Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison. Continue reading
A video that reminds us that Obama is not the basic problem, although the start of the solution to the problem of a government that is bankrupting us is in his defeat. We must fundamentally rethink in this country the size, scope and power of government. It is not too late, although it is very late.
I spent several days last week with my husband’s high school teacher cousin and her husband who works for the teachers’ union in California. To say they are Liberal would be to undersell their political stances in the same way that calling me a Conservative wouldn’t begin to cover it. As they are nice people, it was an enjoyable weekend of back-and-forth political banter. They support the President. We don’t. We both knew that going in which made any mention of politics more play than work. Neither one was going to be persuaded which made it about the intellectual exercise.
No one offered any new arguments to me until we began to discuss education. They seemed very interested in our decision to homeschool, the book I’m writing about it, and the children we’re raising. They both conceded that we appear to be succeeding in raising and educating children who are both well-informed and socially normal. It was then that she shook her head slightly and stated, “I think you’re doing a great job at it and you obviously have a love and a passion for teaching, which is what makes it even more selfish. Not only are you keeping money out of the schools by not putting your children in them, depriving other children of the resources which could be purchased with that money, but you’re depriving those children of the opportunity to have you as a teacher.”
It’s not a new argument, to be sure. I’ve been told many times that public schools are funded on a per-capita basis which means that our homeschooling keeps funds out of the public schools. Our local school district would receive around $11,000 for each of my children per year, so by teaching them at home, I’m keeping $77,000 out of the local budget. That money could be spent on computers, library books, or teacher salaries…or so the story goes. In reality, I’ve never seen a government bureaucracy spend money that efficiently and I suspect that that $77,000 would not make much of a difference at all.
What is new to me is the idea that my teaching of my own children deprives other children of my brilliance. The social obligation which she assumed I should feel is based in her deep belief in the notion of Collectivism, the idea that what we are and what we can do somehow belongs as much to each other as it does to ourselves. It’s a sort of communism of man. It is also an ideal which is central to Liberal ideology. It requires a moral and cultural conformity which are the antithesis of the American experiment.
In choosing to educate my children at home, I’m not making a selfish statement but an Individualist one. It is a decision which springs from my belief that the people in my household are my primary responsibility. It comes from the idea that God has entrusted these children to me to raise, and that while I must be concerned with the well-being of my fellow men it should not come at the expense of these children.
I have heard it argued that the Christian position should be a Collectivist one. It is the justification many Catholics make for voting for the Democrat Party. There is a beauty in the ideal of the Brotherhood of Man, and just enough truth in it to make it almost right. If only it didn’t require the subjugation of the family or the ownership of the individual by the group, but it does. Their ideal would necessitate that I should turn away from the raising of my own children in favor of the need to educate the children of everyone else. My ability to teach would be owned… and not by me.
So is it a selfish decision that I made to homeschool? There may have been an element of that in my wanting to keep my babies at home and with me for as long as I possibly can. On the other hand, while it may not be true for all children, this is the best choice for educating ours. They are thriving and doing quite well as they learn at our kitchen table, much better than they would do elsewhere. Our brief foray into traditional schooling showed us that quite clearly. So for these children, the selfish thing would be to send them elsewhere, because giving my life over to teaching them is the task which God has given me to do.
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.
Image: Microsoft Powerpoint
In articles, interviews and addresses, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan is defending — not without controversy — his 2013 budget proposal (see “The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal”) as an application of Catholic social teaching, inspired by his Catholic faith.
In an April 10 interview with CBN News, Ryan responded:
To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best, having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that’s how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities.
Those principles are very very important, and the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life. Help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence.
The U.S. Bishops Conference conveyed their thoughts on the FY2013 Budget and spending bills, which in their words “repeated and reinforced the bishops’ ongoing call to create a “circle of protection” around poor and vulnerable people and programs that meet their basic needs and protect their lives and dignity.”:
Bishops Blaire [chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development] and Pates reaffirmed the “moral criteria to guide these difficult budget decisions” outlined in their March 6 budget letter:
1.Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
2.A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.
3.Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times…
Just solutions, however, must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs.
In April 16 and April 17 letters to the House Agriculture Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee addressing cuts required by the budget resolution, Bishop Blaire said “The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”
Marc Thiessen defended the congressman from “a bishop’s unjust attack” (Washington Post, 4/23/12) along with (Fr. Robert Sirico (of the Acton Institute) — the latter, however, disagreeting with Ryan’s equasion of subsidiarity with federalism.
This past week, U.S. Representative Paul Ryan further presented his case in a column for the National Catholic Register: Applying Our Enduring Truths to Our Defining Challenge, April 25, 2012):
As a congressman and Catholic layman, I am persuaded that Catholic social truths are in accord with the “self-evident truths” our Founders bequeathed to us in the founding ideas of America: independence, limited government and the dignity and freedom of every human person. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I am tasked with applying these enduring principles to the urgent social problems of our time: an economy that is not providing enough opportunities for our citizens, a safety net that is failing our most vulnerable populations, and a crushing burden of debt that is threatening our children and grandchildren with a diminished future. … [read more]
On April 26th, Paul Ryan gave a lecture at Georgetown University, entitled “America’s Enduring Promise”, in which he once again addressed the challenge of America’s exploding federal debt, which he characterized as “the overarching threat to our society today”:
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are “living at the expense of future generations” and “living in untruth.”
We in this country still have a window of time before a debt-fueled economic crisis becomes inevitable. We can still take control before our own needy suffer the fate of Greece. How we do this is a question for prudential judgment, about which people of good will can differ.
If there was ever a time for serious but respectful discussion, among Catholics as well as those who don’t share our faith, that time is now.
Ryan’s appearance at Georgetown was prefaced by a scathing letter from some 80 members of the faculty irate over his alleged “continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.” An organized protest of Ryan on the actual day of the event was distinguished by a notable lack of participation. Continue reading
I recently completed Rick Santorum’s It Takes A Family. I quipped on Twitter that had I read this before the campaign started then Santorum would have been my top Rick pick before that other Rick entered the race (though I still maintain that Governor Perry would have been an outstanding nominee, but no need to go there). At times Santorum slips into politician speak – you know, those occasions when politicians feel compelled to tell stories of individual people in order to justify some larger agenda. And some of the book is a little plodding, especially when he gets into wonkish mode (which fortunately is not all that often). Those quibbles asides, there are large chunks of this book that could very well have been written by yours truly. That isn’t meant to be a commentary on my own genius, but rather a way of saying I agree with just about everything this man has to say.
The book title really says it all. The heart of Rick Santorum’s political philosophy is the family, meaning that to him strong families are the heart of any functioning society. The family has been undermined both by big government programs and by the culture at large. Santorum mocks the “village elders” who view more government programs as the solution to all problems. Santorum acknowledges that many of the problems we face don’t have quick and easy fixes, and often no legislative action can be taken. Santorum offers a series of small policy proposals that are aimed at giving parents and individuals in tough economic circumstances some tools to help, but he also emphasizes the doctrine of subsidiarity. Ultimately we must rely principally on local institutions, starting with the family.
Santorum understands what even some on the right fail to appreciate, and that is we can’t divorce social issues from economics. The breakdown of the family coincides directly with economic hardship. If we want a healthier economy, we need healthier families. It’s a central tenet of conservatism that is somehow ignored by large swathes of the political right.
His approach to politics can be summarized in a passage on page 341 of the hardback edition: Continue reading
Red State’s all-out assault on Santorum comes as no surprise. This is a blog that perceives all who fail short of achieving purity as a conservative (whatever that’s supposed to mean) as heretics. So they have taken a few incidents where Santoum fell short – and in some cases, he did cast a wrong vote or endorsed the wrong candidate – and have now transformed Santorum into some kind of statist.
The shrill attacks on Red State are to be expected. What’s disappointing is seeing an otherwise insightful blogger like Ace of Spades hyperventilate ignorantly about Santorum. What set Ace off was this comment by Santorum from much earlier in the campaign:
One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”
It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.
Ace is displeased: Continue reading
The 2012 presidential election cycle is truly one of the most depressing things to behold. Neither of the top two candidates in the Republican field are particularly appealing, and the incumbent President has made Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Meanwhile, for all the bluster about the Establishment choosing our candidates (a charge not wholly without merit), conservatives have done themselves no favors by engaging in ridiculous character assassinations of any candidate who is not one hundred pure and good – meaning all the candidates. Meanwhile, superficial bluster about being a conservative is taken more seriously than actual conservative governing records in big states.
To top it all off, the only conservative left in the race is barely gaining any traction, even when dismantling his opponent in exchanges such as this.
That was far from the only highlight for Santorum. While Newt and Mitt were busy tearing each other apart for every perceived slight, Rick brought some common sense into the debate.
I don’t think Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have helped themselves with their terse exchanges on illegal immigration and Fannie & Freddie.
Apparently, Rick Santorum didn’t think so either. He said there was nothing wrong with Newt using his knowledge of Congress to help advise companies and then said there was nothing wrong with Romney making money. Santorum then implored Mitt and Newt, “Leave that alone and focus on the issues,” to strong applause.
Ah, but Senator Santorum is unelectable, according to the all the wise pundits. There’s no way he could possibly be more electable than the guy who was once portrayed as the “Gingrich who stole Chrismas,” and who has a 2:1 unfavorable to favorable gap in the polls. And he’s certainly not as electable as the guy who is so darn appealing that Republicans are climbing over themselves to pick anyone else but him to be the nominee, and who has an electoral record that makes the Detroit Lions look like a juggernaut. Santorum lost his last election by 18 points, and as we all know someone that unpopular can’t ever recover. No, we need to nominate the guy who left office with a 34% favorability rating, and who didn’t lose his bid at re-election because he didn’t even bother, knowing he was going to get destroyed. Failing that, we can nominate the guy whose own caucus ran him out of Washington, DC.
But Santorum is unelectable.
We also know Santorum is also unelectable because he holds social views outside of the mainstream. For instance, Santorum has this notion that marriage is an institution for one man and one woman. This is such an insane notion that it is only shared by a majority of the American population and the current occupant of the White House. You see, the problem with Santorum is that, unlike President Obama, he really means it. As was discussed a couple of weeks ago at Creative Minority Report, Santorum is actually sincere in his beliefs. So while he might hold policy positions that are identical with the rest of the field, he is the one being mocked because, well, he actually believes what he is saying.
One of the things that occurred to me recently that only augmented my political depression is that Gingrich does hold one electoral advantage over Santorum. The fact that Gingrich is a twice-divorced man with a checkered past while Santorum is a faithfully married man and father of seven means that independents won’t fear Gingrich as much on social issues. That’s right – actually being a man of unquestioned personal morality is an electoral disadvantage, because that just makes you seem all the more scaaaaaary. Thank goodness our elections are decided by the sorts of people who think it’s just creepy that other people think that all life is precious, even lives conceived during rape.
So excuse me if I sit this dance out.
I’m going to need to recant my placement of RedState at the top of my favorite blogs list. Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as probably the leading not-Mitt candidate in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, they, along with a few other conservative websites, have gone absolutely bananas over the prospect of Santorum becoming a leading candidate. Sure, they all hate Mitt Romney, but can we truly tolerate a candidate who says extremist things like this:
This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.
My goodness. I can just see Santorum delivering these remarks on a balcony with a hammer and sickle proudly displayed behind him. Did he also poound a shoe on the podium, because the man must surely be just shy of being an out and out Communist.
Jeff Emanuel has unearthed two more shocking quotes that reveal Santorum’s obvious Stalinist tendencies. Continue reading