The World’s Pain, the Enemy’s Triumph

I’m sure everyone has heard about the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. These attacks no longer surprise me, and I find myself experiencing the same feeling of ennui that I got after hearing about what seemed like the millionth school shooting.

This has, sadly enough, become commonplace. It is and it will continue to be the new state of affairs for as long as our world leaders vacillate and talk and take no action against what is undeniably a threat. I have no words of anti-terrorism wisdom, just sadness because of the fact that nowhere is safe and a hint of disgust at how the enemy managed to win twice.

Ariana Grande is a children’s TV actress turned pop star, much like Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus before her. As such, she fell into the same downward spiral and became an icon of self-centeredness, coquettishly singing about sex and dancing and parties.

I heard that 9- and 10-year-old children were at her concert… children who never should have been there in the first place, because this is what they were listening to:

From the song “Love Me Harder”:

And if in the moment you bite your lip
When I get you moaning you know it’s real
Can you feel the pressure between your hips?
I’ll make it feel like the first time

From the song “Bang Bang”:

Bang bang there goes your heart (I know ya want it)
Back, back seat of my car (I’ll let ya have it)
Wait a minute lemme take you there (ah)
Wait a minute till ya (ah)

From the song “Side to Side”:

I’m talkin’ to ya
See you standing over there with your body
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don’t gotta think ’bout nothin’ (‘Bout nothin’)

We live in a strange world. It is sad and distressing that the terrorist may have focused on the Ariana Grande concert because perhaps he knew that children, the most innocent ones, would be there. But it is also sad that children’s parents allow them to listen to this kind of music with these lyrics.

I am praying for the victims, for the survivors, and for the world to come to its senses. We can’t let the enemy keep winning.

Girls in the Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts recently admitted its first openly transgender member in the name of “equality,” “inclusivity,” “progress,” and a passel of other Orwellian buzzwords we throw around all the time these days. As we know it, gender lines in today’s society are being scrubbed out. Nobody really knows what gender or sexual orientation they are anymore, because it can change from week to week depending on the person’s feelings. If you visit the field of digital landmines that is Tumblr or play with the drop-down lists on Facebook, you can see the broad array of sexual orientations and gender statuses. It’s mind numbing.

So if a transgender child was allowed to join the Boy Scouts, why can’t a girl join? If she has served with the troop along with her brothers and friends, a simple thing like her gender (Or is it sex? I don’t know! I’m so confused!) shouldn’t be allowed to hold her back. If she wants to attain the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, why can’t she? Hmm… maybe because she’s a girl and the Boy Scouts is for boys?

Perhaps the simple solution would be to abolish the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, then combine the two under a single organization that would admit all children, regardless of their gender, sex, sexual orientation, and so on. You could have your delicious popcorn and your scrumptious cookies and never have to worry ever again that someone is being excluded. The kids could reach whatever prestigious ranks they wanted to, and they could also gain leadership skills while being distracted by peers of the opposite gender sex gender sex (I give up).

Too Much Entertainment

Once upon a time, I was in ninth grade and there were two things I liked more than almost anything (besides reading): music and video games (namely Pokémon and Unreal Tournament). So when I came home from a rough day of being a freshman in high school, I would blow off steam by sitting in front of the family computer (that is, if the seat wasn’t already occupied by my brother) and destroying pixelated soldiers in Unreal Tournament.

One day I had the brilliant idea to enhance my killing sprees by listening to music while playing the game. So I was merrily running along in a fictional militaristic world, flak cannon in virtual hand, blasting enemies into freshets of imaginary blood while listening to Bon Jovi. Pure nerdy bliss. My blood pressure was low, my ears were filled with the sounds of the game and the music, and then my mom looked over at me and said, “Maggie, that’s too much.” (Or something like that. At the time, I was angry at having my joy interrupted and didn’t bother to remember her exact words.)

That was back in 2002, before everyone on God’s green earth had a cell phone, before social media really took off, before mp3 players and iPads and Kindles, and before video games looked so realistic that you couldn’t tell the difference between animation and a live-action movie. I feel sorry for teenagers today, who have three or four times as many modes of entertainment and thus three or four times as many distractions. It’s not just too much. It’s way too much.

I help with my church’s youth group, and this past Sunday’s session was about how we are consumed by technology, social media, materialism, and other modern-day distractions. The teenagers were given a slip of paper on which they were asked to estimate the number of hours per day they spent on social media, browsing the Internet, texting, and so forth. The findings weren’t shocking to me or any of the adults present, especially because a few of the teenagers were tied to their phones during the night. Even so, we hoped the exercise made them realize that there was a lot of unnecessary “noise” in their lives and that the noise can prevent them from being able to sit in silence, to meditate, and to pray.

We taught the teenagers that there is a simple solution to escaping from all the “noise,” and that is spending time before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, AKA Eucharistic Adoration. Just a few minutes of silence and/or prayer per day can put things back in perspective and stop the noise long enough to help one remember that the world and all its distractions will pass away, and all the “entertainment” we have can never fill the gap in our souls that yearns for God.