COMING MONDAY on More2Life Radio–When Faith Divides

Coming Monday: When Faith Divides–In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Do you think I came to bring peace?”  We’ll look at those times when our faith puts us at odds with others and how to work toward peace in spite of those differences.

Plus, TOB Insitute’s Bill Donaghy reflects on how the Theology of the Body both challenges the culture and allows us to engage it more effectively.

Call in at 877-573-7825 from Noon-1 Eastern (11-Noon Central) with your questions about

Can’t get M2L on a Catholic radio station near you? YOU CAN STILL HEAR US!
~ Listen via our FREE AveMariaRadio IPhone or Android App (Check your app store!),
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 Q of the D:  (Answer to win!)   ~Describe a time that your faith has caused tension between you and someone you love.

*Win a free book!  Every day you respond to the question of the day your name will be entered in a radio drawing to win a free book from the Popcak Catholic Living Library (over 10 titles in all)!  Again, each day that you respond you will get another chance at winning a free book in the drawing held at the end of each week on More2Life Radio.

This week’s featured title is:  FOR BETTER…FOREVER!  A Catholic Guide To Lifelong Marriage.

For Better…FOREVER!  explores what it takes to create and celebrate a great Catholic marriage from the newlywed years to late-in-life.  The Catholic vision of marriage is unpacked amidst tons of practical, empirically-tested advice about communication, problem-solving, negotiating the challenges of different marital stages, sexuality, and a whole lot more.  This is THE book no Catholic married couple should be without.  A great resource for you and a great gift for  Anniversaries and Newlyweds too!

COMING FRIDAY on More2Life Radio– Overcoming “Mommy Guilt”

Coming Friday: OVERCOMING “MOMMY GUILT”–Every mom experiences maternal guilt from time to time.  Even small doses can really undermine both mom’s well-being and the parent-child relationship.  We’ll explore mommy guilt and how to leave it behind–for good!

Call in at 877-573-7825 from Noon-1 Eastern (11-Noon Central) with your questions about getting past mommy guilt
Can’t get M2L on a Catholic radio station near you? YOU CAN STILL HEAR US! ~ Listen via our FREE AveMariaRadio IPhone or Android App (Check your app store!), ~ Tune in live online at ~ or catch our archived shows via the M2L Podcast (also at


Q of the D:  (Answer one or both to win!)

1.Every mom has guilt pangs now and again.  What situations tend to provoke mommy guilt in you?


2. What do you do to try to get past the mommy guilt you sometimes feel?


*Win a free book!  Every day you respond to the question of the day your name will be entered in a radio drawing to win a free book from the Popcak Catholic Living Library (over 10 titles in all)!  Again, each day that you respond you will get another chance at winning a free book in the drawing held at the end of each week on More2Life Radio.

This week’s featured title is:  The Life God Wants You To Have: Discovering the Diving Plan When Human Plans Fail— If you ever wondered how to figure out what God was doing in your life or what he wanted you to do, this book is for you.  Discover surprisingly clear steps toward discerning God’s will for your life and how God can use even the most difficult times to bless you.
Winners will be announced on air and contacted by FB message following the drawing next Friday 8/16


A few tech-savvy readers found the link to the Eddie and Tracy Show I wrote about the other day.  I’ve had several people ask to be able to listen so… Here you go.    (I’m told it starts about 17:15 in)

Not knowing their style, you can tell I was a little stunned by their approach at first (they start insulting me in their introduction) but things picked up pretty quickly.  To be completely honest, I can’t bring myself to listen to it again, but I’ve been told it’s worth tuning in for.  Check it out if you are so inclined.

UPDATE:  It’s a slow loader.  It looks like it’s only 10:59 but if you wait 5 min it goes to 30 min.  It’s all there.

Is the Hook-Up Culture Over-Hyped? Absolultely Not, Study Shows.

As I mentioned,  I’ve been talking a lot lately about the hook-up culture among young adults. Last month, the New York Times stirred the cultural pot with their article titled, She Can Play That Game Too.  In it, the Times reported the experience of college age women who have become the sexual aggressors in the hook-up culture, often even intentionally getting themselves drunk so that they can bring themselves to play the role of sexual aggressor.

A new study from the University of Portland offers some additional perspective on the scope of the problem.   News outlets are saying that the study shows that the hook-up culture is being over-hyped, but I’m not really sure that’s the case.  Let’s look at the facts.

Frequency of Premarital Sex:  Then and Now

The first results of the study would appear to argue against fears of a hookup culture because, according to the data,  young people are having about as much premarital sex, and maybe even a bit less, than previous generations of young people did.

“Recent research and popular media reports have described intimate relationships among contemporary college students as characterized by a new and pervasive hookup culture in which students regularly have sex with no strings attached,” said study co-author Martin Monto, Ph.D.

“This implies that the college campus has become a more sexualized environment and that undergraduates are having more sex than in the past. We were surprised to find this is not the case….”

“…We found that college students from the contemporary or ‘hookup era’ did not report having more frequent sex or more sexual partners during the past year or more sexual partners since turning 18 than undergraduates from the earlier era,” said Monto.

Researchers were surprised to find that among the 1988-1996 cohort, 65.2 percent reported having sex weekly or more often in the past year, compared to 59.3 percent of college students from the “hookup era.”

The Nature of Pre-Marital Sex:  Then and Now:

So, as I said, young people are having, more or less, about as much premarital sex as ever.  But that’s not really what the hookup culture is about.  The hookup culture isn’t just about the amount of sex people have and the number of people having it.  It is about the kind of sex people have and the attitudes toward sex people hold.   And  this where I think the Univ. of Portland study really does support concerns about the hook-up culture.  The second part of the study shows that young adults are more likely than their older counterparts to have casual sex with strangers or friends and see casual hookups or “friends with benefits” as a substitute for marriage instead of a potential path to marriage as previous generations at least tacitly did.   Let’s look again at what the study says…

“For example, it is true that sexually active college students from the contemporary era were more likely than those from the earlier era to report that one of their sexual partners during the past year was a casual date/pickup (44.4 percent compared to 34.5 percent) or a friend (68.6 percent compared to 55.7 percent), and less likely to report having a spouse or regular sexual partner (77.1 percent compared to 84.5 percent).”

“Contemporary college students are coping with a new set of norms in which marriage occurs later,” Monto said.  “This means the idea of waiting until marriage to begin sexual behavior is a less tenable narrative.”


So Is There A Hookup Culture or Not?

As I said above, I think it would be completely wrongheaded and misleading to use this study as a way of saying that the hookup culture doesn’t really exist and isn’t really any more of a problem than sex on campus ever was.  The data does not, in fact, appear to support this dismissive attitude.   What the study really shows is that  while young adults  are  having about as much premarital sex as young adults of a previous generation, when contemporary young adults do have premarital sex,  it is more likely to be of a casual nature and more likely to be seen, not as a lead up to marriage, but as a substitute for, or way of putting off, marriage.  That is a big difference over previous generations’ attitudes toward sex.

So, no, colleges are not necessarily any larger “dens of iniquity” than they ever have been in modern memory.  But, there is an important difference in that those young people who are engaging in premarital sex today are more cavalier about it, more pessimistic about marriage, and less likely to see sex as leading to marriage than any generation before them.

So, yes, Virginia, there is a hook-up culture.  And it is a problem because it points to a whole subset of the current generation who believes less than ever that fulfilling, lifelong love is possible.   As a person who has found his lifelong love, and who has dedicated his life to helping people discover and live lifelong love, that strikes me as profoundly sad.

If you would like to learn more about discovering and sustaining a lifelong, passionate love, check out Holy Sex!  A Catholic Guide to Mind Blowing, Toe-Curling, Infallible Loving.   And if you’re a parent who wants to teach your kids to resist the cultural tide and hold out for lifelong, married love, pick up a copy of Beyond the Birds and the Bees:  Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids (2nd edition–Revised and Expanded) today!

Blessed Are You When WLW Drive Time Hosts Persecute You?

Yesterday, I had an interview–actually, it was more like nuclear warfare–with Eddie Fingers and Tracy Jones, hosts of the #1 afternoon drive time show in Cincinnati.  They had me on to discuss my book, Holy Sex, in light of the NY Times article on the Hook-Up Culture .  It turns out I wrote the book that shocked the shock jocks.

A couple of weeks ago, in light of the US News and World Report article on how devout Catholics have the best and most frequent sex, my publisher hired a publicist to book  interviews for me on secular and Christian radio.  Overall, its gone well with most interviewers being patronizing at worst and actually interested at best.  These guys were another story altogether.

One of them, I think it was Tracy (it was hard to tell them apart but he identified himself as a former pro-ball player so I suspect it was him) decided that I had some kind of mental illness for suggesting that 1) anyone  should wait to have sex until marriage and 2) monogamy was a good thing.  Worse, he acted as if I was personally insulting him for saying the same.

When I shared that the more sexual partners one has before marriage the more difficult it was to make satisfying, lifelong sexual bonds later in life, he went ballistic.

It’s hard to describe how vicious, mean-spirited and vitriolic he was. He accused me of being a “nerdy joyless ‘doctor’ who just couldn’t get any” and just wanted to inflict my miserable joyless ways on the world.  And that was the friendly part of the interview.  Of course, some of Jones’ credibility, especially regarding my point on the lifelong bonding issue, was undermined when he had to admit that he was on his second marriage and, in response to my direct challenge to his assertion that lifelong monogamy was impossible, he admitted that he would probably cheat on his second wife, “if it came up.”  But y’know, why let facts, reason, and personal experience get in the way of narcissistic ant-religious bluster?

I deal with a lot of angry people in my line of work and I’m not easily intimidated by drama so I think I managed to make some solid points despite being taken by surprise.   I’m not sure why, but they seemed genuinely shocked when I told them how happy I was in my life, my marriage and my family.  In response to Jones’ harangue, “Do you know how few people like you there are?!?”  I said that there are very few billionaires too, but very few people think that being one is a bad thing.  I then told him that I thought he was peddling a sad message that told people they should settle rather than pursue the lifelong, faithful love everyone craves.  That was one of the few times they got quiet.

Regardless, the reason I’m even bothering to share any of this on the blog is to remind us all of how shocking and disturbing the Gospel is even today.   I talk to a lot of Christians who feel guilty after an encounter like this.  Guilty that they weren’t as self-possessed or perfectly composed as they imagine they ought to be, as they imagine Jesus would be.  Let me just say that there is no reason to ever feel guilty for standing up to a bully.  Whether it’s your brother-in-law, husband, or a narcissistic, former pro-ball player who doesn’t know how to keep his zipper up and hates you for not being similarly challenged.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Matt 5:11).   The world still hates us.  Not because our message is bad, but because our message is so good that they don’t believe it’s possible for them.  They hate us because we stand as a witness to the life and love they could have if only they would give their lives to God.  Keep witnessing.  Don’t be discouraged.

You want to know the really funny thing?  At the end of the interview, Tracy’s partner said he wanted to have me back.    I look forward to Round Two.

Pick up your copy of the book the shocked the Shock Jocks– Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.


Do We Have Free Will?

There is, currently, a Patheos-wide discussion regarding people’s beliefs about free will.  Many brain scientists deny the existence of such a thing as free will.  They correctly observe that the impulse to act emerges from the lower brain between  .3 – 1.5 seconds before we even become aware of the impulse.  The implication is that most of our actions are guided by impulses that we are barely aware of before we act upon them.  There is something to this.  Many, even most of our actions are unconsciously driven.  The majority of our actions are the result of repetitive programming (environment, training, experiences) that we don’t even stop to consciously consider.   God made us that way so that we could function.  We wouldn’t be able to walk across a room much less make complicated decisions if we had to consciously analyze every variable before taking the next step.  Maintaining this level of free will would be practically impossible.  Having to process that level of information on an ongoing basis would cause us to experience even more choice paralysis than we currently do!

But none of this means that free will doesn’t exist.  Brain scientists who believe in free will tend to speak more in terms of “free won’t.”  In other words, although it is true that the impulse to commit an action occurs before we are aware of the impulse, there are other regions of the brain that give us veto power over those impulses and, in fact, allow us to then redirect that energy into other actions.  This is the process psychologists refer to as “response flexibility.”  That is, the ability to pause before acting and redirect oneself to other, alternative, responses.

For instance, if something makes you angry and you want to punch someone in the face, the impulse to deliver that punch has been building for a good amount of time (neurologically speaking) before you even become aware of your fist beginning to clench.  But having become aware of this impulse, your higher brain kicks into gear and offers a few other choices. You could express your anger in words.  You could shut down entirely.  You could excuse yourself to go exercise. You could take a break to figure out how best to proceed.  Or, you could punch the person.  You have a choice to make.  Do you go with the impulse, or do you veto the impulse and redirect (i.e., sublimate) that energy into another direction?  This is “free won’t”

It appears that mindfulness-based practices such as some forms of active reflection can increase a person’s capacity for response flexibility.  Mindfulness is the ability to stand apart from one’s feelings, impulses, and environment and non-judgmentally take in all the available information so that one can make the best choice rooted in the best information. From the point of view of mindfulness-based practices, the original impulse to act is just one additional source of information that a person has to reflect upon and choose from.

While brain scientists argue among themselves, it would appear that simple observation of the process of change proves that impulses are not destiny.  If they were, it would be impossible to alter behaviors.  While it is, admittedly, difficult to make changes in behavior, emotion, or personality, there is no question it is possible.  The more self-possessed, self-aware, mindful a person is, the more behavioral choices they have available to them and the greater impulse control they have.  The mechanisms guiding these processes are just beginning to be studied much less understood, but as we come to understand the intricate interactions between the brain, mind, and relationship, we see that not only is free will (or, if you prefer free won’t) a reality, but that we have more choices available to us than we ever thought possible.

Does Induced Labor Increase the Risk of Autism?

A potentially disturbing study reveals that children who have been born by induced or augmented labor have about a 35% greater likelihood of developing Autism.  The findings were reported after a review of over 600,000 medical and corresponding school records.  The study does not prove cause and effect but it does highlight a potentially serious, and deeply unappreciated side effect of a birthing practice that has become increasingly more common over the years.   Here is a brief summary of the study…

In this study, the researchers looked at records of all births in North Carolina over an eight-year period and matched 625,042 births with corresponding public school records, which indicated whether children were diagnosed with autism.

Approximately 1.3 percent of male children and 0.4 percent of female children had autism diagnoses. In both male and female children, the percentage of mothers who had induced or augmented labor was higher among children with autism compared with those who did not have autism.

The findings suggest that among male children, labor that was both induced and augmented was associated with a 35 percent higher risk of autism, compared with labor that received neither treatment. This estimated increase in risk accounted for established maternal and pregnancy-related risk factors, such as maternal age and pregnancy complications. While induced labor alone and augmented labor alone were each associated with increased risk among male children, only augmentation was associated with increased risk among female children. The reason for the difference in findings between male and female children requires further investigation.

Read here for more.

I agree that this is not necessarily a cause for panic or the wholesale abandonment of induced or augmented labor, but in an age where autism is being diagnosed at what is, arguably, epidemic levels, any information that could help parents decrease either the personal or social risk of autism is welcome information.

For the record, I have always recommended against induced and augmented labor except in cases where they are determined to be absolutely medically necessary.  For most induced or augmented deliveries, this is not the case.  We need to trust our bodies–not blindly, but in an informed and intelligent way–to do what God designed them to do.  If you are pregnant, please discuss this information and your concerns with your OB/GYN.   If your OB/GYN identifies serious, medical reasons why induction or augmentation might be necessary, by all means, be open to this feedback. But, if not, my position has always been “better safe than sorry.”  This latest information would appear to bear this motto out.