We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.—St. Francis of Assisi.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Modesty: life's a beach.

As readers might recall, France is, by definition, a secular society. Ironically, secularism in France has become something of a religion, blinding its adherents to real and present dangers that a vacuous state is incapable of addressing.

Point of fact: secularists cannot distinguish between good religion and bad religion. Secularist ideologues regress to the narrow minded view that all religions are bad. Is it any wonder that French politicians are practically immobilized by their grey worldview that paralyzes and prevents them from being proactive and able to root out real threats? The French have lost their political and social acumen and no longer appreciate intellectual nuance. The French aptitude for cultural cuisine has been fouled by junkfood. French secularists cannot tell the difference between a rock and a potato.

Thankfully, the French state is populated by more than just the ideologues who have dragged her into an abyss of confusion and naiveté. There are among the citizens of the hexagonal state a remnant of tradition-minded folk, mostly Catholics, who know well enough that France is in an impossible situation with regards to competing "virtues". On the one hand, the well known four: liberté, égalité, fraternité, laïcité. On the other, religious freedom, which is seen, it seems, more as a freedom-to-worship-but-keep-your-religion-behind-closed-doors-and-out-of-the-public-square kind of condescending nod to religious folk. Apparently, the Republic of France is little different than the People's Republic of China.
G.K. Chesterton once said,“When you break the big laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.” Indeed, we get thousands of lesser laws. How true this is in an age that has cast off God’s moral vision (the big laws). We don’t get fewer laws; we get more—a lot more.—Msgr. Charles Pope.
France has for some time banned religious symbols from being worn in public. The French law enacted to restrict freedom of expression, which is a mouthful to speak...
loi no 2004-228 du 15 mars 2004 encadrant, en application du principe de laïcité, le port de signes ou de tenues manifestant une appartenance religieuse dans les écoles, collèges et lycées publics
Law #2004-228 of March 15, 2004, concerning, as an application of the principle of the separation of church and state, the wearing of symbols or garb which show religious affiliation in public primary and secondary schools
... is the nuclear option in the quest to sanitize French society of anything that smacks of religion.
The law "does not mention any particular symbol, and thus bans all Christian (veil, signs), Muslim (veil, signs), Sikh (turban, signs) Jewish and other religions' signs".—Wikipedia
That nuclear option has blinded French politicians to necessary distinctions. Societies which permit their governments to enact such laws will inevitably realize too late that rather than ensuring the preservation of their noblest virtues (liberté, etc.), said laws merely make possible the rise of dictatorships and terrorists. Sadly, the voices of common sense, Catholic and others, have been ignored.

Recently, the burkini has caused some French secularist ideologues to erupt in a spittle flecked nutty, as Father Z might say. The burkini is a modest form of beach or swimming attire that muslim women have been wearing.

Is French society, a society well known for its comfortability with scantily clad women on magazine covers (that glare at us from magazine stands), so politically and intellectually tentative that it cannot appreciate a little modesty, a little relief from the reverse puritanism of the secular religionists? Are the French secularists so anti-puritan that they themselves have become the new puritans of intolerance?
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/full-body-burkini-swimwear-bans-expand-in-france-1.3721370
The wearing of modest attire protects women from being exploited as sex objects or reduced to mere chattel by corporate fashionistas. There are many reasons for wearing a more substantial covering to the beach. Have the French secularists read the UV Index warnings lately? Perhaps they should be more concerned about ozone depletion than bothering themselves with what women are wearing to protect themselves from gawkers and the harsh rays of the Sun.

How dare these nuns wear their habits on the beach? | Amry

Granted, burkinis could be a backdoor attempt to circumvent Law #2004-228. Does the burkini represent a camel's nose attempt to do an end run around their precious law? Secularist ideologues, militant feminists and perhaps a few balanced critics who likely see the burkini as an instrument of control of women would probably answer 'yes'.
There is always more goodness in the world than there appears to be, because goodness is of its very nature modest and retiring.—Evelyn Beatrice Hall
What of Catholic women? Ok, men too! Some coverings are more thin veneers of fabric than actual clothing! What of Catholic women who want to freely live the virtue of modesty? For Christians, modesty in dress is vitally important. We do not want to lead anyone into temptation by dressing in a provocative manner in public. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with the human body. Readers should recall that Catholic artists have done very well over the centuries to represent the human form, naked or clothed, in magnificent ways. Context is important. Wearing little more than underwear in public constitutes for a Christian an untenable practice because Christians are called to care about the welfare and dignity of others. Salting people's imaginations with attire of a kind that conceals little and tells all risks cementing attitudes which demean women and which invite exploitive behaviour from those who drool over the overexposed.

For the record, no one should say that someone deserves to be assaulted for wearing provocative clothing. Right minded people, while rejecting immodest behaviour or clothing, readily acknowledge they have a responsibility to defend those who, perhaps lacking sound judgement, might put themselves at risk among dangerous individuals. People who defend modesty, typically people of faith, should not be coerced by radical feminists or secularists into defending or embracing the wearing of immodest clothing or immodest behaviour. Proponents of modesty should not be bullied into embracing immodest behaviour. People of goodwill understand the reasons for promoting and defending the dignity and well being of men and women and children while also being cognizant of the responsibility to condemn all forms of exploitation (e.g., sexual assault, pornography, prostitution, human trafficking). One can be against the clothing and behaviour while still defending the safety and well being of someone whose risky behaviour carries with it the probability of causing them to be seen by sexual predators as targets to be exploited. In a perfect world, people would treat others with respect and not act on their disordered desires. Of course, we are not living in some idyllic secularist utopia populated by carefree nudists.

One wonders whether or not the wearing of a potato sack would offend those who seem entitled to viewing much flesh on the beach? Hopefully said gunnysack would be made of tightly woven threads and cover the wearer's frame from neckline to knee.

The erudite Monsignor Charles Pope has a post on modesty with regards to attire donned by beach volleyball players. Monsignor Pope covers the subject well. Pun intended.
http://blog.adw.org/2016/08/modesty-beach-volleyball/
I realize that each time the question of modesty has come up on this blog there are some readers who want to dismiss such discussions and emphasize the right of people to dress as they please. They believe that any sexual temptation aroused is almost wholly the fault of the viewer, not the one wearing the attire.
Modesty should avoid excessively burdening people. It seeks a middle ground wherein the one who dresses and the other who sees share responsibility. The one wearing the attire should not be burdened with difficult requirements, nor should the viewer be burdened by facing undue temptation. Mutual charity and concern are the goals.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of modesty as protecting the mystery, chastity, and dignity of the human person.
Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. … Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. … Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet (CCC 2521-2522).
[...] I have found in the past that discussions about modesty are often difficult to have in a way that is helpful or charitable. Reasonable people may differ on the details of modesty. Modesty does involve a range of options, influenced by circumstances and the sensibilities of cultures. I have articulated here that I see no need for tiny bikinis in this sport and that I think more modest attire is important. If you disagree, please explain the relationship you see of the brief bikini to the sport, considering that men in general and women from other cultures who compete do not see the need to wear so little. If you agree, please remember in your comments that the imputation of motives to individuals is a sketchy and usually uncharitable thing to do. Everyone, please use care when commenting.
The last bit of advice also applies to comments logged here at this blog. 

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.