Risky Sex

Several years ago, Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Police Department designed a Rate-Your-Risk test. “Rate your risk” for…being robbed, raped, stabbed, shot, or murdered. The project director was a former FBI agent.

One of the questions was “How many acts of adultery have you committed within the past two years?

Now THAT question blows all the smoke out of the room. Reality Time at the Ranch: If you’ve developed improper sexual attachments, your risk of being assaulted or murdered has just red-lined.

Hmmm, “Sir, are you saying that sex could have ramifications beyond the moment?”

At a tip from Jesus Creed, I just read a very wise essay on sex. Risky Sex by Michael Hildalgo examines our culture’s shallow and vacant approach to sex. Yes, I do know that others have excavated that ground. But this one is good enough to warrant your time.

Sample quotes:

…“Safe Sex” is a myth. What protection is there to prevent to intertwining of minds, hearts, and souls that happens when two people are joined together sexually?

“Sex, by its very nature is not safe. It is the ultimate act in giving your whole self away to another person. It requires vulnerability that no other relationship asks for. It is to be fully exposed to another human being. It’s putting your full naked self out there as a gift – that’s risky.

“…This is why so many people have sex with so many people, and feel more and more alone. Somewhere, deep inside their heart, something is being ripped apart and taken from them, and nothing can protect that. What they mistake as a physical act, can cause emotional and spiritual heartache.

“Make no mistake, sex is risky – and what is at risk is our hearts and souls.”

I think this essay can be very helpful to parents as they shape a morality worth integrating into lives and legacies. The piece provides nuanced, textured, and trustworthy ways of thinking about sex. It lifts the topic out of the immature, mechanical, and soulless approach that is so pervasive in our society.

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Seen & Heard Today

Ann Voskamp has hit another one over the far center wall with this piece on married love.  The whole thing is worth your time, but here’s an appetizer:

I don’t know how another man’s skin feels.

My grandmother lived that kind of courage. The kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age.

The wrinkled faithfulness of monogamy, it can look pedestrian, the kind that finishes well, parades up through the Arc de Triomphe, battle scarred, and the tourists just blithely shuffle by, pigeons taking to oblivious wing. She told me about this.

I remember it, nights like these.

How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this — the allure of the vows.

This — World’s Funniest Analogies — is just too good to keep to myself.  You writers will love it.


“From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.”

Excellent article from the Hoover Institute on Steve Jobs. But, more importantly, it looks at why entrepreneurs drop out of college. Consider that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had to quit college so they could go change the world.

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I can certainly see why author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit) was drawn to the story of Louis Zamperini.

Her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is so debilitating that she rarely leaves her home in Washington, DC.  And the Zamparini story is a profound, thrilling, heartbreaking, emotional, inspiring, cannot-quit-reading examination of human endurance.  So, Hillenbrand’s book about him, Unbroken (Random House, 2010), throws the human bundle of body, soul, and spirit into a veritable taffey-pulling machine.

She takes us into a ravishing tour of what humans can achieve, inflict, and endure.  I think an author who has great health could not have written this knowing gaze into the physical and mental and spiritual dimensions.

This is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Here’s the basic story:

Louis Zamperini, born in 1917, grew up in Torrance, California as an incorrigible thief, hoodlum, and hobo.  Really tough kid. Fearless. But, in High School, all of his delinquent ways turned into world class athletic skill on the track.  He became one of the fastest runners in the world.  After running very impressively in the 1936 Olympics (and meeting Hitler), he joined the Army Air Force in September, 1941.

In May of 1943, Second Lieutenant Louie Zamperini was a bombardier on a B-24 which crashed into Pacific.  That crash also plunges the reader into an unimaginable, harrowing and astonishing 27-month World War 2 adventure — floating 2,000 miles in a raft, spending two years in the demonic brutality of POW camps, navigating the shoals of return to normal civilization life, and incredible redemption.

Along the way, Hillenbrand takes her readers to scenic overviews of kindness and cruelty, the fierce visage of terrorism, the shredding of human dignity, marriage, alcoholism, fear, faith, and forgiveness.

Louis Zamperini is a true and full hero.  You want to see a real hero and consider the mystery of how they appear in history?  This book is the best examination of that I’ve ever read.  Incredibly, Zamperini is, of this writing, still very much alive at 93!  On his 81st birthday, he ran one leg of the Olympic torch relay in Japan.  Two weeks ago, he threw out the first pitch of the Red Sox-Cubs game at Fenway Park in Boston.

But Unbroken is full of heroes and heroism.  You cannot read this against the backdrop of a US Congressman sending photos of his own crotch to young women without wondering what the hell happened to character, integrity, and heroism.

As a writer, Hillenbrand fully matches Zamperini.  In addition to her own physical affliction, she has the mature and sensitive eye of a novelist.  The reader feels every scene.  You will not get through the book without gasps, groans, full laughter, tears, and encounters with transcendent reality.   Trust me: Unbroken‘s 406 pages will not let you eat, sleep, or work.

Interesting sidebar: this book about military men contains very little bad language.  My dad, also a World War 2 veteran, told me he never heard the degrading language then that became commonplace in later times.  How refreshing to read a book that is faithful to a subject and a time.



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