Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Teen pregnancy as fashion trend

posted by Rod Dreher

maternity_main_image.jpg
Oh, vom:

While those assertions assume an insulting lack of agency on the part of young women, the recent wariness over Forever 21’s maternity line is much more in line with reality. Forever 21’s most recognizable model is Kendall Jenner, the 14-year-old half sister of Khloe, Kourtney and Kim Kardashian — suggesting that the brand makes a concerted effort to court customers who can’t yet drive themselves to the mall. Magazines targeting adolescent girls, like Seventeen, are constantly promoting Forever 21 goods in spreads on affordable fashion finds.
Much has been made of Bristol Palin, who has parlayed her ordeal as a teen mom into lucrative speaking engagements, TV appearances and magazine covers – gigs that carry an underlying message about the possible benefits of teen pregnancy no matter how many abstinence PSAs she phones in. The same is true for Forever 21. Of course they’re not explicitly endorsing teen pregnancy, but by nudging teens and saying “If you do find yourself pregnant, looking fashionable is one less thing you’ll have to worry about!” the chain is going the Bristol route of unwittingly glamorizing teen pregnancy.

The reader who sent me this link to the Salon.com story is a man whose teen daughter got pregnant out of wedlock. He comments

I guess no sense letting any market go unexploited. I wonder what’s next. Maybe pitching condoms to teen boys in the colors of their favorite sports team?

Hi honey, I’m ADHD

posted by Rod Dreher

Attention-deficit disorders can take a big toll on marriage. Excerpt:

In a marriage, the common symptoms of the disorder — distraction, disorganization, forgetfulness — can easily be misinterpreted as laziness, selfishness, and a lack of love and concern.

More:

Adults with attention disorders often learn coping skills to help them stay organized and focused at work, but experts say many of them struggle at home, where their tendency to become distracted is a constant source of conflict. Some research suggests that these adults are twice as likely to be divorced; another study found high levels of distress in 60 percent of marriages where one spouse had the disorder.

And:

Of course, complaints that a husband or wife is inconsiderate and inattentive, or doesn’t help enough around the house, are hardly limited to marriages in which one or both partners have attention problems. But A.D.H.D. can make matters much worse.
It can leave one spouse with 100 percent of the family responsibility, because the other spouse forgets to pick children up from school or pay bills on time. Partners without attention problems may feel ignored or unloved when their husband or wife becomes distracted — or, in another symptom of the disorder, hyperfocused on a work project or a computer game. They may feel they have no choice but to constantly nag to make sure things get done.
Spouses with attention deficit, meanwhile, are often unaware of their latest mistake, confused by their partner’s simmering anger. A lengthy to-do list or a messy house feels overwhelming to the A.D.H.D. brain, causing the person to retreat to a computer or a video game — further infuriating their spouse.
“It’s not because they’re lazy or they don’t love their spouse, but because they are distracted,” Ms. Orlov said. “But if you don’t know that distraction is the issue, you start to think the person doesn’t care about you, and anger and resentment build up.”

Ask Mrs. Dreher about what it’s like to live with such a person. Or better yet, don’t.

Apple & AT&T: A doomed marriage

posted by Rod Dreher

I love my iPhone, but boy, do I hate AT&T, which all iPhone users have no choice but to commit to. Wired has a great piece up about the bad marriage between the two companies. Here’s an excerpt that should be a warning to all smartphone users:

But the partnership also exposed a fundamental disconnect between phone makers — who want to make indispensable devices that customers use constantly to their fullest capabilities — and carriers, who want to limit the data demands on their networks. This dysfunctional relationship is not unique to Apple and AT&T; the tensions that have undercut the iPhone will likely bedevil every manufacturer and carrier. And what that means is, at some point, everyone with a smartphone will probably experience the same frustration as AT&T customers. Get ready for a lot more angry hashtags.

Meanwhile, here’s a lovely bit of verse: “iPoem”

Religion and authenticity

posted by Rod Dreher

As I’ve said before, if you are an intellectually serious and culturally engaged Christian, you really should subscribe to the Mars Hill Audio Journal. There is nothing else like it. I have been a subscriber for a few years now, and I keep all the episodes archived on my iPod. They’re so deep and rich that I find myself listening again and again to old interviews, drawing new insights from them. This morning on the way to work I heard again a 2005 interview Ken Myers did with Catherine Edwards Sanders about her (then new) book, “Wicca’s Charms,” which is about the spiritual hunger and cultural realities driving the growing popularity of neopaganism.
Introducing the interview, Myers observed that many people attracted to Wicca report that they’ve been drawn by its “authenticity,” meaning it feels more real to them than traditional, established religions. In the interview, Myers and Sanders discuss this, and how our age of do-it-yourself religion has quite naturally made space for a new, DIY faith like Wicca. In his preliminary remarks, Myers dwells on the use of the word “authenticity,” and how it used to refer to something that was “authenticatable” — this, with reference to its history, its provenance, or some set of standards. This rug is an authentic Afghan rug, for example, because we can prove it was made in Afghanistan, by Afghan artisans; this rug that looks just like it is not authentic, because we can prove it was made in a factory in Schenectady. The point is, we have a way of testing the authenticity of the thing — and this has long been true for religion.
This is why it matters who gets to say what Catholicism (for example) is, and is not; if there is no way to authenticate Catholicism, then there’s no way to determine which is the truthful, authentic version from the counterfeits. This is also why the “Catholicism is whatever I say it is, and nobody can tell me otherwise” people are so dangerous, at least to those who take Catholicism seriously, and who would like to preserve its integrity to pass on to their children. Imagine saying that “money is whatever I say it is, and nobody can tell me any different.” If enough people believed that, commerce would cease, because nobody could tell what was authentic and what was fake — this, because the idea of authenticity would have been radically subjectivized, which is to say, completely denied.
Here’s Myers, from the interview, talking about how modernity has turned the word “authentic,” and the concept of authenticity, inside-out, at least when it comes to religion:

[In] the 1985 book “Habits of the Heart” … sociologist Robert Bellah memorably described a woman named Sheilah, who described her religious beliefs and practices as “Sheilah-ism”. … Today, authentic means something much more subjective. The individual self and its distinctive desires are the only proper source of authentication. So people can say that Christianity doesn’t seem authentic to them, that it feels phony or counterfeit, not because its origins are dubious, but because it feels foreign. It’s curious that ‘authentic’ used to imply some external authority, but today, “authenticity” is used to justify the infallibility of the self.

The question of authenticity depends on authority. A friend and I last night were talking about authority and the Catholic Church, and he made the important point that authority only has meaning if it has been accepted by the people. What we see among many, many Catholics today is a rejection of traditional Catholic teaching about authority, and the installment of the subjective individual as one’s own Magisterium. These are the times we live in: the essence of modernity, or at least one essence of modernity, is the radical exaltation of the Self. Yet my friend is certainly correct: authority, even external authority, means nothing if it is not inwardly appropriated, and furthermore, if that inward appropriation is not shared by others. A revealed, dogmatic religion like Roman Catholicism will have a very difficult time in conditions of modernity, precisely because we are all conditioned to think in terms of the Self as the final arbiter of truth. To exist in proper relationship with the Truth, I believe, requires passionate inward appropriation of external, objective realities. The key point is faith that there is a such thing as religious truth independent of my own subjective judgment. If people don’t believe that, I don’t see how a religion like Christianity is sustainable over the long term, at least not in any meaningful sense.

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