A few months ago I had the opportunity to be a part of a book launch team for Paul Angone’s 101 Secrets for Your Twenties… I got the chance to meet some pretty awesome people and one of these people included a fantastic girl named Arleen. Arleen is full of spunk and wisdom and I’m super excited that she agreed to let me interview her because you have to check out this girl’s writing, seriously!
So without further adieu…meet Arleen…
Q: Arleen, anyone who knows something about you or reads your writing knows that you’re a woman of many talents. But for those who haven’t stumbled upon your writing yet, tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: You are too kind! Thank you. I am a 28-year-old follower of Jesus Christ who lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I write for the Tampa Bay Times (Florida’s biggest and best newspaper!), and blog about love, chastity, and sex. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of South Florida. I really like watching scary movies, eating good food, and laughing as much as possible.
Q: You write about love, chastity, and sex. Why are you passionate about these topics? How did you get interested in these things?
A: My quest to spread better messages about love, chastity, and sex started when I dated a guy who didn’t practice chastity. As a chaste woman, I don’t believe we are supposed to commit to a person because sex is pleasurable with him or her, but that we’re supposed to create a pleasurable sexual relationship with the person to whom we are committed in marriage. As you can imagine, expressing this to a guy who disagrees didn’t end well (for him, anyway). But the experience was access to a world I hadn’t known before — one in which chastity is foreign, infatuation is mistaken for love, and nobody believes it’s possible (or a good idea) to save sex for marriage. But resistance to chastity (which, for the record, is not the same as abstinence) is the source of some of awful realities. If we all practiced chastity, there would be no abortion, no unfit parents, no unwanted babies, no abuse, and I could go on. There’s a better sexual ethic than the one that tends to surround us, and I’m eager to introduce it to anybody who’ll listen.
Q: You say that you’re a Roman Catholic Christian. What do you mean by this? For those Christians who have trouble understanding how Catholicism and Christianity can co-exist, can you enlighten us? Do you ever encounter a tension when you tell people you’re a Catholic and a Christian?
A: From fifth through twelfth grades, I was a student at a private, Protestant school, where I was routinely (but mostly mildly) discriminated against for being Catholic. Some Protestant schools of thought say Catholics can’t be Christians, that Catholicism isn’t a Christian religion. Both notions are totally false, which is probably why I started to call myself a Roman Catholic Christian. Kind of my way of familiarizing people with the idea that Catholics can be Christians, too. In recent years, I’ve written a couple posts about the tension between Protestants and Catholics. I still get feedback from people who think I’m headed to hell in a handbasket, but for the most part, my Protestant friends and readers agree that we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.
Q: What’s inspiring you these days?
A: I’m inspired lately by two things. One is by working in a newsroom. I just returned to the Times after a nearly-year long break, during which I finished my master’s degree. For some reason, I totally write better when I’m in a room with fellow journalists. The other is a few friends of mine, who are each going through some very heavy stuff. I am inspired by their faith and perseverance.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one item with you, what would it be?
A: Just one? That’s tough. I’m torn between my Bible and a GIANT bottle of water.
Q: I hear you have some exciting news to share, you’re releasing a book…can you give my readers any inside glimpses to what it’s going to be about and when it will hit stores?
A: Yes! I am both pumped and humbled to have recently announced a book deal with Ave Maria Press. Generally speaking, the book will be about love, chastity, and sex (and is intended to spread messages like the one I spread when I wrote an essay for the newspaper called Why I’m still a virgin at age 26.). The book is slated for a Fall 2014 release.
Q: Last question….many of my readers are Canadian! Tell us your favourite thing about Canada or some place in our great country that you’d like to visit.
A: I haven’t been to Canada yet, but a landmark I’d love to visit is St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. It’s a Catholic basilica and Canada’s largest church (according to the Internet, anyway). I saw a documentary about it once and have been intrigued ever since.
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Read her blog at arleenspenceley.com.