Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Late posting alert

Busy day today--I'll be putting up a post sometime before (okay, after) midnight, but I don't know exactly when.

(An aside to all readers: I put that stuff up not because I'm a big-headed egotistical blogger who thinks people care if I skip a day; I put it up because family members read my blog and have occasionally checked in with me to make sure everything is okay if I skip a day.) :)

For now--isn't this the sad, but real, truth?:

Pearls Before Swine

Monday, August 30, 2010

The vocabulary of depravity

Having totally ignored the Emmys owing to the fact that they are completely irrelevant to my life as they probably are to the lives of most people these days, I did give in to the temptation to click on a link today taking me to a page of Emmy fashions, complete with ratings and snarky commentary. There's something almost amusing, in the cultural-train-wreck sort of way, about seeing aging female members of the glitterati all tarted up in shameless clothing that the most depraved and debauched empress of Imperial Rome would have been mortified to wear.

Of course, there was a picture of this fellow, along with his partner in grave sin. The clever copywriter coyly referred to the men (one can't really use 'gentlemen' here, can one?) as "expectant dads."

Now, I've already written about how profoundly evil it is to manufacture children--and how this goes for heterosexuals, homosexuals, and anybody else out there. But I need to take the occasion to say something more, something about words.

Two men cannot both be "expectant dads" of the same children. One of these two men may, indeed, have provided (through an objectively gravely sinful act, by the way) the male genetic material to facilitate the manufacture of the twins currently being gestated inside of the womb of the reproductive prostitute these two children are so unfortunate to have as their mother. But it is a biological, scientific fact that no child ever born has had two fathers, just as it is a biological, scientific fact that no child ever born has had two mothers.

The belief that "Heather" can have two mommies, or that both of these Hollywood men can be "dads" of the same children, is a philosophical, quasi-religious, anti-scientific belief. Science is pretty clear about how human children are conceived. One male parent and one female parent are all that is required. A superfluity of men wishing to act in loco parentis to the resulting offspring does not change the scientific, biological fact that the children can only truly call one man "father."

Real adoptive moms and dads deal with this all the time. They use the terms "birth mother," "birth father" or "biological mom/dad" to refer to the genetic parents of their offspring. They may go by the terms "mom and dad," and they should since they have stepped in to assume these roles when the biological parents failed to live it in a way conducive to the well-being of the child--but there is no pretense about the child or children's origins. While the type of adoption may dictate how much or how little information the children can have about their birth parents, there is no hiding the fact that there are birth parents (or were, if the birth parents are deceased).

But the "two dads"/"two moms" fiction pretends that the child simply doesn't have a father or a mother (as the case may be). When a homosexual man announced the birth of his daughter on a different blog, I offered my congratulations in the comments to the child's father and mother (not to the homosexual men as "dads"). Since the child's mother was a paid reproductive prostitute, I was considered guilty of a social faux pas--but why should I have to ignore scientific reality in order to play along with the quasi-religious/philosophical fiction our culture likes to pretend?

If our culture is clear about one thing, it is that no one needs to respect another person's beliefs, be they religious, philosophical, or otherwise, if one must ignore science to do so. Science is not at all ambiguous about the parentage of a child. So why should I, or any other person, have to look the other way and pretend that it is scientifically possible for a child to have two same-sex parents?

Saying that a child has two fathers, or that he or she has two mothers, is a lie. It may be a lie that makes same-sex people feel more comfortable about the inherent and incontrovertible sterility and barrenness of the kind of sex acts they like to engage in, but it's not my job, or anybody else's, to make people feel comfortable by ignoring science and participating in lies. If other people want to do that, that's their choice, but they can't impose their beliefs on me. I refuse to play along; I refuse to participate in the vocabulary of depravity.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Teenage Mutant Ninja Christians?

Are teenagers on fire for Christianity, or are they merely channeling a sort of nebulous "feel-goodism" with Christian overtones? Here's an interesting look at the question:

(CNN) -- If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem. [...]

Dean drew her conclusions from what she calls one of the most depressing summers of her life. She interviewed teens about their faith after helping conduct research for a controversial study called the National Study of Youth and Religion. [...]

The study included Christians of all stripes -- from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

And what's wrong with a moralistic therapeutic faith, a "Gospel of niceness," so to speak? Here's one answer:

Corrie, echoing the author of "Almost Christian," says the gospel of niceness can't teach teens how to confront tragedy.

"It can't bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can't I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?"

Some of the comments under the article at the CNN website are instructive, if depressing. A lot are from atheists who brush the article aside as more proof that all religion is false and feel-good, that when there's enough science around to displace the "myths" of religion, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is the inevitable result for those people too stupid to give up on religion altogether.

But the article itself points at a conundrum: MTD isn't enough to hold onto young Christians. What they really want is a faith that challenges them, that demands sacrifice, that is more about what God expects from each of them than what they can get out of going to church. The teens of this generation are starving for bread, and we've been handing them stones. Or scorpions. Or, in the case of Catholic teens, endless felt-banner projects.

Throughout the ages, young men and women have joyously accepted God's call to follow His Son, and have even died for this faith. The problem with MTD is not that it is somehow the inevitable result of modernity's encounter with Christianity; the problem with MTD is that it never can be a faith worth dying for--and so, soon, it becomes a faith not worth living, either.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Misery and its company

I've been enjoying the news stories and pictures today of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's birth. Thinking of Mother Teresa and her life's work always reminds me that her work took her among the truly poor: the desperate, the destitute, the sick, the dying, those suffering in ways which we Americans can't really even imagine, for the most part.

It is true that some types of suffering are universal. There is poverty in America, even if it's not the sort that is seen on the streets of some third-world nations' cities. There is pain and sickness and dying and death--these are part of the universal human condition. There are many forms of spiritual anguish, too, and Mother Teresa often spoke about that kind of poverty, which afflicts wealthy nations more so than poor ones.

But in pondering these things, I also couldn't help but think of the many times when I've complained about something in my life, as if what were really minor inconveniences were somehow productive of actual suffering, instead of a sort of trivial misery. And somehow, I don't think I'm the only person out there who does this--complaining is sort of a national pastime of Americans.

For myself, it's almost as though at certain times I take on the persona of a woman who actually enjoys being miserable, who then calls the shots around here until I decide I've had enough. Granted, I'm being whimsical, but I bet if I describe these personas at least a few of you out there will recognize at least one of them who somehow shows up in your house from time to time:

Ursula Untidy: Ursula has a terrible habit of ignoring clutter accumulation until it reaches lethal levels. Then, she springs into action and...complains about it. Loudly. Vociferously. To anyone who will listen. Ursula will sometimes spend all afternoon telling her friends or family via phone, email, and at least one other form of social media what a wreck her house is, and how long it's going to take her to clean it all up. It's going to take especially long if Ursula is followed by...

Nadia Never-delegate: Nadia apparently believes that she is the Only One Who Ever Does Anything Around Here--but then, Nadia also believes that everyone else does everything wrong so that she's just going to have to do it all again herself anyway, and what's wrong with people that they don't just pitch in even though any attempt by them to pitch in is probably going to be laughed to scorn by Nadia who will use the opportunity to berate them for having lived in the same house for umpteen gazillion years and not yet learning that she likes the small kitchen towels on the yellow shelf, which (if Nadia were honest) used to be a) blue, b) the place for the large kitchen towels, and c) covered for the last month not with small towels but with several books Nadia was reading which she finally put away yesterday. Nadia should not be confused with her twin Manipula the Martyr, whose cleaning efforts are punctuated by loud sighs and sarcastic cries of "No, don't anybody bother to help me, I'm fine doing everything." Nadia should also not be confused with her more public cousin...

Camilla of the Committee: Camilla believes that there is no parish group, school group, homeschool group, fundraising drive, or other activity in her sphere that can function without her. Even though she believes this, Camilla is also scornful of those who don't sign up and volunteer to do as much as she is doing--they may be totally incompetent, but at least they could offer to help. As much as she complains about others not helping, Camilla equally complains about how terribly, terribly busy she is and how desperately she needs some time off from all of her volunteer activities. These complaints don't stop her from being first in line to sign up for the parish's new building fund drive, though--after all, how can she trust the building plans to be what she'd want, if she's not involved? Camilla has a lot in common with...

Inez the Insane-scheduler: Once upon a time, Inez's family had sane extracurricular activities--perhaps some sports here or music or art there. Somehow, though, it all got way, way out of hand, to the point where Inez's children know the drive-thru menus of eight different fast-food chains by heart and have become very good at doing their schoolwork or homework in the car. Inez will complain to anybody who will listen about how terribly mad and disruptive it all is--and then, in the next breath, she will mention that little Johnny is really rather keen on the arts of the Turkish culture, and there are these two really neat classes on different weekdays in wildly divergent parts of town, one on meerschaum-pipe crafting and the other on water marbling, both of which she's signed him up for. Inez has some similarities to...

Elmira Empty-shelf: Elmira's friends and family have told her repeatedly about the joys of list-based grocery shopping. Elmira shrugs, and nods, but continues her enduring habit of listless (in more ways than one) shopping. The result of this is that Elmira is nearly always out of something, necessitating extra trips to the grocery store, calls to her husband to swing by a store on his way home from work, and the postponement of homeschool science projects until she remembers to pick up pipe cleaners, a two-liter plastic bottle, some potting soil and a detonator coil (kidding about the last). Elmira is always complaining about these extra trips to the store--but will she break down and make a list? Probably not; and if it's laundry soap she's out of, she may turn into...

Luella Laundry-laden: Luella always, always, always has way too much laundry to do, with no real excuse for it (that is, she doesn't have a dozen or so children and one washing machine and no dryer). Luella's way of catching up on the laundry is to...complain about it. Or leave it on the bed, waiting to be folded, while she writes a blog post. :)

What all of these personas have in common is that they are all willing to complain about things that, in all honesty, are their own faults. As someone who has hosted most (though not all) of these personas before, I can say that if I am behind on the laundry for any reason other than rampaging illness sweeping through the family, it's because I've let other, less important things be my priority for too long. When I shop without a grocery list, it is my fault if I forget that we were almost out of butter until after we get home--and so on for the other personas on the list.

But I know I have a tendency to complain about all of the effects of these things as if I were a victim of circumstances--until I take a look at some images of the real victims, the ones Mother Teresa's nuns still serve all over the world today. There is nothing like beholding the real image of suffering to make you feel foolish for complaining about some unfolded laundry, is there?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Praying in the face of evil

If you have the stomach for it, go here to read a story about a woman who is proud of her evil. So proud, in fact, that at 83 years of age she thinks it's worth bragging about the fact that she has helped pay for 19,000 abortions.

She has personally helped pay to kill 19,000 (and counting) low-income children. I am guessing that many of them were minority children, though the article doesn't dare mention that.

This white-haired woman--I won't bother calling her a lady, as ladies do not help women butcher their unborn children by signing checks payable to the executioners--in pink and pearls sees nothing whatsoever to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Before almighty God--Whom she doesn't believe in--she stands condemned by some of her own words:

Gaylor may look like Betty White, but her words still carry the socko punch that once led an audience member at the taping of a Philadelphia talk show to rush her from behind and put her in a chokehold.

On large families: "How presumptuous of someone to think the world is interested in a half-dozen or eight or 10 of their kids."

On anti-abortion activists: "They're religiously motivated, not intellectually motivated."

On abortion: "A blessing."

Gaylor herself has four children who apparently didn't deserve the blessing of abortion. Just enough of her, you see, and way, way too many of the poor.

The face of evil is so banal. An old, wrinkled, woman who has spent her whole life making sure that there are fewer people. Lest you believe the article's hints that she really cares about women, it should be noted that she has been involved in Zero Population Growth (back when it was still called that) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. There should be fewer people, and they should all be as damned to eternal oblivion as she believes or hopes--hard to say which--she will be.

Tomorrow is the 100th birthday of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I would like to ask those of my readers who are so inclined to pray the following prayer for her intercession:


Prayer for Mother Teresa's Intercession

Jesus, you made Mother Teresa an inspiring example of firm faith and burning charity, an extraordinary witness to the way of spiritual childhood, and a great and esteemed teacher of the value and dignity of every human life. Grant that she may be venerated and imitated as one of the Church's canonized saints.

Hear the requests of all those who seek her intercession, especially the petition I now implore.. for the conversion of Anne Nicol Gaylor.

May we follow her example in heeding your cry of thirst from the Cross and joyfully loving you in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, especially those most unloved and unwanted.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, your Mother and the Mother of us all.

Amen.

Please feel free to share this prayer request with others. I would love it if 19,000 people would pray for Mrs. Gaylor's conversion, so that the evil, and the Evil One, will not triumph over her life.

New post at Coalition for Clarity

For those interested, there's a new post over at the Coalition for Clarity blog:

The definition game

Thanks!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Common sense on ESCR

You may already have seen this rare display of common sense from a United States judge:

WASHINGTON — A US court on Monday ordered a temporary halt to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which President Barack Obama had authorized, saying it involved the destruction of human embryos.

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled in favor of a coalition of groups, including several Christian organizations, which had sought a temporary injunction on funding of the research ahead of a planned lawsuit.

"Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits," Lamberth said.

The coalition argues that President Obama's March 2009 lifting of a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research violates legislation that prohibits government funding for research in which embryos are discarded or destroyed.

"ESC (embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed," Lamberth's ruling said.

"To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo."

Judge Lamberth also had this astonishing bit of common sense to add:

And he said that because there was no conclusive proof that ESC research could help Parkinson's or Alzheimer's sufferers, the suggestion that they would be harmed by the injunction was "speculative."

Truth is, adult stem cell research has far surpassed embryonic stem cell research in terms of treatments and hope for the curing of various conditions and diseases. Yet there are plenty of scientists who cling almost religiously to the notion that cannibalizing human embryos is the way to a bright path full of hope for the eventual eradication of just about anything that human beings can suffer from. This clinging to an irrational belief in spite of the total lack of evidence that they will ever be proved right about their ideas doesn't seem very scientific, does it? One almost suspects that they like the ritualistic destruction of nascent human life for its own sake, and refuse to accept any limitations on the ability to engage in that ritualistic destruction...

Monday, August 23, 2010

New school year, new kitten...

So now that we've been cat owners for a little over a year, we decided it was time to find an auxiliary back up cat to keep the main cat from being so lazy and bored while the girls are doing their schoolwork.

Just kidding. Actually, we saw this little guy online at a shelter website, and went and saw him in person, and said "He looks just like Emmett!" So, of course, we had to bring him home.

Here he is--his name is Smidge:



And he really does look just like Emmett--except, of course, Emmett is bigger now:


I think it's going to be fun to be at maximum cat capacity around here. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let the cheering commence

Great news:
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Francis George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has announced that the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, has been issued for the dioceses of the United States of America.

The text was approved by the Vatican, and the approval was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

In addition, on July 24, the Vatican gave approval for several adaptations, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. Also approved are texts of prayers for feasts specific to the United States such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the observances of feasts for saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. The Vatican also approved the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life, which can be celebrated on January 22.

Cardinal George announced receipt of the documents in an August 20 letter to the U.S. Bishops and issued a decree of proclamation that states that “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

The date of implementation was chosen to allow publishers time to prepare texts and parishes and dioceses to educate parishioners.
Read the rest here, if you wish.

I am so looking forward to the new translation of the Mass! I'm going to put a countdown button in my sidebar. :)

Egg recall and Friday menus

As the recall of tainted eggs expands to include new brands and more places, the CDC warns that reports of illnesses linked to this recall may continue to grow:

Iowa's Hillandale Farms said Friday it was recalling its eggs after laboratory tests confirmed illnesses associated with them. The company did not say how many eggs were being recalled or if it is connected to Wright County Egg, another Iowa farm that recalled 380 million eggs earlier this week.

An FDA spokeswoman said the two recalls are related. The strain of salmonella poisoning is the same strain linked to Wright County Egg.

The eggs recalled Friday were distributed under the brand names Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek. The new recall applies to eggs sold between April and August.

Hillandale said the eggs were distributed to grocery distribution centers, retail groceries and food service companies which service or are located in fourteen states, including Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

CDC officials said Thursday that the number of illnesses related to the outbreak is expected to grow. That's because illnesses occurring after mid-July may not be reported yet, said Dr. Christopher Braden, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control.

This has gotten me thinking about lots of different things: food safety, factory farming, our use of antibiotics as a way of keeping large numbers of animals housed in extremely close quarters, and the like. But because it's Friday today, mostly I've been thinking about how much I rely on eggs as a meatless Friday staple.

Whether we have egg sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs for lunch (or today's variation, scrambled eggs placed in soft flour tortillas and sprinkled with shredded cheese) or whether we're cooking up some BFD ("breakfast for dinner"), we frequently eat eggs on Friday. I know a lot of my fellow Catholics do the same. And while I'm blessed with non-picky eaters who will eat lots of other Friday fare, the truth is that it's hard to beat the cost, versatility and convenience of eggs as a Friday meal.

Luckily, the brand of eggs I have on hand right now hasn't been a part of this recall. Unluckily, we forgot all about the impact of the recall the other night, when we went out to eat with some family members who had just arrived from out of town. We went to a restaurant that features eggs and pancakes--and only learned, when we started to order, that the only "eggs" the restaurant could serve that day were the egg substitute products!

Has the recall impacted you, where you are? Has it dropped some of your favorite Friday egg dishes off of the menu temporarily? Or are you one of those lucky people who gets eggs from your own backyard chickens, like this family?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No fool like an old fool

I'm sure you've heard about this one already:

AN 80-YEAR-OLD woman is organising a one-day boycott of Sunday Mass “by the faithful women of Ireland” next month.

Jennifer Sleeman from Clonakilty in Cork said she wants “to let the Vatican and the Irish church know that women are tired of being treated as second-class citizens”.

She has called on the Catholic women of Ireland to “join your sisters on Sunday, September 26th. On that one day boycott Mass. Stay at home and pray for change. We are the majority. We may have been protesting individually but unremarked on, but together we have strength and our absence, the empty pews, will be noticed”.

She said: “Whatever change you long for, recognition, ordination, the end of celibacy, which is another means of keeping women out, join with your sisters and let the hierarchy know by your absence that the days of an exclusively male-dominated church are over.”

Poor Mrs. Sleeman. Once upon a time, perhaps thirty or forty years ago, perhaps, she must have met some revolutionary feminist Catholic women. It is possible that one of them was an American, or that they were influenced by Americans. Whoever they were, they told her--or she read, in their books--that just as soon as the old hidebound stuffy male-dominated Church evaporated, a new, progressive, light-filled, female-led Church of priestesses and poets and ecologically sound avant-garde female artists would emerge. Perhaps this vision of female empowerment so entranced Mrs. Sleeman, a convert to Catholicism, that she has been waiting with baited breath ever since to sing this new church into being. After all, the revolution was coming! Any day now! It was right around the corner!

Meanwhile, thirty or forty years passed.

And the revolution most unaccountably continued to fail to happen. And, while the Church has experienced real, significant problems, almost no one who is actually a practicing Catholic (non-practicing Catholics who spout off to the media, or who are in the media, or both don't count, here) pretends that the very real and significant problems in the Church are going to be solved by letting a bunch of rather dippy women dress up in unspeakably ugly tie-died "vestments" and set sail on various incongruous boats to proclaim themselves Roman Catholic lady-priests (since "priestess" is apparently impolite) and to commence to embarrass themselves at every conceivable opportunity by demonstrating just how wise the Church has been all these years to stick to Christ's example and ordain only men.

Jennifer Sleeman disagrees, of course--and in the grand tradition of women who disagree with the Church about something, she has boldly summoned her fellow women (can I say that?) to her grand vision of resistance: Commit a Mortal Sin Sunday! Of course, she isn't calling it that, though as a "faithful Catholic woman" she certainly knows that if she, or anyone else, skips Mass on Sunday without illness or another grave reason to do so, they are, objectively speaking, committing a mortal sin.

When you think about it, Mrs. Sleeman isn't much of a revolutionary. If you're going to host a Commit a Mortal Sin Sunday! event, at least you could come up with an interesting or entertaining mortal sin. I mean, you're risking your immortal soul here, Mrs. S--don't you think merely sleeping in lacks the proper revolutionary spirit? I don't know what I'd suggest as an alternative--except that I would definitely not suggest naked liturgical dancing, because I've seen the liturgical dancing crowd, and though they might be sinning by such an act they would also be inflicting an act of involuntary penitence upon their unfortunate audience--but I digress. The point is that as an act that's supposed to Make a Point and Ruffle Feathers and Shake Up Things at the Vatican, merely not showing up leaves a lot to be desired.

There is nothing quite as sad as seeing the spectacle of an elderly woman who still believes in the progressive vision of the future church--as articulated and outlined back in 1960 and 1970. It is still, alas, a fairly common spectacle, and here in America we have dozens of Sleemans--Mrs., Ms., or Sister--ready to clutch their guitars and tambourines and hope once again for the day when Father will be a woman, and the Church will magically become a land flowing with justice and peas, whatever that means.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Targeted

I don't know if you've been paying attention to this one, but gay activists are up in arms because Target Corporation gave a donation to a group which paid for an ad for a pro-business candidate for governor--who also happened to be pro-traditional family and against gay "marriage":

During this election season, there's likely to be a lot more corporate cash in politics, following a Supreme Court ruling last winter that lifted restraints on companies and labor unions.

Already, a case involving Target Corp. and the gay-rights movement has provided one picture of how American politics works in the wake of the Citizens United decision.

Target gave $150,000 to an independent group, which spent some of it on an ad supporting Republican Tom Emmer's bid to be Minnesota's next governor. Target regarded Emmer as pro-business. But as a state legislator, he also built a solid record opposing gay equality.

And it's expected that Minnesota's next governor will have the chance to sign or veto marriage legislation, notes Fred Sainz with the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

So protesters beat a path to Target stores. [...]

This really matters to Target because it has a golden reputation for hiring GLBT employees and backing gay equality. The company apologized. Twice.

"We're sorry. We never meant to let down our team members and our guests with this decision," spokeswoman Lena Michaud said. [...]

And MoveOn.org wants to make a political example of Target.

"Target must promise never to make this kind of political contribution again, and they should serve as a lesson to other corporations who are considering making the same move," says Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn's director of political advocacy.

Do you get what's really happening here?

A company known for its gay-friendly policies gave some political money to a group that made a commercial for a candidate who is in favor of traditional marriage. Because of that, gay activists, left-wing political groups, and the like are saying that Target has to be punished. They are saying that having a belief that marriage involves the union of one man and one woman is not politically acceptable in America anymore. They are protesting Target stores, labeling Target's actions as bigotry and vowing to make an example of the company for daring to support, in an indirect and weak way, a pro-business candidate who also happens to believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman--this, despite Target's long-standing reputation as a gay-friendly business.

Homosexual activists will not, now or ever, live in peace with those Americans who believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman. They will insist that holding this belief is the moral equivalent of racism. They will drive this belief from the public square and punish anyone who holds it.

They will insist that corporations hire only those people willing to state a politically correct and homosexually-altered view of what marriage is. They will list those companies which comply as "good" companies and maintain a list of the "bad" ones--the ones who refuse to interrogate prospective employees as to their marriage beliefs, or worse, the ones who don't really mind if their employees continue to believe that marriage involves a man and a woman. They will demand that government only do business with those companies willing to promote the homosexual view of marriage, and further demand that any company which does not do so be dropped from any chance of obtaining government contracts.

In the minds of gay activists, it is already immoral bigotry for a person to say that he or she believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. In a post-gay "marriage" reality, they will use every available resource the law allows to shut down the belief in traditional marriage--and the freedoms, religious and otherwise, of those who hold that belief.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Surrogate: a guest post

Yesterday I received what is probably the highest compliment I've ever been paid as a writer: a reader sent me a poem inspired by yesterday's blog post. Joshua is a 27-year-old Catholic who teaches religion at a Catholic school; he is clearly a talented poet as well, and I am honored for his gracious permission to post his poem here:

Surrogate


Where is the one within whose womb my flesh
Was knit together, and my bones built up?
Where is she, she who freely shared her lifeblood-
No, not freely; yet still she, the living cup
Into which I was poured like a libation
Offered to your vain conceit;
Where is she?


You bought her flesh though you despised its form,
And bloodless want demanded you conceive
My life within a dish beneath harsh fixtures
Shining unlight into eyes that will deceive
And cast into a pride-stoked conflagration
Nature, who you longed to cheat;
Where is she?


Her laughter never cheered my soul to joy.
Her kiss soothed not my youthful sufferings.
How can a man be man without a mother?
Life's bright fountain from both man and woman springs!
Yet water brings not life to desolation
When Pride sits in Reason's seat.
Where is she?


Nine months of life is sold; its value set
By market forces. Then what is the price
Of lives that occupied those rented spaces?
And what happens when that life is present twice
As much as is desired for full gestation?
Unloved sibling I shan't meet.
Where is she?


You taught the lesson well, and I have learned
That I am a commodity at best.
You wanted me, but I despise my own life.
Is this poison drunk for want of mother's breast?
One spark will light the fire of immolation.
I lay ashes at your feet.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Profoundly evil

As our culture of death continues to wallow in the filth of its own making, imbibing waves of turbid poison, yet another homosexual celebrity "couple" announces that they have successfully manufactured some children for themselves--and the flagitious crowd applauds.

It is, of course, a profoundly evil act to manufacture a child outside of the loving human relationship of a man and a woman. Let me be clear: it is a profoundly evil act to do so regardless of the sexual orientation or sex habits of the people involved. It is every bit as evil for a heterosexual couple to pay for the genetic material sold by a reproductive prostitute--male or female--in order to manufacture a child as it is for a homosexual couple to do so. It is every bit as evil for a heterosexual couple to rent the womb of a surrogate reproductive prostitute as it is for a homosexual couple to do so. And what goes for couples goes for the intentionally single people as well, who want all of the experiences of parenthood without bothering to make a committment to an adult of the opposite sex.

Perhaps you think the term "reproductive prostitute" is too strong. I don't. We call people who sell themselves sexually "prostitutes," after all. Selling or "donating" the eggs or sperm, or renting the womb space to incubate a child, is a kind of prostitution as well--the kind in which the object is not brief sexual pleasure, but reproduction. Reproductive prostitutes are selling their children's natural right to be raised by their own biological parents to other people. The lesbian mom who uses "donor" sperm, the homosexual men who pay a woman for her eggs and space in her main reproductive organ, the heterosexual infertile couple who pays for either or both of these things--all are colluding in the denial of the child's natural and fundamental human right to know and be raised by both of her biological parents.

When children are denied this right in the course of their lives, we call this a tragedy. If a parent dies, if a parent abandons his or her children, if a child's parents fail her repeatedly such that she is moved from foster home to foster home until her parents' rights are terminated--we recognize that harm has been done to the child, a kind of harm that runs so deep that it may manifest in serious mental or emotional problems throughout that child's life. In the case of a parent's death, of course, no one sought to harm the child--but harm may occur anyway, and the surviving parent usually takes steps to mitigate the harm by providing counseling, spiritual help, and other ways to deal with the natural grieving process. In the case where a parent has abandoned the family, the innocent spouse may work very hard to minimize the damage, and may struggle with the heavy cross of single parenthood. In the case of parents who fail the child, harm may have been deliberate, or it may have been unintentional--yet the child is hurt, and hurt badly, by the failure of the parents she loves to provide her with what she most needs from them--a stable, loving home with both parents present.

But in the case of "donor assisted" reproduction, a child is being manufactured in a laboratory with the deliberate intention of keeping him or her from being raised by either his/her own biological father, or his/her own biological mother--and sometimes, both. The idea that this may harm the child is brushed aside. Children don't need their own mothers and fathers! cry the post-gender anti-heteronormative enthusiasts. Children have become the ultimate consumer product.

I highly recommend that everyone interested in this issue read this whole article. It's long, but well worth the read. Some highlights:

NEW YORK — Katrina Clark and Lindsay Greenawalt have much in common. Bright women in their 20s, raised by single mothers, keenly curious about the men whose donated sperm helped give them life.

Clark's search for her father succeeded after only a month, though with a bittersweet aftermath. Greenawalt is still searching, seven years after she started — persisting despite doubts and frustrations.

"I've dreamt of you since I was a little girl," Greenawalt wrote to her unknown dad in a Father's Day blog posting in June. "There are so many things I want to know about you." [...]

Since 2008, Greenawalt, 25, has been chronicling her quest on a blog, "Confessions of a Cryokid." One of the most wrenching entries came last Thanksgiving, when she addressed the oft-repeated refrain that donor-conceived children ought to be grateful they were born.

"If I had to choose between being conceived with half of my identity and half of my kinship deliberately denied from me for eternity — or never being born — I'd choose never being born," she wrote. "We were created to carry a loss. A loss that no human being should have to endure."

How terribly sad that is! Can anyone read that and not understand how profoundly evil it is to manufacture a child, creating one like a consumer product, totally removed from the loving human relationship from which children are supposed to result?

More:

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which represents many sperm banks and fertility clinics, encourages parents of donor-conceived offspring to tell their children the truth about their conception.

But it does not favor banning anonymous donations, saying the children's rights must be balanced against the interests of donors and the parents who will raise the child.

"The bottom line in the U.S. — we've always been big proponents of individual rights in regard to procreation," said Andrea Braverman, who serves on the ASRM's ethics committee. "We've always taken the approach that we get our own choices in terms of how we build and manage our families."

"Build and manage...?" Again, how evil this is! Families are supposed to arise from the natural bonds of love between husband and wife, and the children with whom God blesses them. Now, apparently, a family is something you can "construct" artificially, by paying a reproductive prostitute or two to provide you with the genetic material and/or womb space you can't provide yourself.

Still more:

A past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, Dr. Jamie Grifo of New York University's Fertility Center, said heavy emphasis on the rights of a child wouldn't always work in the realm of donor-assisted conception.

"It may not be a popular point of view, but when these decisions are made by donor and a parent, the child doesn't have a say," he said. "If the contract is for it to be anonymous, it should remain anonymous, and the child just has to deal with that."

Do I need to repeat the phrase, "...profoundly evil act...," or does Dr. Grifo's ugly, dismissive attitude toward the children really say it all?

Though the article referenced above focuses on the situation of children conceived by donor sperm, the situation is the same if the eggs of an anonymous donor are used, or if both the eggs and the womb of a surrogate are used. In any case, a child is being manufactured, and the idea that harm may result--though we recognize the harm when any other loss of a biological parent ensues!--is brushed aside as a trivial concern, not nearly as important as the satisfaction and happiness of the adults involved.

This is, in a manner of speaking, a demonic inversion of the normal family. In a normal family, the needs of the adults are put aside in favor of the needs of the children. But in a situation (and again, whether this involves heterosexual couples, homosexual couples, or manufactured single parenthood) in which children are seen and desired as goods which will enhance the lives of the adults, not seen and desired as unique human beings in their own rights who have the right, tragedy aside, to be raised by their own biological parents, the needs of the adults come first--and the children will simply have to "deal with" never knowing their own father, or their own mother, or even (in the case of homosexual or intentional single parents) what it is to have a father or a mother at all.

Our sick, perverse culture claps its hands at the idea of "building and constructing" families, as if children were construction materials to be bought and sold, instead of human beings of innate, infinite, and immortal value. Since a strong, healthy society can't be build on the crumbling idiocy of "manufactured" families, it won't be long until ours collapses under the weight of its own egregious stupidity.

A request for prayers...and help

If you haven't already seen this, please visit my sister-in-law's blog:
Haley and Baby Brayley need our help.

This brave young mother who has received a heart-breaking prenatal diagnosis needs help. Medical bills, funeral costs, and the cost of starting life over again once her head finally buoys above the inevitable waves of grief to come are too much for her modest job as a daycare attendant.
Read the rest here; a PayPal button has been set up for those who would like to help this courageous young single mother who is facing an anencephaly diagnosis for her baby. If you are able to help and feel called to do so, I know whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated; and everyone is asked to keep this young woman in your prayers as she approaches her due date, September 1.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A reminder to parents

When I heard this story on the radio this morning, my heart sank. Sensitive readers should not click that link; instead, I'll give you the bare bones of the story--it's a sad case of yet another toddler dying in a hot car. Her distracted dad had picked up several of her cousins and somehow, in the mix of children entering the house and running off to play, no one realized the little one was missing. Not until it was far too late.

Every year as many as 40 children die this way. Most of the children are under the age of two, still buckled up in car seats, which have to be in the back seat and which sometimes, in the case of the youngest victims, are turned to face the back of the seat. Much of the time, the child was not left in the car purposefully (which is obviously a bad thing to do, even if the parent only intends to be away momentarily), but was overlooked somehow.

Many of the cases involve the kind of change in parental routine that's easy to understand. A father might not usually be the one who drops the baby off at the sitter's house or the day care--but today he is supposed to. A stay-at-home-mom always goes to the grocery store alone while Daddy watches the children--but today the eighteen-month-old asked to come along, then fell asleep in his car seat on the way there. Are all of these cases fatal? N0--and that's one reason why we can maintain the comfortable illusion that it only happens to one kind of parent: the bad kind. We never hear about the cases where mom and dad enter the house or the grocery store and realize five minutes later that the infant or toddler is missing.

The one thing that most parents don't want to accept is the one thing that could save children's lives: it could happen to anyone.

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his piece on hot car deaths. He describes things this way:

Two decades ago, this was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear. If few foresaw the tragic consequence of the lessened visibility of the child . . . well, who can blame them? What kind of person forgets a baby?

The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.

Last year it happened three times in one day, the worst day so far in the worst year so far in a phenomenon that gives no sign of abating.

Safety products to help parents double or triple-check to make sure their children have not been left in a car exist, but have not traditionally sold as well as might be expected. They are somewhat expensive, for one thing; they don't all work consistently, and there is that problem of parental belief--the belief that this just can't happen to me.

If you read the Weingarten piece--and again, I don't recommend it for the emotionally sensitive--you'll notice that some of the parents interviewed remembered feeling exactly that way. Until it did happen to them. Until their own child died a terrible death, locked inside a hot car as temperatures soared to inhuman levels. The worst part is that there's a perfectly ordinary, if terrible, explanation as to why. It has to do with the way our memories work, and how easily we can slip into "autopilot," doing something the way we most often do it, even if today is supposed to be different. Most of the time, our tendency to operate on autopilot when we aren't supposed to is harmless, and can even be humorous. People will talk about the way they accidentally turned as though driving to work when they were on their way to Sunday Mass, for instance, or how they inadvertently threw a pair of dirty socks into the garbage instead of the laundry basket. Though we can operate on autopilot at any time, the chances are doing so are raised when we are sleep-deprived, stressed, or have a hard time focusing. Which is exactly the state of mind that parents of infants and toddlers are in, much of the time.

My children aren't babies anymore, but we did talk today about what to do in the extremely unlikely event that they somehow stayed inside a car, and somehow discovered that the door locks were stuck or didn't appear to work. We all agreed that sounding the horn should take precedence over attempting to break the window glass--thought that would remain as an option of last resort.

But for infants and toddlers, even unbuckling the car seat may be something they can't do. Or, if they do manage to get out of the seat, they might not know how to work the door locks, or how to pull open a heavy door. They rely on the adults driving them to get them out of a car safely--which is why anyone who ever drives a baby or toddler anywhere should create a memory device, routine, or trick to help them double check to see if the baby is in the car, every time they get out of it. My girls thought, at first, that the idea of reciting to themselves, if someday they are mothers of babies, something like "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, is everybody out of the car?" before locking the car doors seemed a little silly. But better to feel a little silly than to endure the devastation that forty sets of parents feel each year, when they realize that their baby has died from something that could so easily have been prevented.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Little girls, big voices

Lots of people today are talking about this little girl with the really big voice:



Of course, there are the usual naysayers out there, saying that this little girl, age 10, couldn't possibly be the one singing, that she was lip-synching the song, etc. I think they might be forgetting something: America's got a history of producing little girls with really big voices. Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin were 13 and 14 respectively when they appeared in this short, for instance:



(The whole short, just over 10 minutes, is fun--but if you don't have time, go to the 3:49 mark to hear Durbin and the 5:48 mark to hear Garland--and the 8:30 mark to hear them together.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dentalament

Sorry for the utter lack of posting today, but my girls had dental checkups today. On the bright side--no cavities! Yay!

On the dark side--they need braces. Yep, all three of them. And it's probably going to run us about $4000 per child.

Anybody want to hire a blogger? :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Judging the past

In light of yesterday's post about Nagasaki, I wanted to share this from Darwin Catholic--though I have to be honest; I'm still trying to figure out just what it means:
The fact of the matter is, identifying the right side of history is easy -- indeed so easy that it's easier if one doesn't actually know much about history. So easy that there is virtually no moral action involved.

To be sure, choosing the wrong side of history can be a significant moral wrong. To support the Nazis or support slavery or support Stalin in this day and age shows a deeply twisted moral sense. But to oppose these three is so easy, and so obvious, from this point in history, that there is little to no virtue involved.

To congratulate oneself for admiring the right side of history is to assign oneself virtue one has not earned. Indeed, it is often more a sign of pride than of virtue. Without question, we should admire those in history who acted virtuously, but we should not consider ourselves to have performed any great virtue by doing so. Nor should we be quick to consider ourselves the superiors of those "ordinary people" in history who failed to rise to the standards of our heroes. We look at their actions with all of the clarity of distance, and none of the danger of immediacy.

UPDATE: Jimmy Akin with an important new post on the subject.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A repost on this sad anniversary

I wanted to repost something I wrote three years ago at this time of the year.

There's been quite an argument going on at Mark Shea's (and elsewhere, I'm sure) about the morality of America's use of atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let me be clear: I am firmly and irrevocably on the side of those who say, without nuance, that our use of these weapons to destroy over a hundred thousand people, most of them civilians, to force Japan to an unconditional surrender (when, in fact, the Japanese had made overtures already for a surrender even on what were called hard terms) was a hideously immoral act, a grave evil.

My repost begins below. I encourage all who take the opposing side to read it before commenting here:

*************************************

"Hiroshima is anger, Nagasaki is prayer"

I will warn you right now, that you will most likely not be able to keep yourself from crying if you read this.

It is the story of Dr. Takashi Nagai, a man who survived the dropping of the atom bomb at Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

Dr. Nagai's wisdom, charity, humility, patience and peace glow like a bright ember embedded in a dark gray mushroom cloud of infamy. The hardest thing about confronting the reality of that infamy is admitting that our nation, which calls itself "one Nation, under God," was responsible for this act of unspeakable evil.

Is "evil" too strong a word, when we talk about the use of the atom bomb at Hiroshima or Nagasaki? After all, the war had to end somehow. An invasion or blockade of Japan might have killed just as many people, and lots of our own troops would have perished as well. There were at least some military targets in both cities, as there were in most industrial cities. And before Hiroshima we might not have realized fully just how many innocent civilians would die in that moment of horror.

But those arguments don't hold water, when measured against clear Catholic teachings. It is morally evil to target civilians, even in wartime. It is morally evil to kill a disproportionate number of civilians even when we have legitimate military targets, something which made our earlier conventional bombing runs morally problematic as well. And whatever we claim our leaders did or didn't know before Hiroshima, they knew perfectly well what they were doing when they destroyed Nagasaki.

A little more than one-fourth of the nearly three hundred thousand people who lived in the city died at our hands, 45,000 of those in the instant the bomb was dropped. Some of them were nearly vaporized by the blast itself, but others died from the heat; go here to see the bones of a human hand fused to a clump of melted glass, for a graphic illustration of what that sort of death was like. (Update 2010--image is no longer available online.)

An additional fourth, another 75,000, suffered severe and lasting injuries from the Bock's Car's cargo. I'm not going to post a link to pictures of radiation injuries; they're too heartbreaking and too graphic.

I will show you the ruins of Nagasaki's Cathedral--Nagasaki had a large population of Catholics and Christians, about 8,000 of whom died on August 9, 1945. One of the worst effects of war, sometimes, is the propaganda both sides spread about each other; many Americans, by 1945, believed that the Japanese were all brutal pagan savages who would never surrender without the use of such a devastating weapon as the atom bomb. I wonder if there were even eight thousand Americans who had any idea that there were eight thousand Christians in all of Japan, let alone in Nagasaki itself?

This damage, this destruction, this devastation, these deaths--they were our doing. War is always ugly, but it is not always evil; yet no just war permits the targeted death and destruction of the innocent.

Dr. Takashi Nagai could have become a bitter, broken, angry man. Not one of us would have blamed him for it. Yet the words he spoke at the ruined cathedral transcend the horror around him, and reach for the eternal. For the remainder of his life of suffering he wrote and spoke about his experiences, and always wove words of peace, and his deep Christian faith, into everything he did.

His final words on earth were, "Pray! Please pray!"

In his memory, in his honor, please say a prayer today that human beings will never again unleash the destructive force of weapons like these against each other.

(originally posted on August 9, 2007)

It's the American way

Ever think that America's economic problems run really, really deep?

Here's a look at one hint as to why:

Who cares how the rich spend their money?

Well, perhaps everyone should these days. Consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product, or the value of all goods and services produced in the nation. And spending by the rich now accounts for the largest share of consumer outlays in at least 20 years.

According to new research from Moody’s Analytics, the top 5% of Americans by income account for 37% of all consumer outlays. Outlays include consumer spending, interest payments on installment debt and transfer payments.

By contrast, the bottom 80% by income account for 39.5% of all consumer outlays.

It is no surprise, of course, that the rich spend so much, since they earn a disproportionate share of income. According to economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, the top 10% of earners captured about half of all income as of 2007.

So, we have an economy that is largely based on...buying stuff. Or, rather, it's largely based on rich people buying stuff. So when rich people aren't buying as much stuff as they used to, the economy falters.

Of course, commenters on this WSJ blog piece point out that "the rich" apparently means anybody making about 200,000 dollars a year, and people right around the $200,000 mark insist that they're not rich, no sir, not at all, not compared to all the other people who count their annual income in the millions of dollars. And perhaps there's some truth to that--but whether they think of themselves as "rich" or not, people in this group are among that 5% on top who account for 37% of consumer spending.

The trouble with having so much of our economy based on consumer spending is that in times of economic stress (such as now), people naturally (sanely, logically) cut back on spending. Which, according to economists, only makes things worse--so get out there and max out your credit cards, because It's The American Way!

Like I said above, I'm thinking that we won't be fixing our economic situation anytime soon...

Back to school blogging ahead

Taking a leaf from my dear sister-in-law's book, I decided to start our school year today. Originally I was going to start on August 16, or maybe August 23, or...well, sometime before Labor Day, anyway. Or just after...

But three things made me decide to go ahead and start early. First, there is the weather--with triple-digit temperatures in the forecast from last week until...oh, who are we kidding, there's no end in sight--it made sense to crack open the books and harness time that would otherwise be spent indoors doing not a whole lot of anything productive.

Second, there's the amazing fact that the books, many of which I didn't order until the last week of July, all showed up by the middle of last week. I thought I was being foolishly optimistic to hope they'd all arrive by the 16th, but there they were, just waiting to be used.

Third, there's the reality that with the older two girls now both in high school I know that starting in late August or early September is setting ourselves up for a year of the frustrating game of catch-up. Kitten and I had a lot of "ironing out" to do after last year's work (some of which continued into the summer), and I wanted to start early enough for my high school girls to get a good handle on their material early on.

So we took today as a "planning day" to get our schedules organized, to look over new material, and to go right ahead and do math because you might as well take that particular leap as soon as possible. :) Our first full day will be tomorrow.

Blogging may get a little sporadic after that, though I'm going to keep attempting to post something every weekday. If I don't...just blame the math.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The real agenda is out of the closet

Writing at the Huffington Post, Sally Kohn, who is presently in a same-sex relationship, says what quite a lot, if not all, same-sex marriage advocates are really (if secretly) thinking:

For myself, as someone in a same-sex couple, the official endorsement of my relationship's equality is an important and lovely engagement in the event that I ever opt for state recognition of my romantic life. But the fact is that for millions of Americans like me -- both gay, straight and in the vast hinterlands in between -- the little box of traditional marriage is too constricting for our evolving notions of love and partnership. Judge Walker had it half right. Modern heterosexual couples are indeed pushing the traditional boundaries of marriage. But perhaps the next step isn't to, once again, expand the otherwise narrow definition of marriage, but to altogether abolish the false distinction between married families and other equally valid but unrecognized partnerships.

No, that doesn't mean I want to marry three women at the same time or a goat. It means that I think I should be able to decide what constitutes my family -- whether it's me and my same-sex partner and our toddler, or me and my elderly mother and father, or me and my best friend who want to care for and love each other but not necessarily be intimate. The job of the state is to protect my family and our rights -- not decide that two parents plus kids makes a family and everything else is an exception to the rule at best.

So, for instance, when the government of Canada was charged with expanding the country's conventional definition of marriage to include recognition of gay and lesbian couples, a commission was appointed to study the best path to equality. The commission came back with a startling but sensible option: Get rid of marriage. Not at the religious/ceremonial level -- you can still have your off-white dress and dance party -- but at the governmental level. I would think anti-government conservatives would certainly agree that the government has no business telling me how or with whom to form a family. For the rest of us who otherwise value the role of government in our lives, benefits and rights can as easily be based on family functions, not forms. If I am my best friend's primary caregiver, then I should be able to sign up to be one of, say, three people who have hospital visitation rights. If I want my closest aunt to be my Social Security beneficiary, why should the government stop me from signing her up? If I can use my cell phone to vote for American Idol, I'm sure I can press a few keys and designate my next of kin. [...]

All movements for equality struggle with one essential philosophical dilemma: Are we fighting for the right to be the same or the right to be different? Equal treatment and government benefits for gay and lesbian couples should not be based on whether couples conform to limited notions of marriage and family, whether antiquated or updated. While certainly worth celebrating, the Proposition 8 ruling says that gay people are equal to straight people as long as they act like straight people. But the fundamental right to be treated equally, even if you are and act different, remains beyond reach. In the meantime, don't hold your breath for an invitation to my wedding.

The next time some same-sex marriage advocate asks me how letting them "marry" hurts my marriage, I'm going to laugh in his or her face. What they really want, what they've wanted all along, is to take marriage away from everybody.

If you are a same-sex attracted person, I suppose this sort of thinking makes sense. Any notion that there is a normal way to live, that it's normal and even preferable from a societal standpoint for a man and woman to marry, to have their own biological children and to raise them themselves whenever possible--and, indeed, for either of them to abandon this duty only in the most dire of circumstances, and for society to create a safety net of married husbands and wives who are childless who are willing heroically to step in as parents in such dire circumstances--then same-sex attracted people must face the reality that their sexual preferences and practices place them far outside of this societal norm.

Better to destroy that norm altogether, than seek some kind of pseudo-admission to it. Better to make it illegal for a husband and wife to act in the law as the one person they are than to pretend to be one person with another person with whom they cannot have the same kind of unity--sexual or otherwise. Better to clamp down on any societal expression of a preference for married heterosexual parents raising their own biological children than to have to pretend that "their toddler" is really theirs, when it's obvious that the child has a father somewhere who has been removed from the child's life.

Sally Kohn has undone lots of careful pretending, though. Same-sex "marriage" advocates have worked hard to claim that gay "marriage" won't affect the overwhelmingly huge majority of heterosexual people and their families at all. Sally has revealed the truth about what they want; the real agenda is finally out of the closet.

If gender doesn't matter

Throughout the document containing Judge Walker's legal opinion, the notion that gender doesn't matter at all, is as totally irrelevant to marriage as it is to other areas of life, and that treating the genders differently is identical to racial discrimination occurs. I've said before that the end game for same-sex "marriage" activists is not merely to redefine marriage in a way that destroys it, but also to usher in the post-heteronormative, genderless society so many of them want to see.

But there are consequences to radical ideas like these, and it might be a good idea to ponder what this one really means. If Judge Walker and his ilk get the genderless society that they wish for, what will that mean, in practical terms?

If gender doesn't matter, what would change?

If gender doesn't matter...then we clearly can't have men's rooms and women's rooms, men's locker rooms and women's locker rooms, etc. Separating these facilities by gender would be, in a Walkerian world, exactly the same as having separate restrooms for African-Americans; genderism is just like racism. So, get used to having men changing next to you at your local gym, ladies--if gender doesn't matter.

If gender doesn't matter...then you might as well forget gender-specific sports teams, too. Racists used to make African-Americans play on separate teams or in separate leagues, and today genderists are keeping women off of NFL teams and refusing to let men compete on the Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball team. Get used to co-ed sports teams...if gender doesn't matter.

If gender doesn't matter...then why are only male U.S. citizens required to register for the draft when they turn 18? There are plenty of women serving in the Armed Forces, and as Judge Walker has clearly explained to us all, children don't actually need their mothers. Be prepared to hand over your newborn and diaper bag for a pair of combat boots, young American moms--if gender doesn't matter.

If gender doesn't matter...then women belong in combat, too, speaking of combat boots. It's only discrimination that keeps women from the front lines of wars and conflicts. It's not because men are psychologically inclined to protect women, or that women are more vulnerable to rape and other consequences of being captured. There are more women than men anyway--so more women ought to die serving in the Armed Forces in wars than men do...if gender doesn't matter.

If gender doesn't matter...then society, culture, tradition, human nature and common sense have somehow inexplicably failed to overlook the "fact" that men and women are totally interchangeable, that there is nothing unique or special about men, nothing unique or special about women. Get rid of "Mother's Day" and "Father's Day" in our Walkerian world--again, Walker has declared that children don't need their own mothers or fathers, not at all! Get rid of men's and women's departments in clothing stores, of barbers and beauty parlors, of any business that makes its income promoting the old "gender matters" stereotypes which sees some kind of difference between the male and the female. Because we can't live in the post-gay "marriage" heteronormative-eradicated post-gender society the same-sex rights activists dream of--if gender actually does, in some way the progressives just can't see, matter.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One big difference

In his decision yesterday in regard to same-sex "marriage," Judge Vaughn Walker wrote the following (in the text, FF refers to the Finding of Fact section and numbers in the document):
The right to marry has been historically and remains the right to choose a spouse and, with mutual consent, join together and form a household. FF 19-20, 34-35. Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. FF 33. Today, gender is not relevant to the state in determining spouses’ obligations to each other and to their dependents. Relative gender composition aside, same-sex couples are situated identically to opposite-sex couples in terms of their ability to perform the rights and obligations of marriage under California law. FF 48. Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.
What I'm going to talk about below may delve briefly into some descriptions that may involve sexual terminology; parents of young readers are cautioned in case they don't want their young ones seeing some of these words as of yet (though I won't be unduly or gratuitously graphic).

An opposite-gender couple, when they enter into a marriage contract, are entering into a state in which they promise certain rights to each other. A central right, in fact, the one that makes marriage different from most other types of legal relationships, is the right to engage together in the act known as coitus or sexual intercourse (which used to be referred to delicately as "the marriage act" in a less promiscuous age). This right is granted mutually (e.g., husband to wife and wife to husband) and exclusively (at least as far as the law is concerned--that is, there is no such thing, as yet, as a legal right to marry more than one person at a time).

So important is this right to marriage that most states consider non-consummation, under at least some circumstances, to be grounds not for divorce, but for annulment. A secular annulment (like a Church one) is a statement by the competent legal authority that no marriage ever took place between the couple. The use of non-consummation of marriage as grounds for annulment varies by state, but many states posit that the inability to engage physically in the act of coitus, if known by one partner and hidden from the other prior to the attempted marriage, may indeed be grounds for such an annulment.

What does this mean? It means, in essence, that heterosexual couples are exchanging the right to sexual intercourse with each other, and that failing to disclose that one is incapable of this act at the very least, or the incapacity to engage in this act at all whether disclosed or not (in some states) renders the marriage invalid--null and void. Does this force every married couple to engage in sexual intercourse? No--but if they do not, if one of them cannot, and if the other takes his or her case to court, the state may very well rule that they were never married at all.

How does this relate to same-sex "marriage?"

Clearly, a same-sex couple cannot, by definition, engage in the act known as coitus or sexual intercourse. Thus far, this objection is dismissed out of hand by most pro-gay "marriage" types; gays can have sex, they say, so there's no issue here. But what same-sex couples mean by "sex" is not coitus or sexual intercourse (obviously). They are referring to other sex acts, specifically anal sex (men) and mutual masturbatory acts performed on each other in various ways (both male-male and female-female couples). They cannot be said to be "consummating" their "marriages" at all.

Why does this matter? Because as the law stands, a heterosexual couple can have their marriage declared invalid, null and void, for the non-completion of an act that same-sex couples are by definition unable to engage in with each other! This is not equal treatment under the law--this is placing a specific burden and obligation on heterosexual couples that by definition cannot be placed on same-sex couples.

I know that the same-sex side will argue for a remedy: simply do away with consummation as a factor when considering the legal status of a marriage, or else define "consummation" to mean the engagement by the couple in any sex act, including anal sex etc. The problem with either of these proposals is that they both do a specific harm to opposite-sex couples, who have always been able to annul a marriage in the event of certain factors centered around non-consummation, defined as the non-engagement in the act of sexual intercourse following the marriage.

If an opposite-sex couple marries, and, let's say, the wife has hidden from her husband a condition which makes her permanently incapable of engaging in sexual intercourse, and the husband seeks legal remedy regarding the marriage, it makes a big difference to him whether the law recognizes his marriage as invalid, or whether he must divorce his wife (and possibly be liable for alimony etc.). The law's recognition of the central importance of the act of sexual intercourse to marriage, and its upholding historically and up to the present day of the right of a man or woman to have his or her marriage annulled under some circumstances surrounding non-consummation, supports this notion. It is a positive, if putative, harm to opposite-sex couples if, in a post-gay "marriage" world, the ability to seek annulment for non-consummation is permanently removed from them.

But if opposite-sex couples retain the right to annul marriages for non-consummation according to the laws of their states, and concurrently face the peril of having their spouses seek this legal remedy for non-consummation, but same-sex couples are neither permitted this right nor face this peril, then opposite-sex marriage and same-sex marriage remain fundamentally and unjustly different according to the law.

And, as I mentioned briefly above, the right to annul a marriage for non-consummation may be restricted or limited by the states in some ways, but the right has not generally been abrogated altogether; moreover, it is a right which is historically present in regard to marriage, certainly since the earliest days of this nation, and present in some form or other dating back hundreds of years--so stripping it from opposite-sex couples is doing them a very definite harm, by changing in a dramatic and irreparable way the rights and obligations of marriage in a way that puts them in a specific jeopardy.

I recognize that same-sex "marriage" advocates are going to object; I expect that some will do so because, after all, marriages aren't annulled every day of the week for non-consummation. That may be true, but it's not important to the central point: opposite-sex marriage and same-sex "marriage" are fundamentally different concepts, which at their core are centered around a fundamentally different obligation as regards the sexual rights and duties of the married couple toward each other. In the simplest possible way to put it, opposite-sex couples are, essentially, at risk of annulment if the couple does not engage in post-marital sexual intercourse or coitus with each other; there is no identical obligation or identical risk for same-sex couples, and there never can be.

Late posting alert

It's been a busy day, and I'm about to head out to choir practice. But I've got a couple of things I plan to post about later tonight, to continue the discussion of Judge Walker's decision.

Look for a post about what it really means if gender doesn't matter, and another, if there is time, about one critical difference between same-sex "marriage" and opposite sex marriage that the judge ignored--and no, it's neither a religious idea nor a look at procreation.

Night owls--check in later! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Words mean things

Because today's news has been so depressing, here's a little reminder--words mean things:

Pearls Before Swine

This is war

I'm sharing here, without extensive comments for the moment, some of the more outrageous passages in the Finding of Fact section of Judge Walker's decision. A .PDF of that decision may be found here at a sidebar on the left side of the page.

Excerpts:

34. Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents. Tr 187:11-16; 188:16- 189:2; 201:9-14 (Cott). [...]

48. Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. Like opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples have happy, satisfying relationships and form deep emotional bonds and strong commitments to their partners. Standardized measures of relationship satisfaction, relationship adjustment and love do not differ depending on whether a couple is same- sex or opposite-sex. [...]

49. California law permits and encourages gays and lesbians to become parents through adoption, foster parenting or assistive reproductive technology. Approximately eighteen percent of same-sex couples in California are raising children. [...]

56. The children of same-sex couples benefit when their parents can marry. [...]

58. Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society. [...]

67. Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment. Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents. [...]

68. Proposition 8 results in frequent reminders for gays and lesbians in committed long-term relationships that their relationships are not as highly valued as opposite-sex relationships. [...]

70. The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s
adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology. [...]

71. Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted. Tr 1014:25-1015:19; 1038:23-1040:17 (Lamb). [...]

72. The genetic relationship between a parent and a child is not related to a child’s adjustment outcomes. Tr 1040:22-1042:10 (Lamb). [...]

73. Studies comparing outcomes for children raised by married opposite-sex parents to children raised by single or divorced parents do not inform conclusions about outcomes for children raised by same-sex parents in stable, long-term relationships. Tr 1187:13-1189:6 (Lamb). [...]

74. Gays and lesbians have been victims of a long history of discrimination. [...]

77. Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians. [Emphasis added--E.M.]
I'm stopping there for now. But make no mistake: this is a war against the definition of marriage, against opposite-sex biological parenthood, and against religious beliefs. Catholics should especially take note of point 77 which I have put in bold print--Judge Walker has, in a legal document, declared Catholicism (and those faiths which agree with the Catholic Church's teaching about the sinfulness of homosexual acts) to be harmful to homosexuals.

I repeat: this is war. Don't be fooled into thinking otherwise. The judge has drawn the battle lines, and future generations will be shaped by what happens next.