Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York commended President Obama and the Democratic Party efforts inArchbishopDolan reforming Health Care.  He said this during the Knights of Columbus Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.  But his Grace gave this caveat that if reform…

“…leads to the destruction of life, then we say it’s no longer health care at all – it’s unhealthy care and we can’t be part of that.”

To accentuate this sentiment and as a warning to well meaning Catholics, Cardinal Levada explained that those that want to reform health care at any cost:

“[W]e do not build heaven on earth, we simply prepare the site to welcome the new Jerusalem which comes from God.”

2. Catholic convert Joe Eszterhas of Hollywood screenwriting fame, will be writing the screenplay for a movie aboutVirgen of Guadelupethe Virgin of Guadalupe.  Though no director nor a green light has been given on the go ahead of this movie project, the fact that Joe Eszterhas is writing the screenplay is newsworthy in itself because of the author himself is enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

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One Response to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

Culture Crash

Friday, July 17, AD 2009

That mainstream American culture is something of a train wreck is hardly news at this point, and that regard there’s a certain wisdom to the approach, “Let the dead bury their dead,” rather than having the brashness to be the one shouting, “Oh, hey, look! A body!” Still, occasionally one runs across things which are at the same time so sad and so indicative of our cultural ills one feels the need to comment. Such a case, to my mind at least, was this article from the most recent Atlantic Monthly suggesting that for the modern Homo suburbanicus middleclassus marriage is a failed idea which should be pretty much abandoned. Or as the cheery sub-headline succinctly put it: “The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?”

The author is a 47 year old woman, a successful performance artist married to a musician, who after twenty years of marriage and two children find herself in the aftermath of an extramarital affair deciding that she really doesn’t feel like doing the work to rebuilt a relationship with her husband.

Which is not to say I’m against work. Indeed, what also came out that afternoon were the many tasks I—like so many other working/co-parenting/married mothers—have been doing for so many years and tearfully declared I would continue doing. I can pick up our girls from school every day; I can feed them dinner and kiss their noses and tell them stories; I can take them to their doctor and dentist appointments; I can earn my half—sometimes more—of the money; I can pay the bills; I can refinance the house at the best possible interest rate; I can drive my husband to the airport; in his absence, I can sort his mail; I can be home to let the plumber in on Thursday between nine and three, and I can wait for the cable guy; I can make dinner conversation with any family member; I can ask friendly questions about anybody’s day; I can administer hugs as needed to children, adults, dogs, cats; I can empty the litter box; I can stir wet food into dry.

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33 Responses to Culture Crash

  • I guess the first thing I’d say to any of these materialistic people is “No matter how bad you think your life sucks it can get a lot worse, trust me.” Not that that would dissuade them from any course of action.

  • Gee, I thought I heard “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy in the background as I read this article. Time to dig out the platform shoes and glitter T-shirts.

    You would think the author invented the idea of “nuturing superdads” staying home to change diapers and cook dinner while the moms went off to work. She’s not a youngster, so I wonder where she was in the ’70’s, when Mr.Mom and the sensitive male were supposed to be the wave of the future. In fact, all the alternative lifestyles she breathlessly catalogs were exhaustively discussed – and practiced by some “enlightened” souls – 30 years ago.

    Since then, research has clearly shown that children do best in a two-parent household where the parents are married to each other. But then, it’s not really about what’s good for the kids, is it? It’s about – well, Tom Wolfe didn’t call it the Me Decade for nothing.

  • It’s one thing for a silly post-modern feminist to come out against traditional marriage. When a “Catholic marriage spokesman” does it, it’s a bit more outrageous:

    Who said this?

    “Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving. Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples.”

    Was it

    (a) The head of the Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Anti-Discrimination voluntary and Community Organisations

    (b) The chair of the Haringey and Islington Travellers, Roma and Refugees Education and Information Strategy Board

    (c) Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, the Catholic Church-linked marriage agency which is still paid for by churchgoers up and down the country?

    The answer, sadly, is (c). Well, at least he will say it today, in a speech due to be delivered today to gay and lesbian Catholics in Leicester.

    Prendergast is proof that the culture wars are well and truly over (and we lost). Surely there is some second-rate university sociology department that could put him on the public payroll, one would think, and yet so far gone is the fanatical loony Left infiltration of British public life that he ends up working for the Catholic bureaucracy.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100003646/married-couples-no-better-as-parents-says-catholic-marriage-spokesman/

  • I wouldn’t blame the institution of marriage so much as I’d chalk it up to a bunch of insufferable boors trying to live together.

  • The hardness of their hearts.

  • I think my dear husband summed it up pretty well, if not very kindly:
    “It’s people being idiots. That’s always a problem. They probably can’t be happy, just like (family friend who also seems to enjoy being depressed and alone, although he’s mild.)”

  • Funny, but just today on another conservative blog, the blogger quoted an article soon to appear in “City Journal” which claims that marriage is alive and well among the middle and upper classes — it’s the poor who are experiencing and suffering most from the decline of marriage — and that the divorce rate for college educated women has actually DROPPED in the last 30 years. I’ll have to look up the author’s name.

    Another thought: perhaps if “Ellen” and others like had not wasted her “hot 20s” on a bunch of “bad boys” and had instead saved themselves for their spouses, it might have made their single lives duller, but their married lives more interesting! I believe other studies have actually shown that the couples who are overall happiest with their sex lives are — surprise, surprise — religiously observant, married Christians who abstained before marriage!

  • The article cited above is “Marriage and Caste in America” by Kay Hymowitz, in the July 3-5 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal.

  • Performance artist? Isn’t that just a narcissistic mime in denial? And someone took her seriously?

  • Those stories reminded me of the childish, unhappy spouses in the film Little Children.

  • Good one, Rick!

  • I too was going to mention how marriage is very much an upper-class or middle-class thing. Of course, part of that phenomenon may be because divorce is impoverishing.

    Ross Douthat writes about looking around at his Harvard classmates and noticing they all came from intact families. Pieces like these can only be written by someone so secure that ordinary, necessary human institutions seem superfluous. She looks for example to tribal Africa, with customs not operative in the West since prehistoric times!

    In a previous era, these women would be leading decency crusades against pornography. Now they have careers and permissive attitudes that seem cool in your twenties, but are deadening later in life.

  • Kevin, another part of that phenomenon is that people who can barely support themselves, let alone anyone else, due to lack of education or employment opportunities tend not to marry, even if they already have one or more children. Thus a vicious cycle develops: when men in particular lack employment prospects, they do not marry, leaving women to raise children alone; the children, lacking father figures in their lives, drift into lifestyles that hamper their future employability (dropping out of school, drugs, crime, having children out of wedlock), so they do not marry, and the pattern continues into the next generation.

    I think Darwin has hit on an important point, in that husbands and wives tend to get along better when each has a distinct role that they fill — even if that role is not “traditional” — rather than scrupulously trying to divide everything 50-50. For a number of years when our daughter was young, my husband was the stay-at-home parent and I was the breadwinner, due to the fact that my job paid more and had much better health insurance benefits than the job he had before she was born.

  • Donna V. – I agree with you completely. Terry Prendergast should have lied rather than saying what the studies have found. What’s more important, some silly and obsolete prohibition on “bearing false witness”, or the Greater Good?

    You see, the problem is that while there’s ample evidence that two parents are better than one, and that a stable loving relationship benefits children, what evidence there is also says that it makes no difference if the parents are married or not, or even of different sexes or not.

    Several studies have been conducted on this to prove that a married relationship, and only a married relationship, provides these benefits: but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents. Even the children of gay or lesbian parents do just as well.

    It would be inhuman to persecute these children so they do badly – so our only course is to supress these dangerous studies, and manufacture from whole cloth data to replace them. Fortunately there are many groups such as NARTH who see the need for deceit here.

    While we all have moral qualms about deceit, it’s the only way open to us if we are to justify these beliefs. An alternate, minority view – one I subscribe to – is that a monogamous and faithful marriage is the best way of assuring that a relationship remains stable, and justifying it that way.

  • The problem with looking to studies, regardless of how great the data and process is, is that they still won’t matter. I don’t think for a minute that anyone who chooses to shack up rather than get married or enter into a gay relationship and adopt kids do so because they think kids will be better off in that sort of home. A study showing otherwise will fall on deaf ears. All the talk that attempts to turn common sense and the Natural Law on their head are merely an attempt to soothe the conscience or transform our society (for the worse, IMO).

  • The problem with looking to studies, regardless of how great the data and process is, is that they still won’t matter.

    Family law and public policy with regard to foster care, adoptions, and even school curricula and discipline can be properly informed by sociological inquiry, and if the politicians are receptive, these studies will matter.

  • Family law and public policy with regard to foster care, adoptions, and even school curricula and discipline can be properly informed by sociological inquiry, and if the politicians are receptive, these studies will matter.

    Very true, and that’s the way it should be. My point, or rather, my cynicism is based on seeing policy and laws derived from contemporary fads and PC mores rather than empirical evidence, common sense, any sense of morality. Those people are not likely to heed any empirical evidence that runs counter to their desires.

  • Folks are also very likely to canex any study that will get them labeled as haters, and thus fired.

    As much as that annoys me, I can understand it….

  • Whatever happened to giving your word and sticking to it? The quoted article is sickening in its childishness. “I want! I want!”.

  • Zoe Brain writes:

    “but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents. Even the children of gay or lesbian parents do just as well.”

    As I recall, children of such couples turn out to be more likely to be indifferent towards cohabitation and less inclined towards traditional marriage. That’s at least one sign they’re not doing just as well.

  • Zoe Brain: Can you provide a link? Ed West provides a link to one study which shows that children do best in a married two-parent family setting:

    http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/experiments.php

    It’s one thing for a silly, self-absorbed performance artist writing for a secular audience to bash marriage. It’s another thing for a man whose salary is paid by the Church and who works for an organization called “Marriage Care” to do it.

  • Oh, and noble truth teller Prendergast apparently missed this story, reported by the notoriously right-wing MSNBC:

    Children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents, according to a study of Missouri data published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.

    Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault than children living with two biological or adoptive parents, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center.

    Girls whose parents divorce face significantly higher risk of sexual assault, whether they live with their mother or father, according to research by Robin Wilson, a family law professor at Washington and Lee University.

    “This is the dark underbelly of cohabitation,” said Brad Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist. “Cohabitation has become quite common, and most people think, ‘What’s the harm?’ The harm is we’re increasing a pattern of relationships that’s not good for children.”

  • Here’s the link to the story I quoted above.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21838575

  • Donna, there was also an article (on the same study, I think) published here:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/camilla_cavendish/article6244593.ece

    I thought it sounded more like “I am Woman, Hear Me Whine”, myself.

  • Oops, nope–multiple studies, opposite sides of the pond. It appears the Brits are finding the same problems we are.

    Recently I noticed a study indicating that the children of gay couples were significantly more likely to experiment with homosexual behavior (indicating behavioral influence and not just biology.) Keep in mind that gay couples raising children together are a very small population with not much history. Though it’s one case, I think the recent arrest of a Duke prof who was attempting to prostitute his adopted son (whom he and his parter were also abusing) should make us all rethink our prevailing paradaigms.
    Link here:http://durham.mync.com/site/Durham/news/story/37372/duke-health-policy-official-arrested-charged-with-offering-his-adoptive-5-y/

  • cminor: That Duke story is disgusting – that child the Duke prof was pimping out is 5 years old. Now, before Zoe Brain rushes back here to accuse me of close-mindedness and bigotry, let me say I think there are certainly unmarried couples – even gay couples – with children who love their kids and strive to do their best by them. And certainly abuse and neglect occur in married two-parent homes.

    “Single moms” have always existed: women who have struggled to raise their children by themselves because their husbands died or deserted the family. Many of them did, and still do, a very difficult job well and their children turn out fine. But never until the late ’60’s and ’70’s did anybody pretend that being a single mom was an enviable state of affairs and a model for young women to emulate. Never until then did people like Zoe try to propagate the romantic myth that children will blossom just fine in any exotic configuration of adults that happens to call itself a family.

    Zoe wrote:

    Several studies have been conducted on this to prove that a married relationship, and only a married relationship, provides these benefits: but stubbornly, the children of stable, unmarried couples keep on doing just as well as the children of married parents.

    Not this study, surely?

    Rates of victimization of children vary significantly by family structure, and the evidence shows that the married intact family is by far the safest place for children.6 (See Chart 3.) Although the United States has yet to develop the capacity to measure child abuse by family structure, British data on child abuse are available. These data show that rates of serious abuse of children are lowest in the intact married family but six times higher in the step family, 14 times higher in the always-single-mother family, 20 times higher in cohabiting-biological parent families, and 33 times higher when the mother is cohabiting with a boyfriend who is not the father of her children.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/family/bg1732.cfm#pgfId-1075817

  • Thanks for giving original sources.

    The heritage foundation material is entirely from a book published in 1993, supposedly based on raw data which can be found on the Bureau of Justice Statistics site.

    Except the raw data does not support the conclusions.

    The analysis ignores divorce as a factor. It compares couples who are still married, with single parents who have been in non-marital relationships for less than 6 months.

    If you compare those who have been married (including those subsequently divorced) with those who have been in stable non-married relationships (including ones that have subsequently broken up), the figures are as near as I can tell, identical. I’m open to correction on this, teasing this data out from the masses of tables is not easy.

    We have to be very careful not to confuse cause and effect here – it is not unknown for marriages to breeak up because one partner abuses the children. Being married reduces the chance of abuse, but having been married per se is no protection. If we made divorce more difficult, the rate of child abuse in marriage would rise.

    From Medscape:

    Oct. 13, 2005 (Washington) — An analysis of multiple studies of 500 households shows that rearing children in a same-sex household does not affect the their self-esteem, gender identity, or emotional health, a Boston researcher reported.

    The researcher and colleagues looked at data from 15 studies evaluating possible stigma, teasing, social isolation, adjustment, sexual orientation, and strengths. The findings were presented here at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.

    “The vast consensus of the studies is that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way,” Dr. Perrin said. “In some ways, children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures.”

    It has been estimated that one to six million children are being reared by committed lesbian or gay couples in this country. Some children were born to a heterosexual couple and later raised by a same-sex couple; others were placed in foster homes, were adopted, or conceived through a surrogate mother through artificial insemination.

    Previous studies of same-sex parenting have been criticized for being biased, but Dr. Perrin said the research team was extremely careful to select only solid, evidence-based research for review.

    Based on nine studies from 1981 to 1994 of 260 children, aged three to 11 years, reared by either heterosexual mothers or same sex-mothers after divorce, the researchers found there was no difference in intelligence of the children, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, or parental stress. “The children all had a similar emotional experiences with divorce,” she said.

    What they did find was that after divorce children being reared by lesbian mothers had more contact with fathers than children reared by divorced heterosexual mothers, Dr. Perrin said. “There are interesting suggestions that these children are more tolerant of differences.”

    A separate longitudinal study of 37 children of 27 divorced lesbian mothers and an equal number of children with divorced heterosexual mothers found no differences in behavior, adjustment, gender identity, and peer relationships.

    “What is exciting about this study was that they followed the children 11 years later when they became adults,” Dr. Perrin said. “But they still found no difference in adjustment, self-esteem, psychiatric or psychological problems, family relationships, or in identifying sexual orientation.”

    Four other large studies of more than 100 couples that evaluated children either born or adopted into families found that same-sex parents were more likely to have contact with extended family for social support as well as a more equal division of labor in the home. However, children of same-sex parents did experience some stigmatization.

    “The researchers found no differences in the parents other than that lesbian couples share household and child care tasks more equitably,” said Dr. Perrin. “The children of lesbian couples also appeared to be less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more androgynous,” playing with toys for both boys and girls.

    A further analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health used randomly selected representative data from 44 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years. The study compared children living with two women in a “marriage-like” relationship to teenagers living with two heterosexual parents.

    The study showed that the adolescents were similar in intrapersonal adjustments such as self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. They also were similar in school success, family relationships, and neighborhood integration, Dr. Perrin said.

    “What is striking is that there are very consistent findings in these studies,” she concluded. “But further study conducted in a long-term systematic manner in community samples needs to be conducted.”

    Personally, I think it very likely that the additional stability of marriage vows is very desirable in a relationship. The problem there is that this inescapably leads to an argument for gay marriage, or at least a legal recognition of a relationship which is an exact equivalent, looking at things purely from the view of child welfare.

    I’m more troubled by the serial polygamy practiced in the USA, with it being seen as quite normal and socially acceptable for people to have been divorced and re-married, often more than once.

  • Donna V.

    Never until then did people like Zoe try to propagate the romantic myth that children will blossom just fine in any exotic configuration of adults that happens to call itself a family.

    I think it is time I put in a disclaimer, as honesty compels me to say that my objectivity has to be severely questionable in such matters.

    I am in about as “exotic” a relationship as it is possible to be. One that has had canon lawyers and theologians scratching their heads and praying for guidance. The Magisterium remains silent, and I expect an answer long after I’m dead, if ever.

    There’s a condition called “Intersex”, meaning born with a body neither wholly male nor wholly female. There’s hundreds of different medical syndromes under this broad category – women with the 46xy chromosomes usually only found in men, men with the 46xx chromosomes usually only found in women, both men (Usually) and women (rarely) with 47xxy chromosomes, people with ambiguous bodies classifiable as neither, mosaics and chimerae with either male or female body parts – and male or female chromosomes in them – depending on which part of the body you look at, all sorts.

    True fertile hermaphrodites are nearly unknown, one in several million.

    More common, but still rare, are serial hermaphrodites, those born looking like one sex, but who change in a natural process to the other. Very rare in humans, though the norm in many other species.

    Usually the change is from female to male, and happens during a late puberty, due to either 5ARD or 17BHDD syndrome. Very few such people marry that early. Usually. Female-to-male changes can sometimes be complete, and the men able to father children, though usually they’re partial, and the men are sterile.

    About 1% of such changes go the other way, and about 8 out of 10 of those happen around age 45-50.
    Before the change, the women concerned are usually misdiagnosed as mildly intersexed men. It’s only when they have a female puberty in their late 40’s that the medics give them vast numbers of tests, and re-diagnose them as severely intersexed women. The change is never complete, and sterility results. But while they’re infertile before the change, they may not be sterile. They’re often married, with children, as they have the normal maternal instincts.

    So… I’m married. But to another woman. And we have a son. Our relationship is celebate (of course), as neither of us are lesbian.

    “Exotic relationship” is right. But our vows were “in sickness and in health”, no cavils or waivers for what medical conditions counted. We love each other just as much as we always did. And we love our son, who is our whole world, and who needs two parents.

    If the data had said that being raised by same-sex parents was bad for children, we would have separated and found new partners. It would certainly have been easier than lifelong celibacy, even though we love each other dearly. You do after nearly 30 years of marriage. So we did a lot of research on the subject.

    I admit though that my objectivity under the circumstances must be questionable at best. My son’s welfare depends on us successfully making this “Romantic Myth” a reality. We just don’t have the choice to do anything else.

  • Zoe, thanks for sharing your story, though it must have been difficult for you. I would like to add a few points here that I hope will be helpful to you although I am hardly an expert in sociology or canon law.

    What is true as a general rule is not necessarily true in every individual case. I’m sure all of us know people raised by single or divorced parents who turned out just fine and went on to have stable marriages. We also know people who were raised in intact families who turned out seriously messed up. It doesn’t change the fact that IN GENERAL, it’s better for children to be raised by a married mother and father.

    Also, there’s a big difference between a “broken” or “exotic” family situation that occurs as a result of circumstance, through no fault of the persons involved (e.g. being widowed with young children; a single aunt/uncle taking in an orphaned relative) and one that is entered into deliberately with little or no regard for the welfare of the children involved (a single mom choosing to cohabit with a guy she just met).

    If I understand your situation correctly, you and your wife did not choose to enter a same-sex relationship — it happened long after your marriage due to a medical condition that caused you to become biologically female. As a result you now live in celibacy, but remain faithful to your original marriage vows. It’s not the same as a same-sex union in which the persons involved clearly identify themselves as gay or lesbian, enter a relationship intended to be homosexual, and choose to bring children into that relationship by adoption or some form of surrogate biological parenthood.

    I don’t know how old your son is, or how aware he is of your condition. You can explain to him at an appropriate time, if you have not done so already, that his dad has an extremely rare medical condition which made him become female later in life. It doesn’t change the fact that you and your wife entered a traditional, valid marriage. No “romantic myth” involved there, just two people who take their marriage vows seriously even when life dealt them a hand they probably never imagined.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d present a more objective point of view in hopes that it would be helpful to you. Your family will be in my prayers.

  • Zoe, in an earlier post I wrote: ” let me say I think there are certainly unmarried couples – even gay couples – with children who love their kids and strive to do their best by them. ” You are not unmarried, nor are you and your wife exactly a typical gay couple. You did not opt for a sex change operation; what happened to you was beyond your control and both you and your spouse have made the best of a situation that is unimaginably difficult. I apologize for my earlier snarky tone and wish you and your family well.

    I’m with Elaine here. I think the reason I reacted so strongly to the article posted by DarwinCatholic and to Prendergast’s statement is that I am only a few years older than the woman who wrote that article. Over the years I have known many people who think like her. I also have seen what impact the sexual revolution has had on their lives (and on my life; I am very far from being free of sin in this area). I have also seen the impact on the lives of their children and so I bristle when people who are old enough to know better still pretend that it’s all been just one big jolly romp and accuse anyone who says otherwise of prudery and intolerance. That is simply willful blindness.

    My ex- brother in law left my sister, his wife of 20 years and his then-13 year old son for a 26 year old. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I answered the phone at 2 a.m. to listen to her sob while that was going on. The 26 year old got pregnant, but, contrary to the other woman’s expectations, he did not marry her after he divorced my sister. So now he’s a 60 year old man with 2 year old twins who spends a lot of time in court. My best friend’s husband left her and their 2 children for someone he met online. I could go on and on and on – and so could most of us, I suspect.

    I agree that a stable relationship, even one outside of marriage, is probably better for children than serial pologamy. The trouble is that it is very difficult for me to think of anybody I know who has one. A lot of my friends “shacked up” with guys back in their 20’s and 30’s – none of them are still with those men. One issue I have with gay marriage is that none of the gay men I was friends with back in my younger years exhibited much respect for the idea of monogamy, whether they were in a relationship or not. And these were not flaming queens, but respectable, very “straight-acting” men. They did not fill me in on the specifics of their sex lives, but I learned enough to know that casual sexual encounters are considered entirely acceptable by many gay men, even those in relationships. Men with SSA who are living chastely are the outliers. (Apparently, fooling around is less acceptable among lesbians – I can’t say because I’ve never known any lesbians well.) So, at a time when children are already suffering from the effects of selfish and irresponsible behavior on the part of straight people who have to scratch every itch, do we open the floodgates even wider and pretend that marriage and adoption of children by people in a subculture already famous for promiscious sex will do no harm?

    My problem with Prendergast is that a spokesman for a Catholic organization that supposedly promotes Christian marriage ought to be, er, promoting Christian marriage, not pretending that having a wedding ring on the finger or not makes no difference as long as the relationship is “stable.” Especially in the UK, where marriage rates are at an all-time low. It’s like having the Surgeon General tell a group of smokers that an occasional Marlboro really won’t hurt.

  • A friend working in a large urban hospital in a poor section of town reports on the large number of abused babies. It happens in “relationships” where the man is not the father of the baby. And when the baby cries [as babies tend to do] will beat the child.

  • At the risk of (temporarily) de-railing the thread – my thanks to everyone for your best wishes. A few clarifications. Yes, it hasn’t been easy – but the change was a release from a terrible situation I’d resigned myself to live in with what grace I could. I just hoped for an early and honourable death.

    In that regard, I was no different from any trans woman. I don’t see their situation as being any more of a choice than mine was. In fact, the only difference between them and myself is that I lacked their courage to act with honesty and integrity. I kept on living a lie until that became impossible.

    My son has just turned eight. He was three at the time the change started. I used to do (and still do) some simple stage magic, making coins vanish and re-appear to entertain children, that kind of thing. He viewed my changing into a woman as being just another magic trick.

    He understands more now. There are some children at his school with two mommies, but he’s the only one whose daddy turned into a girl before his very eyes. He doesn’t say that to other kids though, as they don’t believe him.

    It is… difficult… explaining to new after-school carers and teachers just exactly what the relationship between my boy and myself is. You just have to see the funny side.

    Women as terribly intersexed as I am are almost always unable to have children. Now I could not carry my child, and yes, my instincts feel a pang there, but he is my son, my own flesh and blood, and my heart goes out to all those women who were unable to conceive. I wasn’t either, but I cheated.

    I’d count my blessings – but I have far too many of them to count. Let’s see, a release from a hellish situation (you know about half in that situation suicide?), able to have a child despite unbelievable odds… Oh yes, I’ve been blessed all right. The only question I have is why me? Why not one of the many people I know who deserve it far more than I did?

    Now after that little digression, back to the issues at hand.

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6 Responses to The Problem of Plenty

  • Darwin,

    You are hitting upon a problem that is a major theme of my own social thinking – the problems of abundance and technological advance. I’ll take this opportunity to plug my essay again.

    http://www.geocities.com/joeahargrave/consumerism.html

    “Surely, no one consciously thinks, “I have a good job and a house, so it doesn’t really matter if I tell off my cousin whose wife I can’t stand and stop visiting my grandmother who always lectures me about how I live my life,” but the fact of abundance makes the lessening of these ties more possible.”

    I wouldn’t be so surprised if there were people who DID think these things consciously, however.

    I believe there is a direct link between the consumerist revolution of the 1950s and the sexual revolution of the late 1960s.

    I plan on writing much more about this topic in general in the future. For now I think we have to keep in mind, as well, that the current and previous Popes have called on people living in wealthy nations to “moderate their lifestyles” for the sake of those living poor nations, and have condemned modern consumer culture, which frequently does little else but relentlessly appeal to our lower natures for profit.

  • I wouldn’t be so surprised if there were people who DID think these things consciously, however.

    Well, you may be right, though I’d think often it happens in a backwards sort of way. For instance, in Victorian novels (a form for which I have a certain weakness) one runs into many people who would gladly tell off Old Aunt So-and-so, if only it weren’t so essential to suck up to her because of the inheritance. At that point, I would imagine there’s already little virtue to the observances to community which are paid, since they’re done for the wrong reasons, and so it is but a short step from there to people who find themselves in an income-based rather than inheritance-based economy feeling much more free to ignore people they don’t life — whether it be in the family or the neighborhood.

    I’m not really sure how one gets around this. Christ often warns us of the dangers that wealth represents to the soul. I would think this is because wealth gives people more ability to sin without material repercussions — and people being what they are, temptation often leads to sin.

    Yet at the same time, not only does it seem an odd humanitarian approach (arguably antithetical to the common good) to wish everyone back into relative poverty, but it wouldn’t work anyway. Given the ability to be so astoundingly productive on a historic scale, the number of people who are seriously willing to say, “I could easily work at a job and make enough money to provide my family with a house, two cars, air conditioning, a TV, a computer, a few hundred books, and an annual vacation — but instead I think I’ll forgo that to share my parents’ two room house until they die and do subsistence farming with no electricity or vehicles because that will require me to exercise greater familial solidarity” is vanishingly small. The only people who seem to have any success with this are the most cloistered monastics and the most serious Amish.

    Which is, I think, why the Church is right to focus on the importance of each individual person acting morally within the situation he finds himself, rather than trying to describe some sort of ideal economic/social system.

    Though I must admit, I do have a certain admiration for the Amish in this regard, though I would not by any means choose to follow their example.

  • Darwin,

    I just don’t think it is fair to jump from the call of the Papacy for us to moderate our lifestyles to the conclusion that this means we must return to material poverty.

    I think we both agree that there is excessive consumption in America. Do we need 50 different fast food chains? Do we need Hummers? Do we need, for that matter, millions of pronographic websites? Of course not. But there is a “demand” for these things, and in an amoral market philosophy, that means someone also can and probably should produce and sell them.

    To moderate our lifestyles means to cut down the excesses and to share the surplus with those who don’t have one. I favor direct, social investment and distributist policies as opposed to mere wealth spreading. But even so, I do believe that there has to be a redistribution.

    It also means to take a firmer stand against amoral consumerism, against the ceaseless appeals made to our lower nature, to our violent, lustful, selfish desires. Just because something is marketable should not make it socially acceptable. Nothing bothers me more than those who peddle poison, especially to the children of overworked parents, under the protection of some misguided notion of “liberty”. That which is destructive of the higher self, and of society, is ultimately destructive of true liberty, freedom from sin and vice.

    Finally, the Church may not have an “ideal system” but it has been consistent in its support for the distribution of property and decision making power to more workers, the decentralization of vast sums of concentrated wealth, and now as we see, the financial system that has become detached from the production of real value and the satisfaction of real needs.

  • Joe,

    In these discussions of excessive consumerism, there is always the problem of ascribing moral agency to macro outcomes that are based on micro decisions. To use the fast food example: No, maybe no one needs 50 different fast food outlets, but say I stop at one once because I’m hungry and there’s nothing else around; am I part of the problem? Have I been “consuming excessively” even if it’s a one-time thing? Then multiply my personal decision by 500 every day, and you can see how these relatively simple decisions can be made without much of a moral dimension behind them. (I suspect Darwin might express this better, knowing that he works with data. Individual data points have ways of aggregating into distributions, and these distributions have little to do with moral agency. Things that are black and white to an individual become smooth curves when grouped with millions of other people…)

    What would shape the morality of every little choice I make about my consumption? Does this business make its products with child labor in China? Are they clearing rainforest for grazing land? Do they give to Planned Parenthood? There might be obvious cases to avoid, but to process all that information about each and every decision is daunting, to say the least. We certainly try to avoid cooperating with evil, but when the “evil” becomes so attenuated, how do we act? And even if none of these circumstances existed, what is morally objectionable about it? When does consumption become excessive? When I do it, it’s not, but when a million people do it, it is?

    I’m not an expert on Catholic teaching on this subject, but it seems that, when it comes to the individual (and that is where the moral agency matters, after all), one’s soul can be disposed toward consumption as an end or a means. I *think* I know the difference when I see it, but there’s an element of subjectivity there. I try to be charitable to the relatives who gave their daughter a Mercedes when she turned 16, but I’ve got this inkling that something’s a little disordered there… Want vs. need, how do we know? Maybe the answer isn’t “Live Amish,” but is it Amish Lite? How far down do we go???

  • To be clear: It’s not that I think we should return to material poverty. I don’t. It’s just that I think so long as we don’t return to material poverty, people will continue to have the option of falling into excessive consumption (and the various personal and social evils that permits) and people being what they are, as long as they have the option they often will.

    Now, there’s stuff like pornography which I’d like to see legally stamped out to the greatest extent possible (which in the world of the internet may still not be very much) but it strikes me that with some of these other things it’s hard to do anything at a wider level — what we really need is for people to change the way they think about life and material wants. (Realistically, that’s the only way to really get rid of porn either — but one can at least try to use the arm of the law there as well.)

    So for instance, I wouldn’t see it as a problem that there be fifty fast food chains. I’m all for variety. Heck, I’d enjoy it even more if we mostly had individual fast food places that weren’t chains. (And if Bangalore Express and Kabobs-To-Go would open up right down the street from where I work!) But the problem in regards to health and consumption is when people fall back on these places too often, spending too much of their money on it and eating too much cheap junk instead of “real food”.

    What bothers me is not necessarily the overall trend of huge numbers of fast food joints, so much as the fact that behind that overall trend often hide individual data points of people who feed their kids a double stack, a large fries and a 42oz drink three or four times a week. Not only is that bad for the kid’s health, but it in turn may mask a breakdown in family life where people aren’t taking (or having) the time to cook real food for each other.

  • J,

    I think we are victims of consumerism as much as we are perpetrators. Yes, its true – they will keep making it as long as we keep buying it. But at a certain point, you cut the addict off. And I include myself in all this.

    It is the producers and promoters of excessive consumer goods that are primarily to blame. But it is also our responsibility to develop alternatives – alternative lifestyles and communities where we regulate what goes in and out of them. Ave Maria town was a promising idea but I don’t think its launched escaped the gravitational pull of consumerism. Part of that is because of the stinking ACLU, which threatened legal action if the town banned pornography (as if it were a damned constitutional right). But part if it is also the shallowness of its ideological underpinnings and the extent to which it still looks like any other American suburb, which is to say, laden with excessive consumerism.

    Want versus Need: we MUST know. People in Canada and Europe live on less than we do, and people in other countries on even less than them. I think it would be just… wrong to deny that many Americans believe they have a right not to as much as they need, but as much as they can theoretically consume.

Pity and Fear

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

Aristotle taught that the purpose of tragedy is to inspire pity and fear in the audience, thence causing catharsis, a purging of emotion. I’ve always found his explanation of tragedy compelling, but as I get older (queue laughter at the thirty-year-old getting “older”) I find that I want to achieve catharsis much less than I used to. Not that my life is layered in tragedy or anything, indeed, far from it. But somehow, one just doesn’t feel as much like seeking out pity and fear at thirty as at twenty.

This has been running through my head as I’ve been reading about The Stoning of Soraya M.

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One Response to Pity and Fear

Capitalism — When People Sell Things I Don't Like

Monday, June 15, AD 2009

With the garden currently shooting up, I’ve found myself again disposed to read gardening and food related books. I finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma last week, and aside from a few gripes in regards to Michael Pollan’s understanding of economics, I enjoyed it quite a bit. On the last run by the library, I picked up a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. The idea of moving out onto acreage and growing much of one’s own food is something that I find interesting. I enjoy gardening, I enjoy cooking gourmet food, and I think there’s a cultural and psychological value to remaining in touch with the way that humans have gained food for themselves in past centuries.

However, Kingsolver is far more passionate (and less balanced) in her jeremiads against “industrial food” than Pollan, and more prone to denunciations of what “capitalism” has done to our food culture. Indeed, so much so as to crystallize for me a trend among those who denounce “capitalism” and its impact on Western Culture. Kingsolver had just reached the crescendo of a complaint in regards to large seed companies peddling hybrids and genetically modified strains, when she turned to the subject of heirloom vegetable varieties, and her joy at paging through lengthy seed catalogs full of heirloom seeds.

…Heirloom seeds are of little interest to capitalism if they can’t be patented or owned. They have, however, earned a cult following among people who grow or buy and eat them. Gardeners collect them like family jewels, and Whole Foods Market can’t refrain from poetry in its advertisement of heirlooms….

So you see, when large agribusiness firms sell farmers seeds for field corn which are genetically modified to repel pests,
that’s capitalism. But when catalog and internet businesses build a thriving niche selling heirloom vegetable seeds, and Whole Foods ad men wax poetical over $7/lb tomatoes, that’s… Well, it certainly can’t be capitalism, can it? Not if it’s good.

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8 Responses to Capitalism — When People Sell Things I Don't Like

  • Love free market and capitalism! They are the best!

  • “In some circles, “capitalism” becomes such a scare-word that people forget what it means.”

    Unlike “socialism” in some other circles, right?

    🙂

  • Great post, Darwin!

    It is ironic that things like Whole Foods are made possible only because they are one choice among many at the “capitalist” buffet table.

  • Actually, Joe, I’d agree with you that “socialism” as used in contemporary American discourse has become fairly meaningless. It’s used to mean any sort of centralization at all.

    Complicating this is the fact that many of the European groups calling themselves “socialist” these days are in fact groups endorsing technocratic oligarchy with a large social safety net.

    While on the other side, “capitalism” and even “free markets” are sometimes mis-used to endorse anything that large companies would like — even government protections of large corporations’ market shares.

  • This reminds me back during the election when the differences between the McCain and Obama tax plans were described as being a choice between socialism and unfettered capitalism, whereas in reality it was about whether the top marginal rate for the federal income tax would be 36% or 39.5%.

  • I’m currently reading Joseph Heath’s The Rebel Sell: How the Counter Culture Became Consumer Culture. Heath documents how much so-called anti-consumerism movements are defined in terms of branded goods, both negatively (‘I would never shop at Wal-Mart’) but also positively (e.g. Adbusters selling their own brand of sneakers). Heath’s view is that consumer trends are driven mainly by competitive status seeking, and that the anti-consumerist pose is simply one more strategy for gaining status and distinction through one’s consumer choices.

  • “but whose of us who are in any sense in the cultural minority should hesitate to rail against capitalism, when it is free markets which allow those of us with niche-y tastes to see our needs met as well as those of the mainstream culture.”

    If one would endorse or reject capitalism, socialism, or anything else culturally relevant based on how it allows for our tastes to be met, then, I think the reasoning that would follow would verge on relativistic. The point of having a rigorous discussion on the merits and demerits of the imperfect options we have come up with thus far is that there is a standard of justice that is worth striving for continually, I think.

  • I would tend to view most political and economic structures as relative rather than absolute goods. Thus, for instance, I see great virtue to representative democracy, but if I lived in a stable and well ruled monarchy I would be against any agitation to overthrow it for a democracy of unknown quality.

    In light of this, I think one should consider the likely results of replacing freedom with a more controlled system. Given that few people consider it worth while to spend extra money for food which is produced “organically” or “sustainably”, I think those who espouse that kind of food would do well not to seek to do away with free markets — since it is free markets which allow them to get what they want. If they somehow got their wish and saw free markets abolished while remaining a small minority, they would see not the imposition of their preferences, but in all likelihood those of the majority.

    In similar form, it is perhaps not coincidental that the Church developed a greater understanding of the advantages of religious freedom when in the space of a few decades the old Catholic monarchies of Europe were replaced by secular regimes hostile to the Church.

Overwork in the Age of Multi-tasking

Wednesday, June 3, AD 2009

The weekend’s WSJ had an interesting article about work hours — the hours that people think they work, and the hours they actually do.

Over the past two decades of rapid technological deployment and globalization, it has become an article of faith among the professional set that we work sweatshop hours. Sociologist Juliet Schor started the rumor with her 1992 book, “The Overworked American,” which featured horror stories of people checking their watches to know what day it was.

Then God created the BlackBerry and things got worse. In late 2005, Fortune’s Jody Miller claimed that “the 60-hour weeks once thought to be the path to glory are now practically considered part-time.” In late 2006, the Harvard Business Review followed up with an article on “the dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek,” calling jobs that required such labor the new standard for professionals. The authors featured one “Sudhir,” a financial analyst who claimed to work 90-hour weeks during summertime, his “light” season. He’s got nothing on a young man I met at a party recently who told me he was working 190 hours a week to launch his new company.

It was a curious declaration; I would certainly invest in a start-up that had invented a way to augment the 168 hours that a week actually contains.

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3 Responses to Overwork in the Age of Multi-tasking

  • My guess is that in addition to the factors mentioned in this article, part of the discrepancy is due to the fact that each additional hour of work is probably more taxing than the previous hour. If you are running ten miles, the tenth mile is likely to be significantly harder (and perhaps feel longer) than the first. The same goes, I suspect, for hours worked in a day or week.

  • Once, when I was working as a paralegal, I had to get something out of the office of a young attorney who put in excessively long hours even by DC law firm standards. His office door was partly open and I tapped on it before sticking my head inside. He looked the very picture of lawyerly diligence, hunched over his desk, head resting on his hand. He appeared to be so focused on whatever he was reading that I hestitated to say anything – and then I heard a loud snore,…,hope he didn’t include the naps in his billable hours;-)

    I think that if it were possible to gauge the number of hours Americans actually spend working vs. the time spent at work, you’d see quite a discrepancy. How many goofy or inspirational emails and video clips do you get forwarded to you in the course of a day at work? Personal emails, personal calls, chit-chat with co-workers, etc. Some of that is what makes the day bearable, of course – we are not robots. But we all know people who, er, spend a wee bit more time on personal stuff and entertainment than they should(like a former boss of mine who was excellent at farming her work out and spent the better part of Friday morning doing the WSJ crossword puzzle.)

    Of course, I’m an exception, nose to the grindstone every second of the day;-).

  • This reminds me of the time when virus attacks were more frequent. Then the newspapers carried banner headlines on the billions and billions lost due to lost “productivity”, thankfully these billions of dollars were apparently made up for without much fuss in the succeeding days. I knew a Frenchman who insisted that one should not work extra hours. He claimed that work should be done in the alloted time. Anything further showed a lack of competence. incomete

The Narrow Atlantic

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

UCLA professor Peter Baldwin pens an interesting priece for the UK’s Prospect in which he argues that the differences between the US and Europe are not as great as is often claimed. Baldwin’s point of view strikes me as left of center, but his argument (mainly a comparison of statistics to see how the US really measures up to various EU countries on questions like poverty, education, environmentalism, etc.) is fairly non-ideological and the overall result is interesting.

Left open ended (though he provides a few thoughts on the matter) is the question of why both Americans and Europeans like to perceive such strong differences between themselves, and what exactly that means about the two cultures.

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One Response to The Narrow Atlantic

No Guarantees

Friday, April 24, AD 2009

I was struck by this Megan McArdle post, of which I will go ahead a quote a large chunk:

Guess what, honey? You’re not entitled. You can do everything right, and the universe doesn’t owe you anything. Neither do your fellow taxpayers. If there is any way to save the banking system without paying you $2 million a year, I will do it, not because I hate you and want to rob you, but because I don’t want to pay more than I have to. You may have come across this concept in business school. At Chicago, we called it “a market”.

The real problem with investment bankers goes deeper, and is the problem of the entire upper middle class: we have come to believe that complying with the rules produces excellent results as by some natural law. In school, if you do your work, teacher gives you an A. It comes to seem like a sort of a natural law: if you have a good education and work hard, the universe is supposed to reward you. After school, the upper middle class gravitates towards careers with very well defined advancement hierarchies: medicine, law, finance, consulting, where this subtle belief is constantly reinforced.

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2 Responses to No Guarantees

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Although I very much appreciate this entry, I’m not entirely sure that people are actually generally of the opinion that if you work hard, you shall reap its rewards. If the populace happens to believe such a notion, they are either naive or given to nonsense.

    In fact, the lessons featured herein are one most Harvard Business School grads themselves already know (or eventually do).

    Devotedly engaging in arduous labors in view of some high aspiration does not automatically guarantee that such efforts will result ultimately in some seemingly felt much deserved success.

    That’s almost as crazy as believing that if one is kind to others, others will be kind in return.

  • e.,

    People rarely phrase the objection in precisely those terms, but such an assumption is fairly common if my little corner of professional grad school is any indication. People take out very large amounts of debt to finance grad school with the (traditionally reasonable) expectation that they will be able to pay these debts off with a high-salary, high-status job upon graduation.

    When that doesn’t work out, they, like Ms. McArdle (and many of my classmates currently) are disappointed, and feel like the world is unfair. I think it’s a question of expectations. In general it’s much harder to lose something you expected to have (and thought you had), than just not to have it at all. These people are told constantly they are the best, and that they will be successful if they do the work. When that doesn’t happen they are disappointed, particularly those who have little life experience outside of the educational system, where there is a rough correlation between effort and success. Sure, they know intellectually that ‘life isn’t always fair,’ but it’s harder to experience it than to grasp it intellectually.

Religion, Culture, & Politics

Monday, March 16, AD 2009

R.R. Reno reflecting on Fr. Neuhaus:

I have many fond memories of him, but many important and influential ones, as well. During the fall of 2006, I was in his office, expressing my anxious agitation about the upcoming congressional elections. I worried over the loss of  a Republican majority, linking my political concerns to the future of the pro-life cause, the dangers of unfettered bioengineering, and so forth. He sat back in his chair, puffing on his cigar while I prattled on. Then, with a wave of his hand, he dismissed my anxieties with a simple observation:

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7 Responses to Religion, Culture, & Politics

  • One of the fatal flaws of the libs. They have the equation turned around. Ooopsie. Won’t make it easier for Tiller the Killer in court.

  • Put not your trust in congressional majorities…

  • When you give Republicans free passes on unjust war (even cheerleading the Iraq War), torture, exceptions with ESCR funding et al., you should not be surprised if they are apt to betray you in the most important matters of life and death.

    And Ii am not saying the Democrats are any better.

  • I would argue those things are betrayals (maybe not Iraq if you accept the Just war arguments for it), rather than signs of betrayals, but that was one of my first thoughts also. I liked the oft-overlooked point about religion shaping culture and then politics – makes me wonder why I bother spending time blogging about politics.

  • JH,

    I concur with your qualification completely.

    As a personal note, I was an avid First Things reader until I became loosely privvy (sic?) to the challenges set forth to that group from David Schindler and the Communio crowd in the mid to late 90s.

    As I sided with Schindler from a distance, I stopped following Neuhaus, Weigel and that bunch.

    I only checked in with there writings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion in 2003. Needless to say, I was tremendously disappointed then.

  • I was whole-heartedly in favor of the Iraq war and still am, so of course I do not view that as a betrayal. In regard to ESR I was against the initial decision by Bush to allow any use of the stem cells. However, afterwards he stood like a champion against it.

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/07/19/stemcells.veto/index.html

    In regard to water-boarding, I thought it crossed a line into physical torture that I do not personally approve of, although I can see how reasonable people would disagree with my conclusion. One should also note the firm stance that Neuhaus took against Obama in the last election:

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1200

  • Obama’s record on abortion is a disgrace; I can’t vote for pro-abortion rights politicians for President. I’ll miss Fr. Neuhaus’s critiques next time around even if I disagreed with some of his other stances.

Expect to be Offended

Friday, March 6, AD 2009

My wife subscribes to the local Catholic homeschooler email list, and although I don’t usually dip into the innumerable messages that pour in (most of them more lifestyle and education focused, so far as I can tell) I occasionally read a thread that catches my eye.

This week there’s been much discussion of an Envoy magazine article about how a mother took her twelve-year-old in for a check up and was shocked and angered when the doctor asked if he could speak to the girl privately for a few minutes, and during the course of that asked the girl if she was sexually active and if she needed a prescription for birth control. The moms on the list exchanged similar stories, and were indignant not only that birth control was offered but that their teenagers were routinely asked if they did drugs, had sex, etc. Why, everyone wanted to know, would any reasonable doctor ask to speak to a teenager alone about these topics? Surely a mother should always know everything there is to know about these topics.

Needless to say, I’m not crazy about the idea of my three daughters being offered birth control and quizzed about their experiences when they become teenagers.

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3 Responses to Expect to be Offended

  • I agree – but it still sucks, just like it sucks that you have to be super careful about what sort of TV programming you let your kids watch (I limit my kids’ TV time compared to when I was young, but at least when I was young there wasn’t much that was broadcast that would be problematic for a youth – now just about everything has something objectionable). More to the point though, it sucks because, cultural differences, it’s not the place for a doctor or the government to be meddling in – it is truly a violation of the natural order and the right/duty of parents to raise their children and I find it very offensive. So, regardless of our acknowledging that we’re really aliens in this culture and should expect these differences, I think it’s understandable that this group of mothers make a big deal about it – they’re sincerely viewing these things as an assault on their children – and that it is.

  • I would absolutely refuse to allow a doctor to speak privately with my child at that age. I will not permit the “school nurse” to have anything to do with them either, if their hurt, call me or my wife, if their really hurt call 911… no contraceptive pushing liberals touching my kids.

  • The problem I see with the situation is that the doctor told her to absolutely avoid drugs and alcohol, but then offered to enable her to have sex.

    Abstinence education is readily employed for drug use, smoking, underage drinking, drinking & driving, carrying firearms, etc., but not for sex.

    Hmmm.

Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

Thursday, March 5, AD 2009

This has already been making the rounds, but the weekend is almost here, and I thought it would be an opportunity to focus more on the culture part of AC. Per Brett McCracken, here is a partial list of the common traits of Christian hipsters:

Things they don’t like:
Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

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4 Responses to Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

  • Well, having looking through the criteria, I’m definitely not a hipster, though I share some of the likes a dislikes. For example, I don’t like megachurches, but I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word. I do like Mel Gibson, and I think the bloodier I picture the Passion, the better. Christ suffered the weight of every single sin of mankind. That extent of suffering is absolutely mind-boggling. I love the Pope, the liturgy, and Lent. Incense is not so much a concern (because my wife reacts violently to it), and I feel incredibly awkward with the timeless phrases.

    The worrisome thing is that a hipster likes what is hip. That might be good for the moment, if the perspective if that there is something “hip” about Christianity, but on the other hand, if that perspective ever changes, will these hipsters dump Christianity as yesterday’s fad? Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself? (Well, these questions aren’t limited to the hipsters. I ask these of myself continually.)

    Anyway, I don’t know much about it, myself. I’ll simply try to reserve any judgment, because the temptation is always to ask, “Are they genuine?” And that does them a great disservice.

  • I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word….Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself?

    I agree, and you’ve highlighted one of the reasons I found the list somewhat puzzling. On the one hand, the term ‘Christian hipster’ seems to denote an interest in aesthetics and artistic integrity. For example, old Cathedrals really are beautiful; Chesterton, Lewis, O’Connor, etc. are phenomenal writers and thinkers; CCM is generally bad because it is a contrived imitation of popular music.

    On the other hand, it seems to denote a sort of guarded and deliberate detachment from committing oneself entirely to Christ. For example, door-to-door evangelization is out (we wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable!); as are altar calls (a public commitment to Christ). And, while there are plenty of reasons to dislike Jerry Falwell, the 700 club etc., the fact that hipsters like the equally political Jim Wallis suggests it is the zeitgeist rather than a dislike of the mixture of faith and politics that may be motivating their behavior. Either way, it’s an interesting list.

  • I interviewed with Brett McCracken on video about his views on Christian Hipsters:
    http://www.conversantlife.com/life-with-god/interview-with-brett-mccracken

  • I generally fit into much of this list’s criteria, but I hardly think “hipster” is the right term. Not being into Christian music and manufactured pop-Christian culture, and preferring some intellectual rigor does not a hipster make. But it’s still a generally good thing, I suppose….

Road To Tyranny

Monday, February 16, AD 2009

It’s a commonplace of sorts in Catholic and conservative circles that democracy without virtue will quickly become tyranny. At the same time, this is one of those phrases which seems to drive secular commentators to distraction. How could liberal democracy lead to tyranny when it’s clearly those authoritarian religious people who want to be tyrants?

Damon Linker (the “the theocons are coming” chicken little whom First Things once made the mistake of briefly employing in his younger days, thus giving him the claim to know the “theocon conspiracy” from the inside) has a post on The New Republic blog which seems to me to throw this point into sharp relief. Linker, it seems, tired of attacking “neocons” and decided to go after the more quixotic paleocons as his newest batch of crypto-authoritarians. The following section is fascinating in its thought process:

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8 Responses to Road To Tyranny

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    On Tuesday of this week, I posted an item in which I drew connections between an essay by Andrew Bacevich and political authoritarianism. Two days later, I posted a follow-up in which I expanded on the argument. In retrospect — and in light of some online reaction to the posts — I’ve concluded that the connections I made in the original item were overdrawn, and that I made things even worse in the second post. Ideas and arguments can take on a logic of their own, and I foolishly followed the logic of mine into a position several steps more radical than one I really want to defend. I trust that future online disputation and debate will provide many opportunities for me to address these and related issues again — and so also to stake out and develop a more moderate, nuanced, and genuinely liberal position.

    http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/linker/archive/2009/02/13/lessons-in-blogging.aspx

  • That said, the post was pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.

  • Darwin, excellent post. This has always been a bugaboo of mine as well. It’s a trap that conservatives fall into also at times. I’ve made offhand comments about not particularly liking SUVs, and had a friend respond as though I wanted to completely obliterate them from the planet. My personal dislike for them does not indicate that I necessarily want to impose legal sanctions upon ownership. But as a country, we have exalted the concept of choice as almost the ultimate good.

    Another thing Linker talked about hit upon something I was thinking about just yesterday. Many of the things we don’t do as Catholics strike me as good choices even absent religion. No sex outside of marriage: well there are a lot of rational reasons not to. No birth control: ever watch a commercial for the pill and hear them rattle off all the side effects? There are none of those for NFP.

    I don’t mean to say there are simply utilitarian benefits to being a practicing Catholic. But, when you think about it, there happily are such benefits to practicing the faith.

    One last thing – the final paragraph of your post points put the liberaltarian folly, such as it exists. If there is a threat to true liberty, it ain’t coming from the right.

  • “Not as embarrassing as trying to make a career out of attacking people you used to work for by smearing them, but embarrassing nonetheless.”

    Ouch John Henry! I am sure that left a mark on Mr. Linker. Perhaps he will return every dollar he ever received from the evil “theo-cons” ? Nah, that would be an act of high and inconvenient principle, and we all know there is no money in that.

  • To be fair, Damon more or less retracted that post wholesale, saying he hadn’t thought the matter through well enough:

    Ah, I hadn’t seen that one. I’ll drop these things into my “blog fodder” folder and sometimes not notice the follow through.

  • Donald,

    Perhaps I was too unkind. I am sure Mr. Linker is sincere, and his arguments should be evaluated on their merits (such as they are). I think his writing on these topics suffers from a lack of nuance and subtlety, which suggests an inability (or unwillingness) to appreciate his opponent’s arguments. And, well, I think his decision to publish an attack book on his former employer (and so soon after leaving) is ethically dubious.

  • Rather wobbly, but Linker gave it a whirl, didn’t he. The tyranny to come is apt to be a very selective tyranny, rife with the strangest socio-cultural bedfellows, if the past twenty years are any indication. And I think they are.

  • Mr. Linker writes:
    “Except for one thing: It now appears that Bacevich and Deneen aren’t really opposed to a “culture of choice” at all. Rather, they’re opposed to a culture in which people make the wrong choices — in this case, the choice to fornicate instead of the choice to resist their sexual appetites. But here’s what I don’t understand: Why would a free man or woman choose to resist rather than act on his or her sexual appetites? I mean, we’ve invented birth control. Sex is very pleasurable. It’s a way to enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with another human being. Why not choose for fornication? Why, in other words, is it wrong, in itself, to fornicate? Can we even imagine a response to this question that does not make reference to the authoritative teachings of an orthodox religious tradition?”

    He illustrates Medawar’s comment about people being educated beyond their ability to follow an abstract argument. His arguments read the scribblings of a high school student.

The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

So you’re a single Catholic sitting at home with nothing to do on St. Valentine’s Day, what are your options?  Well there are many things that you can do, especially if you want to resolve your current status as a non-married person.  If you’re not called to religious life, you are most certainly called to married life with very few exceptions, yet you’re sitting on your couch still being single.  In this column I’ll offer a basic and fundamental template for a single Catholic in pursuing your future spouse(1).

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5 Responses to The Single Life and St. Valentine's Day

  • Interestingly enough, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969 due to very little knowledge about the man/men himself, and as such the day has become a strictly secular holiday.

    Good post.

  • Jason,

    I was unaware of the removal, but I stress “Saint” in “St. Valentine’s Day” to raise awareness of the Christian (Catholic) origins of this secularized holiday.

    Thanks for your kind comments. They’re always appreciated (and encouraged). 🙂

  • Jason,

    St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969

    The feast was removed from the liturgical calendar, that doesn’t mean his feast was suppressed, only that it was removed from the mass cycle. Many saints are not represented on the calendar, but their feast day still exists, and can still be celebrated outside the Mass, and inside the mass as a commemoration.

  • Pingback: Will Science Kill The Love? | Catholic Dating
  • i agree the best way to celebrate valentine’s is to be in God presence, but only few single understand the secret.

Cultural or Political Axis?

Saturday, February 14, AD 2009

Donald linked below to a discussion of the death of “liberaltarianism”, which led many to ask what exactly that is.  As it so happens, I’d been reading about this seemingly contradictory phenomenon on Ross Douthat’s blog the other day.  It seems all this goes back to a piece Brink Lindsey originally wrote for The New Republic a couple years ago in which he complains:

Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions.

Though he admits there’s not been much real movement on the part of Democrats to please libertarians, he cites a few things:

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6 Responses to Cultural or Political Axis?

Generations & American Catholicism

Friday, January 23, AD 2009

There have been some refreshingly candid (if not entirely harmonious) conversations over at Mirror of Justice recently about the blog’s mission as it approaches its fifth anniversary. Mirror of Justice is a great resource for Catholic legal scholarship, and it has a diverse set of contributors with different perspectives on Catholic legal theory.

I have thoughts about many of the issues that have come up, but one topic that I found especially interesting was the discussion of generational differences.

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30 Responses to Generations & American Catholicism

  • As a college student, I think that it’s true. Most of the people who really care about the Catholic faith are faithful to the Magisterium. However, there are plenty of people who self-describe as Catholic who openly dissent from the Church both in teachings and lifestyle.

    but again I think you’re right. The people who aren’t faithful to the Magisterium aren’t that concerned with their religion at all: they might go to Mass on Easter/Christmas and their grandmother might push the to marry in a Church, but as far as pushing theology or going into the seminary it seems that they’re faithful. Of course there are many exceptions, but that seems to be the trend, which is good news for the Church

  • I don’t know. Having just finished a BA and a MS at a major Jesuit University, I saw upfront how Jesuits/arch-leftists train the Magisterium-haters of the future. Meanwhile, serious Catholics (especially the children of serious Catholics) are relegated to organizing a Christian life on the fringes of campus (physically and metaphorically). In the middle are a lot of eager but leaderless and uninspired Catholics who aimlessly spiritually traverse campus, often following whoever speaks loudest. Then of course, there are the many Protestants or agnostics in the prime position for evangelization on a college campus who interact with the lowest elements of the Church and hear nothing but contempt and distrust about University bureaucrats and clergy from their more-serious Catholic friends.

  • I don’t think the “smaller and purer church” is what you think it is.

  • Well, in turn, I don’t think I think what you think I think the “smaller and purer church” is. If you find that response entirely useless, we will be in the same position.

    All of which is to say, specificity would be appreciated. 😉

  • I feel that those young dissenters eventually leave. Not all, but most. Like George Crosley said that there are those that are being trained in Magesterium hating. Hopefully they will hold less influence as better Catholics begin ignoring them altogether.

    My opinion on a smaller and purer church are those 10%ers, 10% of Catholics who actually practice their faith, are whom Pope Benedict is referring to. They will be the mustard seed, the creative minority that will invigorate their fellow Catholics as well as their surrounding culture. The liberals-protesting-School-of-America types will either convert to being faithful Catholics or go off into the dark unknown and be soon forgotten like the Hans Kungs of the world.

  • Michael,

    I am curious about your thoughts on the subject of the generational divide, as we obviously have had very different experiences of the Church. I’d also be interested in your thoughts on George’s comment. As a product of Jesuit institutions, I am sure you have some opinions, and I would be interested in hearing them (if you wish to share them).

    My (limited) experience with schools ‘in the Jesuit tradition’ suggests there is a fair amount of truth in what George says, but you would be in a better position to comment.

  • The debates and tensions that George talks about have nothing to do with whether a campus is “Jesuit” or not. Yes, I spent a lot of time at a Jesuit school (bachelors and masters, plus a few years as a campus minister). While I was a campus minister I did a lot of networking with other Jesuit schools and non-Jesuit Catholic schools, both in the campus ministry and campus activism circles. I assure you, each of the 28 Jesuit universities is quite different and has its own issues. My own alma mater, though the smallest of the Jesuit schools, was quite diverse and it certainly wasn’t a “training ground” for dissenters. I think all Catholic schools wrestle with questions of Catholic identity and what it means to be a faithful Catholic. It’s not limited to Jesuit schools.

    The liberals-protesting-School-of-America types will either convert to being faithful Catholics or go off into the dark unknown and be soon forgotten like the Hans Kungs of the world.

    This show how seriously we can take Tito. A Catholic’s position on the School of the Americas has nothing to do with his or her orthodoxy. They only orthodoxy that SOA protesting Catholics question is americanist orthodoxy. I have long suspected that Tito gets those two mixed up all the time. Now it’s quite obvious. If Tito only knew the number of faithful priests, sisters, brothers, and bishops who are part of the SOA Watch movement. But he isn’t interested in facts, only that SOA Watch Catholics are a “helpful” target in his rants.

  • I’ve certainly seen a generational difference in how people address the Church if they disagree with it. Those 50 and over seem a lot more likely to still identify as Catholic and even be very involved in parish activities while strongly disagreeing with major Church moral and doctrinal teachings. And even those who seldom if ever go to Church still generally call themselves “Catholic” — unless they’ve become Protestant.

    Those our age, however, definitely seem to see being Catholic as something you choose, or don’t. A couple of my coworkers have used phrases like “my parents are Catholic”, “I used to be Catholic” or “I went to Catholic schools”, which I don’t think you’d hear out of older non-practicing or ex-Catholics.

  • Those our age, however, definitely seem to see being Catholic as something you choose, or don’t.

    I think there is some truth to this, but I think it’s far from clear whether or not this is a good thing. I think it’s ambiguous.

  • An interesting example is that of Michael Harrington, Jesuit trained in St. Louis in the 1940s and 1950s. He was interested in social issues, worked for a time with Dorothy Day. and then organized various versions of the Socialist party. He could not abide Dorothy Day’s firm commitment to the Church.

    Interestingly enough, it was the legalisation of the contraceptive pill which was the determining factor in his relations with the Church. One might say that he was too bright for his own good, a characteristic not uncommon among students at Jesuit schools. .

  • Michael I.,

    Yes, people such as Fr. Roy Bourgeois are excellent examples of following the Churches teachings.

  • I think there is some truth to this, but I think it’s far from clear whether or not this is a good thing. I think it’s ambiguous.

    I think it may arguably be the best that we can hope for in the modern world we live in.

    There’s an advantage to people continuing to think of themselves as Catholic (or at least continuing to think of Catholicism as simply being _the_ form of religion available) in that this leaves them with an obvious course of return should they become sufficiently “mugged by reality” to start drifting back towards God. I certainly think that it’s better than not if people who “aren’t religious” continue to see calling for a priest as the obvious thing to do at the end of life or at the death of a loved one or at some other inflection point in life.

    However, in the modern world — perhaps in part because Catholicism is too often seen as one denomination among many, and Protestant denominations have been in a pretty active process over the last 200 years of adapting Christianity to the needs of the spirit of the age — the choices seem to be between either a “the Church doesn’t change, love it or leave it” or “Catholic is a cultural identity and the sooner those old celibate guys catch on to what we with-it people believe, the better”. Of these, the former is clearly preferable.

    Ideally, of course, would be an understanding that the Church does not change combined with people lapsing but never actually repudiating the Church. However that does not seem to be forthcoming at this time.

  • I think that it’s not possible to break Catholics, young or old, into two categories. It’s more like an xy diagram, with 4 quadrants. There are faithful Catholics in every sense, those for whom religion is important but don’t consider it necessary to be faithful to the magisterium, those who are simply lax in every sense, and probably a portion who while orthodox in their beliefs don’t take their faith seriously.

    Only one of these quadrants entails the smaller, purer Church referred to by Pope Benedict. I think that something non-orthodox Catholics don’t understand, to culpably hold heresy is to incur excommunication:

    Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of ? can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in ? can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

    All that remains is to give them an opportunity to repent and issue the proclamations.

    Michael I,

    I think all Catholic schools wrestle with questions of Catholic identity and what it means to be a faithful Catholic.

    I don’t see how this is possible, it is all clearly spelled out in the CCC. Now, if you mean wrestling with questions of WANTING a Catholic identity or WANTING to be a faithful Catholic, that would be accurate.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

    There’s nothing particularly difficult about what it means to be a faithful Catholic, the only difficulty is actually practicing it.

    Matt

  • Yes, people such as Fr. Roy Bourgeois are excellent examples of following the Churches teachings.

    You do know that the SOA Watch movement has existed for over 10 years and that Fr Roy’s “issues” have only occurred within the last 6 months? You do know that Fr Roy cannot be equated with the entire movement? You do know that I have been involved in the SOA Watch movement for about 8-9 years, and that I DISAGREE with what Fr Roy did?

    Are you able to make these distinctions, or are you really that stupid?

    Matt – You’re off the page, man. What’s up with you?

  • Michael I,

    so you didn’t know Fr. Roy’s support of women’s ordination before 6 months ago? It was well known by those outside the SOA movement. Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    It really would assist the dialogue if you would refrain from vague statements like “you’re off the page”, I’m sure it’s an insult, I just don’t get it…as well as to avoid calling people names, it’s really un-christian.

    Matt

  • Fr Roy’s “position” on women’s ordination was not as issue until he participated in a fake ordination.

    Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    Of course. But I know plenty of pro-life people who are in favor of women’s ordination, and who question the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, and liberation theology but I doubt you’d want to discredit the entire pro-life movement on their account.

    I didn’t call you names. I said you were off the page.

    Can you tell me in one sentence the Church’s view on liberation theology?

  • Michael,

    Fr Roy’s “position” on women’s ordination was not as issue until he participated in a fake ordination.

    Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?


    Do you know any other of the SOA Watch members that are in favor of women’s ordination? Any that publicly oppose the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, abortion, or liberation theology?

    Of course. But I know plenty of pro-life people who are in favor of women’s ordination, and who question the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, contraception, and liberation theology but I doubt you’d want to discredit the entire pro-life movement on their account.

    Perhaps in the circles you run with Michael, but not in any group that I would affiliate myself with. Perhaps you should be more careful.

    I didn’t call you names. I said you were off the page.

    You called Tito stupid.

    Can you tell me in one sentence the Church’s view on liberation theology?

    I’m surprised, running in the circles you do, I’d think you were deeply versed in it. Benedict XVI has made the connection between Liberation Theology and “millenarianism”, but it is a far more complex topic to distill in a single sentence. The Church’s position is nuanced, an area fraught with pitfalls which must be carefully avoided in order to remain orthodox. Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root. Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19840806_theology-liberation_en.html

    Matt

  • Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?

    Haha. Morally acceptable? Without a doubt, yes. Theologically acceptable from the official Roman Catholic perspective? Ah, that’s where the debate is. Since we can’t even agree on what kind of discussion we’re having (moral, theological, doctrinal, etc.) I doubt we will get very far.

    Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root.

    1) What “organization” are you talking about?

    2) The Church has not forbidden any particular “forms” of liberation theology. It has warned about certain tendencies, of course.

    Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues…

    I “began” to study these issues over ten years ago. I’m now working on a doctorate focusing on them.

  • Michael,

    Really? You think it’s morally acceptable to support women’s ordination as long as you don’t participate in a fake ordination?

    Haha. Morally acceptable? Without a doubt, yes. Theologically acceptable from the official Roman Catholic perspective? Ah, that’s where the debate is. Since we can’t even agree on what kind of discussion we’re having (moral, theological, doctrinal, etc.) I doubt we will get very far.

    moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Frankly, in an organization where many other heterodox positions abounds, one is likely to find forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s root.

    1) What “organization” are you talking about?

    I don’t understand, you haven’t read the posts? SOA Watch.

    2) The Church has not forbidden any particular “forms” of liberation theology. It has warned about certain tendencies, of course.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Here’s a link for you that you might begin to study these issues…

    I “began” to study these issues over ten years ago. I’m now working on a doctorate focusing on them.

    So, you of all people should know that the issue can not be distilled in one sentence… what a strange question to ask.

  • moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Incorrect.

    I don’t understand, you haven’t read the posts? SOA Watch.

    I see. Well then you should be able to produce some evidence that SOA Watch has “forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s (sic) root.” Please produce some.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Who has the Church excommunicated for their liberation theology?

    So, you of all people should know that the issue can not be distilled in one sentence… what a strange question to ask.

    It’s not a strange question to ask if you have distilled the complexity of this and other related concerns in single sentences, as you have above and elsewhere. You seem to have it all figured out (“t is all clearly spelled out in the CCC,” for example), so I figured you could deal with my request.

  • Michael J. Iafrate
    Comment:
    Matt: moral == theological == doctrinal… It’s all the same baby.

    Michael: Incorrect.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I see. Well then you should be able to produce some evidence that SOA Watch has “forbidden forms of liberation theology at it’s (sic) root.” Please produce some.

    I didn’t say that it did, I just suggested that if there is a lot of rejection of Church teaching, you can probably find “forbidden forms of liberation theology at its root”. My basis for this conclusion is that the revolution called for by millenarianism includes revolution against the Church’s teachings in many areas which the adherents consider to be patriarchal or bigoted.

    She has done more than “warn”, she has excommunicated adherents to unorthodox forms of liberation theology.

    Who has the Church excommunicated for their liberation theology?

    Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    It’s not a strange question to ask if you have distilled the complexity of this and other related concerns in single sentences, as you have above and elsewhere. You seem to have it all figured out (“t is all clearly spelled out in the CCC,” for example), so I figured you could deal with my request.

    I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church’s Magisterium. It is intended to serve “as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries

    Matt

  • Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    His excommunication had nothing to do with liberation theology. It had to do with his (former) position on Mary.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I didn’t say that they were in “disharmony.” I said that the terms are not equivalent. Thus, you asked if it was “morally wrong” to believe in women’s ordination. The Church obviously teaches it’s doctrinally wrong, but not that it’s morally wrong. The Church teaches a lot of things, but disagreeing with a particular teaching might not, in fact, be “morally” wrong.

    You didn’t answer my question about why you wouldn’t discredit the pro-lilfe movement, even though there are pro-life people who are for women’s ordination and other “morally wrong” things, but you (and Tito) will discredit the SOA mv’t for the same thing.

  • I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals…

    That a book exists which teaches the “essential and fundamental”s of Catholic doctrine regarding “faith and morals” means the Catholic Church has it “all” figured out? Why won’t the Church share their cures for cancer and AIDS with the rest of the world then? And in what chapter of the Catechism can we find that?

  • Michael I,
    Fr. Balasuriya (lifted after he renounced his position)

    His excommunication had nothing to do with liberation theology. It had to do with his (former) position on Mary.

    Really? The title of his condemned work is Mary and Human Liberation, so yes, it relates to Mary…However, the declaration listed errors related to difficulties with his form of liberation theology relating to original sin, the nature of Christ, the nature and necessity of the Church for salvation, Marian dogmas, and papal infallibility.

    If this is your area of study, and you are unaware of these things, that is a problem, I hope your professors don’t figure it out. If you are aware of them and yet try to obfuscate to support your position, that is something else.

    Perhaps you could explain in a little more detail how the doctrine of the Church is in disharmony with theology and morality.

    I didn’t say that they were in “disharmony.” I said that the terms are not equivalent. Thus, you asked if it was “morally wrong” to believe in women’s ordination. The Church obviously teaches it’s doctrinally wrong, but not that it’s morally wrong. The Church teaches a lot of things, but disagreeing with a particular teaching might not, in fact, be “morally” wrong.

    You are in serious and dangerous error here. The Church has declared infallibly that she has no authority to ordain women, that it is not a matter of discipline, but a matter of faith and morals universally taught by the ordinary magisterium. Doctrinal assertions with regard to faith and morals demand our intellectual assent, but not assent of faith, this is not one of those cases, it demands assent of faith, even if you do not understand why it is so.


    You didn’t answer my question about why you wouldn’t discredit the pro-lilfe movement, even though there are pro-life people who are for women’s ordination and other “morally wrong” things, but you (and Tito) will discredit the SOA mv’t for the same thing.

    Yes I did, SOA is an organization, pro-life is a movement. None of the pro-life groups I affiliate with have members publicly opposing the Church’s teachings.

    I don’t have it all figured out, the Church does.
    CCC 11:
    This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals…

    That a book exists which teaches the “essential and fundamental”s of Catholic doctrine regarding “faith and morals” means the Catholic Church has it “all” figured out? Why won’t the Church share their cures for cancer and AIDS with the rest of the world then? And in what chapter of the Catechism can we find that?

    The cures for AIDS? Well an ounce of prevention, which is covered in the Catechism is worth a pound of cure. As to cancer? She has done better… She has through the sacrifice of Our Lord cured death itself. This may sound like a smug turn of phrase, but I am precisely demonstrating that Michael I’s view of the Church’s mission is flawed and that drives many of his erroneous positions. The Last four things are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, worry more about preparing for these things and we can worry less about cancer and AIDS.

    Part 1, Section 2, Chapter 3

    Matt
    ps. I’m noticing a common thread here on the relationship between rejecting Church teaching on women’s ordination and liberation theology, does anybody else see this?

  • Matt you are a nut case. Notice how I am the only one talking to you or acknowledging you exist? I think this blog’s contributors are distancing themselves from you.

  • Michael I,

    whenever you are unable to respond substantially you resort to such ad hominem nonsense. Really, grow up, be a man, and post like one. I know it can be frustrating that you can’t silence your critics here like you and your lefty buddies do on Vox Nova, but surely you can overcome this childishness.

  • Alright, well that’s enough of the Iafrate v. McDonald showdown for now. I probably should have stepped in sooner; at any rate, any subsequent back-and-forth between you two on this thread will be deleted.

  • May I have Matt’s email address?

  • Matt, you are welcome to continue your ridiculous comments in my email inbox.

Win

Sunday, January 18, AD 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles will be playing for a spot in the Super Bowl today. Being a life-long Eagles fan I have to admit that I am biased, but I believe this could finally be theiryear to win it all. With all due respect to the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles should destroy them and have the game wrapped up by the 4th quarter. 

The song is “Gonna Fly Now”, the theme from (the) Rocky movie franchise.  Composed by Bill Conti with lyrics by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins.  Appropriately set in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

If the Eagles don’t win, it was a very thrilling and exciting ride this season!

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8 Responses to Win

  • I won’t blame you if you quietly delete this post, Tito. It’s been a rough first half.

  • I hope you didn’t put much money on the game.

  • It was fun from the beginning of the second half through midway the 4th quarter.

    John Henry,

    If I was near a computer I would have been tempted.

    In the end it’s only a game. But oh what a glorious 3rd quarter it was!

    Good luck to the Cardinals in the Super Bowl!

  • Somewhat subdued as to the collapse of the Iggles in University of e-learning Dome. Like the secondary players watching helplessly as Larry Fitzgerald blew past them for three TDs. Like a total Cardinal D trapping, spinning, dumping Donovan McNabb too many times. Like Andy Reid reverting back to his pass-happy playcalling- uh, Andy, Carell Buckhalter is always good for two to three tough yards. Funny how Cards coach Ken Wisenhunt has similar habit- uh, Ken, you have Edgerrin James on your roster, use him once or twice. Am loathe to predict less than Lombardi Trophy for this miracle Cardinals team. But watching that Pittsburgh Steelers state of art defense inflicted on Baltimore Ravens was an examination of Hard Truths About Football. Steelers in 10 to bring trophy back to PA. And prayers for the healing of Ravens’ Willis McGahee following that collision with Steelers’ Ryan Clark, possibly the hardest these football watching eyes have ever seen. As for Iggles- oh well fun while it lasted.

  • PITTSBURGH!

  • I don’t have a dog in this game, but I’ll be rooting for the team that most of my friends will be rooting for. So far it looks like Pittsburgh!

  • I usually root for Pittsburgh as a secondary team, because it’s the only major city besides DC that I have lived near and the Redskins have been bad for a while.

    But the Cardinals have only won one championship in 110 years as a franchise, and that was sixty years ago. The Redskins went to more championships in five years during the 80’s, than the Cardinals have in 110 years. Mercy compels me to root for the underdog.

The Mythical National Champion

Friday, January 9, AD 2009

Now that the mythical national championship has been won by the University of Florida Gators as per the bowl oligarchy, I’d like to ask The American Catholic readers whom they would pick as their N.C.A.A. F.B.S. national champion.  My pick goes to the University of Southern California Trojans.  They’ve destroyed all non-conference competition by wide margins and play in the toughest football conference in the nation where the Pac-10 went five-and-0 (5-0) in bowl games this year.

UPDATED (1-13-2009 A.D.): ESPN crowns the Utah Utes the National Champions of college football.

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11 Responses to The Mythical National Champion

  • My vote goes to watching professional football, where the action is much better and they have this crazy thing known as a playoff.

  • I go with Gators. Tebow took care of business in the second half. Keeping it ahead of an Oklahoma team that handled itself well in regular season but went kaff kaff kaff for the big ugly glass trophy as they often do. Here are some scary thoughts for ’09. Tebow is likely to return. Their other major offensive and defensive starters are mostly sophs or juniors right now. Urban Meyer, probably the leading offensive mind in the sport, is staying put. And from what I hear, a remarkably soft schedule in that replication of the Civil War known as the Southeastern Conference. I see three teams vying for two spots in the 2010 BCS scrum- Gators, Longhorns, Trojans. USC looked comfortably and overwhelmingly better than Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Texas will be snorting for payback over the way the BCS Cartel jobbed them in ’08. Again, Sun Belt Ball whips Frost Belt Ball from here to Pasadena. Cannot wait for next September.

  • Pro football doesn’t hold a candle to the awesomeness that is college football.

    The BCS sucks, but a playoff would be even worse. It would destroy that which makes college football great: the fact that EVERY WEEK matters (by the way, is anyone really paying attention to what’s going on in college basketball – you know, where they have one of those precious playoff thingies – right now?).

    They should go back to the old bowl system and let the voters decide the “National Champion”. There wasn’t nearly as much bitching back then as there is now.

  • I’ll just put it this way. If I had the choice between going to the Kennedy Center to watch an opera performance, or to watch the George Washington University players perform an opera, I wouldn’t be alone in choosing the former. Yeah, it’s elitist, but that’s me. Then again, I admit that growing up in New York city with 6 pro sports teams and zero good college teams (though St. John’s was good in basketball when I was growing up) does color my thinking.

  • PAC 10 best in the country HA!!!

    Florida Baby nothing mythical about last night

  • The AP poll results:

    Florida #1
    Utah #2

    Anyone know what these two programs have in common?

    Clue: he’s named after a pope and Notre Dame wishes they had him instead of Charlie Weis.

  • Pac-10? The best? That has to be sarcasm.

    The SEC had more bowl wins and more bowl teams, with a 6-2 record. USC lost to Oregon State, which got pounded on several different occasions and only beat Big 10 teams Ohio State and Penn State, which isn’t a terribly impressive resume. The Pac-10’s 5-0 might look nice, but 4 of their wins were before New Year’s Day (against a fairly unimpressive lineup, with the exception of OSU). Both SEC losses came on New Year’s Day in the bigger bowls.

    I would take Florida over USC any day of the week.

  • The NASCAR mentality of the SEC at work:

    “If my guy in the Chevy can’t win, I’m going to cheer for some other Chevy driver. Ford sucks.”

    The SEC has proven itself over the years to be the strongest conference top-to-bottom, and winning the “National Championship” 3 years in a row, in addition to its overall bowl record, gives testament to this fact.

    But you’d never know it by the chip-on-the-shoulder SEC homerism mentality of its fans.

  • Or maybe you WOULD know it by the chip-on-the-shoulder SEC homerism mentality of its fans, since they tell you how great they are and how much you suck at every opportunity.

  • Urban Meyer coached Utah to a BCS bowl game and an undeafeted season.

    Don’t get me wrong about USC, I loathe them very much since I’m an Arizona alum. But growing up out west (Hawaii) and attending school in Arizona I have experienced the bias against the Pac-10, WAC, and the Mountain West conferences.

    When the Big East and ACC continue to get unwarranted attention and bids to the BCS while the Boise States and Utahs of the west continue to get the shaft of BCS bids is ridiculous.

    Pile in the fact that the Pac-10 has argueable the best football in the nation then you can see why I chose USC over the rest.

    On a side note, I attended the Sugar Bowl last year when Hawaii got stomped by Georgia. I have to admit the narcissism and self-centeredness of the Georgia fans were pretty ugly (not all just the ones in my section on the 50 yard line). It’s a football game folks, and Georgia won and their fans were still bitter and nasty towards the Hawaii fans.

  • At last, an issue raised on this blog on which I have absolutely no opinion!