#16: Dr. William Struthers: How Porn Fries Your Brain

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#16: DR. WILLIAM STRUTHERS: HOW PORN FRIES YOUR BRAIN

 It’s safe to call Dr. Bill Struthers a brainiac. He holds a doctorate in from the University of Chicago and his research employs the use of stereotaxic surgery, immunochemistry, and behavioral manipulations to investigate gene expression in the cingulate cortex and basal ganglia. He is also a visiting scholar in science and religion at Oxford University.

His academic credentials, however, have had no effect on his ability to talk to the average layman about how pornography hijacks the male brain. In this interview, Dr. Struthers talks about the findings contained in his book Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain.

Because we are embodied beings, viewing pornography changes how the brain works, how we form memories and make attachments. He exposes false assumptions about, and casts a vision for, a redeemed masculinity, while showing the science behind compulsive porn use and how to break free.

 

BOOKS RECOMMENDED IN THIS EPISODE

Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by Dr. William Struthers

 

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#15: Matt Fradd- Busting Porn Myths

#15: MATT FRADD – BUSTING PORN MYTHS

Matt Fradd knows at least 129 different ways to talk about why pornography is immoral, bad for relationships, and great training for emotional immaturity. The “Australian by birth, Catholic by choice” author and speaker sat down with me to talk about ways you can discuss the porn problem with those who don’t think it’s a problem – without (this is key) relying on religious or faith-based resources.

Matt is the executive director of Integrity Restored, an apostolate providing all manner of resources for porn addicts and their partners. He can also be found blogging at mattfradd.com. His latest book is The Porn Myth: The Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography. There is a way out, and it starts with understanding the problem itself.

Something you should know: 100% of Matt’s royalties are being donated to Children of the Immaculate Heart (www.childrenoftheimmaculatheart.org) a San Diego-based apostolate dedicated to rescuing and restoring victims of sex trafficking.

 

BOOKS RECOMMENDED IN THIS EPISODE

 

The Porn Myth: The Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography

by Matt Fradd

 

Delivered: True Stories of Men and Women Who Turned from Porn to Purity

Edited by Matthew Fradd

 

Restored: True Stores of Love and Trust After Porn

Edited by Matthew and Cameron Fradd

 

Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids 

by Kristen Jenson and Dr. Gail Poyner

 

Integrity Restored, Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography

by Dr. Peter Kleponis, PhD

 

 

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Shepherds Who Did Not Run

Two news items leaped off the page on March 13, both involving heroic priests. I was blessed to know one though a letter correspondence (see my Q&A interview with him below); the other, I admired from afar.

Constantly Faithful

First, the one I knew. Monsignor Vincent Foy, who died in Toronto that day, was the longest serving priest in Canadian history, ordained an astonishing 77 years and nine months. He came into the world in the middle of the Great War (in 1915), got ordained on the eve of the even “greater” War (in 1939), and served as a priest under the reigns of nine popes.

The (durably long) life of this holy man testifies to the Greatest Generation writ priestly. The Second Vatican Council was followed by a series of painful disruptions, as new regulations and pastoral practices (known infamously as the “spirit of Vatican II”) were imposed that often bore no resemblance to the letter of Vatican II. Monsignor Foy, a trained canon lawyer, had already been a priest for 20 years when the Council was called by Pope John XXIII in 1959, and he (Foy) accepted the many pastoral disruptions wrought by the Council with a simple m.o.: the pastor loved Jesus and His Mother, and trusted in the authority of the Magisterium – which he defended his whole life through, often in the face of serious resistance.

Monsignor Foy crossed my radar because of his outspoken defense of Humanae Vitae and his efforts to get the Canadian bishops to recant the misleading (if technically non-authoritative) “Winnipeg Statement” of September 1968, a document that opened wide the door of dissent. I give some important background to that story in my book Sex Au Naturel.

Like most Catholics of my generation, I was weaned on a low-expectations model of what Bishop Robert Barron has aptly called “beige Catholicism.” We were schooled in the class struggles of El Salvador, exposed to the music of those famous liturgists Simon and Garfunkel, and mastered the art of felt and burlap banner making. Forget the Pope – we had an infallible, magical thing called “conscience.”

It’s as if the robust Catholicism of the mid twentieth century skipped a generation. In the world of literature, the post-Conciliar era produced no Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Muriel Spark, J. R. R. Tolkien, no Flannery O’Connor, no J.F.

Powers. We heard about Thomas Merton but he made his mark in my circles mostly because of his later Sixties-tinged enthusiasms.

So encountering Monsignor Foy’s often trenchant observations about the state of the Church and his warnings against lukewarmness were a tonic to people like me who were trying to find their way to the bosom of the Church. This Monsignor Foy guy had something to say and he said it well. In addition to scores of articles on moral theology and Catholic principles, he also wrote three respected books on close-up magic technique.

This lively online interview from two years ago shows a vivacious, witty 100-year-old man of God:

https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/seventy-six-years-a-priest#content-area

Monsignor Foy happened to be in Rome in 1978, the year of the three popes. From his account: “I had my rosary blessed by Pope Paul VI and served as eucharistic minister at his funeral. Just before the coffin was closed, I touched my rosary to his hand. I had my rosary blessed by Pope John Paul I and again touched it to his hand when I served as eucharistic minister at his funeral. I served at the first Mass of Pope John Paul II and my rosary was blessed by him. I hope to be buried with that rosary.”

You can bet that wish was fulfilled.

Monsignor Vincent Foy lived his life madly in love with the good Lord. He stood up for the uncomfortable truths of the Faith after the manner of Servant of God John Hardon, SJ (whom Monsignor greatly admired). You might say, by his own uncompromising attitude toward sin and his tender attitude toward sinners, Foy made the hard sayings of Christ easy. Santo subito.

Shepherds Exist Because of Wolves

The other priest is an American, and, if you’ve never heard of him, you soon will. His name is Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. If Vincent Foy spoke and read Latin with ease, the farm boy from Okarche, OK, stumbled repeatedly with his Latin courses in seminary. After almost six years of trying, he was asked to leave – a terrible blow.

But Stanley never gave up. Bishop Victor Reed gave him a second chance, and, after studying at Mt. Saint Mary’s in Maryland, was finally ordained in 1963. After five years of parish life, he received permission to join the staff at the Archdiocese’s mission in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala.

It didn’t take long for him to hit his sacerdotal stride. Amazingly, in light of his losing battle against his arch-nemesis Latin, Father Stan became intensely focused on learning both Spanish and the Tz’utujil tongue (which had no written form prior to the arrival of the mission team) so as to better serve God’s indigenous people. He mastered both.

The Cakchiquel Indians, descendants of the Mayans, took to their practical-minded “Papa Francisco” (there’s no analogue to Stanley in Tz’utujil) and he took to them. Tapping into his farming background, he brought in new crops, designed a DIY irrigation system, began a farmer’s co-op, and even tended to simple medical problems. Above all, Stan Rother wanted to be a shepherd like Jesus, to offer the Sacraments and to be a sacrament to his simple, voiceless, powerless flock.

During the early 1980s, Guatemala was still entangled in a long civil war between a militarist government and radical leftist guerillas. The violence remained an essentially urban phenomenon, but the mayhem eventually spread into the mountains and remote villages. In Santiago Atitlan, catechists and other Catholic leaders became “disappeared” to be tortured, killed, or both.

The Catholic radio station Father Rother supported on the mission grounds was trashed, its director murdered. Lists of names appeared on posters. When Rother’s name showed up on the list, he was brought back to Oklahoma for his, and his associate’s, safety.

By that time, however, the mission had become his true home, its people his true family. Against wise counsel, he insisted on returning to Atitlan, saying, “A shepherd does not run.” Within weeks, on a humid summer night, July 28, 2918, his rectory was stormed by three masked men. They had crammed a gun against the gardener’s head and forced him to lead them to “the red bearded Oklahoma-born missionary.”

They found him, and a violent scuffle ensued. And what may have started as a kidnapping ended as an execution as two rounds struck Rother’s head at close range.

We’ll never know the full story unless, that is, the killers confess after all these years as news of the beatification spreads. Something worth praying for. Providence deals in both the strange and the unlikely.

Historically, the Catholic Church in Central America has been caught between the rock of the militarized juntas and the hard place of the opposing armed guerillas. Catholic missionaries have done what good they can do amidst the tit-for-tat violence that left victims on both sides.

The question of whether Father Rother was killed because he was perceived as a pro-government stooge or a pro-revolutionary agent was made officially moot by Pope Francis, who decreed on December 2016 that the heroic priest died in odium fide, in “hatred of the Faith.” Rother was not killed because he was a social worker, a community activist, or a spy, but because he was a priest who sided with the poor. A bona fide martyr.

On March 13, the same day Foy entered eternity, Oklahoma Archbishop Paul Coakley received word from Rome that Rother will be beatified on September 25, 2017, in Oklahoma City. This will make Servant of God Stanley Rother not only America’s first officially recognized martyr, but the first American-born male to be beatified, jumping him one step ahead of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen and Venerable Solanus Casey on the road to canonization.

Father Stanley Rother and Monsignor Vincent Foy, red and white martyrs respectively, ora pro nobis.

#14: James Hoggan On the Toxic Levels of Public Discourse

#14: JAMES HOGGAN ON THE TOXIC LEVELS OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE

Vancouver-based PR director Jim Hoggan (pronounced Hogan) thinks strong disagreement can co-exist with civility. In today’s media culture, modes of communication (from emails to memos to blog posts) have become more swords than words.

Have you noticed how many YouTube debates are described as some version of, “Watch our hero eviscerate (or slaughter/kill/slay/own/etc.)  the other guy”? We can’t seem to disagree without destroying.

This is why Hoggan wrote I’m Right and You’re An Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up.

What’s interesting is that he takes a definite (possibly dogmatic) stand on what used to be called global warming – rebranded as “climate change” – so his communication lessons are tied to a controversial topic from the get-go. But the merits or demerits of Al Gore’s approach to climate change weren’t the topic of the interview – the need for engagement at the level of facts and not facetiousness was. And in this interview, Mr. Hoggan models the civility he recommends.

(Surely his Canadianness gives him an edge in the nice department…)

In this context I can also, without shame, recommend my free e-booklet, Stay Cool When the Argument Heats Up: Proven Strategies for Calm Conversing. Get your free copy by subscribing to my Inside Scoop Newsletter here.

Yes, Virginia, we can disagree without destroying.

 

BOOKS RECOMMENDED IN THIS EPISODE

 I’m Right and You’re An Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up. by James Hoggan

 

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Straight talk about “Beauty and the Beast”

The media junkets for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast live action remake of the lovely 1991 animated version started with the usual virtue signaling by actress Emma Watson, who can’t seem to get through an interview without mentioning that the character Belle is a “feminist,” with additional sermonizing at no extra charge. (This is the same Emma Watson who appeared almost completely topless this month in Vanity Fair, because, as is well known, all self-respecting feminists appear that way in magazines because it gives them…power and independence, and stuff.)

And just when you felt exhausted from wall-to-wall pro-gay messaging, get ready for the talking points from marketers of Beauty and the Beast. Yes, director Bill Condon has announced that the LeFou character – the foppish sidekick who sings the funny song about Gaston – is…wait for it…gay.

Mr. Condon calls it “a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.” (This is the same Bill Condon who directed Kinsey, the 2004 sympathetic biopic of child molesting sex pervert Alfred Kinsey.)

The lyricist for the 1991 animated classic, Howard Ashman, was dying of AIDS when he wrote the memorable score with Alan Menken. Around this time, certain elements of the Disney story began to be identified with the gay agenda, starting with the idea that Beast is some kind of metaphor about being HIV positive.

That identification is now full-blown, with Disney players throwing as much Gay at the wall as they can. We are daily reminded that:

  1. Director Condon himself is openly gay!
  2. Actor Luke Evans who plays Gaston is openly gay!
  3. Sir Ian McKellan, who plays the dancing clock, is openly gay!

I have to think even some gay activists are embarrassed by the overkill. Very easy to imagine them going, “Guys, dial it back—this is just way too gay.”

Actor Josh Gad, who plays the fey LeFou, opined, “LeFou’s sexuality has been a topic of discussion since the original film debuted. For 25 years, people have been asking this question about this character.”

Ah, no they haven’t, Josh. No one noticed; no one cares.

The question is: what’s going on?

Are they sabotaging a fulsomely heterosexual main plot? Think about how menacingly masculine the Beast is, and how fragrantly feminine Belle is. Her steadfast femininity tames him. Are some PC elites trying to undermine all that icky hetero-breeder messaging? Add to the momentum begun by five Supreme Court justices who redefined marriage in the Obergefell vs Hodges decision?

I don’t have all the answers but I do have a theory.

The suits at Disney set a trap for Christians. We’re getting punked. The producers knew their movie wasn’t fantastic, so they basically gilded the lily. They hyped up the “controversy” to maximally provoke the pious into launching petitions and renting pitchforks  – and then cash in on the publicity.

Mission accomplished so far.

Henigan’s Drive-In Theater down in Alabama is refusing to show it. The owners posted on Facebook: “If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”

Well, that’s perfectly fine as long as he’s not basing the decision (which he has every right to do, and God bless him) on rumors, instead of what’s, you know, actually in the movie. And aren’t some movies inappropriate for kids but appropriate for adults, including Jesus?

A business decision like that is a double-edged sword. It comes with the blessing of kudos from customers and with the curse of the ritual shaming of the L.G.B.T. (Le Gay Baker Treatment) and its barrage of hashtag bullying.

Next up, Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham (whom I admire greatly) is now calling for a boycott of the Disney Company. From the phrasing of his announcement, however, he doesn’t appear to have seen the movie or the offending scene.

Finally, Russian MP Vitaly Milonov is trying to get it banned in Russia for peddling “gay propaganda” before it even opens later in the month. Banned. That sounds more Soviet than Russian, nyet? And an over-the-top move like that would hurt the flick in what way?

My fellow Christians, please keep three things in mind. First, movie boycotts don’t work; they help sell tickets. Remember the vehement opposition to Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988? I’m still waiting for the evidence that that well-organized boycott did much of anything but throw attention at an otherwise bland, confused movie.

Second, by our breathless hand-wringing we reinforce the stereotype of Christians as frightened Philistines whose artless creed is summed up by the word no.

Third, consider getting behind artists in Hollywood whose hard work and commitment to story-telling excellence is perpetually lacking the money to get them made and into theaters. How quick we are to throw rocks at Hollywood and how slow to become part of the solution. I’m not saying you have to see Beauty and the Beast, nor that the corporate culture at Disney is not pro-homosexual, nor that media consumers don’t need to make prudent viewing decisions.

I am saying that giving your name and email to a petition mill might make you feel good about flinging a stone at Goliath, but it’s going to affect box office mojo about much as it did the last time you did it “against” Fifty Shades of Grey. That cinematic turd was relentlessly condemned, shamed, petitioned, and boycotted and…hauled in $571 million in sales.

Drink deep of that pure Lenten air. The Church that survived Nero, Diocletian, the Hun, and Stalin, will somehow survive a movie starring that guy from Downton Abbey.

#13: Dr. Donald DeMarco: Providence as Proof of God’s Existence

#13: DR. DONALD DEMARCO: PROVIDENCE AS PROOF OF GOD’S EXISTENCE

Dr. Donald DeMarco is a leading Canadian philosopher, writer, and pro-life lion. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, Ontario; a Visiting Scholar with Holy Apostles College and Seminary; and is the author of 21 books.

In my podcast interview with him, he unpacked what is to my mind the deepest mystery of all: how God’s provident care, can co-exist with human freedom. God has a plan, and we can say yes or no to it. It’s amazing, really, like the grace at work in this mystery.

I admit to my long-standing admiration of Dr. DeMarco. His books were immensely helpful to me as I was making my way back to the Catholic Church in Canada. DeMarco’s style is lyrical, easy to read, but packed with golden nuggets of truth. You have to love a Christian philosopher whose doctoral dissertation was “The Nature of the Relationship between the Mathematical and the Beautiful in Music.”

Enjoy this rich conversation on a fascinating topic.

 

BOOKS RECOMMENDED IN THIS EPISODE

 

The Heart of Virtue  by Donald DeMarco

In My Mother’s Womb by Donald DeMarco

Architects of the Culture of Death by Donald DeMarco and Benjamin Wiker

The Many Faces of Virtue  by Donald DeMarco

The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved

 

 

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