Quick Hits: Biochemistry of sex, native martyrs, music & film
There is so much we don’t know about our own bodies, and none of it gets taught in sex ed. For example:
A man gets vasopressin, a bonding hormone, when he has sex with a woman. This is not up to him; whether he thinks it is no-strings sex or not, he is now hormonally bonded to that particular woman.
Women are automatically attracted by smell to men whose immune system is complementary to their own, but the Pill reverses this, making them attracted to men whose immune system is like their own, like their father’s or brother’s (thus, not a biologically correct mate).
I learned this and much more amazing and important information in a recorded talk on the biochemistry of sex given at my alma mater by Project Rachel founder Vicki Thorn. Watch, and share with your teenage (or older) children.
Many Catholics know about the so-called North American Martyrs: saints like Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebéuf who preached the Gospel to the Indians in Canada. But we never hear about the Indian converts who were martyred around the same time. One of these, Joseph Chiwatenhwa, shed his blood for Christ even before Jogues and Brebéuf were killed. In fact, he seems to be the first Catholic to have been martyred in North America.
Chiwatenhwa was the first lay administrator of the Catholic Church in Canada, and became a catechist among his Huron people, converting many friends and family members, translating hymns and prayers from French into Huron, and adapting some Huron traditions to the Catholic faith. He was a man of great zeal and loved God more than his own life. He was ultimately killed (whether by a Huron or an Iroquois is uncertain) for spreading the faith among the native peoples.
To learn more, read Friends of God: The Early Native Huron Church in Canada, a short and moving book written to further the cause of Joseph Chiwatenhwa’s canonization. (At one point in Friends of God there is a reference to St. Joseph wanting to divorce Mary because he thought she had been unfaithful to him, which I think is the wrong interpretation, but other than that the book is very good.)
Catholics shouldn’t trust the mainstream media when it comes to foreign policy any more than they should on matters of religion. Andrew Bacevich recently raised 24 fundamental questions that must be answered for America to have a morally rational foreign policy. That virtually none of them are brought up by the mainstream media or politicians shows how truly impoverished the discussion on foreign policy is.
Two artistic discussions I’ve enjoyed recently: Catholic conductor Manfred Honeck talks to the Catholic Artists Society about “Faith in Music,” with a particularly interesting look at the theological content of Mozart’s Requiem. And philosopher Thomas Hibbs asks, “Is Cinema Art?” The answer is an obvious yes, but we learn more by pursuing the question. One fun bit of trivia I learned from Hibbs: T.S. Eliot’s favorite film was Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.
Finally, I’ve just profiled a New York-based Catholic sculptor, Christopher Alles, for The New Criterion’s blog. Enjoy!
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