Deborah Gyapong: August 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Interesting post by an MD on healthcare as a good but not a right

It’s a mistake to think of health care as a right. It is not a right; it is a good. Freedom of speech, by contrast, is a right, as is freedom of religious belief. They are privileges that inure to individuals as a consequence of the primordial right, free will. That is why we see them as inalienable. The exercise of these rights does not depend on any action of government, but rather on its inaction. Government may not legitimately interfere with their exercise, but nothing mandates that the government provide us with printing press or chapel.

Health care is different. It is more akin to the other goods which sustain life: food, clothing, and shelter. A well-ordered society exists to protect its members from the unlawful taking of life, and is structured to facilitate its members’ acquisition of these goods.

But health care differs from these other goods: First, health care is not absolutely essential for all people on a daily basis; second, there is an insufficient supply in this world to meet the demand of those who would have it. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. Hunger and famine are the result of its inadequate distribution, not its absolute dearth. There are enough garments in the world to clothe everyone, and enough roofs to protect all from the rain. Health care, in contrast, is a far scarcer resource. Descartes once remarked that common sense is the most equitably distributed attribute in the world, because we never see anybody who feels he doesn’t have enough. Health care is not like common sense. We often see people who feel they don’t have enough, or at least can’t get enough at a price they’re willing or able to pay.
Read it all at the First Things blog.

The smile of reposed---pretty amazing

The photograph of the reposed, who is smiling not only with his lips but with all the expression of his face, made a great impression on people, which we can see from the articles and comments in numerous web-sites.

One can indeed come across dead people with a glowing face, a peacful expression, but with never a smile. On the one hand all the spiritual fathers say that the time of death is horrifying for man. On the other hand we read in the book of the Sayings of the desert Fathers that even the most advanced ones , out of humility, did not let down their guard before enter eternal life, where there is no longer any danger.

In addition, Elder Joseph had a major heart problem and he was very debilitated by this illness. So how did he repose smiling?

The answer is: NO, he didn’t repose smiling, but HE SMILED AFTER HIS REPOSE.

After a conversation of us with some fathers of the monastery, we convey to you the story of the event.

The two monks that were with him until the very last moment, sprinted to the abbot, Elder Ephraim, to let him and the rest of the fathers know about the repose of Elder Joseph and the former two didn’t pay attention to the reposed, who was left with his mouth half-open.

Teddy Kennedy's letter to the Holy Father--and the response

Here is an excerpt from Senator Teddy Kennedy's letter to the Holy Father that President Obama delivered in early July to the Vatican.

"Most Holy Father I asked President Obama to personally hand deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines.

"I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life. I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family and both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provides solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith I have tried to right my path. I want you to know Your Holiness that in my nearly 50 years of elective office I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war.

"Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator. I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone. I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

___

An account from the Vatican of the pope's response, according to McCarrick:

"The Holy Father has the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness. He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of our universal church.

"His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God, our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings and trust in His promise of eternal life.

"Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The beheading of John the Baptist

I'm with Father Z who writes:

Today’s liturgy, on this feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, perhaps has something to say about what we are witnessing in another sphere.

From the Office of Readings a selection from Ven. Bede in which we read:


His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth.

I am deeply disappointed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy's efforts to undermine Reagan

Just think of the implications if Kennedy had been successful:

"On 9-10 May of this year," the May 14 memorandum explained, "Sen. Edward Kennedy's close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow." (Tunney was Kennedy's law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) "The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov."

Kennedy's message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. "The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations," the memorandum stated. "These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign."

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

First he offered to visit Moscow. "The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA." Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

Obama with powers to seize control of the Internet?

No thanks.

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

Which is to say, I don't think we should be naive about the possibilities of a cybersecurity emergency. The problem is, I fear that Obama is more worried about dissenting Americans than he is about terrorists, even cyberterrorists, from other countries.

The Catholic Women's League fights for freedom of expression

This is probably the biggest new development in the battle to retain old-fashioned civil rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in Canada in several months. I'm surprised it has received so little coverage, even on the freespeech blogosphere. Here is my story for Canadian Catholic News, published electronically by CanadianChristianity.com:


OTTAWA -- The Catholic Women's League (CWL) will ask Parliament to cut the controversial censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA).

At its annual national convention in St. John's, Newfoundland, August 8 - 12, CWL delegates from across the country voted to urge the government to rescind the CHRA's Section 13 and restrict hate speech proceedings to the Criminal Code.





Here's why this is huge. The CWL is either the largest or one of the largest women's groups in Canada, with almost 100,000 members. Though socially conservative on issues like abortion and euthanasia, they represent mainstream women voters who support the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives. Many of them tend to be highly socially conscious when it comes to looking after the poor and other vulnerable members of society. So many would not be comfortable with fiscal conservatism. In other words, they look like Canada, and represent a key demographic any political party would covet.

But of course it makes sense this group would join other groups like the Catholic Civil Rights League, because Catholic expression has been targeted by human rights commissions.

Also note in the CWL's resolution, that while they advocate the repeal of the CHRA's Section 13, the action plan includes:

  • Write letters to federal government including the prime minister, minister of justice, provincial attorneys-general, local members of parliament and provincial representatives and territorial equivalents urging urging prosecution of hate messages solely under the Criminal Code and repeal of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Good on the CWL.



More Horowitz on Alinsky's dedication of his book to Lucifer

Alinksy is their Sun-Tzu and his book Rules for Radicals is the field manual for their struggle. I thought while I’m refreshing my acquaintance with this destructive fellow and re-reading his text, I would share my thoughts with you, serially over the next week.

For this first post, let’s just focus on the dedication of the book — to Satan:

“Lest we forget, an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical:” (Pause there for second. Now continue): “from all our legends, mythology, and history(and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

So Alinsky begins by telling readers what a radical is. He is not a reformer of the system but its would-be destroyer. This is something that in my experience conservatives have a very hard time understanding. Conservatives are altogether too decent, too civilized to match up adequately, at least in the initital stages of the battle, with their adversaries. They are too prone to give them the benefit of the doubt. They assume that radicals can’t really want to destroy a society that is democratic and liberal and has brought wealth and prosperity to so many. Oh yes they can. That is in fact the essence of what it means to be a radical — to be willing to destroy the values, structures and institutions that sustain the society we live in. Marx himself famously cited Alinsky’s first rebel (using another of his names — Mephistopheles): “Everything that exists deserves to perish.”

This is why ACORN activists, for example, have such contempt for the election process, why they are so willing to commit election fraud. Because just as Lucifer didn’t believe in God’s kingdom, so the radicals who run ACORN don’t believe in the democratic system. To them it is itself a fraud — an instrument of the ruling class, or as Alinsky prefers to call it, of the Haves. If the electoral system doesn’t serve all of us, but is only an instrument of the Haves, then election fraud is justified because it is a means of creating a system that serves the Have-Nots — social justice.

David Horowitz on who's running the Obama show

Horowitz, the former red diaper baby and leftist radical, has this to say about the revelations on the Glenn Beck program this week:

Last night, with Pat Caddell as his guest, Glenn made the connection between the trillion-dollar deficits Obama is deliberately running up and the Cloward-Piven strategy devised by two Columbia radicals to bankrupt the welfare system in New York in order to create a crisis that would generate radical change.

Although the show failed to mention it, this was a strategy first identified in a book I wrote a couple of years ago with Richard Poe called The Shadow Party.

-snip-

The Shadow Party is now the party in power and running the show.

It's either that or Obama and his crew are incredibly stupid in crafting policies that are going to turn the United States into a debt-ridden third world basket case.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Fr. Sirico from The Corner

There was laughter as the elevator door slid closed. It was my turn to speak so I decided to enter the spirit of the moment.

I stood erect, place my hand on Senator Kennedy’s broad shoulder and said, “Actually, senator, this is an exorcism.”

The laughter in that elevator, which spilled out onto the train platform, was electric, causing the by-standing senators to look in our direction and wonder what in the world would have Senators Kennedy and Gramm in such uproarious laughter with a Catholic priest.

And so, I had mixed feelings on the news of Ted Kennedy’s passing. A memory of a pleasant encounter, but knowledge that despite our common baptism, Senator Kennedy and I differed in some very radical ways on issues of public policy, economics, heath care, marriage, and, most fundamentally, on matters related to life.

James Joyce once remarked that the Catholic Church was “Here comes everybody,” and while I relish the experience of being part of a Church rather than a sect, a Church in which there are a host of matters on which faithful Catholics can disagree, I also recognize that there are some defining issues from which are derived the very sense of a shared identity. From my own life and in my pastoral work, I understand that not everyone lives up to the demands of the faith all the time. Graham Greene’s famed “whiskey priest” in The Power and the Glory was the prototype of an essentially good, yet flawed man.

Yet there are some matters so grave that they go beyond mere flaws and work to diminish or
even fracture an identity. I fear that this will be part of Ted Kennedy’s legacy, notwithstanding his other personal weaknesses.

Fr. Robert Sirico on Healthcare


(The Binks over at Free Canukistan provided the link to this excellent essay by the Acton Institute's Fr. Robert Sirico:)


Now, Catholics can agree or disagree with the bishops’ advocacy for universal healthcare—that’s a question of prudence not dogma. Tellingly, Bishop Murphy’s letter did not cite Scripture, the catechism, or any papal encyclical. It was argued from a basis in policy and motivated by the bishop’s honest desire for improvement in a system where one in six patients in the United States is cared for in Catholic hospitals.

But note also what the Catholic bishops did. They issued a clear and forceful call for a reformed health policy that “protects and respects the life and dignity of all people from conception until natural death.” That non-negotiable insistence on the respect for life is, by and large, missing from the Religious Left’s campaign. What we get instead are bland assurances, parroted from White House and congressional talking point memos, that “life and dignity” would be forever safe under ObamaCare. I am not persuaded.

What else is missing from the Religious Left’s campaign? Plenty.

There is no acknowledgement that expanding federal spending by $1 trillion or more to reengineer the American healthcare system, and further burdening future generations with groaning debt loads, might be a bad thing. Or would the Religious Left simply have the government declare a Jubilee and disavow these debts when they become totally unmanageable? Is this too somewhere in Leviticus or perhaps Deuteronomy?

There is little or no recognition that other key institutions—the family, the Church, local civic associations—might also have a role to play in shaping reform. Certainly, no recognition for those civic and social groups that have a healthy distrust of an invasive state. Instead, we get the constant demand from the Religious Left that Washington must act. It is a sort of idolatry—the worship of Big Government as the solution to all of our problems.

Mr. Obama is not Lincoln with a BlackBerry--Fouad Ajami

Fouad Ajami outlines why the Obama magic has passed (my bolds):

The Obama devotees were the victims of their own belief in political magic. The devotees could not make up their minds. In a newly minted U.S. senator from Illinois, they saw the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama was tall and thin and from Illinois, and the historic campaign was launched out of Springfield. The oath of office was taken on the Lincoln Bible. Like FDR, he had a huge economic challenge, and he better get it done, repair and streamline the economy in his "first hundred days." Like JFK, he was young and stylish, with a young family.

All this hero-worship before Mr. Obama met his first test of leadership. In reality, he was who he was, a Chicago politician who had done well by his opposition to the Iraq war. He had run a skillful campaign, and had met a Clinton machine that had run out of tricks and a McCain campaign that never understood the nature of the contest of 2008.

He was no FDR, and besides the history of the depression—the real history—bears little resemblance to the received narrative of the nation instantly rescued, in the course of 100 days or 200 days, by an interventionist state. The economic distress had been so deep and relentless that FDR began his second term, in 1937, with the economy still in the grip of recession.

Nor was JFK about style. He had known military service and combat, and familial loss; he had run in 1960 as a hawk committed to the nation's victory in the Cold War. He and his rival, Richard Nixon, shared a fundamental outlook on American power and its burdens.

Now that realism about Mr. Obama has begun to sink in, these iconic figures of history had best be left alone. They can't rescue the Obama presidency. Their magic can't be his. Mr. Obama isn't Lincoln with a BlackBerry. Those great personages are made by history, in the course of history, and not by the spinners or the smitten talking heads.

The Hugo Chavez approach to press freedom

The man Obama has appointed as his diversity officer for the FCC thinks Hugo Chavez has the right attitude towards freedom of the press. Check out this stunning clip played on the Glenn Beck program last night.

I tell ya, this guy makes Barbara Hall and Jennifer Lynch look like moderates.

Those people with property have to be dispossessed by the government of the people, which will control all information for the sake of the people.

Deliberate misreporting or do they miss the gorilla?

The Torch laments western journalists' propensity to propagate Taliban propaganda:

I'm tired of our journalists willfully ignoring the fact that they're not just observing the war, they're affecting it with their reporting. I'm bone-tired of them refusing to take steps to ensure their powerful voice isn't used against the very system of government that allows them such unfettered speech in the first place.


Amen to that!

But is their bias against western civilization keeping them from seeing the gorilla? Check out this interesting tidbit from the ridiculous Richard Dawkins' latest book. Mike Potemra writes over at The Corner:

I was just reading Richard Dawkins’s forthcoming book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution and found something quite inspiring. Dawkins describes an experiment conducted by Professor Daniel J. Simons at the University of Illinois:

Half a dozen young people standing in a circle were filmed for 25 seconds tossing a pair of basketballs to each other. . . . Before being shown the film, we are told that we have a task to perform, to test our powers of observation. We have to count the total number of times balls are passed from person to person. . . . After showing the film and collecting the counts, the experimenter drops his bombshell. “And how many of you saw the gorilla?" The majority of the audience looks baffled: blank. The experimenter then replays the film, but this time tells the audience to watch in a relaxed fashion without trying to count anything. Amazingly, nine seconds into the film a man in a gorilla suit strolls nonchalantly to the centre of the circle of players, pauses to face the camera, thumps his chest . . . and then strolls off. . . . He is there in full view for nine whole seconds – more than one third of the film — and yet the majority of the witnesses never see him.

There is an important epistemological point to be made here, to the effect that crude empiricism can, by limiting the questions we ask, dull our overall intellectual perceptiveness. (This is not, of course, the immediate lesson Dawkins draws.)


Of course Dawkins wouldn't see God in the universe, eh?

But back to the journalists, in a postmodern world where there is no objective truth, where one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and evil is only subjective, of course there is no impetus to get beyond the lies, as long as they tend to support your anti-western bias.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The plight of the Jews as enlightened opinion turns against them

David B. Goldman aka "Spengler" writes:

Jews have been prominent in the project of enlightened opinion, which now has turned upon them and demanded sacrifices that they cannot accept–apart from the extreme secular left of American Jewry. That is tearing the Jewish organizations apart, and possibly many congregations.

In their wisdom and courage, the leaders of the Jewish community sat in council together — and courageously chided the Catholic Church for hoping that we accept Jesus Christ as our savior in the End Times. Excuse me: they wouldn’t be Catholics if they didn’t want everyone to accept Jesus Christ as savior. That’s what the “catholic” in “Catholic Church” means.

Soviet-style human rights promoted by American Secretary of State (???)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Eliott Abrams sums up the difference between Soviet style human rights and the old-fashioned American kind that is being thrown under the bus by leftists (my bolds).

At the height of the Cold War, when Ronald Reagan was president, the Soviets and their allies and satellites did not shirk human-rights debates with the West. They had their arguments ready. When American officials denounced the lack of freedom of speech or press or religion, or the absence of free elections, they did not whimper. Their replies went something like this: “It’s important to look at human rights more broadly than it has been defined. Human rights are also the right to a good job and shelter over your head and a chance to send your kids to school and get health care when your wife is pregnant. It’s a much broader agenda. Too often it has gotten narrowed to our detriment.”

No one would be surprised to hear that such words were spoken by Mikhail Suslov, the long-time ideological chief of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, or by Khrushchev or Brezhnev, or by Castro or Ceaucescu, or by any other chieftain from the “socialist countries.” But that quote actually comes from Secretary of State Clinton, in an interview this month with the Wall Street Journal. It is an astonishing revival of the old Soviet line, now taken up by an American official.

Hmmmm. Sounds like the Marxist strains emanating from the 'human rights' industry here in Canada. And of course, one does want to see a fair and just society. Just is that without the real human rights of freedom, the other kinds of "rights" don't happen either, unless everyone being equally poor (except the thugs in command) is what you're looking for. Abrams writes:

The “socialist camp” did a wretched job of providing “social goods” such as jobs and housing and medical care. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the poor living conditions in the East became even more evident, and the Russian situation remains catastrophic to this day.

But of course we did not take their argument on its own terms. We told the Communist officials that those arguments were offensive and baseless. No country is too poor to be free, as India was proving even back then, but many are too poor to provide adequate jobs, housing, hospitals, and the like. The purpose of extending the definition of human rights beyond the essential political rights was clear: It was the basis for two theories they liked to propound solemnly. The first was that the countries in question would perhaps someday develop all the human rights, from jobs to schools to freedom of speech to free elections, but this would take a very long time as they were poor, developing countries. The second was that the really important human rights were not the freedoms the West kept talking about, but the “social rights” guaranteed (well, on paper anyway) in the Socialist Bloc. So, they would say, you have your definition and we have ours; who’s to say who is right?
Sickening.

The Left is a shadow of its former self

Was I duped when I was on the left and believed that I was fighting to overcome racism so that everyone man or woman could be judged by the content of their characters? Was I duped when I was a feminist who wanted women to be treated equally by prospective employers?

I still believe that people should not be judged by the color of their skin or their sex. I don't believe that sex is merely a social construct, however, and that the sexes are interchangeable or that the state has to enter into complex social engineering to equalize differences in interests and abilities.

It's disgusting to me that the new left is siding with Islamic extremists. I am not anti Muslim. In Europe the women's shelters are filled with Muslim women fleeing physical abuse. Who is speaking up for them? The victims of Islamist extremists are mostly Muslim. Who speaks for them?

Where was the left in defending Rifqa Barry, a teenaged Christian convert who begged the courts not to return her to her parents because she feared they would have her killed for leaving the Muslim faith. Is it because she is a Christian now and therefore not worthy of consideration?

Robert Spencer says:

Daily Kos sides with Islamic supremacists who want to extinguish free speech and oppress women and non-Muslims

He could also have added supremacists who want to oppress Muslims who do not follow to a "t" their particular utopian ideology.

The old left used to fight for free speech, but then it was fighting for obscenity and the f-word.
Now the new left is opposed to free speech unless it targets and defames Jews and Christians.

And the men on the left? I have never seen such a misogynist bunch in my life.

Update: Gay and Right links to a story about the Hamas bombardment of a Mosque in Gaza that killed 22 Palestinians, including a 12-year old girl, and injured 1oo more. One does not have to look far to find evidence of Muslim oppression by extremists.

On sexual guilt and Irish Catholics

Funny and most interesting piece by John Zmirak over at Inside Catholic. (h/t The Corner). He writes:

I can't speak for everyone with an Irish-American mom -- not that they're used to getting a word in edgewise -- but I really did grow up thinking that sexual sins weren't merely the worst forms of evil but, aside from foul language, the only ones. I'll never forget my mother sitting with her box of Entenmann's, happily munching away to a video of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 as some psychopath opened a teenager's head with a coroner's saw. When the dying teenager spluttered the F-bomb, mom sighed and wondered aloud, "Now why'd they have to ruin a perfectly nice movie with that kind of filth?" This incident made me wonder how many IRA terrorists walked away from their bombs with clear consciences -- then trooped off to confession for impure thoughts.
He also includes some interesting thoughts about married vs. celibate priests.

We have married priests in the Anglican Catholic Church. We even have married bishops.

But covering the Roman Catholic Church has given me an appreciation for the charism of priestly celibacy. It is a beautiful thing when an obviously heterosexual man gives up the good of marriage and a family to marry the Church, especially when he can express love in a fatherly, chaste way, comfortable in his skin and not all dried up through self-mortification.

He adds:

What makes me squirm in my seat is when Catholic writers try to compensate for sexual attitudes like . . . well, those I grew up with by laying really heavy emphasis on the theological realities of marriage -- more emphasis than ordinary human experience will bear. It may well be true, as one Theology of the Body writer likes to emphasize, that in some sense marital intercourse helps both partners to enter into the "inner life of the Holy Trinity." But is that kind of thinking . . . sexy? I'm single, so readers can correct me here, but the last thing I want to hear about on my wedding night is Trinitarian theology. If the Sorrowful Mysteries make lousy foreplay -- sorry, Mom -- the Joyful ones won't do much better.

I dunno. I wish there could be a happy medium found somehow between those who think that suddenly upon marriage "anything goes" on the marriage bed and taking theological thinking to such extremes that the mundane reality of marital life is a shock.

Maybe if we think of human dignity and not reducing our partner (or anyone else) to an object might be a better starting point than lofty thinking about the Trinity. Because thinking about God isn't the same has knowing Him.

The restraint (but not the killing) of Eros, so that it is not allowed to become use of another person, can then become a ladder to the self-sacrificing love of Christ. And lo and behold, there you are experiencing a taste of the love inside the Trinity, and that taste will make you endeavor all the more to be pure at heart.

I imagine just being in the presence of John Paul II awakened people to that love. You can philosophize and theologize all you want, but it is the experience of the love of God that makes all the difference.

Thus, I'm uncomfortable with all sorts of rules and regulations about what you can and can't do. But I think you will find that if you experience the love of God and you begin to try to love as He loves there are a whole range of things you will find objectify or use other people and you will try not to do them.


The Anchoress on Edward Kennedy

The Anchoress offers some predictions and reflections on how the death of Edward Kennedy will play out in the coming days and how his battle with brain cancer will affect the health care debate. She also links to a great essay by C.S. Lewis on Purgatory.

But Kennedy’s death -outside of the coastal enclaves- will not have the drama and sentimental heft some might expect. Given a grim diagnosis in May of 2008, Kennedy managed, with the help of some of the best care available, to see another Christmas, another spring and even another summer. It’s entirely possible that what Kennedy’s death will really do is bring into stark relief the fact that under Obamacare, this overweight 77 year-old man with liking for the drink would probably have faced treatment rationing and an offer for “physician aid-in-dying”. Kennedy’s death will emphasize yet again that our elected “public servants” enjoy one of the best health insurance plans in the world, while they are trying to force something much less comprehensive (and life-affirming) onto their constituents.

I expect, though, that beyond health care, and beyond the inevitable hagiography and histrionics in the press (and the competition between the Clintons and the Obamas as to who can best-use this moment) Ted Kennedy’s death will do what every Kennedy death does: shine a spotlight on Catholicism, its rituals and rites and rubrics. There will be lots of people -both Catholic and non-Catholic- who will declare themselves “shocked and scandalized” that Kennedy would be given a Mass of Christian Burial. Some will declare that he should have been “thrown out of the church” a long time ago; others will insist that his Funeral Mass brings shame to us.

Some will focus on his personal sins -the assumed repentance or lack of same (of which they will likely have no real knowledge, just hunches) and some will presume to know the state of his soul, but those will be the inveterates, working from long-habit. Most Christians will, I think, understand that “the favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies not over and done” and will simply pray in hopes that Kennedy had made a contrite and humble confession of his failings and sins.

Others, of course, will suggest that Kennedy’s pro-abortion positions, in and of themselves, should damn him forever in the eyes of God.

Thankfully, God knows more, and sees more, than the rest of us, because eventually we’ll all need to count on his mercy, as we face his justice. For all that we know of Kennedy, there is much we do not know. A family member who works with the very poor once told me that when he was in a real fix and unable to find help for, for instance, a sick child in need of surgery, a phone call to Kennedy’s office would set the “Irish Mafia” of professional people -doctors, lawyers, pilots and such- into brisk motion. I think an examination of the life of every “great” person (and I mean “great” in terms of power and influence) will expose deep flaws and surprising episodes of generosity.

As I wrote here, “the quiet altruism of a public man is always overshadowed by the noise of his sins,” and, “Is it arrogance and entitlement that keeps a public man of public failings turning, and turning again, to the Mass, the sacraments, and the tribe, or is it a kind of humility, a declaration of need that supersedes riches and power and all the consolations of the world?”

The Journey of a Bishop


One of my daily stops in the blogosphere is Archbishop Terry Prendergast's The Journey of a Bishop blog. Here's a link to a little story I wrote about the blogging bishop published by the Western Catholic Reporter. An excerpt:

Prendergast began his blog last April. He had been talking about setting up a blog with his youth director Ted Hurley.

"He said, 'I've set up a site for you," Prendergast said. "Would you like to try it?' So I said, Okay."

But the blog sat there for a couple of weeks until Good Friday. Since then, he's posted virtually every day on an eclectic range of subjects.

Hurley said he chose Blogspot as a blogging platform because it's user friendly and not very technical. How has the archbishop taken to blogging? "Sort of like a fish in water," Hurley said. "He loves sharing the journey that he's on."

For a few weeks, the blog contained text only, but the archbishop has since been displaying not only his own digital photos, but also pictures of great religious art and icons to match his various subjects. He has included travel photos and observations, such as his trip to France in July to ordain some priests at a Trappist monastery there.

The blog also provides a snapshot of a busy but joyous life among the faithful in the diocese, with many photos of the archbishop among his flock at various parishes throughout the large, bilingual diocese.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Joe Eszterhas amazing conversion story

LifeSiteNews.com reports:

Eszterhas has been one of Hollywood's most influential screenwriters, writing lucrative blockbuster films, such as Flashdance, Jagged Edge, and Basic Instinct, and raking in million-dollar paychecks. Known for living the full 'Hollywood lifestyle', Eszterhas gave it up to move home to Ohio with his wife and children in the late 1990s.

In 2001, faced with throat cancer resulting from his smoking and alcohol addictions, which threatened to kill him, Eszterhas turned to God in desperation.

"Seven years ago, I sat down on a curb near my home, sobbing, and asked God to help me," he writes in a September 2008 Washington Post article. "I cried and begged God to help me ... and He did. I hadn't prayed since I was a boy. I had made fun of God and those who loved God in my writings. And now, through my sobs, I heard myself asking God to help me ... and from the moment I asked, He did."

God, he says, cured him of his disease, but, more than that, He gave him the strength to turn away from his worldly life and back to the Catholic faith. "Not only did He give me the strength to be able to defeat my addictions," he wrote, "He saved my life. My throat surgeon ... told me seven years after the surgery that I am 'cured.' Not that I am in remission, but that I am cured. ... My life has turned inside-out. I have stopped my excesses and replaced them with prayer and long walks. I am carrying the cross as often as they'll let me at Holy Angels Church in Bainbridge Township, Ohio. And I have written a book as a thank-you to God. Not just for saving my life, but for saving me."

Eszterhas shares his story of conversion in his 2008 book, Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith.

This summer it was revealed that Eszterhas will be writing the screenplay for a new movie about Our Lady of Guadalupe. He is calling it a "labor of love," and has indicated that he had been "hoping for some time to write a film that is both entertaining and inspiring."

Victor Davis Hanson on Afghanistan

I'd love to meet this guy some time. He's one of my favorite columnists. He writes (my bolds):

3) Obama and the Democrats may have not grasped that security and consensual government in Afghanistan were always the tougher propositions—a country landlocked, with harsh weather, difficult terrain, an illiterate populace, and poor, nuclear Pakistan next door; while Iraq was always the more viable—ports, oil, vital location, easy terrain and access, greater numbers of secular and literate citizenry;

4) Yes, Afghanistan was directly linked to 9/11. But if the ‘war on terror’ was really about radical Islam and its nexus with sponsoring Middle East tyrants and autocracies, then the removal of Saddam would cause in its own right positive ripples in a rather wider region. Iran, for example, was not perennially “empowered” by our removal of Saddam, as the conventional wisdom insisted the last six years. In fact, Ahmadinejad may be now threatened by the idea of a Shiite-majority democracy nearby, one that conducts itself in a fashion that is ipso facto destabilizing to its nearby theocratic cousin and its millions of the unhappy. Iranian popular angst increased after the fostering of Iraqi democracy.

Bottom line? Obama—rightfully so—committed himself to winning a good war in Afghanistan, and now he must accomplish what was a far more challenging proposition than he ever imagined. His doom-and-gloom assertions about Iraq proved wrong, and now in turn he must oversee what may well turn out to be a George Bush-inspired successful constitutional government in the heart of the ancient caliphate.

It is true that the liberal media will give Obama far more leeway (note how violence in Afghanistan and Iraq are not so much on the front pages as in the Bush years; and note how Hollywood will produce no more movies like Rendition or Valley of Elah about an unpopular war). In addition, the anti-war left—for now—will go easier on kindred Commander-in-Chief Obama. The Democrats in Congress, of course, will become suddenly be pro-war in Afghanistan as they were once anti-Bush on Iraq. But all that said, again, Afghanistan won’t be easy. Security and a stable Afghan consensual government will mean Obama cannot vote present. As the casualties mount, so will the left-wing base agitate to galvanize public opinion against the war—and the media will make the necessary adjustments.

How refreshing to hear a sane, knowledgeable voice speaking out against the "conventional wisdom." In Canada there is little else than the "conventional wisdom," alas.

"Wafergate" resurrects in the Catholic Register

Michael Higgins has an interesting essay on the so-called "wafergate" scandal over at the Catholic Register. He writes:

Some politicos see the event as a carefully managed strategy to nationally embarrass Harper. You plant a complaint, in part based on speculation coupled with a perceived canonical breach, whip up the outrage and pain, maximize the damage and then retreat into the corridors and enjoy the mayhem.

Others attribute the whole mess to an overly hospitable archbishop who threw caution to the winds and approached the Prime Minister and gave him communion himself, thereby compounding Harper’s discomfiture.

Protocol officers, prime ministerial staff and a handsome complement of Catholic politicians have all been hauled before the court of public opinion and remonstrated for not having done their respective duty.

We are left with the lingering question why in a country like Canada, where religion has been largely excluded from the political realm, and where the politicizing of a religious ceremony is unheard of, the nation could find itself mired in weeks of controversy over the prime minister’s receiving communion.

In the end it is about more than misplaced zeal on the part of the presiding prelate, unfamiliarity with Catholic liturgical rubrics and a dull news day in the St. John River Valley. It is about the ethics of journalism, of news manipulation, of a nasty interface of religion and politics.


Read the whole thing and see where Higgins thinks the real scandal lies. He has a point.

It will be interesting to see if this story grows legs again for any reason down the road.

I think there are a lot of questions left unanswered. One question is who posted the YouTube videos under the name Catholicregister? The Catholic Register, of course, had nothing to do with it and asked to have them taken down. One was in Italian, no less. (Couldn't find that one in a cursory search.)

Make sure you read the SoCon's forensic analysis of the original Telegraph Journal story.

Dorothy Cummings McLean on the Peterborough religious freedom case

At the Catholic Register, she writes:

“How are you?” she demanded. “What have you been doing?”

“Great,” I said. “I’ve been doing married lady stuff. Shopping for food and cooking and washing the dishes and doing the laundry. I write a lot. And, of course, I am totally obsessed with the Corcoran scandal.”

“What’s that?” she said, and I felt annoyed that my friends don’t all read The Catholic Register, eager for the latest column by their absent pal.

“The Corcoran scandal,” I began. “Oh dear. Mark has stuck his fingers in his ears. I’ve talked too much about it. Night and day, Corcoran, Corcoran!”

“What happened?” asked my uninformed friend.

“It’s all very sad,” I said. “I’m not sure which is sadder: that you can be sued for writing to your bishop or that some unelected government official might force that bishop to give a homily.”

“What?” asked my friend. “How can you force a bishop to give a homily? Hello! Freedom of religion?”


Read it all. Sigh.

Bill Whittle exposes the Frankfort school's influence

Bill Whittle has an excellent video here about the roots of the prevailing narratives concerning race, sex, gender, and every other critique of western civilization's "dead white men" in Marxism.

You must watch this.

Proof that free speech that hurts Jews (or Christians) is a-okay

Fred over at Gay and Right has been posting a disturbing litany of reports of rising antisemitism in Europe, including the revival of a new blood libel variation that is now resulting in acts of intimidation against Jews.

The story in question involves a Swedish newspaper reporting on an unsubstantiated (and frankly unlikely) story that Israeli Defence Forces had harvested organs from a Palestinian youth. This, of course, is a variation on the antisemitic blood libel of the Middle Ages that Jews used the blood of Christian children in their Matzohs, vile lies that have instigated violent pogroms in the past, and seem to be preparing for the same thing now.

It's rather sad that there seems to be only one religion that is protected from even truthful criticism or the most gentle parody but Jews and Christians are fair game, even if the stories are based on outright lies and could lead to violence against them. Hey, anyone remember the fake Newsweek story about a desecrated Koran that ended in violent attacks and about 16 Muslim deaths and 100 injuries? Of course no desecration ever happened.

Libels about Koran desecration have also led to pogroms against Christians in Nigeria.

Now on one hand, I'm not all that crazy about the Israeli government pressuring the Swedish government to censure the newspaper. I wish the journalists themselves exercised some restraint on what might perhaps be an anti-Israel bias and an unwillingness to get all sides of a story.

But on the other, I'm disgusted by a massive double-standard that shows all kinds of regard and tiptoeing around and concern about the safety of certain enumerated victims groups in censorship regimes like human rights laws but none whatsoever against other groups that are actually experiencing targeting and violence.

Or if they are experiencing violence, the wrong people are suppressed as perpetrators. Some examples. There has been a rise of gay bashing in Europe. You only need to check Fred's site regularly to find horrific examples. I mean the real thing, the kind of bashing that sends people to the hospital. But if it's not a bunch of Christians doing it, or conservative Jews as in this bizarre case out of Israel, or neo-Nazis (they are rightfully targeted as they are thugs) then not only do the real perps seem to get a pass, but also there is also a cone of silence that descends on this gay bashing as if it never happened. The people who want to suppress Christian expression or blame it for "intolerance" of the gay lifestyle are suddenly nowhere to be found.

So what gives? There's a bit of freedom of speech for me but not for thee, here. There is also a callous disregard for consequences of untruthful reporting and its impact on vulnerable peoples around the world. Remember, a desecration story in one country could mean deaths to Christians in a totally different part of the world, as pretexts for violence are often razor thin.

But why the sudden over-concern for the impact of truthful reporting about extremist Islamist groups? How much of it is genuine concern for the dangers of Muslim-bashing? (And believe me, I think we do need to be responsible in truthful reporting to not create a backlash--against any group and for me that definitely includes Muslims.)

Part of the hyperconcern is fear. Fear of thuggery. Fear of retaliation. Christians, Jews and gays are unlikely to retaliate---though of course there are thugs in every group. But the proportions are pretty miniscule.

I am against thuggery. Thugs must be stood up to and resisted. They must be prevented from carrying out attacks on people. Period. I don't care if you are a thug from the left or the right, from my faith or others.

But as Jamie Glazov so brilliantly points out in his latest book United in Hate: the Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror, some of it could be an unconscious identification on the part of some utopian leftists with the cleansing murder and destruction they think is necessary to bring their new pure, idealized world into being. You know, the omelet than can only be made with broken eggs. Glazov shows how the praise and identification for the greatest mass murderers in history was greatest when they were in the midst of their killing sprees. He documents his case really well.

A book club's take on The Defilers



Last night, a book club invited me to come discuss my novel The Defilers with them.

It was great to get back into the story and answer questions about how characters developed, why I chose the subject matter, and what the writing to publishing process involved.

And it was good to hear the varied responses to the novel.

I'd say for the most part it seemed to get favorable ratings. Many said they had trouble putting it down, even though some found it scary and not something to read at night, especially alone in the house or cottage!

One gal even had a horrific nightmare that sounded like a bit of demonic oppression that she thinks was triggered by the story.

I had not intended the novel to be scary but suspenseful. But spiritual warfare--the subject matter of the novel--can be frightening, especially to those who are spiritually sensitive.

Some did not like the title and others told me they would not have read the book had they not been assigned it by the book club. One woman told me she hated the book for the first half. Hated the characters, the community, everything. Had it not been assigned to the book club she would have put it aside. But then she warmed to the story and by the end, she was glad she had persisted to finish it and saw how "well-constructed" it was.

They found the subject matter intense and in some cases troubling, the characters well-rounded and believable and I think they appreciated the Nova Scotia setting.

One really good thing to come out of last night's meeting was this: they want to know about the other Canadian Christian writers out there writing great mysteries and contemporary fiction.

I will be most happy to tell them about Keith Clemons, Linda Hall, N.J. Lindquist, and so many more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reading Love Alone is Credible

I am struggling with a dense little book by Hans Urs von Balthasar called Love Alone is Credible.

While toodling around the 'net for some helpful essays about the book I found this by Fr. John R. Cihak:

Balthasar argues that the beautiful is the first point of insight by which one perceives God’s revelation. God’s appearance in the world is analogous to the aesthetical encounter. Analogy is the only possible means whereby man may speak about God without depriving him of his absolute mystery, or the believer the possibility of articulating an explanation of divine revelation. Analogy neither distances nor compromises God’s absolute transcendence and love. What corresponds to "beauty" on the natural plane is the Lord’s "glory" on the divine plane.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have revealed themselves as one God in order to liberate man and bring him to live within the divine life of the Trinity. Man could never anticipate God’s astounding initiative in reaching out to save him.

The Form of the Cross

The pinnacle of this revelation, which Balthasar calls the "Christform", is Jesus nailed to the Cross. One may object, "How can the crucifixion of Jesus be the preeminent revelation of Beauty?" In the ugliest place of human existence (crucifixion and death) God reveals himself as absolute, total self-giving love. The Trinity is self-giving love. Being disguised under the disfigurement of an ugly crucifixion and death, the Christform is paradoxically the clearest revelation of who God is. This love can only be fully revealed in a world corrupted by sin through death, the ultimate expression of self-giving in this world.

And so this is the supreme moment of transcending beauty, a revelation of love visible in the world, yet pointing to a love beyond this world. As St. John so profoundly grasps in his Gospel, the concealment of the Son under the form of the Cross is his glory because it reveals a love to the absolute end. The glory of the Son does not come after the Cross. The Cross is his glory. Even in this ultimate form of beauty in self-giving love, God does not overwhelm human freedom. No one is forced to believe that this crucified man is the divine Son of God saving the world.

As in the aesthetical encounter, the form is Jesus nailed to the Cross. One must decipher the Christform which stands in history as a concrete sign (species). Anyone can stand before it and wonder, "Who is this?" God has disturbed history forever with his provocative sign of love. The perception of faith, however, is beyond the ability of man alone. What is required is a new light. Without this light man cannot see the depths of the form. In other words, the non-believer looks at the Cross and says, "I see just a man." God must awaken in man the capacity to recognize him.

Cool, eh? The book is definitely worth struggling with. Some amazing stuff. Cihak continues:

A consequence of Balthasar’s insight is that the divine love revealed on the Cross is meant to transform not just the non-believer but the apologist as well. He must also be marked by the Christform. As a believer, the apologist has been pulled by divine grace into the encounter of the form of Christ, and so his life must then take on the contours of the form. In this world, divine love is revealed in the suffering and death of the Son. For this reason the apologist can win a person to Christ and his Church only if he first loves that person and is willing to suffer, and even die, for him. The beauty of the apologist’s life will draw one to perceive God’s revelation.

Not only should parish churches be places of beauty and the celebration of Mass be beautiful and passionate, but most of all, the lives of believers must be beautiful. A believer’s life must radiate the beauty of divine love. The work of apologetics goes beyond winning arguments to being grasped by the Christform: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).


I'm most interested in apologetics. But I'm much more interested in being a love letter from God and Christ's ambassador because He lives in me. So this is real, practical apologetics.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ed Anger LOL

The world's angriest columnist writes:

I’m madder than a three-legged dog at a fire hydrant!

All through that damn election, they told us Obama was the greatest speaker since Martin Luther King. But yesterday he sounded more like Mr. Rogers!

Yesterday, the Teleprompter Kid was trying to explain why his whole Death Panel Medicine Plan was going down the toilet. He said:

“There is something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee weed up!”

I guess that’s how they teach you to talk at those fancy colleges up north!

Here’s some other stuff Obama said yesterday that didn’t get reported:

“I’ve got a boo-boo!”

“My poll numbers went plop plop!”

“I go sleepy-bye-bye now!”

Now the big mystery is this. Was Obama referring to wee wee as in poo poo? The kind of language that one uses with a toddler being potty-trained?

Or was he being so hip that most of us couldn't get it because we aren't in on it.

Ottawa bloggers meet for rousing conversation


And, as the "bush notes" often said, "a good time was had by all."

The "bush notes" were the pejorative term my first journalism mentor had for the usually hand-written notes mailed in from remote parts of the county about baby showers, church social or community club lunches (in Nova Scotia served with sandwich quarters and tea in the evening).

Lots of divergent opinion around the table, so a lively discussion ranging from Obama's presidency, the possibilities of a fall election, and the need for social conservatives and libertarians to recognize their common ground.

Starting from left to right, myself, Andrew (who is not a blogger), Shameer (who used to be a blogger), Vlad Tepes, Phantom Observer, Officially Screwed, Gay and Right and Derek Fildebrand.

Fred of Gay and Right is promoting the upcoming Ottawa visit of author Bruce Bawer whose latest book is Surrender, Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom. It will happen on Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at the National Archives/Library of Canada. It's being sponsored by the Free Thinking Film Society that Fred founded.

Bawer is raising concerns that all people of good will who care about our fundamental freedoms need to pay attention to about how multicultural, diverse Europe is changing from being the tolerant place it once was.

Of special concern is the rise in physicial assaults against gay couples in such bastions of toleration as Oslo and Amsterdam. I think this is terrible.

I'm a social conservative, but I also believe in live and let live and I also believe that gays can sometimes be like Jews, the canaries in the mine that alert us to rising totalitarianism that will eventually also attack or is already attacking Christians.

I may disagree with gay marriage on principle for a number of reasons, but I believe that gays should have every right to live their lives freely without being violently targeted, hounded out of their livelihoods or places to live and I hope every Christian reading this blog stands with me on that.

UPDATE: Welcome Gay and Right readers. I also added some more hyperlinks.

Physician now congressman offers critique

Here's a good antidote to the meme that Republicans are only the party of "no" and have offered no considered suggestions for healthcare reform. Republican Congressman Rep. Tom Price, a practicing physician for 20 years, has this to say:

“The status quo in American health care is clearly unacceptable. Rising costs, shrinking access, and third-party decision making are driving patients away from their doctors and the desired care that they seek. The challenge, however, is providing Americans more accessible and affordable care without impairing the quality, innovation, and choices that define American medicine. And this is simply impossible with the one-size-fits-all approach taken by the President and Democrats in charge of Congress.

“Experience tells me that as a doctor, no two patients are exactly alike. While the same diagnosis can be reached for two people, the proper treatment for each may be completely different, based on a countless number of factors that only a patient, their family, and a caring and compassionate physician truly understand. Having navigated federal health care programs for two decades, I can tell you that Washington is incapable of processing the personal and unique circumstances that patients and doctors face each and every day. That is why a positive solution will put power in the hands of patients, not insurance companies or the government.

Let's hear more about the patient-centered way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I like Sarah Palin

But this makes me uncomfortable:



The Obamessiah stuff was creepy and frankly, I find this a little creepy too. Sarah Palin is not the woman clothed with the sun straight out of the Book of Revelation, 'k?

When are we going to stop putting people on pedestals and expecting some savior or superwoman to restore heaven on earth?

I like Palin's seeming moral clarity on the dignity of human life. I think she connects well with ordinary folks and I love her compassion for children with special needs and their families. But she isn't perfect and we have to stop expecting our politicians to be so.

Quebec's abortion clinics---is it okay to be substandard?

Andrea Mrozek and Rebecca Walberg have a blistering op ed in today's National Post. I hope it gets widely read as it deserves.

What appalls me is the original consciousness-raising that led to the feminist movement of the 1970s is vast disappearing into what strikes me as an anti-woman, downright misogynist disregard for our lives. You can hear it in the rap lyrics, see it on various progressive blogs (the ubiquitous c-word) and see it in public policy that ignores the health ramifications of abortion and is even willing to forego health standards for every other body part but female reproductive organs (or subsequent mental health).

Here's an excerpt from Mrozek and Walberg's essay. Please blog this, forward it, Facebook it. Get the word out:

Bill 34 in Quebec was an attempt to legislate the same standards for all out-patient medical clinics. The bill, it's worth noting, never mentioned abortion, but that didn't stop abortion activists from shifting into high-gear apoplexy. Those who purportedly stand for women's rights jumped to demand lower standards for their exclusively female patients. And on Aug. 17, they won. Quebec's beleaguered Health Minister Yves Bolduc retreated, and will now wait for the Quebec College of Physicians to create new guidelines.

Read more »

Predictions on the effects of same-sex 'marriage'

Maggie Gallagher has developed a list of predictions should the United States as a whole or more individual states recognize SSM.

Her list of five is here over at The Corner on National Review online, with sixth here.

I just sent a letter to the Corner editor with the following additions:

I'd like to add a seventh prediction on SSM to Maggie Gallagher's excellent list:

Court challenges to laws against polygamy (on religious freedom grounds) will arise, leaving open the redefinition of marriage from two persons to any number of persons. Before that happens, de facto polygamy will also increase, affecting immigration and welfare rolls, because authorities fear challenging it on religious freedom or politically correct moral relativism grounds.

Why do I say this? Because I live in Canada where SSM is the law. During the 2005 debate prior to marriage redefinition, those who warned polygamy would be next were called extremists and scare-mongers. But over the past year, there have been many signs that polygamy is on our horizon.

The problem with removing the biological basis for marriage, i.e. having a mother and a father with children biologically related to them (and having exceptions like adoption clearly as exceptions to the norm) is that parenthood has been made a legal construct by the state. What the state used to recognize --the natural family (which existed prior to the state) the state has now redefined, removing from all legislation any references to mother or father and replacing it with "legal parent" or something similar. So, what was a concrete social reality and a social institution best designed for the rearing of children by parents biologically related to them, has been replaced with an abstraction where suddenly the "between two people" loses its meaning. Why then should marriage be restricted to two "legal parents"?

We have an Ontario court case that recognized three legal parents---the "married" lesbian couple that are raising a child and the sperm donor father. If three legal parents, why not more? We have welfare agencies recognizing de facto the multiple wives of immigrant families, supporting the wives in separate households. We had British Columbia afraid for years to file charges against a breakaway Morman sect openly practicing polygamy because of fears of such charges would not stand up against a religious freedom challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Though charges have since been filed, defense lawyers have waved the religious freedom argument.

Thus, a concrete reality ---the biological family---can no longer be used to reinforce traditional marriage and an abstraction involving two people is vulnerable to the politically correct moral relativism that sees all religions as equally irrational and equally worthy of respect. Except of course our Judeo-Christian religious foundations for the temerity of challenging that relativism. Gallagher is absolutely right: redefining marriage does become a way for anti-western activists to use the levers of state power (human rights commissions up here in Canada) to shut down Christian expression (or at least subject Catholic bishops, and Catholic magazines for example) to a lengthy and expensive process where truth is no defence, nor is religious freedom, only the perceived impact on an alleged victim group.

I would add an eighth prediction: SSM and its abolition of the biological basis of the family opens the door to soft totalitariasm. This has been the thesis of McGill University professor Douglas Farrow in his excellent essays in his beautifully written Nation of Bastards. The biological family (and the church) are the chief bulwarks (along with other civil society groups) against untrammeled state power, he argues. The change in the law makes us all, in effect, wards of the state, hence the provocative title.

All the the rights that biological families have had to raise their children in their religious faith and to have the primary responsibility for their children's education are being challenged with ever-increasing state encroachment in Canada. In Quebec, for example, a religion and ethics course that takes a relativist, "all religions are equal" approach is mandatory even in private Catholic schools.

There needs to be another way to guarantee that gays and lesbians who throw their lot in with each other get recognition in terms of tax laws, or hospital decisions involving their partners. But then, why should the sexual relationship be the deciding factor? What if some Jean Vanier type had taken in some disabled individuals to care for them with love and concern, or two elderly widows making a home together. Some kind of recognition of civil partnerships could be in order.

But to remove the biological basis of the family makes it impossible to discriminate in favor of the best social institution for the procreation and rearing of children. As we approach our demographic winter, that would be a sad, sad state of affairs, where the state can not by law provide incentives to support marriage, fatherhood, motherhood as a social good. Imagine if the state were unable to distinguish between mother/father families and multi-wife families? Gallagher is right, the proportion of gay and lesbian couples who will opt for marriage will be tiny. But the effects down the road of redefinining marriage will be huge.

Thanks for your consideration

Deborah Gyapong
www.deborahgyapong.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The dying want someone to care writes Jim Towey

This is a powerful op ed in the Wall Street Journal by Jim Towey. Read it all. My bolds:

If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

-snip-

After a decade of observing end-of-life discussions, I can attest to the great fear that many patients have, particularly those with few family members and financial resources. I lived and worked in an AIDS home in the mid-1980s and saw first-hand how the dying wanted more than health care—they wanted someone to care.

This is the key problem with government run social programs. They remove the responsibility of citizens to care for their fellow members, even their own families, because we can rest conscience-free in the assumption that our hefty contribution through our taxes is enough. The other thing is that healthy folks may think they don't want to live under certain circumstances, only to find that even bed-ridden with a feeding tube, they still want to live. Victor Davis Hanson has more on the moral dimension of state-un health care at the Corner:

There is something creepy about the sudden invocation of Christian morality by the president to galvanize support for his state-run health care plan, as if his opponents are suddenly to be seen as somehow selfish or even un-Christian. This is an unfortunate, counter-productive tactic for at least four reasons:

1) The moral argument comes at the eleventh hour, rather than the first, of public debate, as if it is a desperate fall-back position intended to shame opponents who happen to think that massive state intervention will make health care worse rather than better;

2) Ironically, the religious trope would argue against the entrance of the state that would relieve citizens of their own moral responsibilities to help out family and friends in times of illness. It is no accident that secularism, agnosticism, and atheism are strongest in socialist Europe, where the government has relieved citizens of traditional moral responsibilities emphasized by religion;




The God who is searching for us

Archbishop DiNoia on Catholic apologetics for young people. (h/t Rod Dreher)

Why we need the Savior who is not just any savior
The first barrier concerns Jesus Christ himself. The most fundamental and prevalent misunderstanding of the Catholic faith that we face, whether in young adults or in their elders, is the notion that it is arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of salvation. To ascribe a uniquely salvific role to Jesus Christ seems to constitute a denial of the salvific role of other religious founders and thus could be an affront to their communities.

The origins of this difficulty lie deep in the mentality of post-Enlightenment modernity and its multifarious theological progeny. According to this mentality, all religions express some experience of the absolute or ultimate or transcendent reality—however it is named and described—that encompasses worldly existence. No religion can claim to possess a privileged description of a reality incomprehensible and ineffable to all equally, nor to afford unique access to a realm in principle available to all equally. We might call this mentality and the religious outlook it fosters the culture of pluralism. It surrounds us on every side and helps to shore up a barrier that stands in the path of many Catholics today, young and old.

In order to clear away this barrier, we need in the first place to make clear that our faith in Christ’s uniqueness does not entail a devaluation of the world’s religions. The religions of the world are monuments to the human search for God. As such, they are worthy of respect and study because of the immense cultural richness of their witness to the desire for God planted in every human heart.

But the Christian faith attests not only to the human search for God, but principally to God’s search for us.

Good reasons to have children

Barbara Lilley takes on some of the latest anti-children essays over at Mercatornet.com. Here's a part of her list of why having kids is a great idea. Go read the whole post:

  • Children keep you honest
  • Children don't care if you're the perfect height or weight, just as long as you love them
  • Children keep you young
  • A hug from a child can warm your heart
  • Children show you your own negative qualities that need to be changed
  • A child's laugh makes you smile too (and sometimes even join in)
  • Children remind you how much fun colouring can be
  • One day, your child will be toilet-trained, your dog will forever need you to pick up after it
  • Children don't leave wet furballs lying around for you to step in
  • Breastfeeding brings you closer to your baby-it is not slavery. Scratch that-feeding your baby brings you closer to your baby-whether breast or bottle-fed
  • Children only kill desire in a marriage if you let them – get creative
  • Riding the merry-go-round with your children reminds you how to be a kid again
  • Little faces that light up when you walk through the door-whether you've been gone for five hours or five minutes

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Excellent look at real health care problems in the U.S.

Canadians need to pay attention to this too:

I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm. To achieve maximum coverage at acceptable cost with acceptable quality, health care will need to become subject to the same forces that have boosted efficiency and value throughout the economy. We will need to reduce, rather than expand, the role of insurance; focus the government’s role exclusively on things that only government can do (protect the poor, cover us against true catastrophe, enforce safety standards, and ensure provider competition); overcome our addiction to Ponzi-scheme financing, hidden subsidies, manipulated prices, and undisclosed results; and rely more on ourselves, the consumers, as the ultimate guarantors of good service, reasonable prices, and sensible trade-offs between health-care spending and spending on all the other good things money can buy.

These ideas stand well outside the emerging political consensus about reform. So before exploring alternative policies, let’s reexamine our basic assumptions about health care—what it actually is, how it’s financed, its accountability to patients, and finally its relationship to the eternal laws of supply and demand. Everyone I know has at least one personal story about how screwed up our health-care system is; before spending (another) $1trillion or so on reform, we need a much clearer understanding of the causes of the problems we all experience.

Sioux City Bishop Nickless on health care reform

The current national debate about health care reform should concern all of us. There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what “health care” should mean. We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have.

Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”

Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.

The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. This assumption is at root a pro-life assumption! Indeed, we were a culture of life when such programs began. Only if we again foster a culture of life can we perpetuate the economic justice of taxing workers to pay health care for the poor. Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable.

Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible.

Imagine the abuse that could come of this

What do you get when you cross health care with the IRS? Something very scary. William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection explains that the IRS will getting reports of who has health care coverage, and enforcing taxes as part of the deal in both House and Senate versions.

The Senate bill imposes a new requirement that all persons who provide health care coverage to others must file a return with the IRS listing the names, addresses, social security numbers, and the coverage period for each person, and "such other information as the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] may prescribe." (Section 161(b) starting at page 107). The bill does not limit what information the Secretary may request, so it is conceivable and likely that information as to the nature of the coverage, the family members included, and other details will be reported to the IRS.

The House bill contains similar provisions in section 401(b) (at pp. 175-176).

Employers who don't offer coverage will be taxed, and that opens the door to the IRS as health care enforcer:

These reporting provisions would allow the IRS to cross-check income tax returns and health coverage filings, and withhold tax refunds or utilize other collection methods for persons who do not have coverage unless they can prove they have acceptable coverage from some other source. This is similar to the cross-checking the IRS does on income reported separately by the person making the payment and the taxpayer receiving the payment. But for the first time the IRS is not checking for income to tax, but for lack of health coverage.

These provisions should have people interested in privacy greatly concerned. While income information already is reported to the IRS, the IRS traditionally has not received personal health care information about individuals.

Slippery slope or logical progression?

Is the "death panels" view of Obamacare a slippery slope argument (thus a logical fallacy?) or a logical progression.

Dr. Sanity calls it the latter:

In fact, as a physician, I think that the descriptive "Death Panels" terminology effectively summarizes what is an entirely logical progression of Obama's health policies. This progression is derived directly from Obama's own words and those of his health-reform minion/czars.

Here is the logical progression:

(A)In order to reign in health care costs, some system of health care rationing must be put in place, or as Obama says, ur government will undertake a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs. Or,for the exact quote:
"Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It’s not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that’s part of what I suspect you’ll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now."
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(B) So, what criteria for rationing health care (particularly at the end of life) is likely to be used? ------------->

(C) To answer (B) we only need to consider what criteria for health care rationing has already been put forth by one of Obama's key advisors on the issue, a bioethicist and "expert" on cost-efficient health care, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who wrote an article in a major medical journal in January, 2009 titled: "Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions" :
Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing — which is fundamental to Obamacare goals — "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks
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(D)Therefore, based on a system proposed by none other than the key advisor to Obama on this issue:

Read the rest. Chilling.