Monday, 19 November 2012

I Heart This "Crisis" Piece

Here it is. Discuss. I'm going to bed, so I'll post your responses in the morning.

All I'll add now is that courtship and marriage have to be learned by example from babyhood on, so my guess is that most young people are not actually ready to marry until they are older than my grandparents' generation (the ones who fought WWII) was when they got married. If you're from an English-speaking country (with the possible but not obvious exception of Ireland) where the biggest source of entertainment was TV, you did not grow up in a pro-marriage society. You grew up in a consumer society.

Oh, and I disagree that alone is necessarily bad. It can be bad, but it is not always bad.

Update (Tuesday): I had some trouble getting into my email account today, which scared the stuffing out of me. I have since erased all my email back to January 2009, and will continue erasing to the end. Therefore, all-not just some of--the original Auntie Seraphic letters are gone. Future historians may weep, but the rest of you may draw a sigh of relief.


Alisha said...

See? Swing dancing IS the answer! :) I honestly think that women shouldn't date a guy who doesn't have the courage to dance. I know that sounds crazy, but it shows a lot of things: humility, courage, perseverance, desire to show a girl a good time and excel at something. The day young Catholic men take up dancing en masse my serious singleness may be threatened but I am not holding my breath as the most serious of Catholic men I know do not dance and the most serious of dancers are far from Catholic.
We are educated by stories: living stories and ones in books, movies etc. If we don't see stories that have these things, we don't know how to live them. I think the church's non involvement with things that are not solely of the intellect, like dance, art, etc. contributes to this situation.
It's true what he says about there not being sweethearts. This is why young girls go literally insane over boy bands - they would love for a cute boy to be serenading them.
I know that I find it hard to really believe in the existence of the type of love he is describing, unless it is something I initiate myself: I just don't believe men care enough to do those things. (Except my dad).

SunnySaffer said...

I think part of the problem is being paralysed by choice. Catholic men and women today have more options open to them and seem consequently less capable of making a decision. The choice of commitment is put off indefinitely and society condones this. Even a very small commitment - say to court this woman instead of that - is given a disproportionate amount of gravity to such an extent that the decision becomes impossible to make. Catholic men and women alike need to be reminded that showing some interest in someone/holding hands is not tantamount to a marriage proposal.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Great article on Crisis.

I remember seeing an episode of the Cosby Show where Rudy's class was taught to dance. My junior high experience at a Catholic school was that the church hosted a couple middle school dances, but the music was radio versions of otherwise inappropriate songs, and while the chaperones did keep the dance floor clean, that was about it. On our 8th grade trip the D.C., we and a different school group shared an evening boat trip on the Potomac with a DJ and music (what a waste - so much nicer to look at the monuments all lit up). I think they were in high school, and their behavior was sexualized - especially the ridiculous "slow dance" malarkey. I think some of my classmates imitated this; I am glad to say that several of us were shocked.... (also, to be honest, I didn't quite understand any of it - I just relied on friends' opinions to know that grinding was not a good thing).

I wish we'd had some folks give us a proper way to do these things. It was much more fun with my family - having central European background on my mom's side, and a grandmother who learned to dance from her grandfather, who was the best dancer at the ethnic hall in their city, we sometimes have impromptu polka parties. It's a lot of fun and I wish there were opportunities like that socially... I'd consider starting it but I don't think I know anyone who knows how - it's hard to get just dancing for fun going when it's all on one person to teach it.

MaryJane said...

I thought it was interesting that he talked about marriage as an endeavour in which two people do not get to reap their own fruit, but instead that of their parents and grandparents... but that is a huge part of the problem! At least half the population is coming out of divorce and or remarriage and or single parent homes... no one sees the fruit of marriage and so they do not even really want it.

I agree with his propositions, but most of the places where I have seen dances and picnics and whatnot (Catholic bubble type places), there has also been a lot of weirdness and social-awkwardness. Then again, I guess a fair number of engaged couples have emerged, so that is something.

I do not mean to be cynical, but does the whole thing not seem a little idealistic? I guess if it is one part of a bigger solution, and not the only solution, I agree.

MaryJane said...

And amen, to SunnySaffer... in response to the secular idea that sex is not a big deal, we have made everything else a huge deal - even little things like holding hands!

Seraphic, I think you should make t-shirts or bumper stickers or something, that say: It is JUST COFFEE.

Seraphic said...

Holding hands can be a big deal. I broke up with a guy because he didnt' want to hold my hand. If you're dating a guy who doesn't want to be seen in public holding your hand, there is an issue.

Bernadette said...

I agree with Alisha - swing dancing is definitely the answer! :D

I also agree with Sunny - anymore the decision to actually ask someone out on a date becomes almost as much of a big deal as if you were asking them to marry you, not just spend some time with you on a Saturday night. A while back I read a book that theorized that there was so much pressure on this decision, and so much emphasis on never, ever even casually dating more than one person at a time because our culture equates dating with having sex with the person you're dating. That's not (mostly) true with most Catholic singles, but the same attitude bleeds over. The book's answer to the situation was that people should "friend date" for a while before transitioning to "date dates," and the "friend dating" stage was understood to not be exclusive. While it's a nice idea, in practice I've seen it turn into so, so much miscommunication, people getting strung along, etc. I think we just don't have the cultural conditioning necessary anymore to do that. Maybe our grandparents could, but I think we might not have the tools. Still, it's the most sensible solution to the problem that I've seen in a long time.

As for the rest of it, I think it's up to the young adults themselves to organize things, which requires one or two people to be willing to step forward and take the lead. All of our young adult get togethers, from Theology On Tap to movie night at someone's house, are self-organized by local young adults. While we have had parish sponsored young adult groups (usually organized by some parish-designated leader on the basic plan of a youth group, but, you know, for sortof grown ups), my experience has been that after a while those tend to fizzle out. Meanwhile, our fairly autonomous group (self organized, self run on the plan of we're all grown ups here) is still going strong after close to ten years. So while the idea of more parish-sponsored events for young adults sounds nice, I think any real solution is going to have to come from the local young adults themselves.

Maria said...

I wonder if it isn't a broader cultural issue casting its pall. While good Catholic young people may refrain from bed-hopping, something they know to be inherently sinful, there is nothing to stop them accepting the floating notion in society that one is not fit to start even thinking about marriage until one is out of school, debt-free, and gainfully employed at a salary of at least x. And since young Catholic men know (I hope) that they shouldn't lead a girl on if they're not serious, they make no moves whatsoever, reasoning that they're not ready for marriage yet anyway.
Meanwhile, their secular peers are out there dating like crazy without any purpose other than getting lucky, and while this is clearly bad news for the ladies who end up just being "practice", I think these men are learning something about attracting and pleasing women, and building up the confidence they need to approach a girl seriously one day, should they ever choose to.
Therefore, it doesn't surprise me that young Catholics on a university campus don't date.

Jam said...

I know I'm being a bug bear but the 1950s are SUCH a historically-specific anomalous decade, I just have a very hard time with anyone who holds that time up as a model. Partner dancing and dating are hardly features of courtship from time immemorial. The fact is, people used to expect to get married. The higher end of society schemed over it and arranged it; the lower end took care of it, at least once a baby was on the way. If you wanted to "do it right" or be "respectable" - marriage. What are our expectations now?

Also, may I point out that more arranging of dances etc by an older generation also means more "are you dating anyone?" "why aren't you married yet?" "when are you going to settle down?" which I gather most people here at least do not appreciate. But nagging is pretty much part and parcel with creating expectations, in reality.

I think it has to be a comprehensive marriage effort: to make people really understand what is the truth about sex and love and marriage, and making it clear that Catholics are serious about strengthening marriages and so on. Done without too much apologizing. That's the only way I can see that gets us out of this mess.

P said...

Just wanted to say that Tony Esolen waxes eloquent on many a subject--I've enjoyed his writing in various journals for years.

Here's a fun post of his on "rules" for marrying that mixes the serious and the facetious.

Christine said...

Bernadette - I really liked the points you made: (a) Maybe people treat dating as such a huge deal because it's becoming more equated with sex, and (b) We young folk need to organize opportunities for each other to socialize in groups in different situations.