Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome, Crunchy Con readers!

When I read Rod's post a few minutes ago, directing readers of Crunchy Cons to this little blog, I was completely surprised; I had no idea he was going to do that! And I haven't been updating this blog all that regularly over the last two weeks, what with Christmas, and my daughter's birthday, and New Year's, and all.

But anyone who clicked Rod's link and came over here to check this blog out is completely welcome; I hope you'll look around a little, especially at the politics/religion posts I put up on a regular basis. And if you like what you read (or you disagree with it vehemently but can say so following the same sort of "beer and pizza" rule we've always had at Crunchy Cons), I hope you'll stick around--regular news-driven opinion commentary resumes Monday.

There are a few things it might be useful to mention up front:

1. This isn't a mommy blog, though as a mother I feel free to post the occasional family-oriented post. There are tons of talented mommy bloggers out there sharing recipes and craft ideas, but my talents lie elsewhere, and except for the occasional whimsy I won't inflict that sort of thing on my readers.

2. This isn't a homeschooling blog, though as a homeschooler I also occasionally mention what we're doing in school, or post generally on the sort of things that homeschoolers think about. I used to do more of this, actually, but again, there are countless talented homeschoolers who have ideas on these topics, and as an "eclectic/textbook" homeschooler I'm actually using methods that are a bit outdated (e.g., we buy and use textbooks for most of our subjects). I am, however, always happy to answer questions about homeschooling if people have them; my contact information in on the sidebar of this blog.

3. This is a Catholic blog. No surprise, right? In addition to posting about Catholic topics, I also post sometimes about my experiences with the choir at our parish, or post things either critical or supportive of various diocesan issues both local and far away. What I don't do, what I'll never do, is post something disagreeing with the official teaching of the Catholic Church; and if I ever do so unintentionally, I expect my fellow Catholics to pile on and straighten me out.

4. This is a conservative blog. Again, no surprise; you'll note that I differentiate here between "conservative" and "Republican" just as I usually did at Crunchy Cons. However, you'll probably note one big difference between the way I post about politics here and the way I posted over there; at Crunchy Cons I was always mindful of the fact that it wasn't my blog, and I wasn't free to ruffle feathers and rile people at random--some of the people who read here, who have also read me there, accused me of pulling my punches over there. And it's true; I did. I don't do that here, which means that the highly partisan are probably going to be mad at me more often than not. If you lean toward the Democratic side of things, you'll think I attack Democrats endlessly and harshly; if you are a 100% partisan Republican you'll probably come to think I do the same for the Republican side. The truth is I've often been kinder to Republicans than they deserve, and have voted for them more often than I'd like--but in any case, though this is an old post, I think it best sums up how I feel about the two parties we currently have available to us.

5. This is a pro-life, anti-torture blog. Well, I know, I already said it was a Catholic blog, so that's a bit redundant, right?

6. Finally, just a few "housekeeping" kinds of things. First, if you read old posts, you may wonder who "The Cardigan family" or "Mr. Cardigan" etc. are. I used to post this blog anonymously, and only put my name on it after a considerable time--so rest assured, the Cardigan family is the Manning family. Second, I'm set up to take anonymous comments, and all comments that are not attacks against me or the other commenters etc. are most welcome--but please choose a nickname if you're posting anonymously. Third, I generally write at least one new post each weekday, but don't ordinarily post on weekends. If something (say, Christmas break) changes that pattern I try to mention it upfront.

With all of that said, I'm flattered that so many of Rod's readers have clicked over here! You are most welcome to stay, and since Rod's blog is changing any of you who are as inclined toward political commentary as I tend to be are very welcome to comment here at this blog on the political topics of the day.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for KP duty at the beginning of year (Happy New Year!).

I came in on some postings year before last, not realizing my point of view seemed as harsh as it occasionally has (because I hadn't read previously) so apologize for that. I am looking forward to some robust discussion of various points of view, as a blog replier who happens to be Catholic with stalwart views on role of diverse opinion.

Irenaeus said...

Hopefully you can pick up some of the so-called 'culture war' stuff Dreher won't be doing anymore.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Irenaeus, it's not like anybody could ever shut me up about the culture war stuff. :)

Dawn Farias said...

The truth is I've often been kinder to Republicans than they deserve, and have voted for them more often than I'd like,

This wording smacks a bit Lord of the Ringsish, no?

Of course, I'm not new here but I always come back because I really don't know what you are ever talking about and part of me assumes it must therefore be good for me. And because you gave me an award once. (Thanks again for that.)

Red Cardigan said...

Dawn, :) !!

I should mention that Dawn is the designer of this blog's look; check out her work at the "Almost Ready Blogs" button in my sidebar.

Dawn Farias said...

Thanks, Erin!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Having looked over the right-hand column, I'm going to venture two comments:

1) The day may come when the USCCB will have cause to thank God for Roe v. Wade. Politics tends to run in wide ranging circles if you give it long enough. We may someday have a government which will find "good cause" to mandate abortion in various circumstances. We all know the pretexts: for the pregnant woman's own good, because she is not fit to raise the child, to spare the child a painful life, to avoid putting a burden on society... IF this ever happens, pro-life lawyers will be running into court seeking an injunction against enforcement of such a law, and rightly so. The most powerful legal precedent available to cite in their briefs will be Roe v. Wade. If the government has no authority to intervene, then it has no authority to intervene. That is what constitutional grant and restriction of powers is about. Constitutional questions are not generally about WHICH way the government exercises a lawful power. Therefore, the legislative and executive branches may not mandate abortion in any circumstances. I suppose they could make financial aid conditional on submitting to abortion, but that's a whole other can of worms.

2) It is possible for pro-choice Catholics to be pro-life, said the Protestant. The most likely pattern of reasoning would be this: Abortion is morally wrong, but relying on the police power of the state is not an effective or morally acceptable means to prevent it. Therefore, I will oppose restoration of criminal penalties, I will oppose use of the church's resources to advocate restoration of criminal penalties, I will respect the legal right of each woman to make her own decision, and, I will devote my time and resources to reaching out to pregnant women considering abortion, to prevail upon them to CHOOSE life.

Greg Boyd, a pro-life Protestant minister, gave a very eloquent sermon about a woman named Dorothy who votes pro-life, who was instrumental in assisting a young pregnant woman to come to the decision to have the baby, and supporting her (in Dorothy's home) when her family threw her out of the house. "Dorothy votes pro choice, and Dorothy is more pro life than I am."

romishgraffiti said...

Put simply, a Catholic cannot approve of legal abortion, and this is explicit. As Evangelium puts it: "73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection."

I see no difference between saying that making abortion illegal is not "effective or morally acceptable" and saying making holding up a convenience store at gunpoint illegal is not effective of morally acceptable. Somewhere good people latched on to the ridiculous notion that somehow making abortion illegal is so uniquely problematic from any other law ever made that it prohibits us from doing it. Nonsense.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Romishgraffiti, I do not wish to impose a pro-choice view on Erin's column, so I will make only a limited response to your position. There are millions of pro-choice Catholics who can speak for themselves.

You are logically and morally consistent in what you say. Nor did I recommend that a pro-choice Catholic should not oppose abortion by conscientious objection. I wonder what you understand conscientious objection to mean? Have you gone to prison for physically obstructing a clinic where abortions were performed? For invading the clinic and destroying its equipment? I know Catholics motivated by their faith to go to prison for obstructing the School of the Americas, and I would have equal respect for you acting upon your beliefs. As a citizen I believe you should be imprisoned, if you did so, for the protection of the public. As a citizen, I do not favor imprisonment of those who protest at the School of the Americas, but the law says otherwise. Of course, if your conscientious objection is limited to legal means, such as quietly witnessing to pregnant women, offering widely advertised "abortion alternatives," offering yourself to adopt the baby if the woman will only carry her pregnancy to term, then you have an unambiguous legal right, as well as a moral obligation, to do any of those things.

Now, the analogy to holding up a convenience store. I think a good case could be made that convenience stores would be held up ten times as often if there were no criminal penalties to forbid it. Abortion, on the other hand, is sought by those women desperate to obtain one regardless of the penalties. Further, while 95% of the population favors criminal penalties for armed robbery, less than half of us agree on criminal penalties for abortion. Perhaps it is because criminal laws pertaining to abortion invade a woman's own womb, whereas a robber holding up a convenience store at gunpoint is actually invading another person's property who posed no threat to them at all. Yes, it is true, if I concede the premise that a fetus is a human life, then there is no further discussion. But still, you are compelling another person to carry a pregnancy within her own womb, It is a different sort of intervention. It really is different, whatever the moral imperative may be.

John Thayer Jensen said...

Siarlys Jenkins posted:

Now, the analogy to holding up a convenience store. I think a good case could be made that convenience stores would be held up ten times as often if there were no criminal penalties to forbid it. Abortion, on the other hand, is sought by those women desperate to obtain one regardless of the penalties. Further, while 95% of the population favors criminal penalties for armed robbery, less than half of us agree on criminal penalties for abortion. Perhaps it is because criminal laws pertaining to abortion invade a woman's own womb, whereas a robber holding up a convenience store at gunpoint is actually invading another person's property who posed no threat to them at all. Yes, it is true, if I concede the premise that a fetus is a human life, then there is no further discussion. But still, you are compelling another person to carry a pregnancy within her own womb, It is a different sort of intervention. It really is different, whatever the moral imperative may be.

I was kind of interested in this until the end. Siarlys, are you under the impression that a human foetus (not, for example, a feline one) is something other than a human life? What else can it be?

I actually thought the robbery analogy applies very well. I don't think the facts of abortion statistics before and after Roe show that abortion rates are unrelated to the law. Abortion rates have skyrocketed since then.

I should have thought the analogy as you point it out was very apt. The robber is threatening someone who has done him no harm whatever; the mother intending abortion - and of course all those others, including the father, if he intends it, the abortionist, etc - are threatening someone who has done them no harm - indeed, is even more harmless than the storekeeper, since the storekeeper just might have a weapon under the counter.

But if, on the other hand, a human foetus is not a human life - well, then, what's the issue? Abortion is no more a moral matter than having your appendix out.

But of course the question of whether a human foetus is a human life is not a matter of opinion, any more than the question whether a cat foetus is a feline life.

Is it?

jj

romishgraffiti said...

Yes, it is true, if I concede the premise that a fetus is a human life, then there is no further discussion.

That's rather the point. While the "is it human argument?" still comes up occasionally, most of the abortion camp conceded this long ago and their argument is essentially, "yeah, it's human, yeah, we are killing it. It's still acceptable." and thus default to the ridiculous "keep your laws off my body". Like property rights, bodily integrity rights are important, but not absolute. If a child became trapped on my property and and to be fed and cared for for nine months before being carefully extracted, that would not confer on me the right to shoot her as a trespasser. Property rights does not mean, and has never meant, "I am the demigod of this patch of dirt and anything I say or do within its boundaries is law!" It doesn't mean that about your house, it doesn't mean that about your body. Stop pretending abortion is anything less than a grave evil.

Lynn said...

romishgraffitti does offer us a pivotal distinction. If a fertilized egg progressively become foetus is definitively a fully human being prior to being born and not merely living human tissue (this semantic playground is where most of the sophistry in this issue occurs) in its own right, in and of itself; if the mother doesn't play the defining role in dividing what is pre-born, pre-human from what is post-born, now human, then the mother becomes nothing more than an aethetic utility serving the preemptive primacy of foetal conception and development. A computer monitored cyborg womb with redundant backup systems then becomes a superior utility for reducing the potential marginal grave evils of imperfection or damage during foetal development.

It is in fact this abstraction of the foetus from the mother into something like a conceptual football which can then be alternatively forward-passed or end-run in isolation through abstract arguments which lays the groundwork for the legitimacies of both abortion and the in vitro industries. The Modernist perspective of the independent foetus never fails to provide its own unintended consequences.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Once again, I'm trying to refrain from writing all over Erin's blog, "A fetus is not a person." Just briefly, I believe that a zygote is not a person, a fetus that is perfectly capable of living on its own if removed from the womb, is a person, and in between is a path of development which is difficult to draw a line through -- ergo, the ongoing debate.

I am not "most of the abortion camp." I am me, and I speak for myself. Erin has posted some very moving information about people looking at sonograms and having second thoughts -- it is indeed easier to think of what is inside the womb as less than human if you can't see something that looks rather human. I think it is fine to present people with more detailed and accurate information. It may move the line some. But I believe up to a certain point, it is up to the woman concerned to "choose life." It is still her choice.

If a child became trapped on your property, you would have the duty to notify relevant authorities, but I doubt you would have the legal duty to personally feed it and shelter it for nine months. A human body, mother or child, is not property, not since 1865. Property has nothing to do with the matter.

I am beginning to be reminded that less than a century ago, it was official Roman church position that if a doctor had a choice between saving the mother's life at the cost of the baby's, or the baby's at the cost of the mother's, the doctor must sacrifice the mother. I'm not sure whether the church still holds to that position. That history is one reason I am skeptical that the "pro-life" position is entirely sincere. But, we all improve. I appreciate that the church now condemns torture in all circumstances. I really do. If the sponsors of the Inquisition can come to that understanding, it gives me great hope for the future of humanity.

I haven't heard anyone respond to my original point: there may come a day when the Roman church will have cause to thank God for Roe v. Wade...

Red Cardigan said...

Siarlys, I've seen this discussion develop but haven't wanted to jump in; do rest assured that you may feel free to comment as much as you'd like.

That said, quickly, I don't think the Catholic Church will ever thank God for Roe v. Wade. The profound evil of abortion from the Church's perspective stems from the failure to recognize the unborn child as human and worthy of protection from conception until natural death, which Roe v. Wade codifies. On a practical level, if the mother's choice is seen as the supreme principle, the situation in which Catholic doctors are forced to perform abortions or Catholic nurses to attend them, etc., is not at all farfetched (and has even happened already). But so long as Roe v. Wade stands, why should anything, even a doctor's deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of human life from conception onward, be allowed to stand in the way of the mother's choice to kill her unborn child? So, no, I don't think the Church will ever praise Roe v. Wade.

John Thayer Jensen said...

I haven't heard anyone respond to my original point: there may come a day when the Roman church will have cause to thank God for Roe v. Wade...

I don't think that will happen, for two reasons:

1) The implication would be that the Church agreed that leaving to the mother the right to kill her baby was something it was all right for the State to do. It wasn't.

2) If and when the State ever gets to the point of requiring abortion, it will not let any principles of law or morality stand in its way.

jj

eulogos said...

Ms. Jenkins,

It was never the position of the church that the baby had to be saved in preference to the mother. Rather it was the position that one had to attempt to save both lives, rather than taking either life deliberately.
Sometimes under then current medical treatment one could forsee a very likely poor outcome for the mother, but every attempt was made to save her which did not involve killing her baby.
One situation in which this arose was when a woman had been laboring long, days even, and was unable to deliver the baby.(This is the situation in the old movie, The Cardinal.) In the days before antibiotics and IV fluids, a C section was often fatal under these circumstances, because of dehydration and infection. There was a chance the mother could survive, but it was slim. But what was done in these circumstances was so horrendous it is hard to imagine a mother choosing it over her own probable death. Basically the baby's head was crushed. Old obstetric textbooks have pictures of the instruments used for this purpose. I don't think anyone could look at them without shuddering.
The Church said, both should be saved, try harder. And now this dilemma no longer exists.
As for the few Catholic women who died rather than have their baby's skull crushed, you have to remember that they did not lose everything, they gained heaven. They would have died confessed and absolved and with viaticum and annointing, a true good death.
I agree that husbands and other children would have suffered much in these circumstances, but nothing could be worse than being complicit in the sin of killing an innocent child.
Sin is much worse than suffering, you know.
Susan Peterson

John Thayer Jensen said...

Susan Peterson said:

Sin is much worse than suffering, you know.

This, Susan, is the absolute bottom line, and the fundamental point: sin is worse than suffering. Any suffering is preferable to the least deliberate sin.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Thank you Erin. I also got a very gracious welcome from Gerard Nadal, who comes across on his own site with more depth and nuance and admirable qualities than I could perceive from his occasional appearances at Crunchy Cons.

You've discussed the incidents of Roman Catholic nurses who were required to participate in abortions before, and my position remains perfectly clear: there is no way they should be required to do that as a condition of continued employment. When an act involves two or more people, each of whom has rights or interests at stake, there is a delicate balancing act required, or perhaps, recognition that no solution which enforces one right at the expense of another is valid.

It reminds me of the tangled mess created when women prison guards sued for the right to work at men's prisons. They said that the high prestige, high-paying jobs, the jobs that built up a good resume for higher administrative posts, were all at the men's prisons. Prisons may indeed have been run that way. Once the courts ruled in their favor, and women started being assigned to men's prisons, of course male inmates sued that their right to privacy was being infringed. They lost. Courts upheld equal employment opportunity over privacy. The obvious corollary then occurred. Prison bureaucracies, like most bureaucracies, are committed to the most foolish consistency, so if women can work at men's prisons, men can work at women's prisons. Now, male guards are buying female inmates for a candy bar, particularly those with no family support, long sentences, no money in their commissary account, the most vulnerable. I would have come down in favor of privacy, and not only privacy, but recognizing that sex is a valid consideration when placing a group of people under the control and supervision of another group of people, with such an overwhelming imbalance of power. Then, I would have required that experience at women's prisons be given equal consideration when weighhing promotions, not to mention equal pay. Far too much common sense to expect from government.

When it comes to abortion, as long as it is not unlawful, there is still a kind of free market of ideas which must be allowed for. No woman has a "right" to an abortion. Rather, the state is barred from penalizing her for having one. But, if there is no doctor willing to perform one, she can't have one. There is really NOTHING in Roe v. Wade or any court ruling, nor in the constitution or any legislation, which says that abortion is a fundamental right. There is simply a right to be left alone, by the state.

On that note, I don't believe that a government prepared to mandate abortion would have abandoned all principles of law or morality. Whatever else you may think of Roe v. Wade, it will provide the best legal argument to stop them in their tracks. (To avoid posting whole articles as "comments," I developed that point further here):
http://aleksandreia.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/the-state-has-the-power-or-it-does-not-how-roe-v-wade-protects-the-right-not-to-abort/

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Separate note on suffering:

I respect the right of any woman to choose her baby's life over her own. I'm sure it is a tragic decision for any woman who accepts that a baby she has been carrying for nine months, and looking forward to, must be destroyed to save her own life. But I reject intervention by The State to make such a decision for her. That includes, she may not be required to RISK her life because there IS a possibility that both could be saved, when there is a high likelihood that both will die.

After all, if the baby dies, it goes immediately to heaven, which is at least as good an outcome as the mother going straight to heaven. But somehow, we would like to have our babies here, to hold them and bounce them and feed them and change their diapers. (By the way, its Mr, Jenkins).

John Thayer Jensen said...

Siarlys posted:

After all, if the baby dies, it goes immediately to heaven, which is at least as good an outcome as the mother going straight to heaven.

The problem is not for the baby, which is the innocent victim. The problem is for the mother who willed the abortion (if she did). If she willed the abortion with full volition and full knowledge of the gravity of the act, and does not repent before death - then she does not go to Heaven - immediately or at any other time.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

John, I understand that since this is a Catholic blog, it will be presumed that a woman who seeks and accepts an abortion will not go to heaven, without repentance and reconciliation. I'm not sure that is true, but there is no point in discussing it here. The only thing I'm sure we all agree on is that it doesn't matter what you think, it doesn't matter what I think, ultimately, God will do as God wishes, and our respective opinions are not going to alter that. We disagree both on what God's standards are, and on whether or how we know what they are.

There is one implication in your statement that I would take issue with. IF you are saying that in the rare instance where a woman has been told by her doctor, “you and the baby are both likely to die, I can save you, but if I do, the baby will die,” and the woman signifies that she wishes her life saved, then, she is barred from heaven... that is insane. That is precisely the sort of implacable absurdity which reminds me why I would never choose to submit to the Roman hierarchy, no matter how many specific points your church gets right, no matter how fulfilling the handful of masses I have been to were, no matter how nice all my Catholic friends are. No, I will have no part of such cruel pathology. (Or, maybe that's not what you meant at all, and some loose words crossing a cultural divide got misunderstood).

John Thayer Jensen said...

Siarlys said:

There is one implication in your statement that I would take issue with. IF you are saying that in the rare instance where a woman has been told by her doctor, “you and the baby are both likely to die, I can save you, but if I do, the baby will die,” and the woman signifies that she wishes her life saved, then, she is barred from heaven... that is insane. That is precisely the sort of implacable absurdity which reminds me why I would never choose to submit to the Roman hierarchy, no matter how many specific points your church gets right, no matter how fulfilling the handful of masses I have been to were, no matter how nice all my Catholic friends are. No, I will have no part of such cruel pathology. (Or, maybe that's not what you meant at all, and some loose words crossing a cultural divide got misunderstood).

No problem, I wasn't saying any such thing. The principle of double intent is involved here. A common case is a tubal pregnancy. The foetus is in the Fallopian tube and if not removed, the mother will die. The doctor, of course, removes the foetus. The intent is not to kill the foetus but to save the mother. The death of the foetus is an unintended but unavoidable side-effect.

In the sort of case you imagine, where it is one or the other - well, I don't know exactly what sort of case that might be as in tubal pregnancy there is no way of saving the child - still, the intent is not to kill the child.

In the case of abortion for, let us say, financial reasons, you might say that the intent is to save money, not to kill the baby. The reality is that the two things - saving money and saving life - are incommensurable. There is no way to way them against each other. Taking the life for such a purpose cannot be right.

These are 'hard cases' and of course are often the subject of analysis which I am incapable of. But most abortions do not involve such matters. Very few do, I think.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

OK, we're within shouting distance of each other. You recognize that there are hard cases, such as ectopic pregnancies. Such hard cases are indeed rare in the third trimester, and there may well be abuse of the "life and health of the mother" standard, but occasionally there are physical conditions which would rip the mother apart and cause death by hemhorage, or something similar, if the baby is not rapidly removed -- which does, unfortunately, kill the baby. Beyond that, we both know that I see some other justifications for first and second trimester abortions, and I know there is no point in arguing them. Your fundamental premises are different.