Monthly Archives: October 2009
If you thought the modern world couldn’t get any more messed-up in its understanding of reproduction and the family, you need turn no further than the WSJ weekend section, and a feature article on people hiring surrogate mothers from India to bring their children to term.
According to Hrishikesh Pai, a Mumbai-based in-vitro fertilization specialist and vice-president of the Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction, India now has about 350 facilities that offer surrogacy as a part of a broader array of infertility-treatment services, triple the number in 2005. Last year, Dr. Pai says, about 1,000 pregnancy attempts using surrogates were made at these clinics. This year, he estimates the figure will jump to 1,500, with about a third of those made on behalf of parents from outside India who hired surrogates.
Rudy Rupak, president of PlanetHospital, a California-based medical-tourism company, says that in the first eight months of this year he sent 600 couples or single parents overseas for surrogacy, nearly three times the number in 2008 and up from just 33 in 2007. All of the clients this year went to India except seven who chose Panama. Most were from the U.S.; the rest came from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, mostly Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.
Mr. Rupak says that because of growing demand from his clients for eggs from Caucasian women, he’s started to fly donors to India from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where he has connections with clinics. The first woman arrived last month. A PlanetHospital package that includes an Indian egg donor costs $32,500, excluding transportation and hotel expenses for the intended parent or parents to travel to India. A package with eggs from a Georgian donor costs an extra $5,000.
For the Indian surrogates themselves, it’s an experience often fraught with emotional conflict. In most cases, the egg comes either from the woman who wants to become a mother but can’t carry a child, or from an egg donor. The egg is then fertilized with sperm from the intended father, or a sperm donor, and implanted in the womb of a surrogate who bears the child. Sometimes, no money changes hands, particularly when a friend or relative acts as the surrogate. Alternatively, it’s a commercial transaction, which is almost always the case in India for would-be parents from overseas.
Still, it’s a way to raise money in sometimes desperate circumstances. Take Sudha, a 25-year-old mother of two who now works as a maid in Chennai earning $20 a month. She owes moneylenders about $2,700, borrowed to pay bribes to secure a government job as a streetsweeper, which never materialized. A neighbor told her she could earn about $2,000 at a local clinic by bearing a child for an infertile couple. She gave birth in July 2008 — and is haunted by the memory. “Whenever I have free time and I lie down, I think about the child. I pray that the child is safe and happy and is taken care of well.”
“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, actually falls on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World. Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.
In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans. Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade. As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus. From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours. Among other views inimical to our time, he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers. He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Catholic, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Catholic. (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)
Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time. The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him. Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ. Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith. The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death. The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other. Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time. Continue reading
Fairly gentle satire of the Nobel Peace Prize award to President Obama, although they do get to the only reason for the award: Obama is not George Bush. With the satire of a done-nothing presidency last week, Saturday Night Live is helping to inaugurate a new phase in the Obama saga, one in which he can no longer assume that comics will treat him as off-limits simply because of their usually leftist political sympathies.
Comedienne Sarah Silverman is known for her profane and vulgar humor in the Hollywood scene. Miss Silverman, in an attempt at satire, presents a sketch on the HBO program “Real Time with Bill Maher” on how to solve world hunger. On the surface the sketch she offers is almost harmless, but her degrading attack on our Pope is insulting to him and all Catholics.
Here is a partial transcript:
Think about it, we need a hero, and who is more primed to be our hero than the Pope? He’s literally a caped crusader. What is the Vatican worth, like 500 billion dollars? This is great, sell the Vatican, take a big chunk of that money, build a gorgeous condominium for you and all your friends to live in, all the amenities, swimming pool, tennis court, waterslide, and with the money left over, feed the whole (expletive removed) world.
You preach to live humbly, and I totally agree. So, now maybe it’s time for you to move out of your house that is a city.
On an ego level alone, you will be the biggest hero in the history of ever. And by the way, any involvement in the Holocaust, bygones.(sic) […]
Why bother with something like this?
We need to be aware that we are in this world, not of it. We need to be a witness to Christ for others. Sometimes in our endeavors to evangelize the world we can get caught up in all its trappings and are more vulnerable to fall into sin. One can laugh at oneself without being mean-spirited or degrading.
Miss Silverman may be funny to her fans, friends, and colleagues, but that doesn’t mean she is right or that her attempt at humor on our pope is ok. Yes we can laugh at ourselves and even our beautiful German shepherd, but there are limits and Miss Silverman has more than exceeded these limits.
So the next time you laugh at what you think may be an inconspicuous jab at our Catholic faith, remember, does it denigrate the person it is aimed at in a mean-spirited manner? Does it cheapen your faith in mockery? Especially if profane language is used, it’s a good indication that the person delivering it is doing it out of hate and spite.
I will not post the video because of the vulgarity she exhibits which is her modus operandi, but you can view at your own discretion on NewsBusters here.
Something for the weekend. The Sanctus and Benedictus from the Requiem in C Minor of the man who did not kill Mozart, Antonio Salieri. The play and film Amadeus are amusing, but any relationship between these works of historical fiction and historical fact is purely coincedental.
Though I’d disagree with his conclusion that this is in any way “a bold step” (it strikes me rather as a silly but rather conformist step, if you think about the sort of circles the Nobel committee moves in) I think this BBC commentator gets things pretty much right in saying “Obama gets reward for world view“:
In awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian committee is honouring his intentions more than his achievements.
After all he has been in office only just over eight months and he will presumably hope to serve eight years, so it is very early in his term to get this award.
The committee does not make any secret of its approach. It states that he is being given the prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.”
This is of course an implied criticism of former US president George W Bush and the neo-conservatives, who were often accused of trying to change the world in their image.
It’s tempting, of course, to point out that Obama doesn’t deserve the award because he hasn’t achieved anything, and plenty of people are asking, “For what?” But really, I think it’s questionable that even the Nobel committee thinks President Obama has achieved much of anything yet. Rather, he’s the sort of person they like to see as president of the United States, and so (even though he’d only been in office for ten days as of the nomination deadline this year) he was nominated and selected in order to express approval for the simple fact that someone with his worldview is now president of the US.
Now, if Obama were to be deeply classy, he’d decline the prize saying that he doesn’t want to be awarded a prize when he doesn’t believe that he’s yet achieved what he should in the world and that there were much more deserving nominees. He would then get the recognition of being selected, but the even greater recognition for being realistic about where he currently is in his presidency. I’m not holding my breath, but if he does I’ll be impressed.
Joining such “luminaries” who have won the prize over the last decade as Al Gore, Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan, President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Doubtless the first question that will pop into the minds of most Americans on hearing this is “For what?” Well here is the statement of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee: Continue reading
A special guest post for American Catholic by commenter Don the Kiwi.
Last week I attended the funeral of my wife’s uncle, James William Foy. Jim was born on 21st. January 1926, and died on the 24th, September 2009, aged 83. Jim died of bowel cancer, which was diagnosed too late for it to be operable, several months previously. Though he was raised Catholic, like some of his generation his war experiences tended to dilute the importance of our Faith to him, and though he had a crucifix, and pictures of the Sacred Heart and of Our Lady in his home, he hadn’t practised his faith for many years.
The funeral service was conducted at the Matamata funeral director’s ‘chapel.’ It was a very secular affair, and the only part remotely religious was the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer toward the end of the service. Jim had joined the RNZ Navy as soon as he left school, and after his training, was posted to HMNZS Achilles (a light cruiser, of the 1939 Battle of the River Plate fame) in 1944. Part way through the service, which was attended by a number of aged war veterans – friends of his from the local RSA (Returned Services Assn.) – an old shipmate of Jim’s named James Craig, rose and walked to the rostrum. These are his words, as best as I can recall them. Continue reading
All too often I hear the familiar refrain; “how can the tide be turning if the world seems to be increasingly at odds with the Church?” The skeptics of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism refer to many newsworthy stories in their query of my thesis. They point to elected officials and government czars seemingly supportive of ideas that not only challenge the core of Catholic beliefs, but conventional societal beliefs about the family as well. The skeptics of my thesis point to the latest Hollywood Cause Célèbre which involves rallying around a man (famed Film Director Roman Polanski) who has admitted to raping a child of 13 when he was 45 years old. They also point to the outright mockery of the Catholic Church at the hands of the entertainment industry by those who believe the tide is turning in their direction. In addition, the skeptics of my thesis also point to stories that barely get any media attention such as an abortion clinic who prominently displayed a crucifix in their window with Jesus replaced on the cross by a chicken. Another sign in the window of the same abortion clinic read “no job too big or too small.” How could the tide be turning if this is what we see and don’t see on television news, the morning paper or on the internet they asked? Thankfully, there are many reasons that tide is turning, and we need to look no further than the young to understand why.
Keep in mind that while the tide is turning for the Church, it is turning in the wrong direction for for the world. The Church is the only one who can save the world and it is something which has already been done many times in history, which is why the enemies of the Church are so upset. If the enemies of religion would be as kind to us as they are toward the liberal mainline Protestant churches, one would have cause to be worried. However unlike the mainline Protestant churches, the Catholic Church’s numbers are not in a free fall and vocation numbers are on the increase.
A great post here by Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, demonstrating how any statements made by Obama as to respecting conscience clauses allowing institutions and individuals to opt out of involvement in abortion and contraception are simply rubbish. He cites the Becket Fund’s recent press release here regarding the Belmont Abbey College case where the college is being sued by eight employees before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Continue reading
Virtually everyone with any access to news last week probably heard about Ardi, a 4.4 million year old skeleton of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia. However, given the tendency of the mainstream media to cover every ancient primate discovery as “Scientists discover ‘missing link’ which ‘changes everything'” those who don’t track these things can easily become confused, or even rather suspicious of the whole thing.
So, what is Ardi, and why is this discovery a big deal?
Ardi is a 45% complete skeleton of a female individual from the hominin species Ardipithecus ramidus. This is not a new species: we’ve known about Ardipithecus ramidus since a small number of bones from a member of the species was found in 1992 and formally described and named in 1994. Living about 4.4 million years ago, Ardipithecus ramidus is also not the oldest human ancestor known or a common ancestor between humans and our apparent closest genetic living relatives, the chimps. However, the excitement about Ardi (found along with less complete remains of a number of other Ardipithecus ramidus individuals and also fossil evidence about the plants and animals present in their environment) is not just hype. It is a very important find. Here’s why:
From the only reliable news source on the net, the Onion. The Urban Dictionary here has a list of the various meanings attributed to the term pronk by Congressman Cummings. Other definitions of the term are here, here, and here. To all of this pronk nonsense, I can only quote Abraham Lincoln: “You can pronk all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot pronk all the people all the time.”
Luca Fiore of Oasis magazine wrote an article on the Christians in Kerala titled, The Amazing Secrets of Kerala. I will briefly summarize this article presented by the eloquent Sandro Magister of Chiesa.
Legend has it that Saint Thomas the Apostle arrived and preached in Mylapore, India, not far from Madras, where he suffered martyrdom and where his tomb is kept today. Prior to his martyrdom Saint Thomas arrived in Kerala at about A.D. 52. The Christians in south west India called Thomas Christians due to the missionary efforts of Saint Thomas.
The Christians in Kerala are of the Syro-Malabar Rite within Catholicism and they constitute up to 20% of the population, where in the rest of India Christians are just a bit over 2%. Kerala is a pluralistic society where the majority of residents are Hindu, Muslims make up 25%, and Christians 20%. All the faiths live in peaceful harmony which is unlike some parts of India.
The state of Kerala is somewhat of an anomaly in India. With relative peace among the different faiths, Kerala also has the highest literacy rates in the country, over 90% compared to roughly 65% to the rest of India. Another exception is that Kerala is also the only government with Marxists in control. This coming from a state where the majority of the schools, from elementary to university levels, are predominantly Christian.
Conversions are not common, but when they occur, there is normally no violent reaction whether they convert to Christianity from Hinduism or Islam, though Pentecostals are the most militant and cause the most disturbance among the residents of all faiths. There are many reasons for conversion to Christianity, some convert because of the communal aspects of worship which is lacking in some Hindu strains. Other convert due to the love the converts witness that is carried out among Christians. But there is no definitive evidence of the major reasons behind conversions.
White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. Continue reading
Most football fans can relate to scoring a touchdown. Especially when seeing your favorite team or player score one you jump up and give high-fives, chest bumps, or take shots of your favorite spirits.
Well in the NFL, or what is sometimes called the “No Fun League”, this past Sunday Chris Johnson of the Oakland Raiders went to his knees and claimed he was giving thanks to God after intercepting a pass for a touchdown. He was immediately flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration. Chris Johnson claims it was because he made a religious display while celebrating the touchdown.
I’m of a different mind when it comes to celebrating touchdowns. The town I grew up in playing football as well as how I practice my faith I generally frown upon celebrating in the end zone. The way I look at it is that it’s your job to score points. I don’t chest bump my colleague each time I turn on my computer at work?! I don’t high-five the secretary for each message she hands over to me?!
It’s your j-o-b to intercept footballs and run them back for touchdowns.
As Donald noted yesterday, it’s been a year since we started here at The American Catholic. I know we’ve all been pleased both at the quality of the writing from the team as a whole, and also from the interest from our readers.
Looking back over the last year, we put together a list of some of the our favorite posts.
A Can of Worms: In Praise of the Latin Mass Joe Hargrave
Apologia Pro Libertarianism Sua Blackadder
Becoming A Father, A Polical Manifesto Tim Shipe
Catholic Chaplains Series Donald McClarey
Catholic Teachings on Economic Life Eric Brown
Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars Tito Edwards
Delayed Adulthood, Preliminary Thoughts Joe Hargrave
Don’t Adulterate the Adultery Ryan Harkins
Fides Quaerens Intellectum Eric Brown
Generations & American Catholicism John Henry
Moral Simpletons Joe Hargrave
Nationalism and the Problems of the Middle East DarwinCatholic
Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric Ryan Harkins
Redistribution of Wealth: A Catholic Perspective Joe Hargrave
Send Me Your Poor DarwinCatholic
Should Catholics Own Guns? Ryan Harkins
Socialism, Catholicism and the Common Good John Henry
Staying Rooted in Parish Life DarwinCatholic
The Old School Date Tim Shipe
The Poor You Will Always Have With You Ryan Harkins
The Vatican’s Rifles DarwinCatholic
Uncomfortable Thoughts on the Declaration Blackadder
Were the Apostles Socialists? Blackadder
Women Priests in the Catholic Church Eric Brown