Non-Human People

Thursday, August 18, AD 2011

(First time posting, so hopefully I don’t mess up the formatting too much; that would be a bit much after folks were kind enough to invite me to post!)

Time for a bit of Catholic applied to geekery! (Not to be confused with straight up Catholic Geekery, which is more the Holy Father’s area– does anyone doubt that he dearly loves thinking about, playing with and elaborating on Catholic theology? You just don’t end up writing THREE books on the life of Jesus without the love, intellectual interest and deep enjoyment of a geek for his geekdom.)

There’s something about Catholics and blogs that always ends up going into the old question of what makes a man– or, more correctly, a person. “Man” in this context would be a human, and there are several examples of people that aren’t humans– like most of the Trinity. Sadly, the topic usually comes up in terms of abortion; even the utterly simple-science-based reasoning that all humans are human and should be treated thus will bring out the attacks. (Amusingly, the line of attack is usually that someone is trying to force their religious beliefs on others, rather than an attempt to explain why a demonstrably human life is objectively different from, say, an adult human. The “bioethicist” Singer is famous for being open about valuing life in a utilitarian manner, but there aren’t many who will support that angle.[thank God])

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164 Responses to Non-Human People

  • Fascinating. If there are other sentient races in the universe then there arises the question as to whether God would provide ways for them to attain salvation other than through Christ. CS Lewis was intrigued by this question as demonstrated by his Out of the Silent Planet trilogy and the Narnia books.

  • When I think of what differentiates us as humans, Donald, I think of how we are spiritual beings. We yearn for God (whether we know it or not). And we of course look over the horizon to find something that will fill that gap. So we’re spiritual. As Augustine said, Thou hast made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee. We are at the center, too. There is a great chain even while Sir Lovejoy charted its intellectual demise. Regardless of our physical location in the universe, our spiritual plight places us right at the center. As far as we can tell, we alone are consciously troubled and preoccupied more than any other creature. We know of no others comparable to us.

  • “We know of no others comparable to us.”

    Yet.

  • Whether God created other beings than those mentioned in Scripture cannot now be known. Depsite what scientists have said, we live in a human-centered, geocentric universe till this day.

    C. S. Lewis was a fascinating, imaginative man, of course. His works are all classics. I appreciated The Abolition of Man. When we divorce our concept of man from the Christian worldview, we get a distortion. Our understanding is still dependent on the Christian worldview (to some extent). We’re at a transition, surviving on borrowed capital. But there are those who argue for a different view, and that other viewpoint is gaining in acceptance. So we have our feet in both worlds. Are we beings of worth and responsiblity? Or are we animals of instinct determined by forces?

    So what separates us? I don’t think it’s reason. I think it’s spirituality. We are accountable to God. He made us as priests over creation, to offer up sacrifices pleasing to Him. We failed in that assignment. So He initiated a rescue mission to restore us to that role. Once again we can be “priests of God and of Christ,” and we can reign with him (have dominion over creation). It’s the marriage of heaven and earth, where God, the temple, comes down to the garden never again to depart.

  • Priests and kings. We were created as priests and kings. To that we are restored if we are in Christ. This priestly and kingly role to which we’re assigned, then, is what differentiates us from all other created beings that are known.

    To possess dominion over creation, offering it back up to God, is the essence of the human being, I believe, when restored to God’s image. After all, who is God in whose image we were made?

  • Pat-
    I would agree “we” (culturally) are living on borrowed worldview– one of the things that this kind of discussion does is get people to realize how many of the things they assumed were just universal human views are Christian, and not shared by other cultures. (This is a major, major issue in dealing with time off the ship in the Navy–utterly ignoring the applications in terrorism!)

    I think the difference you draw between reason and spirituality might be an artifact of definition. Short version: you can’t be spiritual if you can’t choose.

    St. Augustine got it right in general, although I don’t think his biological detail is required:
    But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

  • Well, Foxfier: People have long distinguished us on the basis of reason. But do not animals reason? I have before me a dog that reasons. She’s not apparently spiritual, though. So I guess that’s the sense in which I meant to get that difference across. (Also, people vary in mental capability and sometimes profoundly so). I trace ‘the reason thing’ to the Greeks, Aquinas, Western phil., Victorian sensibility. I don’t think of it as a purely Christian notion. We’re spiritual beings, I know. I don’t know that reason really separates us from other seen beings. First of all I don’t know that we all reason. Secondly, I’m not sure all other seen beings don’t.

  • It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation. We were to reign over it and offer it back up to God. We failed in that mission. He in His goodness, came down to us as high priest in Jesus Christ offering up a perfect sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. He thereby restored us to Himself. We are atoned for. We find in Christ our roles re-established. Priests of God and of Christ who reign with Him. There’s a polis in a garden that God has sanctified. He’s Immanuel forevermore.

    The human being is made in God’s image, fallen in Adam, and then redeemed and restored in Christ. Made by a triune God, we find our fulfillment in Him and in His community, the New People. The world is very old and is passing away.

  • You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London. No. People are different from animals because they are spiritual beings, made in God’s image, and fallen from thence, though redeemable in Christ. This is our essence.

  • But do not animals reason?

    In this meaning of reason, no, they don’t reason, are not rational beings. Mental capacity of an individual is likewise not involved– we’re talking classes, groups, not individuals. I don’t remove your soul if I do so much brain damage that you’re unable to express the rationality of said soul.

    I’m not sure how you figure your dog reasons, since you don’t explain it, nor how you’d be able to tell if she felt a yearning for something greater than herself– after all, dogs do tend to desire a pack.

    You might want to go read Jimmy’s post that I linked.

    It’s that priestly and kingly role to which we were assigned that separates us from the rest of creation.

    Problem being, who is “we”? Rather the whole point of the exercise….

  • No idea what you’re getting at by the frequent references to Victorian London, either.

  • Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable. Priests before and after. Lords before and after. We are spiritual. In Christ our identity is reclaimed. We find our place again in God’s creation: kings and priests. Does God need us? Of course not. But this is what he created us for. He loves us and engages us in his creative work.

  • In the Western world beginning wiht the Greeks, we at the height of culture/ civilizaTION HAVE thought of ourselves as rational beings. I think it’s old.

  • YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

  • When we think of human beings, we must think not only of what we were, but of what we are and what we will be (assuming we are Christians). Our essence is this: Made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemed in Christ. This is what separates us from vegetation, animals, angels, etc. I do not mean to say creation in general is not redeemed. I believe very strongly that it is. I simply mean to point out our difference. Our essence. We are spiritual, with souls as well as breath, accountable spiritually since we were made in God’s image, since we failed his assignment, since we find redemption in Him through Christ, and restoration.

  • Well I think we are that: beings made in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable.

    Who is included in “beings made in God’s image”? That is the point of this post.

    Obviously it includes male, female, a huge range of hair, skin and eye colors, a huge range of body types, a huge range of mental abilities… we often use the short-hand of human, or homo sapiens; as we learn more about homo neanderthalensis, that becomes less reasonable.
    Like St Augustine reasoned, if “monstrous” births are still people, would it not be possible for there to be “monstrous races”?

    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    That people don’t use the ability doesn’t mean that we don’t have it. It would take a lot of proof to “show” that your dog is rational, but humans aren’t!

  • Hmnn, I think you might be looking at it a bit too literally or precisely. Whether one is profoundly retarded or genius level is irrelevant. God made human beings in His image. We failed in that. But we have souls as well as ‘breath’ or life. We are spiritual. We were and could once again be priests and lords within the context of this creation. Whatever else is going on way out there is another topic, really. As for prodigies, unusual differences, etc., we still know they are human if they are. Otherwise it’s an animal. Darwinism and evolutionary thought has us confused on this. Secular scientists would like to blur the boundary between animals and humans by focusing on ‘deep time’ and theorizing.

  • Reason became a distinction, and perhaps the one distinction of the human being because of the Greek inheritance. Acquinas was reason-oriented within the western heritage. But the Bible’s dinstinguishing mark for the human is what? The soul, created in God’s image, fallen, redeemable in Christ, priests and kings. This is the pattern. It’s our essence. I was made by God, in God’s image, for Godself, and can be restored to that image in Christ the Redeemer. This is what’s central about the human.

  • Yes, that’s it. Animals have breath. Life is there….there’s blood. Human beings have souls too, however. We were made in God’s image. We were meant to be that. We can be that again. That’s the marker.

  • I think you’re bypassing the point entirely, Pat– who is “we”? Who has souls?

    To our knowledge, people/men/humans have souls, animals do not, but that makes for a circular definition– or for abject horror, when you consider that it’s pretty standard for a culture’s word for their own group to translate as “people,” “mankind” or “humans.” Just as with “rational,” the meaning of a word in context is very important.

    A person is one with a soul; how do we figure out if someone who is outside of our previous experience is a person or not? Appearance won’t work, obviously, and we are not God so we do not see their souls. Obviously, we have to assume that those who seem to have a soul do in fact have one– but what are the markings of having a soul?

    Can you argue against Augustine’s ‘rational, mortal animal’ definition? Actually argue, not assert?

  • correction:
    To our knowledge, people/men/humans have rational/spiritualsouls, animals do not

  • All made more complicated because “soul” refers to several different things– life, including that of animals; essence of something; the part of a human that is eternal….

  • Too much classification….why order it like that? Not necessary for our conception. No little green man will come by to confuse us. It’s just us. If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human. That includes the Elephant Man, the circus workers, those referenced by Augustine in the City of God, and anyone else who’s uniquely interesting and remarkably different. They’re all human. The trinity teaches us that there is diversity in unity, vice versa. The Fall teaches us that we’re not as we should be. Yes there’s variety. But I know a human when I see one. And I’ll bet the farm that they possess breath and a soul, and the same origin and destiny too, if in Christ.

  • No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error. Christ alone has immortality. That’s where the Christian gets it. Soul and body resurrect. We’re not eternal. No portion is. But the soul gains immortality in Christ. The body is resurrected in Him.

  • Our first parents were made in God’s image. The animals were not. Plants were not. The earth was not. Neither was the sky. We alone were made in His image. We fell. We’re restored if in Christ. That image manifests in the priestly and kingly role. Exercise dominion. Offer up creation. And St. John said, they came to life and reigned with Christ. Kings and priests.

  • Too much classification….why order it like that?

    Because meaning is important. You can’t say that only humans have souls, because everyone who has a soul is a human. That’s circular.

    We can’t say it’s obvious who is human and who is not, because it’s sadly not obvious– a quick glance at history will show that, and a moment’s thought on the current pro-life issues of abortion, eugenics and euthanasia show it’s ongoing. People are very, very good at making themselves believe things that suit them. God made this world in a manner that we can learn about systematically– why would he have not done the same when it comes to who is a person?

    If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like one, it’s a human.

    And what constitutes “like a human”? From your prior statements, you mean “being made in God’s image”– which we cannot define by the standard use of “human,” which is a biological term.

    That question is the entire point of this post.

  • No. The soul is not eternal. That’s a Greek error.

    From Catholic Answers:
    The glossary at the back of the U.S. version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines “soul” as follows:
    The spiritual principle of human beings. The soul is the subject of human consciousness and freedom; soul and body together form one unique human nature. Each human soul is individual and immortal, immediately created by God. The soul does not die with the body, from which it is separated by death, and with which it will be reunited in the final resurrection.

  • Humans give birth to humans. Animals give birth to animals. Both have life. But the human was initially created in God’s image. We are now fallen, but redeemable. What’s the question? I think you’re trying to argue with secular ethicists and pragmatic people who represent what the late John Paul II termed a culture of death. I understand that if you are. But these people make distinctions the Bible does not. We shouldn’t. We know life. We continue to know life. Not everything can be proven. God only holds us responsible, in those casses, for maintaining faith and conviction and obedience to truth. If they press us, we may not be able to answer. They want to know what is special about a fetus. I don’t know exactly. It’s a human. God knits us together in the womb. They won’t believe that, though. And there’s no strict definition of the kind for which you’re searching. If they don’t have faith, it won’t be life to them. But we know it is, and will continue to say so.

  • Christ, who alone has immortality, be glory forever. Forgot which epistle. But we are ‘clothed’ with that immortality. It’s not ours. We ‘died’ because of sin, the fall…the soul would live on in death or die forever, however you wish to say it. But that’s not the same as “being eternal by nature.” The Greeks thought we were. Plato thought that. Some of it’s semantic. But those not saved in Christ are not immortal. They don’t live forever. They die forever. Christ is the Life.

  • Pat, where does the Bible define made in God’s image?

    Where does it define soul?

    Where does it define human?

    It’s obvious that people– from the embryonic through the senile, sound of mind and body or not, in all our wide range of characteristics– are different than animals because we’re made in God’s image. The question remains: who is “we”?

  • Why is that a question? I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two. I’ve never yet seen a demon or an angel. No aliens either. “We” are those two-legged creatures that walk upright, etc., though we sometimes are born with issues. “We” may be Siamese, etc. Humans though. ANd we all know them. What’s the question? You want a definition? Don’t tell me you dont’ knwo one when you see one. I can’t kkeep from laughing. I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

  • The Genesis myth tells us about our first parents, who they were, what happened. Who we are now. Who we can be in Christ. The new creation. Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that. It’s the focal point. Well, God is really, but then we in Him and He in us forever. That’s at the center of the story.

  • I jsut don’t udnerstand where you’re coming from, Foxfier.

    I noticed.

    Why is that a question?

    Because you claimed that the Bible has said the soul is the “dinstinguishing mark for the human.”

    You claimed that I’m making distinctions where the Bible did not– you still haven’t supported that claim.

    I’ve never been confused over whether a created being was a human or an animal. I’ve always distinguished the two.

    So? I’ve never had to splint a broken arm– doesn’t mean that the information isn’t important, or will never be used.
    As I pointed out, there are several times where people mistakenly classified other people as non-persons; more amusing are the times when people mistakenly classified non-persons as people. (Was it Mark Twain that wrote about a town mistaking an ape for a Frenchman?)

  • Admittedly, apart from the Biblical story, there is no way to define and separate people fromm the rest of creation. Paganism blurs the distinction. IT’s through the light of Scripoture that we learn of who we are. Our identiy is derived from our Creator who communicates revelation. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. And people today don’t know. The Christian identity of the person is wearing off. You can’t fix a defintion of the human for the non-Christian. It won’t work. It’s through Scritprue that we find out who we are. The Greeks tried and all they came up with was reason. No good. Priests and kings. Not simply reason. If only reason, why preserve a human?

  • Humans are at the center because made in His image and capableof being restored to that.

    To repeat myself a final time tonight:
    you can’t define “human” as “those made in God’s image,” then say that those who are made in God’s image are human.

    Bring in actual quotes, with citations. Make an argument for what you’re saying, rather than just claiming it.

  • You’re getting really incoherent, Pat.

  • You wihs to go with Etienne Gilson’s choice? Do you wish to have a universal sense of the human, that can prove to everyone, that can force everyone to believe it and be OK with it rationally? Then it would be watered-down. It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God. It would be something far less, something paltry.

  • Well how coherent do you suppose you can become on something like this? It’s not that kind of a thing. Either you’re human or an animal in our visible realm here. I do not have to create new definitions because someone feels like they might face an alien soon. It’s simply either an animal OR a human. If you approach it, talk to it, and stay with it for about five minutes, you ought to know which classification it falls within. If it has two heads and two permanently separate personalities and identities, it’s two humans joined from birth. Two souls, not one. Otherwise, one soul per human. And that’s about it.

  • You see, it’s through God’s story that we learn who we are, why wer’re here, where we could go, etc. Apart from faith there is no correct definition of the human. God alone gives it. If you are willing to accept it then that’s what it is. If not, you live in ignorance as pagans always have. It’s nothing complicated. Very simple. No God, no man; Lewis wrote “THe Aboliton of Man.” That’s what he meant.

    If ever there’s confusion as to whether a creature is human or animal, I’d like to know why. I’ve never heard of someone being confused in our time.

  • God’s story is our story too. It’s our meaning, our identity. We are told everything that way. It IS circular. That’s why it’s faith. If it were otherwise, it would be human philosophy. What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? Jerusalem saved Athens, and so we continue to think as it did.

  • I always thought of people as possessing dignity. Then I read of a minister who visited the dying. He said that dying is the most undignified thing. He’s right. I feel we should be thankful that God made us for himself. Life is a gift. It’s precious. We’re responsible for how we live it. We need to be good stewards of all that God gave us. To live again is possible. But it happens in Christ alone. This is being human.

    I experience no despair over my lack of a scientific definition. Humanity cannot be defined philophically or scientifically. And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

  • pat,
    It is basic Catholic teaching that we gain our understanding of God and His Creation not only through Scripture, but through reason as well. I don’t know you and perhaps you are a sola scriptura Protestant, and this thread is not intended to debate that point. I only point out that the notion that humanity cannot be defined philosophically or scientifically, but only by reference to Scripture alone is a singularly unCatholic point of view.

  • It would not be the udnerstanding given by Scripture, the identity we have within the narrative of God.

    What is this understanding? Lay it out.

    And that’s OK, since we gain our understanding from Scriptural revelation.

    If it’s in the scriptures, it can be cited. Go for it. Jesus Himself, if he said “is it not written,” would then give the actual quote.

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  • In Genesis, it says that God created our first parents in His image. Let us make man in our image, after ouor likeness. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    The understanding is arrived at through progressive revelation. As the story unfolds, we learn of who we are: where we came from, where we’re at, and where we can go. It’s not fixed. It depends on who and where you are within the story. That’s our identity. It’s what it means to be a human being. But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea. That’s reason at it’s best and it still falls radically short of scriptural revelation. Don’t baptize it. Don’t synthesize them.

    You’re trying to arrive at a universal, modernist understanding of the human, analytically or philosophically abstracted from concrete time, space, and the story that changes as it unfolds and moves eschatologically, or teleologically, toward its fulfillment, the story that informs us and gives us our understanding. We cant do that.

    The Greeks abstracted from the concrete because they beleived in the heraclitean/parmenidean split, the platonic this world of change versus that world of static reality, etc. No, we see it eschatologically.

  • So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. That’s the actual quote. This is NOT true of animals or the rest of the visible creation.

    Now, where does it say what, exactly, His image is? Clearly it’s not too physical, since the difference between male and female in the human species is rather large. The wisest idea would be to read the original, or as detailed an explanation as possible of the known meaning of the original.

    Given that information, we could very easily come to the conclusion that being able to create things is what makes us “in God’s image.”

    But it cannot be abstracted to be a precise, universal idea.

    How do you come to that conclusion? Much like the other claims you make, you don’t support it– you just state it.

  • No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions. I’m assuming that Scriptural revelation is what we are given, and that that’s meant to inform all that we think and find elsewhere. I don’t hold to two separate categories. There is faith and it seeks understanding. I don’t maintain that reason or tradition are separate or reconcilable compartments. Never thought that way.

    Citgations, quotes….what good would that do? You prooftext with one set of references. Somone else uses another set. Everyone has their own pattern. That still doesn’t answer the question. It simply reveals paradigms. It’s like the Methodist who finds all the proofs. They back it up. Then the Calvinist does it with their proofs. The Catholic wiuth theirs. The Mormons have their documents from which to prove their arguments, and they are coherent within their own system, more or less.

    I advocate a better way. Let’s transcend these systems and get back to the BIble. Not Sola Scriptura per se. But let’s go back to the narrative first and foremost. That’s our story. Let’s learn it and allow it to inform our thinking. That’s what I’ve tried to do. I’ve tried to get across the Bible’s sense of who we are in relation to the one who has made us. We are humans, and the story tells us what that means. We happen through the story. It’s eschatological, that is to say that we are ‘on the way.’ We are pilgrims if we are Christian. We’r’e in transition. If not, we’re part of an old world that’s passing away, and that means death. Definitions? Not really. But definiately a reality that is wondrously amazing!

  • Once again: priests to God and kings over creation. Sacrifices acceptable, our creative service. Worship. That’s the image reflected. It’s the life we’re called back to. He’s not jsut the Creatior. He’s the Redeemer too. We participate redemptively in his plan. Also, He’s triune. So we exist in community. All this is what’s meant by being in his image. If we are in Christ, we are alive again! We see signs of that now. It will come about fully when the Lord returns in glory.

    A scientific or philosophic definition of the person that I can insert in Merrium-Webster’s? I really and truly don’t think it’s possible. There are two kinds: the saved and the unsaved…two very different definitions, and within each there is the telos—they’re in flux. You can try….I used to attempt that sort of thing. I find at the end of it soemthign like this: You learned all this information and wonder to yourself what you know. Then you come to realize that what really matters is who you know. The path, the truth, and the life is a person, Jesus. Not some abstract set of propositions. Propositions exist. But Chrsitianty is life. Our faith is never in truth itself. It is in Truth itself. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s not in the written word, but in the Word. Christ was the Word who spoke. We beleive the One who spoke. We therefore speak.

  • No….we’ve wound up talking past one another because we’re starting with different assumptions.

    Yes.

    I assume that when you say “the Bible says X,” that you can actually show where it says ‘x’.

    You seem to assume that when you say “the Bible say X,” that is enough– because you think that’s what it means.

    Perhaps you should try to mimic Christ in how He taught– as I said before, when He said “is it not written,” he followed with what was actually written.

  • Christ spoke things without quoting too. BUt the fact is that we have a Bible and it presents a story. We have to let that story inform our life.

  • To learn of the human, we must read the WHOLE story. Where we came from, where we’re at, and our destinations. I cannot quote the whole bible. We have to read it from cover to cover. You would never do that with a movie or another book. SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

  • Christ spoke things without quoting too.

    When teaching things on His authority as the Son of God, not when trying to explain his position as a guy in a compbox….

    SO why would you only take a part of the Bible? I don’t like that.

    Jesus Himself quoted. Don’t like it, take it up with Him.

  • We know from the Bible that the human is created in God’s image, made to reflect him. We are fallen. But we can be redeemed and this is life. Not everyone is redeemed. So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says. You know the quotes. I don’t have the time to offer them now. But we see throughout Scripture that we are called to service and worship.

  • I don’t have the time to offer them now.

    You’ve spent roughly three days failing to offer them, Pat; small wonder you have no time left!

    The one quote that I asked for and you partly offered was out of context and didn’t actually say what you implied it did. (1 Tim 6:16.)

    Still, you beg the question- who is “we”?

    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed.

    This contradicts what you’ve said before– that being made in His image is what makes us both people and able to be redeemed.

  • Yes, three things. We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.
    Some are. Some aren’t. Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

  • We were made in his image. We fell. We can be redeemed.

    Good start! Mr. Wright’s post touched on these aspects, pointing to aliens that never fell as being something that would actually cause trouble with folks’ faith.

    So, “we” are those made in God’s image, who fell and can be redeemed; how do we identify those who fit that category? Objectively– as I pointed out, there are a lot of people right now who can’t recognize a baby as a person, just because of where they happen to be located. (Be it in the womb or inside of Israel’s borders.)

    Where you are in that defines who you ar as a person.

    Has nothing to do with the conversation.

  • Well, we have not yet seen aliens. To be honest, I don’t really believe we will. We’re the focus now. We’re accountalbe to God. We must deal with this fact. What God chooses to do elsewhere is His business. We musn’t evade our responsibility for service and worship, to come home and accept his embrace, to arrive spiritually with God.

    Yes, if we’re redeemed, then we are a new creation. Old things have passed. New things have come. Otherwise we are part of a world grown old and dying.

  • So there are two different kinds of peole. Those saved and those unsaved. Again, a precise definition for the ‘universal human’ will allude you.

  • The only alluding going on here is your alluding to there actually being something to back up your claims; somehow, the notion that you actually have to support your assertions eludes you…..

    You’re still saying “we.” Of course people are “we” in a religious context. How to go about figuring out who is “we” is the point of this post.

  • Yes, in Genesis we learn that God created various creatures. And human beings were initially made in his image. Having given us dominion, he launched us into that priestly and kingly endeavor. God knew what would happen. The plan was built in so we can find restoration as it unfolds. We can find redemption in Christ. So the image is restored, as well as our initial purpose. As Augustine said in The City of God, though, it’s on a higher level. There’s a garden, now a polis, and a temple—God is with us forever. New Jerusalem. It’s taken to a higher level.

    What distinguishes the human being? Made in his image, responsible to Him for what he requires. We fell. The law came. The kingdom has come; now grace. Human beings can respond to their Creator as he engages us in a relationship with Him. This is special. Nonhumans, i.e. animals, don’t share in it in this way. How do we knwo? Revelation. Without it we are unenlightened as the pagans. A rational way to affirm? I don’t think so. A scientific way? I don’t think so. We sort of had that but it wares off without revelation. Science and rationality turn unscientific and irrational as our hearts and minds are darkened once again. They still call it science and ratioanlity, but it’s not. Apart from Revelation we simply wouldn’t know what human means. We wouldn’t accept it.

    So abortion, euthenasia, suicide, etc. is wrong. He gives us life with his plan in view. If an animal is put down do to severe complications or rabies, it’s just not the same thing. The animal is not made in His image and designed for this plan I described. THAT IS WHAT DISTINGUISHES US FROM THE OTHER VISIBLE CREATURES OF GOD. Then there are angels elect and fallen. That’s a different matter. The Bible gives us a sense of what that’s about too, but it’s different. Another order. Other life? If so, a different order. So yes, there is a classification.

    So to define it would go something like this: Human beings are made in God’s image, responsible morally. Can’t meet the law’s requirements. We tried. We’re responsible for “going through the eye of the needle.” How do we do it? Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Grace. He sent Jesus Christ, the atoning sacrifice. The human is responsible to God’s law. The provision is in Christ alone. With God all things are possible: we go through the eye of the needle. Our humanity is restored. That’s really human. New people. New community. New creation.

  • To clarify the kingdom, Christ is King and we His subjects. He reclaimed the world, creation. (When the strong man is tied, his place is looted by one stronger.) The nations are no longer deceived. Now we can live and reign with Christ a thousand years. It was promised. So it is.

    When we acknowledge Christ as the Lord, the King, the Messiah, we yield our political allegience to Him. Our inclusion in His kingdom is marked by the acknowledgement that He is Lord to whom we bow. Ours is a polis…an outpost in the world as it passes. So we are the New People. Creation waits for us to find itself again.

  • Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. Who are the sons of God? Those redeemed in Christ. Creation too, is liberated from its bondage to decay and set free in the glorious liberty of Christ. God’s re-creation of the New Day. Humanity restored in Him. To be human is to be created by God in his image to worship and serve Him. But we fell. How to we reclaim our humanity? In Christ there is a new creation. Old things have passed away and new things have come. So we can be human again. I think this is the best way to answer the question of what defines us. It’s our essence.

  • You still don’t get it, Pat.

    You jump from those made in His image to “human”– without either defining the word or giving a reason why.

    Also, I thought you were out of time? Where are the verses you owe me?

  • I’m assuming macro-evolution never took place.

  • Genesis Chap. 1 versus 26-28. That’s the part that explains that human beings were made in His image. Revelation Chap. 20 verses 1-6 describes the reinstatement of dominion, as these are “in Christ.” They reign with Him.

  • In his image, dominion over creation, creatively offering up sacrifices well-pleasing. Worship and service as kings and priests. This is not given to the animal kingdom. Extra-terrestrial life doesn’t figure into this. It’s our story for now, so it doesn’t include what God may be doing elsewhere.

  • So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    That identity was given at the start of creation in Genesis. It is reclaimed in Christ.

  • Gen 1:26-28
    l Then God said: Let us make* human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.
    27
    God created mankind in his image;
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female* he created them.
    28
    God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.* Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.m

    (With many, many footnotes.)

    That does not say:
    So in this sense the definiton of what makes us human is being redeemed. To be human is to be all that God has called us to be and do. And what is that? What the Bible says.

    It’s only the same tiny snippet you’ve offered several times before, in various phrasings, still not defining who is human.

    How about we go back before you started just repeating yourself– how do you conclude that your dog both reasons and does not yearn for God? Evidence?

    Can you explain this phrase?
    You know I’ve been tempted to use reason and/or morality to separate us from other beings. It just doesn’t make any sense. Unless you’re living in one of the better parts of Victorian London.

    Justify this one?
    YOu see, the problem is that we’re not rational. We’ve found that out. We just have to accept it.

    Can you justify why we should abandon reason when all you can offer is

  • So we find our understanding of the human in the unique way that the Creator has made us, and for the unique purpose to which we’re assigned. And that’s what I’ve been detailing throughout this thread.

    No, it is not. You’ve been asserting various things, and failing to follow through the reasoning or offer justification for why you have reached various conclusions.

    You can not even explain the incredibly simple, basic question, the entire point of this post:
    why do you assume that ‘we’ consists of only those you have personally identified?
    You don’t even apply that consistently, since you’ve also said that only those who have been redeemed are truly people!

  • No, I do not beleive we have seen or will see extra-terretrial life. Humans are those who were created in God’s image, fallen and redeemable in Christ. Each human is somewhere within that story. Either we’re still fallen or we’ve been redeemed. Two entirely separate destinies, regardless of the same origin.

    What we were, what we are and what we will be are not necessarily the same. Once, again, it depends on where you are within the narrative.

  • You wish to abstact a definition so it will be static. That is not possible. You have to read the story to find out.

  • You wish to abstact a definition so it will be static. That is not possible. You have to read the story to find out.

    No.
    I “wish” support for the assertions you keep making, especially when you claim they are Biblical. Your track record on the Bible actually saying what you think it does really isn’t very good.

  • I don’t know what you’re referring to. In the scriptural narrative, human beings were created one way, fell to become something else, and are heading somewhere else if “in Christ.” I’m not sure how you would define that philosphically or scientifically. You have to read the story and find your place within it.

  • We need to understand that Scripture is a narrative. In any story things change. It’s in flux. We need to find out where we are in the story and decide what that means. What the implications are.

  • I don’t know what you’re referring to.

    That explains why you aren’t making any sense….

    By the way, you still haven’t supported your claim that your dog reasons, or any of the other claims you made that were actually related to the topic.

  • You want to know what makes a human and what differentiates them from other created beings. I told you: God made us in His image to reflect Him. We failed in that mission. He promised restoration in Christ. Some people claim that by being recipients of God’s grace. Others don’t.

    Animals stand outside that category. We have not seen, and I think we will not see extraterrestrial beings. So I’m content with the answer I gave. It’s biblically informed. It makes perfect sense. What part of it don’t you understand?

    On a broader level you can say that we are spiritual. This separates us. Not the ability to philosophize like the Greeks on a sunny day. No, but the fact that we were made for God in the unique way I described. As Augustine said, You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. This makes us spiritual and that is what’s most profound about us. People have that need.

    From a non-Christian, Western vantage point, people often feel driven to say it is reason that separates us. But reason is merely a part of the ‘image.’ It fails, furthermore, to describe the person adequatly. It only mentions a facet, and does not get at our essence. Also, there are people who do not reason because of some predicament, e.g. severely low mental capacity. Animals can reason: they put two and two together to reach an end that that person I described would not. My dog sees someone and is hungry. She picks up her paper plate and growls as she moves toward you. Other animals are smarter yet.

    So you see it is not reason that separates us, but that we are spiritual beings, and in the way I described based on Genesis and the narrative’s development.

  • The quote from Augustine you gave earlier is not satisfactory. Mortal, rational? No, this is what I’ve been saying is not the case. Mortal, yes. Rational, no. Reason or rationality is a facet. That is not our essence, though. Our essence is that we’re spiritual, with souls, originally created in God’s image, fallen, and redeemable through Christ. This is what defines us if you look to the Scriptures. And any sense of the human that derives from elsewhere must be checked against that. I don’t even think the Greeks held reason or rationality to be central. Only aristocrats or freemen of their kind. They beleived that the rest of the world were Barbarians. And then there were slaves. No universality there. The universal notion came much later with Christianity. That’s because Christianity recognized a common descent for humanity and borrowed heavily from the Greeks for ideas. What the Greeks said was appropriated wrongly.

    It is true to say that reason or rationality is generally a facet of human beings. But it’s not the defining characteristic. It’s not our essence.

  • 1) You utterly miss what I “want.”
    2) You are still asserting, not arguing, supporting, giving any reason beyond “Because I’ve said so, several times.”

  • Foxfier, I’ve supplied an udnerstanding of the human in line with Scripture. It’s pretty scripturally-informed. I can’t see getting any more exact than that. I’ve supplied reasons and explanations. I even quoted Scripture. I’m not sure what else you’re looking for. This is best I can offer based on my understanding of the Bible:

    We were created in God’s image. We experienced a fall from that first estate. Christ can restore us to that. That’s human.

    All other visible created beings we usually see were placed under us.

    Angels are God’s ministers. They are (usually) unseen. Demons are angels who also fell.

    Extra-terrestrial beings: I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned in Scripture.

  • If you wish to engage in a thomistic exercise, and write the way he did in the Summa with quotes, citations, unreasonable and dramatic logic, I cannot afford you that kind of an experience. I don’t even udnerstand the Summa myself. I have a copy of it but it’s become a dust-collector.

  • No, Pat, you’ve just kept making claims and unsupported statements.

    Argument by saying it over and over, and then failing to provide any support, is what you’ve provided.

  • Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact. How much support do you want? I won’t go outside Scripture. I’ve quoted verses from Genesis. You know the story as it develops. The Fall, Redemption, Restoration….the themes speak for themselves. This is the basic Christian narrative. What is more central to the human person than this? Can you please tell me? I’m quite satisfied with what’s said. If you went to any Christian book to find answers to who we are as persons, you will find this. It is what Christianity has always taught.

  • This is where I draw my understanding of the person: the scriptural narrative. What do you base it upon?

  • Since you like quotes, I came upon this one from Laurens Van Der Post, quoted in L’engle’s Walking on Water: “The extreme expression of his spirit was in his story. He was a wondrful story teller. The story was his most sacred possession. These people know what we do not: that without a story you have not got a nation, or a culture, or a civilization. Without a story of your own to live you haven’t got a life of your own.”
    I introduce this to underscore the importance of ‘story.’ It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

  • Support? We have the weight of Genesis and the whole Bible in fact.

    Great! So show your work.

    I’ve quoted verses from Genesis.

    Yes, and I’ve pointed out that it isn’t sufficient for your claims. Heck, you’ve quoted it to establish something not related to the topic!

    It is through ‘story’ that our meaning and purpose is derived. That is where our identity is found.

    That doesn’t mean what you seem to think it does, that your “the whole thing” sourcing is good… it’s a statement on personal identity.

    Nobody forced you to come here and start making claims, or dragging the conversation away from what could have been an interesting, fun route. Seeing as you decided to insert yourself, why can you not do the incredibly simple task of supporting your claims? In a manner other than just saying them again or ignoring that you ever said them!

    How do you figure your dog reasons, but isn’t “spiritual?” Etc.

  • I think that would be taking scripture out of its context. To see it as a whole, to catch the grammar or morphology of things, is rather the aim for me. The story is our story, yours and mine. It teaches us about origin and destiny, and where we fit within all of that.

  • I think that would be taking scripture out of its context.

    Now that is funny, since the very first quote you offered was out of context and clearly didn’t say what you claimed….

  • Hmmm, I’m not sure what you mean. I know I quoted something from Genesis about being made in God’s image. But the thing you raise goes to the heart of what I’m saying regarding definitions. We are not as our first parents (humans) were; we (humans) fell. But we (humans) can reclaim the position in Christ. Or rather, he can reclaim us (humans). So here is the quandary: how to fix a definition of the human given this dynamic reality. I feel that cannot be done scientifically or philosophically. So I let the story inform my understanding. And stories move from a begining to an end. As said Lewis Carroll, I like to begin at the beginning and end at the end.

    You see, here is the problem. If I say that human beings are creatures made in God’s image, well, that’s not true. Adam and Eve were. Then they fell. We can be among the redeemed or the unredeemed at this point along the story. At the consummation of things, those redeemed will be raised up body and soul, resurrected as a unity. You see the problem? No definition fits throughout, unless of course we include everything. That is why quoting just parts of the Bible doesn’t work. Gotta read the story. I do appreciate very much your spirited debate. There is a new (or not so new) trend known as narratival theology. It stresses the fact that Scripture affords us a story. It is less concerned with universal statements and propositions than with how this story shapes our lives and how we find our place within it, letting it inform us. I’ve been somewhat influenced by narratival theology. I find that the Bible makes much more sense this way. I used to think like a Fundamentalist, always wanting to locate a verse or two, or a passage in order to feel like I had proof. Yet those parts of Scripture are part of an ever-widening context, until we find ourselves within the broadest circle of the Word itself. And that Word presents us with a story.

  • When you tried to claim that immortal souls were a Greek invention, using a quote about the resurrection of the body.

    The reason you don’t want to offer text to support your claims is because, based on the evidence, you can’t. All you can do is make claims and hand-wave that it’s all there, somewhere.

  • I also said confusion could arise in part due to semantics.

  • But what has that to do with the discussion?

  • To get back on track, you wish to define the human. I’ve told you that the meaning and purpose of the human is found in the Christian story. By reading any story, you learn character development. We must do this witht the Bible.

  • Still waiting for support for a single one of the claims I’ve asked you about.

  • Foxfier, you’ve not listened to a single thing I’ve said. You continue to insist on supporting things with verses. People do this all the time. And they’re often wrong. To give you an example: i had a discussion with a man the other day who said alcohol was sinful. I said why? He said let me show you, and he brought me a gigantic King James Version of the BIble, and he pointed to a line where it said “do not be givne to strong drink.” Well, upon reading the epistle, I was reminded that this was advice for bishops/elders of the church. It was not a pronouncement on alcoholic beverages. Anotheher version reads “not a drunkard” which of course is binding upon all Christians anyway. It was horrendous. I just couldn’t explain it to him. THe understsanding simply wasn’t there.

    So no, I strongly feel, and this is my conviction (no proof here) that we should read the whole Bible and let its meaning come forth.

  • No, Pat, the “problem” is that I have listened to what you said– and asked you to actually support your claims, with something besides waving at the whole Bible.

    Every time you try to get into detail, you fail.

    Small wonder you try to change the subject, especially when asked to support your claims.

    I do not care what you strongly feel. This is not a post on “what Pat strongly feels.”
    This is a light-hearted, whimsical post about applying Catholic personhood theory in imaginary situations, which is a useful exercise for dealing with the darker, real situations that show up in day to day life– such as the trans-human embryos already in England.

    You’ve shown that you’re not going to defend the few statements you made related to the topic, let alone discuss the actual topic.

  • Too often it degenerates into prooftexting. Here a verse, there a verse, pick and choose them, divorce them from their contexts and use them to prop up an idea. Why? Because you hold a beleif prior to Scripture which you wihs to prove, whether it’s temperance, forms of church polity, views on baptism, or whatever else people subscribe to. They go to the BIble to prove things, and they uproot verses from their context. I can find ‘proof’ of the congregational politiy, the presbyterian government, the episcopal form, etc., for example, depending on which texts I use. Likewise, I can find ‘proof’ for many other things. There is always a tendency to do this in Chrisitnaty.

    Instead, I choose to read the BIble from cover to cover as a story, and to let that story inform me. And if something is unclear i don’t go back and try to find the verses that fit the belief I hold most dearly becasue of sentiment or preference. I let the story unfold. I find where I belong in it. I become enveloped by the story. The story then dictates to me. As Tom Wright said regarding our time, we are called upon at this juncture to improvise, to pick up where the apostles left off, and to play out our role until Christ returns (paraphrase). I do not solely conform to propositions, though those exist to which we give assent. Christianity is more importantly a living faith.

  • Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory? I’m not aware of this. I don’t see personhood in specifically ‘Catholic’ terms. I view the human in a Christian light as I’m informed by the Bible.

  • Too often it degenerates into prooftexting.

    The irony of you warning of is amazing…..

    You are still trying to change the subject away from your failure to support a single claim when challenged.

  • YOu say this is a light-hearted, whimsical post. I can see that. We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said. I wonder if you’ve really been reading my remarks, or simply skipping over them. Do you understand anything about what I’ve said thus far? About the narrative and the need for us to find our sense of ourselves within that structure? Or the need to take into account where we are along the timeline? Has any of that meant anything to you?

  • Can you give me an example of Catholic personhood theory?

    Read the post. There are several different examples, multiple links, many phrasings.

    For love of little green apples, you claimed to disprove it by assertion.

    We move back again and again and again to your need for supporting versus despite all I’ve said.

    That happens when you claim the Bible says something: people say “where?” Shockingly, the rest of us aren’t willing to accept the word according to Pat as a binding source of enlightenment.

    I notice you’re trying to change the subject to your favorite– “Pat.” Amazing how your sources all seem to be by your own authority, and every attempt you make to justify that with evidence fails.

  • The human being cannot be distilled into a definition such as would be broadly understandalbe and acceptable. I don’t wish to play fast and loose wtih Scripoture by engaging in prooftexting.

    Revelation teaches us who we are. Our identity develops through the narrative that is the Word of God.

    Whatever verses one has, another has theirs and so on. It just keeps going. There’s no way out until we discover truth. And that truth is in a person, the Truth, Jesus Christ. Once our God engages us, we learn who we are. We know it. The world cannot know this as we do. It’s spritually discerned.

  • I believe you misudnerstand what I’ve said. I’ve tried to explain my position: I read the Bible as story. That story informs my life. I find myself within that story. Before you know it, I’m a living part of that reality. I speak this way because this has been my experience. It’s wonderful. It’s truly human. And I think that’s what I’ve been trying to get across. Our experiences, if they relate to the Word, demonstrate that humanity we strive for. It is not what we were, and thank God we will not always be what we are. As tge past and present are taken up in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are transformed. We’re a new breed.

  • Pat, I don’t think you’re getting the point:
    You already showed that you’re not able to quote scripture–or anything else– without prooftexting.
    You already claimed to define what makes people be people, but couldn’t defend your objection to a rational soul or your support for “spirituality.”

    The thing that keeps going on and on is your attempt to change the topic to being all about you.

  • We each see things from our perspective. Hopefully we come to see those things accurately. I’m able to quote scripture and other sources. I have with regard to the human, by going back to Genesis. That’s classic. Nothing peculiar.

    Yes, I maintain that we are spiritual beings, and that this separates us off from the rest of creation. Having been made in his image, yet fallen, we’re accountable for that kind of creaturehood which we possess.

    I don’t prefer the ratioinal soul idea. I just don’t see it as getting to the core. I see it as Greek. I know we absorbed the Greeks. But I don’t agree with it, which is one of the reasons I welcome postmodernism.

  • We each see things from our perspective

    No, we’re not just seeing things from different perspectives.

    You made claims. You still haven’t backed them up. You misquoted, you still haven’t corrected yourself. You try to change the subject… in pretty much every post.

    What is so difficult about this topic? The simple fact that it’s not “Pat,” or something else?

  • I appreciate the spirited discussion on what makes us human. I of course don’t go at it the way you expect. For me, defining the human is not a logical exercise or a rational sort of thing. It’s not really about quoting a verse or a passage either. But when I think of what defines a human, or what their essence consists in, I think of how we’re spiritual. We live lives based upon our beliefs. Our convictions. We can’t prove such things. But if we have faith in the Word despite appearances to the contrary, we develop conviction. As John Ortberg has said in “Faith and Doubt,” we bet the farm on it. On all that we’re told throughout the Scriptural narrative about God, ourselves, and His ongoing interaction with us. I feel that life is worth it. That all that happens occurs redemptively in Christ. That our suffering, loss, grief, pain, uncertainty and all our trials are taken up into the cross of Jesus Christ and sanctified. That we’re loved by him and that being a recipient of his grace makes us entirely gifted and priveleged. I hope you can come to see that being human means recognizing what we were created for and finding our home once again in God. There are those who wish to remain apart from their Creator in darkness and alienation and confusion. I don’t totally understand how all this can be. But I’ve “bet the farm on it,” I know all that God’s story says, and I believe it. To present this to the world as an “ambassador” I believe I must share this in life, in love, and in action. I cannot communnicate all of this in a way that resonates wiht those who wish to keep their ears shut. I can only hope that “whosoever will” listens.

  • Still trying to change the topic.

  • It is true that Christianity is confessional. And the world seeks after wisdom. But to define the human in a way that’s embraced by everyone on the basis of proof is not possible. So to get right to the topic, here it is: The human cannot be understood outside of revelation and faith. Call me fidiestic, I don’t care. But it’s our story and we’re convicted it’s true because we persevere in faith.

  • You’re still trying to change the topic.

    Guess it’s pretty embarrassing to have evidence that you’re willing to quote things only when they don’t say what you claim, right above where you claim you wouldn’t do that? Probably annoying to find a place that keeps asking for more support than what you “feel.”

  • Another example of the serious applications of personhood theory, and why it matters to have a defensible, reasonable definition of what a person is.

  • Hmmm….I just can’t seem to figure out what you’re getting at. If the purpose of this thread was to work toward an understanding of the human as differentiated from all other creatures, I think we’ve been pretty successful. If the purpose of this thread was to do so on the basis of scriptural evidence, I think we touched on that when I quoted Genesis and spoke about the Fall and Redemption. But more important than single verses is the narrative as a whole. We find meaning and purpose and identity for the human in that story. It’s our meta-narrative, if you will.

  • Pat, the only thing you’ve done here is make unsubstantiated claims, misquote the Bible, complain about how you don’t understand what I’m saying and how I’m not listening to you, and go off on tangents to try to change the subject.

  • Oh, and misquote other sources, too. Mustn’t forget that.

  • Thanks for the example. Yes, indeed it’s a problem. But I think you’re assuming all people share in this rational thing that can be expressed and agreed upon.

    God chooses to make himself known to HIs people. THe world does not know him. They therefore see things from the perspective of that world.

    How would the nations have known of the one God and his ways? Revelation. How would we know of his plan? who we are? the anser is revelation. ONce known, revelation informs our reason and we go on to develop further understanding. But we remain people of faith whose minds have conformed to revelation and the way that revelation shapes our “reason.”

  • You’re trying to change the subject again.

  • Thomistic philosophy cannot hold onto the one while retaining the other; either we must accept that revelation is requisite always or we must reject the light that enlightens. There is no ‘reasonable’ concept of the human. Our ‘reasoning’ apart from the story of God will be to no avail.

  • On topic, with support for assertions, Pat. And your feelings aren’t evidence.

  • The issue does not relate to that at all. It relates to our approaches. I’ve explained that for me, the narrative of God tells us who we are. Read the story and find out. I give precedence to revelation.

  • For some people, faith and reason are equally valid categories, reconcilable systematically.

    I am not a thomist. Never was. Never thought that approach worked. God reveals himself to us personally through the Word and Spirit. Then revelation informs our lives and our minds are transformed. So our ‘reasoning’ is altered after conversion. Without this experience one would think from a worldly vantage point. You simply could not tell them what being human means, its implications, its worth, etc.

  • Calvinism, Thomism, all these systems want to be logical and universally compelling. They want their understanding to reach the world. To make sense to everyone. It’s as if the faith were a matter of common sense explanation. As if those who rejected it could be laughed at. That’s not how it is. Two radically different positions exist: we are either darkened in our minds and lost in sin, or we are enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Two viewpoints and no bridge but that of the Holy Spirit and of Christ.

  • Still not on topic.

    Still not supported by anything but your say-so.

  • I don’t know what you’re looking for in a thread. I tried to tell what it means to be human based on an informed biblical understanidng. I feel I have done this. I have no regrets. I would like to know what you specifically disagree with and why.

  • If you point to something you don’t udnerstand or highlight a disagreemnt you have, I can address that. But to ask for quotesand citations for everything stated is a bit odd. That’s something that might happen in an official debate. I would not expect to see that in a compbox. That’s just too much. When a priest offers a homily or a pastor delivers a messsage, it’s true they quote scripture. They do not do this constantly though. It does not go on from beginning to end. If operating on a calendar, tehy have the passages. They build from there. I know that fundamentalists are fond of quoting more often. I’m not fundamentalist. I don’t agree with that approach. I find it unnecessary and even confusing. Too often people quote scripture without understanding what it means and this confuses people. I told you about the gentleman who argued against alcoholic beverages. I spoke with another person who quoted verses in support of Sabbath-keeping for Saturday. No, the entire story must be reaed. That’s my approach and I’m sticking with it. Once againm, if there’s anything you wish to debate specifically, tell me what that is.

  • You made claims; the few times you’ve tried to support them with quotes, you failed. When asked for details or support, you try to change the topic.

    Your only approach is to try to change the subject to “Pat.”

  • I’ve expressed a lot throughout this page. I’d like you to glance back at it and see what’s there. Especially since you haven’t necessarily found soemthing you disagree with or can prove wrong.

  • First read through what I’ve written one more time. Try to get the gist of it,the basic idea. Then cite what you disagree with, if anything at all. And I’ll try to substantiate it. But we have to get this narrowed down.

  • I already pointed out where you misquoted, where you failed to support your claims and where you changed the topic. Two or more times for some of them. I even provided the quotes you misused.

  • I don’t see that. What I’ve stated is pretty classic, although it’s admittedly said in a different way at times. I don’t believe I’ve said anything contrary to the Bible. I believe I’ve communicated the sense of being human based upon our controlling narrative. I’m not sure what could be there that you’d disagree with or be uncertain about.

  • Behind everything lies conviction. I don’t know what your precise convictions are. I’ve tried to state mine.

  • I don’t see that.

    *dryly* Hadn’t noticed.

    I do notice that you’re still trying to change the subject, though.

  • Foxfier, are you interested, really interested in what makes us human? If you are, I would think you’d look back on what I’ve said to get the basic idea. Do you really want to know our essence? It’s there.

  • Oooh, nice try on changing the topic again! Too bad “Foxfier” isn’t my favorite subject….

  • Creation, the fall, redemption and restoration, these themes and our relation to them define us. We must of course trust the narrative. I believe it’s true. So I’m perfectly settled in my notion of the human. I know of no other source that can get to the heart of who we are. Acceptance of this requires a faith response.

    Now I know that people disbelieve this. I know that ‘Christians’ sometimes believe in macro-evolution and hold to variations of Darwinism. They say that human beings and animals possess a common descent. That at some point humans evolved. I just don’t beleive this. While the creation portion of Genesis is mythic in one sense, I see God intentionally creating creatures after their kind, with humans alone made in his image having dominion over all others. That kind of language doesn’t sound evolutionary.

  • I’m trying to get you to think. I want you to see what I said about faith in revelation, and about finding our place in God’s story. Our sense of ourselves must derive from this. Not from attempts at reconciling the Bible with knowledge from a worldly vantage point. Spengler, the historian, knew that evolution was a Western projection.

  • And Pat goes back to his favorite subject- “Pat.”

  • You’re trying to change the subject because people are actually paying attention to the lack of substance to what you say on the topic.

  • This is not about me. This is about what defines us as human beings. It’s about the story we’re given through revelation, the story that we find ourselves a part of. For those who can accept it, it’s ‘Everyman’.

    I’ve said nothing eccentric or heterodox to my knowledge. If anything strikes you as untrue, point it out and we’ll get to the bottom of it.

  • This is not about me.

    The topic isn’t; your posts are.

    I have pointed out your misquotes, incorrect claims, unsupported claims and where you keep trying to make the subject you, you, you. The Word According to Pat is not the topic, but it’s about the only one you’re willing to expound on– at great length.

  • I don’t see this as being about me. However, Christianity is a faith that involves the person. We experience it. There is no subjective/objective split. What the Bible says it says to all who would listen. For those who do, their experience is at one with what’s been said.

  • Again, trying to change the topic….

  • I’m not a fudamentalist. I don’t see the point in throwing out verses here. Anyone can find verses to support their view. That’s prooftexting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been upset by people who do just that. They grab hold of some verse and use it to support their belief or claim as you put it. So we have people going aroudn saying it’s sinful for Christians to drink alcohol. There’s a thousand years of bliss in store for the Jews when Christ returns to the David throne and reinstates the sacrificial system. A rapture will occur that will beam us up to the sky because Christ won’t come all the way down. We’re not allowed to eat anything with blood in it. Vegetarianism is God’s best. David and Jonathan were homosexuals together. We can literally move mountains if only we believed we could. We must practice footwashing. Ministers should support themselves through their own means because Paul did, and on and on it goes. All these things sound like true statements for all time. They’ve been abstracted from the Story.

  • Still trying to change the topic, and still all about you.

  • This is not about me, Foxfier. It’s about what makes us human. It’s applicable across the board. Now this has become about prooftexting. You don’t accept something unless someone cites a chapte and verse. I don’t see that happening on any of the other threads.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there. I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

  • This is not about me, Foxfier.

    Nice of you to realize it, finally. So, when are you going to stop making it all about you?

    It’s about what makes us human.

    Close, but no– it’s about what makes us people.

    If you disagree with what I’ve stated, then say so. Tell me what you don’t believe in and why. Then we’ll take it from there.

    I’m not going to go back over all this again and collect up your unsupported claims, prooftexting quotes and attempts to shift the conversation.

    I’m fully ready to tackle that. I’m totally confident about what I’ve stated.

    Again, it becomes all about you. Same as the last several times.

  • Hmmm….don’t know what to say. But again, Christians are people of faith, of conviction. We have revelation from God, his Word, and we have faith. I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

  • I don’t know what else you want to hear, but this is the most I can offer.

    Scroll up to the top of the page.

    See the post? See how it has a topic?

    Notice how it’s not “the word according to Pat”?

    Frankly, I doubt your sincerity. You were vaguely on topic up to the point where I started asking you to support the claims you made, such as that your dog is rational, or to explain the off-handed comments you made, such as about Victorian England.

  • Foxfier, dogs reason in a sense. They figure things out. SOme humans don’t. For example due to a profoundly low IQ or some other state they’re in. I mentioned Victorian England because people think of humans as rational—I intended my allusion to hit home, in other words, we’re not the rational people we tend to think we are. CIvilziation is precarious. Rationality adn civility are not givens. Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long. In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

  • 1) Wrong kind of rational
    2) You’re still not supporting your claim that dogs aren’t “spiritual”– pretty hard to do, since they clearly do have a desire for something larger than themselves, most obviously their pack, and the God-shaped hole is traditionally detected by that yearning.
    3) How does Victorian England show that humans, as a group, are not rational?

  • Intellectual edifices and official definitons based on rationality come and go, and people may or may not be willing to accept that understanding for long.

    Fallacy. Truth isn’t determined by how popular a belief is.

    In the end we have our faith, the revelation from God whom we place our faith in, and the convictions that develop as we persevere through life.

    Again, you try to change the subject.

  • I don’t believe I have to support a claim that dogs aren’t spiritual. True, they are created by God. But they are not spiritual in the sense humans are. When it comes to something like that, I believe the burden is on the oteh person to prove that they ARE spiritual, i.e. made originally in God’s image and responsible to him in the way we are with the central purpose for which we were made.

    What God-shaped hole lies in the animals?

    Victorian England doesn’t necessarily show in itself that we’re not rational. World Wars and genocide do. Rebellion against the very Creator that made us creatures does. That’s irrational.

    Truth is not determined by popularity. Well said. But the acceptance of truth waxes and wanes throughout a civilization. The popularity level alters. What society is willing to take from the church changes. And it is for that reason that I remark on faith, revelation and conviction. Truth is spiritualy discerned. If civilization is not Christian, don’t expect it to heed truth from revelation that once was accepted. It’s wearning off. We can again see the separation of those who know and those who don’t, or to be more precise, the righteous and the wicked.

  • I notice you don’t believe you have to support most of the claims you make, or define your terms, or even hold with what you’ve previously said.

    You’re trying to change the topic again, too.

  • That separation occurs during times like this. Christianity and culture are not one and the same. They interact. It’s dynamic. The church is influenced by society and culture and also influences society and culture. This happens in varying degrees at different times.

    Thomism, Etienne Gilson’s choice, seems to some Christian philosophers to be the anwwer to our troubles. I just don’t see that. I think it creates more problems than it solves. Thomism, Calvinism, and all these scholastic methods don’t work out.

  • Would you please answer my questions? How is a dog spiritual? How is being rational at the center of being human?

  • I already did for the dog, and you’re still trying to change the conversation.

  • Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so. I’ve stated that we’re spriitual, originially amde in God’s image, fallen yet redeembable, and we have souls. That’s our identity, our meaning. Our purpose too. We were made to be priests and kings, to offer up sacrifices pleasing and acceptable, lives of service and praise, as we participate as co-creators, creatively engaging the world to God’s glory. Under God, over the earth.

    I’m sticking by this. It does not pertain to the animals, plants or othe aspects of visible creation. If extra-terrestrial life exists beyond angels and demons, we haven’t seen them yet and I suppose they’d be for another chapter. Thats’ God’s business, not ours. As of now, they exist as products of our creative imagination. We can posit other worlds and beings. It’s fabulous, but irrelevent to the discussion of what makes us human (except insofar as we can imagine other beings).

    You did not explain how a dog is spiritual. You only explained how they seek out things beyond themselves. Other aspects of creation. You didn’t prove they seek out or know God the Creator of all.

  • Yes, we are creative, and i’ve addressed that throughout the thread. We imagine other worlds, better worlds, more powerful beings. We hypothesize in all kinds of different ways. We have the creative capacity to invent new things. God engages those he calls in his plan. He invites us to work redemptively alongside him. He restores us. We live and reign again. Lords of the earth. That’s why we love myth. A new world’s coming and we’re going to reign as priests and kings in the kingdom of God.

  • Foxfier, the conversation has remained the same throughout–the human–what makes us so.

    No, it has not. Partly because the topic is not “what makes a human,” and partly because you keep dragging it off into The Word According to Pat.

    We’re now in stage three– stage one was making assertions until challenged, step two was offering quotes that didn’t say what you claimed or weren’t related to the topic, step three is you demanding that I do this or that.

    All of that, rather than just reading the post and responding to that.

  • As far as I can tell, and it’s not totally lucid, you’re trying to understand the human and to distinguish the human from the non-human who may also possess intelligence. Is that correct?

  • I don’t beleive it centers on intelligence or being rational. I beleive the Creator created a world and arranged it according to a plan. The plan, I believe, is what tells us about each being, who they are and what their purpose is. As the story unfolds, we learn of that in detail. We see where it goes and we get a glimpse of the outcome.

    That we are creative means we can posit OTHER worlds and beings similar too but not the same as us. I’m not sure what can be said beyond that. The dramatis personae in Scripture is pretty straightforward. We have the script, etc., and we live in that world.

  • We are characters in a story already underway. Through revelation, we learn that story and who we are. We wouldn’t know this otherwise. We otherwise wouldn’t know what being human versus being nonhuman meant. The distinction would not be clear.

    The world we inhabit is understood, if at all, through scriptural revelation. Otherwise it would be an existential exercise. We’d wonder about it. And we’d worship creation rather than the one Creator whose plan we are a part of.

  • I think I’ve ansered everyuthing as best as I can. I ‘ve told you how I feel concerning the whole thing. I’ve given you my very best understanding about who we are and what separates us from other biengs. I'[ve asked you to point out any paritcular disagreemnets you had with me and I told you I’d address them one by one. I answerreed several of the items you cited. What more do you expect? Yes, this should have been a fun exercixe, an enjoyable discussion aobout what makes us human and what separates us from other seen and unseen aspects of God’s order. Instead, this has become about reducing what I say to nothing by insisiting on literal quotes, citations, hair-splitting logic that would make a Presbyterian seem mild, and a sense that what you say matters and what isay does’nt. I don’t know where you learned to debate, but using terms like beg the question and so on when it’s a nice talk among Christian-minded people is not necessary. Straw-man, and all ofthis is used among adversaries or within debates that surpass this level. I’m a bit disappointed. I wish we could have discussed this thing in a fun way like you said without it becoming so literal and exacting.

  • This post has gone off topic, and there is apparently no pulling it back.

    I’m closing comments.

Tribute to a RINO

Thursday, August 11, AD 2011

As readers of this blog know, I have little use for RINO’s, (Republicans in Name Only), politicians who call themselves Republicans but once in office vote like Democrats.  However, every rule has exceptions and an exception to my antipathy to RINOs is the late Mark Hatfield.  Hatfield died on August 7 of this year, at 89 years of age.  He served in the Navy as a landing craft officer in the Pacific during World War II at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  He was one of the first Americans to see the ruins of Hiroshima after the surrender of Japan.

Beginning in 1950, he embarked upon a 46 year career in politics as a Republican in Oregon.  He served in the Oregon legislature and was twice elected governor of the state.  He served 30 years in the Senate from 1967-1997.  In office his votes were often indistinguishable from a liberal Democrat.  He was a dove on Vietnam, supported the nuclear freeze, cast the deciding vote in the Senate that defeated a balanced budget amendment and was opposed to the death penalty.  In 1964 he denounced Goldwater conservatives as extremists.  Ronald Reagan, who was a friend of Hatfield, once noted in his diary while he was President that with Republicans like Hatfield, who needed Democrats.  He was a RINO’s RINO.  Of course you know there is a but coming.

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3 Responses to Tribute to a RINO

  • Wonder how he would have stood on Oregon’s “right-to-die” law. Despite his pro-life stance, his other positions, Don, were more than enough to make him a DIP (Democrat in Practice), if I can coin a new acronym. He also was seriously considered as Tricky Dick’s running mate at one time.

    Lastly, as a “Baptist and ardent Christian,” not sure what “ardent” means, but accepting the word, can there be salvation for anyone outside the Catholic Church? Doesn’t the Church teach that this is impossible?

  • He was a vigorous opponent of it Joe. He called Oregon’s assisted suicide law murder.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0jp_Zs6e2ssC&pg=PA159&lpg=PA159&dq=mark+hatfield+euthanasia&source=bl&ots=CCTokuybIt&sig=HaIT7srzAD7YtVzQERAROL5FPSs&hl=en&ei=AydEToTpGaKKsgLR_YDCCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=mark%20hatfield%20euthanasia&f=false

    Ardent is the opposite of lukewarm, those who Christ spews from his mouth according to the Book of Revelation.

    As for salavation for those not united with the Catholic Church, the Catechism addresses that issue:

    “”Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

    848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”338 “

  • Hatfield was a Baptist, but his wife is Catholic. She always had hopes that he would join the Catholic Church.

What Pro-Abort Catholics Must Believe

Sunday, August 7, AD 2011

Hattip to Mathew Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  The poster is funny and devastating.  However, I would find it even more humorous if purported Catholic newspapers didn’t publish articles like this,  or if articles like this were not dead on accurate as to the attitudes of radical nuns or if so many pro-aborts, an example is here, didn’t end up in positions of power within agencies associated with the Church.  The pro-life cause would be so much more effective if so many Catholics in this country were not actively supporting the right to kill unborn kids.

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47 Responses to What Pro-Abort Catholics Must Believe

  • The solution to pro-abort Catholics is Acts 5:1-11, 1st Timothy 1:19-20, and Revelation 2:20-23. Precedence has been set.

  • This is too much, Mac.

    I had to “can” the Ontario bass fishing trip this year, and now you add to it.

    They ever and always say they are not pro-abortion.

    They ‘say’ they are “pro-Obama/pro-socialist justice.” Some (causes and) effects of pro-Obamanation are untrammeled and unregulated abortion and tax dollars funding abortions and artificial contraception.

    CST/pro-abort Catholics are oh-so charitable with other people’s money they stole, er, confiscated, er, taxed.

    “God gave us memory so we could have roses in December.” From the author of “Peter Pan.

  • Here we run into the problem of God’s kingdom versus worldly political entities. The world runs counter to Christian ethics. Chrisianity can work to influence society. But it cannot be held responsible for a society that resists it.

  • “But it cannot be held responsible for a society that resists it.”

    Individual Christians certainly can be held accountable for helping society resist Christian ethics or doing nothing to help stand up for Christian ethics. I truly pity anyone living in our country today, of at least normal intelligence and health, who has to come before God for the particular judgment and has never lifted a little finger to fight against abortion.

  • Donald, people have different callings. People minister in different ways. One does this. Another does that. The different parts analogy that St. Paul used to describe the church explains that people are gifted in different ways for that reason.

  • But we have to face the fact that we live in a dying nation. We’ve reached our peak and are even now in decline. We face the circumstances that are faced during decline. We try to manage it. Spengler said that the task is one of management. You cannot build. But you can manage what’s coming undone. And it needs management.

  • Quite right pat and the pro-life cause can use all of those different callings: volunteers at crisis pregnancy center, counselors for post abortive women, political volunteers, side walk counselors at abortion clinics, women who say the rosary daily for the unborn, marchers for the unborn, adopting the child of a woman who was thinking of an abortion until this option for her baby came into her life, educating people about the reality of abortion, undercover work at abortion clinics, and the list is endless.

  • “But we have to face the fact that we live in a dying nation. We’ve reached our peak and are even now in decline. We face the circumstances that are faced during decline. We try to manage it. Spengler said that the task is one of management. You cannot build. But you can manage what’s coming undone. And it needs management.”

    Spengler, I assume you are referring to the author of the turgid and unreadable Decline of the West, was an idiot. I made it through his tome and regretted every hour I wasted doing so.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_Spengler

    There is nothing inevitable about the fate of a society, anymore than there is about the fate of an individual. Our actions largely determine our fate for most of us.

  • Well, I think we’re in agreement except for the rosary. I believe that that’s rooted in medieval tradition: it stems from the iconography of the rose and the cult of Mary. It developed into a devotional strategy, since beads are universal and helpful for concentrating. I certainly have nothing against using beads. But I have great reservations regarding prayer to Mary or any other deceased saint. I see no warrant for it in Scripture, and I see in fact a potential danger present: prayers to saints beyond the grave could too easily become communication with the dead. Too dangerous.

  • And starting with Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the rest of the USCCB, our Bishops can start piublically kaing an example of pro-abortion pseudo-Catholic politicians like Andy Cuomo, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and the rest. Instead, those like Bishop Hubbard eulogizes such people. When he did what he did to support Cuomo, he effectviely sabatoged every effort that Archbishop Dolan tried to make to convince Cuomo not to support gay marriage in NY State. How can what we do have any positive effect when Bishops like Hubbard are still heads of USCCB offices, and not punished for what they have done?

  • I agree that actions determine outcomes. Free-will, decisions, yes….THe problem is that on a national scale it’s harder to turn itself around—that’s dependent upon so many individuals who each need to do their own part. I appreciate Toynbee for his insight into how Christianity can revive an entity. But I don’t see it happening now.

  • Pat in reference to the rosary, are you a Catholic? Veneration of the Blessed Virgin is basic Catholic doctrine. Pope Leo XIII wrote 11 encyclicals on the rosary. Here is a link to one of them:

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

    A hallmark of Catholicism has always been the veneration we give to the Queen of Heaven.

  • How would one know to whom or what one is praying? Simply too dangerous. I know that veneration of Mary is endorsed by Rome. I believe that’s been a slow development over the centuries in what is called tradition. I don’t believe it can be supported or squared with the Scriptures.

  • “I appreciate Toynbee for his insight into how Christianity can revive an entity. But I don’t see it happening now.”

    Toynbee had some useful insights, I think I can safely say that after reading all 12 volumes of his Study of History, but his look at civilizations around the globe was an ultimately ill-fated attempt to derive universal laws of civilization from the experience of Western civilization. His idea of Universal Churches supplying a bridge between civilizations, Greece and Rome to the modern West, is intriguing but is not either universal in application or predictive for the future.

    How societies develop is largely a function of the decisions made by the men and women who inhabit them. One individual can have an enormous impact, for good or ill. Nothing is written in a book of fate until we write it.

  • Even high Anglicans and Anglo-Catholics do it. I would never. The pattern throughout Scripture is dialogue between God and His people (and among His people of course). But we don’t find peopel communicating across earthly barriers unless it’s with the triune God who stands over and above creation. Never does one communicate across those barriers to another aspect of creation.

  • My knowledge of Toynbee is very limited. But it sounds very believable. Most works written on that level betray a Western perspective, no matter how epic or groundbreaking or unusually objective they may appear at first glance.

  • “I believe that’s been a slow development over the centuries in what is called tradition.”

    You are incorrect in that assumption. The veneration of Mary dates from the earliest days of the Church.

    “The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?”

    Saint Ambrose 377 AD

  • “Never does one communicate across those barriers to another aspect of creation.”

    Fatima and other Church approved examples of Marian appartions would indicate otherwise. Do you say the Hail Mary pat? I ask that not to slam you, but if you are a Catholic, I would think that many of the basic aspects of the Faith would cause you to feel uncomfortable, considering your views regarding the Mother of God.

  • Yes, but such things didn’t crystallize into dogma until very much later. Augustine and Ambrose, obviously, and other Patristics spoke of her int hese terms. More often than not, though, I believe they were trying to make some broader theological point. As far as prayer to and veneration of her, I think the cult of Mary came later. The associations surrounding Mary build with time.

  • Pat,

    Please read:

    Praying to the Saints at Catholic Answers
    http://www.catholic.com/library/Praying_to_the_Saints.asp

    “Mary, Saints, Worship, and Salvation: Do Catholics Worship Mary?” at Steve Ray’s “Defender’s of the Catholic Faith”
    http://www.catholic-convert.com/documents/MaryAndWorship.doc

  • As for Fatima, Garabandal, etc., I don’t believe those experiences were correctly understood. I fear that people were either mistaken or misled in those matters. Again, it comes down to whether you accept tradition wholesale or whether you weigh it against Scripture to see whether it accords.

  • I think that within the biblical narrative, Mary is a background figure, as is Joseph and other relatives. They occasionally come into prominence at certain points throughout the story. Then they recede into the background once again. We find no mention of these poeple in the epistles. The focus is on the prime players, apostles, etc.

  • What’s key here is that God revealed himself fully in Christ. The Holy Spirit was sent forth at Pentecost. The church is alive in teh world. And we learn in teh N.T. who the key players were, and who some of the helpers were, too. Mary is never again mentioned. Nor Joseph. Nor any of Jesus’ other earthly relativesw. So we have a Triune God and we have His Church. We have the Holy Spirit in the world. That’s the picture we get.

  • In regard to the Blessed Virgin pat, Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, gives a good overview of the intense veneration that the Church has always had for her:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_11101954_ad-caeli-reginam_en.html

    “Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary’s Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.”

    Veneration of Mary and Catholicism are inextricably linked.

  • Yes, it’s a pronouncement. I stand in disagreement with it. Mary became an idea. She has a history. There’s a devotion, a cult, an understanding attached to her that’s not Scripturally derived. I just don’t know what to say. I simply can’t believe it in good conscience.

  • In the O.T. certain pagans baked cakes devoted to “the Queen of Heaven.” So what I can say is that it’s a pagan category. It’s not a Christian one. We learn from Scripture that God / Jesus Christ is King. We don’t find that Mary is Queen. That label is never attached to her. It’s jsut not a Christian concept. It came later. It was an idea that caught on for various reasons. But it’s not scripturally derived. It’s origin lies in tradition.

  • Patristic writers wrote in terms of analogy and utilized typology. So you find comparisons between the Old and the New. Sometimes that arises with regard to Eve and Mary. I think this morphed into something else later on. What you eventually find is a devotional stance toward Mary that probably wasn’t anticipated but that’s anachronistically thought about.

  • “We find no mention of these people in the epistles.”

    Actually Mary is mentioned in Galatians 4:4. She is of course also mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Book of Revelation. Saint Iraneus, a disciple of Saint Polycarp, who was a disciple of Saint John, to whom Christ from the Cross committed the care of His mother, says of Mary:

    “The Lord, coming into his own creation in visible form, was sustained by his own creation which he himself sustains in being. His obedience on the tree of the cross reversed the disobedience at the tree in Eden; the good news of the truth announced by an angel to Mary, a virgin subject to a husband, undid the evil lie that seduced Eve, a virgin espoused to a husband.

    As Eve was seduced by the word of an angel and so fled from God after disobeying his word, Mary in her turn was given the good news by the word of an angel, and bore God in obedience to his word. As Eve was seduced into disobedience to God, so Mary was persuaded into obedience to God; thus the Virgin Mary became the advocate of the virgin Eve.

    Christ gathered all things into one, by gathering them into himself. He declared war against our enemy, crushed him who at the beginning had taken us captive in Adam, and trampled on his head, in accordance with God’s words to the serpent in Genesis: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall lie in wait for your head, and you shall lie in wait for his heel.

    The one lying in wait for the serpent’s head is the one who was born in the likeness of Adam from the woman, the Virgin. This is the seed spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Galatians: The law of works was in force until the seed should come to whom the- promise was made.

    He shows this even more clearly in the same letter when he says: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman. The enemy would not have been defeated fairly if his vanquisher had not been born of a woman, because it was through a woman that he had gained mastery over man in the beginning, and set himself up as man’s adversary.”

  • All that sounds agreeable enough. But I’m not sure how it establishes veneration of Mary or lays the groundwork for the Marian cult. I just don’t see it. Through Mary came Christ who brought us victory. Yes, that’s extraordinary. I just fail to see how that results in veneration, devotion, and cultic practice surrounding her.

  • Surely there was the comjparison made by St. Paul between Adam and Christ. THere is Jerusalem below in bondage and that which is above who is our Mother–she’s free. And many other similar analogies drawn. Typology is always big in certain circles. The ante-types and types are good as far as they go. The mistake we sometimes make is to dogmatize them. Instead, we should appreciate the insights they afford us and move on.

  • Typology and analogy in reference to Mary pat do not get to the core of Catholic devotion to Mary. As Christ loved His mother, so do we. Imagine the privilege granted to her to be the Mother of God. Someone so honored by God is entitled to every ounce of veneration we humans can muster.

  • This link on whether Fatima is mandatory for Catholics by a Carmelite teacher at Loyola might be helpful for Donald and Pat:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=1165&CFID=83622431&CFTOKEN=61046702

  • I think the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption,the Rosary, etc. are based in Theological Truth and have been ratified by Infallible Teachings of the Popes.

    The Assumption s one of the Glorious Mysteries of our redemption in the Rosary.

  • Pat,

    Please watch this 11 minute video:

    The Truth About Mary and Scripture: MUST SEE!

  • Be careful of making the rosary mandatory as though it had the status if the IC and Assumption.
    Here from the link above:

    Very instructive in this regard is the advice of Pope Paul VI in his greatest Marian letter (February 2, 1974, Marialis Cultus, on the promotion of devotion to Mary). The letter explains the strong place of our Lady in the revised liturgy and then has a further section on the Rosary and the Angelus. We recall the role of the Rosary at Lourdes, LaSalette and Fatima. At the end of his warm pages about the Rosary Pope Paul wrote — it is surely applicable also to Fatima and other apparitions, that they must not be used to restrict the legitimate freedom of loyal sons and daughters of the Church: “In concluding these observations, which give proof of the concern and esteem which the Apostolic See has for the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin, we desire at the same time that this very worthy devotion should not be propagated in a way that is too one-sided or exclusive. The Rosary is an excellent prayer, but the faithful should feel serenely free in its regard. They should be drawn to its calm recitation by its intrinsic appeal”

    In short there may be people who do not acclimate to the repetitive nature of the rosary and are more given like perhaps Pat to talking to God. James Joyce, I think in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” sees Mary as more approachable for some humans.

  • No one is required to pray the Rosary, but I truly feel pity for those who do not:

    “II. DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN

    971 “All generations will call me blessed”: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.”515 The Church rightly honors “the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.”516 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an “epitome of the whole Gospel,” express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.517 “

  • Pope Benedict on the Rosary:

    “Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    At the conclusion of this moment of Marian prayer, I would like to address my cordial greeting to all of you and thank you for your participation. In particular I greet Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest of this stupendous Basilica of St Mary Major. In Rome this is the Marian temple par excellence, in which the people of the City venerate the icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani with great affection. I gladly welcomed the invitation addressed to me to lead the Holy Rosary on the First Saturday of the month of May, according to the beautiful tradition that I have had since my childhood. In fact, in my generation’s experience, the evenings of May evoke sweet memories linked to the vespertine gatherings to honour the Blessed Mother. Indeed, how is it possible to forget praying the Rosary in the parish or rather in the courtyards of the houses and in the country lanes?

    Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can “water” society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each “Hail Mary”.

    Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God who has allowed us to live such a beautiful hour this evening, and in the following evenings of this Marian month, even if we will be far away, each in their own family and community, may we, just the same, feel close and united in prayer. Especially in these days that prepare us for the Solemnity of Pentecost, let us remain united with Mary, invoking for the Church a renewed effusion of the Holy Spirit. As at the origins, Mary Most Holy helps the faithful of every Christian community to form one heart and soul. I entrust to you the most urgent intentions of my ministry, the needs of the Church, the grave problems of humanity: peace in the world, unity among Christians, dialogue between all cultures. And thinking of Rome and Italy, I invite you to pray for the pastoral goals of the Diocese, and for the united development of this beloved Country. To the new Mayor of Rome, Honourable Gianni Alemanno, who I see present here, I address the wish of a fruitful service for the good of the city’s entire community. To all of you gathered here and to those who are linked to us by radio and television, in particular the sick and the infirm, I gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing.”

  • The Gospels commend Mary for her faithful obedience. The patristic writings reflect a typological approach: as St. Paul drew the comparison between the first and second Adams, the two Jerusalems, and several other things, so patristic writers often compared Eve with Mary. This became a link in the development toward a Marian theology. But Marian veneration and devotion cannot be supported by Scriptural references. That would merely result in prooftexting.

    Veneration of Mary, and Marian devotion, would serve to detract from the worship of and reliance upon the God who manifests as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. After Jesus ascended and the time of Pentecost arrived, the Comforter was sent; that was the arrangement.

  • The prophecy to Eve was fulfilled when Christ came (who crushes the serpent under our feet). The woman of Revelation who flees to the desert for protection is emblamatic of the people of God. The woman with stars surrounding her head and the moon under her feet is once again the church. We learn that the church is the bride of Christ. But to see Mary in that symbolism just doesn’t make sense. It’s anticlimactic.

    St. Paul speaks of the Jerusalem which is above, which is free and is our mother. Zion gives birth. The saints are registered in heaven. It’s the great assembly of God. Paul contrasts this with earthly Jerusalem who is in bondage. The focus is spiritual now.

  • And that’s key. We learn in one of the epistles that “God will soon crush Satan under our feet.” Whose feet? The people to whom the epistle was addressed. Who was that? The church. He’s crushed under the feet of the saints. So the woman who stands upon the serpent and crushes him is God’s people, the church (and this happens of course because of the victory of Christ and not because of anything the people have done in and of themselves). Yes, God became incarnate through the virgin Mary, but that’s to go backwards in time.

  • Pat,

    Your arguments against veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints are not consistent with what the early Church Fathers taught. Please see:

    The Intercession of the Saints
    http://www.catholic.com/library/Intercession_of_the_Saints.asp

    No offense intended, but you seem to use Scripture as a Protestant would, placing your own interpretation on it outside of what 2000 years of Sacred Tradition and the teaching of Magisterium of the Church have to say.

    2nd Peter 1:20-21 says that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private interpretation. In other words, your personal opinion and certainly mine also (and especially), outside of what Holy Mother Church has to say, is invalid.

    St. Paul writes in 2nd Thessalonians 2:15 that we are to hold onto the Traditions taught by the Apostles (and obviously their successors, though he didn’t explicity state that). It is that Tradition which helps to guide us in reading and studying Scripture. Doing so from the standpoint of Sola Scriptura is erroneous. Indeed, the Church determined by the power of the Holy Spirit what would be in the Canon of Holy Scripture and what wouldn’t be, so why when it comes to the veneration of the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary do we say She erred, but not in the case of the determination of what would be in the Canon of Sacred Scripture?

    Consistent with this, St. Paul also states in 1st Timothy 3:15 that it is the Church which is the pillar and foundation (or bulwark) of truth, whereas most Protestants would ascribe that to their own private interpretation of Scripture.

    We can see from this then that we have a stool whose legs are Scripture, Tradition and Church that reveal to us what is Truth. Take any of those legs away (as Martin Luther and John Calvin did), and the edifice falls over. Your comments essentially take away two of those legs when it comes to a 2000 year old pious Christian practice (praying to the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary) while ignoring the requirements of the third regarding the former two.

    The bottom line is that veneration of the Saints and Mary (NOT worship) has been an authentic Christian practice since earliest times, certain well before the Middle Ages. You will see that from the text on the web page to which I provide the link above. Again, no offense intended – I am just trying to explain a difficult subject and the right words sometimes fail me.

  • Thanks for the explanation. It was probably the best and most thorough that one could offer. Yes, tradition is a leg, but only one leg, and not the central, supporting one. All else must square with Scripture, not a private interpretaiton of it, but an interpretation that’s orthodox—accepted widely and passed down as correct. So we have a triune God, the resurrection, baptism, the Eurcharist, etc. We have a general orthodoxy. But when traditions arrive that don’t square with the orthodoxy or when they represent something radically novel so as to alter the original sense, they do not have to be accepted. The perpetual virginity of Mary cannot be proven by Scripture. Her bodily assumption cannot be proven by Scripture. An absense of sin cannot be proven and would in fact call for a different sense of orthodoxy regarding original / actual sin. These are all additional traditions that represent a radically new vision of Mary. Prayer, devotion, and veneration of Mary are bound up with that new vision, a profound departure from the earlier sense. It was a very gradual development, so it’s not that recognizable.

  • The Church made Scripture pat, not the other way around. The New Testament is a creation of the Church founded by Christ, it does not create the Church. Any interpretation of Scripture at odds with the teaching of the Church is an erroneous one. Scripture for Catholics derives its authority from the Church. The Church derives her authority from Christ and not from Scripture.

    “II. INSPIRATION AND TRUTH OF SACRED SCRIPTURE

    105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”69

    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.”70

    106 God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”71

    107 The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”72

    108 Still, the Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living”.73 If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures.”74

    III. THE HOLY SPIRIT, INTERPRETER OF SCRIPTURE

    109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75

    110 In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”76

    111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.”77

    The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.78

    112 1. Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.79

    The phrase “heart of Christ” can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.80

    113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”81).”

  • I’ve believed all of that. On Truth and Inspiration of Scripture, and on the Holy Spirit as Interpreter, sounds correct. But regarding 113, cannot the church err? Cannot the church miss the Spirit’s interpretation of the living Word? These things happen all the time. That’s why I believe traditions must be checked to see whether they accord with Scripture (an enlightened understanding of it by way of the Spirit of God).

  • The New Testament developed within the church. But whatever comes after it must accord with it to be accepted. And it can never be equal in status to the canon that reached its close.

  • Veneration and worship are different.

    113 2. from the 5:52 post:
    It Is perfect to help you get the mentality or ideas (of cult/ worship, the church ‘erring’) together with the heart and by the grace of the Holy Spirit to understand veneration.

    … Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart … her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, …

    113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”81).”

  • Patty, while that’s in some sense true, I think we have to understand what that means. The church = the people of God. We read the Scripture guided by the Holy Spirit who interprets spiritual truth for us. So there is a collective voice or understanding. However, the people of God stand amidst others in this life — the parable of the wheat and tares gets something like that across. So to locate the collective understanding in “the heart of the church” is no easy task. We need to acquire patterns of discernment. So it is with our understanding of biblical characters. In the book of Hebrews we find a list of people who have often been termed heroes of the faith. They were all commmended. And that, I believe, is the category to which Mary belongs. Like Abraham, Noah, Moses, Rahab, etc., she believed and acted obediently as a result. A pattern of discernment would also recognize that that list is ongoing: Christians who live and die around the world today for their faith, not shrinking back but accepting trials, tribulations, and persecution couragously find their place in that “heroe’s hall of fame”. David Livingstone, Coorie Ten Boom, Cassie Bernall, and so on, all died in faith having lived obediently regardless of the cost. There is no rank here. There is no saintly hierarchy. They were each faithful to what they were assigned, and they each receive that commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Abby Johnson and the Still Small Voice of God

Friday, April 15, AD 2011

As faithful readers of this blog know, I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt.  It supplies me with bread and butter for my family and myself as well as an opportunity to observe the frailty, follies, crimes and, occasionally, the nobility, of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.  However, that is just my day job.  For over a decade now I have also been chairman of the board of directors of the Caring Pregnancy Center located in Pontiac, Illinois in Livingston County, the county in which I live.  There, dedicated pro-life volunteers, almost all of them evangelical women, labor ceaselessly to help women in crisis  pregnancies.  In the movie the Agony and the Ecstasy Pope Julius II is depicted as saying that when he comes before God he will throw into the balance the ceiling painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel against the weight of his sins and he hoped it would shorten his time in purgatory.  If such an opportunity exists for me, it will be due to my association with the Caring Pregnancy Center and their truly awe-inspiring and selfless female volunteers.

On April 14th, we held our 25th anniversary banquet which was a grand affair, with our supporters and well-wishers turning out in en masse.  I opened with a few introductory remarks where I talked about the Center and its 25 years of service to the women of Livingston County and their babies.  I also asked why we did this.  First and foremost to protect innocent human life, and, second, because we remember with Thomas Jefferson, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”  It will come as a vast shock, no doubt, to faithful readers of this blog that I somehow worked into my remarks the surrender of Fort Sumter 150 years before on April 14, 1861 and Mr. Lincoln’s remarks in his Second Inaugural Address that the terrible war the nation had been through was God’s punishment on both the North and the South for the sin of slavery.  I ended by stating that it was still possible for America to turn around and repent for the great sin of abortion and that the great words of the prophet Isaiah, as always, give us hope:  “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be made white as snow.”

Abby Johnson was our speaker, and she gave the most effective pro-life speech I have ever heard and I have heard many over the decades.

She was funny and moving at the same time.  Her delivery was as natural as if she was talking to a next door neighbor, but every word she said was riveting.

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14 Responses to Abby Johnson and the Still Small Voice of God

Motherhood Was The Road Out

Monday, April 11, AD 2011

There’s a smug view out there that anti-abortion opinions are the purview of the safely bourgeois, and have little to do with the lives of real people with real problems. Calah of “Barefoot and Pregnant” refutes this handily with a powerful post about her experience of being a “woman in crisis”:

Amidst the debates swirling around about defunding Planned Parenthood, some oft-repeated catch phrases are being tossed around like word grenades. One of these are “women in crisis.” I’m sick and tired of hearing about “women in crisis” and how they need access to emergency contraception and abortions. That is a huge, steaming pile of lies, propagated by people who like to murder babies. Women in crisis do not need access to abortions. What they need is love, support, a safe place to live, and people (even strangers!) who will tell them the truth: that they are more than capable of being a mother. That they can do this. That their crisis, no matter how terrible, will be healed in the long, sometimes painful, always joyful process of becoming a mother.

Think this makes me heartless, speaking from my comfortable suburban home, having never known trials in my cushy little life?

Think again.

When I got that positive pregnancy test, the one that changed my life, I was addicted to crystal meth.

And do you know what the people around me did? They didn’t take the secular line and say, “this baby’s life would be horrible. You’re unfit to be a mother. Better for it to not be born at all.”

But neither did they take the typical pro-life line in that situation and say, “you are clearly unfit to be a mother, but all you have to do is carry the baby to term and give a stable couple a wonderful gift.”

The Ogre said, “you’re a mother now, and I’m a father, and together we’ll raise our child.”

My parents said, “marry that man, and raise that baby. You’ve made the choices, you have to live with them.”

My friends said, “you screwed up, big time. But we love you. We’ll throw you a baby shower, buy you maternity clothes, and babysit while you finish your semester.”

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, being a newly-pregnant drug addict. But it gave me something to live for. Someone to live for….

Read the rest.

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2 Responses to Motherhood Was The Road Out

  • Read the book “Promises I Can Keep,” which documents — among other things — that young, low-income, urban women frequently find that motherhood is what straightens them out. Unfortunately, the same is not true for young men — fatherhood, per se, does not straighten them out. (Sociologists generally find that it is MARRIAGE and fatherhood, not fatherhood alone, that matures young men.) So what we have in many urban areas is women who have children when they are young to give themselves direction in life, who struggle to raise them alone and generally in poverty, and who marry in their 40s (when unmarried men generally “grow up”) when the children are grown up and gone. Whole generations do not have stable families.

  • I sort of remember the joke Bishop Sheen used to tell. Adam and one of his sons are in the field and Eve walks by munching on an apple. Adam says to his son: “There goes your mother. She ate us out of house and home.”

    Something like that.

Someone Give This Man a Job Immediately!

Friday, March 25, AD 2011

Hattip to Creative Minority Report.

If Tim Roach questioned his own manhood after six months of unemployment, consider the question asked and answered. Tim Roach is a man, a good man.

In mid February, Tim, got a call from his local union with the news every laid off worker longs to hear — a job offer.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Tim’s unemployment benefits were about to run out. He could hardly believe what the voice on the other end was presenting to him — an offer to be a job foreman for at least 11 months, with a salary of $65,000 to $70,000 a year.

Perfect, Tim thought. Then came the bad news — he would be working on construction of a new Planned Parent­hood Clinic in St. Paul on University Avenue. The highest of highs became the lowest of lows as he quickly turned down the offer.

Tim’s Union rep tried to get him to reconsider saying he wasn’t sure if abortions would be performed there but he simply responded, “It’s a Planned Parenthood. No.”

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Scott Walker: Crusader Against Abortion

Monday, March 21, AD 2011

 

In all of the furor over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s bill to curb the power of public employee union to careen the state of Wisconsin into insolvency, other stances of the Governor have been overlooked.  Leftist magazine Mother Jones notes in a current story that Walker is an ardent foe of abortion:

Walker, the son of a minister, attended Marquette University in Milwaukee from 1986 to 1990, where he served as chair of Students for Life. He dropped out of the school without graduating in 1990, and unsuccessfully ran for the Assembly that fall. He ran again in 1993 in a special election and won an Assembly seat representing Wauwatosa, a city just outside of Milwaukee. It didn’t take long for him to take up the abortion fight.

In November 1996, Walker and Assemblywoman Bonnie Ladwig R-Caledonia announced plans to introduce a bill banning “partial-birth” abortions, or what’s medically known as dilation and extraction. Anti-abortion groups have condemned the practice, but groups that back abortion rights argue the procedure could save a woman’s life in the case of severe late-term complications during a pregnancy. Walker said partial-birth abortions are “never needed” to save lives, adding, “This procedure is not a medically recognized procedure.”

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72 Responses to Scott Walker: Crusader Against Abortion

  • Good scoop!

    I’ve been married to a nurse for 33 years (we were six years old!?). I was present for the births of three sons.

    Governor Walker speaks truth to murderers.

    The whole premise is a lie. The inducement of labor (I saw it with Number One Son) is highly stressful for the mother. If the murderers intend to save both critically-ill mother and baby, they would perform a C-Section.

    But, for infanticide to meet the test for “basic human right,” the murderers must induce labor, turn the doomed baby into the breach (legs first) birth position (dangerous) and over-stress the (weakened, severely ill?) mother so they can kill the baby before the baby is “born”, i.e., completely out of the birth canal.

    Voting for peace and “social justice” has kept this monstrous murder mill running; and (added bonuses!) given us a third war, 9% unemployment, $4 a gallon gasoline/home heating oil, bankrupt state and local governments, shuttered clinics and hospitals, etc.

    Yes, this hillbilly rube is rubbing your bloody noses in it.

  • Gov. Walker is the son of a Methodist minister. Although not of the Faith, he is our brother in Christ.

    I am deeply depressed these days. I see and hear Walker and the GOP slandered incessantly on a daily basis and I see the Democrat State Senators who hightailed it to Illinois hailed as heroes, not cowards. Up is down, and black is white in my little lefty corner of the world. Only teachers are workers, apparently; the rest of us who pay teacher’s salaries without having anything close to their benes and pensions are, apparently – well, we just don’t count.

    I must go to confession, for I know despair is a sin, and yet I find it very difficult not to despair in these days when every value I hold dear is held up to ridicule and the craven and corrupt are called heroes.

    I must keep reminding myself that the little very liberal corner of Wisconsin I live in is not the universe. And yet, since the days of Terri Schaivo and the Obama infatuation, it is difficult to persuade myself that my views are the views of some sensible majority.

  • Oh, and just to lighten up things a bit, I should mention that while I am depressed, I am not as sad as poor Denver:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGOCxmq0-gs&amp

    Now, that is the saddest, guiltiest creature in the universe 🙂

  • Gov. Walker,
    I will side with him with this topic, but I still think overall he as corrupt as many politicians. Getting rid of collective bargaining and the means in which he did was just wrong.

    @Donna : “Only teachers are workers, apparently; the rest of us who pay teacher’s salaries without having anything close to their benes and pensions are, apparently – well, we just don’t count.”
    We pay for the salary, but not these pensions it is 100% funded by the teachers. Now it is sad to see the middle class eat each other because one person has something more than the other. That if I can recall is a SIN. If you think 52k is a lot then I feel you need to see what the medium income is in the united states. I help my community by on occasion substitute teach and see that the salary is low in my opinion because many of the teacher in my community they stay overtime and come before class to help these children. I am a person that would gladly pay an extra 20-30% in taxes if it went to education,fire/police, and infrastructure. But instead I just saw my elect officials increase their salaries and lowered education funding while cutting teachers. To be honest its these elected officials are the people we should be targeting about taking our money not the teachers and police/fire! I would like to see any elected office Demo/Rep vote on having a paycut for themselves for the next 5 years.. we will see that when pigs fly..

  • “It is sad to see the middle class eat each other because one person has something more than the other. That if I can recall is a SIN.”

    I have to agree. Although I believe Gov. Walker has good intentions, the manner in which he and other leading conservatives and GOP figures are going about attacking the problem of public employee pay and benefits bothers me greatly.

    Yes, reforms are needed, and local and state governments can’t go on forever supporting levels of pay and benefits that are unsustainable. Even the most liberal Illinois Democrats are beginning to realize this — they have of late been seriously discussing measures likely to incur the undying wrath of AFSCME, such as not allowing managerial-level employees to join unions and cutting back future pension benefits for CURRENT employees even though such a move is likely to be declared an unconstitutional breach of contract. But, I digress.

    In many cases, the problem was NOT that “greedy” public employees demanded too much, it was that elected officials PROMISED too much, and then never bothered to properly fund those promises. In many cases they went so far as to borrow — or more precisely, steal — money that they knew ought to go toward pensions to spend on pork projects and other vote-getting measures without having to raise taxes.

    Skipping or deferring pension payments is a very popular state budget “balancing” tactic used by BOTH parties. It “worked” in the 1980s and 1990s and for most of the 2000s only because most pension fund investments performed well enough to make up for the money that hadn’t been paid in.

    Something else that bothers me is seeing the pro-life cause tied so closely to economic conservatism. If I didn’t know better from having been pro-life all my life, I’d get the impression from the media and from blogs on both sides of the aisle that being anti-union, condemning all public employees as “parasites”, rigidly opposing tax increases of any kind for ANY reason, insisting upon tax breaks for big business while imposing draconian budget cuts upon the middle class and poor, and insisting that everyone (except big business owners) should be knocked down to a Wal-Mart level of pay and benefits are a “package deal” that goes hand in hand with being pro-life and pro-marriage.

    If one part of this policy package fails to perform as advertised it will drag down the credibility of everything else associated with it, including pro-life. And that, my friends, is why we must NEVER give up on trying to establish a pro-life presence in BOTH parties. This is too important an issue to be tied down to one party or one faction within it.

  • “And that, my friends, is why we must NEVER give up on trying to establish a pro-life presence in BOTH parties. This is too important an issue to be tied down to one party or one faction within it.”

    That was my position Elaine, up until the passage of the Obamacare debacle, when it was revealed that for all the energy put into attempting to establish a pro-life presence in the Democrat party, perhaps 10 of the Democrats in Congress were truly pro-life. Pro-lifers who are Democrats will always have my best wishes for their efforts, but I think their attempt is bound to fail. The modern Democrat party has at its core a committment to keeping abortion legal. That party will compromise on almost everything else, but not on that issue. It might help of course if pro-life Democrats would emphasize that they will not vote for pro-abort Democrats, but I think the pro-abort powers that be in the Democrat party long ago decided that the sacred right of abortion is worth losing disgruntled pro-life votes.

  • “Now it is sad to see the middle class eat each other because one person has something more than the other. That if I can recall is a SIN.”

    Rubbish. It is called taxpayers realizing that the sweetheart deals between politicians and the public employee unions, which are more accurately characterized as bribes, are bankrupting states and literally cannot be paid. This day has been coming for decades and since states cannot print money out of thin air like the Feds, there is no alternative to it.

  • “Perhaps 10 of the Democrats in Congress were truly pro-life.”

    Well, that’s 10 more than zero, and 10 righteous men would have been enough for God to spare Sodom…

  • “It’s not just about being against something, it’s believing that every individual deserves dignity and respect, whoever they are, at whatever stage of life they’re in,” Lipinski said. “That is something I hear my Democratic colleagues say. And I say that it’s self-evident that the individual is there at conception.”

    “We know that at conception, the genetic code is there, for a unique individual. This is not something that is just a religious belief,” Lipinski said. “If you look at what we know about reproduction, you can see it.”

    That is what representative Bill Lipinski (D.Ill) said in explaining his no vote on final passage of Obamacare. He is one of the true pro-life Democrats in Congress. For him proclaiming himself pro-life simply wasn’t part of a marketing strategy, which apparently was all it was for most self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats in the last Congress.

  • Alex wrote:

    “it is sad to see the middle class eat each other because one person has something more than the other. That if I can recall is a SIN. If you think 52k is a lot then I feel you need to see what the medium income is in the united states.”

    Alex, you have forgotten to mention the gold-plated benefits and pension plans, which is something the overwhelming majority of Americans do not get. It is the middle class majority comprised of non-public employees who are footing the bill so a small minority of their peers can enjoy perks and privileges the rest of us do not get. Walker’s reforms are actually very modest, and yet the unionists are screaming like scalded cats. The system as presently scheduled prevents any true reform of our educational system, because poor teachers with seniority cannot be fired.

    Collective bargaining is a privilege, not a “right” Moses came down the mountain with. Federal employees don’t have it, teachers in right-to-work states don’t have it. May I ask why teachers should not have the right to choose whether or not they belong to a union? Why should they be forced to join a union and have their dues used to fund Democratic causes and candidates they may not personally support themselves? If being in a union is so wonderful, I would think they would be happy to pull out the checkbook themselves instead of the state withholding dues. (And why on earth is the state in the business of withholding union dues anyway.)

    Elaine and Alex, do you really comprehend the magnitude of the fiscal disaster that is headed our way? If you think Scott Walker is being a meanie now, just wait until those government checks start bouncing. Part of the problem is that Americans generally agree that oh, yes, we’re spending way to much – but don’t you dare cut MY programs, my entitlements, my benes. Go cut somebody else’s – take more money from the corporations (nevermind that as of April 1, the US will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world and that the unions putting the screws to The Man is a big part of the reason Detroit has become the glorious garden spot it is.)

    The lefties I hear everyday bang on about taking all the money from the rich. That certainly worked so well for everybody in 1917. One small problem – the total net worth of US billionaires is about $1.3 trillion – which doesn’t even cover US debt for 1 year. We are spending money which does not exist.

    DeTocqueville pointed out many years ago that once the populace discovered they could vote themselves largesse out of public funds, the American republic would be in danger, because people would eventually vote themselves into bankruptcy. That is where we are headed – that is the SIN, Alex – and I am alternately saddened and angered by people who refuse to see it.

    No, Walker’s problem isn’t that he’s corrupt. It’s that he’s too honest. We say we want honest politicians, politicians who will take political risks and level with us – but when one does,oh, how he is hated. No, we want pretty lies, pols who promise us more and more and let us believe in the fairy tale that government can provide for all and the gravy train will never end. We deserve everything that’s coming to us – and it will be very ugly.

    Elaine, you might wish to be a pro-life Democrat. The Democrats don’t want you. You are not welcome among them. That was made very clear the night Stupak caved.

  • Bard professor Walter Russell Mead is writing many interesting posts these days about the demise of “Liberalism 4.0” – the Blue State Social Model operative for much of the 20th century:

    Regardless of what happens in Madison this week, it is a hopeless battle. 4.0 liberalism and the Blue Social Model aren’t immoral and they helped many Americans enjoy roughly two generations of unprecedented prosperity — but they are unworkable in the contemporary world. States that don’t make the kind of changes that Wisconsin seeks will face the problems that loyally blue Illinois does now: staggering pension bills that undermine the state’s credit and cripple its ability to attract and hold business. An article in the New York Times, that bastion of blue thinking, mocks Illinois’ latest plan to pay its current pension bill with a $3.7 billion bond issue. Note reporters Mary Williams Walsh and Michael Cooper, Illinois “is essentially paying a single year’s bill by adding to its already heavy debt load. That short-term thinking is not unlike Americans taking out home equity loans to pay for cars and vacations before the housing bust.”

    However much money the public sector unions fling into the maw of Democratic party politics, the old system is going down. Workers will actually do better in states that act quickly; the longer the day of reckoning is postponed, the higher the bill will be, and the more savage and draconian the cuts will have to become.

    I really, honestly don’t understand why this is so darned difficult to comprehend! Isn’t that how it works in your personal life?

    I suspect people really don’t believe that the wheels can come off our system, that there really, truly isn’t any money left (unless the Feds start printing it – hello, hyper-inflation!) Because hey, we’re America! Just as there were undoubtably Brits 100 years ago who scoffed at the idea that mighty Britain could possibly become a 3rd rate power in the space of a couple of generations and Romans who believed the glorious Empire would last forever.

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/18/the-madison-blues/

    BTW, Donald, in addition to having interesting insights into contemporary US domestic and military policies, Mead is also a fellow Civil War buff and is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War by blogging about Civil War events as though they were current events.

    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/03/05/lincoln-davis-in-inaugural-shuffle/

  • “Elaine and Alex, do you really comprehend the magnitude of the fiscal disaster that is headed our way?”

    Yes, Donna, I believe I do. I work for the state, and if checks start bouncing, I’m first in line to get bounced! I don’t even think about the allegedly lavish pension I’m supposed to get someday because I presume it won’t be there. No early retirement for me, I’m just going to keep working until I’m too old, sick or dead to stand up.

    I’m NOT saying benefits cannot or should not be cut back. I’m NOT saying concessions should not be made. And that includes my own benefits even though I’m NOT union and don’t make all that much money ($35,000 a year, folks, it’s a matter of public record) Nor do I think Walker is being all that “mean” or unreasonable in the financial concessions he has sought.

    No, I think the problem is more with conservative pundits and others who have consciously chosen to pursue a strategy of emphasizing the alleged greed of public workers as a class, hoping that this will translate into more GOP votes. All you have to do is read the comments on ANY conservative blog to see what I mean. Sorry if I take that a little too personally, but, I do.

    I am simply saying to place the blame for this situation where it really belongs…on the elected officials who overpromised time and time again, and on the private employers who pulled the rug out from under THEIR pensioners, thereby creating the expectation that because private sector workers got screwed out of their retirement, therefore so should public sector workers.

    The blame does NOT belong to ordinary people like myself who took public sector jobs — not because they wanted to get rich at public expense, or wanted to spit in the face of the taxpayers, or wanted to sit around and do nothing all day — but because they just wanted to do what seemed best for their own security and that of their families. I suppose you’d all rather I go back to trying to support my family on $9 an hour?

    As much as I despise the intimidation tactics and stands of the WI public union crowd, and even as much as I despise most unions and would prefer NEVER to join one, please don’t try to convince me that public employees are ALL some kind of Marie Antoinette-like privileged class… I KNOW that’s not true, and others can certainly see it too, and it will only make everything else conservatives say appear equally ridiculous (including pro-life and pro-marriage stands).

    No, all I am saying is to cast the issue a little differently… instead of pitting public and private sector against one another just say we are ALL fellow citizens TOGETHER in the same boat and for the good of ALL we need a fiscally sound and sustainable government that doesn’t make promises it can’t keep. Is that so hard to understand?

    Sorry if this sounds like an unhinged rant but if you spent the last two days trying to decipher hundreds of pages of Medicaid regulations until your head was ready to explode from eyestrain, well, maybe you would feel like ranting too.

  • Thanks, Elaine, for your thoughtful and even-handed analysis. Will it change minds here? Probably not. Would it change minds if posted on Vox Nova? No. But it needs to be said. The Church has many teachings, all of them pro-life: opposition to abortion and respect for the sanctity of marriage are two big ones these days, but upholding the dignity of workers is one as well.

  • Elaine: My older brother retired from a job as city administrator of a small town after 30+ years in that position. I certainly do not think he was lazy; in fact, he worked many evenings and weekends and I know he was very dedicated to the good of the community. At the same time, he has not yet turned 60. None of his siblings will retire before 60, or, I estimate, before we turn 70. The rest of us work in the healthcare system, and none of us get the gold-plated healthcare coverage he receives. My ex-brother in law retired from teaching at age 55. I am resigned to having to work until I am 70 or older. What I resent – and I am sorry that Alex considers this a sin – is having to work until I am at least 70 because I have to foot the bill, not only for myself, but for people like my ex-brother-in-law who is thoroughly enjoying his retirement.

    This is what I deeply and (God help me) bitterly resent – the idea, as expressed on signs and in protests that public union employees are the only middle class people, the only workers who count. What am I, what are the people employed by private industry? Chopped liver? People who exist to support public employees?

    I am not rich either, Elaine. I make a bit more than you, but I am single and fending for myself in the world. I live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a “yuppie” neighborhood – and I permitted myself the luxury of having a second bedroom and more space only because I didn’t own a car and could walk to work. Then my job moved to a business center miles away and I suddenly had to get up at 4 am and take 3 buses to get to work. So I bought a car (used) last fall and I am now having trouble salting away extra money in my savings account. Last week, I received word that the hospital system I work for is in terrible trouble financially. They are bringing Deloitte and Toche in within the next couple of weeks and there will be serious cuts. Our department may be outsourced. If our financial situation doesn’t improve, the whole organization will go out of business in 18 months.

    So, Elaine, you’re not the only one who feels like ranting. I ask, who will be standing on the street corners waving signs around if my hours are cut, or my job is lost? I am a middle manager in my 50’s. What if I try to go back to my former occupation as a legal assistant? Competing against recent college grads? I have spent nights tossing and turning and asking God to help alleviate my fear and dread.

    please don’t try to convince me that public employees are ALL some kind of Marie Antoinette-like privileged class…

    When did I say that? And Walker has never said anything of the sort. In fact, he has praised the dedication of public employees – and he’s absurdly called a dictator by the mob in Madison. Yes, certainly some conservatives have If you want to castigate someone for tainting the reputation of public employees, look to the unlovely crowd in Madison (and the people in my own neighborhood) who have signs up comparing him to Hitler. The Wisconsin GOP assemblymen and women have been subjected to death threats and the blogger Ann Althouse has been threatened (for simply recording and posting what the Madison protesters have being saying and doing during the past month). When a local grocery store chain refused to post anti-Walker, pro-union signs in its windows, the doors were superglued shut. I take regular walks along N. Lake Shore Drive – yesterday, I noticed that the 2 signs supporting the GOP candidate for Supreme Court Justice were ripped up and tossed in the bushes. The many signs favoring the Dem candidates were untouched.

    Yes, it is wrong to associate such thuggish behavior with public employees as a whole. And yet, I can understand why some conservatives might get confused on that score.

  • Ron wrote:
    upholding the dignity of workers is one as well

    Ron, are you aware of the “rubber rooms” in NY state? They are where teachers accused of sexually abusing their pupils and other serious charges go to spend their days – because they can’t be fired according to union rules. They go there to play cards, chat and watch the soaps – at full pay, with the NY taxpayer footing the bill. Does that fit your concept of “upholding the dignity of workers?”

    I am so sick I could scream of the notion that only those in unions are “workers” while the rest of us, apparently, are just cash cows who should shut up and pay our ever escalating taxes – and if we complain or rebel we are uncharitable or rude or greedy. Go ahead, lefties, make the whole country look like Detroit. ‘Cause that is exactly where we’re headed.

    In Ron’s head, apparently, only the rich are guilty of greed. If a union employee screams because he or she has to pay *horrors* for a portion of their benes or healthcare, well, that’s not greed or selfishness. Yes, like the Pharisee, we thank God that we are not like those miserable others! We are always on the side of the angels, correct, Ron?

  • And during the past few weeks, I have noticed that no Walker critic has an answer for this:

    May I ask why teachers should not have the right to choose whether or not they belong to a union? Why should they be forced to join a union and have their dues used to fund Democratic causes and candidates they may not personally support themselves? If being in a union is so wonderful, I would think they would be happy to pull out the checkbook themselves instead of the state withholding dues.

    Ron, kindly tell me, why “upholding the dignity of workers ” means forcing them to join unions?

  • Thanks, Donald.

    Oh, and here’s yet another lovely example of a union leader’s touching concern for “the dignity of workers”:

    Lerner (a former SEIU official) said that unions and community organizations are, for all intents and purposes, dead. The only way to achieve their goals, therefore–the redistribution of wealth and the return of “$17 trillion” stolen from the middle class by Wall Street–is to “destabilize the country.”

    Lerner’s plan is to organize a mass, coordinated “strike” on mortgage, student loan, and local government debt payments–thus bringing the banks to the edge of insolvency and forcing them to renegotiate the terms of the loans. This destabilization and turmoil, Lerner hopes, will also crash the stock market, isolating the banking class and allowing for a transfer of power.

    Lerner’s plan starts by attacking JP Morgan Chase in early May, with demonstrations on Wall Street, protests at the annual shareholder meeting, and then calls for a coordinated mortgage strike.

    Lerner also says explicitly that, although the attack will benefit labor unions, it cannot be seen as being organized by them. It must therefore be run by community organizations.
    Lerner was ousted from SEIU last November, reportedly for spending millions of the union’s dollars trying to pursue a plan like the one he details here.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/seiu-union-plan-to-destroy-jpmorgan

    Nevermind, of course, that many millions of average Americans would suffer terribly if the stock market went under. Nevermind that Obama himself blessed the bailout of Wall Street and that Wall Street firms donated heavily to his campaign.

    “Dignity of workers,” my big fat foot. What the unions are after is power, raw power, and they could care less than a fig about who suffers as a result.

  • “What I resent – and I am sorry that Alex considers this a sin – is having to work until I am at least 70 because I have to foot the bill, not only for myself, but for people like my ex-brother-in-law who is thoroughly enjoying his retirement.”

    @Donna: So instead of helping everyone retire at 55/65 you would rather pass on your misery? I see this to be the sin of Envy?

    This is what I deeply and (God help me) bitterly resent – the idea, as expressed on signs and in protests that public union employees are the only middle class people, the only workers who count. What am I, what are the people employed by private industry? Chopped liver? People who exist to support public employees?

    @Donna: I work for a private business as well and get a fair wage. I expect my taxes to go to infrastructure (fire/police, schools, and parks/roads) and happy to pay 28% or more. As well believe if I made more than 3 million that the next dollar should be taxed at 90%.

    Alex, you have forgotten to mention the gold-plated benefits and pension plans, which is something the overwhelming majority of Americans do not get.

    @Donna My dad worked for ford his whole life worked nights to put me through school and put me in a very middle/high middle class neighborhood so I can do what he could not, go to school. My dad worked for 35 years and retired with that “gold-plated” benefits because he had a union. My dad is a very humble person that never asked for anything and was happy he had a job. If it was not for the union he would not be fairly compensated. Because of the years of work, blood and sweat I was able to go to school in order to work and be productive. I don’t have a union, but because of my father I able to stand on my two feet and quit when I feel taken advantaged unlike my dad, but he had the union to help him negotiate fair wage. I left my previous job because of a 30% cut in wage and was out of work for a year. Mind you I have a house that is 90k and 2 cars. Today I found a job that I am making 40% more all because of my dad providing for my future. Now my dad is retired with a “gold-plated” pension with a successful son that has not forgotten were he came from like many others have. If that is so bad for a person to retire at 55 you try doing some hard manual labor for sometime. You know what is sad is I make what may dad made before he retired… and i feel that I nor many people posting on this blog have never work as hard has him and many others. Unions are needed if you don’t think so I am afraid that you don’t believe in democracy since i do see unions as mini-versions of our gov’t.

    Collective bargaining is a privilege, not a “right” Moses came down the mountain with. Federal employees don’t have it, teachers in right-to-work states don’t have it. May I ask why teachers should not have the right to choose whether or not they belong to a union? Why should they be forced to join a union and have their dues used to fund Democratic causes and candidates they may not personally support themselves? If being in a union is so wonderful, I would think they would be happy to pull out the checkbook themselves instead of the state withholding dues. (And why on earth is the state in the business of withholding union dues anyway.)

    Collective bargaining is a privilege, not a “right”<— with this logic lets just say that voting is also privilege not a "right". What is wrong with Collective bargaining? We do this all the time passively and actively in democracy… unless you want a dictatorship be my guess. I would like you to explain to me why this is not a right? How do you define what is a human right versus a privilege.

    "It is the middle class majority comprised of non-public employees who are footing the bill so a small minority of their peers can enjoy perks and privileges the rest of us do not get. Walker’s reforms are actually very modest, and yet the unionists are screaming like scalded cats. The system as presently scheduled prevents any true reform of our educational system, because poor teachers with seniority cannot be fired. "

    @Donna: Have you every volunteered to work as a substitute teacher ? Many of these Sr. "teachers" that should be fired my guess are less than 10% so you would get rid of collective bargaining for these rotten teachers. Even though most of the issue is not the rotten teacher but the rotten parents.

    Here is a few questions for you what is your take on the elected offical's salaries? Do you think Citizen United Decision is the correct direction for our country? Would you rather take from people that are working hard then those who will always be well off?

  • Donna, I am very sorry to hear that your job is in jeopardy. Involuntary unemployment is something both my husband and I have experienced, and the only thing I can say about it is, it sucks. In fact he’s unemployed now and no longer getting unemployment benefits, so my salary is all the three of us have.

    I am quite aware of the death threats and intimidation tactics going on in Wisconsin. I discovered Ann Althouse’s blog about a month ago and have been reading it every day since so I know about everything she and her husband, Larry Meade, have been reporting. I chafe constantly at how conservatives, even on their best behavior, are always painted in the media as the intolerant thugs while leftists get away with all sorts of “incivility” and worse.

    Yes, public employee unions are doing their best to make all public employees look bad and incite class warfare — that’s obvious. But what may NOT be as obvious to people like us is that there are some (certainly not all) conservatives doing the same thing. You can find them on any conservative blog, or any newspaper website. People who say ALL unions, even in the private sector, must be abolished; people who say ALL public employees are mere parasites who produce nothing of value and whose very existence is a form of theft; people who say that all public employees only have their jobs because they are losers incapable of making it in the “real world,” etc.

    I don’t think public employees are the only “real” middle class people or that their jobs are the only ones that matter. I do not want to see ANYONE lose their job if it can be avoided. And should I ever lose my job (it could happen if our agency budget gets cut severely enough) I don’t expect anyone to go out on a street corner and protest. All I am saying is that I don’t like class warfare, no matter who instigates it.

  • Donna: So instead of helping everyone retire at 55/65 you would rather pass on your misery? I see this to be the sin of Envy?

    Alex, you really, really don’t get it. “Helping everyone retire at 55/65?” How, given the demographics of this country and the financial straits we are in, is such a thing possible? Again, do you even begin to comprehend the hole that we are in? It’s like saying you’re in favor of the tooth fairy. No, Walker is asking the public union employees to give up a small fraction of what they currently have for the greater good. By doing that he avoids layoffs. But the teacher’s union has shown that they would accept thousands of layoffs rather than making concessions. You, Alex, are insisting that other people make the sacrifices while absolving the teachers from making any. Guess what? We will all have to make sacrifices and I don’t understand why teachers should be exempt.

    Your view of unions is influenced by your father’s experience. I don’t doubt he worked hard, but I wouldn’t confuse reverence for a parent with reverence for an institution. There was a place and time for unions – but that time is over and done, as Prof. Mead explains so well in his articles. My sister worked in the medical department of a GE plant up until 5 years ago. She was in one of the few non-unionized departments there. The plant is now shuttered, in large part because the UAW would not make even the smallest concessions. Michigan is a basket case economy for the same reason.

    What is wrong with Collective bargaining?

    Can I ask you, what about those of us workers who do not have collective bargaining, but have negotiated on our own for raises? What about all the German and Japanese car company plants located in the South -plants which are doing just fine without collective bargaining? Are those workers slaves? Do they live in a dictatorship? What about people who live in Right to Work states? Are they peons? Four families of my acquaintance have moved to Texas or Tennessee over the past year. Silly fools, leaving the union paradise that is the upper Midwest for the benighted South – which is where all the job creation happens to be these days. What would you do to stop such flights of labor, Alex? Forbid corporations from moving to right to work states? Good luck with that.

    You absolve yourself of the sin of envy, Alex, but you have no problem with the idea of taking from those more well-off than you. My guess is that you blame the rich and those evil corporations for all the ills of the world. Oh, but you’re not envious. Well, take a look around the room you’re sitting in and name me one item you own that was NOT made by a corporation. Like I noted earlier, you could take every single dime away from Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and that would not solve our financial crisis. Unfortunately, we are not only killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, we are making omelets from the eggs.

    what is your take on the elected offical’s salaries?
    It’s my understanding that Walker has agreed to the same cuts he has stipulated for other public employees.

    Do you think Citizen United Decision is the correct direction for our country?

    Yes, although I know that’s the politically incorrect answer. McCain/Feingold was terrible, terrible law.

    And may I ask you -again- why you think that forcing people to be in unions and pay union dues is democratic?

    I could make this post much longer, but I must get ready for work. I leave with the words of former SEIU exec Lerner, who sounds like he has exactly the same understanding of “democracy” as you do, Alex:

    Lerner (a former SEIU official) said that unions and community organizations are, for all intents and purposes, dead. The only way to achieve their goals, therefore–the redistribution of wealth and the return of “$17 trillion” stolen from the middle class by Wall Street–is to “destabilize the country.”

    Lerner’s plan is to organize a mass, coordinated “strike” on mortgage, student loan, and local government debt payments–thus bringing the banks to the edge of insolvency and forcing them to renegotiate the terms of the loans. This destabilization and turmoil, Lerner hopes, will also crash the stock market, isolating the banking class and allowing for a transfer of power.

    Yeah, let’s bring down Wall Street and the banks! Or, as Alex would put it, let’s take from the rich! It’s not sinful to do that!

  • Oh, and one last thing: most Wisconsin teachers stayed in their classrooms and did not run over to Madison to throw a giant hissy fit. Those who did – and took students with them – certainly taught those kids some valuable lessons. Such as: it’s fine to lie about being sick, the results of the last election can be ignored if you don’t like the results, it’s also OK for legislators to run off to another state to avoid taking a vote, it’s wonderful to spew hatred of Walker and the GOP and call them Nazis and fascists, it’s terrific to bully and threaten businesses into publicly supporting you, as the unions are doing, it’s great to turn a beautiful capitol building into a dump and to refuse to leave, it’s me-me-me and mine-mine-mine all the way and sacrifices are for others to make.

    Yes, wonderful lessons for our children.

  • Elaine: I don’t think we are that far apart. No, I do not agree with blanket condemnations of all teachers or all public employees. I think that when conservatives are relentlessly demonized by the media and progressives as selfish and uncaring there is a temptation to demonize the other side in turn. That is not helpful, but I don’t think it is coming from Walker or the GOP legislators.

    Now I really must go! Have a good day!

  • I think it is regretable that Walker elected to make an attack on working families his first priority, ahead of defense of the unborn. The public revolt against his anti-worker actions will likely lead to a loss of his Senate majority after the recall and maybe his own recall next year*, stalling any pro-life initiative he might someday get around to. He has thrown away a chance to protect the unborn.

    * Something I doubted could be pulled off until the news reports that he gave a government job to the mistress of one of the married Republican senators who did his bidding — and a government job with at a 30% raise over the civil servant who held the job before, all while the Governor claims the state is “broke”

  • I think it is regretable that Walker elected to make an attack on working families his first priority,

    I would suggest that demagoguery is beneath you, but based on your prior comments it seems fitting that you’d resort to the usual progressive cliches.

    He has thrown away a chance to protect the unborn.

    Empty words coming from someone who worships at the feet of a president who doesn’t even think that infants born alive after an attempted abortion deserve protection.

  • “He has thrown away a chance to protect the unborn.”

    Given that unions generally, if not always, support abortion, reducing union power in Wisconsin is a pro-life move.

  • Criticizing a politician for prioritizing financial matters over anti-abortion measures can and often is a valid criticism. However, if it’s a financial crisis (which I accept is the case in WI, though others may argue otherwise), it would seem prudent to address that first because ultimately matters of life are involved.

    However, I find Kurt’s remarks to be laughable and the type of argument that if I were tempted to make would likely cause me to change my opinion – or at least reconsider my position. By the standard he is holding Walker to, Kurt would not – could not – possibly have supported Obama. It was well known that Obama would not only prioritize pro-life initatives but that he prioritize the expansion of abortion. The only thing remotely pro-life Obama has done was delay his planned overturning of the Mexico City Policy to the third day of his presidency.

    Kurt, I’ve enjoyed reading your arguments in these threads and have gained insight due to them, but I’m calling you out on your last comment. It’s those types of tortured arguments that can cause one to lose any bit of credibility. Eventually people won’t even give you the courtesy to give consideration to your substantiative and valid arguments.

  • Given that unions generally, if not always, support abortion

    I can count on my fingers the number of unions that have taken a stand on abortion (pro or con).

  • Unions generally support Dems who almost always support abortion.

    In Wisconsin, its the teachers’ union which has lost power. Teachers’ unions almost invariably support abortion. So still a pro-life move.

  • Unions generally support Dems who almost always support abortion.

    I know I am not going to change your mind, but you have no idea how alienating and offensive that is to large segments of the public, particularly blue collar voters. Labor, like business, environmentalists, defense contracters, the NRA, Realtors, and Immigrant rights organizations make their endorsements on a narrow range of issues that directly concern them, abortion not being one of them. Yet you single out labor because you’ve done some calculation. Calling someone a supporter of abortion is a serious charge. You cheapen it and in doing so you cheapen the Pro-Life movement. These unions are not supporting abortion. They have made objective evaluations of candidates based on their positions on labor issues. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), maybe the most pro-life member of Congress gets labor support every election because of his positive voting record on labor issues.

    Your goal is to taint your secular political opponents with abortion. Sadly, because so many have done that, more pro-life voters have simply stopped listening to the Pro-Life movement than have been one over. But, of course, that is alright with you as well, because the last thing many conservatives want is a bunch of “working class slobs” as pro-life leaders.

  • Kurt,

    The Oscars are over so you can save your dramatics for another year.

    Put another way, BS on fine bread is still a BS sandwhich. You can use polemics to try to make your point, but the fact is that unions (especially teachers unions) support abortion. In fact many “working class slobs” are trying to get their dues back to stop this. But don’t let facts get in the way of your speeches:

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2007/jun/07062603

  • Oh, and Alex, your complete and utter lack of compassion for any worker who is not union is noted. You honor your dad. That is -honestly and truly- commendable. You think everyone else should sacrifice to keep your dad in clover – well, that is not so commendable. If your dad did not have the foresight to save for his retirement, as my steel factory dad, who squirreled away every cent he could, did, well then that is your job and your responsibility, Alex. You also blur the lines between private and public unions. Please don’t tell me that teachers hauling home lesson plans compromises hard physical labor. Most of us do not get June, July and August off.

  • When it comes to retirement benefits the real problem isn’t unions, taxation, or over- or under-paid public employment.

    The real problem is that Baby Boomers and later generations are living longer and “larger” (i.e. at a higher standard of living) than their retirement benefits were designed to last, and that they didn’t have enough children to replace themselves in the workforce.

    Social Security was created at a time when life expectancy was below age 70 — meaning most people who retired at 65 would only draw benefits for about 5-10 years — and there were at least 5 or 6 (or more) younger adults in the workforce for every retiree.

    Now that life expectancy is creeping up on 80+, many retirees live 20-25 years after retirement, and there are only 2-3 younger workers for every retiree, it doesn’t take an economic scientist to see there are going to be big problems sustaining the system. The best short term solution IMO would be to raise the retirement age to 70 or even farther, to reflect increased life expectancy.

  • Put another way…

    Put another waym the candidates endorsed by the RTL Committee are almost all anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-consumer protection and pro-gun. Therefore the Por-Life Movement is anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-consumer and pro-gun.

  • Put another waym the candidates endorsed by the RTL Committee are almost all anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-consumer protection and pro-gun. Therefore the Por-Life Movement is anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-consumer and pro-gun.

    Really? Anti-worker? I suspect “pro-worker” in your mind is strictly defined by whether or not they subservient to the union machine or not. Anti-environment? As little respect as I have for politicians of any stripe I don’t recall having ever considered one anti-environment. Again, I think you’re making leaps here and attributing something to another just because they don’t accept your narrowly defined (and possibly quite imprudent or incorrect policy preferences). Anti-consumer protection? Here too I think what’s at issues is prudential judgment and evaluation of the pros and cons of various policies. Pro-gun, not sure that’s a criteria of RTL, it may just be that most people who support the dignity of life at the earliest stages of life also support throughout life. I see nothing contradictory to life and the dignity of man in upholding the right of someone to possess a firearm. Besides, aren’t firearms owners primarily workers and consumers, many of whom have a sincere appreciation of the environment and wildlife? Perhaps we could use “pro-gun” to be a catch-all position for all that is good and just. 🙂

  • “Therefore the Pro-Life Movement is anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-consumer and pro-gun.”

    Let’s not forget “bible-thumping.” 🙂

  • Pro-gun, not sure that’s a criteria of RTL,..

    Thank you for conceeding to my point.

  • Was just being a little sarcastic in as respectful of a way as i could. I don’t know the mind of RTL, but I find it hard to believe that they select candidates to support based on the criteria you mention. I first and foremost reject your your characterizations regarding anti-worker, environment, etc. Second, I’m willing to acknowledge that people who who place a high value on the right to life and the dignity of the human person are likely to carry those convictions to other matters of public policy, it just so happens you may not view those as desirable things.

  • I don’t know the mind of RTL, but I find it hard to believe that they select candidates to support based on the criteria you mention.

    Yes, well Phillip’s standard is the criteria used in making endorsement is not a factor. If the AFL-CIO, the American Medical Association or the National Association of Realtors uses criteria of issues particular to their organizations, so what. Nevertheless, that does not save them from Phillip’s judgment of being pro-abortion. So, the same with RTL. It’s not the criteria they use, but someone’s judgment that too many of their candidates are pro-gun. It really is quite silly and certainly cheapens the pro-life cause by flinging accusations around.

  • The American Medical Association supports abortion. Therefore it is not pro-life. The National Association of Realtors has no opinion that can be found. The AFL-CIO at this point is agnostic on abortion but has clearly steared near supporting it:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/14/us/back-abortion-rights-afl-cio-is-asked.html

    http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0479_Stop_the_AFL-CIO

    htmlhttp://ymlp.com/zONtml

    Please note the number of unions in the first link that were avowedly pro-abortion and sought the AFL-CIO to do so also.

    This is as opposed to the NEA and other teachers’ unions, like Ohio linked above, are also pro-abortion:

    http://www.inthefaith.com/2004/04/24/teachers-union-weighs-in-on-abortion/

    One might consider your criteria to be rhetoric. Mine are the facts. More of your BS sandwhiches.

  • I make no apologies for democracy. If that is something you find offensive, I hear a colonel in Libya is looking for guys to help him out.

    The AFL-CIO is a democracy. Some portion of the membership proposed a resolution and it was voted down. We who believe in democracy have no problem with this. It is only the totalitarian mindset that objects.

    You are squirming back and forth. On the one hand you call the AFL-CIO pro-abortion not because the group has adopted any such policy or uses abortion as a criteria in its political endorsements, but because you find that too many of its endorsed candidates are pro-abortion, even if it be by accident rather than design. The same standard applied to the RTL Committee would say that RTL is pro-this or anti-that not based on their positions or endorsement criteria but is too many of their endorsed candidates take those positions.

    You have slid into silliness and nonsense.

  • On the moral imperatives top ten priority list, the liberal places abortion number ten after number nine spending $2 trillion to discover the cure for insomnia.

  • More BS. If you note 6 unions asked for the AFL-CIO to become pro abortion. Its merely taken a neutral position. Sort of like taking a neutral position of Jim Crow laws.

    But a quick internet search has found hundreds of unions that support abortion, not a handful.

    Sorry if facts don’t support your rhetoric. When rhetoric persists in the face of facts, its call lies.

  • Thank God that outside gubmint unions using taxpayer funded salaries to elect politicians to raise their taxpayer funded salaries, fewer than 20% of employees are trapped in unions that are intent on destroying the evil, unjust private sector thus terminating their employment opportunities.

    Kurt, Are al Qaeda and sharia law (i.e., the Libyan rebels) democracy????

  • More facts:

    “Meeting behind closed doors last month, the California Labor Federation — which represents more than 2.1 million workers belonging to more than 1,100 affiliated unions — voted to oppose Proposition 85, a November ballot initiative that would require doctors to notify parents before performing abortions on minors. In a policy statement, the labor federation also urged the national AFL-CIO “to reconsider its position of neutrality on the issue.”

    Link here:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2006/aug/07/local/me-abortion7

    Then there is the Ohio state teachers’ union which supported abortion and the NEA which is the largest union in the country which radically supports abortion:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2009/07/07/nat-5198/

    Was just going with your example of the AFl-CIO and abortion. But as far as CST is concerned, the AFL-CIO is radically opposed to marriage:

    “As the AFL-CIO Executive Council gathers in Miami this week, hearing addresses from Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis dealing with the economic crisis and its impact on workers across the country, the Executive Council has spoken up again for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers by passing a resolution, in unanimity, calling on the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8. ”

    Full link here:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102×3769814

    Of course California and national unions spent huge amounts to defeat the protection of marriage (contra their members’ wishes.) And of course promoting gay marriage has nothing to do with worker protections. At least not according to CST.

  • Great news. Next weekend, my parish church is inserting in the bulletin a letter in support of an AFL-CIO action for parishioners to sign an either mail to the offending employer or leave with the ushers so the parish can deliver them. I’m can’t wait for the boss of this company to find out his antics have been exposed to every Mass goer in the parish. I wish I could be there to watch as he wets himself in his $5,000 imported Italian suit.

  • Though when one does just a little more research, one finds that the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO is in fact in favor of abortion:

    http://myuniondues.com/acorn/

    Just think if one had time to look at this in detail. How much that unions support is contra CST?

  • Wow, look at some of the unions that sought to overturn marriage in California:

    California Labor Federation
    National Federation of Federal Employees
    Screen Actors Guild
    UNITE HERE!
    Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
    Sacramento Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    San Mateo County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    South Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO
    California Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
    California Faculty Association
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, District Council 57, AFL-CIO
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 2019, AFL-CIO
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 2428, AFL-CIO
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 3299, AFL-CIO
    American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 3916, AFL-CIO
    American Federation of Teachers, Local 6119,Compton Council of Classified Employees
    American Federation of Teachers, Local 6157, San Jose/Evergreen Faculty Association, AFL-CIO
    El Camino College Federation of Teachers, Local 1388, California Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
    United Educators of San Francisco, AFT/CFT Local 61, AFL-CIO, NEA/CTA
    University Council-American Federation of Teachers
    Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
    Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Council 97
    Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Council 99
    Communications Workers of America District 9, AFL-CIO
    Communications Workers of America, Local 9000, AFL-CIO
    Communications Workers of America, Local 9503, AFL-CIO
    Communications Workers of America, Local 9505, AFL-CIO
    Communications Workers of America, Local 9421, AFL-CIO
    Communications Workers of America, Local 9575, AFL-CIO
    District Council of Ironworkers of the State of California and Vicinity
    Jewish Labor Committee Western Region
    Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund
    National Federation of Federal Employees, Local 1450
    Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 300, AFL-CIO
    Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 400, AFL-CIO
    Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
    SEIU California State Council
    SEIU Local 521
    SEIU Local 721
    SEIU Local 1000
    SEIU Local 1021
    SEIU Local 1877
    SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
    Teamsters Joint Council 7, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    Teamsters Local 853, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 5
    UNITE HERE Local 19
    United Steelworkers, Local 5, Martinez, Ca.
    University Professional and Technical Employees, Communications Workers of America, Local 9119, AFL-CIO

  • @ Donna : My sister worked in the medical department of a GE plant up until 5 years ago. She was in one of the few non-unionized departments there. The plant is now shuttered, in large part because the UAW would not make even the smallest concessions. Michigan is a basket case economy for the same reason.

    Response: I am sorry to hear that, No institution is perfect I never said that there should not be some more regulations to unions and that is something I would like to see. Just as background the Union worked with the state and did all that was asked to save jobs and took cuts. My question if they did everything that was needed why did they still go after the Collective bargaining when infact they already gave provisions to cut wages to save jobs?

    Can I ask you, what about those of us workers who do not have collective bargaining, but have negotiated on our own for raises? What about all the German and Japanese car company plants located in the South -plants which are doing just fine without collective bargaining? Are those workers slaves? Do they live in a dictatorship? What about people who live in Right to Work states? Are they peons? Four families of my acquaintance have moved to Texas or Tennessee over the past year. Silly fools, leaving the union paradise that is the upper Midwest for the benighted South – which is where all the job creation happens to be these days. What would you do to stop such flights of labor, Alex? Forbid corporations from moving to right to work states? Good luck with that.

    Response: If i recall I said “I don’t have a union, but because of my father I able to stand on my two feet and quit when I feel taken advantaged unlike my dad, but he had the union to help him negotiate fair wage. I left my previous job because of a 30% cut in wage and was out of work for a year. Mind you I have a house that is 90k and 2 cars [and yea I saved over 2 years of pay for working 18 months at this position]. Today I found a job that I am making 40% more all because of my dad providing for my future.” So Yes I never said people would not speak up so please read what i said I said that some people like my dad will never ask for more even though he works 2x harder then the next guy probably because he like about 20% of the population that are intraverts. There will always be a need for unions and non-union take an advance economics course. Unions are needed if you don’t think so let all the unions fold and you will see a bigger decline in wages. If you look in the last 30 years the middle class wages have fallen. If you read any economic study on class disparity you will find this to be true.

    what is your take on the elected offical’s salaries?
    It’s my understanding that Walker has agreed to the same cuts he has stipulated for other public employees.

    Response: Please show me the evidence I have yet to see any political person take a cut? Unless you mean only a salary cut my suggestion is look at the overall package my guess would something got cut but something got added … this is true with any executive or politian don’t be a fool

    And may I ask you -again- why you think that forcing people to be in unions and pay union dues is democratic?

    Response: Is paying taxes also democratic? With any institution you have a choice if you do not want to be in the teacher’s union QUIT and go to a charter/private school. That is democracy you can choice to stay or leave. If you want to continue down this logic lets see if i stop paying ~60% of my taxes because i don’t want to give it to the military? I like to see how far that get me. Just as many people in the past had said if you don’t like it leave the country…. everyone has choices,right?

    As far, Lerner. I think you missed my whole point because you cannot see past black or white. Lerner for all intensive porpoises is a economic terrorist so do i agree with him, no i do not. I understand economics a little better than you since I do have a 4 yr degree in it from one of the top 10 schools for economics. I never said to bring down wall street ( i do beleave we need more regulation, oversight, and enforcement if you don’t think so please enlighten me how to stop people like Bernard L. Madoff )

    Oh, and one last thing: most Wisconsin teachers stayed in their classrooms and did not run over to Madison to throw a giant hissy fit. […] it’s me-me-me and mine-mine-mine all the way and sacrifices are for others to make.

    I also didn’t saw that I supported things like this. again goes back that unions also should have some regulations. If you look at healthcare many of the staff cannot strike and do things like this because it is illegal and damages the public well being. (Yet they still have Collective bargaining??) AGAIN YOU AND MOST DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLIANS THE ISSUE IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE!! We need regulation on both sides in economics we call it constraints. By removing unions you are removing a constraint wich will be bad for all workers.

    “Oh, and Alex, your complete and utter lack of compassion for any worker who is not union is noted.”
    R: Where did that come out?

    Please don’t tell me that teachers hauling home lesson plans compromises hard physical labor. Most of us do not get June, July and August off.

    @Donna: About having lack of compassion… I think as most people are only focusing on one aspect of the benefits of the job. Yet do not understand its hardships. I will not say for instance my future wife’s job is easy because she only works 15 days a week. Would you be hurt to know she makes over 250k? Please stop me if you think that is too much for an Doctor that works in the Emergency Room? If you count the amount of time off she has it is a little over 6 mouths not including her 160hrs of vacation? Is that fair? She doesn’t work a incredably difficult physical job like my dad did does she? Again like most people in america we all just look at life as binary, black and white and yet we live in a very gray world.

    @Elaine: Actually SS was never really ment to be a retirement account as people think it is today. It was for disability and unemployment insurance like whole life insurance that at the end of the term it pays out what you put into it. I really think our elected officials need to said that, but they don’t since the democrats want people to think it was for retirement and the republicans want to just get rid of it completely. I believe it is ok and should only pay what you put into it … that would solve this issue. It would also push people into saving more for retirment and not count on SS as a retirement acount and make this country strong but that will not happen. You will see that this issue will be dragged for another decade because it is political suicide for republicans nor democrats to say the truth. That is the true problem not extentending the insurence benefits it will only prolong the problem. NOT A RETIREMENT ACCOUNT

    *excuse the typos getting close to bed time for me*

  • Alex: “There will always be a need for unions?” Really? Then why has union membership in the private sector been shrinking since the 1970’s? Again, I refer to you to Detroit – the fact that it is dying a long slow death has much to do with the power of the UAW.

    And again, you keep conflating public and private unions. FDR himself, who was certainly not against private unions, opposed the creation of public ones. In major cities,you have the public union sitting down to “negotiate ” with elected (Democratic) officals who have received campaign contributions from those same unions. Of course, over the years, the Democrats have lavishly rewarded the people who are buttering their bread.The people who are not represented at that table? The taxpayers who have to fork over the money to pay for things like Viagra for Milwaukee schoolteachers and plastic surgery for NJ ones.

    I must get ready for Mass, but Alex and Kurt – you are not progressives. You are reactionaries, bitterly clinging to the status quo and unwilling to acknowledge the world has changed since your father’s day. Well, it doesn’t matter what you or I think or feel about any of it. The fact is that we are out of money and you can scream and cry and make CEO’s wet their expensive suits, but you can’t change the economic facts.

    See what is happening in England:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/03/028694.php

    I expect those ugly scenes will occur here in the States as well as milllions of addicts get weaned from their government-supplied crack in the upcoming years. The social welfare model is coming to an end throughout the Western world due to demographics, and it doesn’t matter one whit how you feel about it.

    Phillip, you make the mistake of thinking Kurt gives one hoot about aborted babies. Millions of piles of them count for nothing compared to the glorious, vengeful delight Kurt feels at the thought of making a CEO wet his pants – that’s social justice, you see!

  • “Actually SS was never really meant to be a retirement account”

    And from what I understand, neither was the 401(k) plan… which was invented in the 1980s as a means for wealthy people to supplement OTHER sources of retirement income, including pensions. However, private companies latched onto it as a means of getting out from under their pension obligations and today it is being pushed as the “ideal” solution to unsustainable public pensions.

    I’m not disputing the fact that 1) many public pensions in their current form are unsustainable, or that 2) something needs to be done to freeze or scale back these obligations (regardless of who is ultimately to blame) before they consume entire state/local government budgets.

    What I AM disputing is the notion that simply converting all public employees to a 401(k) type defined contribution plan will magically solve these fiscal problems overnight, or guarantee retirement security as long as people do all the “right” things and faithfully make their contributions. There are additional costs that states would incur on the front end from instituting defined contribution plans, not the least of which is the fact that they would have to start paying Social Security for many employees who do not currently get it.

    What the situation really requires is thinking out of the box — looking for arrangements that blend greater employee responsibility with a degree of “backup” from the public entity, and (it goes without saying) fiscal responsibility on the part of all parties — no making promises that can’t be kept just to win votes!

    In fact, Nebraska, which converted employee pensions to 401(k) defined contribution back in the 1990s, recently decided to institute a “hybrid” plan that combines employee contributions with a guaranteed rate of return and professional fund management. West Virginia has also gone BACK to a defined benefit plan for some of its employees:

    http://mywebtimes.com/archives/ottawa/display.php?id=288867

  • @Donna: I think you need to do some history and background on Unions. Unions have been attacked since they were created it started stagnating since the creation of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. Union Membership actually started declining in that 1980s actually around 1983 if i recall. Unions have been dropping because of Globilization mostly (NAFTA/CAFTA) and state laws since the 1970 had either made “right-to-work” statutes or forbid it outright.
    As for as those ugly scenes we saw it in egypt and now england, it will get much worse in england and here in the US. I expect almost the brink of anarchy here in the states because of laws like NAFTA and a slew of other mandates. If you consider that we are in a global market place we have not adapted to creating laws and import/export taffifs to stop the loss of jobs being outsourced in a manner that would provide positive externailities both nationally and internationally. We are behind in that aspect We as I see back in the 1900 in regards to labor. We have now to think how to make global labor inititives that is fair nationally and able to provide a balance fairness internationally. FOr example many jobs today are service jobs and we should not outsource those, but we have lost our manufacturing in this country and those jobs pay much lower than service jobs because of the leave of skill it takes.

    @Elaine: Well said, I have to agree in many parts especialAnd from what I understand, neither was ”
    which was invented in the 1980s as a means for wealthy people to supplement OTHER sources of retirement income, including pensions. However, private companies latched onto it as a means of getting out from under their pension obligations and today it is being pushed as the “ideal” solution to unsustainable public pensions.” Yea I have to agree with that statement. But SS is not the answer the answer is more regulation to these businesses and to make sure they honor there obligations.


    What I AM disputing is the notion that simply converting all public employees to a 401(k) type defined contribution plan will magically solve these fiscal problems overnight, or guarantee retirement security as long as people do all the “right” things and faithfully make their contributions. There are additional costs that states would incur on the front end from instituting defined contribution plans, not the least of which is the fact that they would have to start paying Social Security for many employees who do not currently get it.

    I agree this should had never happen i feel if most people understood VALUE Nuetral economics most of these political issues that cloud true capitialism. We need to get rid of a lot of things that do not give you subsidies anything that do not provide society with something back such as corn, oil, etc… any way that is a different conversation, but yes i do agree with this point but many of these true solutions will not happen until people on both sides start waking up and get out of the ideological positions that only seperate everyone and start agreeing on somethings to start working on solutions or we will very well see riots in the street like egypt and england. I for one am very scared to see this happen because it will be way less “peaceful” then england and egypt.

  • Alex: I don’t understand why you think I am “hurt” at the thought of your physician wife making more than I do. You are mistaking me for Kurt J I work with doctors every day and am well aware of the rigors of their training and the hefty responsibilities they have to match the hefty paychecks.

    I know the history of American unions, thank you. While they were a necessary corrective at one time, their history is far from being spotless. Remember “On the Waterfront?” Racketeering, corruption, Mafia ties, Hoffa, violence against “scabs” – that is also a part of union history.

    I don’t know how we can put the globalization genie back in the bottle. The heyday of unions and the golden age of American manufacturing were largely due to an unrepeatable moment in history – at the end of WWII, we were the only game in town, because we were just about the only industrial power that hadn’t been bombed to smithereens during the war. Globalization was bound to happen as countries like Germany and Japan rebuilt and then as Third World countries began their own Industrial and Technological revolutions.

    Elaine: Again I strongly recommend the writings of Walter Russell Mead over at the American Interest. (Mead, BTW, is a life-long Democrat.) Mead writes brilliantly of the present day collapse of “Liberalism 4.0” as he calls it, but he also offers some “out of the box” thinking re: what comes next. I read him to cheer myself up. I admit I am not as optimistic as he is that Americans can creatively think their way out of the bind we are in. Living in Wisconsin and looking around me, I fear the old American “can-do” spirit is dead. Everyone – not just union people, or public employees, or welfare recipients – is stuck in a mode of peevish entitlement, or what the Brits call “I want mine, Jack.” Increasingly, I feel that we are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Alex wrote:

    “Start working on solutions or we will very well see riots in the street like egypt and england. I for one am very scared to see this happen because it will be way less “peaceful” then england and egypt.”

    Oh, I agree with you there! Take care!

  • Oh and BTW, Elaine and Donald, I wish to apologize for a certain feeling of superiority I had over my Illinois and Minnesota neighbors in November, when we voted for change (or so I thought) and the good folks in your state voted for the same-old same-old.

    Well, it feels like Chicagoland here. You have no idea how nasty and ugly the atmosphere is in these parts. And now the Church has been dragged into it, with the charge being made that Supreme Court Justice Prosser refused to prosecute the Church in a sexual abuse case dating back in the 1970’s. (Nevermind that the victim in the sexual abuse case has released a statement defending Prosser and has denounced Prosser’s opponent for making political hay of this. The Dems are throwing mud left and right and assuming some of it will stick. So now all the anti-Catholics have predictably come out of the woodwork to charge Prosser with being “in cahoots with the Vatican” and similar nonsense. ) One of the most depressing things about this neverending feud in Badger Country is that my belief in the friendliness and guilelessness of Midwesterners has deserted me. It was my boast when I lived in DC that I came from a state of warm, friendly, and polite people. Well, now the mask has come off and Wisconsinites are showing the snarl under the smile. And I cannot say how ashamed that makes me.

  • Political battles over very important issues are rarely pleasant Donna, and Governor Walker has begun a fight that is all-important, not only in Wisconsin but around the nation. We either get control of government spending, or we can say farewell to prosperity as a people.

  • Oh, and Commie Kurt, what do you think of this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/nyregion/25cuomo.html?_r=1

    Gov. Cuomo is going to fight unions. Not GOP gov. Walker, but NY Gov Cuomo, son of a Democrat icon.

    As Prof. Mead has noted, it isn’t the GOP governors the unions should be frightened of, but Democratic governors like Cuomo who have read the writing on the wall and are acting accordingly. 2 +2 will never = 5, no matter how earnestly you wish it to be so, Kurt.

  • Sorry, posted twice because I’m not seeing these posts appear right away.

  • Kurt – you are not progressives. You are reactionaries, bitterly clinging to the status quo and unwilling to acknowledge the world has changed since your father’s day.

    That not what my Church teaechs me. Catholic Social Teaching is quite clear that labor unions are not something extraordinary to be utilized only during a (hopefully brief) period extraordinary situation, but they are normative and “indispensible” to a just society.

    BTW Donna, any update on that nice government job Walker gave Senator Hopper’s mistress?

  • Given unions support for abortion and gay marriage, all limits on their power is likely for the common good and in accord with CST. For example this effort at the common good:

    http://www.live5news.com/story/14351520/ohio-house-to-vote-on-collective-bargaining-limits

  • Kurt, do you belong to the church of Fr. Phelge (or whatever that leftist goofball’s name is) in Chicago?

    You certainly have a problem with your hatred and envy of the rich. It’s not good for your soul, Kurt.

  • And Kurt, I stand by my statement that you are a reactionary,fighting with all your might for the status quo. Well, the social welfare state will be dead within 10-15 years, because there is no money for it.

    Kurt, please don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back because you support such a highly moral system. ‘Cause it really isn’t:

    Because the institutions of the welfare state are intended to be partial substitutes for traditional familial, social, religious, and cultural mediating institutions, their growth weakens the very structures that might balance our society’s restless quest for prosperity and novelty and might replenish our supply of idealism.

    This is the second major failing of this vision of society — a kind of spiritual failing. Under the rules of the modern welfare state, we give up a portion of the capacity to provide for ourselves and in return are freed from a portion of the obligation to discipline ourselves. Increasing economic collectivism enables increasing moral individualism, both of which leave us with less responsibility, and therefore with less grounded and meaningful lives.

    Moreover, because all citizens — not only the poor — become recipients of benefits, people in the middle class come to approach their government as claimants, not as self-governing citizens, and to approach the social safety net not as a great majority of givers eager to make sure that a small minority of recipients are spared from devastating poverty but as a mass of dependents demanding what they are owed. It is hard to imagine an ethic better suited to undermining the moral basis of a free society.

    Meanwhile, because public programs can never truly take the place of traditional mediating institutions, the people who most depend upon the welfare state are relegated to a moral vacuum. Rather than strengthening social bonds, the rise of the welfare state has precipitated the collapse of family and community, especially among the poor.

    This was not the purpose of our welfare state, but it is among its many unintended consequences. As Irving Kristol put it in 1997, “The secular, social-democratic founders of the modern welfare state really did think that in the kind of welfare state we have today people would be more public-spirited, more high-minded, more humanly ‘fulfilled.'” They were wrong about this for the same reason that their expectations of the administrative state have proven misguided — because their understanding of the human person was far too shallow and emaciated. They assumed that moral problems were functions of material problems, so that addressing the latter would resolve the former, when the opposite is more often the case. And guided by the ethic of the modern left, they imagined that traditional institutions like the family, the church, and the local association were sources of division, prejudice, and backwardness, rather than essential pillars of our moral lives. The failure of the social-democratic vision is, in this sense, fundamentally a failure of moral wisdom.

    That’s just a small snippet from an excellent article by Yuval Levin on the death of the social welfare state. Man up, Kurt. It’s coming.

  • I don’t know why only the first and last paragraphs of the long section I cut and pasted from Levin’s article were italicized.

    The full article is here and it’s a good companion piece to the Mead articles I referred to earlier.
    http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/beyond-the-welfare-state

  • Kurt, do you belong to the church of Fr. Phelge (or whatever that leftist goofball’s name is) in Chicago?

    Nope. But the Cardinal-Archbishop of whom my pastoral care is entrusted is aware of my public policy views and holds me in full communion with the Catholic Church.

    You certainly have a problem with your hatred and envy of the rich. It’s not good for your soul, Kurt.

    Your suggestion that every dime that every rich person is currently in possession of is justly there likely endangers your soul. But no man has any right to profit from unjust acts.

    Donna, can you mention any social welfare initiative that the Catholic Bishops in this country have ever objected to? Any?

    I’m not suggesting you are a bad Catholic to wholy and totally reject the public policy positions of the Catholic bishops, but have they ever sided with your views on a social welfare question? Social Security? Medicare? Disability Insurance? AFDC? Food Stamps? Medicaid? LIHEAP? Head Start? Pell Grants? Community Service Block Grants? Section 202 Housing? SSI? Unemployment Insurance? Title XX Social Service Block Grants? Pension Insurance?

  • “I’m not suggesting you are a bad Catholic to wholy and totally reject the public policy positions of the Catholic bishops, but have they ever sided with your views on a social welfare question? Social Security? Medicare? Disability Insurance? AFDC? Food Stamps? Medicaid? LIHEAP? Head Start? Pell Grants? Community Service Block Grants? Section 202 Housing? SSI? Unemployment Insurance? Title XX Social Service Block Grants? Pension Insurance?”

    Wow, from reading Vox Nova I thought there was no social welfare net, nor the redistribution of income to provide such a net, in America. But I miss where Church teaching specifically says these programs (as opposed to others) are necessarily the fulfillment of CST.

    Also, given the current recession, its not clear that setting limits on them is contrary to CST. I do look forward to your linking the definitive teaching on this however.

  • Pray for the conversion of liberals and the Democrat Party operatives of the USCCB.

  • But I miss where Church teaching specifically says these programs (as opposed to others) are necessarily the fulfillment of CST.

    Phillip, I would fully respect your prayerful discernment if you have determined these programs do not meet your understanding of the Church’s Social Teachings. I am just asking if the Episcopate has ever concurred with your views.

  • You need to put me on moderation before I severely offend everyone.

  • “I am just asking if the Episcopate has ever concurred with your views.”

    Yes, where the Magisterium teaches that the principles of CST are the guides to action. That these principles are not concrete proposals. That the Church does not, and will not, teach specific proposals for the application of CST. That this application to world problems properly belongs to the laity. That the laity may differ on the applications of these principles in good conscience and that these differences may represent legitimate applications of CST.

    That’s where the episcopate agrees with me on the noted social programs.

  • That these principles are not concrete proposals. That the Church does not, and will not, teach specific proposals for the application of CST. That this application to world problems properly belongs to the laity. That the laity may differ on the applications of these principles in good conscience and that these differences may represent legitimate applications of CST.

    Phillip, I have no disagreement with you that when it comes times to take Catholic principles and translate them to particular pieces of legislation or policy proposals, the laity have great liberty to determine what is proper and prudent. I try to not fall into any inconsistency on that be it a matter where the Church appears to take a position that is suppotrted by the secular right or the secular left.

    Yet the Episcopate frequently sends letters to Congress urging a particular stand on this piece of legislation or that piece of legislation on a wide variety of policy matters. I don’t consider these letters to be Church teachings to which all faithful Catholics are bound to.

    But with that in mind, and again respecting your right in good faith to disagree with the Episcopate’s stance in these letters, I take it we have no disagreement that on social welfare questions, the American Episcopate has never* sent a letter whcih supports the conservative position on such a question.

    * To amend and modify my own statement, the American Episcopate in the 1920s did oppose legislation restricting child labor as an interference in the natural law right of parents to raise their children. The Church has since retracted and apologied for that action.

  • “Yet the Episcopate frequently sends letters to Congress urging a particular stand on this piece of legislation or that piece of legislation on a wide variety of policy matters. I don’t consider these letters to be Church teachings to which all faithful Catholics are bound to. ”

    As St. Josemaria Escriva said, “Whenever a cleric talks politics, he is wrong.”

    I accept the bishops right to express their prudential judgment in matters. I’m glad you note we are not bound by their prudential judgments. Escpecially as they are frequently wrong. It would be nice for the bishops to be so humble as to note that they are prudential judgments and not, as you note, binding on the laity.

    I might disagree with you on bishop’s supporting my position. I would say that Bishop Morlino’s letter which took a neutral stand on the Wisconsin Teachers’ Union matter and which, coming after Archbishop Listecki’s letter, did in fact offer rather overt support for those who were in favor of limiting collective bargaining.

  • “Whenever a cleric talks politics, he is wrong.”

    I note there was no qualifier in his statement — no exclusion of social welfare, war and peace, social or cultural concerns, contraception, the gay employment non-discrimination act, etc. I appreciate that unqualified statement.

    I accept the bishops right to express their prudential judgment in matters. I’m glad you note we are not bound by their prudential judgments.
    I think we have agreement here. God bless.

    Escpecially as they are frequently wrong.

    On social welfare, I guess always wrong rather than frequently wrong, in your mind. That certainly is your right.

    It would be nice for the bishops to be so humble as to note that they are prudential judgments and not, as you note, binding on the laity.

    It would. Maybe on the USCCB stationary there should be a tag line on all of their statments addressed to Congress or about legislation.

    I might disagree with you on bishop’s supporting my position. I would say that Bishop Morlino’s letter which took a neutral stand on the Wisconsin Teachers’ Union matter…

    I did say the Episcopate (i.e. as a class), not individual bishops. Anyway, if you, like Bishop Morlino, take a neutral or agnostic stance on the Wisconsin labor question, I am pleased to hear that. God bless you.

  • “I note there was no qualifier in his statement — no exclusion of social welfare, war and peace, social or cultural concerns, contraception, the gay employment non-discrimination act, etc. I appreciate that unqualified statement.”

    Unqualified to the application of principles, not the principles themselves.

    “On social welfare, I guess always wrong rather than frequently wrong, in your mind. That certainly is your right. ”

    Not always, frequently. My original point stands.

    “It would. Maybe on the USCCB stationary there should be a tag line on all of their statments addressed to Congress or about legislation.”

    No. But as with their recent comment about Libya, where they stated they made no comment on the prudential aspects of the intervention, that would be fine.

    “I did say the Episcopate (i.e. as a class), not individual bishops.”

    There is no such thing as a class as far as bishops teaching. Each teaches his respective diocese.

    “Anyway, if you, like Bishop Morlino, take a neutral or agnostic stance on the Wisconsin labor question, I am pleased to hear that. God bless you.”

    Bishop Morlino, appropriately, is neutral (though as noted, in a qualified sense.) As a laymen I believe it is a good thing to limit the public unions in Wisconsin.

Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

Monday, February 28, AD 2011

A reader asked me to take a look at this study (abstract here) and see if it reaches a valid set of conclusions. The study was conducted in California among ~80,000 women who receive birth control pills paid for by the state as part of a program for low income women. Previously, women in the program have received a 1 or 3 months supply of birth control at a time, and then have to go in to the clinic in order to receive a refill. In the study, a portion of these women were given a full year’s supply instead of one or three months, and state medical records were then used to see if this resulted in a change in the rate of unplanned pregnancy and abortion among the women who received a full year supply of birth control.

Researchers observed a 30 percent reduction in the odds of pregnancy and a 46 percent decrease in the odds of an abortion in women given a one-year supply of birth control pills at a clinic versus women who received the standard prescriptions for one – or three-month supplies.

The researchers speculate that a larger supply of oral contraceptive pills may allow more consistent use, since women need to make fewer visits to a clinic or pharmacy for their next supply.

“Women need to have contraceptives on hand so that their use is as automatic as using safety devices in cars, ” said Diana Greene Foster, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. “Providing one cycle of oral contraceptives at a time is similar to asking people to visit a clinic or pharmacy to renew their seatbelts each month.”

Oral contraceptive pills are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the United States, the team states. While highly effective when used correctly (three pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), approximately half of women regularly miss one or more pills per cycle, a practice associated with a much higher pregnancy rate (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), according to the team. [source]

The details of that decrease are as follows:

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13 Responses to Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

  • Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    The data about the first question does not really shed light on the second question.

  • Abortion and artificial contraception are both intrinsic evils, so I don’t think this study changes anything.

  • Its hard to know if the study proves anything. I can only access the abstract and have minimal interest in reading the study (if there is desire, I can access via our library). Thus unable to comment on the methods of the study, data collection etc.

    Of interest is the note at the end of the abstract which notes that the Level of Evidence of the study is III.

    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    I think that begins to put the study in perspective.

  • Bearing,

    Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    Ummmm. Not sure if I got massively unclear while trying to type this up quickly or what, but no.

    I was basically asked, “Can you debunk this, or else what should we pro-lifers make of this,” to which the one sentence version of my reply would be, “It looks to me like it’s probably accurate as far as it goes, so from the point of view of agencies already giving out birth control perhaps they should give out more at a time, but I think the pro-life contribution here would be to work to ban abortion and to make people aware of the connection between sex and babies — not to become cheerleaders for one year prescriptions.”

    Phillip,

    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    Thanks, that helps a lot.

  • Kyle Kanos is absolutely correct.

    Truly, only the dead have seen the end of abortion in this country.

  • Ah, but it only reduces the abortions we “know” about. The pill is strongly suspected of being an abortafacient–preventing an embryo (not fertilised egg) of implanting in the uterus. While a one year supply of the Pill may reduce surgical abortions, we don’t know if it reduces the number of deaths of embryos whose existence is hidden to us because modern day pregnancy tests are not yet sensitive enough to detect them. Only God knows. (And do we want to irritate more than He probably already is?)

    We also need to remember that “pro-life” is not simply “anti-abortion,” and no, I am not talking about the seamless garment issue so many Pro-lifers do not appreciate. It is in having children. As I recall, Europe has fewer abortions than the US, but it also has a much lower birth rate. Some countries are already on the down hill slide. Euthanasia of the elderly and very sick is right at the doorstep. In some countries, it is a reality. There are not enough young people to go around.

    As Kyle Kano noted, contraception is intrinsically evil. Ultimately, not sure this study matters whether valid or not.

  • KJLarsen,

    Agree. But if pro-aborts start pointing to this study, then we are able to point out the design flaws and undermine their argument. We must be able to engage the world on its terms including all valid knowledge.

  • Kyle Kanos,

    Certainly, I agree that using birth control is a major sin — I would never advise someone to do so. Indeed, I would tell everyone not to do so. However, if a doctor is prescribing birth control, and a patient is taking it, it sounds to me like (if the results of this study actually proved out — it sounds like all that exists right now is an observed correlation) it might, overall, be better if the doctor prescribed a large run of The Pill rather than a small one.

    I would certainly consider it to be sinful to be using birth control, but if someone is going to commit that sin I would be at least somewhat inclined to think that it is better to use it right than not.

    I’m a bit divided on this because clearly, although the contraceptive failures resulting from people taking the pill inconsistently when their prescriptions gap out result in a number of abortions, they result in significantly more lives that are in fact embraced and spared. According to the study, 300 abortions might have been avoided if the pill had been used consistently by the members of the study — but then, so would have 1300 live births.

    So I’m not really sure what our reaction, as Catholics should be to that other than that we continue to:

    a) oppose sex outside of marriage and the use of contraception and
    b) oppose abortion

    KJLarsen,

    My understanding from what I’ve read on the topic is that it’s fairly rare for the standard methods of oral contraception (as opposed to the strictly abortafacient “Plan B” kind of stuff) to allow an egg to be fertilized but then prevent it from implanting. It does happen, and it’s one of the many reasons to morally object to The Pill, but from what I’ve read it’s the sort of thing that would happen perhaps once every few years (if even that often) assuming that a woman is using the pill consistently and having sex quite regularly. So it seems to me that it’s virtually impossible that in this particular situation there are enough unrecorded abortions being performed by the pill to make up for the number that are resulting form inconsistent use of the pill.

    Obviously, that does not mean that we as Catholics should advocate that people use the pill — that’s a mortal sin and I would never recommend it. I just wanted to try to address the study as honestly as possible, and I think that means admitting that it is probably the case, if the study is in fact statistically valid, that dispensing a year of birth control at a time does result in fewer abortions (though also many more live births!) than dispensing 1-3 months at a time.

    Certainly, that doesn’t make the pill good. Lots of heinous things would reduce the number of abortions that a given group of women had. (For instance, if California had forcibly sterilized all 80,000 women, they would have had exactly zero abortions, but that certainly wouldn’t have made the action of sterilizing them right or desirable.)

  • I can’t support the use of birth control pills, but knowing they are dispensed and used – often times month over month for years or decades, I have a hard time accepting the practice of requiring someone to return the doctor monthly or quarterly to get a refill. It’s not like a doctor ever says, “well hey, you’ve been on these for six months I better wean you off now.” He simply scribbles out a new script, collects his $50, and sends on her on the way to the pharmacy. How much more expensive is health care than it should be because doctors and the FDA perpetuate this racket?

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  • Abortions from the Pill? Funny, I heard the opposite. I think it was Chris Kahlenborn (sp?) MD that wrote that he calculated 10 million per year. I would have to do some digging to find that one though.

    I do agree that refuting the study is important. Alas, I only know of very few pro-lifers who think contraception is evil.

  • What this study doesn’t do is suggest how much of an impact giving out larger quantities of contraceptives will have on the overall abortion rate. According to Guttmacher, only a little over 5% of women procuring abortions report that they lack access to contraceptives for financial or other reasons. So achieving a significant reduction in abortions while continuing to promote contraceptives will require not just providing them, but changing people’s behavior (which can include using contraceptives at all, using them more consistently or correctly, using multiple instead of single methods, avoiding sex when they’re fertile if not using a contraceptive, etc.) Aside from the fact that every time I’ve ever suggested that people change their behavior regarding sex I’ve been summarily execrated, I’m not aware of any study that has shown that people who already have access to contraceptives can be made to change their behavior enough to have a meaningful effect on the overall abortion rate. And you also can’t ignore the fact that over 7% of those procuring abortions report using contraceptives perfectly, for whom decreasing the abortion rate lies along a different path altogether.

  • If you want to email me, I can send you a copy of the full article for a more thorough reading.

Bernard Nathanson: Requiescant in Pace

Monday, February 21, AD 2011

One of the great strengths of the pro-life cause is its ability to make converts among its adversaries.  Bernard Nathanson was a prime example.  An obstetrician\gynecologist, Dr. Nathanson became an abortionist out of ideological committment to what he perceived as a necessary element in the liberation of women.  During his career as an abortionist, he took the lives of 75,000 unborn children.  One of them was his own child:   “In the mid-sixties I impregnated a woman… and I not only demanded that she terminate the pregnancy… but also coolly informed her that since I was one of the most skilled practitioners of the art, I myself would do the abortion. And I did.”  He was a founding member of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. 

Unlike most of his colleagues in the abortion trade, Nathanson was not a marginally skilled doctor.  He was highly trained and kept up with medical developments.  When ultrasound came along in the seventies he began to use it and quickly reconized its worth in pre-natal examinations.  It also revealed to him something he had done his best to ignore:  the humanity of the unborn.

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6 Responses to Bernard Nathanson: Requiescant in Pace

Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

Sunday, February 6, AD 2011

There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 54th birthday.  I am pleased that I share my natal day with the man I consider the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Wilson Reagan, who was born one hundred years ago today in Tampico, Illinois.  I greatly admire Reagan for many reasons:  his wit, eloquence and good humor;  his prime role in bringing about the destruction of Communism as a ruling ideology in the former, how good it is to write that adjective!, Soviet Union and Eastern Europe;  his restoration of American prosperity by wringing inflation from the American economy;  his rebuilding of the nation’s defenses;  his restoration of American pride and optimism.  However, there is one stand of his that, above all others, ensures that he will always have a special place in my heart, his defense of the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

In 1983 Reagan submitted an essay on abortion to the Human Life Review, then and now, the scholarly heart of the pro-life movement.  He entitled it, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  Go here to the Human Life Review’s website to read it.

Reagan in the article attacked Roe on its tenth anniversary and stated that Roe had not settled the abortion fight:

Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a “right” so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.

As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.

Reagan saw that abortion diminished respect for all human life and quoted Mother Teresa as to the simple truth that abortion is the “greatest misery of our time”:

We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington because the child had Down’s Syndrome.

Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that “the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children.”

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16 Responses to Ronald Reagan, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

  • Thank you Larry. I will enjoy it in my customary style of celebration with my family, and thinking that 54 isn’t so old if one views it in dog years!

  • Happy Birthday, Mac!

    Happy happpenstance your birthday coincides with President Reagan’s.

    Not only a great president, Mr. Reagan, was a truly gentle and good man.

    He is much like Washington.

    They are to be emulated. We should each day resolve to be as good as these two examplars Christian mahood, who unlike some others who held the executive, were good and honest men.

    Now, get down and give us 54 pushups.

  • Ah, T. Shaw, I used to do 10 pushups a night until I was 50. Then I noticed that I was often spending a few days recuperating from the pushups, so I moved on to other exercises. Now I fear if I attempted to do 54 correct pushups, I’d never live to see 55!

  • Happy birthday to two great Americans.

    Oh man, now I sound like I should be calling to the Hannity Show.

  • Why, thank you Paul! Babe Ruth was also born on February 6, and it is nice of you to bring him up! 🙂

  • Thank you RL. Any day I get to spend with my family and not at my office is always happy enough for me! 🙂

  • A huge THANK YOU! Ronald Reagan had it right–he understood what America is truly all about–He needs to be remembered among other American “greats”–like Washington and Lincoln.

  • Happy Birthday Don.

    54 eh ? Still some very good years ahead – even if you can do only 5 pushups.( Don’t like to boast, but when I was 54 I was still doing 30 + per day 😉 )

    You share your birthday with the NZ National Day, known as Waitangi Day – when in 1840 many of the maori chiefs of NZ signed the Treaty of Waitangi, ceding sovereignty of NZ to the British crown. (Although today, amny maori claim that this was not the case, and there have been growing radicalisation and protest at Waitnagi every year, so much so that the bulk of NZ pakeha (European descent kiwis) and many conservative maori are getting a gutful of it and are starting to call for a different day to mark as a

  • Don’t know what happened there – wordpress apeared to cut me off.

    To continue…..
    are starting to call for a different day to mark our national day.

    And this day last year, my dear mum died after a fall. Mum always had the ability to pick the appropriate moment for an entrance or departure and she certainly chose well a year ago. Or should I say, the Lord ensured she had an auspicious exit. 🙂

    So after a hiccoughed comment, again, happy birthday Don. I’ll have a beer for you, and perhaps even a coke (without the rum).
    Kia kaha. (stay strong)

  • I recall reading some time ago that Reagan was originally not phased about abortion, but later changed his mind to being strongly pro-life, and I seem to recall reading a letter he wrote – perhaps embodied in this post – which explained his change of heart.

    During his presidency, Reagan was much maligned by sections of the press, and I recall our press down here were in the van of that criticism, and many, including myself initially, followed that vein of thought. However, when he commenced his co-operation with JP II in his condemnation of comunism and actively working to defeat it, I started to see him in a different light, and radically changed my opinion of him.

    He was certainly a great American. It is a pity that his attempt to overturn Roe v Wade was unsuccessful. That piece of disgusting legislation was the trigger that opened the floodgates and the rest of the western world rushed madly after the US, not the least here in Godzone, and it is a huge stain on our society – around 25% od pregnancies in this country end in abortion – around 18,000 per year. I pray that the USA wiill find a way to eradicate Roe v Wade from there statute books, so that the rest of the world can follow again, this time for right.

  • Thank you for the kind birthday wishes Don! 30 pushups, eh? I doubt if I’ve been able to do that since I turned 40!

    In regard to Reagan, in 67 he signed a liberal California abortion law. He agonized over it, but ultimately signed it with restrictions because he feared that the legislature would pass one without those restrictions. Here is a section of a letter he wrote to Congressman Henry Hyde on the subject in 1976:

    “The only circumstance under which I felt [abortion] could be justified was self-defense, a concept deeply rooted in our laws and traditions. If a mother’s life is endangered by her own unborn child, she has a right to protect her life. I do not believe, however, that abortion of a less-than-perfect child, or abortion for convenience sake or abortion because “a mistake” has been made can be justified.

    The bill I signed followed the self-defense concept. As time was to prove, however, it contained one flaw. The self-defense concept also included a provision in cases where a mother’s mental health might be irreparably damaged. This required professional certification, but as we were to learn, it became subject to very liberal interpretation by some psychiatrists to justify abortions that should not have been made.”

    Reagan was a proud man and hated to admit a mistake, but he frequently acknowledged that signing the 67 abortion law was one of the biggest mistakes of his life.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/258564/reagan-and-abortion-some-perspective-steven-f-hayward

  • Here is more on Reagan and the 67 California abortion law:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/223437/reagans-darkest-hour/paul-kengor

    “For Reagan, one good thing did come out of this disappointment. As Georgetown’s Matt Sitman notes, “It is impossible to understand his later staunchly pro-life positions without grasping the lessons he learned from this early political battle.” Reagan, says Sitman, survived the ordeal with a “profoundly intellectual understanding of the abortion issue…. It was in 1967 that his ideas concerning the beginning of human life were fully formed.” He now had a cogent understanding, politically and morally, of abortion and its implications.

    Reagan would later denounce abortion so strongly and so frequently from the Oval Office that Bill Clark has compiled a 45-page document of Reagan’s quotes on abortion, collected from the official Presidential Papers. Reagan even authored a small book — Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, featuring contributions from Bill Clark, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Mother Teresa — that was published by the Human Life Foundation in 1984. White House moderates wanted Reagan to delay publication until after the 1984 election, fearing it would turn off pro-choice Republicans, but Reagan refused. He would not be burned again on abortion. No more compromises.”

  • Happy belated birthday, Don, to you and to President Reagan. I concur with Paul on this one: two “great Americans”.

    😉

  • Thank you Jay. I agree with you as to Reagan!

Gosnell, Abortion and Reality

Saturday, January 22, AD 2011

 

“What we want, and all we want, is to have with us the men who think slavery wrong. But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, but yet act with the Democratic party — where are they? Let us apply a few tests. You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other?  You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!”

Abraham Lincoln, speech at New Haven Connecticut, March 6, 1860

Thirty-eight years ago today, the US Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade struck down the laws against abortion throughout the country on the grounds that they were unconstitutional.  The decision was, as Justice White noted in his dissent, a “raw exercise in judicial power”, as there was no basis at all in the Constitution to support the ruling.  Since that day approximately a million, on average, unborn children have been put to death each year, and a large and powerful faction has championed these deaths as right and proper and opposed all efforts to ban or restrict abortion.

It is fitting that as we observe this dreadful anniversary, the nation is shocked by the revelations at the murder mill run by abortionist Kermit Gosnell for over three decades.  As Paul noted in his post on Gosnell here last week the grand jury described his activities in gruesome detail and noted that he was able to do this only with the complicity of the local authorities:

We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.

The State Legislature has charged the Department of Health (DOH) with responsibility for writing and enforcing regulations to protect health and safety in abortion clinics as well as in hospitals and other health care facilities. Yet a significant difference exists between how DOH monitors abortion clinics and how it monitors facilities where other medical procedures are performed.

Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design. …

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6 Responses to Gosnell, Abortion and Reality

  • Why am I not shocked?

    Those people hold the “trump card.” They totally support the “preferential option” for the poor . . . they (such as IL Sen. Obama who voted to de-criminalize this form of infanticide) get to orate at The University of Notre Dame . . .

  • Sorry, I don’t buy the line that “the nation is shocked” about this. In fact, the pro-choicers are all but defending the guy, as their comments on websites like Slate and Salon make it clear. Of course, they wish the place had been a little cleaner. But they have no problem at all with the purpose it served.

  • You are wrong Ron. Some of the pro-aborts are shocked:

    “Again, I am pro-choice but this tragedy occurred because the left violently resisted even the least regulatory oversight of even the most extreme late term abortions. The left has made abortion the highest good that trumps every other concern, and the resulting real-world policies border on the surreal.

    A school nurse cannot give a child an aspirin but any stranger can legally talk a 13 year old into an abortion at almost any term with no oversight whatsoever. The FDA paternalistically denies adults medicines and procedures that the FDA judges “unsafe” but allows children to decide about invasive medical procedures? WTF?

    All prominent Democrats claim to oppose third-term abortion except for cases that endanger the physical or psychological health of the mother. Of course, they leave out who the courts said gets to decide whether a necessary degree of physical or psychological danger existed: the woman and her doctor. So, after all the posturing, in the end the decision to kill a 8-month-and-29-day fetus rests in the same hands and has the same oversight as killing a two-week fetus.

    That’s insane.

    Hell, according to leftists, Gosnell’s only moral or technical crime was in not killing the babies inside the womb. Had he snaked a surgical instrument inside the womb and killed the viable baby there, he would be morally in the clear in the eyes of the left.

    That is insane.”

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/19228.html

    Additionally, the pro-aborts are not the nation. Their view of an unlimited abortion “liberty” is becoming an increasingly smaller viewpoint in this land. Gosnell and his murder mill will help make it even smaller.

  • Governor Tom Corbett is launching a probe, and what a fortuitous moment to have a newly elected pro-life governor of Pennsylvania:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/01/22/corbett-demands-probe-of-failure-to-regulate-abortion-clinics-in-pennsylvania/

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  • I’ve never seen those Lincoln quotations before. Excellent.

Speaker of the House John Boehner: Pro-life Stalwart

Friday, November 5, AD 2010

 

It may not be common knowledge, but the next Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has been an ardent foe of abortion since entering Congress in 1991, and a leader in the fight.  As indicated in the video above, while accepting the Henry Hyde award from Americans United for Life earlier this year, for Boehner this is an emotional issue, and he is heart and soul on our side.  A refreshing change from Nancy Pelosi.

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5 Responses to Speaker of the House John Boehner: Pro-life Stalwart

Mildred Fay Jefferson, Requiescat In Pace

Monday, October 18, AD 2010

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson, tireless crusader for the unborn, died on Saturday October 16, 2010 at age 84.  Born in Carthage, Texas in 1927, she overcame all the disadvantages of being black in the Jim Crow South to be the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School in 1951 and, additionally, the first female surgeon to graduate from that school.   She was professor of surgery at Boston University.  After Roe she helped found the National Right to Life Committee and was President of the Committee for three terms.  She never ceased to speak out for the unborn.

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3 Responses to Mildred Fay Jefferson, Requiescat In Pace

  • Pingback: Mildred Fay Jefferson, Requiescat In Pace : The American Catholic « Deacon John's Space
  • Dr. Mildred Jefferson was a constant inspiration to me both before and after I became National Director of Priests for Life. In recent years, I especially enjoyed talking with her about the history of the movement and the strategies for the future. She always spoke about the movement with a fresh enthusiasm, vision, and readiness to carry out the work. She did not carry her many years of service as a burden, but as a source of strength! May we all drink of that same spirit!

    Moreover, her passing should remind us of our duty to reflect on and record the history of our movement, and pass it on to the younger generations of pro-life activists. Those who have brought the pro-life movement to where it is now will not be with us forever, and their wisdom is a treasure which we should explore while we still have the opportunity to do so.

  • Quite right Father. A history of the pro-life movement by pro-lifers is needed, as giants like Dr. Jefferson pass from the scene.

36 Responses to Analyzing Catholic Endorsements

  • Michael,

    This is a great post, and I agree with almost everything you say, especially:

    I have a very hard time believing Angle ought to get an endorsement over Cao under Catholic principles.

    Thomas N. Peters strikes me as very dogmatic when it comes to his conservativism (one need only peruse his posts at The American Priciples Project), which has had led to some very senseless justifications for his political and policy positions on Catholic grounds. Hence, Cao, who is, I would think, exactly the sort of candidate Peters and Catholic Vote would embrace and endorse, is not trumpeted. This, however, is par for the course for Peters. And there’s the rub: Cao voted for a bill that is contrary to Peters’ dogmatic views of the “proper role of government,” despite Cao campaigning and voting in accord with the chief tenets of Catholic morality.

    I don’t think it is a problem to be a Catholic and subscribe to many of the positions that typify American conservativism and that are not explicit directives of Catholic morality and social teaching (e.g., gun rights, certain conomic policies), though I do think a lot of these positions are untenable on philosophical and sociological grounds (but that’s for another time). The problem is when it is thought that those positions are deduced/derived from Catholic teaching, and that’s the problem with nearly all of Peters’ political commentary.

  • As you seem to indicate, it’s certainly appropriate for Catholics to endorse candidates who support Catholic teaching on non-negotiable issues of life and marriage.

    But I find it bizarre that anyone would call it “abusive” for Catholics to support political candidates that they think will help advance the public good on issues like health care, the economy, and immigration. We never said they were more important.

    As our website states, these issues are important. But they are not more important than life and family. However… they are not irrelevant either.

    Catholics should talk about what a just tax system and a just health care system would look like. If there are candidates out there that support this, why should we not support them?

    As for Rep. Joseph Cao, his campaign did not return our candidate questionnaire, which is required for our endorsement. Have them call us.

    We did however endorse Rep. Dan Lipinski, which I’m surprised you did not mention. Lipinski, like Cao, supported the health care bill with the original pro-life Stupak language. And like Cao, Lipinski refused to support the final bill which didn’t have the pro-life protections in it.

    While CatholicVote.org opposed the entire health care bill and not just the pro-abortion language, we still support Lipinski for standing true on his principles. We need to support pro-life Catholics like Lipinski or else the entire Democratic Party will be in the wilderness.

  • MJ:

    On twitter, Peters said Cao didn’t get an endorsement b/c Cao didn’t respond to some questions. Taking him at his word, it’s not as bad of an oversight.

    However, I think considering Cao is in a hotly contested seat, CV probably ought to do some following up with the Cao campaign, as Cao can use some help.

  • Yes, it is quite true that there is a problem when it is thought that positions are derived from Catholic teaching.

    Catholics have much to dislike of the right-liberalism (freedom! liberty!) that swims so strongly inside the American conservative movement (and in Britain and Australia, the parties and coalitions of the Right wear the proper labels).

    However, the cheerleading for leftist figures and policies that is justified in the name of Catholicism, as we see in the linked post as elsewhere, can truly be toxic to our discourse. First, if that ad is “racist,” well, then, what can you say? It’s a small but thuggish tactic to shut down an opponent. Have a good faith conversation about the meaning of the word? About why illegal immigration is such a big deal in border states? About how wages are impacted by the massive influx of low skilled labor in recent decades (Cesar Chavez was right about that, by the way)? NO! Bad racist so-called Catholics. Second, if that ad is noteworthy as overly heated, then the person noting that supposed fact is rather uninformed about elections – heck, there are about 10 that are “worse” (look at Grayson’s latest) just in this cycle, not to mention the very rough and tumble 19th Century, which puts even Lyndon Johnson and his daises to shame.

  • Catholics should talk about what a just tax system and a just health care system would look like. If there are candidates out there that support this, why should we not support them?

    Not going to let this slip, since you appear to be begging the question against Michael. What exactly does a “just tax system and a just health care system” look like? Can you give an example of an “unjust tax system” or an “unjust health care system” such that if an American politician were to endorse one or the other you would refuse to endorse him/her on Catholic grounds?

    As for Rep. Joseph Cao, his campaign did not return our candidate questionnaire, which is required for our endorsement. Have them call us.

    If returning your questionnaire is a necessary condition for endorsement, and assuming few candidates actually do so, then how exactly do Catholics (like me) benefit from a CV endorsement? It seems likely that you will end up providing little to no guidance to Catholics in most political contests. Further, there is obviously some asymmetry with respect to your endorsements and oppositions; it does not appear that returning a questionnaire is a necessary condition for being condemned by CatholicVote.

    While CatholicVote.org opposed the entire health care bill and not just the pro-abortion language

    This seems disingenuous, then. The health care bill that included the pro-life protections was not contrary to any Catholic moral or social principles, so your opposition to it could only be justified (if it even could have been justified in the first place) on grounds quite apart from expressed Catholic teaching. Calling yourselves “CatholicVote” while opposing policies that are not themselves in conflict with Catholic moral and social teaching is misleading and, it seems to me, partisan.

  • it’s certainly appropriate for Catholics to endorse candidates who support Catholic teaching on non-negotiable issues of life and marriage.

    No, that is not what I indicated. For a Catholic to endorse a candidate requires more than token acceptance of pro-life views on abortion and marriage, but rather a wholistic embrace of Catholic social teaching-an embrace rarely found in either party.

    For example, there’s not a word on the site about torture. How do you claim a candidate is Catholic without examining this issue?

  • Michael,

    As you point out, CV’s emaciation of Catholic social teaching and its vague reference to the “proper role of government” seems to be arbitrary.

  • Michael, you make good points (especially about that humorless crusader called Minion!). And I also respect Anh Cao a lot – my wife has donated to him, and I’ve been to fundraisers. Let’s say he’s one Republican I hope wins this year (even if I think he made the wrong prudential call on the final healthcare bill).

    You have flagged the core problem here. It is one thing to claim that some issues are more important than others, or to support somebody while holding your nose over certain issues. But the Peters brigade goes much further. While calling themselves “Catholic Vote”, they actually seize a principle about the role of government which is quite at odds with a Catholic understanding and a Catholic sensibility. While we can certainly have debates over the appropriate role of government, I think certain positions can be ruled out of bounds, and Angle’s ultra-liberalism is one of them.

    It is rooted in a philosopical principle that the Church has long condemned. To give just one of many examples, Pope Paul VI in Octogesima Adveniens warns about the attraction of liberalism as a counterweight to totalitarianism: “the very root of philosophical liberalism is an erroneous affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in his activity, his motivation and the exercise of his liberty”.

    In essence, it forsakes all notions of solidarity. In healthcare in particular, this “evil individualistic spirit” sees health as personal responsibility and opposes all notions that the fortunate must be compelled to subsidize the unfortunate. This was really at the essence of the healthcare debate. During the debate, the Peters brigade used abortion as a smokescreen to mask their true liberal position. This explains why not a single one of these people supported the House bill, which had the language on abortion approved by the USCCB. Only Cao…

  • I agree with what you say here, and MM did point out some rather questionable issues with some of Angle’s views, but I do have a hard time considering Reid pro-life. He may not be as rabid a pro-abort as some other Dems, but a Cao he is not. Yet some on VN are painting the Reid v Angle as a pro-life Dem v. pro-life Rep contest, as though there is no difference between the two on that issue.

  • but I do have a hard time considering Reid pro-life. He may not be as rabid a pro-abort as some other Dems, but a Cao he is not.

    I thought the votes MM quoted showed me enough to not trust Reid on abortion; whether Angle is more trustworthy I cannot say, as I am not from Nevada and have no real interest in the race.

    Michael, you make good points (especially about that humorless crusader called Minion!

    You know what? You want me to call you by the full name, you gotta have a shorter name. I come from a generation where if you have a name that gets more than three letters in text-speak, you’re doing pretty good 😉

    MJ & MM

    I have a hard time accepting that either party has an understanding the proper role of government. While subsidiarity does call for smaller government, it does allow for larger ones to step if there’s a problem that either can’t or isn’t being addressed by the smaller. Healthcare seems to fit that bill. However, the Dems didn’t seem really interested in constructing a system that was geared towards returning the system to more local control (local, not state). To be fair, they had a hard time constructing much of anything with the lobbyists and such, but it seems to me that both parties didn’t really represent solidiarity in that debate. Which approach did more violence to the principle is hard to tell and up for discussion-which is precisely why it’s so hard to say “x candidate is good on the issues” in this partisan environment. Both sides have some elements of social teaching in them, but neither has nearly enough to be called Catholic.

  • My position is that there are a few issues, abortion and euthanasia being among them, where there is a clear Catholic position. On most other issues the Church leaves her sons and daughters free to execise their wits and determine their own positions.

    This letter from then Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick in 2004 has helped shape my thinking in this area:

    Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles

    by Joseph Ratzinger

    1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgement regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” nos. 81, 83).

    2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

    3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    4. Apart from an individuals’s judgement about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

    5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

    6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

    [N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

  • I posted the folloing in the comments sectio9n of MM’s post.

    Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor. “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.”(Lev 19:15) “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.(Col 4:1) Emphsis mine.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1807

    I think the discussion would be better made if took are catagoris from the Church’s teaching rather than secular political talking points.

    Questions

    What is the proper due to of a government to it’s citizens?
    What is the proper due to of a government to non-citizens it has allowed to reside there.
    What is the proper due to of a government to non-citizens who have moved there in violation of it’s own laws?

    That is probably not exhaustive but to have just policy all of them must be answered in a way supports giving each his popper due.

    Without the hype Ms Angle’s add is accusing Senator Reid of wanting the Government to take from what is due citizens and lawful resident non-citizens and to give unlawfully present non-citizens more than their due.

    I do not know all the facts of the situation, and would most likely dislike them both if I did, but there is nothing inherently racist in the video. If you want to disagree with Ms Angle go ahead send some money to Senator Reid’s campaign, but the accusation of racism is over the top and not really conductive to charity.

  • “He also claims Cao did not return CV’s questions, explaining why there is no endorsement.

    Well we should be able to correct that problem down here

  • We need to support pro-life Catholics like Lipinski or else the entire Democratic Party will be in the wilderness

    A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.

  • Thanks Michael for your post, though I am compelled to respond and disagree with much of what you and others have written. I do believe that the questions you raise are highly relevant to the conversation occurring within the Church today about the proper role of the laity in public life, and especially American politics. I should also note for those that don’t know, Michael has been, and continues to be, a guest blogger on CatholicVote.org and we continue to welcome his contributions (and disagreements) on our site should he choose to cross post there.

    CatholicVote.org was founded specifically to champion the cause of faithful citizenship from a distinctly lay perspective. As such, we seek to serve the Church by assisting the laity with material, catechetical resources, news and commentary, and tools for evangelization (videos, ads, etc) that incorporate an authentic Catholic worldview as applied to our civic life, in pursuit of the common good. To be sure, the issues that involve intrinsic evils, or questions that involve the “non-negotiable” issues are always treated as foundational, and not open to compromise or debate for Catholics. Our programming has almost exclusively been focused on the life issue, for example.

    However, it should come as no surprise that Catholic voters are confronted with a host of public policy questions where an authentic Catholic approach to a particular public policy solution is not as easily discernible. Your beef seems to focus on our use of prudence in reading Church teaching, particularly on the issue of subsidiarity, in evaluating and scoring candidates for public office. This is precisely the debate we hoped to spawn, namely, one that involves questions of prudence in the application of this foundational principle of Catholic social teaching to the questions of economic justice, taxes, immigration, health care, and other issues where Catholics in good conscience are permitted to disagree. To your credit, you acknowledge that our scoring analysis makes clear that we make no claim that Church teaching binds Catholics to vote and follow particular policy approaches on these prudential matters. That does not mean, however, that the principles and guidance of the Church should be ignored, or as some here suggest, be kept out of the public square by Catholic groups in the context of specific candidates seeking elected office.

    This is precisely where we hope to provide the laity some needed counterweight to the default socialist oriented, government-first, policy prejudices often assumed to be the more authentically “Catholic” position on many issues. We openly acknowledge our reading of Catholic social doctrine to incorporate the principle of subsidiarity in the development of policy prescriptions that seek to bring about the conditions most conducive to the common good. This reading of Church teaching, not altogether novel incidentally, leads us to advocate in many instances a more limited role for the federal government in the governance and control of policies that impact our economy, health care and so forth.

    I think it is perfectly defensible to suggest that the Church, particularly since Vatican II, and more recently the public statements from the Holy Father, urge the laity to assume a more active role in this area. Quite frankly, I continue to be disappointed in the reluctance on the part of highly competent Catholics (including many of your readers) to engage these questions head on. This is precisely the function of the laity, whom in many cases possess a level of competence or expertise in various areas (economic policy or health care delivery for example) that may exceed even that of our priests or bishops or, most certainly, the staff of the USCCB. This is in no way intended to slight our bishops, whom we serve and obey without qualification on questions of faith and morals. But it does seem to me of utmost importance that the laity assert their role, apply their insights and expertise in light of the guidance provided by the Church, and most importantly, not be afraid to say that their judgments are informed by Catholic social doctrine and tradtion. Catholic voters in return can more responsibly rely on lay groups such as mine as a place to help formulate and articulate political positions that are shaped and guided by the insights of the Church.

    Whether Sharon Angle for example should be supported by Catholics is a highly relevant question, which we unabashedly try to answer. There are some Catholics who may disagree with our judgment, but I find it odd, if not irresponsible, to suggest that Catholic laity (or groups using the word Catholic in their name) should shun such judgments.

    Finally, I think it important to propose that Catholics begin to work to overcome the “single-issue voter” critique, as if the Catholics who follow the Church’s teaching on the life issue have nothing further to contribute to the our national political conversation. We have much we can offer, and indeed must learn to articulate the ways in which the life issue is indeed foundational, by and through, our articulation of a Catholic approach to other issues. Socialist Catholic organizations have understood this for years, and have harmed the Church because, unlike you and me, they don’t truly take seriously the non-negotiable issues to begin with.

    I have written far to much for a comment box, and I could go on much further, but perhaps I should stop now and allow the discussion to continue. Your post, and the comments by your readers are indeed helpful and thought provoking. Like most here, I hope this conversation, and any success we achieve, contributes in some small way, to the New Evangelization, of which we are all a part. Any grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, or lapses in logic can be blamed on my lack of sleep from Monday night, having attended that glorious upset of the Packers at Soldier Field. Go Bears.

    But wait, a few final remarks –

    – our questionnaire that must be completed prior to any endorsement is the most extensive questionnaire that I know of. It is not multiple choice, and requires candidates to submit lengthy answers, including an explicit question asking about their opposition to torture;

    – those that read into the placement of issues on our website as indicative of the priority we place on these issues are simply looking to cause trouble; if the work we have done, and the commentary provided by Thomas and others on our site has not made plain that we believe the issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty to be foundational, then they I can’t help them.

    – Finally, the endorsements on our site do not constitute a comprehensive list of all candidates worthy of an endorsement or Catholic attention; because this is our first public foray with our PAC, we have chosen to keep our “slate” to a limited number of candidates who qualify for our endorsement, and whose races we believe to be significant

  • “A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.”

    Words to live by Donna.

  • A fellow named Stupak showed us all not too long ago that the promises of “pro-life” Democrats are worth less than a warm bucket of spit. I’ll not let myself be suckered again.

    I know this debate dragged on for quite some time, and I do not wish to rehash it, but it is not at all apparent to me that Stupak betrayed any pro-life principles. Stupak remains a hero of mine and many other pro-life Catholics.

  • Well, IIRC, Stupak proposed an amendment that would have provided some pro-life protection in the health care bill, and voted for the package including the amendment (as did Cao). The Senate dumped the amendment, and when it came back to the house, Stupak voted for it w/o his amendment (Cao voted against after the amendment was dropped). So, who did his Father’s will?

  • For months Stupak, along with the Bishops and the vast majority of pro-life advocates, argued that the bill provided federal funding for abortion. He stated that he couldn’t support the bill unless it included language specifically excluding abortion. He said that, without such language, the bill was “unacceptable”.

    Then, when push came to shove, he voted for the very bill that he had previously said was “unacceptable” because it funded abortion. He chose voting with Pelosi over voting with the Bishops. Then, in defense of himself, and in speaking against Republican efforts to reintroduce HIS OWN Stupak Amendment, he smeared the very pro-lifers who had stood with him for months as not caring about health care for mothers and only caring about babies up until the time they are born:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2010/03/smear.html

    As if that weren’t enough, he then attacked the Bishops and other pro-lifers as “hypocrites”:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2010/03/smear-part-2-stupak-attacks-catholic.html

    I’d say that’s a fairly serious compromise of one’s pro-life principles.

    It’s funny because Rick Santorum is still raked over the coals (and rightfully so) for his far less egregious sell out of the pro-life cause in his support of Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey. It almost seems that every misstep by pro-life Republicans is magnified as a sell-out of epic proportion (and I happily join in on piling on the GOP when that happens). So why would we give more deference to a pro-life Democrat whose actions arguably will, if the Bishops prove to be correct, actually lead to more abortions via federal funding?

    I was one of Stupak’s biggest cheerleaders during the healthcare debate, and often referred to him as a “hero” myself. The fact that he is a Democrat made him even more of a hero in my book. I was even willing to support the final bill (a bill I otherwise opposed) had the Stupak language been inserted, and to encourage others to do so, just as a show of good faith that a Democrat who had up until then stood up for pro-life principles against the pro-abort Dem leadership would be rewarded for his actions.

    So I understand the desperate need to find true pro-life Democrat heros. But not at the expense of calling Stupak’s sell out exactly what it was – a betrayal of pro-life principles far more egregious and far-reaching in its consequences than most pro-life sell-outs.

  • Jay, Very true. Many pro-life activists were very excited about Bart Stupak for standing true to his principles. In fact, we at CatholicVote launched a video comparing him to Braveheart and encouraged people to Stand With Stupak (www.standwithstupak.com). The hope was that he would begin a strong and bold pro-life movement within the Democratic Party.

    Conservatives said that this was wishful thinking — that Stupak would betray the pro-life cause.

    And he did betray us. Like Jay said, he also attacked those who stood with him.

  • Nice article, Michael. To stir the pot a little, the focus on abortion and family as the greatest political issue may come into conflict with what John Paul II taught: “the one issue which most challenges our human and Christian consciences is the poverty of countless millions of men and women.”

  • “most challenges” can mean a lot of things, nate, not necessarily “this is the most important issue.” I do think the poverty around us-spiritual and material-is what spurs us into politics. What issues we address in order to cure that poverty is the question. Indeed, part of the difficulty is that in America we have artificially divided things into separate issues whereas in Catholic social teaching, as Benedict makes clear in Caritas in Veritate, all issues are part of a whole.

    This wholeness, in turn, makes voting difficult and endorsing almost impossible for Catholics in America.

  • Michael, in terms of substance, this is one of the best pieces I have read on this blog in a very long time.

  • “I was one of Stupak’s biggest cheerleaders during the healthcare debate, and often referred to him as a “hero” myself.”

    I reacted the same way Jay, a mistake I am going to do my best not to repeat.

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  • Jay,

    From this:

    He stated that he couldn’t support the bill unless it included language specifically excluding abortion. He said that, without such language, the bill was “unacceptable”.

    Then, when push came to shove, he voted for the very bill that he had previously said was “unacceptable” because it funded abortion.

    you make the following inference:

    I’d say that’s a fairly serious compromise of one’s pro-life principles.

    The inference simply does not follow. You can (rightly, I think) charge Stupak with inconsistency on the substance of the healthcare bill. But it does not follow from his inconsistency that he compromised his pro-life principles. He stated that he voted for the bill because of the Presidential Executive Order, whose content he deemed sufficient to block that content of the bill over which he objected. Now, we can debate over the efficacy and content of the PEO or whether Stupak misunderstood it, but either option would be a matter separate from the question over whether Stupak compromised his pro-life principles.

  • He stated that he voted for the bill because of the Presidential Executive Order, whose content he deemed sufficient to block that content of the bill over which he objected.

    But the statement that the executive order changed Stupak’s opinion is an obvious lie. The executive order has no effect whatsoever on the legislation; the executive order did not and could not trump the congressional legislation (as its text makes clear). I think Stupak has received more criticism than he probably deserves; I am certain his efforts did result in some marginal improvements in the ultimate shape of the legislation.

    But his performance at the end was simply a disgrace – first he bashed pro-lifers, then he lied about the significance of the executive order. There was no need for him to do this – he could have simply said – ‘look, I was bluffing to get the best pro-life deal I could in the legislation, and in the end they called my bluff’. Instead he tried to play pro-lifers for fools by claiming the executive order was significant (it wasn’t), and then kicked sand in their eyes with antagonistic comments. Certainly, he was under a lot of pressure, but let’s not pretend he behaved in an honest or praiseworthy manner. I’m discounting as unworthy of serious consideration the idea that Stupak was unaware that the executive order was meaningless – it’s possible he’s an ignoramus on matters relating to the most basic facets of his job, but I’m assuming (perhaps erroneously) that he is not.

    Lest you think I am mis-stating the significance of the order, here’s Slate and the Volokh Conspiracy puzzling over Stupak’s bizarre behavior in light of the legal effect of the order.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2248490/
    “Why did Bart Stupak hold out for a meaningless executive order?”

    http://volokh.com/2010/03/22/the-stupak-conundrum-why-did-the-stupak-nine-change-their-positions-on-the-health-care-bill-in-exchange-for-a-meaningless-executive-order/

  • I think there are two interpretations of what Stupak did.

    1) Stupak sold out. He was grandstanding to make a name for himself and to get more favor for his vote that he could trade for earmarks for his Michigan. The pro-life schtick was a sham.

    2) Stupak realized at the 11th hour that he had failed and that Obamacare would fund abortion. Hoping to at least bind the Obama administration as much as possible, he traded his vote, which he now knew was meaningless, for the EO in order to at least slow down the flow of abortion funds into the coffers until the GOP could come back and fix it.

    #1 doesn’t make much sense, because it seems to have been a gross miscalculation as everyone dislikes him now. #2 doesn’t square away with the comments he directed towards the pro-lifers who had faithfully backed him. The whole thing doesn’t quite make sense, and Stupak is still trying to argue the EO means something (he & pro-healthcare Catholics seem to be the few who think this). Until he comes clean, we can argue about it. But I think it’s possible that Stupak made a prudential error in voting for the bill in order to get the best pro-life protection he could get-which wasn’t much, if anything.

  • I just think he was sincerely pro-life and pro-health care and pro-his career. He was under a lot of pressure and made some poor choices (and voting for the bill wasn’t necessarily one of them). There is no legal basis for claiming the executive order accomplished anything. None. It’s impossible for me to believe that Stupak doesn’t know this, given that he was (theoretically) holding hostage Obama’s signature initiative for this reason. My problem is less with his actions re: voting, than how he went about it, which reflected some combination of foolishness and dishonesty, although we can disagree about how much there was of each. It’s one thing to vote for the bill. Quite another to make obviously false statements about the rationale for said vote, and attack pro-lifers in the process.

  • This:

    the statement that the executive order changed Stupak’s opinion is an obvious lie.

    Does not follow from this:

    The executive order has no effect whatsoever on the legislation; the executive order did not and could not trump the congressional legislation (as its text makes clear).

    This problematic way of drawing inferences is what I pointed out about Jay’s commment.

    There seems to me to be no grounds for the following three claims:

    1. Stupak compromised his pro-life principles (made by Jay)
    2. Stupak betrayed the pro-life cause (made by Joshua)
    3. Stupak lied (made by John)

    None of these three claims follows from the facts of the matter. Instead, each claim depends by and large on speculation about Stupak’s intentions and understanding with respect to the bill and the PEO. It may be the case that Stupak made an error of judgment about the nature and content of the PEO and its precise relation to the bill, and we could criticize him for this mistake (if he made one) and express our disappointment that he made it. But to attribute ill-will to Stupak (e.g., “he lied,” “he betrayed us”) or to claim he compromised his faith and principles is to not only go well beyond the facts we have available to us, it is to give no benefit whatsoever of the doubt to him. In that case, I question the motives behind portraying Stupak in the worst possible light (it’s hard to imagine saying anything worse about his legislative actions than that he deliberately compromised key Catholic moral principles or willingly deceived pro-lifers).

    A more charitable take on the Stupak case is that he misjudged or misunderstood what was at stake with respect to the PEO. This seems to me to be more plausible than the speculation offered in this thread.

  • A more charitable take on the Stupak case is that he misjudged or misunderstood what was at stake with respect to the PEO

    It is possible for a third way-that he understood that it was weak, but took the deal because it’s better than nothing. That doesn’t mean he betrayed his pro-life principles, but rather did what he thought best to secure the best pro-life bill he could.

    But to attribute ill-will to Stupak (e.g., “he lied,” “he betrayed us”) or to claim he compromised his faith and principles is to not only go well beyond the facts we have available to us, it is to give no benefit whatsoever of the doubt to him.

    I think his comments from the House floor really hurt a lot of his former supporters. While they could be more charitable, Stupak did also stir the fire against him and made a lot of mistakes in handling how he switched his vote so that mistrust is understandable even if not ultimately justified.

  • Stupak decided to fight the good fight, until the going got rough and then he capitulated unconditionally. Obama gave him the executive order as a figleaf, nothing more. More’s the pity if Stupak has managed to convince himself that what he did accomplished anything for the pro-life cause.

  • MJ,

    I would be willing to buy your take and to have given Stupak the benefit of the doubt had he not, after all was said and done, attacked the pro-lifers who had stood with him. Had he not called the Bishops and other pro-lifers “hypocrites” for their pointing out the worthlessness of the Executive Order.

    The evidence of Stupak’s bad faith lies not in conjecture on my part, but in his words and deeds since he switched his vote.

  • John Henry and I haven’t always agreed on everything (usually differences over form rather than substance), but I know him to be one of the more thoughtful and measured contributors here. He is not prone to harsh words about anyone, and in those very few instances where his commentary does take on an edge, it is almost never without justification.

    I also know John Henry to have once held Bart Stupak in the highest esteem.

    So, the fact that John Henry now takes this tack with regard to Stupak’s actions gives me confidence that Stupak’s critics here are not acting uncharitably or in bad faith in forming their assessments of him.

  • None of these three claims follows from the facts of the matter. Instead, each claim depends by and large on speculation about Stupak’s intentions and understanding with respect to the bill and the PEO. It may be the case that Stupak made an error of judgment about the nature and content of the PEO and its precise relation to the bill, and we could criticize him for this mistake (if he made one) and express our disappointment that he made it

    Respectfully, MJ, you seem to be ignoring the main issue and injecting doubt into the discussion about the executive order where none exists. Everyone from Ezra Klein to Slate to the conservative law profs at Volokh agree that the Executive Order carried no legal force; it did nothing to modify the law and said as much in the plain text of the Order. Stupak’s claim on that score is simply false, and your comments haven’t acknowledged that. Once we understand that his statements were clearly false, we are left with two (unflattering) conclusions:

    1) Stupak knew they were false, and was trying to save face by claiming the Executive Order had some legal force.

    2) Stupak made a deal completely misunderstanding its contents.

    As I said, I find the second explanation implausible; Stupak was holding the entire health care reform bill hostage over this issue. Either he knew or he should have known that the deal he made was meaningless. I don’t even see why 2 is really all that much more flattering than 1; is it really more flattering to portray him as an ignorant dupe than a politician caught in a tight spot who decided to lie to cover up for his reversal? Your comments suggest you think it is, but you haven’t explained why. There is no ambiguity here legally; pretending there is simply wishful thinking. As I said, Stupak has received more criticism than he deserves; that does not mean the criticisms are wholly unfounded – your comments here have been rather obtuse.

  • He is not prone to harsh words about anyone, and in those very few instances where his commentary does take on an edge, it is almost never without justification.

    I don’t really agree with this – I have wished I were more charitable towards people in comment threads (including you, as you know) many, many times – but thank you for saying it. As for Stupak, I think it was fine for him to make a prudential judgment about the health care reform bill; I just think he should have been more upfront about his reasons for doing so (or if he was being honest, he shouldn’t have agreed to a deal that he clearly didn’t understand).

A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

Tuesday, June 8, AD 2010

An inspiring scene of Ramon refusing to cater for the new super abortion mill in Houston.

To help eliminate the world’s largest abortion mill in Houston contact the following groups:

Life Advocates of Houston

Texas Right to Life

Houston Coalition for Life

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

— Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 23:34 cf.

Ora pro nobis!

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3 Responses to A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

  • Ramon, You are my hero! Thank God for a man like you who will stand up for his beliefs and who is so willing to share his heart for the unborn with others!

  • Great Ramon – you are my hero. I posted this on my blog. Ramon knows what many do not – that Planned Parenthood kills babies. They also target minorities with EUGENICS. Check out – Maafa21 for stunning documentation of this fact: http://www.maafa21.com

  • Ramon God will bless you tremendously for standing up for unborn babies and trusting in Him.

Praying the Rosary for our Priests- A Pro-Life Proposal as Well

Wednesday, May 19, AD 2010

A nice reminder of all the positives in the Catholic priesthood- why we need our priests, and why we can’t throw them under the bus when they fail our expectations. (hattip Domenico Bettinelli of BettNet blog).

I had a thought a while back- what if a large percentage of priests went over to the nearest abortion clinic, and just camped out there, praying a silent protest? If Catholics wanted Mass they would have to go to where the priests were; and if the authorities told the priests to move on, and the priests refused, then they would all go to jail, and so the laity would not have Eucharist. Forget about denying Communion to this or that politician- why shouldn’t the priests deny all of us Communion- except for those in prison- until we got serious about stopping abortion.  The priest is not ordinarily a zealot, but when a genocide of the unwanted, unborn children gets so little notice by a very distracted society- well it would seem time for Jesus’ priests to overturn some spiritual tables outside the temples worshipping the cult of consumer choice for the life or death of  innocent children.

The priest is perfectly suited for such a protest- he isn’t a businessman, he doesn’t have a wife and children depending on his securing money for the day. Yet, he is needed by every Catholic who knows his/her duty to participate in a weekly Mass- what if the priests said – “hold on a minute- you, the laity, need to fulfill some minimal requirements yourselves- you have a primary responsibility to set the temporal order straight- you can’t keep up this killing of our children on America’s Main Street- get hold of yourselves, and take care of these women and children- for God’s sake as well as your own.” The priests and bishops have had their problems- but the laity have a greater scandal to deal with- our lack of seriousness in seeing to it that all children are able to live and thrive- inside the Superpower and in all the world.

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One Response to Praying the Rosary for our Priests- A Pro-Life Proposal as Well

  • Tonight at 7, our Respect Life Group will pray a Rosary for the unborn as we do every Thursday. I appreciate being reminded to keep our priests in our prayers,too. At our very active parish, one priest has to do the job that formerly was done by two. Our Catholic priests work hard in service to God and their parishes.

    Tom Q.

Nick Vujicic: Living the Pro-life Message

Friday, May 14, AD 2010

Hattip to commenter restrainedradicalNick Vujicic is a living refutation of the pro-abort lie that some lives are not worth living.  The joy and energy with which he embraces life with what most people would view as horrifying disabilities reminds me of the behavior of my son with autism.  Life with a physical or mental disability can be very difficult.  Having seen my son deal with autism has given me some of the worst times in my life.  However, witnessing his courage,  joy and love has also provided me with the best moments in my life.  God gives us life and he gives us courage.  With those two assets it is marvelous to see what we mere mortals can accomplish in the time God allots us.

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2 Responses to Nick Vujicic: Living the Pro-life Message