Friday, 30 August 2013

DEATH OF A POET


 THE DRAMA OF LAST THINGS

Ireland's greatest living literary figure, Seamus Heaney has died at age 74. The poet was a Nobel prize winner and widely respected by his peers as well as a wider literary audience. Today the national airwaves here in Ireland  have been full of tributes to the late poet and readings of his poems.

Heaney left religion and faith behind early in his adult life, here in an interview with fellow poet, Dennis O’Driscoll he recalls his youthful flirtation with Catholicism…



When I was going, from first awareness until at least my early teens, I dwelt entirely in the womb of religion. My consciousness was dominated by Catholic conceptions, formulations, pedagogies, prayers and practices. Salvation, damnation, heaven above, hell below, grace and guilt, all were for real.
 So the drama of last things, the melodrama and even the terror of them were present from the start. You’d hardly got out of the cot before you were envisaging the deathbed. Soon, too, you would learn about the sacrament of extreme unction, able to answer knowledgeably about holy viaticum and the final anointing of the organs of sense with chrism and so on.
 You had your puny south Derry being within the great echoing acoustic of a universe of light and dark, death and everlasting life, divine praises and prayers for the dead: as in ‘ Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.’

‘Stepping Stones’ (Interviews with Seamus Heaney)
 by Dennis O’Driscoll  (p.471)

Monday, 19 August 2013

FAME AND INFAMY



  PORN STAR QUITS FOR CHRIST

LOS ANGELES, July 26, 2013  – Brittni started shooting porn practically as soon as she was legal, at the age of 18. One day, while working as a dancer at a local strip club in Santa Barbara, where she was attending college, she was approached by two men who asked her if she wanted to act in “romance movies.”
Brittni wasn’t under any illusions about what she was being asked to do. She had begun stripping while she was still underage, and to her, porn was an easy and logical next step. She agreed to go with the two men to L.A. to film a porn scene the following day.
“I felt so loved that day,” she recalls in “I was putting on hair and makeup. I was told that I was beautiful, I was going to be a star. They sent my pictures to an adult agency that I was with for about two years. The rest is pretty much history.”
In a post-internet world where porn had become mainstream, and porn stars were becoming as celebrated as Hollywood actors, Brittni saw porn as her ticket to fame and fortune.
Her career took off. In 2006, she came in second place on Jenna’s American Sex Star, a reality TV show hosted by porn legend Jenna Jameson. In 2010, Maxim magazine named her one of the top 12 hottest porn stars in the world.
Over the space of her seven-year career, Brittni acted in what she says was literally “hundreds” of porn scenes, and was nominated for numerous industry awards.
But all was not as it seemed. Underneath the confident, devil-may-care exterior of the hardened porn star was a tormented soul searching for peace. 
It wasn’t long before porn took its toll. “Not only does [porn] leave you feeling drained, but I had to start finding ways to be able to do the scenes, because I was so robotic,” she says. “I was like a rubber Barbie doll. I had no emotions. I was plastic.” 
Like many in the industry, Brittni turned to alcohol and drugs - first cocaine, and then heroin - “to numb my pain, to get me through.” This in turn led to other destructive behaviors, like “cutting” and several failed suicide attempts. 
At one point, after reaching rock bottom, she took a year off from shooting porn. During that space of time she underwent a tentative conversion to Christianity under the influence of her grandparents, and cleaned up with the help of addiction recovery groups. 
But Brittni wasn’t prepared to give up her work as a porn star, and instead attempted to forge a strange truce between her new Christian faith and her day job: preaching Christianity during appearances on the raunchy Howard Stern Show or to fellow actors in porn films that she herself was starring in, while volunteering at worthy causes in her spare time. To those who criticized the contradiction in her life, she would point to Jesus' treatment of Mary Magdelene and the Bible’s strictures against judging. 
Eventually, however, something had to give. 
A crucial turning point came when she encountered missionaries with XXXChurch, a radically unconventional Christian group that, as part of its ministry, sends its staff to porn conventions. There they set up booths where they hand out Bibles emblazoned with the slogan, “Jesus loves porn stars” and offer to do makeup and hair for the actors and actresses while talking to them about Christianity. 
Finally, last November, Brittni gathered the courage to leave the industry once and for all. She shot her last porn scene, and has since found a job with a limousine company. She hasn't looked back.
In a letter to XXXChurch since leaving, Brittni thanks Rachel Collins, a XXXChurch staffer who she came to know and admire during her time in the industry. “I don’t know if she realizes how she impacted me or not,” says Brittni. “But her being so kind and nonjudgmental always felt so good.
“I never felt love in my life and was looking for it in all the wrong places,” she says. “It felt great to speak to a woman as beautiful as Rachel who would tell me that I was her favorite, and to just have a regular non-porn girl talk. Please tell her that I thank her from the bottom of my heart.” 
When asked what she would say to other girls who are tempted by the allurement of the porn industry, Brittni minces no words. She recalls feeling “empty” and “hopeless” and living in a “hole of self-pity” where she couldn’t care if she lived or died: “The feeling that nobody loves me except for these fans, who I’m actually kind of really disgusted by, because they see me in my most personal moments.” 
“I believe as women we are worth it, we are worth love,” she says. “And we are worth real love, and they’re not going to get that from the industry."  
“It’s not worth it,” she adds. “I would give it all back.” 
In the testimonial video produced by XXXChurch, Brittni says that it has been a “long seven-year journey of porn, prostitution, stripping, drugs, alcohol, and several failed suicide attempts.” 
“But,” she says with a smile on her face, “I made it.” 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

MOST RICHLY BLESSED




A SOLDIER'S PRAYER


I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.


I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.


I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.


I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.


I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.


I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.


I am among all men most richly blessed.

Friday, 2 August 2013

ON PRAYER


 THE HEART'S CRY

When you stand praying, burdened with many sins and overpowered with despair, begin to pray with hope, with a fervent spirit, and remind yourself that 'the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered!' (Rom. 8:26).
 When you remember with faith this action of the Spirit of God within us, then tears of emotion will flow from your eyes, you will feel in your soul peace, sweetness, justification, 'and joy in the Holy Ghost,' (Rom. 14:17) and you will cry in your heart, 'Abba, Father!'

  :St. John of Kronstadt
courtesey of 'The Celtic Christian Tradition'