Category Archives: Abortion

Facebook Debate Review

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Over the weekend, a Facebook friend of mine, a Deacon, made the following post:

“I was saddened this morning to see how a young lady who went on mission trips with <our> parish and was confirmed, posted yesterday pictures of her supporting Planned Parenthood.    I know that she is unaware of the truths of abortion mill that they are running and how they are murdering children.   I am praying that she finds out the truth.”

As one might imagine, this was met with the full gamut of potential responses, from those in complete agreement with the sentiment, to those who felt he was shaming someone publicly, to those who thought they were being condemned for ever having gone to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

Every now and then I like to break down posts and comments.   Today, I’m going to do that.

My commentary:     This may be, broadly speaking, a sort of shaming.   No names were provided, but there were some details that could be identifying in nature.   There is an acknowledgment that the person may be ignorant of the truths about what Planned Parenthood engages in.    I don’t think the post is out of bounds, as it is right and appropriate to rebuke people engaging in sinful activity, as long as it is done with charity.   I do think, though, that the reference to the Parish should have been left off.   It immediately identifies the person as local.   Had he left it at just someone who he knew had been confirmed, and had gone on mission trips then in the minds of readers it could be just about anybody.

The first back and  forth was as follows:  

Responder 1:  I’m saddened that you would put it out on face book rather than talking to her personally.

Poster: I am more saddened that she would post a picture first without talking to me so that she was well informed.

Responder 1:  But you are the adult here.

Poster: She is an “adult” as well, and “adults” should know that planned parenthood’s main revenue is from abortions.   Period.   Too bad so many people are misinformed when it comes to that.

Responder 1: I guess I’m not OK with shaming on Facebook.   A private conversation with some give and take seems more logical.   As for the adult part, well I guess the older adult should set the example.

Poster:  No give and take on that subject – abortion is the murdering of a child – it only is a choice of life or death – and I do set the example of standing up for life.

My commentary:   I can actually see points on both sides here.   I actually agree that the preferred initial approach would at least have been to ask the person in question whether or not she was aware of Planned Parenthood’s activities.    Perhaps even ask outright if she supported abortion rights (in private) to see where she stands.    And as I mentioned, even if one chooses to use this as an example for public consumption, care should be taken to use it as a teaching example, while minimizing the risk of revealing who the “sinner” is.    Also, saying there can be “no give and take” on any subject I think is wrong-headed.   One can know with certainty that they stand for what is good and true and still have a give and take with respect to a discussion.    Give and take does not imply compromise – it can imply trying to have a reasonable discussion so you can gain trust and figure out exactly where they are.    To should someone down will do no good.   I don’t think “give and take” means what he thinks it means.

Having said that, it’s a ridiculous assertion that it is completely out of bounds to make a public statement about something that someone else willingly posted in a public manner, and it’s all the more ridiculous to say that you need to treat another adult with kid gloves just because you’re an older adult.

Responder 2: How is that shaming someone?   He stated facts without naming her.    And if she believes PP is such a great organization, why would she be ashamed at all?

My commentary:   Generally agree, with caveats as already stated.   Though, I will say that it would be possible for someone to still feel good about their own support of PP while feeling a little offended by being called out by a member of the clergy, essentially, as a supporter of murder.   It may be true, but there may have been a more charitable way to go about it.

The next responder’s comment will be necessarily broken up into multiple parts.

Responder 3: As a young adult, my mom took me to Planned Parenthood to receive regular health screenings.   Does this mean I am damned for life?

This doesn’t make any sense at all, which tells me it’s an entirely emotional response.   As for the source of the emotion (either guilt, or simply an inability to accept that just because an entity does some “good” it cannot erase the evil nature of it).   For one thing, nobody anywhere said anything about being damned.   And the phrase “damned for life” makes no sense at all.   You are not damned for life if you’re damned.   You are damned for all eternity.   Which means ALL of us should be doing everything we can do to make sure we’re right with God!   Eternity’s a long time.   Finally, just because you went to PP at some point to get assistance, depending on what it is you did there, there may be nothing morally wrong with it.   If you got some check-up or general health screening, especially if you were ignorant of the other things they do, then there’s not a problem.

Unfortunately, this is why many turn from organized religion because we all judge versus support our own.

She may be right that we all tend to judge.   But the “thou shall not judge” thing is also misapplied.   The entire context of Scripture makes it clear that we should judge what people are doing from the perspective of discernment, correction, and aiding in another’s salvation.   It is not an act of love to allow one to persist in sin.  It is an act of love to correct it.   However, on the flip side, many people do not convey that correction in a charitable way.   And flipping around again, many will be corrected charitably and will see it as an act of hate because they feel they should just be “accepted.”    We “support our own” in the faith by trying to get them to heaven.    When we see error, it can be a tricky balancing act to try and figure out how to go about correcting that error, for that person’s own good.    It is not an error of organized religion that we sometimes fail to act in charity.   It is a failure of people, in general.   But those who persist in sin after receiving correction cannot be “supported” with respect to accommodating that sin.   Yes, we still need to love them, but that doesn’t mean what they think it means, often enough.

Knowing God does not judge, the message that is being forced onto us from our church leaders is disappointing.

Um…   God doesn’t judge?    Then who does?    Is there no hell?    This is the epitome of relativism.   Only are we not to judge anything anybody does as right or wrong, but God doesn’t even do it, apparently.   This is dangerous thinking.

I miss the days of feeling welcomed to church versus hearing how horrible we are because we may not attend every week, don’t dress appropriately or may support Planned Parenthood for many of their other services that help millions of people.

My commentary:   Oh, where to begin.   First, I would be curious to know exactly how this person was made to feel like she is a horrible person.   It is possible that an uncharitable approach occurred, in which case that is problematic.   But I have an inkling – maybe more – that this person heard a perfectly charitable reminder about the importance of weekly Mass attendance, the importance of modesty in dress, and felt personally offended because she was unwilling to look inward and consider what was said with humility.    Now, I don’t know her and can’t know that for certain, but what I do know is that there are many people out there who react that way even if she is not one of them.

The other irksome argument about the good the argument about pointing out the good things about Planned Parenthood is the willingness to just turn a blind eye towards the evil that they do for the sake of the good.   Not to mention, many people put contraceptive services in the “good” column.   They aren’t.

But more to the point, at the heart of all these protests in favor of Planned Parenthood is whether or not there should be federal funding for it.   So, if you feel that strongly about PP, then write them a check or use their services, or volunteer for them.   But don’t ask me to fund an organization that doers evil things.

 

Anyway, there’s actually more, and I could go on.   Maybe I’ll continue this with another post if I feel like there’s enough worth talking about.

 

To Trump or not to Trump – Notre Dame’s Question

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I have a few thoughts regarding the issue about Notre Dame publicly considering not inviting Donald Trump for a commencement speaker.   Here’s a link to a Washington Post article.

Here are a few excerpts from the article.

Notre Dame University may not extend an invitation to President-elect Donald Trump to this year’s graduation, a move that would break with a decades-long tradition of inviting presidents in their first year to deliver the main commencement address at the South Bend campus…

University President John Jenkins said the 2009 commencement featuring President Obama was a “political circus” that he is loath to repeat at this year’s ceremony…

“My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus,” he added.

This is the strongest valid point I believe Notre Dame has in taking this position.    I think it’s proper and valid to assess whether or not the speaker is being a major distraction and somehow affecting what should be a celebration of the graduates.    With as politically divided as this country is, it is probably reasonable to believe that people would not be so courteous as to not protest or take the new President’s presence as some personal affront to them.

I have a couple issues with this, but I also understand the reality.   My issues are (1) people should grow up and be respectful, and this shouldn’t be a concern to begin with, (2) I have a real question as to whether or not this is really an honest conclusion on the part of John Jenkins.    Is he prepared to say that, going forward, no Presidents will be invited under the current political environment?    If so, then fine.   But I can’t help but suspect that had Hillary Clinton won, she would be invited to speak.   I can’t know that, but I strongly suspect it.  (3) Why did Notre Dame so adamantly stick to their guns on this in Barack Obama’s first year?    They knew it would be a circus, at least from the standpoint of being a Catholic Institution.    Now, having said all that, if this is a new policy where Notre Dame says that going forward, we just want the day to be about our graduates and our politics are toxic and from this day forward no President or President-Elect will be invited, well, then that’s not a problem.

 

And then there is this:

“I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to. And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views,” Mr. Jenkins told The Observer, the student-run publication of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

 

This is hogwash.     At least the “whatever their views” part.   This is an academic institution, but it irks me to no end that these Catholic higher institutions consider discourse of ideas to be a higher calling than their own Catholic identity whenever that discourse of ideas runs afoul of Catholic teaching.    I have no idea with the idea that we should listen courteously to Barack Obama talking about general topics, or religion-neutral policies, whether I agree with his perspective or not.    I take great issue with having Catholic doctrine openly challenged on a Catholic campus.   And it is a perfectly reasonable position, if someone holds very public views expressedly contrary to Catholic Doctrine (not just differences in preferred opinion), to not invite any person – regardless of status or position – who holds those views.

 

Finally:

Conservative cardinals and bishops opposed the invitation of Mr. Obama at the time, citing his views on abortion which run contrary to church teaching. Prominent alumni also lobbied the school to disinvite the president.

Mr. Jenkins has expressed disapproval with the president-elect’s stance on immigration.

 

Eight years ago, Notre Dame ignored Bishops and Priests and expressed that the god of Academia reigns Supreme, and they had to know it would rankle people.   But now, there is no such dilemma.   Yes, it’s true that Trump is controversial, has said some things that are not all that nice, and has in the past held views contrary to Catholic views.   But as a candidate, and so far as a President-Elect, he has taken positions that can only be described as pro-religious freedom, pro-life, and simply not contrary in any way to Catholic doctrine.     Yes, it’s true that there is all sorts of disagreement about how to deal with immigration, and we need to have that debate.   And there is a real moral component to that, but there is room for disagreement.

In the end, I understand where the folks of Notre Dame are coming from.    I just wish I could really believe them.   They do not have a history where I trust that this isn’t just another response by sore-loser, snowflake-ridden, progressive academia presented as something else.

 

 

A Heartbeat Away

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In an interesting look at the up, downs, simplicities, and complexities in advancing a Pro-Life agenda, looking at what has recently happened in Ohio makes for interesting debate.

On the one hand, an “incrementalist” view is favored in some segments of the Pro-Life community.   Depending on the lens with which one looks, this is either a horrible compromise or a solid strategic way of making progress that has more of a permanent foothold.   It can be best viewed as trying to meet the public where they are willing to be on this issue in a way that changes opinions, hearts, and minds with far less risk of a sudden backlash.    The downside, of course, is that it is a compromise.   A strategic vision is in place that tries to assess the reality around us, work within that reality, accepting that abortion is still the law of the land, while continuing to poke and prod, slowly and incrementally changing where that acceptable line is.    One consideration is public backlash and the other is an assessment of court rulings.   The fear on the judicial side is that a negative ruling sets things back and erodes prospects for future progress.

There are other segments in the pro-life community that take a more simplistic and pure view – that we should push for everything we can whenever we can, and setbacks be damned.   This really is a play of principle in a lot of cases – it is known that certain laws that are passed will not only be challenged in court, but will also almost certainly be declared unconstitutional under the current make-up of the federal courts, particularly SCOTUS, and that precedents aren’t on the side of drastic changes.

Both sides have a solid argument.   From a purist perspective, one cannot accept something that is intrinsically evil.   There is nothing wrong with incremental changes when that is your only option, but to reject more dramatic action when made available is very problematic, regardless of the claims that this is in the long run a better strategic approach towards attaining more permanent and significant change.

The incrementalist view has good intentions, and perhaps has strategic merit.  I think it is wrong to consider these persons as “not really” pro-life.   I think it’s more that they are scared to death of losing whatever it is they have gained to date, and the fact that they fear negative court decisions and public backlash.

While I think we need to remain charitable with respect to what labels we assign to the different camps, and I think it’s worth understanding the perspectives, I think there is also a time where we need to look inward and ask the question about the fundamental message we are giving by the stance we are taking.

So, back to the Ohio example.   The Ohio state legislature passed a fetal heartbeat bill that disallowed abortions after a heartbeat is detected.   This effectively limits abortions to the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy.    At the same time there was a different bill that simply limited abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no considerations for technical viability, detected heartbeats, etc.   Governor Kasich signed the 20-week bill into law, and vetoed the fetal heartbeat bill.

The explanation given by Kasich, and it should be noted that this was supported by Ohio Right to Life, is that similar attempts to restrict abortion at this level invited defeat in the courts, so signing this would have set up lengthy and expensive court battles.   The President of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, went so far as to say “By endorsing the 20-week ban in lieu of the heartbeat approach, Gov. Kasich provided strong pro-life leadership to finally engage a winnable battle with the federal judiciary while saving countless babies.”

I think the heart is generally in the right place, but I also think this approach is flawed in a number of respects.    First of all, Ohio already had a viability law in place.   Every life counts, but the relative increase in babies saved with this restriction will not be countless.    This is a very incremental improvement.    Standing alone, it is welcomed, and is a good thing.    Considering this a huge step forward is really not factually correct.    This is still allowing abortions for nearly the first 5 months of pregnancy.   Five months is still a long time of risk for a baby in the womb.    Further, health exceptions are still firmly in place.

The other issue I have is that he didn’t have to choose one or the other.   He could have signed both.    So, making the argument that he signed one in lieu of the other is erroneous.   He signed one and vetoed the other, pure and simple.   Had both been signed, and the more restrictive law found to be unconstitutional, then the other would still be in place.   This was a punt.

I appreciate the incremental gains we’ve made.   But I think there is also such a thing as overanalyzing things in order to get to a certain end.    There are times where a strategic approach to achieve the best end is not problematic.   An example was the Presidential Election.   If one firmly believed that there were truly only two options, then voting for the least imperfect candidate is not an immoral thing to do, nor does it compromise your principles.    This is not an incremental decision.   It’s a binary one.   But this is not true of the pro-life issue.

We are obligated to communicate the entire reason we are pro-life.   It’s murder.   It’s immoral.   The baby is a human being.    The womb should be safe.    Like the election decision, if the choice is between a slight restriction and no restriction then you take the slight restriction.   You are not immoral because you sign a ban after 20 weeks that still allows abortion in the first 20 weeks if the only other choice is that the status quo is 24 weeks.    But rejecting a more restrictive law for strategic reasons goes beyond a binary decision.    Especially with the Supreme Court in flux, and the fact that nobody can predict the future, to somehow state with certainty that this is a loser is probably not the best position to take to begin with.   But even if it is, there is a very real moral question involved here.    Why in the world is it not in our DNA to fight as hard as we can for an injustice to be corrected?    Why aren’t we willing to die on that hill?    Even if the courts shoot us down, why do we care?    I do understand there is a resource issue – but millions of people will support these expenses.

I have had people who are not pro-life ask me in the past that if we think abortion is essentially the killing of an innocent human being, then why are there exceptions for rape and incest?    The question was not necessarily meant to support the idea that they want us to fight for a comprehensive abortion ban, but it is an honest confusion about the message we are sending as a pro-life community.    If it’s a person, then why are we agreeing to certain lines of differentiation in treatment?    If they are confused by that, then how much more confusing is the message (real or perceived) that we are OK with abortions up to a certain number of weeks, but not after?    And that we’re willing to draw one line, but not another?

The danger here is also something I’ve heard:  that pro-lifers don’t really want this issue to be ever completely won, because it takes away the life issue in the political conversation.    I don’t believe this to be true for most people, but I do think the incrementalist approach feeds into that perception.   It’s confusing and contradictory in many ways, and the only actual way to explain it is in terms of politics and strategy.    This is problematic as far as messaging goes, any way you slice it.

Sadly, there may also be some truth to that perception.    I think a lot of politicians are nominally pro-life, but it is not what they would consider to be a crtical issue.    They would never personally have an abortion, and being pro-life is a winning issue for their particular constituents.    Small progress is a win, and they can tout it as progress.   But they have no stomach for any political fallout on this issue at all, so they would never support harsh steps even if they could be had, because it makes it more of an issue and could be politically damaging.

I don’t know if Kasich is in the “nominal” category, or if he truly believes he just did the best thing to get where we need to do and would be willing to go further if he feels it would be upheld.   But his approach is most definitely incremental, and for the good it does for some babies, it pulls the plug on a potentially much greater opportunity.    But that would be bold.   And who needs that?

What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.

A World Undone

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I’ve been quiet lately for a few reasons, but in large part because I decided to spend whatever free time I had working on a Pro-Life song that I’ve been developing for quite some time.    I finally just set aside other things and recorded it.

The song is called “A World Undone.”    The purpose of it is to convey a Pro-Life message, but not to lay blame at others.   We are in this world together and we all feel the effects of abortion.   Most of us have fallen short on doing everything we can do to stop the atrocity of abortion.

The song is a prayer, a reflection, and a call for forgiveness – for all of us.   It is a cry for mercy on us, and for a conversion of hearts.

I hope you enjoy it.    Please feel free to share it with others.

Why Am I Annoyed by Happy People on Commercials?

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The little boy drops a bowl of cereal.   The bowl breaks and stuff is everywhere.   The boy cries.   The mom smiles and consoles him.  There is no anger or scolding.  There is only…  a Swiffer!   And joy abounds.

The man has heart pains.  But because of the magical pill he no longer has heart pains.  He now feels younger.   Now, all his time is spent laughing as he plays hide-and-seek or fishing with his grandchildren.

I hate these commercials.  But why do I hate them?   Do I not want people to love their kids and grand-kids?   Do I prefer that people lose their temper instead of being cool, steady, and joyful?

No, that’s not it.

The first reason i hate them is because I am not that perfect.   I’d have yelled at the kid and thrown him in the corner while grumbling about his clumsiness as I cleaned up his mess.    And when I retire, I look forward to spending time playing cards with my grandkids, but I’m probably not going to play hide and seek.   Too much work.   So, yes, I see my own imperfections in the perfect unreality of commercials.

The second reason I hate them is because I don’t believe they mirror most realities, and they’re trying to sell me something by lying to me about the fact that all my anger and imperfections can now magically be solved by this particular product.  That’s a lie.

But really, my dislike for all this goes much deeper.   I may be overthinking this, but I am utterly annoyed by the hypocrisy of our culture.   We sure love our kids in commercials.   They are our joy and our hope.   But in a society that has killed over 50 million kids in the womb and prevented however many other pregnancies because of the contraceptive mentality we have totally embraced, the idea that we really, really love our kids so much because they mean everything to us is simply a lie.  They don’t.

That may seem harsh, and I don’t mean it as a universal statement that applies to everyone.   But I do mean it as an overarching cultural statement.

Imagine the following sentiment from Mr. and Mrs. ABC:   “Oh, little Johnny and Jenna are just the joys of our lives.   We can’t imagine what life would be without them.   They are such blessings, and it’s so unreal watching them grow up!  The time flies by so quickly!”

“Oh, so are you planning on having any more children?”

“Good, God, no!   We can hardly handle the two we have!”

So… which is it?   The “money can’t put a price tag on the little darlings that bring the ultimate joy to our lives” parents, or the “I can’t handle this” parents.    Because saying you can’t handle something, to me, is not something you say about a blessing.    It’s something you say about a burden.

Now, don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying it isn’t normal to think that you can’t handle life at times, including the kids.   This is perfectly normal.   In fact, sometimes I think we need those times to allow us to refocus on God.   Because when we can’t handle something, we must humbly turn to God in our humanness and ask for help, and admit that we are not God, we are not in complete control, and we are imperfect.    The answers that God gives in these times may not be what we desire.   We get tested and refined and strengthened so that we can not only handle what we have, but a little bit more.    And to the extent we can’t, we need to lean on Him all the more.   This isn’t all about happy happy joy joy.

So, in our human ingenuity, we’ve turned to abortion and contraception as the answers to our burdens – children – all the while putting on a face of love and joy and happiness over the children we have, as long as we don’t have enough to disrupt our lifestyle.   And this somewhat peeves me.

But, I guess a commercial about a dad with 9 kids doling out a punishment while pulling out an old dishrag he found for a quarter at a garage sale probably wouldn’t inspire consumerism.   So, I’ll just have to live with the fact that people on commercials love their kids.   At least the ones they kept.

 

Moments of Clarity

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After having been told in our marriage prep that the choice of contraception was up to my wife and I, and while deliberating about whether or not we wanted to stop at 2 or 3 kids so that we could have that perfect American family, a strange thing happened.

You see, I had been reading a lot about this little thing called the Catholic Church, and I was all-in on the fact that this whole thing made good, logical sense.   It was clear – Christ called Peter the Rock, the teachings on faith and morals that were bound here were a bound because it was divinely inspired teaching.   Scripture and Tradition – got it.

I was also all-in on contraception.   After all, a man of the cloth had clearly informed us that this was not, in fact, a teaching of the Church.  If we were OK with it, then God was OK with it.

As both my wife and I grew in our faith, though, we started spending a lot more time with other Catholic families, and at some point my wife informed me that she wasn’t sure we should be contracepting.   This was not part of my plan, and I clung to that initial piece of advice we had received as if my life depended on it.  Was this the same woman who wanted me to get snipped not that long ago?   (I didn’t for two reasons: (1) there was something deep down that told me it wasn’t right, and I could never get past that, and (2) I really cringed and felt pain in my nether region every time I thought about it, and could never get past that.)   It finally reached a point where this was causing some real stress in our relationship, and I had a brilliant idea.   It was time to go to the Catechism.   Yeah, that was it.  These other people were taking the extreme position on this, and the Catechism would be my proof that we were OK.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

If I’ve been blessed with anything, it’s the ability to be pretty honest with myself.   I am, by nature, a logical and analytical person.   Truth is truth, and if it’s presented to me clearly and definitively, I accept it even if I don’t like the answer.

I can still remember that day, opening up the Catechism and reading about the use of contraception.   I don’t remember anything I read except two words:  “Intrinsically evil.”

My conversion was immediate.

Don’t get me wrong.  It wasn’t an “Alleluia” moment.   It wasn’t a refreshing moment.  It wasn’t a happy moment at all.

It was a moment of clarity.  And I could not, in good conscience, ignore it.

And so my new life began.   The life that would lead me to a family that now includes 9 children who are both a tremendous joy and blessing, while at the same time – in my darker moments – secretly wondering what my life would be like if I had never had that moment of clarity.

I can recount a couple other moments like that in my life.   I think God gives all of us those moments.  He wants to move us in the right direction, but He often finds ways to make that happen where the choice still has to be ours.   Every conversion story I have ever heard is defined by particular moments, and there is not one of them that doesn’t believe that God had a hand in the process.   We may all be delusional, or it could be that God actually really does love us and is ready to forgive us and welcome us back to the fold, from whatever distance it is we have strayed.   It’s all well and good to have some excuse for a while that you can blame on someone else for why you are doing what you are doing.   But if you are not doing right, at some point God will make it your choice, and from that point forward it’s your decision to own.

I think we have these moments as individuals, as families, as parishes, as communities, and as nations.

I believe the recent scandal regarding Planned Parenthood is such a moment.

The discussion and sale of baby parts is nauseating and disquieting.   But it changes nothing at all about the abortion issue.   It is a stark reflection of who and what Planned Parenthood is, and it unveils the evil that lurks behind the facade of an organization that claims to be a champion of women’s health.   But in reality, we’ve had decades of technological capabilities of informing people that the baby is really a baby and not a clump of cells.   Ultrasounds brought us pictures of the baby in the womb.   Advancements in DNA technology and understanding have reached a point where even the unscientific common folk know enough that all humans have a unique DNA, and that the baby in the womb is human and distinct from the mother’s DNA.

We already know all that, but because many people don’t want to let the abortion issue go, they cling to the “it’s just a lump of cells” argument from 40 years ago as gospel, and continue to avoid confronting their own sense of reason on better understanding the humanness of the “fetus.”

Then there is another group of people – Christians no less – that have managed to convince themselves that abortion is just another issue.   They are against it, but because of other influences they have chosen to either minimize its importance or how evil it actually is because they have other political issues they feel strongly about.  Whether it’s education or the poor or the economy – good and legitimate issues – they are willing to overlook the fact that abortion should be a disqualifying issue for any candidate.   What does that mean?   For example:  if a candidate came out in favor of re-instituting slavery, but otherwise supported the issues you support, would you vote for him?   Most would (hopefully) say “no.”   Why?   Because that one issue shows a depravity of mind that cannot possibly qualify him for legal office.   Period.   If he is so out of bounds on that issue, we cannot trust that he will make wise decisions in other areas, regardless of his stand on other issues.

If we can agree that there are issues of disqualification for a candidate, then on what basis can any of us who believe that life begins at conception ever not disqualify a candidate who believes it is perfectly acceptable to kill a child in the womb?

The recent Planned Parenthood scandal is not so much about the strict legalities or illegalities of trading in body parts as much as it is about making it entirely clear to us that abortion is about killing babies with developed baby parts.   Those who are arguing that it really is legal, and for research, and all that are entirely missing the point.   The entire point is that these are actual developed organs, tissues, heads, livers, you name it.   These things come from some living being, and in this case we know that living thing to be human.

In other words, this is a moment of clarity.

Because of these videos, politicians will be required to stake out a position.   Everyone will be asked to either align with or against Planned Parenthood.   Based on this new information, we know ever more clearly that abortion is about killing human babies.    Any politician who continues to align with Planned Parenthood is making a choice that, to be perfectly honest, imperils their soul.    Any person who, in turn, aligns with a politician who has aligned with Planned Parenthood is doing the same.   I am not the judge, and I am not making any final statements about any individual person’s salvation.   But what I do know is that we are given these moments as a gift – a blessing – so that we can correct injustice in a particular area that is a grievous sin against God and humanity.

Making the choice to do this may or may not require putting other things that are important to you on hold.  It may not be an easy thing to do.   But we are given these moments to make a difference and to take a stand.   It may mean that another issue of less importance (Even though important to us) does not go exactly the way we’d like for a few years.    Well, it is my opinion that if we all made it clear that we are disqualifying any candidate on this issue, then within 2-3 election cycles it wouldn’t be an issue.   Politicians are funny like that.   And this does not make us “one-issue” voters.   I hate that characterization.    That implies that this is just one of many issues.   While it is true that it is one of many issues, there are different categories of issues.   By definition, a disqualifying issue takes precedence before consideration of other issues.   By all means, if there are two pro-life candidates then I will make it perfectly clear that I consider a lot of other issues and will speak to those.   If you are not pro-life, well, then your head is not right and I just can[t trust your judgment.   It’s actually pretty simple.   If you’re still confused, go back to the slavery example and read it again.

We must be honest with ourselves when God gives us a moment of clarity like this.   And if we don’t, there will be consequences to us as a nation and as individuals.

Companies That Donate Directly to Planned Parenthood

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It’s time to speak with our pocketbooks in my opinion.   But it’s up to you.

Not that anything really changed with my opinion of Planned Parenthood with the latest disgusting revelations on the sale of baby parts and the alteration of abortion procedures to make it happen, but it’s a rare opportunity to make headway into the generally uncaring/unthinking/ignorant public that has been brainwashed into thinking the organization is about women’s health.

So, from the Daily Signal:

We have an obligation to keep the pressure on and get this entity that, quite frankly, is simply evil defunded and in a position where nobody wants to be identified with them anymore.   The selling of baby parts, to be honest, is no less nauseating than abortion itself.   But if the public finds it the tipping point then so be it.   Tip away.

My Diatribe on the New Democratic Party Platform

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http://freebeacon.com/pro-israel-language-removed-from-democratic-party-platform/

For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.

The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”

The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.

Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”

The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/democratic-platform-endorses-taxpayer-funded-abortions_651589.html

According to a copy of the party platform, which was released online just before midnight on Monday, “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.”

That last part–“regardless of ability to pay”–is an endorsement of taxpayer-funded abortions, a policy that President Obama has personally endorsed. Obama wants Medicaid to pay directly for elective abortions, and Obamacare will allow beneficiaries to use federal subsidies to purchase health care plans that cover elective abortions.

http://blogs.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/archive/2012/09/04/democrats-drop-god-from-party-platform.aspx

This is the paragraph that was in the 2008 platform:

“We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

Now the words “God-given” have been removed. The paragraph has been restructured to say this:

“We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/03/democratic-party-platform_n_1853120.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012

We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.

Platforms are only as good as the people who run, anyway, so none of these things really come as a shocker given the current leaders in the Democratic Party. But moves like this only further call into question how more and more people who claim to be Democrat and Christian reconcile the two. This is not a political blog. I have another one of those that I almost never post to due to time constraints. But as a Catholic, politics is part of the reality we live within, and it is potentially the greatest challenge to our faith. We are constantly being asked to move the needle on how our faith responds to the political world. Many good Democrats declared themselves members of that Party decades ago due to legitimately debated issues that did not run contrary to our faith. Over the course of a generation or two, they have held onto some of those issues and even elevated their importance while rationalizing away the importance of issues that are contrary to the faith.

Problem: Had people of faith long ago resisted these incremental moves and demanded that they keep what they like about the Democratic Party while demanding Pro-Life Candidates, among other things, then maybe we wouldn’t be where we are today.

But we are. And it is a sad state of affairs.

Thanks to the complicitness of people of faith in allowing these evil positions on moral issues to take root as valid politics in the name of protecting union interests, pocketbooks, and other potentially valid issues, the left has been emboldened to push the envelope. This year’s platform is as close to “all-in” on the immoral side of the issues of our time as any Platform has ever been from a major party. Even the “moral” arguments are done from a socialistic point of view. There is not a call to arms for family and charity to step up the aid to fellow human beings, there is a call for forced assistance through the centrality of government. Some may view this as a type of Christian charity, but when those who most promote it are loathe to do so in the name of Christian charity (with some exceptions where it is seemingly politically expedient to do so) then there’s a problem.

And in the end, here is my frustration… I STILL hear people – even those whom I respect and enjoy in the blogosphere or among friends – who will suggest that there is “no difference” between the two candidates. Generally when I hear this it’s because they are lamenting one particular issue. A couple examples would be as follows: (1) Everyone wants Osama dead and seems happy enough to brag about kiling him. No difference. (2) Neither party ever does anything about the Death Penalty. No difference. (3) Both parties overspend. No difference.

Sure, it’s true that on issue #1 we seem to have reached some strangely uncomfortable level of celebrating the death of an enemy. Probably not appropriate, I’ll admit. So, the one party led the assault and the otehr says they’d have done the same. If you find this lamentable, I get it. So we’ll call that issue a tie and they both fail. On issue #2, it’s pretty much the same. There may actually be a slight difference here in favor of the left, but for the life of me I can’t find any discernible evidence to suggest it matters. And this is a legitimate question for Catholics as well, unlike issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. So, the weight of any difference here is miniscule. #3 is absolutely true, but there is still a matter of degree and a matter of what the money is spent on, and as bad as the GOP record is, this Administration’s record is worse, and currently there is only one party that is at least talking about taking the hard steps as part of the campaign – something I’m not sure I ever remember before.

So I get it. But let’s not go overboard and stop thinking here. Read the Democratic party platform and then read the GOP platform. Look at the speakers at hte Democratic Convention versus the speakers at the GOP convention. Compare the openness of sentiments of (OK, this will be a judgment call) genuine allusions to God and faith as part of the construction of principles and policy between the two.

In my opinion, anyone really being honest with themselves will see that – despite some unfortunate similarities in areas where we wish there were not – there is still a huge difference. I am not talking about tax and fiscal policy, nor am I talking about foreign policy. Those are issues we can all discuss and disagree about without running afoul of Church teachings (though some will erroneously suggest otherwise). I am talking about the very moral fabric of our society being torn asunder.