5

Gosnell’s Pro-Life Last Choice

I remember watching the movie Glory, a story from the American Civil War based on the personal letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who was the commanding officer of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men.

Shaw insisted that the men were worthy of being deployed for combat, and volunteered the 54th infantry to lead an assault on Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina. He led the men in an initial, noble charge upon the fort. Facing certain death he rallied the men onward.

Colonel Shaw was killed, along with 29 of his men; 24 more later died of wounds; 15 were captured; 52 were missing in action and never accounted for; and 149 were wounded. Although Union forces failed to take and hold the fort, the 54th became known for its courage during battle, encouraging further enlistment of African-American troops. President Abraham Lincoln noted that the bravery of these men helped secure the final victory.

They gave their lives. But for what? At the end of the movie all you see are dead men being thrown in a grave like garbage. It seems so senseless, so vain, so unnecessary. But it did change things. Continue Reading

23

Who Laughed During the Roe v Wade Arguments?

Sarah_Weddington.jpgIt is a little known fact that there was laughter in the United States Supreme Court 40 years ago during the Roe v. Wade hearings. Thought to be the youngest person ever to win a Supreme Court case, then 26 year old Sarah Weddington, the attorney for “Roe”, briefly lost her composure in a choked bout of chuckles before the court. She laughed alone that day, however, and every single citizen in our nation ought to hear what was said, particularly in light of this month’s Alabama Supreme Court ruling that “unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by law.”

When Justice Harry A. Blackmun asked whether Mrs. Weddington felt there is any “inconsistency” in Court decisions against the “death penalty with respect to convicted murderers and rapists at one end of lifespan, and [her] position in this case at the other end of lifespan,” she replied that it has “never been established that the fetus is a person or that it’s entitled to the Fourteenth Amendment rights or the protection of the constitution.” It was clear to the court, even back then, that the case depended on the “fetus” having “constitutional rights.”

Justice Potter Stewart pressed further, “Well, if it were established that an unborn fetus is a person within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, you would have almost an impossible case here, would you not?” Mrs. Weddington replied, “I would have a very difficult case.” And then she laughed nervously. Justice Stewart, not laughing at all, continued that this is akin to ruling that if a “mother thought that it bothered her health having the child around, she could have it killed.” Mrs. Weddington said, “That’s correct,” and declined any further response.

Our laws still, chillingly, reflect this inconsistency. On the one hand, we have the almost decade long 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act which federally recognizes a “child in utero” as a legal “victim” if he or she is injured or killed by crimes of violence, and laws such as the one decided in Alabama this month that recognize “unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by law.” On the other hand, we have abortion for all nine months of pregnancy and impunity for the ones that kill those children, children who are not even guaranteed the protections given to convicted murderers and rapists in some states. It was not funny 40 years ago, and it is still no laughing matter. These are children being killed. Aren’t children people too?

Have you ever listened to the Roe vs. Wade arguments?

Click the play button, it will start at ~20:00 minutes into Mrs. Weddington’s arguments (the attorney for Roe). The clip is only ~4 minutes, but be sure to listen from 23:30 – 24:30. The whole recording is found here. It is a piece of history, a tragic one. This is how it was argued that a mother has a right to kill her own child 40 years ago.  Continue Reading

10

Why I Think You’ll Like Jennifer Fulwiler’s ‘Minor Revisions’

Sooo…Jen has a reality show that debuts tonight. It’s called Minor Revisions.

While Jen found it a little bit awkward to tell you about this new mini-series of hers, I’m tickled pink to tell you why I think you’ll love the series. She gave me a little sneak preview since we both engage with atheists and we both are converts. We have other things in common: We both are fascinated by science, we both have a lot of little kids, and we both have a fondness for Texas. She lives there, I grew up there. She hates the scorpions that invade her house; I hate the spiders that compete for mine.

Anyway, here are three things (in true Jennifer Fulwiler bullet point style) that I think you’ll like — no love! — about her mini-series ‘Minor Revisions.’ These are things that I did not expect, pleasant surprises. Continue Reading

18

St. Christina the Astonishing and the Holiday Stinkiness

Alright, let’s face it. Is this the time of year, just after Thanksgiving, when you start dreading the impending “Holiday (Don’t call it Christmas) Season?” You know, the season of nightly news stories about how schools won’t allow the display of Christian symbols, the already beginning onslaught of commercialism and advertising, the atheist sloganeering that degrades an event so sacred, and all the politically correct puffery about how to speak of the Holy Celebration of The Birthday – Christ’s Mass – without actually saying it.

It’s almost intolerable and almost ruinous, like the odor of the hydro-treated petroleum distillates of Goo Gone® invading a warm and apple-cinnamony glowing kitchen. Pee-yew!

How to rise above it all? Well, there’s a unique, if not peculiar, saint who would probably react the way I’d like to react in the middle of holiday nonsense, St. Christina of Liége, also more appropriately named, St. Christina the Astonishing. She frequently tried to escape, well, worldly stinkiness. Continue Reading

8

Why is the Church Political?

Why? To guard freedom.

This is the third and final in a series taken from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology. In it he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics.

The first article dealt with the fundamental claim to reason itself, why the atheistic view does not work and the Christian view must. The second article dealt with the ordered relationship of the Church and the University, how the Church must guide the search for truth. These are important concepts in our times. Some have asked whether the Church is partisan and what role she should play in the politics of civil society. Cardinal Ratzinger answered. Knowing how to explain this is a powerful tool for evangelization.

First, Church and Theology

Politics, rightly understood, is the practice of government or administration, so there is a political relationship between the Church and theology. The Church governs theology, but it is not a relationship concerned with Ecclesial powers which would be an “outright contradiction of the Church’s true nature.” The Church is not the “party headquarters where party ideology is reviewed in terms of a strategy for gaining power.”

The Church is the environment where reason seeks meaning. The Magisterium’s governing action is to warn theology against paths that lead to abstraction even as she respects the individual’s responsibility to inquire within the environment of faith. There is a duality, a productive functional relationship, a legitimate freedom.

Can this Freedom Fail?

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8

The Natural Order of Church and University

University of Bologna, Oldest University 1088

This is the second in a series taken from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology. In it he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics. The first article dealt with the fundamental claim to reason itself, from an atheistic view and the Christian view.

The Christian position is not based on “In the beginning was irrationality…” but on the opposite. The Gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God.” God, the Creator who made everything out of nothing, is Reason Itself, and since we are made in the likeness and image of God, our ability to reason came from Reason Itself, revealed to us by Christ, the Word or Logos. The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. This article moves into the relationship, then, between the Church and the University.

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6

Explaining Reason: Atheism or Christianity?

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, devoted much writing and attention to questions such as this, not in isolation, but as they relate to academics and civil societies. In an essay, “Theology and Church Politics” published in a 1987 book Church Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, he explains what theology is, what the relation of theology is to the Church, and what the relation of the Church is to education and politics. He explains why such culturally shocking assertions, such as the subordination of the University and the State to the Church, are naturally and rationally ordered relationships for the common good, and it all begins with an explanation about reason.

The University and the State should be subordinate to the Church? Atheism would not agree with this, of course, and it sounds like an outlandish claim in the world today. If you have ever wondered how to respond to the insistence that faith should play no part in academic instruction or public policy, you will find Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation illuminating. This will take a few essays to cover, so this is the first in the series and it deals with the fundamental claim to reason itself.

Can Atheism Explain Reason?

The word “reason” is repeated a lot today, but without an understanding of what it really is. Atheists lay claim to it, assuming that it is the opposite of faith. The word has its root in classical Latin, ratio, and it means intellectual power, the capacity for rational thought.

A tenet of atheism is that reason is a product of human evolution, just another step along the pathway that began with the Big Bang, a “random byproduct of the ocean of irrationality from which everything actually sprang.” But how can this be? If reason is real, then it is as inconceivable that the Big Bang is the primordial beginning of the universe as it is inconceivable that a circle can be squared. That is — it is impossible. The foundation of rationality cannot be irrationality; reason cannot spring from the unreasonable. No, atheism has no explanation for the existence of reason. Continue Reading

21

A Mother’s Promise to the Nation

I know I speak for many, many other mothers out there this morning and I know they would say the same thing I am about to say.

The United States has just elected Barack Obama to a second term as President. News reports tell us that the narrow victory may have hinged on the women’s vote. It appears that the “lady parts” rhetoric about how women’s rights depend on contraception and abortion resonated with enough American women that it affected the election.

They didn’t want to “do it with just anybody.” No, it had to be with a “really great guy.” The one who will give them free contraception and abortion.

But America, I promise you that not all of us mothers raise our daughters to think this way. I promise you that there are plenty of us mothers and fathers out here teaching our daughters, and our sons, that real freedom comes from something beyond themselves, something greater than themselves.

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12

Will the Elections be Delayed?

Many people are wondering whether the devastation of Hurricane Sandy will cause the national elections next week to be delayed. The short answer is that it’s possible, but it’s not really so simple. The decision to delay elections is made by the states. The Blaze has a summary of some of the state laws, it’s more straightforward in some states than others. Governors and state election boards are permitted to change the election day if a state of emergency is declared.

The Telegraph reported a few days ago that Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has made a statement to this effect. “We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election.”

The storm has already affected early voting, and it remains to be determined whether any states will delay the elections. If any states do delay the elections, expect there to be debates about the effect such a decision will have on the elections over all. Is it fair for one state to give voters more time to vote than the voters in another state? What if one state does more to help voters get to the polls? If a state delays the election to help those without power, why couldn’t it delay the election to help those in the military who are unable to vote on time? Will FEMA be accused of preferential treatment in choosing how much to help each state?

The President, however, has no authority to delay the elections. There was some concern when Politico’s Roger Simon asked Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, whether President Obama does have this authority and he replied, “I don’t know.” As have many other media sources, the Wall Street Journal gives the correct answer. The correct answer is no. In 2004 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) examined this question of delaying elections, acknowledging that states can do so if there are emergencies or disputes, but the CRS was clear about the authority of the executive branch. “There is no current constitutional authority residing in the President of the United States, nor the executive branch of Government, to postpone, cancel, or reschedule elections for federal office in the various States.” (From the WSJ) Only Congress can make such a change, as stated in Article 1 – The Legislative Branch, Section 4 – Elections, Meetings.

“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.”

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58

Why are Catholics Praising the Nobel Prize Stem Cell Technology?

Source: “Shinya Yamanaka – Biographical”. Nobelprize.org. Creative Commons Attr. 2.0 Generic license

It’s been all over the news lately, particularly in the Catholic and conservative spheres, how Dr. Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel Prize in medicine for reprogramming adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). People praised this research for creating new pluripotent stem cell lines to study without creating or destroying embryos. They claimed that the process doesn’t require any morally tainted source cells. They announced the feat as an achievement of great ethical significance, a beautiful and ethical science. They pointed out that the process does not pose ethical issues because embryos are not manipulated, and that embryonic stem cell research will soon be largely put out of business. What a moral victory!

However, digging into and decoding the scientific methodological explanations reveals that what is being praised is definitely not so praiseworthy. It reveals something quite significant, and it mostly hinges on one word — reprogramming. Did anyone notice that in all the cheering, little was explained about the method itself?

How is this reprogramming done? How did they “turn back the clock” on adult stem cells? How does a mature cell become immature again? Well, it’s not magic. The adult stem cell gets introduced to genetic material from other young cells — very young cells. Specifically, Dr. Yamanaka’s group used cells grown from the kidney of an electively aborted healthy child in the Netherlands.

The cells used are named HEK-293 (human embryo kidney), and often referred to without the HEK part as PLAT-A, PLAT-E, and 293FT cells. This Yamanaka paper in Cell journal explains how these cells were used in the methods section, Lentivirus Production and Infection, and elsewhere.

293FT cells (Invitrogen) were plated at 6 × 106 cells per 100 mm dish and incubated overnight…

They are purchased from Invitrogen.

The 293FT Cell Line is a fast-growing, highly transfectable clonal isolate derived from human embryonal kidney cells…

So, where did these 293FT cells come from again? It is instructive to read the troubling words of the doctor who collected them. In this transcript from 2001, the doctor explained their origin to the FDA because the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines has long been controversial for moral and safety reasons. See page 81 of the FDA document, beginning on line 14:

“The kidney of the fetus was, with an unknown family history, was obtained in 1972 probably. The precise date is not known anymore. The fetus, as far as I can remember was completely normal. Nothing was wrong. The reasons for the abortion were unknown to me. I probably knew it at that time, but it got lost, all this information. The kidneys of the fetus were then isolated and the kidney cells were isolated in the so-called still air cabinet. There were no laminar flow hoods at that time, and this, is simply a still air cabinet that was also used all over for tissue culture and worked quite well. There was UV lights in it just to sterilize it, and that was all.

 

“So as we did also for the rat kidney cells, the surrounding membranes were removed as completely as possible, and the kidneys were then minced with scissors, trypsinized, and the cells that were recovered after removing the trypsin were cultured in medium containing bovine serum, calf serum. That is what we know.” (Report to FDA, 2001, p. 81, line 14)

How’s that for moral sources? Read on, there were all kinds of questions about contamination from DNA, viruses, and mutant material, a problem that still plaques the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines because it is unknown how the contaminants affect small infants. You may also remember these fetal cell lines from the PepsiCo boycott when it was discovered they were used to develop flavor-enhancers. Same cells.

Still find this Nobel Prize winning technique praiseworthy? Yes, some still shrug at even this. They say that the use of the morally illicit materials doesn’t matter because the cures could improve so many lives. In other words, they say the ends justify the means.

What about parents who use vaccines grown in aborted fetal cell lines? Some are of the opinion that since the aborted child was killed so long ago and the researcher did not cooperate in the abortion directly, that he is justified in using these cells to try to find life-saving cures for people today. Continue Reading

19

New Study Says Free Contraception Causes Abortion to Spiral

The results of a new study have just been released, and the researchers conclude that when women are allowed to chose any version of contraception they want for free, the abortion rate decreases. Spirals even.

Specifically, more than 9,000 women in St. Louis area, ages 14 to 45, were given free contraception for three years, and the abortion rate dropped lower than the national rate to 4.4 – 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women compared to 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women nationwide.

The implications? According to The New York Times, the study is evidence that the HHS Mandate should be enforced, although CNN understands that is controversial for religious groups. NBC says these findings will have many implications for society although “the Catholic Church is unlikely to be moved.”

Damn right.

The comment of a 26 year old graduate student named Ashley at Washington University is revealing. She participated in the project and opted to forego her $90 a month birth control pills for the free intrauterine implant. She said the implant gives her better peace of mind.

“No one had ever presented all the options equally,” she said. “It’s not telling you what to do. It’s giving you a choice unhindered by money.”

Liberal progressives argue for this kind of care because they want women to believe the government cares for them. Government caring for you is a tenet of liberalism. The problem is, governments cannot care for people. People care for people. Governments are big, nameless, faceless institutions that, if allowed, seek to sustain themselves by growing in power. But how do you communicate this to someone? You bring it down to the personal level they think it is.

Suppose you are the government and Ashley is your daughter. Is her statement really the kind of statement that makes you proud of your parenting skills? Do you want her to go to college making choices about anything — especially her choices about who she lets have sex with her — unhindered by money? That just teaches her poor discipline and puts her in danger.

The study also found a drastic reduction in teen births. Among teen girls ages 15 to 19 the annual birth rate was 6.3 per 1,000 girls compared to the national rate of 34.3 per 1,000 for teen girls. Is this the solution for teens? Have sex unhindered by money? Say that out loud a few times.

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10

The Ladies of TAC Comment on the Debate

Hello TAC Readers,

The ladies of TAC decided to weigh in briefly with our thoughts about the first presidential debate, so if you’re interested in the practical thoughts of some Catholic female American patriots who are otherwise busy running their lively households, read on. And please add your thoughts as well.

Thank You,

The Ladies of TAC

From Elaine:

listened to the debate while doing other stuff — didn’t watch it — so I had to concentrate solely on what was said.

No doubt about it  — Romney did great. He stayed on point, never seemed flustered, unlike Obama at times. Obama seemed to be stumbling even through his closing statement, which is supposed to be the “clincher” that sums up his entire message.

Romney kept coming back to the trillions of dollars of national debt and how unfair it is to burden future generations with that. Obama never really came up with a satisfactory rebuttal to that issue — the best he could do was lamely declare that he inherited a big chunk of that debt from Bush.

Obama didn’t even land a glove on him when it came to Romneycare and its similarity to Obamacare (which was one of Romney’s biggest vulnerabilities). Romney pointed out that his Massachusetts plan was a truly bipartisan effort while Obama rammed his through without a single GOP vote.

Also, loved Romney’s subtle but clear (to those who care about the issue) acknowledgment of the importance of religious freedom.

Hard to pick a best line of the night, but I’ll go with Romney’s yardstick for determining the worth of federal programs: Is it worth borrowing money from China to pay for?

Trivia note: After the 1960 JFK-Nixon debate, people who watched the debate on TV said Kennedy won while those who listened on radio said Nixon won. Doesn’t look like there’s any split decision this time.

From Rebecca:

I tuned into the debate last night expecting a night of mini-speeches. I thought it was going to be five minute segments of “let me tell you what I think” and then “the other guy gets to tell you what he thinks” and then we move on. It wasn’t! The new format of “we each state our position and then duke it out” was a pleasant surprise. It worked well for Romney, not so much for Mr. Obama.

For the first time since he declared for the Presidency in 2007, someone actually questioned the President on what he was saying. For a man used to the easy softball questions usually lobbed at him by the esteemed journalists on The View, last night was a very rude awakening. While Romney came across as a candidate securely in command of both the facts and his own position, Mr. Obama looked like a little boy getting scolded by his dad.

He furrowed his brown, pursed his lips, and feebly fought back. I kept waiting for him to whine at Jim Lehrer “No fair…” It was not a masterful persona. He didn’t look like the leader of anything, and may explain why our enemies aren’t afraid to attack our embassies or walk all over us in trade deals. No one is afraid of the “No Fair” kid. He’s annoying and weak from having been coddled all of his political life.

From Stacy:

I’m not a undecided voter. Long ago I had already decided that if a ham sandwich ran against President Obama, I’d vote for him. What I’ve hoped for is that someone would run against him and demand that he answer for the decisions he’s made over the last four years.

Romney did that. He was articulate, clear, detailed, passionate, and grand. He was trustworthy. Beyond the words that either man spoke, the thing that was most deeply revealing was the eye contact.

Mitt Romney looked directly at Barack Obama, spoke directly to him, smiling confidently but not arrogantly. When Obama spoke to him, Romney continued to make eye contact, and to listen. He was engaged. The ability to look directly at your opponent is a sign of courage.

On the contrary, Obama spent way too much time looking down and avoiding eye contact, even when Romney was staring right at him. His facial expressions were full of smirks, defensiveness, irritation, and confusion. The way he kept shooting pleading eyes at the moderator to beg for his turn to speak was childlike. This is the behavior of a weak opponent. Whether people realize it or admit it, it’s certain no one missed this quality in the debate.

At the end of his closing comments when Obama said, “I promise to fight every single day for you,” I got the distinct feeling that I was listening to a speech given by someone running for senior class president, not President of the United States. It’s time for a grown-up in the White House.

From Foxfier:

I kind of killed our TV reception while winterizing the house… all we have are three strange self-help channels, the Spanish religious channel, a Korean shopping network and a couple of flavors of PBS, so I’ll have to pass. [She may chime in later…]

8

Solidarity Health Share: Discussion Starter

Yesterday The Motley Monk wrote and excellent article informing us about the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s (NCBC) advice, “Dropping All Insurance Coverage…” Speaking as a concerned Catholic, mother and citizen, I would love to see a lot more discussions like this about our options. Catholics have an opportunity, possibly, to lead the way in our nation.

Some commenters suggested an “offer and ignore” approach, and I’ve noticed some other Catholics talking about that approach as well, though only in early stages. More on that toward the end. It’s something dear hubby and I have discussed extensively in the kitchen. Our motivation? We have a large, young family, and since he’s made his career in the insurance business, he’s aware of better possible options. Admittedly, it’s the auto insurance business, but the fundamental purpose of insurance is still the same. A conscientious insurance businessman seeks to:

1) Offer a product that truly adds value to the customer’s life.

2) Build a business that employs people oriented around that principle too.

As a quick aside, the people who see insurance as some big, greedy, capitalist monster have to base that premise (in this country anyway) on the assumption that customers are unable to chose wisely when it comes to the planning of their family’s future. The Trasancos family, obviously, rejects that premise. We don’t need the government to tell us what is good for us. Thank you, but no thanks, Obama et al.

As another quicker aside, it is common knowledge in the insurance industry that the more government regulation there is in any state, the more costs increase in a general linear fashion. Some regulation is necessary. Too much regulation only employs government workers and adds cost to customers. If oppressive regulation is enforced at the federal level, the government is basically ruling us and treating us like idiots.

Consider this question. Feedback or input, including correction, is welcome. It’s a good conversation to have.

How much do you already pay for health insurance? If you get health insurance through your employer (the situation for many Americans), you most likely pay more than you realize for it. Why? Most employee benefit plans pay 75-80% of the cost of coverage, and the employee pays the rest.

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37

Counseled to Abort in a Catholic Hospital

Also published at Catholic Lane.

“What’s going on?” asked the therapist.

“I told my doctor that I am having issues with anxiety. I’ve had three babies in the last four years and just found I’m pregnant again, and no matter how hard I try, I keep having panic attacks. I feel out of control. I’m ready to admit I need help. I have some past issues I need to face, but I don’t know what to do. My doctor said I could talk to you because you have experience helping pregnant women.” It all finally came out, stuttered, yet punctuated, a first plea for professional help.

“Why do you feel anxious?”

“I want to do everything perfectly, I want to do it right, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, but I want to do better. Now I get so confused and overwhelmed. When I give up, I feel ashamed, sometimes I harm myself because the emotional pain is so great. I know I need help. I’m pregnant!”

The therapist replied with a knowing grin, “You don’t have to be perfect, you know. Don’t you see? You are beating yourself up trying to be perfect. Slow down. Right now you need to take care of yourself. You have living children and they need their mother. They need their mother to be healthy. Have you thought about abortion? You know, it’s alright to abort this pregnancy so you can take care of yourself right now.”

“What? I’m Catholic, that’s why I came to a Catholic hospital, well, I mean, I’m a recent convert and I’m learning about the teaching of the Church, and this…”

The confused mother stared past the licensed mental health professional out the window of her obstetrician’s office, where she was meeting with this therapist. In this hospital that bears the name of a saint and a crucifix in every room, the mother was more confused than ever. She tried not to let the vortex starting to swirl in her mind show. Abortion? She trusted these people under this roof, but abortion? Catholics are not supposed to have abortions. She could barely speak.

“…this isn’t right.”

“Well,” chuckled the mental health therapist sitting under a Catholic roof, “Catholics don’t really believe that today, that’s an old idea. Women are not expected to tear up their bodies giving birth to baby after baby, and besides, most Catholics have small families. If that’s what Catholics really believed there’d be many, many more large Catholic families, wouldn’t there? Look, I’ve travelled in Europe where there is a large Catholic population, and they all have one or two children. You don’t have to have lots of kids to be a good Catholic. Perhaps you’re just trying to have a lot of children to be a perfect Catholic.”

Later, they got around to the big question.

“Do you ever have thoughts of suicide?” Continue Reading

Tribute in Light – A Picture From a Reader

A reader sent me this shot of a test run of the Tribute in Lights. As he and a friend finished dinner and walked out of the Fraunces Tavern at the corner of Broad Street and Pearl Street last night, they noticed the lights were on for a moment, jumped into the car, and drove over to West Street to get this shot. It is taken from the sun roof of the car, paused at a lightd right next to the Battery Garage where the lights are set up.

Courtesy of Mr. Steve Tirone, Senior Business Analyst at TIAA-CREF. Thank you Steve! Continue Reading

16

Obama Picked Up: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

(Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The story goes like this (emphasis not mine):

In Florida for his bus tour on Sunday, President Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta in Ft. Pierce. There, the shop’s owner, Scott Van Duzer, lifted the president off the ground”

Obama entered the shop saying, “Scott, let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I’ve ever seen,” according to a White House pool report.

Van Duzer, 46, is a big guy: He is 6′ 3″ tall and weighs 260 pounds.

After Obama was lifted up, he said “Look at that!” Man are you a powerlifter or what?”

He continued, according to the pool, talking about Van Duzer’s big muscles.

“Everybody look at these guns,” he said. “If I eat your pizza will I look like that?”

Van Duzer, by the way, is a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and says he will do so again in November.

“I don’t vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him,” he told the press pool.

Usually I don’t write about just politics, but as a matter of principle, I found this incident deeply disturbing. It’s dishonest; it’s propaganda, and propaganda can be dangerous. I may not be a specialist in matters of security, but any average citizen can see that this is totally staged.

When the President is in public, the Secret Service agents wear him like cologne (sorry, my husband’s descriptor). This is standard procedure, not just for Obama, but for any president, especially since the assassination of President Kennedy. Do you see a Secret Service agent anywhere in the shot? Nope.

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27

Timely New Report on Catholic Women and Contraception

After a good long tirade around the kitchen last night during Caroline Kennedy’s “as a Catholic woman” speech, I tried to think of what will come next in the following weeks and months. There’s a report I’ve been promoting this week, and the timing is undoubtedly providential.

One thing I’ve noticed about controversy: It’s a process by which things can change. People are listening now, it’s our turn to take the stage.

Mary Rice Hasson, J.D., a woman I am proud to call a friend, is a Fellow in the Catholic Studies Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington D.C. She is also the director of the Women, Faith, and Culture project together with Michele M. Hill who has been active in apostolates within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. These ladies have issued a preliminary report, What Catholic Women Think About Faith, Conscience, and Contraception, in which 824 Church-going Catholic women ages 18-54 were surveyed. (*Be sure to note how that is defined in the report.)

While the data indicates that most Catholic women do not fully support the Church’s teachings on contraception, the results also do not show the sweeping rejection of Church teaching the media portrays either. The picture is more nuanced. From the website, Women, Faith and Culture: Exploring What Catholic Women Think:

Catholic Women and Faith
90% say faith is important to daily life
72% rely on homilies to learn the faith
28% have gone to Confession within the year

Catholic Women and Contraception
33% think the Church says “yes” to contraception
13% say “yes” to Church teaching
37% say “no” to Church teaching
44% say “no, but maybe …” to Church teaching

The report shows that about one-third of Church-going Catholic women incorrectly believe that couples have the right to decide for themselves the moral acceptability of contraception – regardless of Church teaching. When Church teaching was explained, 44% were receptive to learning more. These results suggest the problem is in part catechetical, and that women want more instruction.

Church-going Catholic women fall into three groups, the researchers found: 1) “the faithful” who say “yes” to Church teaching, 2) “the dissenters” who say “no” to it, and 3) the “soft middle” who are reluctant, but receptive to more information.

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40

Michelle Obama and Unconditional Love

 

I stayed up last night to watch the First Lady’s speech. It intrigues me to study how people think, especially people I disagree with. Sometimes it is possible to follow a logical path and clarify where disagreement begins and ends, sometimes I just want to know how bad it is, which is usually when I need my husband to put his hand over my mouth before I…never mind.

So, I sat there propped up in the bed with a glass of Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Free Range Red and a sleeping toddler next to me to see what the First Lady of the Free World had to say as I waited for my husband to finish up his end-of-the day rituals. Here’s one particular smashery of logic and language that just gets my goat every single time.

She used that lovely phrase unconditional love. I — a Catholic mother who scrubs, chases, sweats, lectures, and pleads for mercy when the truckload of kids and piles of laundry finally break me each day — take that term seriously. In the abortion debate no one who thinks abortion is acceptable is allowed to use that term. In this day and age of political correctness, is it too much to insist on verbal correctness too? Words mean things.

But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.

Her family gave her unconditional love? Really? It’s true, children are incapable of earning the love of their parents, and love should be given to them without limit, without being subject to any conditions or stipulations. It should be absolute and complete. That term demands no compromise. To place a condition on being loved, is to destroy the notion of unconditional love altogether. It is impossible for a parent to say, “I love my children unconditionally, but only if I want them.” Being wanted is a condition.

If she’s so grateful for the unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places she never imagined that her family gave her, why then, does she think that mothers in America today shouldn’t do the same for their children? That is exactly what abortion advocate after dissonant abortion advocate stands for – the denial of unflinching sacrifice and unconditional love. Dismembering the tiniest and most defenseless of the children you deem unworthy of life is not an act of love.

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37

Dear Pro-Choice NYer, You Got What You Asked For

Dear Pro-Choice NYer,

You wanted to do whatever you wanted to do with your body, and then claim you had a right to kill your own children when you conceived them because it was just so unfair for anyone to expect you to let a child ever use you against your will. You said you needed your choices, and you needed them without judgement or criticism. You tossed God’s law aside and said that your rights come from man’s law, and that worked for you as long as you thought you were getting your way. Motherhood be damned.

Image credit: The Center for Consumer Freedom (http://www.consumerfreedom.com/)

When the New York City abortion rate was reported (God only knows what it really is) to be 41%, meaning that nearly 2 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion, you didn’t even wince. You were proud those women were exercising their so-called right to choose even when the city health officials made condescending excuses that the high rate was due to the “ignorance” and “ambivalence” of women who hadn’t been indoctrinated in the methods of birth control, or who were too stupid and poor to chose stable relationships.

Even decades ago when your feminist and pro-choice philosophies collided over sex-selective abortion right in your own city, you quieted the voice in your head that was screaming, “No. STOP! You should not,” because you feared that making moral judgments would take away the high and mighty right for you to profit from the ambivalent under the guise of caring about women. In a mind-seering display of mental gymnastics you sought to rephrase the question by separating the chooser from the choice, so that you could justify killing girls in the womb even as you condemned misogyny.

Let me tell you something: Truth does not condescend the human person, male or female of any age, nor does it contradict itself. That should have been warning enough, but you were too blinded by the tenets of the reproductive rights movement and the power you thought it gave you.

And now, the man you trusted to guard your pseudo-freedom in New York City has decided to dictate to new mothers how they will feed their own babies. Starting September 3, Mayor Bloomberg will enforce what is being called “the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation” which requires formula to be locked up and rationed out only if medical professionals can submit a medical reason for needing it. If the mother gets the formula from the state, she also gets a lecture. Why? It seems the people in power don’t really think women can make good choices for themselves or their children, especially the women who give birth.

Sure some of you will support this anti-choice program and justify it based on some feigned concern for the health of newborn babies. Some of you will speak out against it because you see it for the over-imposition of government into private lives that it is. However, I predict that not a single one of you will see the monumental contradiction before you once again.

Like happy and willing slaves, you conceded all your rights to the decisions of the people in power, and now they are dictating that those in charge do what you’ve been fighting against your whole lives – force a woman to let her child use her body. You may justify it as some caring act on the part of the government, but that’s nonsense. Governments don’t care for people; people care for people, and you’ve been advocating for generations that the most extreme bond between the have’s and the have not’s – the bond between mothers and their children – is meaningless unless the individual mother chooses to care for the greedy little thing.

Some people are calling your Mayor Bloomberg a nanny for turning NYC into a nanny-state, but at least nannies care for individual children. I hate to break it to you, Pro-Choice NYer, but you aren’t a child and Mayor Bloomberg and his officials don’t care for you (or the children you decide are worthy of life) individually. This isn’t about caring; it’s about control. It’s Marxism.

This is social materialism, utilitarian ideology about the worth of a human person in the big chemical equation of society. Feeding people taxes the system, just as pregnancy taxes a woman’s body. If it were about caring for the babies, there wouldn’t also exist a law that allowed late-term abortion past the point of viability. There wouldn’t be a law allowing any unborn child to be killed. The same child the state says must be breastfed for it’s health could have been killed the trimester, the month, the week, the day, and the minute before birth with impunity. Wake up! The same people are also busy telling you what you can and cannot eat or drink. They don’t really think you can be trusted to chose wisely for yourself; they see you as objects to be managed.

As pro-life people have said for as long as they’ve needed to use that title, if you promote that one group of humans can treat another dependent group like individual blobs of mindless tissue, don’t be surprised if the day comes when it’s your turn to be grouped as such too. You got what you asked for. Welcome to the world of your choices.

If you want to fix it, start by reaffirming unconditional love between mother and child, and by defending the primary and natural rights of the family.

4

Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant Writes About the Eucharist

We are blessed with some inspiring and talented young adults at Ignitum Today; a young mother determined to positively define feminism, an opinionated Victoria Advocate, a couple of teenage writers with Spirit-filled and mature pens, the wise and professional GADEL from Ghana, a mysterious college duo Ink and Quill, a father and mother who just welcomed the birth a daughter with Spina Bifida, a sharp-witted Paul Ryan fan who writes the blog that won Best New Blog at CPAC last year, two Bright Maidens, a husband and wife missionary team in Dominica, a Junior Fellow at First Things, Look! A Black Catholic!, a Canossian Sister, missionary, and nun who dabbles in graphics, music, techstuff, and loves to pray intercessory prayers for you…and the list goes on. That’s only some of the contributors, and I will continue to introduce more of them to The American Catholic audience, they are truly inspiring. We have one major rule – no heresy! – and in spite of what some may think, no, of course we don’t advocate burning heretics, just avoiding heresy as we shine the light of Christ into the world.

I know I’m bragging, but I’m so proud of all of them. Imagine what it’s like to work with such a great group of young adults, and to wake up and read powerful messages like the following on a regular basis. This is from a 27 year old Army Special Forces Medical Sergeant, Ryan Kraeger, a cradle Catholic homeschool graduate stationed on the West Coast. His website is The Man Who Would Be Knight and he blogs here.

But you must read his latest, Hunger and Thirst. Please go read the whole thing, as a commenter said, it will stay with you for the rest of your life. I pray that priests who uphold the teaching of the Church are allowed to remain in service to our armed forces.

And God? God is the Sun! God is the boiling furnace of a thousand times a thousand suns, a blazing inferno (pun intended) of desire for me. God is the Love that exists from all eternity, Love that loved me into existence, Love that loves me into love with the Triune Love.

This is why I go to Communion! Not because I am so in love with God, but because He is eternally in love with me.

As of this writing I am facing the prospect of a very long time in a desert where there are no priests. At first this panicked me, but now I am at peace with it. The God who has worked so hard to bring me to Him (despite my best efforts to the contrary at times) will not abandon me. If it is His will to starve me for a year, or for the rest of my life, then starvation is what is best for me.

What saddens me, though, is the number of people who starve themselves…

Click here to read the rest.

Click here to read the rest.

28

Dr. Stenger and the Folly of Free-Thinking

Are we to believe the New Atheist free-thinkers see themselves as reasonable as rocks?

I was hesitant to write this because I don’t like picking battles with atheists. At first I didn’t see how anyone would take this idea about free will and our judicial system seriously, but it seems some people are. So I offer the following with the hope that if more people know about this discussion, more people can see it for the nonsense that it is. 

Victor Stenger, Ph.D. particle physicist and best-selling author of God and the Folly of Faith has written an essay at Huffington Post “Free Will is an Illusion” and it took an unexpected turn. Certainly, the atheistic consideration of free will is nothing new, but Dr. Stenger also makes a connection between free will, or the lack thereof, and our judicial system in the United States. This position has disturbing societal implications.

Keep in mind, this is the man who popularized the phrase: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.” He has also published such titles as God: The Failed Hypothesis and The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason. Victor Stenger has made it known that he thinks science can prove there is no god, and that he considers religion dangerous to society.

In this Huffington Post essay he references a book by another physicist, Leonard Mlodinow, who says that the unconscious plays a dominant role in human behavior. As Dr. Stenger puts it, “before we become aware of making a decision, our brains have already laid the groundwork for it.” He goes on to say (read carefully), “This recognition challenges fundamental assumptions about free will and the associated religious teachings about sin and redemption, as well as our judicial concepts of responsibility and punishment. If our brains are making our decisions for us subconsciously, how can we be responsible for our actions? How can our legal system punish criminals or God punish sinners who aren’t in full control of their decision-making processes?”

He also references the book Free Will by neuroscientist Sam Harris and title-quotes him in stating that “free will is an illusion.” Dr. Stenger writes, “We don’t exist as immaterial conscious controllers, but are instead entirely physical beings whose decisions and behaviors are the fully caused products of the brain and body.”

So, essentially having established that humans are determinant blobs of matter with no free will, he then makes the case to the Huffington Post readers that “our largely retributive moral and justice systems need to be re-evaluated, and maybe even drastically revamped” if the people in society are going to be able to protect themselves from “people who are dangerous to others because of whatever it is inside their brains and nervous systems that makes them dangerous.”

That is, he is calling for a new system of morality and justice based on the the presumption that no one is ultimately responsible for his actions, and remember, he’s made it clear who he thinks the “dangerous” people are. This is eerily like the argument used to justify abortion, only we’re all blobs of tissue now.

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2

Meet James Fulton, the Alleged Miracle for the Beatification of Fulton Sheen

As you know, I am a Chief Editor along with Tito Edwards at Ignitum Today, the social network of the JP2 and B16 generations.  One of our contributors, Bonnie Engstrom, wrote back in September 2011 about the riveting survival of her infant son, an alleged miracle that the family believes was through the intercession of the now Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  Bonnie informed us last week that this alleged miracle has been chosen as the one to be submitted for review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and if it is declared a true miracle then Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be beatified.  It has been so exciting to share in this remarkable journey through Bonnie’s writing.  When the pastor at our parish in New York announced this good news from the pulpit last Sunday, I smiled at my husband and thought, “I know the family involved!”  It’s an amazing and glorious story.

You can read more at Catholic News Service and at Bonnie’s website, Learning to Be a Newlywed, but before you read anything else, you need to read her original story when she told us about the day her son, James Fulton, was born.  It is reprinted today at Catholic Sistas with her permission.  Thank you Bonnie.

Say hello to James Fulton

Go read the story at Catholic Sistas!

And while you are there, look around. This is a super group of faithful Catholic women, and the website was created and designed by Martina Kreitzer.

13

Sometimes I Feel Like Sarah Connor

I have to remind myself sometimes to refrain from immersion in current events, politics, and social issues because I swell up with machine-like resolve and start thinking of myself as a Sarah Connor, the fictional mom in the Terminator films who transformed from a timid victim to a hardened warrior on the verge of losing touch with her own humanity. She knew Judgement Day was coming, and her son would have to fight evil mightily. She knew she had to prepare and protect him.

I don’t think I’m the only mom that conjures up such an image. We lay awake at night wondering what kind of battles our children will face as adults. Will they lose faith? Will they be hurt? Will they be warriors? Will they be martyrs? Will they be ready? Are we doing enough to take a stand as Catholics? No kidding, there are nights when I feel compelled to rise and do chin-ups on the door frame to flex some muscle (though I’d faint after three).

I have learned, instead, to pray. As awful as I may think some current events are, this world still belongs to God. If I believe that Christ healed the sick, commanded demons, and died and rose for the salvation of souls, then in faith I need to guard against despair and overwhelming ferocity. Remember what the centurion in Capernaum said to Jesus when he wanted his servant to be healed? He had great faith. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He also had humility. That last part reminds me of St. Francis’ advice, “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”

Surely in some ways we do need to become a legend among the resistance, to warn that humanity is doomed to self-destruction if they don’t listen, and to store up a proverbial cache of weapons for our children if there is a rise of the machines; but mostly what we need to do is to accept the graces and abundances offered now in this time of our own lives. We do need to fight, but we can’t let ourselves become so steeled we forget we are human.

Even so, I wouldn’t mind having her deltoids, and I admit I rather like imagining myself standing strong with a steady gaze across the landscape as I prepare to defend and inspire my children, but without the cigarette and Commando rifle.

28

Do the Girl Scouts Really Help Girls?

Founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low with two Girl Scouts (1912)

With the bishops in the United States investigating the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) this question seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. Do the Girl Scouts really help girls? In many ways, what they teach goes against how I want to raise my own girls, but I never really thought about why. The Girl Scouts have this whole attitude about them that is just, frankly, not feminine.

I grew up with the “you can be anything a man can be” cultural message, and I took it seriously. As a child, I tried to run faster, climb higher, and make better grades than the boys in my classes. Heck, I even hauled hay and shot rifles (still can) as a teen. When Hillary Clinton made her comment about staying home and baking cookies and having teas, I even remember thinking how proud I was that I was just like that in my twenties. Nope, no standin’ by my man like Tammy Wynette. At that point I was a single mother, and an unstoppable force as a scientist on a career path of success (so I stupidly told myself). Older, wiser, and full of regrets, I have come to regard such messages to young women as dangerous to the institution of the family – and to a young woman’s own sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Enough of the trip down memory lane. Do Girl Scouts help girls now?

Rather than base my opinion only on my personal experiences though, I decided to ask my friend Mary Rice Hasson about it. She is also a mother of seven and a lawyer who serves as a Fellow in Catholic studies at the conservative think tank in Washington D.C., Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is an expert on these issues, particularly on Catholic women’s views of  faith, conscience and family. A LifeNews article cites her as agreeing that the bishop investigation is needed, and then quotes her.

“A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed,” she said. “The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

That got my attention. I asked her about the Girl Scouts, and for advice about raising girls in general. I am more interested in guiding principles than details. I was struck by this advice: “My parents raised us girls (7 of us) to believe we could do anything—but to value motherhood and to retain the sense of femininity that flourishes by embracing womanhood, not aping masculinity.” Bingo!

Value motherhood. Be feminine. Embrace womanhood. Do not ape masculinity.

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18

Sex should NOT BE a MORAL ISSUE, it should be a PRACTICAL ISSUE

The woman formerly known as beautiful and author at Huffington Post, Shannon Bradley-Colleary, had an article recently with the declarative title “Abstinence Got Me Pregnant.” It’s a “family planning” story meant to demonstrate that people should not be expected to follow a moral code when it comes to sexual intercourse, and probably many women (who don’t think about what words mean) can relate.

The author describes how she was raised by religious parents and a father that scared off boys while cleaning his gun, how she fell in love in college and “relinquished” her virginity unexpectedly on Cheez-It crumbs behind a couch in an off-campus apartment while “roommates farted and belched like cannon-fire in adjacent rooms,” how she began taking birth control pills and used them for the next five years as a “serial monogamist,” how after she had her heart broken and broke a few herself she decided to take a “leave of absence” and become abstinent, how a broken-hearted young man still pursued her with roses, poetry, and silly declarations of love, how she got pregnant and to her relief miscarried so she was “spared, making a choice” that might “haunt” her for the rest of her life, and finally how some ten years later she gave birth to two daughters with her husband “at just the right time, with exactly the right partner.” What does she credit for things working out well? Birth control, because abstinence got her pregnant.

Her point: “…sex should NOT BE a MORAL ISSUE, it should be a PRACTICAL ISSUE.” [Emphasis hers.]

She plans to take her daughters to Planned Parenthood when they are in high school because although she hopes “they will only give themselves to men who cherish them” she believes it is better to be “practical” and dispense with any “moral imperatives” so they won’t ever experience shame or blame. She concludes, “Knowledge is power.”

Take a deep breath, relax your face muscles, and let’s examine the logic of this statement because this is a serious issue that needs to be clarified. I once thought this way too, until I realized 1) everyone needs a moral code, and 2) words mean things.

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42

Expert Advice on “Breastfeeding” Without Controversy

This is in response, sort of but in general whether you’re in the military or not, to this photo, and others, mentioned at Huffington Post, and elsewhereGo ahead, gawk and wince.

Nursing doesn’t have to be controversial. Too often the conflicts over breastfeeding in public turn into a debate about whether the woman has a right to expose herself in public or not. One side says it’s natural and the woman is justified, the other side says she isn’t because, frankly, it makes people uncomfortable.

When I was younger, I was in the first category, a me-first mentality and the media seems to encourage that mindset. “Look what a great mom I am!” For me, that need to show-off was a compensation for the compromises and insecurities of trying to appear liberated. As I nurse this seventh child now, I realize my approach to nursing has changed, drastically. [1] Age? Experience? Faith? (Exhaustion?) A lot of reasons.

First, that compulsion to prove myself vanished. I’m happy, confident, and proud in my home, and if I must go somewhere, then I am prepared to find an enclave. Nursing, like it or not, is private, and a woman is not oppressed if she has to excuse herself to feed her child. It’s a considerate gesture, an act of propriety, to acknowledge those around you — basic good manners. [2]

Second, because it will happen, when I have no choice but to nurse in front of other people, I do it discretely. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and a woman’s attitude can put others at ease. Cover up with a blanket, focus on the baby, and do what needs to be done. This may seem insignificant, but refraining from eye contact will do much to maintain a little private bubble. [3] Chances are, no one will even notice, and your mini-withdrawal will put them at ease if they do. Once the baby’s situated, carry on. People don’t mind knowing you are nursing, it’s the risk of exposure that makes them nervous. Understandably so. Nursing is intimate.

Third, I simply let myself enjoy it. It’s not a competition and babies grow too fast anyway. These are precious moments. So what if you have to make temporary sacrifices? So what if you have to learn, by sometimes failing, to navigate uncomfortable scenarios graciously?

Last, using a more appropriate word helped me orient my thinking. “Breastfeeding” sounds so utilitarian. I prefer to call it “nursing” which implies loving care. Moms nurse the child in the womb, and into adulthood. Every stage comes with its challenges and joys, so let the first years be intimately special, and leave the controversy for another day. [4]

In other words, lighten up. You don’t need publicly published professional photography to capture the moment and rankle a non-issue.

 

What? Did you think I've violate what I just said with a photo of a bare-chested woman?

 

[1] More like, all pretense has been beaten out of me.

[2] No one posts pictures of changing poopy diapers.

[3] Shooting daring glances at strangers is a bad idea.

[4] Like those things Mr. Donald R. McClarey pointed out.

 

Image credit: Microsoft Powerpoint

5

Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

SHOCKER: Teens need their mothers. Mothers can help their daughters. Even in crisis.

There’s an article forthcoming in the journal Economic Inquiry by Professors of Economics, Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, that shows parental notification or consent laws are associated with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in suicides committed by 15- through 17-year-old women. The researchers analyzed National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data collected from 1987 to 2003 and found results that are consistent with the hypothesis that laws requiring parental involvement increase the “expected cost of having unprotected sex,” and, consequently, protect the well-being of young females. (Hey, they’re economists.)

Here’s the reasoning, taken from this paper by the same authors.

  • Researchers have already found, using state-level data from 1981 through 1998, that parental involvement laws reduced teen gonorrhea rates 12 to 20 percent among teen females. (Klick and Strattman, 2008)
  • Other recent studies provide evidence that female adolescents who become sexually active at an early age are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. (Hallfors et al. 2004; Sabia and Rees 2008)
  • Research has shown that multiple sex partners increased the likelihood of substance abuse. (Howard et al. 2004)
  • It is also been found that adolescent females who had multiple sex partners were 10 times more likely to develop the symptoms of major depression than those who remained abstinent. (Hallfors et al. 2005)
  • There was no evidence of a similar relationship between male multiple partners and adolescent depression. (Hallfors et al. 2005)

So the hypothesis is: If parental involvement laws discourage minors from risky lifestyles that affect their physical health, then they would promote emotional health of teenage females as well. Analyzing suicide rates will give an indication since there have been many studies that link depression and suicide. The national suicide data was analyzed and that’s exactly what they found – a supporting correlation. Parental involvement laws correlate with fewer suicides. Further in support, there was no evidence of a similar relationship among male adolescents, and no correlation between parental involvement laws and suicide for older women because, well, neither group would be affected by those laws.

Makes sense, right? You’re probably thinking, “Did we need to pass those laws, wait and see what happened, and then count suicides?” No, we didn’t, and there’d be at least some justice if the people opposing those laws would take notice.

You’d think someone who really cares about women would be able to take an objective view of this data and consider it as an appeal to our collective conscience. You’d think someone who parrots, “Trust Women!” would be consistent enough to also trust mothers who are raising teens. When the state comes between teens and their parents, it just follows that the adolescents will not be as close to their parents as they ought to be.

This only affirms what we already know. Parents of teen girls can be trusted – should be trusted for the psychological benefit of a daughter in crisis. The abortion advocate community doesn’t seem as concerned about young women, though, as they are about politics and agendas. They instead say that people just want to make it harder for teens to have abortions, and that teens have a “fear of abuse” from unrelenting parents. Oh, and they’ll say something about how correlation doesn’t equal causation, revealing that they either are ignorant of analytical methods or, even worse, knowledgeable of them but dishonest when the results don’t fit their predetermined conclusions. Some will even say that teen women should be trusted to make their own decisions even when the decision for these desperate young women is to end their own lives. Of course, we all know why Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the parents involved. Ac$e$$ to abortion.

So I have a little hypothesis of my own. I predict (but would love to be proven wrong) that not a single abortion advocate will come forward and honestly reassess parental consent laws even though there is no body of data to support their premise. Could they admit that maybe, just maybe, the default condition is not that most parents of teens are abusive. Imagine!

If they trust women, why can’t they trust mothers and fathers? Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway? Perhaps there’s a cost associated with believing that a mother has the right to kill her own child in the womb, and that cost is faith in people to love their children unconditionally at any point in life, even during difficult times.

H/T:  Michael J. New at National Review

Image: Microsoft Powerpoint

16

Sons of Cain: St. Michael, Knights of Longinus, and Bohemians

Can you answer the Teaser Questions at the end?

When I asked my political science and history buff, numerical mechanics expert, Special Ops retired military officer husband to recommend his favorite author so I could read it, it was a wifely effort to show love, to get to know him better. He answered, “Tom Clancy,” and handed me Debt of Honor and Executive Orders, an overwhelming 2,500 page paperback brick stack. My eyes bugged out.

But hey, I’m committed, so I read Tom Clancy’s masterpiece tale, and my hesitation turned into enthusiasm. The technical world of national warfare, really the pitting of good and bad individual leaders against each other, was fascinating and caused me to rethink the meaning of pacifism. Through the characters, I developed an appreciation for the courage and humility required of good leaders. Tom Clancy is a master at teaching through storytelling because his novels are exhaustively researched, reality-based fiction. The two-part story (only part of a bigger series) centers around a terrorist attack in which a hijacked Boeing 747 is flown directly into the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress, decapitating the government. It is interesting to note that the books were published four and six years before September 11, 2001. Many people wondered about the prophetic nature of the book because it turned out to be more real than anyone anticipated. Tom Clancy understands the mentality of his characters, deeply.

Reading Val Bianco’s novel, Sons of Cain, was kind of like that, except Mr. Bianco brings a spiritual fullness to his work that makes it eternally pertinent. It is not nearly as tedious as working through a Clancy military novel, but the progression of the story ushers the reader into a life-changing experience, beckoning a more thoughtful dive into current world events and what goes on the minds of those who cause them. It makes spiritual warfare tangible and present, yet with an inspiring catechetical quality. I no longer wonder how to think of angels and demons, and I can almost see the “spiritual space” in the battle of good and evil when I consider how and why certain events happen the way they do. Are there large and terrible demons with their claws dug deeply in the heads and abdomens of men, preying on their minds and souls, coercing them to malice and perceived power, even as it makes them feel sick? Think about it! Continue Reading

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Go Margeaux! Victorious in Defense of the Eucharist

Margeaux Graham is really a quite reserved young woman, confident, articulate and anticipating the future that lays before her in a nation where women have the opportunity to become influential political leaders. She doesn’t sensationally seek the spotlight, and genuinely desires to adhere to reasonable codes of conduct in a democratic society. She takes sincere pride in her academic achievement. As a Catholic, she also refuses to compromise her obligations. This is her first priority, and now this priority has caused a conflict she must face. At a time in our country, and in our world, when threats to religious freedom plaque the media daily, this young woman’s simple and sincere willingness to challenge long-standing, but very flawed, policies and practices is inspiring.

What if everyone refused to dismiss the Eucharist with such boldness?

A Recap. It all started when Margeaux was selected to attend a prestigious Girls State session by the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) in Florida. She was chosen as a delegate based on her outstanding scholastic ability and her desire to learn more about how our government works. The session is a 9-day experience where the girls participate in a mock democratic government that fosters civic leadership and stimulates, in the words of the Director, a “desire to protect the privileges and responsibilities of our democratic form of government.” It is a high honor to be chosen for participation.

In preparing for her trip, to her surprise, Margeaux was told that she could not attend Mass on Sunday, and that her only option would be to attend the “non-offensive” non-denominational service offered for all participants. This was motivated at least in part by a concern for safety, understandably. The organizers do not permit the girls to leave the session alone for any reason. So Margeaux’s mother, willing to accommodate this reasonable concern, sought help from a sympathetic member of the local American Legion. She offered to come take her daughter to Mass, or to have someone arrange for a priest to celebrate Mass at the conference site. But — this accommodation was rejected. Margeaux then wrote the letter reprinted in the last article to the President of the state ALA chapter, explaining that she must decline the invitation, and the academic and civic honor extended to her, if it meant that she had to neglect her obligation to attend Mass.

Discussions are still underway and they are praying for a favorable outcome. The intent is not to disparage anyone, only to defend a teen’s right to attend Mass and to develop as a leader in our country. The accommodation being requested in perfectly reasonable, and defensible by the constitutional and civic rights guaranteed to citizens of the Unites States. A young woman should not be discriminated against because she is a faithful Catholic.

In the meantime, Margeaux has responded to the state officer who scolded her and told her God would understand if she skipped Mass. Margeaux is taking a stand, not so much over being accommodated, but at the insult to the Eucharist. This high school junior minces no words and flat out, boldly defends the source and summit of the Christian life. I hope someone at a Catholic university is able to help her with her future endeavors. With the exception of the first sentence, you might consider reading the opening paragraph out loud!

 

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Margeaux’s Stand: Catholic Teen Defends Her Right to Attend Mass

True Leadership

“The American Legion Auxiliary is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Through its nearly 10,500 units located in every state and some foreign countries, the Auxiliary embodies the spirit of America that has prevailed through war and peace. Along with The American Legion, it solidly stands behind America and her ideals.

Well?

While the nation discusses and debates the attacks on religious freedom, a high school junior in Florida has put her academic reputation on the line to stand up for her faith. Margeaux Graham was selected this year to participate in a prestigious 9-day leadership event in her state’s capital. The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) of Florida has an annual “Girls State” program whereby the participants “learn how to participate in the functioning of their state’s government in preparation for their future roles as responsible adult citizens.” It is a “nonpartisan program that teaches young women responsible citizenship and love for God and Country. They are awarded 3 college credits and rare notoriety in the college application process.

Margeaux is a faithful Catholic. That is, she takes her obligation to attend Mass as just that — her obligation. When she inquired about nearby Catholic churches to plan where she would attend, she was told by the staff that the only opportunity any of the girls would have to participate in a Sunday service is to attend the “non-offensive”, non-denominational service offered for all at the conference. The event takes place at the University of Central Florida Florida State University and the cathedral is nearby the campus. [see update] A member of the national American Legion even contacted the Auxiliary to arrange for a priest to celebrate Mass on campus, and this accommodation was denied.

So Margeaux took action herself. She wrote to the organizers declining the invitation, with firm resolve, unless she was allowed to attend Mass. This is her letter, reprinted with permission. Mind you, she is a high school junior.

 


TO: American Legion Auxiliary Unit #21
FROM: Margeaux Graham
RE: Girls State 2012
DATE: May 7, 2012

I am regretfully writing this letter to formally inform you that I will be unable to attend Florida Girls State in June. I am extremely honored that you found me worthy to represent American Legion Auxiliary unit #21 and am devastated that I cannot participate. I attended orientation on May 6, 2012 and was informed by [name private] that I would not be allowed to attend Mass on Sunday.

My faith is very important to me, as it has been to countless Americans. This country was founded on the principles of religious and personal freedom, the fundamental rights that either you or your loved ones fought to protect. It is disheartening that the Florida Girls State program is structured in such a way that it prohibits participation of young women who have a strong conviction for their religious practices.

The only opportunity to participate in a Sunday service is presented in a “non-offensive”, non-denominational service. As a Catholic Christian I find it offensive that I am not allowed to attend Mass and am perplexed as to how this service could accommodate the beliefs of other religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and all Christian religions. I am disappointed to see the lack of respect for religious creed from the Florida Girls State program by limiting participants to only one religious paradigm.

Miss [name private] made it quite clear that I had to choose between my faith and Florida Girls State. I was looking forward to attending with great zeal, the knowledge, experience, and friends gained would have been invaluable. My faith has made me who I am, it has shaped me into the young woman that you chose as your delegate, for me to deny my faith would be hypocritical. Words cannot express my disappointment that the Florida Girls State program is designed to only accommodate delegates who fit into a pre-determined religious belief system or none at all.

Margeaux Graham


 

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