What is the Spirituality of Social Transformation?

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Understanding the Spirituality of Structural Transformation

The word “spirituality” can mean different things to many people. In essence, a spirituality in the Christian tradition is basically a way of life that imitates Christ’s life. Spirituality is a radical living of what one preaches, witnessing to the radical demands of the Gospel (PCP II, n. 282). The Second the Plenary Council of the Philippines speaks a particular type of spirituality for committed Christian to combat social and structural sins and transform society according to God’s plan–the spirituality of social transformation.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) seems too broad in describing of what precisely this spirituality of social transformation in actual social practice and how can this be practiced by ordinary Christians in daily life. It just described it as a way of life marked by an enduring and intimate commitment to Jesus, a love for him that does not count the cost (PCP II 278), a way of life that is constantly called to a profound transformation of one’s life and living the spirit of the Beatitudes in a world of poverty, oppression, exploitation, and conflict (PCP II#272).

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It is said to be a spirituality that is inspired by the preferential option for the poor, seeking the Kingdom as its primary rule, a spirituality that shares the Good News in the midst of deprivation, hope in situations of cynicism and pessimism (PCP II #280), and a spirituality that listens to and heeds God’s word, discerns and follows the Spirit in the Scriptures, in the Church and in history (PCP II 281).

Social Transformation as an Integral Part of the Christian Faith

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As mentioned above, the Christian faith is not pietistic and individualistic. It has a social or public dimension as this is witnessed in the context of a community. Evangelization is not only about saving the soul but saving the entire person with body and soul. Moreover, a person is not an isolated individual. S/he is a social being who lives in society. S/he influences society, but society also influences him/her. The Church preaches total salvation as the individual is intrinsically linked with the liberation of society from structural sins. Thus, to save the individual implies saving society. Now one cannot liberate society without having a spirituality of social transformation. If the orientation of the individual believer is purely pietistic and individualist, then it is less likely that s/he engages in social actions inspired by the Christian faith and by the teaching on the preferential option for the poor.

The Major Problem in Achieving the Spirituality of Social Transformation

The major problem with the concept of the spirituality of social transformation of PCP II is its lack of indicators of what exactly this spirituality is and how it can be lived out in a structured way by Christians in practical life. The priests and religious seem to have a structural privilege with regard to practicing their spiritual and prayer life. Their spirituality and mission are guided by the charism of their founders and religious orders and by the institutional teachings and rules of the Church. The institutional Church as well as the structures of religious orders have laid out some sort of structure that provide the fundamental principles and methodologies which support and sustain the kind of spirituality they want to live. Since the Church has already been bureaucratized, a fairly fixed structure has already been established by the institutional Church on how priests and religious can generally nurture and live out their spiritual life. In short, the kind of spirituality priests and religious want to pursue is aided by some formation or socialization structure to fully actualize it.

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But this structured spirituality enjoy the religious and the clergy seems to be not the case for lay people. Structuring their own spirituality is not that easy, given the secularization of the world they live in and the diverse nature of their job, family, culture, and social class. There is no clear socialization structure on the kind of spirituality they want to pursue. It is still largely individualist in approach compared to priests and religious. Of course, they can always join some religious organizations or lay institutes to nurture the spirituality they aspire to achieve. But most of the time, the great multitudes of lay people are thrown in the world without being attached to some kind of a religious structure that continually nurture their spirituality. Given secular character and preoccupation of their vocation, lay people are often left alone to pattern their own spirituality with much the aid of a structure to regularize their formation process. With regard to the social teachings of the Church, they are often in their own personal discretion on how to actualize in the world what they learned from the Church’s teaching authority. Given the low level of awareness among Christians on the Catholic Social Teaching, it is uncertain whether the lay people do care at all to pattern their spirituality according to the Church’s social doctrine.

Some Practical Problems of a Spirituality of Social Transformation

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First of all, the spirituality of social transformation proposed by PCP II sounds foreign to the religious and cultural awareness of many Filipinos who are more personalistic and kin-based in their cultural understanding of a community. This is one reason that they have a difficulty of understanding the Church as a “community of believers” who come from different ethnic, kinship, and cultural background. For most Filipino lay Catholics, the Church is the “sambahan” or “place of worship” and not the baptized community. A sociological research by Ricardo G. Abad on social capital reveals that Filipinos has difficulty of relating with the social world beyond the family, relatives and friends. This narrow and personalistic view of the community prevents Filipinos to be involved in something impersonal and abstract such as the state, the Church, government, or the society at large. That is why many Filipino Catholic do not find it necessary to do social or transformational action beyond the social circles of relatives and friends. If people are not well catechized on the CST, particularly on why and how the spirituality of social transformation be achieved and sustained, then this injunction of PCP II of seeing God in social liberation would only remain theoretical.

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Another obstacle in the development of this spirituality, as pointed above, is ignorance of the laity on the social teachings of the Church. Correct theory or understanding is necessary in order to achieve correct or appropriate social action. How can people create and live out this spirituality of social transformation if they are ignorant of the social doctrines of the Church and their proper applications in society? And how can they learn these doctrines if they are not enough priests, religious, or lay teachers in the Church who can teach them? Sufficient and updated knowledge of the Church’s social teachings, a sound sociological knowledge and analysis of the social situation, a strong commitment to prayer life, and a social structure that guides social action as well as an ongoing Christian formation to believers and advocates are necessary to create a sound spirituality of social transformation. These are some of the important requirements in achieving the spirituality of social transformation.

Photo credit: Pexels.com free photos

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What is a Platonic Love?

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THE NATURE OF PLATONIC LOVE

Platonic love (often lower-cased as platonic) is a term used for a type of love that is non-sexual. It is named after Plato,  although this philosopher never actually used it himself. Instead, it comes from Plato’s dialogue, the “Symposium,” which discusses the different types of Eros (love).

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Platonic love is a bond between a couple that involves no lust or carnality; often a deep pure love. Its symbol is usually the white rose. A simple example of platonic relationships is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sexes. A platonic relationship is one without romantic or sexual intentions. It can be considered as a “romantic friendship” i.e.,  a close, physically intimate but not sexually intimate – friendship.

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Platonic love in its modern sense is an affectionate relationship into which the sexual element does not enter, especially in cases where one might easily assume otherwise. It is a deep, non-sexual friendship between two heterosexual people of the opposite sex. Platonic love is ‘close affection between two persons, attracted to each other, but without sexual intimacy’ [1].

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It is a purely spiritual and emotional and presumably free from physical desire. St. Claire and St. Francis of Assisi  who are known as two great Catholic saints in the Catholic Church were said to be close friends spiritually as followers of Christ without sexual intimacy. Their type of intimacy and friendship were based on a common love for God; thus, they can be considered Platonic and not romantic. “The love between friends is platonic love. Platonic describes a relationship that is purely spiritual and not physical. So, if a guy and a girl hang out all the time but aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, they’d describe their friendship as platonic” [2].

FROM PLATONIC LOVE AND ROMANTIC LOVE: IS THIS POSSIBLE?

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Yes, but once platonic becomes romantic, it’s difficult to return to its original platonic state. Best friends can fall in love romantically depending on the situations and personal goals of the partners. However, platonic love has no intention of entering into an exclusive erotic relationship nor entering into marriage, while romantic love aims to achieve an exclusive relationship, with lovers “going steady” and  to “tie the know” in the altar of matrimony.

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Despite these differences, platonic and romantic love also have similarities. Attraction, intimacy, respect, support and pleasure are just as important in platonic relationships as they are in romantic relationships. Closeness matters in romantic as well as in platonic relationships.

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But whether it’s platonic or romantic, the most important thing is the love couples share for one another. In the words of Plato: “Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”

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References

[1] Gooch, 1989, p.360 cited in Karandeshev, 2015, p.4.

[2] https://www.wikihow.com/Understand-Platonic-Love-and-Friendship.

7 Top Traits Women Want in Men

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1. With Sense of Humor

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A sense of humor makes men attractive to women. Being able to laugh at the stresses of this world is a must, according to 77 percent of the women in one study. Men get bonus points if they can make women laugh. Humor tells a woman that you can laugh at the many difficulties that life throws at you.

Moreover, some studies showed that women typically choose better-looking guys for flings, not long-term relationships. Men with strong sense of humor may not necessarily be attractive. They also showed that women love men who make them smile and laugh, especially during times of stress and problems.

2. Intelligent

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A worldly, interesting man is a man 55 percent of women like to show off. Men who are problem solvers make women feel secure, and men who are always improving are never boring.

3. Confident

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A man who feels secure in his own skin makes the woman he’s with feel secure, according to 41 percent of women in one research study. By showing men can handle unfamiliar people or situations, they tell women in their life that they need not fear, either.

4. With High Earning Potential

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One in five women surveyed in one study said a man’s success in his career contributes to his sexiness. If you’ve demonstrated talent, goal achievement, and follow-through, you give women confidence that you will be a good provider.

5. With Great Ambition

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Men with great ambition in life is attractive to women. The ambition of achieving higher social status and social class in society can impress women who want their men to be successful. “Not ambition in the sense that you knock other people down to build yourself up, but in the fact that you will work hard to get what you want and help others to do the same thing” (Jordan).

6. Passionate About Life

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Women love men who are passionate in whatever they do in life. They also love men who live in the moment and enjoy life every day. It’s not about the destination, but about the journey in life that women expect from their male partners.

7. Brave

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Women are attracted to brave men who can face difficult situations with confidence.  Being brave, alert in emergency situations, is very attractive to women and indicates that they can protect them from all types of danger.

8. Famous

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If men are famous, then by definition a lot of people know them. If a lot of people know them, they are therefore important. Being important is very attractive to women. Popularity and achievement are attractive for female partners. Women want their men to be achievers, innovative, and leaders in their chosen fields.

Being famous men implies more social connection, prestige, and honor for their women. Popularity is an indicator of social status, one of the main sources of power in society, together with social class.

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

References

Calo, C. (n.d.). the 100 Top Things that Attract Women to Men.Way Too Social. Retrieved from https://www.waytoosocial.com/top-100-things-that-attract-women-to-men/.

Jones, L. (17 April 2018). Top 20 Traits Women Want in a Man. Men’shealth. Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/a19535604/top-20-traits-she-wants/.

Jordan, S. (n.d.). 7 Qualities Women Find Attractive in Men. Lifehack. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-qualities-women-find-attractive-men.html.

Does Age Matter in a Romantic Relationship?

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” (Mark Twain).

INTRODUCTION

The saying that “Age doesn’t matter” is a popular expression among people for those who fall in love with a wide age gap. They say that love is blind. So, it’s okay to be blinded by the age of one’s crush or lover. Experts on romantic love acknowledge that falling in love is indeed a strong positive energy that makes a person less aware of the consequences of having a big age gap in romantic relationship. One can be so enamored with the other person’s beauty, popularity, personality, social status, or wealth, that he or she forgets that the other person is either too old or too young for him/her! I already encountered some people who fell in love or even got married despite a wide age difference. When I was a boy, our 20-year old nanny was having a secret love affair with our 60-year old neighbor who was a widower with married children. It was indeed embarrassing during their wedding ceremony as the officiating priest had mistaken the groom as the parent of the bride and one of the young best men as the groom! Despite the age gap, they manage to have 3 children before the old man died.

AGE AS A SOCIAL NORM IN SOCIETY

Age really does matter in relationship despite romanticism of some people that it doesn’t affect romantic relationships. In sociology, age is an informal and unwritten social norm. Society has some standards on what age bracket is appropriate for a particular type of relationship, depending on the local culture. Whether one likes it or not, society has a way of classifying people engaging a particular type of social interaction. Defying this informal norm in a romantic relationship can lead to unintended informal and psychological sanction from the public, such as ridicule, suspicion, rumor, gossip, digital bashing in the social media, or even public shaming by people who strongly oppose the relationship. Try to hold hands and show romantic affection with an older man or woman while walking in a public park and you’ll never miss seeing people whispering or giggling in disbelief, or staring at you as if something is terribly wrong, especially when you’re in a rural setting! Generally, women like their men to be a little older and more experienced and mature in life. But if the age gap is quite wide, many people would probably start to think that it is not romantic love or true love that motivates the attraction but something else, maybe the wealth of the older partner.

Age as informal norm in society is not, however, an absolute rule! One can see couples with a big age difference. Among the Hollywood celebrities, the famous actor Michael Douglas and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones were married despite their age difference. These Oscar winners tied their knot in 2000, when Catherine was 31 years old and Michael was 56.

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Michael, 56 years old, with wife Catherine, 31 (Photo credit: hollywood.com)

In the Philippines, the famous folk singer Freddie Aguilar fell in love with a 16-year old girl and managed to marry her in Islamic rites. Under the Shariah law, a 16-year old can contract a valid marriage but not under the current 1987 Family Code of the country for Christians. Apparently both decided to change religion to tie the knot.

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Freddie, 60 years old, with his 16-year old wife (Photo credit: Poklat.com)

Another famous noontime TV host and comedian married a younger woman more than twice his age. The 61-year old veteran Filipino comedian Vic Sotto married the 27-year old TV host Pauleen Luna in a private wedding.

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Pauleen Luna, 27 years old and Vic Sotto, 61 (Photo Credit: gmanetwork.com)

If it is not an arranged marriage sanctioned by culture, people can be suspicious of the motive if they see romantic couples with a wide age gap. They often suspect wealth and/or social status as the main motive why the younger partner “falls in love” with the older guy. This suspicion can have a grain of truth. Normally, people are first attracted to others through their physicality. People project and communicate to the world though their bodies. Appearance matters during the initial encounter of partners in romantic love. Many surveys showed that the person’s eyes as the sexiest or most attractive body part during infatuation. They say that the eyes is the window of the person’s soul. The woman’s big breasts and butts associated with femininity and fertility are also attractive to men, while a tall height, a flat and strong abdomen and chest are attractive physical traits for women. But old people generally cannot boast their physical assets to attract younger people to enter into a romantic relationship with them. Thus, people become cynical of seeing a young and old couple romantically linked with each other.

Physicality, however, can take a backseat if the young and old partners become intimate and learn more about the cultural or non-physical aspects of the relationship such as knowing the other’s attitude, personality, social status, and value system. So people can be suspicious if a poor young woman falls in love with an old rich man as the latter’s youthful physicality has already been deteriorated by age. If he is not extremely handsome and sexy despite his age, it is understandable for them to conclude that it is not the physical appearance but probably the person’s wealth and social status that motivate her to love the other. Age then matters in discerning whether the relationship is truly a romantic love that can lead to marital love or just what the sociologist Anthony Giddens calls as “confluent love” or a contingent form of love without commitment, a love that is based on mutual and temporal satisfaction of the romantic partners–“enjoying the relationship while it lasts.”

In the next blog, we’ll discuss why a wide age gap can be a problem in the interaction and adjustment of the couple as they stay longer in the romantic relationship and marriage. This will also show that age matters in romantic or marital interaction! Cheers!

 

 

Are People with Positive Traits Deviants in Society?: 8 Guinness Record Breakers in 2018

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Why do people break rules and norms of society? How do we view deviant or “abnormal’ behavior of people in society?

There are basically 3 naive and non-sociological definitions on how to understand rule-breaking or deviant behavior of people in society:

1. Absolutist Definition: Deviance resides in the act itself. The evilness of an act is not in the person but in the nature of the act itself. Thus, killing is always murder, or abortion is always sinful. Once a person performs the act, he or she automatically becomes deviant regardless of his/her intention and circumstances surrounding the act.

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2. Statistical Definition: An act, person, place, quality is deviant or abnormal if it does not conform to the average standard. The law on averages is the norm to judge an act/person as deviant or not. Thus, a person is deviant if his/her height is below the average height, like a woman standing 3 feet tall. Or a normal Filipino usually takes a bath once a day on the average, thus a person who takes a bath once or twice a week is deviant under this definition.

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3. Positive Definition: An act, person, or trait is deviant if it is extraordinary or above the average standard in society. A woman who is extremely intelligent or beautiful is deviant under this definition. Those with extraordinary talents like those who established world records in the Guinness Book of Records are deviant due to their positive traits or talents. But do people ordinarily call people with positive traits deviants or abnormal? Or they are praised by people as heroes? This definition is misleading because society consider those with extraordinary capabilities or talents as celebrities and not abnormal people in society. Take, for instance, the following 2018 record breakers. Would you look down on them as deviants and abnormal? Or praise them as super humans?

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Here are some of the 2018 record breakers and holders. They can be considered deviants by positive definition:

1. Longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female)

The longest fingernails on a pair of hands (female) belong to Ayanna Williams (USA), and have a combined total measurement of 576.4 cm (18 ft 10.9 in), as measured in Houston, Texas, USA,

2. Longest eyelash

The longest eyelash measures 12.40 cm (4.88 in) long and has grown on You Jianxia’s (China).

3. Shortest married couple

The shortest married couple are Paulo Gabriel da Silva Barros (Brazil) and Katyucia Lie Hoshino (Brazil), measuring a combined height of 181.41 cm (71.42 in).

4. Oldest bodybuilder – male

The oldest bodybuilder is Jim Arrington (USA, b. 1 September 1932) and was aged 83 years 6 days when competing at a professional bodybuilding competition in Venice, California, USA,

5. Farthest flight by hoverboard

The farthest flight by hoverboard is 2,252.4 m (7,389 ft 9 in) and was achieved by Franky Zapata

6. Fastest 100 m slackline walk

The fastest 100 m slackline walk is 1 min 59.73 secs and was achieved by Lucas Milliard (France)

7. Most apples bobbed in one minute

The most apples bobbed in one minute is 37: Cherry Yoshitake (Japan)

8. Most tattooed senior citizens

Most Tattooed Senior Citizens: Charles “Chuck” Helmke and Charlotte Guttenberg (both USA)

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Photo Credits: Guinness Book of Records 2018

Reference

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/products/books/guinness-world-records-2018-edition/

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