Thursday, September 30, 2010

40 Days, and an interesting statistic

Do you remember when the MSM used to sneak in the phrase "America's pro-choice majority..." into their copy?

I do. But I haven't seen that phrase recently, and this may be why:
In May 2009, for the first time in 15 years since it was first conducted, a Gallup poll reported that more Americans were opposed to abortion than supported it. The trend has held. In four polls running in the last 15 months (May 2009, July 2009, May 2010, July 2010) more Americans call themselves pro-life than pro-abortion (or “pro-choice”). The latest poll (July 17-19, 2010 interviewing 1,006 people aged over 18) shows 47 percent pro-life against 46 percent pro-choice. Pro-choice lobbyists were dismayed, and declared that they had to educate young people about their cause. “Numbers can be shocking," said Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, "especially numbers that show a sizable drop in young people’s support for legal abortion under any circumstance." [All links in original--E.M.]
America doesn't have a "pro-choice majority" any more. However, since the MSM quite likely still does have an overwhelmingly pro-abortion majority, they're not about to start using the phrase, "America's pro-life majority," the way they used to use that other phrase.

Because, you know, they're so very objective on abortion.

The uncomprehending darkness

I find myself agreeing very much with this:

So, are you ready to comply with the federal government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs? Me neither.

Starting in January 2012, a little over a year from now, the phase-out begins. Simple, inexpensive lighting will become a time-capsule item. Compact-fluorescent lights, or CFLs -- the bulbs that look like a twisted ice-cream cone (and won’t fit in many light fixtures where space is tight) -- will become the new norm.

Anyone who has priced CFLs knows they’re not cheap. Supposedly they’re worth the extra money because they’ll last longer. That’s cold comfort, though, given the dull, unnatural glow that these bulbs throw off.[...]

So why are we making the switch? It was mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The theory, of course, is that we’ll consume less energy. It’s all part of the green agenda. The same agenda that the president insists will produce scads of high-paying, earth-friendly “green jobs.” Tell that to the 200 workers in Winchester, Va., who are losing their jobs as General Electric closes its incandescent-bulb factory there. Or to the Americans who work in other plants that have been shuttered.

Yes, some jobs will be created, thanks to the ban. Unfortunately, those jobs won’t be here in the U.S. -- they’ll be in China, where CFLs can be made cheaper. [...]

Perhaps what President Obama means by “green jobs” is that we’ll be moving lots of American greenbacks overseas to create jobs elsewhere. But at least we’ll be saving energy, right? Not according to a recent study sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It found that energy use under newer “efficient” lighting will actually go up rather than down.

Read the rest here, especially if, like me, you are prone to migraine headaches and find the whole thought of having to move to CFLs depressing beyond belief.

I've written about this before, but if anything shows just how far from the original notion of certain sane limits on federal power we've come in our day, it's the very idea that it is the job of Congress to regulate and ban the sale and purchase of the incandescent light bulb, a product that has been symbolic of American ingenuity and invention since Thomas Edison's first successful bulb dispelled the darkness with its illuminating fire. The question as to whether incandescents themselves could be made a bit more energy-efficient was apparently not even asked; the decision to ban them in favor of foreign-made, potentially hazardous mercury-containing bulbs was offered up on the Green Altar to appease the angry deities of environmentalism, with our unenlightened Congressmen and women bowing down in mock-worship of whatever they think will get them elected this time around, in a hypocritical liturgical prostration fitting for a godless age.

The truth is that it doesn't even matter to our Congresspeople if CFLs end up being less energy efficient (as they likely will), once they are made in China and shipped to the U.S. and disposed of improperly so that their mercury leaches out into the environment, or disposed of properly on pain of fines and at great public expense. It only matters that our dull public servants expect to gull the public into thinking that they have Done Something about the Climate Change that we used to call Global Warming that they take for granted Humans are Causing--but not huge wasteful corporations, of course, or dim public servants jetting all over the world on "fact-finding" tours; just small homes where ordinary families bring about Global Catastrophe by insisting on lighting the way for their unfortunate planet-wasting progeny by use of Mr. Edison's clever gizmo.

And so it becomes imperative to take the incandescent light bulb away from the populace, who has been measured and found wanting in the Green scales--because if they truly understood their proper place in the environment, the populace would quit breeding, and leave the planet for the two to three billion (or fewer) elect who in virtue of their superior meekness deem themselves worthy of inheriting the earth.

Of course, when you think that human beings are a plague on the planet who ought to be encouraged to stop breeding, it's pretty stupid to replace good light bulbs with poor ones--because the natural tendency of lots of people is going to be to turn the lights off earlier at night and go to bed earlier and...eventually have enough children to grow up and become voters and to change, dramatically, the course of this nation back toward something resembling common sense.

But then, the darkness never has comprehended the light. The darkness doesn't even comprehend the dark.

Dumbing down Catholicism

This is wonderful:

While the whole thing is worth watching, if you are pressed for time, go to the 3:40 second mark and watch from there to the end.

Fr. Barron is right. We have to stop dumbing down Catholicism. Unfortunately, I think the real reason most expensive Catholic schools do this is because they are really "private schools in the Catholic tradition," and thus they don't want to offend their non-Catholic students from wealthy families by presenting them with books that dare to make the audacious claim that Jesus Christ intended to found a Church to be the ordinary means of salvation for all of sinful humanity, and that Church is the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

40 Days, and ESCR

As the United States Court of Appeals decides that embryo-killing stem cell research can continue with federal funding for now, I'd like to highlight two excellent recent blog posts on ESCR and stem-cell research.

The first, from NewsBusters' Tom Blumer, points out a continuing media mistake regarding stem cells and ESCR:

It is truly remarkable to observe how press outlets continue to misreport and misinform the public in the area of stem cell research.

One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP's Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms "stem cell" or "stem cells" has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is "embryonic."

It's as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for "scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment." In fact, Pickler's less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word "adult" does not appear in the AP report.

Read the rest here.

The second comes from First Things writer Wesley J. Smith, who points out an astonishing attempt to make adult stem cells the moral equivalent of embryo-killing stem cells:

Stem cell bioethicists apparently have claimed that IPSCs–skin or other cells reprogrammed to be stem cells–”are as morally fraught” as ESCR–stem cells taken from destroying human embryos. Baloney. ESCR is, by the very way the cells are derived and used, unethical. Nascent human lives are destroyed and transformed into mere natural resources. The ethical issue in inherent. In contrast, the ethical perils with IPSC described in the Scientific American article deal with hypothetical future ethically questionable uses to which IPSCs might be put.

Read the rest here.

In other words, the bioethicists claim that simply because it could potentially be possible to clone human life using adult cells, destroying them in stem-cell research is the same thing, morally, as destroying a human embryo. Who is, himself or herself, already a new human life. And who must die as a result of the research. Whereas the adult skin cells or tissue cells or whatever are not a new human life, and killing them as a result of research is no more immoral than scratching off a few mosquito-bitten skin cells with your fingernails.

But hey, these are professional bioethicists we're talking about. It takes a bioethicist to decide that killing disabled newborns might be a morally ethical and good act, after all--we stupid amateurs could never have figured that one out on our own. So when they tell us that killing a human being in her embryonic stage is exactly the same thing as killing some skin cells, we'd better pay attention, right?


Maybe we'd better start using the acronym EKSCR to mean "Embryo-killing stem cell research." In that way we can point out the ethical difference between this research and adult stem cell research, which does not, in fact, kill any adults in the process.

We need to stop it

What happens when schools treat bullying as a minor inconvenience--mainly because of the victim, who insists on complaining about it--and fail to punish bullies in any significant way?

We, as a culture, send the message to our kids that bullying is perfectly acceptable. And we ensure that bullies, instead of learning from their erroneous behavior and striving to correct it as they mature, will just grow up to be...older bullies.

Take this sad story, which I won't excerpt here because I know some of my readers are moms with early-reader children who might be disturbed by some of the words in the story. The story involves a college-aged young man who was engaging in certain behavior with another young man in his dorm room; unknown to him, his roommate found the situation hilarious, set up a camera, and streamed the video of this young man's behavior with the other young man out onto the web. On two separate occasions. With the alleged help and collusion of a young woman who apparently also found this secret videotaping screamingly funny.

And the young man found out. And took his own life.

Readers of this blog know that when it comes to sex outside of marriage, I agree with my Church that all of it is gravely morally evil. But the evil of driving a man to suicide is beyond reprehensible, regardless of the morality of the actions of that man. And it isn't as though the two bullies in this story were concerned about this young man's actions from any sort of moral standpoint (which wouldn't have made it moral for them to videotape him anyway); they just wanted to embarrass and ridicule him. I have a feeling they would have wanted to do the same thing if the young man were found to be with a young woman, or even engaging in certain immoral behaviors alone. The point was to hurt and humiliate this fellow human being, to dehumanize and depersonalize him, which is what all bullies do to their victims. From the standpoint of these two bullies, their actions were wildly successful--because nothing says, "Yes, you have hurt me in the worst possible way," like throwing yourself off of a bridge to drown in the depths below.

It is to be hoped that the bullies will be held accountable, though given our legal system that's far from a foregone conclusion. But the big question is: why were they never held accountable before now? Or, if this really was their first foray into big-league bullying, why did they grow up surrounded by messages that said that bullying was fine, that it was nothing but harmless pranks and part of life or part of growing up, that it really wasn't any worse than a practical joke, that the victims of bullying are just pathetic little dweebs who deserve it in the first place?

Because, like it or not, that's what our society teaches bullies. So instead of maturing away from their thuggish habits, bullies just get older, cleverer, and more cruel. And every time we shrug at bullying and say things like "Boys will be boys," or "He doesn't mean any harm," or "She's going through a rough time at home," or "The so-called victim is just an oversensitive mommy's boy" or "The so-called victim needs to stop being such a drama queen and stick up for herself..." and so on, we enable this.

And it needs to stop. We need to stop it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A failure of leadership

Americans are abysmally ignorant when it comes to religion. And for Christians, and especially for Catholics, the specifics are appalling:
More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity.[...]
I know what some of my fellow Catholics might be thinking: that this statistic is misleading, that lots of cultural Catholics or "C&E" Catholics or "CAPE" Catholics had to have answered questions about the Eucharist to have thrown things off that badly. But the truth is, that number or one just like it comes up again and again when we look at past surveys: somewhere around four out of ten Catholics just don't know what the Eucharist is, though this mystery is central to our faith.

We can, and should, blame decades of bad catechesis. We can, and should, blame the tendency of the modern homily to be a reflection about God's niceness to us and our niceness to each other instead of a weekly opportunity for religious instruction in which both the Gospel readings and key Catholic doctrines could be explained clearly, in simple, precise language, for the edification of the faithful. We can, and should, consider the role of many other things in weakening people's understanding of this mystery, including Communion under both species for the people at every Mass, the routine and ordinary use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and so-called "Eucharistic" hymns that continually refer to the Body and Blood of Christ in misleading terms.

But we also have to be honest, here. A failure of this magnitude is a failure of leadership. It is a failure of the men most entrusted to the care of the faithful, the bishops of the United States. And it is a failure that has been going on for quite some time now.

I don't mean to point a finger at every bishop in the United States; more than a few have merely inherited terrible situations from their predecessors, who thought, in those heady post-Conciliar days, that the Church was going to change her understanding of the Holy Sacrifice as she was apparently changing her understanding of other important things. In reality, as we know now, nothing important was changing at all. But priests and bishops of a certain age began to speak of the sacred mystery as "...doing liturgy..." or even "...doing Eucharist..." and uniting with those unfortunate phrases a deficient understanding of the Blessed Sacrament which believed that the Eucharist was somehow an extension of the faithful at Mass, who "became bread" for each other and thus helped bring about the Real Presence on the altar. It's hard to imagine how such a heretical notion ever arose; it's harder to realize how many people still hold it--even a few bishops, sadly enough.

But those bishops who have a proper understanding of the Eucharist must make it a priority that the faithful under their care also have the right understanding; that is, that they know that the Church teaches that at the words of institution the bread and wine offered by the priest at Mass become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, really and truly present on the altar. It is not necessary to expect that every person present at Mass is going to have a deeply theological understanding of this mystery, that they will be able to use the words "substance," "accidents," "appearance" etc. correctly--but they should know that every particle of what was bread and every drop of what was wine becomes, after the consecration, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ who is really present in the Blessed Sacrament.

I think if this were more greatly understood, the benefits would be enormous, in terms of the reverence and respect shown at Mass, the care with which Holy Communion is distributed, the selection of elegant songs to praise God for this great and mysterious gift, the careful attention to decent and suitable attire, and many more things that we like to complain about when we consider the experience of attending Mass in America. But I also think that the bishops need to be the ones to step up here, and to show that this statistic--four in ten Catholics not understanding the Eucharist!--is in no way acceptable to them, and that educating the people about this most basic and central tenet of our faith ought to take precedence in every diocese until every Catholic understands what our faith teaches about Christ's presence among us.

UPDATE: You can take the quiz here--write down your answers as you go!--and see how well you do. I got all 32 questions right, but I have to admit that there was one I only "knew" from seeing it mentioned in earlier news articles about the survey today. Without that one I know I would only have gotten 31 of them correct.

Post your results in the comments, if you like!

40 Days, abortion and depression

When I saw all those MSM reports about how an amazing new study shows that teens can kill their unborn babies with no remorse whatsoever and smile about it for years, I figured something funny was up. Turns out my suspicious were justified:

The Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, announced the results of the study Friday, claiming that "teens who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion."

The study, led by Jocelyn T. Warren and S. Marie Harvey of Oregon State University, and Jillian Henderson of the University of California, based its findings on data collected from 292 teenage girls who reported completing at least one pregnancy during 1994-96.

The researchers said that of the 69 girls who said their pregnancies ended in abortion there was no higher incidence of depression or low self-esteem in the second or third phases of the survey. [...]

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University and an expert on the psychological trauma of post-abortive women, told that "it really wasn't a very good study. There's a number of problems."

Coleman pointed out that the sample of women who aborted was very small. The authors themselves acknowledge this fact, saying, “The lack of association between abortion and our outcomes could reflect other factors including insufficient sample size to detect an effect.”

The professor also criticized the superficiality of the means to assess outcome, which used only 9 items to detect depression and 4 to measure self-esteem. In addition, said Coleman, "The comparison group could have been unintended pregnancy carried to term since the data is available in ADD Health, but the researchers chose the less appropriate and broader 'no abortion' group."

Coleman pointed out that she herself published a 2006 study using the same data, incorporating unintended pregnancy carried to term as the control group, and found that abortion history was associated with a six-fold increased risk of marijuana use, a five-fold increased likelihood of reporting having sought counseling for psychological and emotional problems, and a four-fold increased risk of experiencing sleeping difficulties (Coleman, P. K. (2006). Resolution of unwanted pregnancy during adolescence through abortion versus childbirth: Individual and family predictors and psychological consequences. The Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35, 903-911.)

"Seeking professional counseling services is a more valid measure of psychological distress than abbreviated self-report measures, one of which is merely 'predictive of depression,'" she said.

Let's talk about that sample size for a moment. If 69 teens who took an abstinence-based sex ed course remained virgins until their wedding nights and all ended up in lucrative post-collegiate jobs, and a study highlighted these teens as proof that abstinence-based sex-ed overwhelmingly results in prolonged virginity and greater wealth, would the MSM trumpet that hypothetical study as triumphantly as they have this one?

No, of course they wouldn't--because the MSM promotes, supports, and loves abortion and disapproves of virginity. Which is something to bear in mind the next time some ridiculously flimsy study based on a tiny, insignificant sample size and shoddy methodology comes out claiming that abortion is really a positive life-experience (well, for everybody except the dead child who is torn apart in her mother's womb and thrown away as medical waste--but she doesn't count).

Monday, September 27, 2010

40 Days, and pro-life action

Pro-life Americans do a lot more than just protest abortion. Many of them volunteer at crisis pregnancy clinics, foster babies waiting to be placed with adoptive parents, open their homes and hearts to mothers and babies in need, and otherwise take action to spread and foster a culture of life.

Today I want to share a call for some particular pro-life action (Hat tip: Ironic Catholic):
I spent five weeks visiting with Yulia. I really have a very deep love for her. While I was never allowed to pick her up and cuddle her close to me, I was able to love on her in her crib. She is precious. She has the sweetest smile and a very, very tender spirit. She is tiny and very malnourished, as are all the kids in that room. She lives a life of hell on earth. There are no cuddles or loves. There are no warm embraces or playful hugs. Outdoor time is never permitted. Those four walls of the crib is the only life she knows. She is taken out only to be fed (as fast as humanly possible) and changed. But that is it. The children are treated harshly. She wears the same clothes for days on end and toys are few and far between. All dignity has been stripped away. She lies in her own urine for hours on end. Nobody cares.

Yulia, like all the kids in that room, is drugged day in and day out. All in the name of “best sleep,” I was told. Yeah, more like all in the name of keeping them still and quiet so that they are a far less burden to those assigned to their care. She cannot function properly due to the adult tranquilizing drug she is given daily. Yulia, like our Hailee, is considered what I believe the Bible refers to as "one of the least of these." She has no value whatsoever. She is merely a body in that place. A corpse with breath that has to be fed and changed. A burden to society.

It’s heartbreaking that any child should have to live that kind of life. But, my friends, that is only the beginning of Yulia’s story.

Yulia needs a miracle.

It was only after I got home from the Ukraine and posted her picture on my blog that Andrea Roberts (from Reeces Rainbow) was able to get more information about her. Truly, nothing could have prepared my heart for what I read. Any hope of finding a family for her seemed to fade quickly. I questioned God and have asked Him more times than I can count if this could ever possibly work. “Who will go for her, Lord?” “How much time does she have, Father?” “Is this even possible?”

Yulia has an extremely rare condition called Cockayne Syndrome. I read that there are only about 60 known cases in the world. The syndrome is characterized by premature aging, cataracts, sensitivity to sunlight, hearing loss, impaired development, and so on. Her life expectancy is severely shortened. She can live anywhere from four to about twenty years. Sadly, there is no cure for Cockayne Syndrome. Yulia may (or may not) also have some cerebral palsy. [...]

The first one is to have a family. She needs someone to go and get her OUT of the Ukraine. Like yesterday. She is wasting away there. I know because I have seen with my own two eyes. Do I believe that someone will go? Absolutely. I believe in God’s people. I believe that there are those who are willing do whatever it takes to follow His voice. Radical Christians. We read about them in books, and there are many, many around today—including some who are reading this blog at this very moment. People who will follow the Lord, come what may. People who don’t look at the circumstances, but rather at the face of their God who calls them, no matter what. “Whatever, God” people is what we call them. I know that someone will go and rescue Yulia. We now need to pray that the radical someones will find her. Soon.

The second miracle: Yulia needs grant money. Her grant fund at Reeces Rainbow is sitting at around $400. That is not enough, friends. That is not going to help her much at this stage. Yulia needs a large amount of grant money for the family who adopts her. A Ukrainian adoption costs around $25,000. Is that too much to ask of the Lord? I think not. That’s nothing for Him to provide. He just has to mobilize His mighty army and it will be done. We all know that adoption is expensive. Finances should not be a consideration for the family who adopts Yulia. Their only concern should be getting the paperwork done and going to bring her home. The financial burden needs to be lifted. What an incredible incentive it would be for a family considering bringing her home to know that finances are something they do not have to worry about.

Please go here to read the rest of Yulia's story, to contribute to the fund that will help her eventual parents bring her home, and also--if God is calling you to this--to consider whether you might be the parents God has planned for Yulia. I'm sure her special needs require a special family, people who will be able to do whatever can be done to help this sweet little girl live out the rest of her life, however short it might be, free from pain and surrounded by love and joy.

Pro-choice people like to say that pro-lifers don't care about born children; they're wrong. They also say unwanted children shouldn't be born; they're wrong. A lot of us can look at Yulia's dear little face and say, honestly, that we do want this child. And somewhere out there, someone who has this desire also has the means to care for Yulia and make her a part of their loving family.

UPDATE: The Ironic Catholic says the costs of Yulia's adoption have been funded--$20,000 has been raised! Now we just need to pray for Yulia's potential parents to come forward to claim this special little girl.

In light of the post below...

Pearls Before Swine

I definitely identify with Rat here. Which is not a good thing. :)

A comedy of errors

Sometimes, an article appears in an MSM publication that is so wrong, so dreadful, so wicked, so like the MSM itself that it can't just be discussed: it has to be fisked. I won't bother fisking the whole thing, which starts out stupid and lurches quickly into drooling idiocy, but I will fisk enough of it to highlight its absurdity and egregious ugliness.

It is, unfortunately, not a surprise at all that the publication in question is Time. My comments will be in red--and let's just go ahead and start with the piece's would-be provocative, but sadly laughable title:

The Push to Ordain Female Priests Gains Ground
No, it doesn't. Not in any universe that the author might inhabit. Not if we're talking about members of the Catholic Church, that is. Anglicans--old story. Various splinter "Catholic" groups who number a handful of members and dissent about tons of things and haven't been part of Rome for decades or centuries--again, old story. But the Catholic Church herself? Ain't gonna happen.
Alta Jacko is the mother of eight children. She is also an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Um, no, she isn't. Her ordination is canonically invalid. She is nothing but a pretend priestess. Sorry, Ms. Jacko, but you can't be a priest any more than the Pope could be a mother. Jacko, 81, no fool like an old fool, eh? who earned her master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University, a Jesuit Catholic school, says that being a priest is what she was called to do. Which highlights one of my major complaints about Catholic higher education--it ain't Catholic. All those parents spending wads of debt to send their children through Loyola would have been better off, from a salvation perspective, to send their kids to the local community college while giving them opportunities to volunteer in various solidly Catholic ministries.
Officially, of course, the Catholic Church's canon law 1024 says that only baptized men can receive holy orders. Oh, let's bury this one. Because if you start your article with this one, you're just admitting that your whole article is a bunch of MSM hooey aimed at drumming up controversy where there really isn't any. But there is a movement against the no-women rule, one that began eight years ago when a cluster of renegade male clerics (including a European bishop whose identity the female priests won't reveal in order not to risk his excommunication) ordained see above: no, they didn't; all they did was excommunicate themselves and the women they pretended to ordain the first women. Now, in Jacko's hometown of Chicago, three women have entered into the priesthood. Sigh. Again, no they haven't. If I walk into a Chicago school and declare myself to be a licensed teacher based on a sham license some rogue superintendent gave me...oh, wait--bad example; this is Chicago, after all. But Jacko and these other women still are not priests: deluded, selfish, silly, foolish, anti-Catholic women, sure, but not priests. No matter how many times some half-baked idiot writing for Time declares them to be.
Like many priests, Jacko trained in various parishes before becoming ordained. Um, again, no she didn't. Seminarians train in parishes. Jacko simply ignored the rules and demanded the priesthood, demanding her training as well. Unlike many other priests, however, she was not always easily received by her elders. In spring 2009, Jacko approached Father Bob Bossie who preaches at St. Harold's Catholic Community in Uptown for help. "She asked me if I would mentor her," recalls Bossie, a member of the Chicago's Priests of the Sacred Heart who was ordained in 1975. Bossie acknowledges that the concept of females in the priesthood is difficult for him. He says he literally shudders at the thought, saying that when the image of women in robes once flashed in his mind, it "left me cold." I'd call that the Holy Spirit at work; sadly, Father Bossie--whom the author of this piece cleverly refuses to call "Father" thus avoiding the awkwardness of dealing with the whole "Father Ms. Jacko" problem--did not recognize Him.

And yet Father Bossie helped Not-Father Jacko anyway. He wanted to help a friend. The way to help delusional friends, by the way, is not to humor them in their dangerous delusions. While Jacko was training to become a deacon,, no, she didn't. There are no "online self-study courses in the Roman Catholic diaconate," after all. Ms. Jacko studied nothing but her own heresy a mandatory step prior to priesthood, it was Bossie who taught her how to say the liturgy. "I did it because she asked me, because she's very thoughtful," Bossie says. "When someone you like and respect asks you, you try to do it." But, Father Bossie, what if someone you like and respect asks you to consecrate yourself to the Devil? Or commit some other mortal sin--like, objectively, the mortal sin of encouraging a woman to think of herself as a priest?

Bossie is speaking out publicly for the first time, even though he knows he could lose his job as a priest, and here's the Big Red Flag--to the Times writer, the priesthood is just a "job" and keeping women from it is no different from erecting a sort of "stained glass ceiling"--which is a very un-Catholic way of looking at things, but neither the Times writer nor Ms. Jacko understands this in the slightest his pension and his home. And even though he disagrees, intellectually, with women being in the priesthood, he says his feelings tend to be more complicated than that. "I'm not going out of my way to support it," Bossie says. "I don't think that's sexist. I am a priest, and this is breaking down the hieratical priesthood.... But if people ask me for help, I feel compelled to help, out of respect and love. If God called me, why wouldn't God call a woman?" God help Father Bossie's flock--his abysmal lack of understanding of even the bare minimum of the Church's teachings on the priesthood bodes very ill for the rest of his leadership in the parish, and makes one wonder whether any of Fr. Bossie's people are actually, you know, Catholic and all that.

There's simply no point in trudging further through the syrupy swamp of thick-headed mistakes, maudlin notions, and the complete absence of the most basic understanding of Catholicism that the article betrays at every word. There are some howlers further on, though, so if you find that sort of thing amusing in a gallows-humor sort of way you may actually want to read the rest of the embarrassment to journalism found here.

To go back to the author's misguided title: no, again, the push to ordain women as Catholic priests does not gain ground, or steam, or momentum, or any other "progress" metaphor the silly writer people want to put in to their pieces in a misguided attempt to make them sexy. Out here in the real Catholic trenches, the push to ordain women gains nothing but ridicule, as it should. Rome has spoken; women priests remain a silly fantasy on the part of a handful of deluded feminists who like to drape their arms in tie-dyed sheets and pretend they can confect the Eucharist, right before they do their earth-spirit fertility dances to Baal, Isis, Demeter and Gaia in a spirit of inclusiveness and multiculturalism. The rest of us are inclined to laugh, and sigh, and then ignore these women and their petty delusions, and the comedy of errors that swirl around them.

UPDATE: If you happened to read this post during an odd glitch that made the Time article's text disappear randomly, leaving only my red comments behind, I apologize; I think the problem has been fixed now. I've also updated the Time article's title, since apparently the powers that be at Time decided that "...Female Priests..." looked better than "...Women Priests..." The mind boggles as to why...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

40 Days, and Mother Teresa

On this Sunday evening, I would like to share some of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's famous words from her speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 3, 1994:

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.

And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere - "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

Read the whole thing here.

Let us ask Blessed Teresa for her intercession to help end abortion in America, and to make successful the dedicated efforts of the many witnesses for life during this 40 Days for Life campaign.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

40 Days, and abortion survivors

Most of us have heard of Gianna Jessen, the young woman who survived her birth-mother's attempt to kill her via a saline abortion and who inspires many by her life and work.

What we don't often think about is that her story is not a unique one. There are other abortion survivors out there.

There are, of course, all the children born after Roe v. Wade whose mothers chose life. There are, especially, those children whose mothers actually considered abortion, maybe even drove to a clinic, before changing their minds.

There are those infants born alive during some late-term abortions, many of whom were, and still are despite laws against this practice, left to die. Our current president supports letting babies born alive during abortion die. He thinks that to try to save their lives "burdens" the mother.

And then there are those, like Gianna, who actually survive the attempt to kill them:
They live among us but they weren't meant to.

Of the one billion unborn babies killed since society decided abortion was a better choice than supporting women in pregnancy, a handful survive to speak beyond the womb.

Melissa Ohden is one of them and listening to her is spooky.

"We know there are far more of us - people like us," Melissa told a small gathering in Canberra last week.

Sometime in the fifth month of pregnancy, a doctor injected a toxic saline solution into her 19-year-old mother's amniotic fluid.

Five days later she was delivered and a nurse left her beside the bed.

Upon hearing grunting noises from the 3lb 'corpse', doctors were alerted and her life was saved.

Her medical records explain her existence this way: "Saline abortion that was unsuccessful".

Melissa has met around 10 other survivors and says because of the 'failure rate' saline abortions have been ditched for more effective methods.

Chillingly, she told of meeting a man who showed her his partially crushed skull from a failed late term abortion attempt.

I wonder what would happen if abortion survivors like these could really be heard from? If they could tell their stories on national and international television, if they were interviewed for MSM publications, if they were highlighted each year on January 22? If their (mostly adoptive) families could explain just how difficult and terrible it is to tell your child that his or her medical problems are a result of his or her mother paying someone to kill him or her?

We need to hear their voices and their stories. And we need to contrast them with the coldness of the professional abortionists who shrug at these stories and say, in effect, that abortion survivors only show that abortion methods ought to be made more "successful," so that no child will ever survive an abortion and live to talk about it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

40 Days, and the pro-choice lie

Do you still think abortion is all about choice? Take a look at this:
The Rockford pro-life community is up in arms after police chased away an ultrasound vehicle from the local abortion facility - even though pro-lifers say they worked for weeks with city police to ensure permission for the life-saving equipment to park near the incoming mothers seeking abortions.

Rockford pro-life veteran Kevin Rilott posted a video of Rockford police telling pro-lifers that the city legal department might issue a warrant against them if the motor home, owned by Image Clear Ultrasound, was not moved away from the Northern Illinois Women's Center (NIWC). The video ends with a shot of abortion clinic owner Wayne Webster smiling as he chats with the officers inside a police car. [...]

Rilott says that city officials later told him and the ultrasound owners that the vehicle violated a statute against unlicensed charitable solicitation. But Rilott pointed to a city ordinance defining charitable solicitation as "conduct whereby a person solicits ... any article representing monetary value, sells, or offers to sell, a product ... that the proceeds from the solicitation or sale are for a charitable purpose."

"As you can read for yourself, this shows beyond a doubt that the totally free ultrasounds that were being offered to poor women have nothing to do with someone soliciting business for profit," wrote Rilott in a post on the Pro Life Corner blog. "Pro-lifers were offering a completely free service to help poor mothers and children."

The pro-life legal group Thomas More Society, which has engaged an ongoing lawsuit against NIWC and the city of Rockford, said that the ultrasound issue would be added to their suit.
Read the whole thing here.

If abortion were really about "choice," then pro-abortion groups should put no barriers at all in the way of free ultrasounds, informed consent laws which require that information about fetal development, and other measures designed to help women see what it is they're really choosing when they choose to kill their unborn children via abortion. That pro-aborts remain vigorously against the right of women to know, fully and completely, what it is they are carrying inside them, to see their children's stage of development, heartbeat, and movement, and to be aware to the fullest degree just what the "choice" of abortion actually means to the unborn child speaks volumes. In the mind of pro-aborts, women must remain ignorant in order to have "freedom of choice." But choices made in ignorance of their scope and consequence cannot be said to be "choices" at all.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

40 Days, abortion and men

One of the prevailing lies about abortion is that an abortion is about "women's choices." Leaving aside the fact that unborn women--and unborn men--don't choose to be aborted, there is also the reality that a whole lot of women are pressured into abortion by the children's fathers. Pages of post-abortion testimony by women repeat the haunting phrases over and over again, phrases like "My boyfriend wanted the abortion," and "I thought I had no choice."

Some men go farther than merely insisting on abortion for their children, though:

Ventura, CA ( -- Abortion advocates tell the public legalizing abortion is important to promote women's rights and that women should have control over their own bodies, and those of their unborn children. Two incidents in California and Australia show legal abortions frequently empower men to pressure their partners to have one.

In Ventura, California, a 22-year-old man is facing 25 years to life in prison for paying two men $500 to fake a robbery attempt and punch his pregnant girlfriend to cause a miscarriage and end the life of her baby in an abortion.

Olmos did not want to become a father and his girlfriend rejected his pressured attempt to get her to have an abortion against her will.

KABC indicates a Ventura County Superior Court Judge found Jaime Solis Olmos guilty on Monday on one county of conspiracy to commit murder and a second count of attempted murder. [...]

Meanwhile, in Australia, Tyrone Phillip Strong, 30, reportedly said "I'm going to kill this baby" as he attacked Kylie Long's stomach two days after he learned she was pregnant with her fourth child, who is his.

The Brisbane Times indicates Strong attacked Long after learning of her pregnancy and her decision not to have an abortion at his request.

Strong, from Kallangur north of Brisbane, pleaded not guilty of common assault and attempting to cause an abortion, the newspaper said.

Luckily, both of these women and their babies survived the attacks against them. Others haven't been so lucky. A man who wants his wife or girlfriend to kill their baby may not have to go very far to make the leap to kill both of them, if she refuses to exercise her "choice" the way he wants her to.

Katy Perry, monsters, monstrare, and modesty

By now, unless you've been fruitlessly clicking Facebook all day and have thus not had time to see any news, you've heard about the Great Sesame Street Dustup of 2010, in which singer (I use the term loosely) Katy Perry recorded a video with the Muppet monster Elmo (winner of the coveted title "Muppet Most Likely to Annoy to Death Anyone Unfortunate Enough to be Stranded on a Desert Island with Him")--only to have the video posted on Youtube and then nixed by Sesame Street, because Ms. Perry was channeling her inner Tinkerbell in the wardrobe department and forgot that Peter Pan's friend is both a cartoon and flat as a pancake, whereas Ms. Perry's rather ample cleavage jiggled all over the place around the absurdly tiny triangles at the top of her bustier (which was probably being held on by toupee tape, or else by superglue, because it certainly wasn't being held on by either gravity or the rules of sufficient coverage, let alone the see-through mesh above it).

Parents were, not unreasonably, outraged that Sesame Street would be all but flashing their toddlers--though, ironically of course, many of these same parents will probably be buying Ms. Perry's music (if she's still around) for their eight-year-olds in a few years on the grounds that you can't say no to a preteen music consumer, which is the only reason Miley Cyrus ever got anywhere. Still, at least parents are still willing to protect their infants from nearly-nude bosoms, even--or perhaps especially--on Sesame Street.

Leaving aside some of the many questions this whole incident raises (e.g., should skanky pop stars be on Sesame Street in the first place, is the whole idea of Children's Television a dangerous oxymoron or a necessary aid to maternal sanity, is Elmo the last remnant of a secret Communist plot to brainwash American children into believing that "fatally annoying" and "adorable" are somehow synonymous, etc.) I find myself pondering that whole "slacks on women are eeeeevillll!" debate that went on all over the Internet last week--because one of the side-effects of insisting that modesty means "women, don't wear trousers!" is that people are less likely to pay attention when you explain that modesty means not revealing publicly that which should be concealed, such as the upper half of Katy Perry's body.

In fact, the word "monster" in English comes from a Latin word--not one meaning "fatally annoying puppet-creature," but one meaning, at least in part, "to show or point out." And the word "modesty" comes from "modestia," which means, among other things, "propriety" and "moderation or restraint."

Looking at the Catechism's discussion of modesty, as well as the roots of English words discussed above, I think we can form a few basic principles. Modesty is:

--not revealing (monstrare) that which should be concealed;
--not offending others (modestia) by impropriety--that is, deliberately being shocking or provoking in dress or action; and
--adhering to the prevailing cultural standards, when they do not conflict with the first or second principle.

A garment like the one worn by Ms. Perry in the video reveals what should not be revealed--that is, a too-large section of her cleavage including all but the central area of her breasts. Other garments that are too revealing would include short-shorts, tops which are cut too low or too skimpily, skin-tight garments, or anything whose purpose is to be revealing.

What about impropriety of dress? We live in a fairly casual time, but there are still things that are shocking or provocative. Tee shirts with obscene slogans are one example; these are another--and in addition to being shocking/provoking they turn the young women wearing them into walking advertisements, which objectifies them to a degree that is unacceptable to a Christian.

Prevailing cultural standards can be the hardest aspect to consider--our culture doesn't really have any standards any more, and is rapidly becoming a sort of negation of culture as it folds in on itself under the weight of its own decadence. But just because we see a great deal of immodesty in clothing accepted in our secular world doesn't mean as Christians we should adopt it for ourselves--the first two rules are still necessary to think about.

Here's the thing: I don't think too many serious Christians out there disagree with this in principle. In practice, though, we're stuck buying clothing in the kind of world where styles like Perry's hang all over the junior's and women's departments, and where grown women are reduced to begging manufacturers to stop making such cleavage-baring dresses and tops and start selling clothes that a career woman, mom, or anybody aside from a pop star or streetwalker might actually wear. I think it's ridiculous and frustrating that women have started needing to wear what used to be an undergarment (the "cami") and letting it be seen as an outer garment--because it beats the alternative. I think that teen boys have it pretty hard, too, since a lot of manufacturers think they want their pants to be sliding off of their rear ends, and have adjusted waist sizes and lengths accordingly.

But that doesn't mean that we ought to give up, as the parents protesting Perry pointed out today. The innate sense that modesty is an important cultural value, something especially important when we're talking about revealing private aspects of the adult body to young children, remains even in our secular culture. As Christians, we can do what it takes to make sure that our clothing is not "monstrous"--that is, that it doesn't reveal what should be hidden.

And we'll do a whole lot better job of that if we're not worrying about this or that fringe group condemning women for wearing slacks. There are, as the Perry video demonstrates excruciatingly well, better aspects of modesty to be concerned about.

No comment

Pearls Before Swine

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The pristine anti-child town

I can't really recommend reading this article. I read it last night, slogging through all three pages of nausea-inducing brattiness--and that was the adults.

Still, reading something like this can be illuminating, in that it's possible to see exactly why our nation is falling apart. Here's an example from the article:

The assault has been waged in large part through books, of which there are quite a few—people without children apparently have a lot of time to write. There’s Terri Casey’s earnest Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passion of Women without Children and Nicki Defago’s out-and-proud Childfree and Loving It! (Defago explains that “Choosing to be childfree brings with it a fantastic sense of freedom for which I feel grateful every day.”) There’s childfree self-help (Two Is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice) as well as chin-tugging, childfree introspection (Bill McKibben’s Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families).

In 2007, Corinne Maier’s saucy No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children became a sensation in Europe. It was translated for American audiences two years later, and Maier’s quips—“Breastfeeding is slavery,” “Motherhood or success: Pick one”—were just as welcome here. Maier’s book is meant to amuse, but her conclusion is serious: “No kids, thanks. It’s better that way.” She would know. Unlike most people in the childfree movement, Maier has two children of her own.

There is more, so much more. In 2006 David Benatar, a philosophy professor at the University of Cape Town wrote Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence—a book which argues that all births are harmful. “[T]he quality of even the best lives is very bad,” Benatar explained, “and considerably worse than most people recognize it to be. Although it is obviously too late to prevent our own existence, it is not too late to prevent the existence of future possible people.”

Just as an aside to Mr. Benetar, and some of the others listed above: if you've decided that your bloodline is deserving of nothing more than to die out completely, and that your genetic material is too utterly worthless and trivial to share with future generations, shouldn't you really keep such a depressing conclusion to yourselves?

There's more:

It’s a credit to America’s childfree that they believe population control should begin at home. Though sometimes they are willing to go the extra mile. The environmentalist group Optimum Population Trust (OPT) has as its motto “fewer emitters, lower emissions.” OPT runs a program whereby environmentally conscious Westerners can purchase carbon-offsetting family-planning credits. In other words, concerned citizens give the OPT money to be used for funding birth control in developing countries. In case you’re curious, the OPT estimates that it takes $144.20 per year to keep enough of the great unwashed from reproducing to offset a typical American’s existence.

Or, as Margaret Sanger would have put the above:

"Our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying ... demonstrates our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism ... [Philanthropists] encourage the healthier and more normal sections of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant ... We are paying for, and even submitting to, the dictates of an ever-increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all."

Isn't anti-human liberalism ugly in its racist and Eurocentric biases against the children of the world? Yes, it is--diabolically so. Only Satan can hate like that.

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to go ahead and give the childless--oh, excuse me, the childfree (a word that always reminds me of "cluefree") what they want. We could create a perfect, pristine town for them, a town where children are not allowed. They will have parks where a child's foot has never been set (though dogs and cats, the preferred "children" of these types of people, will of course be welcome), and restaurants where they will never be disturbed by infant prattle, and adult entertainment centers catering to the bored and fretful grown-up who wishes to have his amusement hours completely devoid of any childish laughter or joy. There will be an airport located within or near the town that serves only the town's citizens, so that they will never have to endure the horror of flying in the company of breeders; they will be flown to exotic vacation destinations which will also be perfect, pristine anti-child havens, and will, in fact, be exactly like their own towns, save for such accidents as climate and scenery. Unless they choose otherwise, they will never have to endure even a moment's torture in the presence of a human child again, or compete with anyone's children for the right to be spoiled, pampered, and coddled in the way that they believe is their birthright.

But we won't put up signs in front of these towns that say "Adults-Only Nursery." We won't have to.

40 Days, and Margaret Sanger's "human weeds"

As promised, here's the first of my "40 Days for Life" blog posts for this year's campaign. Don't miss the real 40 Days for Life blog; today's entry is here.

To start things off, do go and read this terrific entry from a blog that is new to me:

I want to address Sophie Fletcher's comments from yesterday's post comparing Mother Teresa and Margaret Sanger.

Sophie's comments are in red italics.

Wow. I don't mean to butt in here, but I am sensing a bit of bias against Sanger.

Actually, you should be sensing a huge bias against Sanger here. :)

I do have a few questions as to some of your points, Leila. I'm sorry if I word my questions bluntly--I don't mean to offend, but I haven't got much time right now and I am simply curious.

Totally fine. I love straight talk!

You say "Mother Teresa was truly humble and radiated joy" etc while Sanger was "proud, troubled selfish and never at peace." I thought both Mother Teresa and Sanger did much for others, especially the poor--Mother Teresa through her physical care, and Sanger through her distribution of contraception.

Oh, yes, they both did a lot for others. In a way that was diametrically opposed.

Mother Teresa loved and cared for the untouchables of society, taking them out of the streets, picking maggots out of their rotted, dying flesh and giving them a clean place to lay, food to eat and water to drink, loving them till their last breath. Many of those she cared for reported that this was the first time in their lives that they had been loved, listened to, touched and cherished.

Margaret Sanger did a lot for others, too. She called for poor people, black people, immigrants and disabled to to stop reproducing themselves since they were "unfit" and "human weeds." She worked her whole life to achieve her goal of culling the herd of undesirables, all while neglecting her children and carrying on multiple adulterous affairs. [All links and text colors in original--E.M.]

Read the whole thing: the writer lays out the difference between compassion for life, and the notion that life is not a gift and that undesirables shouldn't reproduce.

From the "Stopped Clock Can Be Right Occasionally" files comes news that Notre Dame has created a position for the coordinator of life issues:

.- Continuing its response to the controversy over President Obama’s speech at the prominent Catholic institution, the University of Notre Dame has announced the creation of a coordinator for pro-life initiatives. The new coordinator says she is honored to hold the position and will work to advance the Catholic identity of the university.

The Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life, which ended its service in May, recommended to Notre Dame president Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the creation of structures to implement its previous recommendations and to continue its work. Fr. Jenkins then created the position of coordinator for university life initiatives and appointed 2010 Notre Dame graduate Mary K. Daly to the post.

Daly served as president of Notre Dame Right for Life and was a spokeswoman for NDResponse, a coalition opposed to the honoring of President Barack Obama. She will coordinate present efforts to implement the task force’s recommendations and will serve as a liaison between various university departments and offices to advance collaboration on life issues.

According to the University of Notre Dame, she will also seek ways to “broaden and deepen respect for the sanctity of life” at the university and beyond.

This is wonderful news, of course; I wish Mary Daly every success, and suggest that a recording which plays something like "Remember, this is a Catholic school...we are pro-life...remember, this is a Catholic school...we are pro-life..." should be made available and used frequently the next time the more liberal element at Notre Dame thinks it would be a good idea to shower yet another award on yet another shameless shill for the Culture of Death.

Finally, when an ad company creates a message pointing out how racist abortion really is, in that clinics which kill babies are overwhelmingly built and located in minority neighborhoods, a lot of people think it's better to kill the message than deal with the implications:

Central to Heroic Media's campaign, is the allegation that Planned Parenthood has placed around 70 percent of its abortion clinics in areas that can be designated as “minority neighborhoods.” A 2005 report by the Cybercast News Service claimed that out of 160 known abortion facilities run by the organization, 100 were located in communities with a higher black population than the state as a whole.

Although the ad campaign does not accuse any current leaders or staff at Planned Parenthood of being motivated by racism, it does note that abortion has reduced the black population by over 25 percent since 1973, making it responsible for more deaths than violent crime, accidents and disease.

A billboard featuring the “most dangerous place” tagline, along with a silhouette of an African American woman, was rejected in both Dallas and Houston. The prospective client first explained that the billboard was overly “'race' based.” A representative from the same company denied that this was the motivation, stating that the depiction of the woman was overly explicit.

Another outlet in Texas first approved the billboard but subsequently rejected it, citing its “questionable” content as a violation of their contract with land owners. Outlets in New York and Chicago followed suit, and likewise declined to discuss their reasons.

Representatives from Heroic Media deny that the campaign is either inappropriate or racially inflammatory. Instead, they have expressed concern that companies which refuse to run the ad on billboards or television may not only be looking out for their commercial interests, but possibly “protecting Planned Parenthood.”

What? Mainstream media outlets are biased in favor of quietly eliminating what Margaret Sanger called "human weeds?" They don't want minority women to realize that liberal America, especially white liberal America, has adopted a "just enough of us, way too many of you" mindset when considering the higher birthrates of minority women? Say it isn't so! probably is so. And 40 Days for Life provides another opportunity to show all women that abortion is not a good thing, not for them, not for their babies, and not for the world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

40 Days for Life starts tomorrow

The annual 40 Days for Life initiative kicks off tomorrow, and I'm excited to get to share some news from the local Fort Worth group, which has an awesome new website:

40 Days KICK-OFF WEDNESDAY September 22
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Don't miss former Planned Parenthood Director, Abby Johnson, give her moving testimony at this year's Ft. Worth 40 Days for Life Kick-Off Rally.

Where: Public Right-of-Way on the sidewalk across from Planned Parenthood (301 South Henderson Street, Fort Worth (please stay off the grass)
When: Weds., September 22 from 7:00 - 8:00 PM
Who: All Ft. Worth Pro-Lifers

Sadly, I won't be able to be there tomorrow night, but it was exciting to hear a young man from the local 40 Days for Life chapter speak to our parish before Mass on Sunday, and I remembered the year when during 40 Days for Life I wrote 40 blog posts--one each day--on life issues, especially abortion.

I want to do that again, but with a little twist this year: over the next 40 days, weekends included, I will post some of my own pro-life posts but also link to and highlight some of the amazing work being done by other Catholic writers on life issues. Watch for the tag "40 Days for Life" for these posts--and if you are a pro-life Catholic blogger who would like to share some of your posts about abortion here, just email me at the address in the sidebar!

And if anyone is taking part in "40 Days" prayerful protests, and would like to share stories here, send those too--I'd be especially interested in hearing from local DFW Catholics who make it to tomorrow night's rally with Abby Johnson.

Whether you can join 40 Days for Life for protests or not, please remember to keep them in your prayers over the next 40 days--that God will use their ministry of witness to touch the hearts of women considering abortion, to save babies, and to lead America to turn away from the Culture of Death.


Mark Shea would probably call this something like "Reason number 3.14159265358979323...etc. to Homeschool:"

SANFORD, Fla. -- A father furious because his 13-year-old daughter who suffers from cerebral palsy had been bullied stormed onto a school bus and threatened the children who teased her, deputies in Florida said.

The girl had to be hospitalized because of stress from the confrontation. The father, James Willie Jones, was arrested Thursday after he stormed onto the bus two weeks ago and later released on bail. He hopes to apologize to the children, said his attorney, Natalie Jackson.

"The little girl was scared to go to school. There has to be something done about school bullying," Jackson said.

Jones boarded the school bus on Sept. 3 because several boys were allegedly bullying his daughter, according to the sheriff's office report. He told deputies the boys placed an open condom on his daughter's head, smacked her on the back of her head, twisted her ear and shouted rude comments at her, the report said.

Video surveillance from the bus shows Jones asking his daughter to point out the students accused of harassing her. Jones is heard threatening those who bully his daughter, and he also threatens the bus driver.

Jones then steps off the bus. Some children are heard laughing. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

Of course, this being America, Mr. Jones has now apologized to the bullies:

A Florida father wept as he apologized at a news conference for storming onto a school bus and threatening children onboard because his 13-year-old disabled daughter had been bullied.

James Willie Jones' voice cracked during the appearance Tuesday. He said he himself was acting as a bully and no parent should copy his behavior.

He says his daughter suffers from cerebral palsy and he "could not stand by and helplessly watch her suffer." Standing by his wife, who also wept, Jones apologized for how he handled the situation.

Of course, the truth is that the bullies should be apologizing to Mr. Jones. From behind bars.

No, I'm serious about this.

We act like bullying is just harmless kid stuff, like it's nothing but one of those things that Kids Will Do. We act as though several boys surrounding a disabled girl and hitting her, assaulting her, sexually harassing her, and otherwise tormenting her is something to shrug over, something for the kids themselves to laugh about, something normal and ordinary and a part of the life of children.

We act as though parents should be blameless in these situations, that they and their little darling monsters should be exempt from all consequences, that it is the victim, who is usually called the "crybaby" or the "tattletale" or the "whiner" for complaining about this thuggish, violent, horrific behavior who has the problem. School administrators and teachers learn early on that bullying is one of those things where siding with the victim will get them nothing but heartache and trouble--much easier to blame the victim for inviting the so-called "teasing" which is somehow inevitably his or her fault, than to expect the atrocious behavior of the spoiled, ugly, ignoble and dangerous mob to change one iota. Parents who show up time and time again to meet with teachers or principals in the naive, mistaken belief that these entities actually care about their child and do not wish for him or her to be bullied will learn their mistake--what the teachers and principals really want is for the victim of bullying to go away, either to be silent and allow himself or herself to be a human punching bag for the duration of his or her twelve-year sentence of educational incarceration or to leave the school altogether in the hopes of finding another school somewhere where the child will not be mentally, psychologically, and sometimes physically damaged by a pack of slavering brutes who exist to torment, and who thrive on human suffering.

The reason these drooling werewolves can get away with this is simple: there are no consequences. Carrying a weapon, even a toy gun, to school has consequences. Having aspirin in your backpack has consequences; sharing it with a classmate has dire ones. But beating up on a disabled girl as a way of asserting your superiority won't even get you time in detention, most of the time, let alone a suspension or expulsion.

I keep imagining a fictional 911 call that goes something like this:

Girl: Police, please. I'm being attacked.

911 Operator: What's happening?

Girl: There are three of them. They hit me, they've twisted my ear...

911 Operator: Where are you?

Girl: Riverside High.

911 Operator: Where...

Girl: Riverside High School.

911 Operator. Oh. Oh, okay. Listen, honey, I can't call the police, you know that.

Girl: I know. Should...should I try to get away from them, or...

911 Operator: No. No, you have to stay in school.

Girl: Oh. Well, can I hit them back?

911 Operator: No, of course you can't. Listen, here's what you do...

Girl: Yes? Please hurry...they're coming back.

911 Operator: Okay. Okay, you need to just...just put up with it.

Girl: Excuse me?

911 Operator: You can't run, you can't fight back, and you can't expect any grown-ups to help you. Not right now, anyway. What you do is, when it's over, you report it.

Girl: I what?

911 Operator: You report it, honey. You tell your teacher, and your parents.

Girl: But I've done that before.

911 Operator: Mmm-hmm.

Girl: And it doesn't help.

911 Operator: I know.

Girl: The bullies just keep...they just keep...

911 Operator: Listen, that's just how it works. It's a normal part of growing up. You see...

Girl: (interrupting) I have to go. The teacher is confiscating my cell phone.

So long as we think of bullying as some harmless little kids' game, something that children will do, something that doesn't need to be taken seriously, children are going to continue to be victimized by the mindless, cruel, brutish werewolves who prey on their fears and their pain. And all we're teaching children is that brutality works, and that there are no consequences for it, and that when they suffer from bullying, they should suffer alone and in silence--because that's the way the grown-ups want it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A mantra and a motto

A group calling themselves "Catholics for Equality" has been sending mass emails out to the email address I use on this blog--to ask me to support their efforts to overturn DADT, among other things.

This is not a highly intelligent thing to do, especially for a group whose "About" section includes the following:

Drawing on the rich tradition of Catholic social justice teachings, grounded in the Gospel message of Love, American Catholics are among the strongest supporters of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people of any religious group in the U.S.

Yet the official voice of the hierarchy increasingly advocates discrimination and opposes reasonable measures to secure basic freedoms for LGBT Americans. Far too often, the anti-freedom voice of the hierarchy is portrayed as representing the moral values of American Catholics. [Emphasis added--E.M.]

I think I'll start a rival group, called something like "Catholics for Catholic Teaching." The purpose of this group would be to issue statements any time one of these other groups releases their typically idiotic statements and pushes their anti-Catholic agenda, and remind Catholics that as Catholics we don't consider the hierarchy "anti-freedom" or, indeed, "anti-anything" when they teach on matters of faith and morals in accordance with the teachings of the whole Church. We'll remind our fellow Catholics what words like "Magisterium" mean (heck, even Wikipedia's got that one sort of figured out). And we'll gently explain that statements like this one...
Catholics for Equality is a mainstream Catholic organization representing the opinion and attitudes of the very best of Catholic social justice values. We believe that the U.S. bishops are following the dictates of the current Vatican leadership and not the long term values of American Catholicism with its history of fairness and inclusion of all people...
...are actually heretical, in that the Church's teaching on the grave immorality of homosexual acts (which informs Church teaching on the impossibility of approving gay "marriage" and other notions) is not merely a "Vatican" idea but an ancient and unchanging part of Christian belief.

Of course, forming such a group would, in some ways, be an excessive in futility. "Catholics for Equality" obviously doesn't care in the slightest what actual Church teaching is--they just want to wave it aside as irrelevant so they can approve of the deviancy of the day. It's just too hard to stand with Christ as a sign of contradiction to the world and its sinfulness, especially when you can get in on the trendy approval by making "I'm Catholic, but..." a mantra and a motto.

UPDATE: Larry D has a serious idea to form a group that stands up for real Catholic teaching--see here!

Happy Birthday, Rory!

I've been out of commission with a miserable Monday migraine, but I can't let the whole day go by without wishing my youngest brother a very happy birthday. Rory, we had so much fun celebrating with you on Saturday--hope that the actual birthday itself wasn't too full of college classwork and so forth, and that you've had time to enjoy the day! :)

Oh, and this place was really fun--we all enjoyed it! But to be honest, we enjoy your company wherever and whenever we get together.

Happy birthday, little brother! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Homeschooling, sola skirtura, and moral absolutes--generally speaking

A commenter on a recent post asked me whether, in light of all that I've written this week about the sola skirtura controversy, I ought to rethink my post here which suggested that given the realities of the present age, generally speaking, homeschooling was the best option for the serious Christian family. Am I not making the same mistake as the sola skirtura crowd, and insisting that something is virtuous when it's really not, or that something else is immoral when the Church doesn't say it is?

The short answer is: no, I'm not going to rethink that post. The whole point of phrasing things in a "generally speaking" framework is to acknowledge, as I did in the post itself, that particular circumstances and particular people and families vary, and always trump any notion of what might be best generally speaking.

But you didn't think you were going to get a short answer, now, did you? :)

If a sola skirtura type were to say to me that generally speaking, skirts are more recognizably and traditionally feminine than pants, and that therefore generally speaking a woman might be led to behave in a more recognizably and traditionally feminine manner by wearing skirts than by wearing pants, I might still disagree--but my disagreement would then be with the idea that skirts lead to feminine behavior and that what the skirt-wearer means by feminine behavior is something to strive for, both of which are iffy at best to me. I mean, I wear skirts frequently because I am short and round, and it's harder to find pants that fit comfortably. Skirts don't make me modulate my voice, find my inner Martha Stewart (who is either comatose or long-dead, I'm afraid, killed back when I committed attempted home economics back in high school), or otherwise alter my behavior in any good way--what they actually do is encourage my laziness, since it's very easy and comfortable to sit in a nice draping skirt and read a good book all afternoon, but not any easier to scrub a toilet or cook dinner or fold laundry while wearing one.

But you notice I'm debating here with the substance of my fictional skirtura-gal's argument. If she sincerely believes that generally speaking more women will notice some improvement from exclusively wearing skirts and dresses, she is welcome to make her best case for that--and if some of us remain unconvinced, we can agree cheerfully to disagree, and move on.

It's not the same when someone poses a "sola skirtura" argument that goes as follows:

--Catholics must cultivate modesty in dress.
--Pants are immodest on women.
--Therefore, Catholic women must not wear pants.

That argument doesn't leave room for cheerful (or even crabby) disagreement. Catholics certainly share the first principal, but we disagree strongly on the second, and thus can't agree on the third. And there's not really a good way to debate the second: one side simply says, "No, pants are not immodest on women," and the other says, "Yes, they are, and this quote from a pope proves it!" though the pope in question lived anywhere from ninety to three hundred years ago.

Now, if I had said, instead of what I did say about homeschooling, the following:

--Catholic parents are obligated to raise their children in the faith, preserve their virtue, and protect them from immorality.
--All schools in today's culture, even so-called "Catholic" ones, are so irrevocably tainted by the hideous immorality of our culture such that they are a grave danger to faith, to virtue, and to morality.
--Therefore, all Catholic parents have an obligation to homeschool...

...then I'd expect to be treated like a nut or an idiot, because that second principle isn't even remotely tenable, and is so blatantly overstating the case as to be a falsehood. Such a position isn't defensible because I would essentially be saying "Schools are immoral!" and the other side would be saying, "No, they're not!" and all conversation would then cease, because we'd have no common ground.

What I'm actually saying breaks down to the following:

--Catholic parents are obligated to raise their children in the faith, preserve their virtue, and protect them from immorality. (This one's still true. I've cobbled together a few of the Catechism's notions about Christian parenthood; it might be, and probably is, capable of being said better than this, but the essentials are there, I think.)
--In fulfilling this duty, Catholic parents must carefully choose a school which will ideally support and reinforce, rather than undermine and tear down, what their children are being taught about the faith, morality, and virtue.
--It is my strongly-held opinion that public schools in America in the year 2010 generally support and reinforce only a handful of notions consistent with Christian ideas (good stewardship is one example, but anti-human-population environmentalism corrupts a lot of this, sadly). It is also my strongly-held opinion that public schools in America in the year 2010 have an underlying philosophy of radical militant atheistic secular humanism, which is diametrically opposed and actively hostile to Christian thought and teaching. These facts may very well, generally speaking, make public school a poor choice for many Catholic parents.
--My strongly-held opinions about diocesan Catholic schools are here; also, there is the reality that in many parts of the country, such as mine, diocesan Catholic schools are not financially possible for many Catholic parents.
--While tiny Catholic independent co-ops or similar schools may exist in small areas, few parents have this option, either.
--Given all of the above, generally speaking the serious Christian family who wants to raise their children in the faith and protect them while they are young and impressionable from the destructive poisons of our dysfunctional culture may well find that homeschooling is the best option.

Plenty of people visited my comment boxes to disagree with me. I discussed their disagreements without changing my original opinion; I have still not changed it. Some people will argue that public schools are not really pushing a philosophy informed by radical militant atheistic secular humanism, or that first and second-graders don't really care if they are and won't be influenced by these ideas anyway, or that it's really better to send our little Christian soldiers out to combat this radical militant atheistic secular humanism on the ground, instead of keeping them from it until some time after they've mastered shoe-tying and cut-and-paste, at least.

And some will argue that my undeniably harsh view of Catholic schools comes from enduring them during the worst generation ever to run Catholic education, that things are already so much better that I could walk into any classroom at St. Hildegard's Elementary School and quiz the little tykes on the hypostatic union, and they'd rattle off key points with ease and a little boredom, waiting for me to get to the hard stuff--and that these little tykes have parents as strict as I am about excessive consumption of cultural dysfunction, that not one of them has a burning desire to watch R-rated films or listen to Lady Gaga, and that they're all so charmingly innocent that it would bring tears to my eyes.

And, of course, they're perfectly free to argue these and many other things, because the way I frame my own argument allows for the possibility of discussion. Like I said, thus far I've seen no reason to change my mind. I think most of the reasons people throw out there for not homeschooling are particular reasons, not general ones; and as I also think that people live in the world of the particular and not the general this doesn't bother me in the least--we must all do what works best for our families, and there are people who would, in all honesty, be so terrible at homeschooling for so many reasons that a little light dose of felt-banner hippy-dippy Catholicism at the local diocesan school, or even a small sampling of radical militant atheistic secular humanism, might theoretically be the preferable option for a particular family.

If you've stuck with me all the way through this, you can now see that what bothered me all along about the sola skirtura arguments was not the idea that some women find skirt-wearing somehow beneficial, or even that they'd like to argue that generally speaking it's a good thing to do--so long as they're prepared to listen to disagreement and accept from the get-go that not everybody will agree. That, after all, is how I approached the homeschooling post: given our obligation as Christian parents to raise and educate our children in faith and virtue, I think our options these days are pretty depressing, and that few parents are going to find schools that reflect their values the way homeschooling quite obviously does. But I never expected everyone to agree; I do wish, though, that we could all discuss ways to improve the situation so that parents aren't left with gnawing worry when they visit their children's schools and see how terribly far some of the teaching is from Christian values.

No, what bothered me about the sola skirtura arguments was the presumption right from the start that women who wear pants and who wish to keep doing so are de facto guilty of some immodesty or immorality, even if they're not personally culpable out of ignorance or some such mitigating factor. This then devolved even further into some people saying that women who wear pants are wearing men's clothing, are feminists, are selfishly demanding rights just like those who favor abortion, and the like. There's simply no room in Christian conversation for that sort of thing, presuming that the wearing of a perfectly innocuous article of clothing is somehow indicative of a Jezebel, and that women who fail to see the supreme rightness and goodness of the pro-skirts arguments have simply hardened their hearts to the truth.

I may continue to believe what I do about homeschooling, but unless there were ever some Vatican pronouncement about the whole thing--highly unlikely, in my view--I will continue to couch my arguments in its favor with full respect for the freedom of those who disagree. There are more important issues on which the Church does teach in moral absolutes, and I'll save any rigid inflexibility for those issues which by their nature allow for no dissent. Even then, even when I argue against contraception or abortion or gay marriage or torture or direct, intentional attacks on civilian populations in war or any other similar issue, I will always insist that the Church is right--but I may or may not be, and any weakness in my arguments should be imputed to me, alone, and not to the Church.

The sola skirtura crowd needs to do the same, in my opinion. Because, generally speaking, the effect of couching everything in terms that ought to be reserved for moral absolutes is that it becomes easier for those who disagree with legitimate freedom on non-essential matters to fall into the grave error of thinking they have the right to disagree on the essential ones.