To Further Divide Us

Monday, March 9, AD 2009

President Obama has signed an executive order lifting restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, as he promised in his campaign speeches.  For anyone who doesn’t see this as yet one more blow in a long string of anti-life policies, consider the chilling words at the end of the article that people are using to justify the research:

“This was already life that was going to be destroyed… The choice is throw them away or use them for research.”

I wonder how long it would take before we use such arguments on, say, criminals sentenced to life in prison (or who are on death row, even). Or the elderly. Or the sick. Or the mentally deficient. Or…

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27 Responses to To Further Divide Us

  • What you’ll get is everything that FOCA contained but chopped up and passed separately. That way those who voted for him can still claim FOCA didn’t happen.

  • The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

  • Mark D.,

    No that’s the line over at Vox Nova. Here is my comment from there:

    Henry,
    I believe the funding under President Bush was for stem cell lines already established. The rationale for this is that such line continue to divide and grow and new embryos are not destroyed in their production. From your link:
    “Because stem cell lines divide continuously in culture, these lines can be used by hundreds of individual researchers.? One line alone has already resulted in 136 shipments to researchers.”
    That is significantly different than what Obama has done today.

  • It’s painful to see him undoing everything that was done by the previous administration. I am not keen on this stem cell research….

    http://kellenebishop.wordpress.com

  • Well, Bush is not the president. Barack Obama is and contrary to much of what he said on the campaign trail, he is not really playing any sort of “new” politics.

  • Mark D.,

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:
    Monday, March 9, 2009 A.D. at 3:19 pm

    The legacy of Bush, who opened the doors to ESCR…

    Back at it again? A little more of your partisan and empty rhetoric?

    The NIH could have funded ESCR until he banned it for any new lines, thus, perhaps funding immoral research on already dead embryos, he banned any funding which new research, thus discouraging the destruction of new embryos even more than if he had banned any funding at all.

    Bush did not open any doors, even if he failed to close all of the doors that we might have wanted.

  • My statement stands. Bush’s legacy is ESCR funding.

  • Mark,

    explain your logic?

    oops… I forgot, partisanship and empty rhetoric needs no logic.

  • Bush was the one who closed the door on ESCR funding. Without him and his vetoes we would have had full blown funding long ago. Blaming him for this is Orwellian.

  • Orwellian. Vox Nova. What’s the difference?

  • Okay, trying to score rhetorical points. But it was fun.

    Anyway. Morally I believe the Vatican has pronounced that using STEM CELL LINES is not per se immoral as it does not involve the ONGOING destruction of embryos. From the National Catholic Bioethics Center:

    “What support is there in Church teaching for this position?

    A statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life issued in 2005 holds that one may use these products, despite their distant association with abortion, at least until such time as new vaccines become available”

    Here’s the link to the Vatican document:

    http://www.ncbcenter.org/vaticanresponse.pdf

  • Phillip,

    That is incorrect, the use of vaccine carries a different level of cooperation with evil than the development of same:

    As regards the preparation, distribution and marketing of vaccines produced as a result of the use of biological material whose origin is connected with cells coming from foetuses voluntarily aborted, such a process is stated, as a matter of principle, morally illicit, because it could contribute in encouraging the performance of other voluntary abortions, with the purpose of the production of such vaccines. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that, within the chain of production-distribution-marketing, the various cooperating agents can have different moral responsibilities

    This would be doubly illicit because the embryos are not voluntarily aborted, but typically created for the purpose of destruction. If this research were restricted to “discarded” embryos (which it is not) then it would still be illicit as noted above.

  • The question of Bush’s funding of ESCR I suppose depends on where you’re looking. I don’t like the fact that he permitted any research at all, for the scandal it causes, but at the same time he did put some limitations on the research. I suppose this goes back to the problem of whether or not the perfect is the enemy of the good. In order to claim that ESCR is Bush’s legacy, one must show that his policies increased in the amount of ESCR, which I don’t believe it did (though I’m open to references to the contrary).

    Nevertheless, regardless of scandal, one’s actions are still one’s own. It was Obama who made an executive order lifting restrictions on ESCR, another in a list of nearly daily events that cater to the culture of death and snubs the pro-life crowd.

  • Ryan,

    by way of clarification, Bush did not ban any sort of research, he only banned Federal funding of such.

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  • Matt,

    Thanks. I need to work on being more precise in my posts and comments. The gist of my argument still stands, though, in terms of the effect. Private funding tends to be slightly more discriminating than federal funding, with the effect of the latter providing opportunities for ventures that would not receive private funding. ESCR is one of those areas, especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

  • Matt,

    I think what Bush allowed funding of was research on already established cell lines and not on continued production of embryos for subsequent destruction to produce new cell lines. Therefore the analogy with vaccines derived from cell lines. I would agree with the potential for scandal even with this policy as Ryan notes. As I asked on Vox Nova, does anyone have a link to what the Vatican said about Bush’s 2001 policy?

  • Phillip,

    I see the connection you’re making, but I think it needs to be recognized that the Vatican response makes a distinction between consuming of the vaccines and producing them, the latter being immoral which would apply to experimenting on the pre-existing lines.

    I don’t believe the Vatican made comment on the Bush 2001 policy, but I think the Church’s position would be that all ESCR should be banned (not just the funding of them).

  • Ryan,

    especially as it has led to little success and many gruesome results. Cutting the public funding was effectively a ban, but not technically one.

    precisely why we need to vastly shrink the size of the federal government… it has had the double effect of crowding out private investment, and wasting taxpayer dollars on boondoggles that no private person would consider investing.

    That the ban was effective, and not technical is not really an issue.

  • Matt,

    I think I cover your point under the sin of scandal. Scandal being defined ccording to St. Thomas (II-II, Q. liii, a. 1) as:

    “a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another’s spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or the omission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, or in appearance; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomas: minus rectum.”

    The Vatican document seems to see this as the sin involved in the production of cell lines in vaccine production. I continue to wonder what the Vatican take on the Bush policy was.

  • Phillip,

    I wasn’t talking about scandal, I was talking about the moral licitness of ESCR even with existing stem cell lines, it’s pretty clear to me, from the Vatican letter that it is immoral, period.

    That said, Bush’s action was not to allow such, but to ban the most offensive forms (which involve the destruction of human life presently, as opposed to in the past). Such an action is morally good. Whether one is culpable for not taking more action, such as an outright ban, or eliminating all funding is a more involved question, especially since Bush is not Catholic.

    Either way, none of this a defense of Obama’s formally evil action.

  • Actually though, that’s the specific sin that the Vatican is addressing in the question of immunizations. Scandal is a specific sin.

  • It seems Obama may have also cut funding for adult stem cell research:

    http://www.lifenews.com/bio2786.html

  • If the debate about ESCR was really about curing diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes and the like, then the tremendous and overwhelming success that adult stem cells, especially skin cells have had in pursuing goals like these would be widely celebrated. Federal research money for the use of adult stem cells would be poured into research facilities with the kind of reckless abandon.

    Instead, Obama rescinded an executive order President Bush put into place funding adult stem cells and new research with iPS cells. The order was intended to ultimately fund research into alternatives” to destructive embryonic stem cell research such as altered nuclear transfer (ANT), “regression” (reverting differentiated cells into stem cells), and other methods. Bush could be said to have been ahead of his time since regression, also known as direct reprogramming, has taken off and the new induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are the talk of the scientific world. Last November saw that huge advance in stem cell research when scientists announced they had found a way to produce the biological equivalent of embryonic stem cells without creating, using, or destroying any human embryos.

    So given we are able to completely sidestep all of the moral and ethical concerns about destroying human embryos and still have all that “scientific promise” of breakthrough cures, why do people chose to keep on destroying embryos?

  • At least Obama admits it’s life (and surely he knows it is human)…I don’t know if he has admitted this before…when asked by a reporter when life begins, he said he didn’t know…so I guess he knows now.

Childish Mentalities

Monday, March 9, AD 2009

Here’s a question.  If, when you were a teenager, your parents had taken you aside and explained that sex before marriage is wrong, sinful, against the Catholic faith, carries the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and might end in a pregnancy, but if you intend to do so, please protect yourself, what would your interpretation of that lecture be?  Let’s keep in mind that the intent behind this discussion is not to focus on the contraceptive aspect, but the (limited) protection that some contraceptives (namely condoms) afford against sexually transmitted diseases.

My wife had the fortune of having this lecture and, being the obedient child she was, she understood that to mean, “Okay, no sex before marriage.  No problem.”  Listening to her explain this, though, I realized that as a teenager, I would have interpreted the lecture much differently.  Maybe because I’m male, or because I was already fascinated by sex, I would have translated the lecture into saying, “We disapprove, but it’s okay to have sex as long as you use a condom.”

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5 Responses to Childish Mentalities

Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2009

It seems in recent week that an ever-increasing focus has fallen on Rush Limbaugh and his radio show.  Not only have the usual suspects worked themselves into a frenzy over him, but we’ve even had President Obama command Congressional Republicans to ignore him.  And the White House has yet to let up on speaking against him.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has even taken a few stabs at Limbaugh.  Even more amazingly, Republican Chairman Michael Steele has voiced disapproval of Limbaugh’s talks.

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52 Responses to Partisanship and Empty Rhetoric

  • Lambasting Limbaugh serves two purposes for Obama: (1) icing the Republicans who have emerged as the more serious party in the debates surrounding the stimulus bill and (2) making a grotesque caricature of him the poster boy for the Fairness Doctrine.

  • And a very stupid move it is for Obama. Mud wrestling with a pundit is never a good move for a President, especially someone who reaches 20,000,000 listeners a week. Other than driving up the ratings for Rush, I can’t think of anything positive that Obama will accomplish by this. It is all downside for him.

  • I am baffled by the Limbaugh discussions raging through the blogosphere. Limbaugh has been around forever and his schtick is wearyingly familiar. I suppose Republicans don’t have much else going for them, and Democrats would rather not talk about the stimulus because it’s not particularly popular. But who cares about Limbaugh? Compelling politicians and fundamentals control political outcomes; radio hosts do not. I don’t intend this to be a criticism of the post (which I basically agree with), just an observation.

  • Obama is not smart here. As a talking head said earlier today, it is counterproductive to get into a urinating contest with a skunk….

  • I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh (not since he had his television show, anyway) but I think it would be a rather entertaining debate were Barack Obama to respond to his challenge to debate. =)

  • Christopher,

    Limbaugh would mop the floor… unless Obama had a teleprompter.

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

  • Mark,

    high or not, Limbaugh embarrasses your boy.

  • ps. generally speaking POTUS is a higher office than head of Harvard Law Review, either way the man stutters whenever he’s put on the spot… not exactly quick on his feet (except on the basketball court, better for the country he focuses on his jump shots, he’s hell on the economy, and the unborn).

  • “the moron addicted to Oxycotin.”

    A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio for almost two decades? As for oxycotin, I believe that Rush licked that addiction. Of course if oxycotin is going to be brought against Rush then I assume that cocaine may be brought up against Obama.

  • I did not realize that A-C was populated by so many ditto-heads. Interesting; no, actually, quite understandable.

  • “A moron who has been the most powerful voice on radio ….”

    So was Father Coughlin in the 30s. Your point?

  • Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron. You do not like Rush or his politics Mr. DeFrancisis, but you have given no evidence that he is a moron, and his success for 20 years in a highly competitive environment would argue otherwise. Your ideological soulmates at the moribund Air America could attest to that.

  • 1. To various other folks above me- no moron can maintain an audience of 20 mil over 20 years. Would have been wiped off the map long ago. 2. Love how the sensitive and caring always bring up the Oxycontin problems. Not the usual yes they’re sick people and we should care for them and so forth. Replaced his weight as the usual cheap shot point. See how these Christians care for one another. 3. There has been no one else in mass media history with his ability to get into your head and stay there. Polarizing and proud of it. Not enough media attention to his offer to debate the Apostle live- on his radio program- and handle all of the Apostle’s arrangements for transportation, luxury hotels, Secret Service demands, and post-debate party with Allen Bros. Kobe beef. Polarizing enough for the morning phone calls among Greenberg, Carville, Begala and Stephanopoulos to arrange talking points. Say- at least three of them work for major media organizations. Shouldn’t their bosses tell them- choose between the morning calls and your paychecks from us? Or would that be a concession to Limbaugh? 4. Libs need boogie men like Tiller the Killer needs poor dumb pregnant 18-year-olds. Since Richard Nixon. Rush is now Boogie Man Number One, in the absence of GWB and Company. Knows it. Relishes it. 5. Doesn’t faze him. Remember, Slick Willie once remarked that he was holding Rush accountable for the Oklahoma City bombings. 6. So much for the personal destruction- his CPAC speech last Saturday was carried live- start to finish- on both Fox News and CNN. Bad publicity is better than none at all. 7. I feel about him the way Walter Lippman wrote about another hero, H.L. Mencken- “the man increases your will to live.”

  • Yeah, the head of Harvard Law review against the Oxymoron, that is, the moron addicted to Oxycotin.

    Given that Obama has written about his own pot and cocaine episodes, is that really where one wants to go on the topic?

    I listened to Rush a lot back when he was fairly new and I was in high school — and in my previous job he used to always be on the radio when I was working out in the warehouse with the shipper and the drivers — but I haven’t heard him in years at this point.

    He takes a populist and sometimes hyperbolic approach to conservatism, and I don’t agree with him on all topics, but the guy is generally far smarter (and indeed far more polite to his opponents when they’re actually on the phone with him) than most liberals give him credit for.

    What in the world Obama’s administration thinks it can gain by picking him for a personal fight I don’t understand. Perhaps they actually believed their own rhetoric that the whole country would unify under their banner.

    For conservatives, however, it think Rush’s apparent dominance in the conservative debate right now is more of a mixed blessing. He’s a solid radio personality and a smart guy, but if his current prominance is the result of our lacking any clear policy direction or high profile leader (and I fear it is) that’s a problem.

  • Amazing. So quickly derailed…

    So tell me, guys, what do you think about my premise that partisanship and hard-fought arguments are necessary for the shaping of good legislation?

    And maybe I’m blind, but how exactly do Rush’s drug-abuse problems fit into that?

    Frankly I have no problem with an Obama/Limbaugh debate, if that’s what it takes to actually have a debate over issues. However, I’m leery of Limbaugh. I read through his speech to the CPAC, and maybe I’m blind, but I didn’t catch much of anything in the way of substance.

  • Along with that, I thought dissent was patriotic. Not that Limbaugh is always (nor necessarily even often) correct. But I think Obama is horrifically misguided in his policy choices at this time. Let them debate.

  • It doesn’t matter who the President is or who the pundit is, it wouldn’t be fair or appropriate for a President to have a debate with him. A President, even if he agrees on a particular point, might not be able so say so for prudential, diplomatic reasons. Ditto for valid arguments against the pundit. Also, a politician, regardless of his policy has to be mindful how he presents it if he is going to convince opposition or lead. A true statesman (not saying I think Obama is worthy of the title) with a clear and solid ideology and policy position would only do his cause damage by such an activity.

    The above is a defense for Obama as President and I would apply it to any President. However, I concur with those who believe that as far as having a well thought out and principled idea of policy and ideology – and one that he can proudly proclaim to the masses rather than obfuscate – Limbaugh would prevail.

    Sorry, Ryan. Yes, I agree that partisanship is important for proper governance, though I would qualify it. The partisanship demonstrated by this country’s founders was often fierce, but quite correct and the cream truly came to the top. The motivation on all sides was primarily what was best for going forward. These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

  • Rick,

    the President already violated the principle here by personally attacking Rush Limbaugh, as well as Fox News. That’s exactly why he is being challenged.

    Matt

  • These days, regardless of party affiliation, partisanship often exists for its own sake and for personal/party interest and I’m not so sure that a quality outcome is forged from the process.

    I’ll agree quite a bit to that. However, I think there’s a problem in that people anymore perceive all partisanship as being of the cynical type you just mentioned. I think that works to the advantage of one party or another because any legitimate protest/partisanship can be written off (in the eyes of the public) as just more of the same political squabbling that gets nothing done.

    Still, one of the more remarkable conclusions about this that I’ve come to is that we keep trying to find a system in which, regardless of our fallen state, we’ll always end up at the right place with the right answer.

  • I understand that, Matt. I never said I thought Obama should have said anything about Limbaugh, Fox, or any other commentator. And even if put on the spot by a member of the press corp to address something a pundit said, he should decline or give a respectful but dismissive response. The office demands an air of dignity, the president shouldn’t attack pundits anymore than he should debate them. I’m happy to cry foul on Obama for his actions, but I think it wrong to want him to further damage his or the office’s credibility by debating a pundit. It’s all just wrong.

  • Rick,

    Limbaugh is pointing out the President’s error in diminishing his office by making personal attacks on pundits. Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

  • Regardless, following up his smear campaign with a debate doesn’t seem to me to diminish it any further.

    Maybe, maybe not. I still think it would. We can certainly disagree on that point and the world will continue to spin. 😉

  • Ryan:

    I knew immediately that this thread would become a debate about the merits of Rush. But as for the actual topic of your post, I completely agree, and have said as much on my blog in a previous post.

  • Sorry guys, the opportunity arose via one commenter to make it about Rush, and I did not resist the temptation.

    But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    I’ll leave it at that.

  • But I am surprised what we have learned in the course of derailment about Mr. McClarey’s thoughts in regards to Father Coughlin.

    [McClarey] Father Coughlin, whatever else could be said about him, was no moron.

    I don’t think Mr. McClarey shared us many of his thoughts at all on Fr. Coughlin. But the one thought he did share, that Fr. Coughlin wasn’t a moron [in spite of whatever else could be said about him] is fair and accurate. Like everyone else, Fr. Coughlin had some good traits and some bad traits, some of the bad ones were pretty bad too, but he still wasn’t a moron – a person of subnormal intelligence. He was actually quite intelligent, but even that doesn’t mean he was right on everything, especially his antisemitism streak.

    Mr. DeFrancisis, what was the purpose of the remark about Mr.McClarey and Fr. Coughlin? What point were you trying to make?

  • What point is Donald trying to make, that is the question.

  • It seemed apparent to me that he was taking issue with you labeling Fr. Coughlin a moron, just as he took issue with you labeling Limbaugh a moron. There’s nothing wrong with you disliking Limbaugh or anyone else who you think actively does harm or stands for destructive things, but it’s best to do so by speaking the truth to the best of our ability.

    I probably feel the same way about Obama as you do Limbaugh, but I wouldn’t say Obama is a moron. He’s clearly not. He might be a very ambitious fellow, have what I consider a very flawed worldview or moral foundation, and support what I consider horrendous positions. It would be easier to just say, he’s an evil moron, but that’s not correct or necessarily just and we’d all be best served if I explained why I thought those things if they weren’t readily apparent.

  • Mark,

    It means Donald is fair minded enough to recognize that not everyone he disagrees with is a moron.

    On Ryan’s original point,

    I think it’s a key distinction. I too want to see Obama’s financial plans fail, and fail quickly, so we can move on to something I think will work. To insist that everyone “hope for success” results in a curious sort of double talk.

    To try it on the right side, I would assume that those who opposed the Iraq war would not want to have been told, “If you care at all about the US and the Iraqi people, you should want the Iraq War to succeed — it’s just that your definition of success involves not going to war and keeping the Hussein dictatorship in place. But we all want ‘success’ for the war.”

    That would be a useless way to talk. For those who think that Obama’s financial and social plans would be a disaster for the country, it’s obviously the correct thing for them to want to see him fail.

  • Darwin,

    Perhaps you do not know of the “SOMEONE MUST BE BLAMED” Father Coughlin well enoung, maybe due to Mr. Lugari’s strange defense. Read Adorno on the hate-monger and scapegoater. (Yes, I purposely chose such charged words, as they are most appropraiate in this case).

  • I agree he was certainly an unsavory character — and an interesting example of how fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended in the 30s in a way that’s often forgotten now — but I don’t think he was a moron. Generally speaking, one does not come such a widely listened to and influential figure by being a moron, unless by “moron” one simply means “someone I don’t like”.

    So for example, I tend to think of John Edwards as being a living example of much of what is wrong (and badly and dangerously wrong) with the American left, but does that necessarily mean that I should refer to him as a moron?

  • A bit about Fr. Coughlin:

    “He was an early supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms and coined the phrase “Roosevelt or ruin”, which became famous during the early days of the first FDR administration. Another phrase he became known for was “The New Deal is Christ’s Deal.”[4] In January 1934, Coughlin testified before Congress in support of FDR’s policies, saying, “If Congress fails to back up the President in his monetary program, I predict a revolution in this country which will make the French Revolution look silly!” He further stated to the Congressional hearing, “God is directing President Roosevelt.” [5]

    Coughlin’s support for Roosevelt and his New Deal faded later in 1934, when he founded the National Union for Social Justice (NUSJ), a nationalistic worker’s rights organization which grew impatient with what it viewed as the President’s unconstitutional and pseudo-capitalistic monetary policies. His radio programs preached more and more about the negative influence of “money changers” and “permitting a group of private citizens to create money” on the general welfare of the public.[6] He also spoke about the need for monetary reform. Coughlin claimed that the Depression was a “cash famine”. Some modern economic historians, in part, agree with this assessment. [7] Coughlin proposed monetary reforms, including the elimination of the Federal Reserve System, as the solution.

    Among the articles of the NUSJ, were work and income guarantees, nationalizing “necessary” industry, wealth redistribution through taxation of the wealthy, federal protection of worker’s unions, and decreasing property rights in favor of the government controlling the country’s assets for “public good.” [8] Illustrative of his disdain for capitalism is his statement that, “We maintain the principle that there can be no lasting prosperity if free competition exists in industry. Therefore, it is the business of government not only to legislate for a minimum annual wage and maximum working schedule to be observed by industry, but also to curtail individualism that, if necessary, factories shall be licensed and their output shall be limited.” [9]”

    He probably would be writing for Obama today.

  • fascist/statist and left/populist instincts often met and blended

    At least until the last election. This describes Obama’s policies precisely.

  • Strange defense? How so? What was in error?

  • Maybe I should state something here. I think my assertion (Donald’s initially) is reasonable and factually correct. There is nothing to my knowledge that would indicate Fr. Coughlin was a moron. I agree with his views that FDR and the New Deal were bad, but I also disagree with a number of his prescriptions. I think he was good in that he cared about social justice, but bad in that bought into bigotry and antisemitism and harbored some sympathy for fascism as a whole (dislike his sympathy for National Socialism, but appreciate his support of Franco in Spain – different countries under different circumstances with different leaders and intentions).

    Fr. Coughlin was very dedicated to St. Therese, the Little Flower and was responsible for building a beautiful shrine to her here in Detroit. I don’t think it’s wise or just to minimize souls to good or evil, moron or brilliant, as Mr. DeFrancisis seems wont to do. Praise which is good and condemn which is evil, but always deal in truth and justice. For all we know, Fr. Coughlin is in Heaven praying for us – at any rate, he now knows where he was right and wrong, and what he was culpable for.

    To ditto some points others made, Fr. Coughlin should be viewed as a hero to many on the left.

  • I gues Democracy is a messy thing. Anyone can offer their opinion. Rush Limbaugh, Fr. Coughlin, Keith Olbermann etc. etc. Often those opinions are offered to us by political and academic elites. Often those opinions are no more correct than the guy next door.

  • Moron comes from the Greek “moros”, the latter of which means dull. Calling someone moronic can therefore connote dullness of mind to the extent that he/she lacks good or sharp judgment.

    I do not apologize for calling the someone who encouraged and exemplified a racist-tainted laziness of judgment towards Jews in the 30s a moron, his devotion to the Little Flower withstanding.

  • Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

  • Touche. 😉

    But I’ve gone on too far already.

    I encourage all to return to the actual topic that Ryan means to discuss.

  • Good sport Mark.

  • Mark,

    so are you acknowledging that Obama is a moron, or that your moron comment was really just “partisanship and empty rhetoric”?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Matt,

    Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

  • Mark acknowledged the point. Let’s just move on.

    In the spirit of the thread: Mega-dittos to John Henry.

  • Partisanship, wielded properly, is a necessary thing. Keeping the debates alive and lively is why we even bother having a two-party system.

    I agree, but the ‘wielded properly’ modifier does a lot of the work here. People have very different ideas about what is proper. In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring. Obama suggested much the same thing with his efforts to depict himself as ‘post-partisan’.

    I think most people agree in principal that it is good to have multiple perspectives, etc. But they often find reasons to dismiss other perspectives with tu quoque’s in practice.

  • DC/JH,

    what point did he acknowledge? Ryan’s post is about partisanship and empty rhetoric. I would like to know if Mark’s admitting to engaging that practice, or that he thinks Obama’s a moron too.

    By the way, in the spirit of bipartisanship and intellectual honesty I condemn the actions of Sam Brownback, and believe that he is a MORON for supporting a rabid pro-abortion candidate for DHS. I will resist the temptation to impune his morality, that’s for his bishop to examine.

  • Well, unless it was cross posting the exchange appeared to be:

    Phillip Says:

    Of course promoting abortion is showing a lack of judgment. Therefore Obama is …

    Mark DeFrancisis Says:

    Touche. 😉

  • DarwinCatholic,

    I don’t think Mark D. would admit that Obama is a moron, so I presume he is retracting his accusation that Rush is, and acknowledging that he practices “partisanship and empty rhetoric”, but I could be mistaken. It would be more helpful if he would clarify his “touche”.

  • Matt,

    In the frey of verbal exchange, I broadened the definition of moronic. In doing so, I admitm I was seeking not primarily truth, but scoring immediate argumentative points.

    And I would not have even had the chance to succumb to such maneuvering, had I been more careful with what I chose to call both Limbaugh and Coughlin.

    But inasmuch as Obama clearly lacks good judgment with respect to the abortion issue, I conceded that he is/was moronic in that regard, using my broadened usage of the term.

    Any way, if I would have allowed the discussion to remain about what Ryan’s ultimate questions brought into focus and veer toward a discussion of Rush’s merits per se, none of this would have ever arisen.

    As I did contribute to furthering the conversation by actually changing its purposed content, I apologize to all involved, especially Ryan Harkins, who wrote a nice post.

    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

  • Mark,

    Does that suffice?

    absolutely.

  • John Henry,

    In the debates over the stimulus, for example, Congressional Republicans claimed to be acting on small government, anti-pork principle. Democrats claimed they could not be taken seriously given their support for the Bush-era deficits, and that they were engaged in irresponsible political point-scoring.

    This brings up one of the gray areas that always makes me stop and think when we talk about partisanship. As I said in my post, I’m against bringing up someone’s drug addiction…unless one can show how it pertains to the argument. Now, I think there’s is some reason, possibly some merit, to bickering in that sense, in that we’re questioning motive behind a particular stance.

    Now this example is made up, so don’t try to find anyone who matches. But suppose there’s someone who has been heavy into drugs, but supports open borders with Mexico. Questioning his border policy based on his past drug abuse might–and I say might, because even in this it might be stretching things a bit–be based on the premise that if the borders remain open, drugs keep flowing through, and thus he can get his drug fix so much easier. But even then, that doesn’t necessarily touch on the merits of his arguments, though it may make any legislation he tries to pass needing close scrutiny.

    To an extent, the seeming mud-flinging may serve some purpose in trying to judge whether or not we should trust a particular politician. For instance, while I hope Congressional Republicans block some, if not most, of this fiscal irresponsibility, I don’t trust them to be fiscally responsible themselves. And the point the Democrats made about Republicans not being true conservatives for having passed all of Bush’s spending is a valid point. But is valid so long as we’re trying to judge whether we can trust Congressional Republicans. It loses its edge when it becomes a debate between who we should trust more to be fiscally responsible.

    Thoughts?

    Mark,

    I hope that suffices.

    Does that suffice?

    Apology accepted, not that it is necessary. Besides, your very first comment still makes me chortle, and my wife got quite a kick out of it.

Don't Make It Hurt

Monday, March 2, AD 2009

So here’s an argument against irreducible complexity.  Take a family that works hard for a living, saves a large chunk of its earnings for old age, emergencies, sending kids through college, and so on.  Then create (through some combination of amino acids and other proteins) an institute that offers insurance against disaster.  The family, being prudent, realizes that the insurance, while it costs them a little more each month, could potentially save them thousands of dollars in the long run, and so it buys into the insurance company.  Now introduce a mutation: the family decides that since disasters are covered, they can divert a little more money into luxuries. Repeat this process with a health care institute that helps cover the soaring prices of medication; a loan agency to cover college tuition (which is steadily outpacing what the normal family can afford); a loan agency to cover the cost of a business; a house; a car; anything at all with the swipe of a plastic card with a magnetic strip.  With that final mutation, we now have a system in which the removal one component causes the whole organism to fail, and yet was built up by increments.

Nearly half a year after the great crash that marked our current recession as one of the worst in decades, we are still bleeding.  Our economy continues to shed jobs; the stock market wavers, falls, stabilizes, wavers, and falls again; big businesses, like the insurance titan AIG, continue to need billions of dollars of bailout money just to survive; and the government continues to scramble to pass legislation that supposedly will fix all our problems, but in reality will simply make matters worse.  The gigantic stimulus package was laughable (in more a mad, gibbering, hysterical laughter than a ha-ha laughter) in that hundreds of pet projects suddenly found funding, but precious little in the bill actually targeted economic stimulus, and much of the spending won’t happen immediately.

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Some Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Thursday, February 26, AD 2009

A decrease in solidarity means people have fewer resources to turn to in time of crisis.

With a decrease in solidarity, a man either makes it on his own or fails on his own.

If a man is struggling to make it on his own, a child becomes an unwelcome hindrance.  A child is an economic drain, and if a man has no other resources, a child might destroy his chances of success.

Thus it should come as no surprise that programs to provide economic aid to poor soon-to-be-parents would decrease abortion rates to some extent.

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6 Responses to Some Pseudo-Random Thoughts

  • Ryan,

    excellent! Not so sure it’s random.

  • I know of one anti-abortion program in the spirit of solidarity: Maggie’s Place in Phoenix. (www.maggiesplace.org).

  • Matt,

    Thus the “pseudo”. I thought about saying “with exponential-time security”, but I don’t think anyone would have understood the reference. Mainly, it was a comment about how fragmented the ideas were, since I couldn’t really find a good way to express everything.

  • Zena,

    How ironic that you mentioned that!

    The girl I was courting back then was one of the original founders of that program, Maggies’ Place. I helped rustle up many beds and other items for the start up. Even did a little cleaning.

  • Abortion- the ultimate reaction to a Let The Good Times Roll Culture. Keep in mind it’s your pal G.E. who sees a major national backlash to it some time in the next 18 to 24 months. Speeded up by the economic plunge followed by Porkapalooza. No matter how much taxpayers’ scratch is funneled into the abomination that is Planned Parenthood. Just as the fall of the House of Madoff began a chain reaction of other Ponzi schemes’ collapses. Although I have pity for one such hustler- the Hon. R. Alan Stanford. Reports last week indicated his company may have been laundering cash for a major Mexican drug cartel. We hope he prays novenas of thanksgiving that the Feds snagged him in Virginia last week. Not found on a West Texas road, sections of him scattered hither and yon.

  • Don’t forget, Madame Pelosi tipped her hand to us a couple of weeks ago. The democrat party of death believes that preventing births is a valid response to the economic crisis, as it saves money for education, health and food. If they get their way we will contracept and abort the next generation into oblivion… who will pay for the baby boomers retirement then???

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Monday, February 23, AD 2009

One of the great principles that tends to be ignored in our debates about economics, social justice, and governmental involvement in the lives of the people is solidarity.  We argue about how involved the government should be in our lives, what kinds of safety nets it should provide, and to what extent it should mandate and appropriate in order to provide for the most needy of society.  We argue about how well certain economic theories–capitalism, Keynesian economics, socialism, etc.–work in providing justice, or even providing just shelter and food.  We argue about subsidiarity, and how it should be practiced, and while that touches on solidarity, it doesn’t fully overlap.

One of the arguments about governmental involvement is how the aid provided is cold and distant.  By the time  the welfare check is spat out of the massive, convulsing, bureaucratic mess that is the government, any principle of charity has been rendered flat.  The recipient is a name on the list, judged worthy to receive a handout based upon an entry in a database.  At first this seems like an argument of aesthetics.  If a man receives a welfare check from the government rather than from friends in the community or local charities, he still receives the money he needs to survive.  Yet there is a deeper problem here than merely looking at from whom the money comes, or how much charity exists in the entity delivering assistance.  The continual reliance on the federal government to solve our problems aids in the breakdown of solidarity.

Is it any wonder that we have become so polarized, so factious, so estranged?

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5 Responses to Am I My Brother's Keeper?

  • Great post and I agree with much of it.

    Let me offer this thought though. Often because of the political emotion of the topics there is perhaps a tenedency to think things were better in the good ole days before the big ole Federal Govt came on the scene.

    This is of course is not exactly true. There are still a few people in my state that are alive that were kids in the days of Huey and Earl Long. I am at times floored by the real poverty and devastation so many people were facing. Were there good times ?yes but there are reasons while Huey and Earl were so loved with their massive govt assistance to the poor. For that matter there is a reason in the deep South and the nation FDR was viewed as a patron Saint by many common people for decades.

    So there were real serious flaws

    That being said I think you are on to something. THis country just economic wise is different than it was in 1800. However for many of the problems we face a heatlhy dose of Federalism can still be applied.

    THe communial bonds that you talk about must be reestablished. However you are right it is no easy task. Especially in a world where big families are looked at with scorn

  • Well, I’m not try to assert that the past times were the good ol’ days. Rather, I wanted to paint a picture of how we got to the current dilemma, which I think wasn’t much of a problem (or at least not as much of a problem) in the earlier decades of the 20th century (though I think the 1880’s to the turn of the century some some similar problems). Indeed, past days carried their own problems, their own great struggles. I believe that problems with solidarity have risen and fallen over the centuries, and that currently we’re seeing a drastic collapse of solidarity in our nation.

  • I completely agree. I have seen so many people refuse necessary help because of pride. I try to make people understand that it’s ok to need help sometimes and it’s necessary that we be willing to give that help. Best wishes.

    – Schev

  • I sense a strong impulse toward solidarity in much of the current valuation of non-judgmentalism and inclusivitiy above all else. This is the Freshman Dorm Mentality: Let’s erase our points of difference in the hope that we can all get along. Maybe we end up “getting along” just fine, but ultimately these are superficial bonds — we have many acquaintances but few lifelong friends. Though we still long for it, what we have isn’t solidarity or community, but something much weaker. Erase enough of our differences and all that we have in common is our DNA.

    Even as we try to erase our differences, more behaviors seem to rise to the level of moral categorical imperative. If I have a barbecue in my backyard, will my vegan neighbor ostracize me? I have to worry at every turn not only that I’m being impractical, but that I’m being *immoral.* How can we have solidarity when so few of us share a common view of the summum bonum?

    Maybe that’s the rub: we have a staggering lack of imagination when it comes to our ideas about the common good and what human flourishing means. There is no sense of shared telos that we can all turn to and demonstrate how this action flows to that good. This state of affairs probably follows from many of the historical/social trends that Ryan described. We’ve become atomistic individuals, making choices that are unassailable simply because they’re our own. It’s true that there was no “golden age” or good ol’ days when everyone agreed on everything; but at a minimum there wasn’t a sanctification of all paths no matter how outlandish. It seems for real solidarity and community to exist, there have to be at least a few axioms about ultimate reality and the ends of human striving shared among all persons.

  • I completely agree, Ryan 🙂

Luke Live, Days Three and Four

Friday, February 20, AD 2009

I continue once again with my shameless promotion of Paulist Father James DiLuzio and his Luke Live performace, part 3, covering Luke chapters 17-24.

Over the last two days, the conversation we had (Father DiLuzio continually encouraged us to have a dialogue on the text, to reach deeper meanings) focused on two fairly notorious characters: Judas Iscariot, and Pontius Pilate.  Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.  Judas, the betrayer, has classically been believed to be in Hell, and every week we recite in our creed:  He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

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35 Responses to Luke Live, Days Three and Four

  • I won’t go Balthasarian here (though I am tempted to do so). Rather, I would point out, contrary to your claim, Pilate has not been routinely condemned to hell; indeed, some apostolic churches have declared him to be a saint!

  • Henry,

    I’m confused. I nowhere said that we condemn Pilate as being in Hell. I said that often we have condemned Judas, but I stated specifically that there’s a case against that. So, are you confused in what I said, or did you mean Judas instead of Pilate? If you still mean Pilate, I would invite you to review my post, for nowhere in it have I made any mention of Pilate’s eternal destination.

  • “Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.” The word condemned, especially in connection with the next sentence which talks about Judas in hell, suggests the condemnation is of the eternal kind. Perhaps I misread it because of the placement of the sentences.

  • Okay, I’ll bite: What apostolic church(s) have declared Pilate a saint, and why?

    Given my Dante=Tradition on Hell assumptions, I would certainly have felt comfortable saying that Pilate was generally imagined as condemned.

  • Pilate is considered a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His wife Procula is considered a saint by both the Ethiopian Othodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. Beats me why they did this. Other than very dubious legends, all we know about Pilate and his wife is contained in the New Testament, two tiny references in Tacitus and Suentonius, and the Pilate inscription.

    http://www.bible-history.com/empires/pilate.html

  • Interesting.

    Well, I guess one can expect the Oriental Orthodox churches to be a bit odd, having been off on their own for the last 1550 years.

  • The Church teaches that it knows not specifically of the existence of any particular human soull in hell, including even Judas.

  • What’s the fuss about? Ryan simply states what’s obvious, Judas and Pilate are nefarious characters, and generally Catholics suspect that they may not have made it to purgatory. I don’t think that’s a sin of presumption or against hope, certainly we hold out hope for all, but we know, contrary to Balthasazar… Hell is not empty.

  • I think the notion of “Hell being empty” usually is in reference to the Christian hope that no human beings are in Hell rather than there is no sort of being there at all. The former is perfectly orthodox theological speculation and a beautiful hope and trust in God’s mercy and love. The latter is heretical and also intellectual confusing, given the explicit dogmas regarding Satan and the fallen angels being in Hell.

  • Eric Brown ,
    I think the notion of “Hell being empty” usually is in reference to the Christian hope that no human beings are in Hell rather than there is no sort of being there at all. The former is perfectly orthodox theological speculation and a beautiful hope and trust in God’s mercy and love. The latter is heretical and also intellectual confusing, given the explicit dogmas regarding Satan and the fallen angels being in Hell.

    Hell is not empty of human beings. I’m not prepared to call it heresy, but…

    Luke 13:24
    Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

    If no humans are in hell then getting to heaven is not hard, and that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. There is no such thing as hope that no human beings are in hell, only hope that no particular human being is in hell.

  • Matt,

    Based on the power of the glorious love revealed fully on the Cross, I am dared to hope all the time that no human beings will be in hell…..

  • Henry,

    I think we’ve stumbled across the problem.

    “Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.” The word condemned, especially in connection with the next sentence which talks about Judas in hell, suggests the condemnation is of the eternal kind. Perhaps I misread it because of the placement of the sentences.

    It is sloppiness on my part that led to the confusion. Yes, condemn can and often does mean something along the lines of “declared damned to Hell”, but that wasn’t exactly how I was trying to use. I just meant that they are notorious characters, definitely portrayed as the “bad guys” in the gospels. It was not meant to be a statement of their eternal destination, especially as I followed up by specifically stating that Judas has traditionally been believed to be in Hell, while Pilate’s ultimate decision to sentence Jesus to death was so remarkable that we include him by name in our creeds.

    I’ll try to use more precise language in the future, to avoid such confusion.

  • Mark D.,

    Based on the power of the glorious love revealed fully on the Cross, I am dared to hope all the time that no human beings will be in hell…

    The Scriptures notwithstanding? God loves us so much He would not lie nor remove our free will, which is your proposal.

  • To hope that all men be saved deoes not entail a denial of free will. It is a hope that the glory of God’s love is attractive/persuasive enough to ultimately win the free consent of all human beings for their salvation.

  • Mark D.

    Luke 13:24
    Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

    If no humans are in hell then getting to heaven is not hard, and that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. There is no such thing as hope that no human beings are in hell, only hope that no particular human being is in hell.

    Never mind that naughty scripture.

    ultimately win the free consent of all human beings

    If a man dies in a state of mortal sin, he is judged immediately, that is dogmatic. There’s no “ultimately” about it.

    1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately,–or immediate and everlasting damnation.

    Matthew 25:32-33
    And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left

    What you’re saying is that the goats are possibly hypothetical??

    If a man believes it’s possible that nobody is in hell, then why would he bother to lead a just life? The pains of hell have always been part of the negative motivation of religion, if the worst offenders in history are all in the bosom of Christ, then why worry about a few relatively minor mortal sins? Why go to confession at all? This theology is not only erroneous, it is incredibly dangerous to the salvation of souls.

    How ’bout this one:
    “The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops.” St. John Chrysostom

  • Matt,

    Mark is just proposing a hope, not a dogmatic declaration. Our Church implicitly keeps to that hope, both recalling that we are not to judge whether or not anyone was “bad enough” to go to Hell, and in not dogmatically declaring anyone an anti-saint as she declares some few definitely saints.

    Now, you can argue whether or not Mark’s hope has much of a chance of being fulfilled, but you’ll only be talking “maybe’s” and “it seems” and “Scripture suggests”. There’s nothing definite (other than that Satan and his fallen angels are in Hell) to work. While I’ll agree with you that it seems fairly compelling to believe that some men did indeed choose so firmly against God they could only go to Hell, it is still an awful thing to contemplate. Have you truly sat down and considered just what eternal torment means? Eternal pain, with no hope of change, and no chance to escape from it? Personally, the very thought terrifies me, and it leads me to pray that no one actually endures such a thing.

    I see two dangers, though, one in holding to the hope that ultimately everyone accepts God’s redeeming love, and one in holding that some, or even many, will reject it. The hope has the danger of complacency–I don’t have to do anything to help my neighbor find faith. The other carries the danger of self-righteousness and contempt. I think the best course is to walk the narrow path between, hoping that all will accept redemption, but knowing full well that people can very easily reject it.

  • Matt,

    And one more edit, since we apparently wrote our most recent replies simultaneously:

    Mathematically, in order to demonstrate a set is not empty, one must prove the existence of an element in that set. We cannot definitively prove that any one person is in Hell, nor can we prove definitively that some generic person is in Hell, and thus we cannot definitively prove that the set of all humans who have gone to Hell is non-empty. Thus the hope itself is not necessarily problematic.

    And as compelling as your last argument is (trust me, I’m sold), that doesn’t count Jesus’ tendency to speak in hyperbole. I think Mark’s defense rests on that, though I should probably let him speak for himself.

  • Ryan,

    Our Church implicitly keeps to that hope, both recalling that we are not to judge whether or not anyone was “bad enough” to go to Hell, and in not dogmatically declaring anyone an anti-saint as she declares some few definitely saints.

    This is a “Non sequitur”. That she hopes each individual is not in hell is not the same as hoping that nobody is in hell. Neither does not hoping that nobody is in hell mean that we hope somebody is in hell, it only means we accept the teaching of the Scripture and Tradition that there are souls in hell, the “goats”. While we may not limit the power of God, we should not hope the impossible, and the one thing that is impossible is for God to contradict Himself.

    some men did indeed choose so firmly against God they could only go to Hell

    Where did you get the impression from scripture that it is so hard to get to hell? All of the Church’s teaching from Scripture and Tradition is that Heaven is difficult to get to and hell is easy. Narrow is the road, camel’s and eyes of needles… etc. etc.

    it is still an awful thing to contemplate. Have you truly sat down and considered just what eternal torment means? Eternal pain, with no hope of change, and no chance to escape from it? Personally, the very thought terrifies me, and it leads me to pray that no one actually endures such a thing.

    It leads me also to warn of the dangers of hell. If I even imply that nobody might be there, do I not weaken the argument for conversion?

    holding that some, or even many, will reject it…carries the danger of self-righteousness and contempt.

    You impute these vices to many saints, popes and doctors of the Church, who all believed that there were souls in Hell and it is easy to get there. The road is narrow… the road is narrow… the road is narrow.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

  • Mathematically, in order to demonstrate a set is not empty, one must prove the existence of an element in that set. We cannot definitively prove that any one person is in Hell, nor can we prove definitively that some generic person is in Hell, and thus we cannot definitively prove that the set of all humans who have gone to Hell is non-empty. Thus the hope itself is not necessarily problematic.

    This is not a mathematical question. Christ says there are goats, goats there must be.

    And as compelling as your last argument is (trust me, I’m sold), that doesn’t count Jesus’ tendency to speak in hyperbole. I think Mark’s defense rests on that, though I should probably let him speak for himself.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

  • Matt,

    I know myself well enough. And if I am to have hope for my salvation, I MUST therefore hold out hope for the salvation of all.

  • ps.

    Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    because if one exaggerates 0 into a number, it’s not an exaggeration it’s an outright lie, Christ is Truth, he does not contradict Himself.

    Mark,

    I really don’t think you’re that bad.

  • Matt,

    The point is that by ourselves all of us radically miss the mark.

    All that is good in our world is grace.

  • Mark D.,

    The point is that by ourselves all of us radically miss the mark.

    All that is good in our world is grace.

    That is, of course true. That is not the point.

  • Matt,

    It is hardly a non-sequitor. I’m merely trying to offer justification for Mark’s hope. Those two statements (as well as my mathematical analysis), are geared to that effect.

    On a slightly different note, it is an odd thing to argue about, whether or not hope that everyone is ultimately (and by ultimately, I just mean to include all future generations who have not yet even been born) saved is a licit hope. With the proper understanding, I don’t see how the hope is not licit. (With an improper understanding, the hope would be a symptom of heretical beliefs, so I understand your concern there.)

    Here’s a hypothetical for you. If, up to this point in history, everyone who had died repented or was guilty only of invincible ignorance, and thus when to Heaven, would that negate any of Jesus’ teachings? Would it contradict even a majority of people going to Hell, supposing Jesus taught that? I would argue that, as highly unlikely as that is, it doesn’t contradict anything, on the case that maybe those who end up in Hell simply haven’t been born yet.

    Where did you get the impression from scripture that it is so hard to get to hell? All of the Church’s teaching from Scripture and Tradition is that Heaven is difficult to get to and hell is easy. Narrow is the road, camel’s and eyes of needles… etc. etc.

    I don’t have that impression at all. Unfortunately, html doesn’t seem to support hyperbole, exaggeration, irony, or sarcasm tags. On the other hand, neither does the Bible. We know that the camel and eye of the needle comment is hyperbole, for I do believe that we have some rich saints. We also know that the “call no man father” is a hyperbolic statement, especially since we have to keep reminding our Protestant brethren of that.

    You impute these vices to many saints, popes and doctors of the Church, who all believed that there were souls in Hell and it is easy to get there. The road is narrow… the road is narrow… the road is narrow.

    And you impute to me intention I never included in my statement. Be careful in your desire to wax eloquent, because you might miss some meaning here. To impute these vices to saints, et al, as you have suggested I did, I would have had to have said something along the lines of “anyone will become contemptuous”, and not suggested it was a danger but a certainty. Obviously the saints, even if they struggled with such self-righteous contempt, managed to overcome it.

    Let me clarify my meaning, though. What I’m talking about is that when we become fixated that “oh yes, people are definitely going to Hell, Jesus said so,” then we have a tendency start marking lines in this life. (Think Rev. Phelps and his anti-homosexual crusade.) That’s the danger I’m talking about–turning the belief that people go to Hell into a crusade to identify who those people are, while they still live. This in itself is sinful, for it is a rejection of God’s grace and mercy, and it leaves us bitter like Jonah. Oh those sinful people of Ninevah! God’s going to destroy them they’re so wicked. Wait, they repented? And God forgave them? What utter…!

    If you think I’m going overboard on that concern, then let me just confess that I find myself overstepping that boundary a time or three each week.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

    On the other hand, judging that a person is definitely damned to Hell is still sinful, even if it is not the only sin.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    There’s a lot to be said about the hyperbole Jesus uses, especially since as a teaching method it was in vogue at the time. I mentioned a couple of examples above, and there are plenty of others. Check into it. It is good for exegesis.

    On the other hand, I don’t really have an argument about how you exaggerate nothing into something. At least, I don’t have a good one.

    And it’s hard to keep this argument up, since I don’t think everyone has made it to Heaven, nor will everyone from here on out do so.

  • I know myself well enough. And if I am to have hope for my salvation, I MUST therefore hold out hope for the salvation of all.

    For what it’s worth, Mark, I think many of us with a more traditional approach to the question of whether there’s anyone in hell are motivated by self knowledge as well.

    If I find it so difficult to conform my will to God’s and feel in no sense assured of my own salvation, how likely is it that no one ever in the history of the universe was so wrapped in pride as to look at God and turn away. If it was done one of the greatest of the angels, and if my own pride seems so great an obstacle to doing right, what is the likelihood that pride has never led any human soul to follow Lucifer away from God?

  • Ryan,

    Acknowledging that you are not necessarily opposing the belief that there are souls in hell, but only arguing that the converse is an acceptable conclusion, it is still an interesting argument, so I will respond.

    It is hardly a non-sequitor. I’m merely trying to offer justification for Mark’s hope. Those two statements (as well as my mathematical analysis), are geared to that effect.

    That the Church holds hope for each human being does not logically lead to the conclusion that it hopes for ALL to be saved. This reminds me of a strong argument against the concept of universal salvation…

    Simili modo, postquam cenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, item tibi gratias agens benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes: hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei novi et aeterni testamenti, [mysterium fidei] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/category/wdtprs/pro-multis/

    Why do we use the words “pro multis” – for many? The Holy Father explains:

    1) Jesus died to save all and to deny that is not in any way a Christian attitude, 2) God lovingly leaves people free to reject salvation and some do

    Here’s a hypothetical for you. If, up to this point in history, everyone who had died repented or was guilty only of invincible ignorance, and thus when to Heaven, would that negate any of Jesus’ teachings? Would it contradict even a majority of people going to Hell, supposing Jesus taught that? I would argue that, as highly unlikely as that is, it doesn’t contradict anything, on the case that maybe those who end up in Hell simply haven’t been born yet.

    I’m not sure it helps to slice and dice the timeline of history, it’s certainly not a reasonable argument to say that the most prideful have not yet been born given recent history, also many of the traditional citations on the matter suggest that in the present time thre was in fact souls in hell already. I suspect that the only reasonable conclusion is that every time sees many souls lost to the devil.

    I don’t have that impression at all. Unfortunately, html doesn’t seem to support hyperbole, exaggeration, irony, or sarcasm tags. On the other hand, neither does the Bible. We know that the camel and eye of the needle comment is hyperbole, for I do believe that we have some rich saints.

    And so what is the intent of the hyperbole? It is clearly to emphasize…. HOW HARD IT IS IN FACT.

    And you impute to me intention I never included in my statement. Be careful in your desire to wax eloquent, because you might miss some meaning here. To impute these vices to saints, et al, as you have suggested I did, I would have had to have said something along the lines of “anyone will become contemptuous”, and not suggested it was a danger but a certainty. Obviously the saints, even if they struggled with such self-righteous contempt, managed to overcome it.

    Fine then I concede this. But the possbility of inspiring some vice does not preclude the truth of a matter, it is of no evidentiary value.

    “oh yes, people are definitely going to Hell, Jesus said so,” then we have a tendency start marking lines in this life. (Think Rev. Phelps and his anti-homosexual crusade.) That’s the danger I’m talking about–turning the belief that people go to Hell into a crusade to identify who those people are, while they still live. This in itself is sinful, for it is a rejection of God’s grace and mercy, and it leaves us bitter like Jonah. Oh those sinful people of Ninevah! God’s going to destroy them they’re so wicked. Wait, they repented? And God forgave them? What utter…!

    Indeed, the road is narrow, fear of going into the ditch on one side is no argument in favor of going into the ditch.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

    On the other hand, judging that a person is definitely damned to Hell is still sinful, even if it is not the only sin.

    Certainly, and yet it bears not on this discussion because we are not talking about any particular person.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    There’s a lot to be said about the hyperbole Jesus uses, especially since as a teaching method it was in vogue at the time. I mentioned a couple of examples above, and there are plenty of others. Check into it. It is good for exegesis.

    I guess I just never heard the use of “hyperbole” to describe His use of metaphor, I guess technically it is not incorrect.

  • “All that is good in our world is grace.”

    “That is, of course true. That is not the point.”

    It is the precisely point. Who am I to limit the efficacy of grace, to the extent that I dubiously assert it is guaranteed that grace is/was/will be unable to work itself successfully on one (or more) human soul, in terms of eternal life.

    The possibility is of course there.

    But given the Paschal Mystery, my faith tells me I have groungs TO HOPE otherwise.

  • Mark,

    are you interested at all in any opinion but your own and Balthazar? Are yous suggesting that the Holy Father is limiting the efficacy of grace? St. John Chrysostom?

    Do you not have time to consider the Scriptural and Traditional evidence against your premise?

  • The Holy Father is actually in agreement with von Balthasar.

    ………………..

    On Holy Saturday, Jesus took human God-forsaken-ness into the very Communio of God,

    He has ways, I believe, of transforming even the most obdurate simnner, respecting the latter’s free will.

  • Mark,

    The Holy Father is actually in agreement with von Balthasar.

    ………………..

    On Holy Saturday, Jesus took human God-forsaken-ness into the very Communio of God,

    He has ways, I believe, of transforming even the most obdurate simnner, respecting the latter’s free will.

    You’re not seriously suggesting that this means the Holy Father believes that hell could be empty? For His grace to have effect, the sinner MUST consent… no consent… no salvation. His statement quoted above completely contradicts your interpretation of this comment.

  • Mark,

    Matt is caught up to his own particular interpretation of Scripture, without having done any sound study on the matter itself. His characterization of Balthasar points to this fact — calling Balthasar a universalist when he is not, or suggesting — as ridiculous as it is — that Balthasar somehow has no notion of free will, and that is his problem? It would do well for Matt to learn some German and to read one of Balthasar’s last essays which is a criticism of universalism — Balthasar agrees that universalism, that the foreknowledge that all will be saved, is indeed contra-free will, but that has nothing to do with the hope that all might be saved, because of course the pull of God, the pull of love, allows for the conversion of the heart. Matt, by saying this, shows who it is that ultimately rejects free will.

  • Henry,

    you are caught up in an inability to respond substantially to valid points, instead, you resort to ad hominem. It’s very sad for such an obviously intelligent person to do this. Just try, I’m sure you can get over it.

    I did not call Balthasar a universalist at all, nor did any of my statements in any way impede the dogma on free will, which you and Mark seem to be skating dangerously close to.

    I in no way deny that the pull of love allows conversion of the heart. Where in the world would you get that ridiculous notion? God loves us so much that he comes to us and seeks to draw us to his bosom, but he loves us so much he would not impede our free will to reject Him. This is absolutely fundamental Catholic teaching.

    This is all typical of the liberal/progressive approach to argument. They present no counterpoint, only appeals to emotions, appeals to ad hominem, calling on people to read books in foreign languages… anything to avoid revealing the logical errors in their position.

  • Matt

    The problem is you do not know the position of the other, and you falsely describe it. That is the problem. That the depth of Balthasar’s idea, or the idea of the hope that all might be saved, goes beyond the simplistic presentation you give should suggest why you might want to read the texts in context, and see how those authors, like Balthasar, deal with your so-called objections. I do not plan to waste more time responding to you than that, because it is quite clear, you come into the discussion without sufficient ability to engage it.

  • Ok, one last word. For there to be an ad hominem, I would have had to engage you in a debate, and to make an assertion about some non-related quality about you to show that you are wrong. However, since it was not a debate with you, but a discussion with Mark, that is not the case; moreover pointing out your ignorance of the matter, and lack of knowledge of what Balthasar (and others like him) say on the matter, as confirmed with your discussion on free will, indicates it is not an ad hominem, but a significant fact which explains the situation. If one wants to contend against Balthasar, free will is not the area to do it. But one who has not read Balthasar would not know that.

  • Henry K,

    that’s what I thought.

Luke Live, Day Two

Wednesday, February 18, AD 2009

I continue now with my shameless promotion of Father DiLuzio’s Luke Live performance.  Again, we were treated to a wonderful exchange of ideas, marked by a charismatic leader who helped enliven St. Luke’s Gospel and knit the narrative together.  Father DiLuzio offered us to begin with the choice of hearing entire chapters at once, or breaking it down into slightly smaller pieces.  Having seen yesterday the amazing continunity of a text that, for many of us, originally seemed a disjointed collection of brief non-sequitors, we voted roughly 55-45 to continue being inundated by large chunks of text.  And so he began his recitation starting from chapter 18, and the parable of the persistent widow.

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Luke Live, Day One

Tuesday, February 17, AD 2009

This week, at St. Paul’s Newman Center in Laramie, we have Father James DiLuzio visiting to perform his Luke Live, essentially a performance of the Gospel of St. Luke.  We are on the final run of the gospel, covering chapters 17-24.  I have to say, Father DiLuzio is quite an engaging, energetic fellow, and last night’s session was a blast.  I’m looking forward to the next three, and I hope to report on them each day, with what we discussed and what observations we made.  (And if anyone else has had the pleasure of joining Father DiLuzio for Luke Live, please feel free to share your observations!)

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2 Responses to Luke Live, Day One

  • Father DiLuzio once was a priest at a parish I attended.

    He organized a performance of Sondheim’s “Into The Woods” performed in the main body of the church. The altar had some scenery thrown over it to disguise it. Fr. DiLuzio was the male lead. The parish’s main cantor was the female lead. I will never forget watching them kiss each other passionately in front of the altar.

    What, you think I’m kidding?

  • I will never forget watching them kiss each other passionately in front of the altar.

    Lord help us.

Just An Observation

Monday, February 16, AD 2009

Wyoming recently has passed legislation that “bans” smoking in public places (except for a list of particular establishments where smoking is still permitted, and except for any county or municipality that doesn’t want to participate in the ban).  There once was hope of increasing the “sin tax” on chewing tobacco.  Elsewhere in the nation, we have had strong campaigns to reduce smoking for sake of health and public expenditure.  Now the campaigns are shifting gears and targeting refined sugars, transfats, and calorie-laden meals.

I understand, to an extent, why people are so concerned about how many times we vist McDonald’s, or much fat is in that bag of potato chips, or whether or not we buy “Biggie”-sized soft drinks.  As we continue to pay for insurance, either private or governmental, the effects are clear.  Bad health practices lead to increase in expenses.  Yet what I find odd is how the whole matter is couched almost as a moral dilemma, a moral crusade.  Isn’t just unhealthy to partake of deep-fat-fried potatoes–it is an abomination that should be punished.

Now, I seem to remember a certain gentlemen who came around saying something like: “Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?”

Is it just me, or is our society unwittingly attempting a reversion back to the Old Covenant (though we’ll pick different foods to declare “unclean”)?

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11 Responses to Just An Observation

  • Worst of all, bacon is unclean under both regimes.

  • OH NO!! That means I’m going going to have to make my Bacon Explosion (http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/) in secret!

  • We live in an odd era. Having extra-martial sex? No big deal (don’t forget that condom). Eating a Big Mac – for shame, do you know how many fat grams are in that thing? Abort your child – no problem. Light up a cigarette within 50 feet of non-smokers and you’re a pariah. (I am an ex-smoker and don’t like when people light up around me either, mainly because it makes me want to have one.)

    When health becomes a religion, well, it follows that government officials decree “clean” and “unclean” foods. Maybe we’ll see a return to the “Scarlet Letter.” Instead of punishing people for adultery, the New Puritans will make them stand on the street corner with contraband twinkies or chocolate bars sticking out of their mouths.

  • Bill, my heart went into palpitations just looking at the finished product! Yikes! I can’t wait to try it…

  • A soon-to-retire gent that I take the evening train with just returned from a two-week trip to Alaska. He and his wife went there and put an offer in on a house because, in his words, We just want to be left alone and the states in the Northeast don’t seem to understand that”

    I understand.

  • I am firmly of the conviction that all bars ought to be smoke-filled and that there ought to be a two smoke minimum for certain establishments. I want a state to pass that law!

  • Donna V.

    Perhaps not a scarlet letter, but some golden arches will be the badge of dishonor. Then they will be “boiled in their own pudding,” and buried with a steak on their heart.

  • S.B,

    I saw that Mark Shea had linked to that on his blog, and that started me thinking. The observation comment comes out of that article, but I felt was enough of its own thought that it stood alone without the trace back. Perhaps I was wrong.

  • This may sound a bit shocking coming from an otherwise conservative Catholic who’s never intentionally inhaled anything for amusement (other than helium balloons), but if we’re going to crack down on alcohol, tobacco and fattening food to the point where they are almost illegal, why not treat marijuana the same way — legalize it, but tax and regulate it to death, don’t allow it to be smoked in public places, and save the “war on drugs” for the really dangerous stuff like crack, heroin, and meth.

    Yes, pot is mind-altering but so is alcohol and that’s legal. From what I understand it’s not any more addictive or harmful to one’s physical health than tobacco, and that’s legal too. From a moral point of view I don’t see where a pothead is that different from an alcoholic or chain smoker. No material thing or substance is evil in and of itself; it only becomes so when misused.

Does It Really Stimulate?

Thursday, February 12, AD 2009

It seems a bipartisan effort to ensure that there is some sort of stimulus bill, and only a few politicians think there should be no package at all.  Many economists have warned in the past, and continue to do so now, that stimulus packages like the one currently waiting final approval, do not work.  Let’s take a moment and examine the arguments as to why they don’t work.

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2 Responses to Does It Really Stimulate?

  • The Porkapalooza Bill is a classic example of the foolishness in this phrase- Don’t Just Stand There Do Something. It represents everything that the Washington Elite in their heart of hearts have wanted to inflict on their fellow Americanos since well nigh 1933. All in one big lovavble pork-filled sausage casing. Do not think many of us in PA will forget seeing GOP Senator Arlen Specter snuggling up to Dingy Harry Reid in the announcement of Pork In Our Time. At same time- except for mania for infrastructure- don’t see how state and local governments will receive help from Porkapalooza. Philly Mayor Michael Nutter told his top managers to give him three cost-cutting scenarios each- bad, really bad, and Oh My (will not break 2nd Commandment on this blog.) Meaning- up to 30 per cent budget cuts across the board. Including a possible 2000 or more police officers turning in badges. PA Government may or may not be in dire straits- we may not know until the annual late-June early-July kerfuffles between Gov. Fast Eddie Rendell and wascally Wepublicans(according to PA MSM, of course.) Meanwhile I hope to promote cousin Edward for Sen. Specter’s seat- devout Catholic, ethical lawyer, doting father of 2-year-old Katie, makes me look like a flaming liberal. Until then, we shall hold and roll.

  • Gerard,
    If I have any money left after being forced to subsidize abortion and welfare, I will donate to your cousin’s candidacy.

30 Responses to Some Bus Slogan Fun

  • Hmm. Your bus slogan seems to deny the Catholic belief in the social nature of the human person. Did you mean to imply such a denial?

  • Is it because your guest commentator Tito Edwards said so?

  • Keep the laughs coming Michael.

    You make me laugh and I like that.

    😀

  • Uh, Mike- is Tito laughing at or with you? Choose.

  • “He’s Probably GOD, So Stop Complaining, And Fall To Your Knees!

  • This blog has elements that remind me of meetings of the College Libertarians that got too rowdy, you know, whenever too much Mountain Dew was consumed and too many stories of first adolescent encounters with Ayn Rand were shared.

  • Michael,

    I would like to point out that the nature of slogan is necessarily brief, often to the point of excising almost every important detail. If people could tell an entire dissertation in a slogan, they would, but mathematically, the information simply vanishes when you compress it that much. When you take a complicated topic marked by social interaction, psychology, personal culpability weighted against circumstance and environment, and so on, and reduce it to a cute saying, you lose a lot of the crucial points.

    That being said, no, that denial is nowhere intended in my little slogan. Instead, I’m merely making a message to people that their lives are their own to live, so they should take charge of it. It is kind of like with that Despair.com poster, entitled “Dysfunction”, with the caption “The only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.” It glosses over a lot, but has a pointed message, and it is fun to read.

    Lighten up, Michael. Have some fun. What would your bus slogan say?

  • Mark,

    Ah, yes, those were great days, weren’t they? Oh, wait, you’re being sarcastic… Dang.

    So, same call as to Michael. What would your bus slogan say?

  • “This blog has elements that remind me of meetings of the College Libertarians that got too rowdy, you know, whenever too much Mountain Dew was consumed and too many stories of first adolescent encounters with Ayn Rand were shared.”

    heh. I thought that was pretty funny, although I’m not sure how accurate it was given Rand’s hatred for all things Catholic.

  • too many stories of first adolescent encounters with Ayn Rand were shared.

    It’s true that Ayn could be a bit predatory, but I think all the guys hear can claim to be innocent of having enjoyed her charms…

    Oh, you meant reading Ayn Rand.

  • Ryan,

    …just having fun with you…

    For whatever it’s worth, I enjoy quite a bit of your posts.

    You put much thought in what you write and attempt to be very fair with your interlocutors.

    I also see that you are not afraid to alter your opinions, having the healthy awareness and the humimility to realize that we are all “on our way”, in the attainment of a fuller wisdom.

  • heh. I thought that was pretty funny, although I’m not sure how accurate it was given Rand’s hatred for all things Catholic.

    Nevertheless, I wonder how many AC bloggers appreciate Rand’s thought. It’s not uncommon for Catholics to “overlook” her anti-Christian views because they are just oh-so into her philosophy. My Jesuit alma mater’s business department literally hands a copy of Atlas Shrugged to every incoming freshman business major and sponsors an Ayn Rand lecture series.

    What would your bus slogan say?

    I’ll certainly think about it.

  • Mark.,

    Thank you. I really appreciate it. And don’t worry. I was just having fun in my reply. I’ve read some of Ayn Rand–a collection of essays, and I might someday try to finish Atlas Shrugged. But while I consider myself a fairly staunch capitalist, I think she goes way, way, way too far. Her economy theory of the virtue of selfishness is, in my opinion, off the mark and quite naive in many ways. I do, however, have something of a love affair with Mountain Dew that I’m trying to break off before it ruins my marriage…

    Still, this is supposed to be a threat where we have fun with bus slogans. What would you post up? (And by the way, this goes to everyone, not just Mark and Michael.)

  • Ryan,

    I am a theological sap. I think Id put something like , “Jesus humbled himself to share fully in all our humanity, so that we may fully share in his divinity. Know him.”

  • Nevertheless, I wonder how many AC bloggers appreciate Rand’s thought. It’s not uncommon for Catholics to “overlook” her anti-Christian views because they are just oh-so into her philosophy. My Jesuit alma mater’s business department literally hands a copy of Atlas Shrugged to every incoming freshman business major and sponsors an Ayn Rand lecture series.

    If so that’s pretty pathetic. Rand was lousy as an economist, as a political philosopher, and as a writer. I’m pretty sure that the economics departments at places like University of Chicago and George Mason would never hand out Atlas Shrugged to freshman as if it were serious writing. If the business department at your college did, they sound like they were clueless more than free market.

  • Did I not read somewhere that Alan Greenspan is a big fan of Rand?

    Anybody hear likewise and able to fill me in on the details?

  • Mark,

    Do we lose to much of what you want to say if we abbreviate to: “Jesus humbly shared in our humanity…”? I don’t want to break the phrase across colors, but your first clause is too long to fit entirely in the purple.

  • Ryan,

    I always need an editor (even after 5 self-edits) :). Whatever it takes.

  • My first encounter with Rand was right after highschool. A few of my friends had fallen in love with her stuff and just wouldn’t shut up about her. Finally, after a lot of cajoling, I agreed to read Atlas Shrugged. I got about two thirds of the way through it, but when they arrived at the libertarian paradise where no one did anything for anyone except for pay and therefore everything cost a nickle, I was no longer able to continue.

  • Mark, some websites I found. I don’t know how reliable they are.

    From Noble Soul, a timeline of Greenspan and Rand interaction.

    From Wikipedia (take it or leave it).

    From the New York Times, which is mostly about Rand but has a fair amount of stuff about Greenspan, as well.

    As note, he did contribute a number of essays to that collection of hers I mentioned earlier: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

  • Atlas shrugged was a pretty puerile novel, as most overtly political novels are. It sold well no doubt due to the dollops of sex that Rand poured into it, at a time when such elements were still a relative rarity in respectable novels. Whittaker Chambers had Rand’s number as both a novelist and a philosopher in perhaps the most devastating review written in America in the last century.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/flashback200501050715.asp

    Since that review “Objectivists” and main stream conservatives have largely gone their separate ways.

  • Did I not read somewhere that Alan Greenspan is a big fan of Rand?

    He was in her inner circle. In fact, as I recall, he was one of the few people privileged enough to have an essay appear in one of Rand’s books. It was about how abandoning the gold standard would lead to disaster. Given Greenspan’s time at the Fed, I think it’s safe to say he’s a lapsed Randian.

    Rothbard wrote a pretty funny one act play about Rand, called Mozart Was A Red. If you google it you can find a transcript and video of a performance from the 1980s.

  • Ryan,

    Thanks for the websearchs. Now I see I could have easliy googled it myself.
    ——–
    I am embarassed to admit, but I got a ‘little drunk and enamored’ as a 17 year old, reading The Fountainhead. But looking back, I wonder if I understood even a word of what she was getting at. I read so voraciously and indiscriminately pre-college.

  • To be fair, a number of good friends went through Randian phases, before getting over it and going on to become thoughtful adults.

    On slogans, could would I be overly caustic to suggest:
    What you’re thinking is at least partly wrong,
    So have some humility and don’t say things you’ll regret.

  • Mark,

    There’s certainly various aspects of Ayn Rand’s works that greatly appeal, especially to a society that has become increasingly materialistic. Before my reversion back to the Church, I held her economic policies as absolute, and it has taken a while and some earnest soul-searching to understand why she was so devastatingly wrong overall. But hey, life is about learning, about approaching Truth and appreciating it as it is, as opposed to how we selfishly want it to be, right?

    And speaking of selfishness, one of the things that finally convinced me how Rand was wrong was her extolling the capitalist’s selfishness. The whole reason her “looters” looted was because of selfishness. How could selfishness be a vice for one group of people, but a virtue for others? Ah, but the others were enlightened, and thus their selfishness was good. At which point I can only scratch my head and say, “huh?”

    What I find amusing here is that BA described the point in Atlas Shrugged where I kind of gave up reading. The Utopian society was part of the problem, but I also had an issue with the main female protagonist sleeping with every main male protagonist across the course of the book. It is hard to keep sympathizing with someone who you feel is unfaithful in one of the most devastating ways to be unfaithful.

  • DC, I have to edit yours as well to make it fit. Let me know if the corrections are okay!

  • Sorry, but every time I hear Ayn Rand mentioned, I flashback to the South Park episode in which Officer Barbrady learns to read.

  • My Jesuit alma mater’s business department literally hands a copy of Atlas Shrugged to every incoming freshman business major and sponsors an Ayn Rand lecture series.

    Oy vey! — The Jesuits have a bad reputation as it is. Let’s not further ridicule them with such anecdotes.

  • Let’s not further ridicule them with such anecdotes.

    Right. Let’s ignore their conservative tendencies so you can keep insisting that they are “liberals” and “dissidents.”

Obama and the Stimulus Package

Tuesday, February 10, AD 2009

Has anyone ever wondered if it is possible that one can land in a financial crisis when one has a steady income, no debts, and a large reserve of money in case of emergencies?  Certainly, I suppose, if something devastating comes around, like an accident that requires weeks in the ICU, surgeries, and a long rehabilitation, that could bankrupt a person.  Yet such accidents, on a whole, are rare, and most people who live a financially responsible life never have to plead for a bailout.

When we look at our current financial crisis nationwide, I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking.  President Obama has promised us trillion dollar deficits for years to come in an effort to restore our economy.  Like most right-leaning folk, I’m under the impression that our current crisis has come from overspending, living beyond our means, and not being prepared for when we hit bumpy times in the economy (like $4/gallon gas, which drives prices up all around).  Perhaps, if this view is incorrect, someone will be willing to explain to me why it is so.  But my impression has been that first, people individually are consumed with buying, buying, buying, even when they don’t have the money to buy.   I have friends who, though they grossed over $60,000 a year, were still living paycheck to paycheck because of their deficit spending.  I’ve seen people who, upon receiving their government money, have gone and blown it on new cell phones (that are shut down after two delinquent months), on fancy steack dinners, and so on, instead of buying necessities or saving up what they can.  I’ve seen people struggling with hundreds of thousands of dollars of accumulated debt that came from student loans, house loans, car loans, credit cards, and so on.  This is just what I’ve seen.  What I’ve heard–word of mouth, or in the news, or on blogs–is even worse.

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18 Responses to Obama and the Stimulus Package

  • My personal feeling is that the dollar will die within the next 10-15 years. I just don’t see how it can survive all these pressures of printing and borrowing in order to pay for entitlement programs and foreign interventions.

    If Obama were really interested in rescuing the economy and preserving the nations ‘greatness’ while there is still time he would:

    1.) End our overseas commitments, whose cost is perpetually skyrocketing to the detriment of our blood and treasure; not to mention the liberty of those we are trying to “help”

    2.) Audit the Federal Reserve if you aren’t willing to abolish them. The Fed is a quasi-public/private cartel of banks that has control of our currency via manipulating interest rates. Who the hell are they to arbitrarily decide the price of money? Our fiat currency had been far too politicized, thanks to the removal of any kind of commodity standard. We need to know what the Fed has been up to in total. Its way past time Congress reassert its powers and responsibilities.

    3.) Create a long-term transition away from entitlement programs. It turns out the Great Society ain’t so great. While many people are now dependent on the state to survive, the costs we could save from ending foreign commitments could be moved towards these programs as we slowly close them down over time. Congress should be barred from raiding Social Security/Medicare and Medicaid funds for their pet projects.

    4.) Elimination of the Income Tax. The government could easily put money back in the hands of consumers instantly by simply not taxing the fruit of their labor. There are plenty of other tariffs and taxes that would maintain the size of government at about the level it was in the Clinton years. If you have to institute a consumption tax, fine… but it should eventually be phased out too.

    5.) Secure the border. If the Defense Department really needs something do, why can’t they defend our federal border from rampant illegal immigration? Immigration, particularly of educated individuals is crucial to our society’s resources, but that is a far-cry from the seemingly endless free-for-all occurring on the border with Mexico. If the Mexican government were ever to collapse, the U.S. has to be able to preserve its physical integrity. Entitlement programs in medical care and education that have an effect of subsidizing illegal immigration should be ended.

    6.) Allow the liquidation of assets to occur. If the banking industry, real estate industry, auto industry etc. don’t fail how can we ever rebuild on a better footing? We have to discover the price of their assets by rewarding the people who have saved their money. They are the ones capable of bringing on a genuine recovery and moral redistribution of wealth. What is occurring now is an attempt by the elite and politically-well connected to keep the status-quo afloat at the expense of taxpayers and responsible consumers. This process will undoubtedly be extremely painful. But quick and painful is preferable to slow and painful.

    The fact is for the last few decades we’ve been living in a fantasy world of cheap money, easy credit and an entitlement mentality. Thats NOT what this country was ever supposed to be about. We’re supposed to work towards lifting ourselves up so that the next generation could go even higher. Instead we chose the pleasures of today at the expense of tomorrow.

    We aren’t the first generation to ever act this way. Its something that can be forgiven and reversed if we are willing to endure the consequences of our bad decisions. There’s no easy or popular way out. Its time to freaking man-up and deal with it.

    At least thats the way I see it.

  • I’m usually just a lurker here and love The American Catholic writers and the in depth dialogue here – Thank you. … I can’t help myself in making this point to enough people… I believe the goal of Obama and whoever is behind him is to destroy this country and maybe that just means Democracy but I can’t help think it also includes Christianity.

  • Lee,

    I really hope you’re wrong.

  • I think it is inappropriate to accuse the President of wanting to destroy the country. After listening to similar accusations from Bush-haters for the last eight years, I think those on the right should be especially sensitive to this.

  • I don’t believe that the President intends to destroy this country. I think he sincerely believes that unprecedented deficits that our descendants will never be able to repay, an ever-expanding public sector, and enhanced government regulation are the path to prosperity. Truth to tell I would have more intellectual respect for the President if I believed that he did wish to destroy the country, instead of accepting the fact that he actually believes this snakeoil.

  • Lee,

    I would also caution against spreading that speculation. I’m more in the camp that Obama and his ilk are plunderers (cf Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged), and they simply think they can keep plundering the wealth accrued by our hard-working, industrious citizens indefinitely.

    Part of the problem is that there’s a disconnect between viewpoints on the right and the left. The ideas of how economics work, how to stimulate job growth, how to make sure everyone has his needs met, are so divergent there is simply no middle ground to work with. To this extent, both sides see the other as being completely disassociated with reality. Frankly, I believe most of these people who are willing to plunder our nation–and they are on both sides of the aisle–are the ones who are truly disconnected with reality. The plundering occurs to score political points, and those points continue to put a person in power.

    Now, I don’t really see what Obama gains personally by being president, except that he gets to be the one directing the course of the nation. Now, most people are drawn to one party or another because they believe that party has a particular vision that agrees with their own view (even if that party hasn’t held that vision since 1960). I think Obama truly believes there are huge injustices working in our nation. Ask any Democrat, and you’ll get that kind of response. In some cases, those injustices are completely valid, and Republicans are remiss in failing to address them. In other cases, those injustices are trumped up, or are infantile railing against the natural order of the world. But just because they’re trumped up doesn’t mean that the person advocating fixing those injustices knows it.

    Consider the plight of having extremely wealthy and extremely poor in our nation (though, arguably, our poor are wealthier than most “wealthy” in many third-world nations). Democrats view this disparity as coming from free market economics, a system that plunders the poor for the advantage of the rich. (I’ve argue long and hard with my sister on this point, and she won’t budge an inch on the denunciation of capitalism as personified by the industrial giants of the late nineteenth century.) Republicans view the disparity as being derived from government interference, whose subsidies and favoritism to lobbyists create situations and loopholes that permit the plundering to occur. I believe the disparity comes in part because the free market permits people to get rich by working hard (and often being in the right place at the right time), and permits people to be destitute by not working hard, or having the wrong ideas, or being in the wrong place a the wrong time. But I also believe that governmental interference with the markets by and large has permitted the grossest of injustices to occur. So when I see someone calling for more governmental oversight, more governmental interference, more governmental control, I cringe and feel that the person calling for this is either off his rocker, malevolent, or making power plays.

    But you have to understand, that someone working with that opposite viewpoint things the same about me when I call for deregulation, for tax cuts, for more faith in the market, and so on. When Obama speaks about the “failed policies of the past eight years”, I really think he believes what he says. That doesn’t mean he isn’t flat out wrong, but I think he’s honest about it.

    But I also think he is plunderer, in the sense that he feels the hardest working and most successful have an obligation to subsidize those who aren’t as successful. Now, Catholics believe that a man’s excess wealth should by right be accessible to the poor, but that can be accomplished in more ways than just handing money out. But there’s a big difference between believing there’s an obligation on the part of the rich to help the poor, and believing that a person can only be rich at the expense of the poor, and therefore should have his possessions forcibly confiscated and returned to the “rightful” owners, which I think Obama believes.

    Have no doubt–I believe Obama’s economic policies will do much to ruin our nation. But I also believe he feels he’s doing right. But then, I believe no one willingly does evil. They simply convince themselves that what they want to do is good, and then feel justified in what they do.

    Of course, you could argue that Obama sees the destruction of this nation as a good he is fighting for, but I don’t think there’s much justification for that.

  • “Catholics believe that a man’s excess wealth should by right be accessible to the poor…” – Ryan Harkins

    I disagree. I do not have such a low opinion of Catholics as to believe that Catholics approve of envy, theft, and ingratitude.

  • Micha Elyi,

    Of course Catholics do not approve of envy, theft, and ingratitude. The principle I’m referring to is when a man has more wealth than he needs, and the poor person does not even have the essentials for survival. The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without. The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    The problem that we face is how much wealth one can possess before any more is truly excess, and how little one can possess before it constitutes to a desperate situation that permits the usage of another’s goods in order to survive.

    Context, Micha Elyi, should help resolve what I’ve said with what the Church teaches.

  • This stimulus plan is the old “wrong execution of the right idea”. The
    righy idea being something is needed to “kick start” the economy after a
    brutal loss of confidence. But piling on more debt after execessive debt will
    not work anymore than giving a heroine addict more heroine.

    We must do what Kennedy and Reagan did. Cut Taxes!

  • Ryan,

    The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without.

    I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here. It is precisely because we have a right to private property, that we have a moral obligation to work towards the common good.

    The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    The problem that we face is how much wealth one can possess before any more is truly excess

    In our economy, the excess wealth is that which one keeps in one’s mattress, or uses to buy yachts. Funds invested in the markets, bonds, treasuries etc. is not excess, it is actually “working”, it is providing the needed capital for job creation, manufacturing needed goods, and in fact funding social programs. There is such a thing as excess consumption. The beauty of the fair tax is that it taxes consumption, not wealth.

    and how little one can possess before it constitutes to a desperate situation that permits the usage of another’s goods in order to survive.

    If they have cable TV, DVD, a car, cell phone, MP3 player, etc… then… I submit that their situation is not so desperate.

  • Good post, Matt. I would add that a free society means that one is free to behave selfishly. The miser who shovels wads of money under his mattress and the big spender who buys more houses and yachts than necessary are both guilty of being uncharitable, but that does not give the state the right to take their property away. Characters like Paris Hilton can momentarily make a Marxist out of even me, but then I remember that there have always been rich people who choose to lead selfish and self-serving lives. They will be judged, just as the rest of us will be.

    If charity is forced, it is not a virtue. And you are perfectly right that the state is not in the charity business, but in the business of expanding itself.

  • Donna V.,
    I would add that a free society means that one is free to behave selfishly.

    Quite right, I meant to be suggest that, to the extent that the state is obligated to provide for the common good, that it should be funded from excess consumption rather than by reducing the capital which is the engine of the economy.

  • Matt,

    I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Hardly at all. The crux of the question is how much wealth is enough, and how much is too much (or excess)? At what point does a person have so little that he has a right to appropriate my property in order to survive? Private property and working towards the common good go hand in hand. The common good upholds the notion of private property (for a variety of reasons, like making our work fruitful, like providing for our individual needs so as not to be a burden on others), but that does not mean that private property is inviolable, either.

    But keep in mind that you’re making way too much out of my statements. I’m not in the slightest an endorser of the massive lot of entitlements the government keeps handing out. What I do endorse is understanding two things. One, we Americans have by far more stuff than we need. Just think of all the things that you could do without (and maybe should, since wealth has this nasty tendency to get between one and God (cf Luke 16)). Two, while investments are good long-term strategies for both making sure one is provided for in old age and providing jobs for people, there are plenty of people who need some short-term solutions just to make it to the long-term solutions. I would hope that these are apparent. The question then is: how do we best help those who truly need an act of charity to make it through the day?

    The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    Keep in mind I just stated what the dilemma was here, and not a solution. You have proffered an understanding of the government that bars any true charity in governmental acts. I would counter, reluctantly, that the government is made up of people who are capable of charity, and who often enough believe that passing laws to force others to subsidize the needy is the only way to provide aid. But I say reluctantly, because Donna states it correctly when she says: If charity is forced, it is not a virtue. But you have to understand where the supposed charity theoretically lies in the case of the government–it is supposedly (and I say supposedly because too often I feel the government entitlement programs have nothing to do with charity, and everything to do with political power) on the side of the government officials who are wresting the money from one person to another. The absence of charity is, often enough, on the part of the tax-payer, because their tax dollars are an obligatory contribution, not a gift.

    Of course, if we look at charity–the love and willingness to give of oneself for another (even a stranger) because of one’s love for God–then we see that the government official fails in part because the wealth is taken from someone else, not the official. But then, you have to understand that a case could be made that the government official’s giving of herself is the giving of her time and talent to craft those laws that wrest the money from the rich man and redistribute it to the poor.

    Now, if it seems that I’m wishy-washy here, or waffling, or whatever, it is because I’m just writing arguments. I’m not arguing one side or the other; I’m merely presenting other factors to consider. I don’t think my case for the charity of the government worker is at all compelling, but it is an argument that can be made, and to someone in power, is a good justification for enacting massive entitlement programs. (That whole fallen nature thing I’m sure comes into play somewhere around here.)

    If you want my honest opinion, it is that most government entitlement programs enable sloth, breed envy, and in general make the situation worse. The principle of: if you subsidize something, you get more of it is at play. Sometimes love for our neighbors has to be tough love, but the only way to know if that is the case is to be intimately involved with our neighbors.

    Just some things to chew on.

  • Ryan,

    Ryan:The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without.

    Matt:I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Perhaps I’m misreading, but in my understanding you are comparing the right to private property with the moral obligation of that owner to give of his excess to support the poor. The first is a right, the second is an obligation which flows (at least in part from the right), it is not a question of one outweighing the other.

    But keep in mind that you’re making way too much out of my statements. I’m not in the slightest an endorser of the massive lot of entitlements the government keeps handing out.

    I recognize this, just seeking to clarity.

    What I do endorse is understanding two things. One, we Americans have by far more stuff than we need. Just think of all the things that you could do without (and maybe should, since wealth has this nasty tendency to get between one and God (cf Luke 16)).

    Absolutely, and with regard to “stuff” this is exactly the argument in favor of the fair tax, which targets stuff.

    Two, while investments are good long-term strategies for both making sure one is provided for in old age and providing jobs for people, there are plenty of people who need some short-term solutions just to make it to the long-term solutions. I would hope that these are apparent. The question then is: how do we best help those who truly need an act of charity to make it through the day?

    Principally by letting those who have a right to those investments determine what portion ought to go to charity, it would be for God to judge them on their culpability for letting greed interfere, secondarily, by the state acting as an emergency backstop to take by compulsion what it is absolutely necessary (all the better based on consumption rather than income)

    Matt: While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    Ryan: You have proffered an understanding of the government that bars any true charity in governmental acts. I would counter, reluctantly, that the government is made up of people who are capable of charity, and who often enough believe that passing laws to force others to subsidize the needy is the only way to provide aid….The absence of charity is, often enough, on the part of the tax-payer, because their tax dollars arean obligatory contribution, not a gift…a case could be made that the government official’s giving of herself is the giving of her time and talent to craft those laws that wrest the money from the rich man and redistribute it to the poor.

    Excellent! This is the sort of precision I like (I recognize that you aren’t agreeing with these arguments).

    1. government people are capable of charity – absolutely
    2. government people believe that taking from the wealthy to give money to the poor is charitable – absolutely, but they are in complete error on this (the crux of my opposition)
    3. government people are charitable when they give their efforts to taking from the wealthy – they are in error, particularly when they are paid, it increases their power or furthers their ideology. They may be charitable to an extent when they give of themselves as part of their work to aid the poor, and/or they sacrifice potential for private sector wealth by working for government (great distinctions have to be made here, as this may be exceedingly rare).

    My definition of “government people” extends from legislators, to employees of government and non-governmental organizations (as well as those who support such) who’s practice it is to expand the role of government.

    If you want my honest opinion, it is that most government entitlement programs enable sloth, breed envy, and in general make the situation worse. The principle of: if you subsidize something, you get more of it is at play. Sometimes love for our neighbors has to be tough love, but the only way to know if that is the case is to be intimately involved with our neighbors.

    Amen! The amazing thing is that true Charity has a much better impact on the reciever and the sender because it is not seen as an entitlement or taking but a gift of love.

  • Matt,

    Just to clarify:

    Perhaps I’m misreading, but in my understanding you are comparing the right to private property with the moral obligation of that owner to give of his excess to support the poor. The first is a right, the second is an obligation which flows (at least in part from the right), it is not a question of one outweighing the other.

    I’m viewing this more as a weighted scale than a comparison. Our first obligation is to take care our of ourselves, and we are not called to give charitably when doing so harms our ability to survive. But as we accrue more wealth, the possibility of a contribution harming said survivability decreases, and eventually vanishes (save for being stupid about it…). At some point, we have so much (think scales dropping well below the equilibrium point) that we have a graver obligation to use that wealth for the benefit of others than for our own concerns.

    So it really isn’t comparing two unrelated objects (in my mind, anyway), but trying to determine where the tipping point comes, and what should be done when the scales tip.

  • Ryan,

    Our first obligation is to take care our of ourselves [, our families and those we have a special obligation to], and we are not called to give charitably when doing so harms our ability to survive. But as we accrue more wealth, the possibility of a contribution harming said survivability decreases, and eventually vanishes (save for being stupid about it…). At some point, we have so much (think scales dropping well below the equilibrium point) that we have a graver obligation to use that wealth for the benefit of others than for our own concerns.

    Now we’re on the same page, the apples-apples is obligations, to our own vs to others. I agree completely. Of course, using our wealth for the benefit of others is not necessarily direct help for the poor, it can include hiring workers or investing in businesses that do so.

  • using our wealth for the benefit of others is not necessarily direct help for the poor, it can include hiring workers or investing in businesses that do so.

    I might add, that growing our business is not charity, even if it helps others. No matter how many people we help through employment, we have a serious obligation to direct charity.

Viewing the Stimulus Package, Part A

Friday, February 6, AD 2009

I decided to find out for myself what is in the Stimulus Package being debated. The version I’ve looked at is the version the House passed, and I can’t image the Senate version looks much better. Here is the results of Division A (the first 250 pages or so).

Things this package will not be used for: casinos and other gambling establishments, aquariums, zoos, golf courses, or swimming pools; any public work (airports, bridges, canals, dams, dikes, pipelines, railroads, mass transit, roads, etc) that does not purchase all iron and steel from within the U.S. (unless there simply isn’t enough iron available, or buying locally increases cost by 25% or more, or it is “in the best interest of the public” to buy abroad).

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7 Responses to Viewing the Stimulus Package, Part A

  • I love this last note:

    none of this assistance is to be used to fund students going to private elementary or secondary schools.

    Why should the government help lower income students to succeed by going to private schools, let them pay for it all out of pocket like the rich do!

  • I find it simultaneously hilarious and deeply saddening that the government is spending $650 million dollars on analog-to-digital converters for televisions.

  • Zach: The $650 million is much less than the proceeds that the govt is getting for selling the analog spectrum that is being freed up.

  • Jeremy correct, I’m still not sure it means that it should send it to people as it is. Anyway, it is most certainly not “stimulus”.

  • $14 billion for school modernization and repair – – Not sure if you are aware, but this $14 billion comes with the caveat that any school using these funds are PROHIBITED from allowing religious/pray gatherings at any of their school facilities. i.e. Bible studies and Christian Clubs would most likely be dissolved at those schools.

    ACLU couldnt resist getting their two cents in

  • Dallas,

    Just viewed your blog and I’m impressed.

    I grew up on Kauai and I’m a 1984 graduate of St. Theresa School in Kekaha (http://custosfidei.blogspot.com/2007/08/st-theresa-church-in-kekaha-hawaii.html).

    I noticed you and your group went on a retreat to our rival parish, Holy Cross in Kalaheo. They used to have a school there. I pray someday that they will start up the school again. It’s pretty lonely on the westside being the only Catholic school.

    Keep up your great apostolate!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

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14 Responses to The Poor You Will Always Have With You

  • Very good post. In a narrow sense, I take this scriptural passage as an admonition against utopian idealism. It doesn’t mean we are justified in doing nothing, but rather, we cannot expect to create a paradise where there is no poverty.

  • Much like you wrote, Ryan, here’s what the Pope has said about things being in their “proper order:”

    “At the heart of all temptations…is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives.” (from Jesus of Nazareth)

    He goes on to quote Deut 8:3 (“Man does not live by bread alone…”) as well as German Jesuit Alfred Delp: “Bread is important, freedom is more important, but most important of all is unbroken fidelity and faithful adoration.” The Pope writes: “When this ordering of goods is no longer respected, but turned on its head, the result is not justice or concern for human suffering. The result is rather ruin and destruction even of the material goods themselves.”

    Notice that it doesn’t diminish the need for social justice and caring for the poor; instead, it explains the reason why we care about these things in the first place. As paul mentioned, it’s a bit of cautionary teaching about the dangers of utopianism, which would twist human nature for a misconception of the common good.

  • Dear me, what a lot of words! I am reminded of God speaking to Job [Ch. 38]:
    “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?”

    I believe Our Lord’s words were meant more simply. As between honoring God [Himself] and giving to the poor, we will always have occasion to give to the poor. So, if we are not going to give to the poor, give to the God.

    Otherwise it would be beholden on us to sell all the real estate of the Church and the treasures and other wealth and give it to the poor.

    But is not the real meaning of the words, that we should intend to give to the poor [perhaps never ending poverty] because God told us to? Even if we have to give up one of our cars, should we not do it and come to rely on God?

  • Thank you for addressing the serious problem of the perpetual misuse of this passage.

  • POPULORUM PROGRESSIO

    ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PAUL VI
    ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLES

    MARCH 26, 1967

    Excerpts:

    The Use of Private Property

    23. “He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (21) Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (22) These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional.

    No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, “as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.” When “private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,” it is for the public authorities “to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.” (23)

    The Common Good

    24. If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.

    Vatican II affirms this emphatically. (24) At the same time it clearly teaches that income thus derived is not for man’s capricious use, and that the exclusive pursuit of personal gain is prohibited. Consequently, it is not permissible for citizens who have garnered sizeable income from the resources and activities of their own nation to deposit a large portion of their income in foreign countries for the sake of their own private gain alone, taking no account of their country’s interests; in doing this, they clearly wrong their country. (25)

    Programs and Planning

    33. Individual initiative alone and the interplay of competition will not ensure satisfactory development. We cannot proceed to increase the wealth and power of the rich while we entrench the needy in their poverty and add to the woes of the oppressed. Organized programs are necessary for “directing, stimulating, coordinating, supplying and integrating” (35) the work of individuals and intermediary organizations.

    It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them; and it is also their task to stimulate the efforts of those involved in this common activity. But they must also see to it that private initiative and intermediary organizations are involved in this work. In this way they will avoid total collectivization and the dangers of a planned economy which might threaten human liberty and obstruct the exercise of man’s basic human rights.

    The Ultimate Purpose

    34. Organized programs designed to increase productivity should have but one aim: to serve human nature. They should reduce inequities, eliminate discrimination, free men from the bonds of servitude, and thus give them the capacity, in the sphere of temporal realities, to improve their lot, to further their moral growth and to develop their spiritual endowments. When we speak of development, we should mean social progress as well as economic growth.

    It is not enough to increase the general fund of wealth and then distribute it more fairly. It is not enough to develop technology so that the earth may become a more suitable living place for human beings. The mistakes of those who led the way should help those now on the road to development to avoid certain dangers. The reign of technology—technocracy, as it is called—can cause as much harm to the world of tomorrow as liberalism did to the world of yesteryear. Economics and technology are meaningless if they do not benefit man, for it is he they are to serve. Man is truly human only if he is the master of his own actions and the judge of their worth, only if he is the architect of his own progress. He must act according to his God-given nature, freely accepting its potentials and its claims upon him.

    Superfluous Wealth

    49. We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. The rule, by virtue of which in times past those nearest us were to be helped in time of need, applies today to all the needy throughout the world. And the prospering peoples will be the first to benefit from this. Continuing avarice on their part will arouse the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foresee. If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions. We might well apply to them the parable of the rich man. His fields yielded an abundant harvest and he did not know where to store it: “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this very night your soul will be demanded from you . . .’ ” (54)

    To Government Authorities

    84. Government leaders, your task is to draw your communities into closer ties of solidarity with all men, and to convince them that they must accept the necessary taxes on their luxuries and their wasteful expenditures in order to promote the development of nations and the preservation of peace. Delegates to international organizations, it is largely your task to see to it that senseless arms races and dangerous power plays give way to mutual collaboration between nations, a collaboration that is friendly, peaceoriented, and divested of self-interest, a collaboration that contributes greatly to the common development of mankind and allows the individual to find fulfillment.

  • I see this passage as a rebuke of the “time better spent” fallacy. You know the one: “Wouldn’t our time be better spent taking care of the poor than in (doing whatever the Church happens to be doing at that moment in time).

    Here’s an example.

    And my response.

  • Segue:

    accept the necessary taxes on their luxuries and their wasteful expenditures in order to promote the development of nations and the preservation of peace.

    Interesting, the Holy Father here is recommending the “Fair Tax”, he seems not to be in favor of the income taxes which tax not luxuries and expenditures, but productivity… hmmm.

  • Eric,

    can we excommunicate anyone who opposes the Fair Tax then????

  • I don’t think that is grave enough an offense for excommunication.

  • Eric,

    even if they are pertinacious?

  • Even so.

    We might make them tithe more though.

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So… Was it a Fumble?

Monday, February 2, AD 2009

I enjoyed watching Super Bowl XLIII for the most part.  As a football fan, I tend to favor teams with quarterbacks that I like, and I like Big Ben, so I was more or less routing for the Steelers to win.  However, for the drama and story, I was also routing for Arizona, who was making its first appearance at the Super Bowl.  All in all, I was looking for a clean, exciting game.

To some extent, I got that.  Things were a little dull in the first quarter as Pittsburgh dominated, but the Cardinals got their game together to engineer a touchdown drive to make it 10 – 7, and to also shut down the Pittsburgh offense twice, the second time with an interception that seemed to guarantee at least a halftime tie.  But then Harrison managed a goal line interception when it seemed Arizona was going in for the touchdown, and he took the ball 100 yards (with time expiring) to put the Steelers up 17-7 at half.

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19 Responses to So… Was it a Fumble?

  • Yes, it was a fumble.

    In the booth, they made it sound like it was reviewed, though it didn’t seem that way. If not, it should have been, but it was most definitely a fumble.

  • It was definitely a fumble.

    And Big Ben showed nerves of steel during that glorious final drive, did he not?

    Can you tell I am a Pittsburgh native?

  • Mark — we can tell. And yes, Big Ben showed nerves of steel, not just on that last drive, but in the first quarter as well. He was absolutely astounding, nothing at all like the nervous, mistake-prone Ben we saw in Super Bowl XL. I was disappointed in one other regard, I have to admit. I thought Polamalu would have 2 interceptions, and he only came close to picking one off. But in general he did an excellent job (especially in the first half) of rendering Fitzgerald ineffective.

    I take it you enjoyed the game immensely? I hope so, for it was a fun game to watch.

  • Vastly entertaining game. Moderately interesting by halftime, but seemed to channel the energy from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s blistering, brilliant 12-minute performance. By the fourth quarter, forget the playbooks with the fancy plays. Both teams were scratching and clawing to grab the Lombardi Trophy. Other than the NBC shot clearly proving that Santonio Holmes’ feets were in bounds for the winning TD, the best closeup was of Larry Fitzgerald, whose prior pick six gave the Cards their first lead, mouthing Oh No. Slightly better than the Steelers’ James Harrison, whose 100-yard pick put the Black and Gold up front, losing his cookies and giving a savage beatdown to a Cardinals’ special teams type. Seems to be a decided improvement in the quality of Big Games. Beginning last year, when the Eli-to-Tyree connection set up the Giants’ midtown madness days later. Last night, loads of highlights. Congrats to both teams for making their Super Bowl decidedly super. With special fondness for Art Rooney- good Catholic, enlightened owner, guardian of civic treasure in Steel City. Each player has his cell phone number- in case they ever need his help. Now that’s a team worth celebrating.

  • Correction- Dan Rooney, fine Steeler owner. Clearly following the pattern set by daddy Art, horse player and fine old guy whom we hope dwells with the saints and angels in glory.

  • not a fumble; his arm was moving forward. But it was just another blown call that went the Steelers way, including the 3 personal foul calls on that one FG drive. It was eerily familiar to the last Steeler superbowl.

  • Michael, I agree greatly that there were blown calls the refs made (especially since they seemed to benefit the Steelers much more than the Cardinals). But on that drive, the face mask penalty was obvious, and the running into the place holder was obvious. You couldn’t really argue much against those, as disappointing as they were. But the roughing the passer? I thought that was a poor, poor, poor call. Still, it gave the Cardinals’ defense a chance to give us an amazing stop. In six tries, the Steelers couldn’t get it in the endzone, even after all the help they received.

    Still, was it just me, or was this a season of bad calls? Aside from Hochuli’s forgetting how to be a good referee, I remember a Dallas Cowboys game (I now don’t recall who they played), but Barber took the ball, and the defender grabbed his face mask and pulled his head almost all the way around. No call. And the announcers even made the comment, “Either he was channeling the spirit of The Exorcist, or that was a blatant face mask.” It seemed every game there was a blatant face mask that wasn’t called.

  • his arm was moving forward.

    It was, just without the football. 🙂

    I’m not a Steelers’s fan, though I was rooting for them (I almost never root for the underdog except when the Giants are it). I missed the Personal Foul calls, but thought that officiating was poor, but equally for both sides.

  • The penalty calling was so one-sided you couldn’t help but think the refs were in the pocket of Mr. Rooney. The Cardinals set a Super Bowl record for penalty yards but the Steelers had what – only 2 second-half penalties called against them? The Steelers earned the win with that last TD drive, but the Cardinals were fighting uphill the whole game against the refs.

    Even still, the difference in the game was the 10-14 point swing at the end of the 1st half when, instead of getting a field goal to tie or a go-ahead TD, Warner threw an INT that went the other way for a Pitt TD. Without that play, the Cardinals win that game. They otherwise outplayed the Steelers.

    It’s unfortunate for the Cardinals that they played such a great game and overcame such lousy officiating to nearly win the game, but lost anyway.

  • The worst call was the roughing the passer penalty against Dansby. Shouldn’t have been called. Other than that, I thought the refs got it right. The Cardinals racked up some stupid, stupid penalties. And I don’t know why Whisenhunt laid off the no-huddle after Warner shredded the Steelers for a quick six using it. Blame Whisenhunt, blame Warner for the red zone int, but the refs didn’t blow it.

    Oh, and yes, it was a fumble. 🙂

  • I’m not a blame the refs kind of guy, but I have to reiterate – and thereby take issue with my friend, Dale – that the refs blew.

  • But, despite the refs blowing overall, yes, that was a fumble at the end of the game.

  • Didn’t look like a fumble to me; his arm was moving forward and he pushed the ball out. It should have been reviewed at a minimum. If the ‘tuck rule’ wasn’t a fumble, then that shouldn’t have been.

  • Sure looked like a fumble to me. As soon as the linebacker hit his arm which was still behind his back the ball was loose. He did not have control of the ball. I can’t get over all the complaining over a game. Arizona fans where was your offense for the first three quaters of the game? You come alive for one quater and want a win???????? Quit crying and look forward to next year. Steeler fans enjoy the win. It was an entertaining game.

  • Who’s an Arizona fan? And one wonders if you were even watching the game if you believe Arizona’s offense was absent for the first 3 quarters. They dominated the 2nd quarter offensively, and Pitt’s half-time lead was due to Warner’s throwing an INT in the red zone that was returned for a TD. That’s a 10-14 point swing.

    Pitt deserved the win because they drove for the winning TD at the end of the game. They did what it took to win the game. I’m certainly not trying to take that away from them.

  • Jay, what I said was not neccessarilly meant for you. I simply saw a fumle during a game that people try to say he had control of the ball. The linebacker clearly knocked it loose. Just because his arm goes forward without control of the ball doesn’t mean it was an incomplete pass. It was a game. By where was the offense I look at it this way. Most good teams can move the ball on you between the twenty yard lines. Now how well a team protects the end zone is big.Arizona scored seven points in the first half.Where was this high powered offense????

    As good as the Arizona defense did in the game when the game was on the line Pittsburgh’s offense delivered and killed the clock. Game over.

    I just hate to see people complaing about a game when there are so many other things we could be complaining aboout that would help every one.

    It was just a game.

  • I just hate to see people complaing about a game when there are so many other things we could be complaining aboout that would help every one.

    It was just a game.

    Arguing about the wouldas and the couldas and the shouldas is part of the fun.

    😉

  • Arguing about the wouldas and the couldas and the shouldas is part of the fun.

    Agreed.

  • you know you folks are right. I guess it is a good past time as no one is getting hurt. I enjoyed you folks comments.

    Take care.
    Jeff

And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

So there’s a new You-Tube video  spreading around meant to be the final word in exposing the hypocrisy of anti-abortion advocates. In what many seem to believe is highly telling, an interviewer asks a group of demonstrating pro-lifers that, should abortion be declared illegal, if they would punish women who had abortions. Apparently the confused looks, murmured “I don’t know, I don’t think they should be punished,” and the otherwise general indication that they hadn’t thought much on the issue, somehow shows that pro-lifers do not believe that abortion is murder, or even the taking of human life. There is a huge amount of self-congratulatory straining of shoulders, clapping themselves on the back for having discovered this one-shot knockdown argument.

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33 Responses to And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

  • Ryan,

    a good discussion.

    Third, to some extent this heinous act, while there is plenty of evidence that it does harm society in general, is a matter between the person who has procured an abortion and God.

    No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    I think in justice, one must give abortion the weight in law that it is due, and under the conditions that apply to homicide in general. The justice system has a means of considering the degree of free will attached to the killing of another human being under particular circumstances, and provides manslaughter when it is diminished. To specifically define in the law that for a mother to kill her unborn child as less serious a crime than a man killing a guard while robbing a bank is not just.

    Obviously, there would need to be intermediate measures to eliminate access to abortion and educate the populace before it could be charged criminally.

  • I’d be interested in reading anything the Church might officially say about this (???). Absent that, I’m sure there are some articles out there by Catholic thinkers on what just abortion laws would look like (???).

    (My wife and I were just talking about this last night, how Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” has deluded people into believing that the pro-life cause wants a world in which every miscarriage is investigated by secret police or some such nonsense.)

  • No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    Of course, I realized that the statement I made sounds very soft, and I tried to qualify exactly what I meant. Let me try again to explain what I meant there.

    With abortion between a person and God, I don’t mean exclusively, because obviously abortion has severe societal impact. I mean that ultimately, all justice will be meted out, and everyone will receive their due. Some people who have abortion will sincerely repent, spend their time in purgatory, and eventually come out cleansed of their sins. Others will not repent, but due to ignorance of important details, they will spend their time in purgatory and come out cleansed. Others may persist in placing their lifestyle above God, reject God, and be lost forever. In the end, we will all reap what we have sown. To that extent, worrying much over the worldly punishments we would exact on people who have abortions is secondary to trying to outlaw abortion. Furthermore, the problem has legal ramifications that would be better served by a team of legal (and hopefully faithful Catholic) advisers who can try to make the system as a just as possible in light of the crime. Finally, trying to state on the spot what punishments should be exacted runs the risk of being vindictive and retributive in nature, rather than corrective and just. Thus, given the complications, the nuances, and everything else, it is simpler at the moment to say, “I know eventually everything will be squared away at the final judgment, and then it will be between a person and God, regardless of what happens legally.” It may seem like a cop-out, but I personally take it as an acknowledgment that the answers are neither simple nor adequately addressed by a lay person on the streets.

    I do believe a discussion of what abortions laws should look like is important, and that maybe we could take some time to look at them here. My view is in my post, but what do others think? Do you agree that a doctor giving the abortion is more culpable (or at least deserves a harsher sentence) than the woman receiving the abortion? Do we need to worry about the claims that every miscarriage would be investigated?

  • Ryan,

    I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree. I would propose that, ultimately, abortion should be defined as homicide, the justice system would sort out whether the subject’s actions and state of mind merit charge and conviction under manslaughter or murder. Obviously, if I was involved in a case I would orient towards the former for mothers, and the latter for the purveyors, but not necessarily in every case.

    I would agree that in the general case the doctors deserve a harsher sentence.

    I don’t think we need to worry all that much about miscarriage’s being investigated, any more than they already are. Doctors or others who discover evidence of intentional miscarriage would have the same obligation to report such to the authorities as I would assume they do for any other case of wrongful death. It certainly would not be the place of police to seek out these cases without any sort of complaint. This will certainly happen though, and law enforcement should probably focus efforts on the sources of the drugs rather than the recipients.

  • I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree.

    Well, obviously (tongue-in-cheek) if you disagree with me, you misunderstood what I said! Heh…

    How exactly, then, do you disagree? We seem to be in lockstep with that abortion should be defined as homicide, with some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion. My statements in regard to abortion being between the woman and God were not to exclude any legal ramifications, but to explain why some people haven’t given the punishment issue much thought, and why some are justified in not concentrating on the issue. It was also an attempt to show why this pro-abortionists aren’t justified in using the lack of a definite answer as indication that pro-lifers don’t really believe abortion is murder.

  • Ryan,

    some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion

    I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

  • I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

    Not knowing the exact statues, I might hesitate, but in general, yes, I’m lockstep with you here, as well.

  • Ryan,

    I’m lockstep with you here, as well.</i<

    I must have misstated my position then… heheh

  • Now if I can only convince American Catholic blogger Ryan Harkins to put up a pic for his ID. Maybe the flag of Wyoming?

  • Concerning the Video, a couple of points you did not make. First, when I am out on the lines with my sign, and someone approaches me, I get slightly nerved up, or stressed – not a lot, just a bit. There is always the possibility that person is going to start ranting at me or something. That stress response is increased for most people when someone is holding a camera on them. The stress is increased even more when they ask you a tough question, and they are obviously trying to get you to say something they can use. Second, most people, even those on the lines, are not practiced speakers adept at articulating ‘hot button’ topics on the fly. You can tell clearly several of the interviewees are just hoping the camera people will go away.

    It is more of a cheap shot that you make it out to be.

    Beyond that nit picking, great post. It is true we need to talk more in the pro-life community about what criminalizing abortion would really look like.

    Also, if abortion were criminalized, imagine what would happen. How would the opposition react? Not just politically. Statutes and penalties should also include dealing with people who run conspiracies (organized crime) to provide abortions.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Paul @GNW_Paul

  • Thanks for the input, Paul! I admit, I did gloss over the majority of the impact of being confronted by someone with a camera just looking to get a few snippits of dialogue that they can use. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Ryan,

    University of Wyoming Cowboys!

    Nice pic.

  • Tito,

    Thanks. As per request, I have delivered. Of course, while the bucking bronco is one of UW’s great symbols, it was also on the back of the Wyoming state quarter. (And NOTHING else!!!! We could have put in Devil’s Tower behind it, but noooooo….) So I figured it would symbolize well both my Wyomingness and my University of Wyomingness, the former being important because I might just graduate one of these semesters… (Thinking December…)

  • Ryan,

    I love the Avatar also. Big Sky territory is my land, but Wyoming is just fine with me.

    @GNW_Paul

  • Paul in the GNW,

    Your next to get an avatar.

    Maybe some rain drops or Mark Shea in purple?

  • I tried, lets see if it shows up know?

  • Paul,

    If it doesn’t show up, it’s not a big deal.

    Email me if you have any questions and I’d be happy to guide you through the process.

  • Paul,

    Forgive me if you have done this already.

    Go to this link: http://wordpress.com/signup/

    Sign up and follow the directions there. You don’t need to create a blog to create a username. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see what I mean.

    Good luck!

  • Ryan,
    Historically in the U. S. women who underwent illegal abortions were not punished. Prior to the 19th century incomplete understanding of human embryology combined with the difficulty of proving intent in an early abortion meant that there was little effort made to prosecute anyone connected.

    The first generation of feminists–the suffragists of the 19th century–opposed abortion to a woman. This was only partly because of the risks the procedure held for women; they–perhaps more than most men outside the medical profession–quickly realized the implications of the scientific advances in human development. The Revolution, the feminist paper launched by Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, often decried abortion in the strongest terms and refused to sell advertising to purveyors of “patent medicines” (many of which were abortifacients.)

    Anthony, Stanton, and their sisters-in-arms called for punishment for those who performed abortions, but not for women. Their reasoning was simple. They recognized that, while there were women who aborted out of selfishness, most did so out of desperation and for reasons that stemmed from the inherent inequality of women in the society of the day. Women were, in a sense, co-victims with their murdered babies even when they survived the abortion.

    I think there is a case for continuing this policy were abortion to be outlawed again:

    1. While legalizing something does not make it right, it does create the public perception that it is. Likewise, outlawing something creates the perception that it is wrong. Thus there are good reasons for outlawing heinous acts apart from the opportunity for prosecution of the perpetrators.
    2. Our legal system allows for compassion in the case of crimes committed under duress. (Moreover, the ethics upon which the system is founded call for compassion in such cases.)
    3. Even today, women who resort to abortion frequently do so because they feel they have “no other choice.” Abandonment or compulsion by the baby’s father or other family members is still not unusual, and societal pressures still lead many women against their consciences. Abortionists are not as a rule coerced into the trade.
    4. Women procuring an abortion may or may not have full understanding that they are taking a human life; abortionists do, or should as they are usually medical professionals.
    5. Women who have abortions do not profit financially from them (there are nonlethal alternatives to the costs of birth and childrearing) and may suffer physical or emotional harm; abortionists generally profit handsomely.

    There. Now when somebody sticks a camera in your face, you have some ammunition.

  • Cminor,

    while it’s likely that a transitory period could be considered, it would be unjust to treat abortion so much less serious a crime than murder. What about women that kill born infants because of stress and pressure? Do they not largely meet those conditions? Now, every case is different and there is a degree of lattitude permitted to prosecutors, judges, and juries with regard to charges being laid, and sentencing, and that is the place to determine any mitigating circumstances, no differently than any other murder.

  • Now I’ll try that Avatar again.

    Cminor, I agree that the abortionists should be treated more severely under the law than the women, but women who seek out abortions should be judge in court – their circumstances can be considered then.

    Paul

  • NO, one more time

  • For lack of time to write more extensively: I agree with CMinor.

  • Matt and Paul,
    I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby. Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.


  • I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Agreed. Wrong time and place for sucha discussion.

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    Absolutely, I am all for incremental approaches that make slow and steady progress. Even a law which bans abortion except in the case rape/incest/life of mother would be a massive step forward and would also serve to help develop the culture of life.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    Very true, as I acknowledged earlier, a transitory period would be necessary.

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby.

    Here is where we depart company. I agree we shouldn’t single out the woman, and I’ve never said we should. Only that all the pertinent parties should charges to the extent of their participation, and degree of culpability. Let the legal system figure out the details on any particular case.

    Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.

    What does the severity of the charge have to do with the degree of overcrowding? Or are you suggesting no charges at all?

  • Oh, I’m all for going after abortionists. Beyond that, no, I’m not for going after women; my intent was to suggest that if we did, it would be only fair to go after anyone who by action or inaction led the defendant to abort. Hence my remark about the “crowded courtrooms.” Somewhere in there was intended to be the suggestion that I think making a case stick at this point would be difficult given cultural factors. Sorry, it was late.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

  • I’m not for going after women

    Could we apply this exemption to early infanticide? Or is it only for women who kill their babies in the womb that no criminal penalty applies? We must apply the law evenly, that is why justice wears a blindfold.

    action or inaction led the defendant to abort.

    Wow, that’s a giant leap of jurisprudence. There is no legal system in the world which would consider that standard to make a person an accomplice to a crime. If I don’t give money to a beggar, do I go to jail with him when he robs me, or someone else? Good grief.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

    If a person is coerced into commiting a crime then there is either a diminished or eliminated culpability, the law provides for that and is within the power of prosecutors, judges and juries to respond accordingly. Why should there be a special case for women who murder their unborn children?

    My whole point is related to the ultimate situation in which abortion is not readily available on the open market. Where any abortions which take place will be obvious to the participants to be murder, if they proceed then they ought to be charged. Obviously, as long as abortion is legal, or appears legal it isn’t just to target those who reasonably believe they are not comitting a crime.