ever forgot that one word you really, really need? Try the Tip of My Tongue project. 

Are you a frustrated artist with no budget like me? Salivate over the Sensu brush and stylus.

I don’t know what this is anymore. Have some pretty non-English words.  

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