Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Emperor Is Wearing Pajamas: The Decline of Dress -

Written by John Horvat
The modern attitude toward dress is that it has little effect on the way people function. In fact, people are advised that the more comfortable they are, the more efficient and happy they will be. People generally respond to such advice by collectively retreating into a shabby array of blue jeans or shorts, T-shirts or sweatshirts, and sneakers. It really does not make any difference what you wear. It is all a matter of personal preference.
Such conclusions do not coincide with those who study attire. They have always affirmed that clothes are more than just covering. What one wears definitely has an effect on what one does or how one performs. Educators notice a change in performance when students wear uniforms. Soldiers fight better when they know how to maintain the sharpness of their dress uniforms. Businessmen get better results when in formal attire. Clothes express one’s personality and individuality; they communicate who the person is.
A recent study co-authored by Prof. Michael Kraus of the Yale School of Management provided a noteworthy proof of the effect of clothes in the business world. He found that wearing clothes of high social status greatly influenced job performance and communicated a note of dominance and mastery to those engaged in negotiations.
Prof. Kraus compared the results of two groups of men, one wearing business suits and dress shoes and another in sweatpants, T-shirts, and plastic sandals. Those in the two groups were told to negotiate the sale of a hypothetical factory and were given leeway to make concessions. The men in suits conceded an average of $860,000 off the list price of the factory as compared with concession of $2.81 million for those in the sweatpants. The researchers found that those better-dressed behaved with more control; they elicited more respect and exuded more confidence.

Similar results were reported in a study last year in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. People in formal business attire proved more capable of high levels of abstract thinking. They tended to see the big picture more easily than casual dressers. This made them more successful in their business decisions since they did not get bogged down in useless detail.
The moral of the story is not that everyone should always wear formal business attire on all occasions. The real moral is that each type of clothing is suited for a purpose for which it is designed. Sweat-panted executives and suited runners are signs of a world gone awry. When people ignore purpose in clothes, it has consequences.
Everyone knows that clothes make a difference. The evidence is irrefutable. Yet so many bizarre fashions still dominate.
Part of the blame for this disregard of function in clothes can be laid on the fashion world. Designers make it a point to overturn every taboo and convention in their search for novelty, excitement, and frivolity. The fashion world creates great pressure on people to follow the fads or else be ostracized.
“It leads to a corresponding desire to destroy propriety and modesty.”
The result is fashions that contradict common sense. In what might be called the frenetic intemperance of wearing whatever fashion dictates, there is a callous disregard for function in clothes. It leads to a corresponding desire to destroy propriety and modesty. People become self-absorbed by their own comfort and unconcerned about how they might appear to others.
To cite yet one more example, there is a new high fashion trend now invading public spaces and social life. It is the wearing of pajamas as a form of social attire. Man-style bottom and top pajamas are finding their way into places outside the bedroom. Fashion houses are now selling out of designer pajamas made to replace evening gowns and cocktail dresses at formal social gatherings. Well-known celebrities have been appearing publicly in pajamas and even bedroom slippers to give yet more prestige to the trend.
The problem is pajamas look like… well, pajamas. They project the untidy image of people who are ready for sleep or who have just awoken. Pajamas presuppose an intimacy with loved ones that cannot be shared by the general public. But the fashion world has decreed that pajamas are chic, and people must therefore obey.
Even the fashion designers have a hard time overcoming the bizarreness of sleepwear in the public square. They recommend that their striped pajamas be paired with other fashion accessories like dressy shoes, belts or blazers, perhaps to blunt the shocking impression of one being a prison escapee. Pajama pants on the street are marketed as “sleep pants,” so as to appear more like a distant and laid-back cousin of sweat pants. Designers admit that daytime pajamas represent a “rebellious spirit” that is not for the faint-hearted.
All this is part of a general disorder in fashion in which suits are belittled and pajamas exalted. A day will come when people will be freed from the chains of the fashionistas. When that return to order happens, people will dress once again with purpose, modesty and beauty. Until then, people will continue to appear in an embarrassing and bizarre array of clothes (or lack of clothes), awaiting the eureka moment when some innocent child will cry: The emperor is wearing the wrong clothes!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Who Does Not Pray Is a Traitor

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All too often people have a wrong perspective on prayer. They think that by asking for things in prayer, they are pestering God who does not look kindly upon their petitions.

Such an attitude is completely wrong since we need prayer if we are to obtain heaven. If God wishes our salvation even more than we ourselves, then it is logical that He welcomes our prayers and petitions that bring us closer to Him.
Our prayers should not be occasional requests for help but constant entreaties. This is because the greatest difficulty of our spiritual life is overcoming our many defects for which we need not only constant but extraordinary prayers. This need will always be with us, since our defects will plague us until we die.
Even when we have a victory over our defects, we still need prayers. We need prayer to sustain any victory over our defects, lest they return.
Most people know we have a right to ask for this help. But this great privilege goes even further. Consider this great truth: We do not have the right not to ask for help.
In a similar way, we commit treason by not praying. If through pride or laziness, we refuse to pray, we will lose the great city of our soul. God is near and only awaits our entreaty so that the city may be saved.Imagine a captain in a besieged city. He sees his desperate situation and realizes that if he does not call for help from the king outside the city, he will lose the city. For him to not call the king, is to betray his king. He would be a traitor.
We must therefore pray. We should pray for every need, known and unknown. We should ask God for the grace of seeing what we need.
God puts in our souls a supernatural instinct whereby we more or less sense what we need to sanctify ourselves. Let us pay attention to this instinct. Let us not be traitors in this great fight for salvation! We have every right to ask God for what we need. We do not have the right to not pray when our souls are in danger. By not praying, we become traitors to our own cause.
Who Does Not Pray Is a Traitor -: Who Does Not Pray Is a Traitor

Monday, April 4, 2016

What It Means for America to Be Great

Written by John Horvat

One thing I ardently desire is that America continue to be great. This natural and wholesome sentiment is born of a patriotism of which I am not ashamed. I am proud to be an American and so I desire the best for my country.

Contrary to the prevailing conventional wisdom, I do not believe America has lost its greatness. However, like everyone, I realize that this greatness is seriously threatened by the course we have set for ourselves. Its survival hinges on the decisions that we will now make.

The key question before us is determining what we mean by greatness. There are those who associate greatness with bigness, power, or quantity. Thus, America is great because of her vast size, massive economic production or unmatched military might. These can truly be characteristics of great nations but they are not what make a nation great.

There are others who believe the foundation of our greatness is based on the many opportunities to enjoy life in America. They point to our American way of life in which people are encouraged to enjoy life to its fullest. Still others interpret greatness as the freedom to do whatever one pleases. All these goals often reflect legitimate self-interest, but do not necessarily confer greatness upon a nation.

If our greatness is measured by money, pleasure or self-aggrandizement, then our striving for greatness, no matter how vigorous, will inevitably fall short. For the greatness of nations is not found in things, quantities, or delights, but in the character of its people.

Indeed, true greatness -- that which endures the test of time -- is born of a willingness to go beyond the common and ordinary. It calls us to excel, to take heroic action and to serve causes that take us beyond ourselves. It asks us to resist the temptation to sink into soft mediocrity.

America is great because there have always been, and still are, those who are willing to take up the challenges of going beyond the easy and comfortable. As long as such Americans may be found at all levels in society, we will continue to be great.

And so I believe America is great because there still exists dedicated fathers and loving mothers who sacrifice together to give their children strong character and instill in them the difference between right and wrong.

That quintessentially American can-do attitude still exists, propelling society to strive toward excellence. Scratch the surface of the towns and cities across our nation, and one will find those Americans who overcome obstacles, take risks, and set our standards high.

America will be great as long as there are those generous self-sacrificing American who step up to the plate, assume responsibility and become leaders in their communities, businesses, and institutions.

As long as honor holds a place in our hearts, we will produce heroes with the courage to fight for what we know to be true and right. We will even have those who will make the sublime sacrifice of offering their lives for their country.

America will be great as long as we strive to be truly good. True goodness means placing God in the center of society, holding to His commandments as the rule of life and defending this higher law in the public square. We can be great -- and expect God’s blessing -- only if we remain faithful to a God that is almighty and great.

Such Americans are what makes the nation great. For them words like courage, honor, justice, and duty still resonate in their hearts. They still hold dear their ties to God and His law. They grieve over the course the nation has taken.

However, the number of these Americans is fast dwindling as everything is being swept away by the frenetic intemperance of a society that thrives on instant gratification and spectacle. They are replaced by gaggles of shallow people, devoid of honor and character, who seek only to turn life into a huge carnival of fun and delights.

In these perilous times, many caricatures of greatness appear. The rule of honor is usurped by the rule of money. Greatness comes to signify vulgar displays of wealth, pleasure and power. A “great” person is one who does whatever it takes to keep the grand party going. Tragically, it can even mean severing our link with God when it obstructs the easy pursuit of whatever.

I ardently yearn for America to be great, but if that greatness be not true, and comes at the price of virtue, duty and honor, I prefer that we as a people say “no.” And if our “no’ brings upon us the fury of those who promise the false greatness of the world, then so be it. For in that act of collectively saying “no,” America will have achieved a true greatness.

The questions that need to be addressed today are not those of taxes, jobs, economy or benefits. Although they are all important issues, they can more easily be resolved when sanity returns to the nation. We now enter a critical time when we must choose the path of true greatness over false, honor over money, God over the world. If we ardently desire a return to order, then we must be convinced that America can only be great if she is good and Godly. What will decide America’s future will be what has always decide her future -- the character of her people.

John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Five Considerations in Face of a Fight that Seems Disproportional

Written by John Horvat
So many times, people become discouraged by all the trials and obstacles they face. The struggle to lead a life of Catholic virtue seems huge and disproportional. This is especially true of our neo-pagan world where all sorts of vice and temptations constantly appear before us.
In times of discouragement, it is good to remember that God does not put us into situations that are beyond our ability to overcome. In fact, with God on our side, the fight to remain faithful is not at all disproportional since we have all the conditions for victory.
However, it would be good to list five considerations we can make that will give us the upper hand when temptation comes. These considerations help show why this fight is not disproportional. In this way, we can act with energy and conviction in times of trials and temptations.
The first consideration is one of perspective. The fight is not disproportional to one who has the proper perspective. If we look at it simply from our own human perspective, we are cutting ourselves short. We need to see the big picture of the fight between good and evil, and Who’s side it is that we are fighting on. Like Saint Michael, we are forced to fight a battle beyond our means. But because Saint Michael had eyes only for the honor and glory of God, he did not withdraw inward, but jumped to defend God’s honor. In the big picture, God always wins, and He invites us to participate in His victory. We must strengthen within ourselves the conviction that He will win. We should see the beauty of our struggle and thank God for placing us in it.
Next, we must have an attitude of engaging in the struggle without hesitation. The fight is not disproportional to one who is heroic. However, it must be a heroism based on convictions not emotions. On this firm foundation, we are able to do what must be done, cost what it may, no matter how absurd it may seem. If we do this, we will have conditions to defend the Faith and resist sin.
A proper understand of suffering is the next consideration. The fight is not disproportional to one who understands the need to suffer. We must understand that suffering is part of our lives as a result of Original Sin. When we suffer, we make amends for our sins and build in ourselves strong character and integrity. To the extent that we reject suffering, we are like thieves and fraudsters who seek to avoid paying the tribute for our own faults.
The next consideration involves service to God and Our Lady. The fight is not disproportional to one who considers the God we serve and Our Lady who has pity on us. We must consider the fact that God so loved us as to die on the Cross for our sins. He offered Himself as the Divine Victim to placate His Own justice. In face of such a good God, how can our attitude not be one of giving ourselves entirely to Him? How can it not be offering ourselves to Our Lady who can obtain all things for us? By putting ourselves in their service, we secure their overwhelming help since we serve their cause.
The fifth consideration involves accepting things with resignation. The fight is not disproportional to one who desires the greatest glory for the Church, but is content with the least that is given to us. In this way, we will be content in either joyful or sorrowful times, in times of grace or aridity, in victory and defeat. We will put God at the center of things and ourselves wherever He desires we be. This gives us the courage to be filled with hope and peace when God gives us trials and tribulations.
Finally, the fight is not disproportional to one who prays. An attitude of one who constantly is asking will obtain results. We must be confident that God will hear our prayers and grant us what is best for our salvation.
These five considerations should help convince those in trial that the fight is not disproportional. In fact, if there is a disproportional factor, it is on our side. We worship an almighty and powerful God. His grace can touch and change the most hardened sinner. His wrath can overcome the most challenging obstacles. It is with convictions like these that we should engage in the fight to be faithful to God in these difficult and sinful times.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

5 Things That Have Turned Us Into a Nation of Whiners

On campuses nationwide, students have whined about what they call “micro-aggressions.”
People suffering from “micro-aggressions” are offended by tiny acts that might in some slight way, point to politically incorrect behavior. The offended student then feels free to demand changes from college administrators in a very macro-aggressive way. Such an attitude is an example of what has turned the country into a nation of whiners.
To understand the problem of how society has come to this point, a well-known philosopher wrote a commentary some time ago that describes five things that lead people to become so hypersensitive. The list is very helpful to see where society has gone wrong and where it needs to go.
1. Treat Your Children As Equals and Fear Them
The list begins with the father who “accustoms himself to become like his child and to fear his sons.” This refers to parents who not only pamper but also put themselves in a position of equality with their children. It creates a situation where parents fear doing anything that might offend the children, who become very sensitive to being refused anything.
2. Teachers Flatter Your Pupils
The second item on the list is that of the school teacher “who fears and flatters his pupils.” Like the pampered son or daughter, this pupil is helped along and saved every effort lest the child feel overshadowed by the better students or made to feel the shame of failure. In schools with these teachers, there should be no winners in games or honor roll for studies as they safeguard tender sensibilities, now made ever more sensitive.
3. Elders and Youth Dress and Act Like Each Other
The next attitude involves the differences of age. This happens when “the young act like their seniors, and compete with them in speech [or] in action.” On their part, the old “condescend to the young and become triumphs of versatility and wit, imitating their juniors in order to avoid the appearance of being sour or despotic.” This also describes the modern illness of living out fantasies especially that of eternal youth. Everyone is encouraged to appear, act and dress like youth, even when one is old. Moreover it includes any other disorder and fantasy that people live out, and who become extremely sensitive when others do not play along.
4. Make Laws to Equalize Everything
And then there is the “wonderful equality of law” that seeks to equalize all that are not equal. Such laws reward the indolent and penalize those who make more effort as might be seen, for example, in punitive taxation.
5. Equalize All Difference Between Men and Women
Finally, there is that liberty, which “prevails in the mutual relations of men and women.” This can be seen in the sexual revolution that makes all promiscuous relationships equal to those of marriage and family. This attitude leads to bitter complaints against those who would be so insensitive as to prevent them from total free love or oppose abortion, its natural consequence.
Result: A Nation of Whiners
The conclusion rings so true for the present times. It reads: “The main result of all these things, taken together, is that it makes the soul of the citizens so sensitive that they take offense and will not put up with the faintest suspicion” of a strong authority which is likened to “slavery.”

In this way, so many have become part of a nation of whiners who cannot bear the burden of contradiction from those around them. To those who whine, freedom consists only in the absence of opposition to whatever one wants to do. When opposition appears, it must be exterminated or silenced. They especially target the restraining influence of Christian morality, which they see as a strong authority similar to slavery.
Little do such people realize that they are the least free of men since they are tyrannized by their shifting passions and appetites. In a similar way, a society of whiners is hardly free because when one does not exercise interior restraint and exterior restraint becomes even more necessary to keep order.
Actually, no modern scholar wrote this commentary. The school of human behavior changes little over the ages. This ancient observer shares wisdom valid for all times and places. His name is Plato and this particular passage can be found in his famous work, “The Republic.”
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