vrijdag 20 januari 2017

Then vs Now

While reading Katholieke Illustratie from 1935 for my research purposes I came across a story by one J. Peerdeman which I thought illustrates nicely the difference between the society built on traditional values and what we are witnessing nowadays, even though in the 1930s it was already crumbling.

The story features a girl who pretends to have a headache so that she can stay behind while the family go visiting and meet her boyfriend. She knows that "a Catholic girl isn't supposed to do such things" but she tells herself that as a modern woman she shouldn't be held down by silly conventions and after all, they are only going to play the piano and talk about Mozart. Surely, there is no harm in that?

Well, the maid has the same ideas and meets her fiance in the kitchen thinking that no one is at home, but they get caught by the girl while eating chocolate pudding left over from the family dinner. The servant confesses and the mistress wants to warn her about falling into sin and good Catholic girls not meeting their boyfriends while nobody is home but realises her own hypocrisy and leaves.

What's a girl to do? It's too late to phone the guy and tell him not to come as he is on his way. In the end, she goes down into the kitchen and tells the maid not to allow the visitor in as it would be indecent for her to receive a man while her parents are not present. The servant takes a hint and does exactly as she's told. Virtue won this round.

It was then. As for now...Well, we all know  the difference even though we are trained to notice it any more.

dinsdag 17 januari 2017

Men, Women And Housework

Doug Wilson recently wrote a post on preachers being afraid to criticise women which turned into a heated discussion on who should be doing the dishes (and other things as well). It appears to be a hot topic, so I thought as a resident housewife I'll comment on the issue, too.

Our age is the age of confusion, since the concept of equality as understood nowadays demands that everybody is treated the same. And even Pastor Wilson himself, while touching on the subject of "lazy housewives" stated that Bible teaches women to be domestic. Being domestic doesn't necessarily mean a housewife, as many people are perfectly able to understand (and some even pointed it out). And then the subject of doing the dishes was trotted out and it turned into yet another male-female spat on the interwebz.

Of course, the traditional understanding of the female role was that the lady of the house was supposed to spend most of her time there, attending to the household management, though not necessarily performing all the tasks herself. If she was wealthy, she could very well afford enough household staff to never ever bother with washing the dishes. The traditional society wasn't only about the division of labour within the household, but also about the fact that the primary role of the woman was within home while the man participated in the broad society.

Here is John Gill's analysis of Titus 2: Keepers at home: minding their own family affairs, not gadding abroad; and inspecting into, and busying themselves about other people's matters...And this they sayF26  (Jewish religious teachers) is what is meant by the woman's being an helpmeet for man, that while he is abroad about his business, she is יושבת בבית, "sitting at home", and keeping his house; and this they observe is the glory and honour of the woman...

John Calvin and other Reformers thought similarly and as far as I know, traditional Catholic teaching wasn't much different. Alexis de Tocqueville while visiting the USA in the XIXth century noted that Americans had equal respect for the work of both men and women, but the spheres of their activity were totally separate:

In no country has such constant care been taken as in America to trace two clearly distinct lines of action for the two sexes and to make them keep pace one with the other, but in two pathways that are always different. American women never manage the outward concerns of the family or conduct a business or take a part in political life; nor are they, on the other hand, ever compelled to perform the rough labor of the fields or to make any of those laborious efforts which demand the exertion of physical strength. No families are so poor as to form an exception to this rule. If, on the one hand, an American woman cannot escape from the quiet circle of domestic employments, she is never forced, on the other, to go beyond it.

It's significant because we know that the USA in its early stages prided itself on having Jesus Christ as their King and following the Scriptures. One thing stands out when I read this passage: while American women were quite restricted in their life choices, on the other hand, they were never forced to perform "rough labor" or do anything strenuous. No families are so poor as to form an exception to this rule, writes de Tocqueville. If you ever read Little House On The Prairie, you'll remember Nellie Oleson boasting that her folks weren't so broke that she'd have to take a job, as Laura did. And she wasn't even married at that point in her life and yet, the families tried to shelter even the unmarried daughters from employment outside home.

This attitude is quite different from present-day situation when the husbands often expect and encourage their wives to work. You can't expect a lady to be "domestic" when she works full time outside home, and even when she works part-time more than a certain amount of hours.

One thing that many people don't seem to understand is the difference between the world online and real life. When I write a post, I'm talking about general principles, yet I'm well aware that lots of folks live in a less than ideal situation and have to make the best out of it. The argument of whether God wants the husband to help with the dishes is really utterly pointless and reminds me of medieval discussions on how many angels could dance on the head of the pin.

Ideally, I believe that the wife should stay home and do the dishes and the husband should go out and earn the living. Yet, they could be in debt to their ears and both have to work in which case he'll have to pitch in. Or maybe, she is home and just had a new baby or is chronically sick or something. Some families can afford hired help, others can't. In some situations the husband will have to help, whether he likes it or not.

On the other hand, I think it's time housewife became a respectable occupation again and women started taking pride in a well-managed house and home-cooked meals. Living the life of sloth shouldn't be anyone's ambition, whether male or female. So much for lazy housewives:)

maandag 16 januari 2017

vrijdag 13 januari 2017

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

A movie review.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a 2006 European drama about the Irish War of Independence and later, Irish Civil War; however, the plot isn't so much about the wars themselves or the politics behind them, but rather tells the story of two brothers who initially fight together but later find themselves on the different sides of the barricades. It could be summed up by the popular saying that a revolution has a beginning but no end. First, the rebels shoot the English, then they shoot traitors, then they start shooting each other...

The story basically goes as follows: a young doctor by the name of Damien O'Donovan is planning to leave his native village to go work in London, but after witnessing the brutalities which the British inflict upon the peaceful population (which didn't do nothing) changes his mind and joins the rebels under the command of his (elder) brother Teddy. In the course of fighting, he is forced to shoot his childhood friend who had betrayed them. This event leaves a profound impact on him. Damien has a fiancee Sinead who helps the republicans for which she is shaved dry and humiliated by the English.

When the peace treaty between Britain and Ireland is signed, Teddy is enthusiastic, but Damien being under the influence of his socialist friend Dan doesn't accept it and decides to go on fighting which eventually brings him into direct conflict with his own brother...

The movie has both positive and negative sides. On the negative, first, there is a lot of swearing. Like really a lot. Second, British are all painted as barbarians and monsters. Third, the socialist leanings of the (British, by the way) director are obvious. Fourth, the Irish characters speak with such heavy accents that sometimes it's nearly impossible to understand what they are saying. The movie is also rather sketchy and I had to rely on the Wiki article for details. I also still can't figure out whether Damien in the end was married to Sinead or still only engaged (I think the latter).

On the positive, I would first name the costumes and the scenery. Men look like men and women look like women. Ladies all wear skirts. They do rough work on the farm wearing a skirt. In fact, Sinead even wears high-heeled shoes and is shown bicycling on the muddy roads in a long skirt and long coat, with heels on. Men look like gentlemen even when crawling through the dirt with their rifles.  Somehow they managed to do all these things without modern "comfort" clothes.

There are no female warriors though women do help as auxiliaries, like they are supposed to. In fact, there is an interesting scene which shows that in the absence of men women take over administrative tasks. A female judge takes the side of a poor woman against a rich man and Teddy confronts her. He says that the man in question gives them money to buy weapons and it's more important than someone's personal problems. When the lady judge gets mouthy, he asks her:"Who is going to fight the war? You?" The movie is quite realistic about the war being a man's game and shows that the only way for women to have power is when it's delegated and supported by men.

Third, though the director's sympathies are obviously with Damien, he still manages to show the inner conflict of the other brother and his motivations for doing what he does. Dramatic aspect of the movie is superb and it's up to the viewers to decide who was right and who was wrong in the end. There are also no sexual scenes of any kind though it's suggested that Damien and Sinead do the deed, and no "diversity". It's a European movie about European history without any "positive discrimination" casting.

I would recommend it to anyone interested in history, war and drama.

Here is the trailer:

Here is the link to the whole movie:

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Don't forget that these videos are regularly deleted, though. I hope you'll enjoy it just as much as I did.

woensdag 11 januari 2017

Computers And SAD

When the days are short and the sky is cloudy, a lot of people get winter blues, with some even developing a form of seasonal depression called SAD. Main treatment offered is light therapy when you have to sit in front of a light box which imitates sunlight.

However, we also know that computer screens emit blue light and its brightness is equivalent to that of the sun, hence all the recommendations to protect your eyes in the evening. So it's my theory that spending more time in front of the computer/tablet, especially in the morning on rainy/dark days can have positive influence on those suffering from winter blues. I know that when the days are getting short and dark I tend to spend more time browsing, particularly in the afternoon since it's basically dark downstairs in the living-room at 4 o'clock.

If you have similar experiences, feel free to share in the comments!

maandag 9 januari 2017

Advice For Mothers From The 1930s

While reading a vintage Catholic magazine I came across an article which made me think. It's actually a story about a young mother who gives too much candy to her daughter. "Too much" is defined as 1 (!) chocolate egg a day (it's Easter time in the story). Granted, I don't know how big these eggs actually were, but something tells me not that big.

 An old friend of hers warns her against spoiling the child, but she won't listen and Grandma who regularly comes to visit makes matters even worse as "she never comes with empty hands." As a result, the girl goes from bad to worse and won't even say "Thank you." The mother is too cowardly to confront her as it will lead to a tantrum.

The author goes further to point out that though sweets on their own won't probably cause too much harm, yet giving too much stuff to your children will make them demanding and egoistic. He (I assume it's a he but could be actually a she since there was no name below) states that the parents and those around them often do it not out of goodness of their hearts but more often out of weakness, the desire to buy peace in the family (otherwise kids will keep asking for something) etc etc.

He comes to the conclusion that giving in too much to the demands of your child will lead to their never learning any self-control.

Now I have often pondered on the fact that older generations seemed to be much more mentally tough (both men and women) and less entitled than modern snowflakes and wondered what was the reason of it. Vintage magazines offer us a glimpse into the world long gone and probably one of the clues to the solution of the riddle is their Spartan upbringing?

The funniest thing of all is that when we nowadays look back to that period of time we tend to think that folks were quite poor (and they often were), yet the article talks about "the modern abundance" and "how much easier it used to be to raise your children without all this modern stuff available." If they considered their own contemporaries too lax what would they say about us?

I don't know if I really agree with the premise of the article but then I look around me and keep wondering whether they were right and we are wrong. Well, what do you think?