Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deadly whims and hostile wombs

A federal judge has said that Arizona's ban on abortions after twenty weeks of gestation is perfectly fine:
— Arizona's ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is poised to take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn't prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.
The judge also wrote that the state provided "substantial and well-documented" evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.
Arizona's ban, set to take effect Thursday, prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the state's current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
Of course, the pro-choice side will appeal the ruling, because apparently anything that keeps a mother from ordering her child killed up to the moment when the child's head emerges from the mother's birth canal is an infringement on women's freedom.

It's getting harder and harder for pro-choice people to make that argument, though. Which is why I absolutely love this new pro-life initiative (and which I've seen on several sites today so I can't offer a specific hat tip except to say: keep sharing this one, everybody!): One Tiny Life, a new pro-life effort by an artist who sculpted that beautiful resin model, above, of a typical unborn human fetus at 12 weeks of gestation. The artist is selling copies of the model at a very reasonable price to aid in pro-life ministries; be sure to visit her page to see the careful way she used scientific images and even a heartbreaking picture of a 12-week miscarried baby to create the lovely model linked to above.

My question is: why should it be legal to kill a tiny baby that age, 12 weeks, and then illegal to kill her eight weeks later?

Pro-choice people say it should be legal to kill the 20-week old fetus exactly like it is legal to kill the 12 week one because neither one can, as yet, survive on her own outside the womb. Some three or four weeks later, at 23 or 24 weeks, the fetus might survive, but even then some pro-choice people think her mom should get to kill her for any reason at all. Other pro-choice people say no, at viability mom should only get to kill the fetus if the fetus is handicapped (which leads to the question: should it then be legal to kill handicapped newborns, especially if the handicap wasn't discovered until birth? Or is it only legal to kill people when they're still living in the mother's womb, whether they are viable or not?).

But as a pro-life person, I can't imagine thinking it's fine to kill a fetus the age of that resin model at all. She's clearly human, even if she's a small pre-born human who still needs her mother in order to breathe. And her mother has already had three months--twelve weeks--to decide to kill her; just how long a time should the mother get to spend in the death sentence hearing phase of pregnancy, anyway?

I sincerely hope that the Arizona ban on abortions after 20 weeks will continue to stand, and that one day soon that ban will stretch down to 12 weeks, and then perhaps to 10...

Pro-life Americans may one day have to target our efforts on convincing women in earlier stages of pregnancy not to kill their little ones, but that would be okay if more and more unborn children are protected by the law from the deadly whims and hostile wombs of their mothers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympics open thread

Every single time the summer Olympic games are on, I think--oh, I like the Winter games, but the summer stuff's not all that interesting. And there's very little coverage, anyway, especially if you don't have cable TV--which we don't.

And every single time the summer Olympics are on, I end up watching NBC's free prime time coverage anyway. Even though the spotty coverage annoys me, and the smaller and sometimes interesting events don't get covered unless the American athlete or team is favored to get a medal (and sometimes not even then)...etc.

So, since I'm watching the Olympics and not blogging, tell me: do you love this stuff, hate this stuff, or pretend indifference until the temptation to watch a swimming race or some gymnastics or something gets to you?

Bonus question: what event not usually broadcast in America would you like to see covered on ordinary TV (as opposed to expensive cable packages)?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Temporary comments policy adjustment

I'm sorry to have to do this to my commenters who comment here anonymously but sign their names, but I'm going to have to turn off anonymous commenting for a bit. Some idiot is spamming my blog with anonymous comments, and though I hate to react at all, since that's clearly what the idiot is after, I don't have time to keep deleting his/her juvenile posts from my email inbox (and that sort of person is the reason I had to go to moderated comments in the first place, a policy I know many of you dislike).

I'll turn anonymous comments back on in a few days when the idiot in question decides to go harass somebody else--or, preferably, gets a life which includes some lessons in manners and spelling/punctuation.

Sorry for the inconvenience! Hopefully it won't last too long.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Young Seniors' Rights Association

Analogies are never perfect. That said, I'd like you to consider the following analogy:

Suppose that people between the ages of 21 and 64 wake up one day and realize that people aged 65 and older have lots and lots of benefits. Some of them come from the government, such as Medicare; some of them come in the form of tax cuts, such as senior property tax exemptions; and some of them are simply extended as a courtesy from businesses, and include discounts on things like hotels and travel, special menu offerings in restaurants, and the like.

So a savvy young person decides to create a group called the Young Seniors' Rights Association. The group takes the position that any legal adult, anybody over age 21, should be considered a senior and get free medical care, tax breaks, and business discounts. The very word "senior," says the group, must be redefined in such a way that removes the whole notion of age from the word; it should simply refer to those who feel themselves to be wise and experienced, since everyone knows that seniors are wise and experienced. Age, the group insists, has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept of "senior," and denying younger people Medicare and other freebies based solely on the number of calendar years they have been alive is discriminatory and bigoted.

Soon a culture war battle is raging, with one side insisting on the the traditional definition of the word "senior" which includes age and further saying that seniors don't actually get "freebies," they get benefits from having paid into the system for a certain time period, etc. But the YSRA gets the media on its side and successfully tags the traditionalists with an "anti-youth" label, such that saying that you think that the word "senior" refers to a person over the age of 65 or so automatically makes you (in the eyes of popular culture) a hateful anti-youth bigot who just wants young people to fail. "Youth Pride Parades" are held in which signs are carried demanding "Equal Rights for Young Seniors!" and proclaiming slogans like "We're here, we're young, get used to it!"

After a while a few states decide to expand senior citizen benefits downward to younger people. These "pro-youth" states don't have any idea how they're going to pay for the benefits that consider anybody over 21 to be a senior citizen, but they're proud of their activism and of being on the right side of history in these debates. While there's an initial rush of young people to these states to claim the benefits, the truth is that not all that many young people even want to be legally labeled "seniors" anyway. Still, empowered by the new laws, the state mounts an aggressive education campaign, much of it aimed at schools, in which young people are portrayed as the wise and experienced "seniors" while old people are portrayed negatively as mere drains on the economy.

The "pro-youth" movement to redefine what it is to be a senior stalls at the federal level, though, not least because there's actually no way the federal government can afford to put everybody over age 21 on Medicare. And the traditional side manages to get Congress to pass a "Defense of Actual Seniors Act" or DOASA; but as the "pro-youth" movement heats up, the current president declares that he's in favor of young people being legally recognized as seniors and he orders the Justice Department not to defend DOASA anymore.

Now the "pro-youth" movement gets even more aggressive about labeling anybody who equates senior citizenship with age as a hater, a pariah, and an "anti-youth" bigot. Religious groups which insist that the young owe a certain amount of charity and respect to older people are especially targeted and punished for their politically incorrect beliefs...

...and anybody who says, "Oh, I favor the ancient, historical, and traditional idea that seniors are actually those people who are the older members of society, say over 65 or so..." is automatically called an anti-youth bigot who just hates young people and wants to attack them.

It's funny, isn't it, how easy it is to see the lunacy of what's happening to our country when we look at the situation just a little bit differently?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Banned in Boston: an open letter to Boston's mayor

(The following blog post is an open letter to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who wrote a letter to Dan Cathy to tell him that there is "no place" in Boston for Mr. Cathy or Chick-fil-A.)

Dear Mayor Thomas Menino:

Like many Americans, I have been watching the so-called "controversy" over Mr. Dan Cathy's comments regarding marriage unfold in the news. As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Cathy did not speak about gay "marriage" at all; he simply reiterated his support for the traditional family and for the biblical principles upon which the family ought to be built.

I then read your letter to Mr. Cathy, in which you wrote "I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston. There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it..." This, of course, leads me to an obvious, if distasteful, question: Mr. Menino, are you a bigot? Are you bigoted against Bible-believing Christians and their sincerely-held religious beliefs?

It would seem that you must be, since you are telling Mr. Cathy that his deeply, sincerely-held religious beliefs (some of which I, as a Roman Catholic, share) are nothing but "discrimination" and that they, and he, and his company are not welcome in your not-so-fair city. Apparently in Boston one is only permitted to have a view of "marriage" which encompasses a twenty-first century secular approach: "marriage" is whatever the Massachusetts Supreme Court decides it is; no other world views need apply. Views of marriage that are based in history, in faith, or in something other than the facile politically-correct redefinition promoted in Massachusetts today are to be shut out, marginalized, and excluded altogether, so much so that your unfortunate state decided it was better to let orphans languish unadopted then permit Catholic Charities to continue placing children in the sorts of families Mr. Cathy mentioned. And you also would apparently prefer to keep some of the citizens of Boston unemployed than to permit a Bible-believing Christian like Mr. Cathy to expand his business there; your seeming hatred for Bible-believing Christians is even more important, apparently, than Boston's economic growth.

I wonder how it is possible that you can write so passionately against "prejudice" and "discrimination" without realizing that you, too, are prejudiced against those of us who, informed by our faiths, define marriage as the union of one man and one woman? Isn't it true that you, too, are ready to discriminate against religious believers, be they Catholic, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, who agree that in their religious traditions marriage is between one man and one woman? In all honesty, should such people and their deeply held beliefs really be banned in Boston, Mayor Menino?

One thing is sure: the great heroes of Boston's past would agree that protecting and preserving religious liberty was one of our country's greatest achievements, and that a real liberty in which those who express their faith are not marginalized and excluded from the public square is of paramount importance to a free people. I wonder what they would think of the reality that this freedom is now imperiled in Boston, under your watch.

Sincerely,

Erin Manning

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finally on the mend

Just popping in for a moment to thank everyone who left kind comments and/or sent me a kind email while I was sick; your prayers and good wishes meant a lot to me!

It looks as though I'm finally on the mend, and will be back to normal--whatever that is--soon.

Blogging should resume by the end of the week! At which point I will realize that we're super-close to August and that once again a summer illness has utterly ruined my plan for leisurely curricula shopping for the coming school year...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Under the weather update

So, last week I posted saying I was a bit under the weather, and that posting might be sporadic. I had a bladder infection--no big deal.

Except that last night was awful (I'll spare the details) and I've actually got a kidney stone, which I haven't had since Hatchick was two months old (and boy, was that ever fun). UPDATE: Turns out we never actually saw a stone, but the bladder infection had spread a bit into the kidneys.  Still not fun.

Things are under control now and I'll soon be back to normal, I hope. But after sitting in a radiology clinic most of the day waiting for a CT scan (to rule out appendicitis, which thankfully did get ruled out), I don't have much to say, except this:

1. The "berry" flavored barium suspension liquid does not taste better than the banana, despite the nurses' insistence that most people liked berry best. Banana rules. If by "rules" I can mean "does not immediately make you wish that humans absorbed all liquids through the skin."

2. If I go to Purgatory after I die, my Purgatory will consist of a depressingly-decorated room full of chairs and a large TV on which daytime talk shows play on an endless loop.

3. The push for societal acceptability of gay "marriage" has reached Country Living magazine. Because when I think of living in the country, my first thought is of two gay men and the motherless little girl they are raising in their charming vintage home which they have redone all in white--why, isn't that what we all think when we hear the words "country living?"

4. When a person has not eaten in more than 24 hours, it's just cruelty that the CT scan machine looks like a giant doughnut.

5. If you are sitting in a medical office waiting room, you can tell the "haves" from the "have nots" based on smartphones, because the "haves" all have their smartphones out and are amusing themselves, while the "have nots" discover that the pile of magazines in the basket are so dated that one of them thinks that Gingrich is still running for president.

6. I'm a "have not." Which is how I know about the Gingrich thing.

7. The technician who did my scan was a truly lovely person who wore a cross necklace, treated me like a human being throughout the whole process, and wished me a blessed day when I left. Remind me again why Christians are so scary?

8. A doctor who takes your phone call late at night and doesn't mind being repeatedly bothered with questions during the day is worth his weight in gold. (Maybe twice his weight, since he's not a big person.)

9. No matter how un-fun a kidney stone/kidney infection may be, compared to the first one, this is no big deal. Because with the first one we had three children ages 2.5, 1.5, and newborn at home, and everything is harder with toddlers. Everything. You moms with toddlers out there, treat yourself to a cookie right now, even if you have to sneak off to the bathroom to eat it. :)

10. It's good to be home.


Blogging will continue to be unpredictable for a bit--your patience, as always, is greatly appreciated!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Time to clean out!

I've been working on cleaning out around here (well, until sidelined by this little bug, but I won't stay lazy for too long). It's a good thing, too, according to this Daily Mail piece:

American households are drowning in clutter, with three quarters of families unable to park their car in the garage because it is so packed with unnecessary stuff.

Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles sifted through the homes of 32 local middle-class, dual-income families for a new book 'Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century' and found a direct correlation between the amount of clutter jammed into a home and how stressed out mom is.

Other findings were equally troubling, with households barely using costly 'master suites', children rarely going outside, entire walls devoted to displays of Barbie dolls or other toys and garages so packed with household overflow that cars have to be parked on the street. [...]

The activities of family members were doggedly captured in almost 1,600 hours of video and 20,000 photographs were taken to document the insides of their homes, refrigerators, garages and yards.

'This is the very first study to step inside 21st-century family homes to discover the material surroundings and vast number of possessions that organize and give meaning to the everyday lives of middle-class parents and children,' said co-author Elinor Ochs, a UCLA anthropologist.

You have to go look at the pictures, though, to get the scope of this problem (warning to readers with small children--the Daily Mail's sidebar sometimes contains some rather dicey pictures unrelated to the main article, so you might want to wait till the kids are out of the room before clicking).

Unbelievable, right? Or...all too familiar?

I know what I want to do this weekend, after seeing this article...

UPDATE: Since the Daily Mail's not always the most reputable source, here's another look at the UCLA study, which, alas, is perfectly legitimate and even more damaging than the Daily Mail article suggests.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Under the weather

Didn't post yesterday, not really posting today--sorry! I'm just a bit under the weather--no big deal, but not feeling quite the thing (as one of the girls' favorite literary characters might say).

I may not be able to approve comments for a bit, but I wanted to open this up for discussion: which of these things do you think is the biggest bar when it comes to dealing with matters pertaining to health? The list includes the following:

1. Inability to pay for health care due to a complete lack of decent insurance.

2. Inability to pay for health care due to the high cost of doctor visits, prescriptions, etc.

3. Inability to pay for health care because the insurance "provided" by one's employer does not offer enough coverage.

4. Inability to pay for health care due to the economic downturn, job loss or the inability to find a job, or similar economic stresses.

5. Inability to find an available doctor for new patients.

6. Inability to see one's doctor on reasonably short notice.

7. Inability to find a doctor willing to accept one's present insurance.

8. Inability to purchase medications, prescription or otherwise.

9. Inability or unwillingness to make needed lifestyle modifications to promote good health, such as avoiding drugs or excessive alcohol consumption, ending tobacco use, moderating eating and increasing exercise, and ending risky sexual practices and behaviors.

10. Inability to prepare nutritious meals and/or a lack of access or the means to buy fresh ingredients.

11. Inability to take the proper time off from work to recover fully and sufficiently from illnesses or to manage chronic illnesses and/or pain.

12. Any additional factor that you have experienced.

I'm interested in a discussion of these things because I think there's a tendency to believe that if we could "fix" health insurance, we would be fixing health care. Some of these issues mentioned, and probably plenty of the ones I've forgotten, would certainly be improved by better regulation of health insurance practices, but others clearly will not be. I'd like to hear your thoughts--though if comment approval is a bit sporadic, please be patient!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dear merchant: I am not your guest

This weekend I was at one of the very many big-box stores around here, and I heard about an interesting thing: an employee had been corrected for referring to someone who entered the store to browse and ostensibly purchase merchandise as a "customer."

The preferred term in retail establishments these days, apparently, is "guest." And workers at some of these stores can get in trouble for forgetting that.

I remember when restaurants first started using the term "guests" to refer to customers; it seemed quite strange to me then, but I suppose in a vague way it makes some sort of odd sense. Like a guest in one's home, a "guest" in a restaurant comes to relax and eat food and enjoy conversation. It is a decided stretch to apply this term to those who enter even fast-food restaurants, but one could sort of see where it had come from.

But stores? Big-box stores, clothing stores, electronics stores, grocery stores, hardware stores?

I have news for these merchants: when I enter your establishments, I am not your guest. Because:

--if I were your guest, you would be violating all of the principles of good hosting to try to sell me things. Sure, naive or gauche or desperate people may invite guests to their home on the pretense of a good time to be had by all, only to reveal that they are now selling cosmetics or pots and pans or multilevel marketing of vitamins or something, in the hopes that their guests will enter into some commercial transaction; but the etiquette violation of doing so is clear. If you want people to come to your house so you can give them a commercial presentation, you invite them on those terms, but you don't try to pretend that you are simply hosting a dinner party or something until after the "guests" actually arrive, because that will be rude. Similarly, if you are a store or a business, you don't get to pretend that your "guests" have entered your establishment for polite social reasons and that if you are lucky some purchases will be made. When I come to your store to shop for things that you sell, I am not a guest.

--if I were your guest, you would be overwhelmingly concerned with my comfort. Generally speaking when we invite guests to our homes, we clean the house, clear the clutter, play only quiet music if we play music at all, and so on (yes, there are occasional exceptions). But when I enter your store, dear merchant, it is clear that you are after something other than the comfort of those who enter. The loud, droning music, the flickering fluorescent lights, all the soothing ambiance of an airport on the day before Thanksgiving, the cleanliness of a subway bathroom--these are what I've come to expect in your stores. Not only that, but you frequently move items to make me walk to the back of your store, in the hopes that I have no willpower and will load my shopping cart with impulse items on the way there and back again. Hosts don't try these sorts of things on their guests, and so I am not a guest.

--if I were your guest, you would respect my time with you. You would be helpful, friendly, cheerful, and kind. You would not shrug when I asked you questions or be surly when I was getting ready to leave, and you would probably see me to the door or walk me to the car without being asked. Instead, you value your time more than mine, and will make me wait in long lines even when plenty of store employees are available to open additional registers. Since no host treats his guest in this way, I am not your guest.

--if I were your guest, you would not shove your political activism down my throat. Hosts know that the topics of religion and politics can be the ruin of otherwise friendly parties, and even when those topics arise naturally, will often be as diplomatic as possible for the sake of their guests' comfort. You, however, have never met a left-wing, liberal political activist cause you did not like, from gay "marriage" to extreme environmentalism (which is hypocritical of you, considering how very much bigger your "carbon footprint" is than mine) and everything in between. It apparently never concerns you that you are labeling roughly half of your so-called "guests" as bigoted troglodytes for not agreeing with you on the Trendy Leftist Liberal Cause of the day--and as a real host would never be so unbelievably rude, you are certainly not my host, and I am not your guest.

So enough with this "guest" nonsense, and enough, especially, for punishing your poor, long-suffering, badly-paid, and downright exploited employees for failing to use this utterly ridiculous and incorrect term to describe me.

I am your customer.

And, whatever a guest may be, the customer is always right.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The habit of faith

Another Monday, another late blog post--do I even need to apologize any more? :)

Yesterday Rod Dreher had a post on the declining membership of the Episcopal Church:

According to TEC’s figures, only about 700,000 Episcopalians are in church on Sunday morning. There are megachurches in suburban Dallas that have more worshipers on Sunday than most Episcopal dioceses. That’s not hyperbole.

I found this out via the blog of Sherry Weddell, the Catholic lay evangelist, who writes:

To compare, CARA estimates that on a given Sunday, there are about 22 million Catholics in the pews in the US vs. approximately 657,000 Episcopalians. In other words, there are roughly 33 times as many practicing Catholics as practicing Episcopalians.

This is not a time to gloat but to thoughtfully ponder. A group I spoke to recently about evangelization wanted to look to the experience of mainline Protestants to see what they were doing. Seriously?

If we are serious about evangelization, we would far, far better look to the experience of our evangelical brothers and sisters. 49% of American evangelicals weren’t raised as evangelicals while Catholics have the second lowest number of converts of any American religious faith.

Indeed, Putnam & Campbell, sifting the data, found that if not for the large influx of Hispanic immigrants, Catholicism in the US would be declining at a rate comparable to that of mainline Protestantism. [All links in original--E.M.]

The comments' section below Rod's post began as a thoughtful discussion about the overall decline in church attendance among Americans, the problems of family and culture and employment that lead to these sorts of declines, etc. before devolving into the usual sort of shouting match between secularists who think nobody needs religion when we've got science (which is sort of like saying that nobody needs art museums, concert halls or theaters because we have television). But I thought about the claim that people don't go to church anymore because they don't really want to, and it reminded me of a recent experience our family had.

We had to stop at a grocery store after Mass one Sunday, and as we entered the store we passed a little girl, perhaps six or seven years old, and her grandmother. I didn't hear the first words the little girl had asked her grandma when we were approaching, but from the rest of the conversation I heard, it seems clear that she must have asked her grandma why we were all dressed up, and her grandmother must have told her that we had probably just come from church--as we had.

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Little girl: I like going to church. I wish I could go to church.
Grandmother (surprised and delighted): You do?
Little girl: Oh, yes, I love it. But mom and dad say they want to sleep late on Sunday. So we almost never go.
Grandmother: I would love to take you to church with me. Would you like to come?
Little girl: Yes, yes! We could ask mommy when we get home...

At that point, we entered the store, so I didn't hear the rest of the conversation. But the look of hope on the child's face, the utter surprise and gladness of the grandmother, was a revelation.

I'm not judging the child's parents. Perhaps they work odd hours, and rarely get to rest. Perhaps they have had a bad experience at a church or have simply gotten too busy to make Sunday worship a regular part of their lives. Perhaps, like many in my generation, they suffered from poor catechesis and have no idea why the formal worship of God on Sunday is a good thing.

The point is that there was an absolute longing in this child's voice for something she is missing in her life, and a total joy in the grandmother's voice as she replied to the little girl. Grandparents sometimes have it hard in these areas--too much interference, too many kind offers to take the grandchildren to church with them, may be seen as criticism or judgment or general negativity about the way the children are being raised. I think many grandparents are hesitant to offer to take the little ones to worship with them on Sunday mornings.

And yet, if parents or grandparents or someone doesn't instill in a child the habit of faith, how is that habit supposed to take root in later life?

Someday I'd like to see a study--perhaps it has already been done, and I simply haven't seen it--comparing the difference in numbers between those "raised Catholic" (or Episcopalian or Evangelical etc.) who fall away in later life, and those who were actually taken by their families to church every single week unless impeded for serious reasons who later fall away. Too often, I think that the number of those "raised Catholic" who fall away includes people who are taken to Church to be baptized, to make their first holy communion, to be confirmed, to get married, to attend a handful of funerals, and to show up on the CAPE days (Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter), but who otherwise live without religion or faith in their daily lives. This is not to say that a share of those who attended Mass every Sunday of their young lives don't fall away, too--the reasons for the loss of faith are many, and complex, and there's no one answer. But if the habit of faith has never formed in the first place, how can it be said to be lost?

I hope that little girl will get to go to church; her expressed longing was sweet to hear, and I know her grandmother was delighted to hear it. But I wish even more that Christian parents, Catholic and otherwise, would take very seriously their duty as the first teachers of their children to form in them those habits of faith that endure through hardship, through doubt, through suffering, and even through the dark night of the soul.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The trendy eugenics of Melinda Gates

An interesting piece from the Deacon's Bench today discusses the role of Melinda Gates, a Catholic, in pushing the evil of contraception on third-world women. Deacon Kandra links to this CNN piece which says:
(CNN) -- Responding to simmering controversy among Catholic bloggers about her new birth control program, Melinda Gates -- a practicing Catholic -- said she will not shrink from her role as an advocate for poor women. [...]

About the flak over her Catholicism she said: "We're not going to agree about everything, but that's OK."

Gates is promoting an ambitious family planning program -- which includes raising billions of dollars to provide contraceptives to 120 million women worldwide -- at the London Summit on Family Planning July 11.

While most Catholics, in the United States, at least, according to polls, seem to agree with Gates that contraception for women is not controversial, some Catholic bloggers are taking issue with the plan.

One blog in particular, LifeSiteNews.com, has frequently published diatribes against Gates, calling into question her faith, and calling her plan a "blatant attack on Catholic sexual morality."

As far as the broader Catholic church stance on the Gates program, CNN requested a comment from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, but did not get a response.

But this is what really gets me:

"Africa's the one place really in the world, for the most part, that contraceptives haven't been available and it's really been a crime," said Gates. "If you see what's happened in other countries that have had contraceptives, they use them first of all and the birth rates go down. ... The question is could it have come down even more quickly?" [...]

No doubt, the family planning initiative will roll out despite Catholic protestations, and Gates says this is the issue for which she hopes to be remembered.

"I work on a broad set of foundation issues," said Gates. "But this one for me has really grasped my heart and my mind.

She added: "This will be my lifetime's work at the foundation."

Imagine making it your lifetime's (sic) work to make sure that there are fewer Africans.

Anybody who thinks that eugenics ended with the end of World War II isn't really paying attention. For a very long time, our Ruling Class's approach to the third world has been summed up, as Mark Shea often puts it, as "Just enough of me, way too many of you." I recall hearing a story from a missionary who served in Africa about how women would go to medical clinics being funded by people like Gates in the hopes that they would receive good prenatal care, antibiotics for infections, or treatment for the ordinary ills of pregnancy, only to be told by the clinic staff, "We don't do any of that. But we can give you free birth control for after the baby is born."

Make no mistake: the artful concern expressed by evil women like Melinda Gates about poor third-world mothers and their trials is nothing but a cloak for the push to lower the African birth rate (and that of similar places in the world) until it drops well below replacement level. Because the only thing more horrifying to the rabid anti-population types like Gates than a world full of people is a world full of brown people.

That's why, for our Ruling Class, the trendy eugenics of pushing hormonal contraceptives and condoms at the third world will never go out of style. The smug self-congratulation Melinda Gates radiates in this world will hopefully be consolation to her when she finds out what she is losing in the next, where the only gates that matter are the ones that open to the just, and remain shut against the unrighteous.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Let freedom ring!

Get your bells ready, and ring them at noon! Details:

Washington, D.C., July 3, 2012 (lifesitenews.com) – Although the U.S. bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom is coming to an end, the battle for religious freedom is only just beginning.

“At the close of the Fortnight for Freedom, our efforts of prayer, penance, education, and advocacy cannot end,” said Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, in a July 3 statement to the press. “This is a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how the Court had ruled last week, these encroachments upon our liberty are a continuing threat.”

The American Catholic Bishops had designated the Fortnight for Freedom as a time for prayer, fasting, catechesis and public action in support of religious freedom. The event will officially come to an end on July 4th, or Independence Day.

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) has encouraged all dioceses across America to toll their church bells at noon, after which many parishes will hold a mass.

The bishops also invited non-Catholics to add to the chime of church bells. “We invite you all in your houses of worship with bells to join us in this special sign of solidarity for religious liberty – to ‘let freedom ring!’ said a statement on the bishops’ website.

And if you can't be at Mass or at church today, why not ring some bells at home, at noon, to support religious freedom? It is--at least for now--still one of the reasons this country was founded, and one of the things that makes America a great nation.

Happy 4th!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What I'm thinking about today

A reader earlier sent me this link:

A bill under consideration by California lawmakers would allow children to have more than two parents.

The bill, SB 1476, introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D) from San Francisco, amends California’s current two-parent-per-child law to allow for several of them to protect the best interests of the child.

The additional parents would have to meet a court-established definition of a parent, according to Leno.

“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” Leno told the Sacramento Bee.

Rod Dreher's writing about this too.

Does any of this even matter anymore? I mean it. If heterosexual parenthood, the idea that a child should have a mother and a father and just one of each, is nothing but an outdated notion that we've evolved beyond, why should it matter if six different people demand the right to be little Johnny's parents?

Come to think of it, why should birth parents be given any primacy of parenthood at all? Sure, a birth mother has to go through a nine-months' pregnancy, but she's really nothing but a biological incubator. Shouldn't more worthy, more deserving parents get to compete for the products of conception in the open market?

Okay, sarcasm off. But aren't we headed that way? If the biology of marriage and parenthood means absolutely nothing, and if all we are is slightly more intelligent primates, why should children be treated any differently than any other consumer product?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Blogging is not my life

Well, I'm back--after a (mostly) two week blog break. How is your summer going?

Mine's going well. While I didn't get everything done in these past two weeks that I hoped to accomplish, I got enough things underway to be hopeful that the momentum will carry me through. Sometimes the only thing that keeps us from accomplishing our goals is the inertia that keeps bodies at rest--well, at rest, don't you think?

But I also had plenty of time in these past two weeks to think about this blog, about writing, about what I do here every day and how I want that to change going forward. Some of my thoughts have been spurred by this terrific conversation Larry D has started on his blog ( I can't wait to read the rest of it). And because of all of that, I had one of those "Eureka!" moments in which the blindingly obvious suddenly becomes clear (although it was probably clear to everybody but me up until now).

And that revelation is simply this: blogging is not my life.

I enjoy coming out here every day and putting up a blog post. I enjoy the writing process, the sense of accomplishment, the discipline that makes it easier to work on other writing projects (because that Mason Cooley quote on my sidebar isn't a joke: it's impossible for me to work on fiction projects when all I can think about is health care or some other headline news topic or religious or cultural issue I read about or heard about; if I didn't have this blog as a venting option I'd get even less done than I already do).

But I do this only because I enjoy it. It's like having a journal, except that there's this accountability factor that won't let me ignore typos and bad grammar--well, at least, not on purpose.

I'm not writing to be the Next Big Celebrity Catholic Blogger--even if it were possible for me to aim for that sort of goal, I couldn't do it. My stats have remained remarkably consistent in the years that I've been blogging: I have a small but apparently tenacious reading audience. And I like it that way. The stress of having to worry about somebody paying me to do this and pleasing the tastes of my readers enough to keep them coming while still being honest enough to satisfy my own core values--truly, I feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about it. I can admire the big-name Catholic bloggers (some more than others) but I can't imagine what it would be like to want that, let alone to achieve it.

What I want next is to publish my intermediate children's science fiction book (closer and closer! Doing the final proofread! Amazed that I'm still finding a few minor errors despite having myself and others read the MS multiple times--it's odd, the power of our brains to "fix" small mistakes without us even really seeing them, isn't it? But I digress). And then I hope to sell it (it will be available on Amazon when the self-publishing process is finished) to those children/families who will enjoy it. And, just like the way I feel about this little blog of mine, I really don't care if I sell the book to three people or thirty or three hundred or three thousand or...well, I can't really imagine any more than that right now, so we'll see. It's not the number of readers I will sell to that motivates me: it's being able to sell this little book of mine to children ages 8 to 12 who want adventure stories without inappropriately sexy vampires in them, but with plenty of action and excitement and fun.

Writing fiction satisfies me in a way that blogging never can and never will, and that will remain true even if my total number of book readers is closer to three or thirty people than three hundred or three thousand. But blogging takes care of that part of my mind that will go on brooding about health care or the HHS mandate or the total collapse of marriage and eventually civilization, etc., just when I'm trying to decide whether or not the exciting plot point I've dreamed up for book four of the Tales of Telmaja series contradicts in a major way with anything I've written in books one through three.

So blogging isn't my life, but it's a part of my life that isn't going away anytime soon (good Lord willing, as always). But I'm starting to become dissatisfied with some of my more "rote" blog posts, in which I seize on a particular news article not because I care about it but because the Catholic blogosphere is buzzing about it. That's not me, and it's time for that sort of thing to stop. Let the Big Name Celebrity Catholic bloggers run with those stories, and let me get back to the quirky eclectic blogging I used to do, once upon a time. That's my goal for the present--subject, as always, to change.