Monday, December 27, 2004

MY PROBLEMS WITH "ST. BLOG's" IN A NUTSHELL
This comment on Amy Welborn's blog, which I should hasten to add, she has not endorsed.

What about all those people, many not even Catholics, who show up for baptisms and turn the Mass, between the readings and the Eucharist, into a giant photo-op and video fest. The nerve of them, overperfumed, with large hats, bright lights, and funny accents, jumping from their pews into the aisles, walking all around snapping pictures and taking video, talking and calling out to the little child to "Look this way!" I've even seen some carry the naked baby from the font and lay them on the altar to dress them in their white robes as if we were about to celebrate Eucharist at a changing table! Oh, the indignity of it all! How dare they! Who are these people, and why do they insist on taking over our church for their family events?

I sincerely hope this is a joke, because it's really hard for me to imagine someone with the first clue about the sacrament of Baptism spouting off about it like this, but assuming its not...

This comment has it all -- complaining about a local issue to hundreds or thousands of people throughout the country, devaluing the sacraments ("family events????"), and utter contempt for the other folks worshopping with us each week at Mass.

I sincerely hope the other congregants greeted this new Christian with more warmth and pleasure than is reflected here.

I also can't help but think how confirming this looks to pro-choice folks out there who think that pro-lifers don't care about people once they're born.

I also think it's ironic that this was in a comment about lamenting the replacement of "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays." Before we insist that our public spaces be more friendly to Christianity, maybe we should make our churches more friendly to the newest Christians.

UPDATE: I had contacted the author of the comment, and, thankfully, it was meant as a parody of another poster's expressed frustration with the Christmas and Easter crowd. That's a relief!

Monday, December 06, 2004

BAD ARGUMENTS FOR GOOD
In a society as hostile to arguments based on the dignity of the human person, it is tempting to use utilitarian type arguments to advance pro-life cases.

One example is confronting the hype about embryonic stem cell research with the observation that adult stem cell research is just as promising.

This is very tempting. For one thing, it provides a counter-example to the strawman argument that those who oppose embryonic research do so because they "hate science." Bringing up adult stem cell research helps to demonstrate that we aren't against research into life-saving cures; we're just against destroying embryos to do that.

But if we put all our rhetorical eggs in this basket, and adult embryonic research truns out to be a flop, then what? The promise of adult stem cell research is a good thing, but even without it, embronic research would be just as wrong.

Another example popped up in Amy Welborn's comment box concerning immigration. Some were asserting that US Catholics should favor liberalized immigration policies because the immigrants in question come from Catholic pro-life backgrounds, and would likely move the culture more towards one that embraces life. Others responded with data that suggested otherwise.

But it's all irrelevant. Thinking like this reduces the immigrants to tools, rather than human persons with their own dignity to be repected. It's absurd to think an authentically pro-life society will emerge based on a policy derived from arguments like this.

A final example is the latest go-round on torture over in the Disputations comment boxes. One commenter notes that a good argument against using torture is that the information gleaned from it is unreliable. But what if someone combines torture with some truth serum?

These types of arguments are very tempting, and I've used some of them myself. But trying to build a pro-life culture out of utilitarian arguments like this is building our house on sand.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

HERE'S WHY THIS UPSETS ME SO MUCH
I don't know if you've noticed, but since the election, there's been a hunt on in the media for signs of "hypocrisy" from those who voted for Bush for "morals and values" reasons. Things like noting a high divorce rate in "red states," etc. That way, the Kerry voters can feel all superior.

Now, this is bull, even if, for example, all pro-lifers "don't care about the living" it wouldn't change the grave evil of abortion. But, this argument still has appeal to some, and I am sensitive to it.

So, it really ticks me off when a conservative publication, in this environment, publishes a book excerpt favorably noting Machiavelli's advice to leaders, with an example of when a failure to do evil lead to more evil. It makes us look like hypocrites, and feeds the notion that our "morals and values" are based on bigotry rather than a consistent ethic of the value of life.

That's part of why I think it's so important to loudly and clearly reject Ledeen's thinking.

Monday, November 22, 2004

THE WEIRD DOUBLE STANDARD
Mark Shea notes a bizarre double standard.

When the bishops, our spiritual fathers, make statements, we hunt for flaws in their logic or signs of weakness. As Mark said, if in the midst of the scandals, a bishop made some statement of pederasty, or even adult homosexuality, and stopped short of condemning it, the comment boxes would be on fire with condemnation for this bishop, and boycotts of his diocese's fund would be organized.

But then when American conservative commentators do things like favorably refer to Machiavelli's thinking on the treatment of enemies, we make all sorts of excuses for them.

I've noted this before. Why is it?

Some might say that they want so badly for the bishops to be strong leaders that they hold them to higher standards, but I don't really buy that. It's one thing to ask for more strength. It's another thing to say, "they're all buffoons," as I see so often in the comment boxes.

Rather, I think it's becuase the bishops might ask us to do something we don't want to do, and conservative commentators probably won't.

Friday, November 19, 2004

MERE CLUSTER OF CELLS
Good post at Mirror of Justice about how ridiculous it is to refer to an embryo this way, and then refer to those who disagree as the ones who hate science.

Which leads me to another hypocrisy. On the one hand, those supporting embry-destroying research want us to regard embyos a mere cluster of cells when deciding whether it's ethical to perform them. But then when it comes time to fund research, this "mere clusted of cells" is supposedly the key to making the lame walk and the blind see, and must be funded, even at the risk of bankrupting a state.

It seems that if these were mere clusters of cells, it wouldn't be such a big deal.
UNORTHODOX SUGGESTION
I think I've finally pinpointed my frustration with the way the word "orthodox" is thrown around in the Catholic blogs, which has been bothering me for some time.

Per this dicussion, I suggest we stop using the word "orthodox" as a description of people, and use it strictly to refer to individual beliefs. Because we have statements like this...

That statement reminds me of a situation involving Fr. X., a holy and orthodox priest who used to pastor a thriving parish, and was well known for his charity to the poor and his bold orthodoxy in the pulpit.

Fr. X. once told me that he stayed in hot water with his bishop, who was always demanding that he come down to the chancery for seminars, meetings, discussions, and on and on. Fr. X. said, "I never do..."

Now, from what we're hearing this story, there's nothing orthodox about disoberying a bishop to whom one has made a sacramental pledge of obedience. Maybe these requests don't really fall under the pledge of obedience, I don't know.

But there seems to be this attitude that once someone qualifies as "orthodox," then anything that person might say or do is immune from criticism. I can't help but think this is a fruit of the "non-negotiable issues" type thinking. So long as I have the correct positions on the non-negotiable issues, I'm "orthodox," and any criticism I receive for anything is persecution from people uncomfortable with hearing hard truths.

I don't think it's so simple. In fact, I'm not sure any of us could accurately say about oursleves, or another, that they are "orthodox." We can recognize certain beliefs as truly orthodox or heterodox, but I can't say with confidence that every one of my beliefs is in full accord with the Church. Orthodoxy is a journey, not a destination. We don't reach a point where we can pronounce ourselves "orthodox" and stop working to unite our will and intellect with that of the Church.

And, BTW, all this parsing of bishop's statements ought to seem absurd after the Scripture we heard last Sunday from Thessalonians.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

BAD WORDS
Your guide to words that, when uttered by a bishop or are part of a bishop's statement, will cause the comment boxes to explode.

  • "prudence"
  • "dialogue"
  • "uncomfortable"
  • "pastoral"
  • "engage"

If a bishop's statement, espacially on pro-choice politicians, includes any of these words, then we can safely dismiss this statement as insufficiently bold.

Furthermore, if the same bishop later makes another statement about justice for the poor, unjust wars, the death penalty, or torture, that statement can be safely dismissed because of that same bishop's limp stand on pro-choice politicians.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

MORE SUBSTANTIALLY
on this post, this is part of the reason for my opposition to same-sex marriage.

There needs to be a particular name, and a particular respect for long-term committed relationships in which children are created. Yes, our culture has chipped away at the ideal and desirability of marriage, through divorce contraception and "dads as doofuses" stereotype. Nevertheless, what is the incentive for an inner city man to marry the mother of his children, if the same sex couple down the street without children to worry about is also "married?"

We've really screwed marriage up in this country. People don't see it as a relationship that allows me to serve a spouse, children and the world. People see it as a means through which to get ones needs met. When it fails to do that, it can be discarded.

I think we married folks need to give powerful witness to the joys of living a committed married life, and what it allows us to accomplish that we couldn't otherwise. And we need to transform the culture to reflect this.

In the end, opposition to same sex marriage isn't about bigotry. It's about stopping the erosion of marriage in our culture and starting to turn it around. Perhaps that will be the Paschal Resurrection from this debate. The same sex marriage debate is causing us to think about what marriage is, what it should be, and what we need to do to get it there.
GO EAGLES!
Though I have to admit that rooting for the Eagles is a bit less fun now that Terrel Owens is prominently involved. This must be how some Yankees fans feel.
ROOT CAUSE
Interesting discussion about a book on poverty after welfare reform at Slate.

An emerging theme is that it would be better if the single mothers profiled were married, but the men in their lives don't want to get married. Why could that be? Would it have anything to do with the media portraying married fathers as doofuses?

Monday, November 15, 2004

MY LETTER TO BUSH
Dear President Bush,

I was one of the voters who helped you to victory on November 2.
Specifically, I am one of the voters who voted for you because of
"moral values."

I am not happy with the foreign policy your Administration has
pursued, in particular, the war in Iraq, and the apparent disposition
toward war that the war in Iraq made manifest. I am also very unhappy
that the Administration has pushed to make torture an acceptable
tactic.

I voted for you because I could not vote for a president who would not
use his position to do something about the over 1 million unborn
children who are killed each year by abortion, and would push to
expand research that destroys embryos.

I have been disappointed that your Administration seems willing to
bargain with the lives of the unborn before it bargains on other
issues.

I hope you will use this victory to push for some real protections
from the unborn, making judicial appointments who are not inclined to
see the Constitution as denying the unborn any rights.

People like me carried you to victory. Please do not disappoint us
again. You are in my daily prayers as you commence your second term.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I HAVE TO ADMIT
Even though I voted for Bush, and I find Kerry's record on protecting the unborn depicable, I'm not all that frightened at the prospect of Kerry winning today, which seems slightly likely right now.

Friday, October 29, 2004

RESPONSE TO THE RESPONSE
Michael Perry responds to the Russ Hittinger post I linked to below:

(Imagine that it is a long time ago, the issue is slavery, and there are two candidates for the presidency: Candidate A opposes slavery on moral grounds and will work to abolish it. Candidate B does not oppose slavery on moral grounds and will not work to abolish it. However, B's economic policies happen to be subversive, in the longer run, of the institution of slavery, while A's economic policies happen to be, in the longer run, not at all subversive of the institution of slavery. Assume too that there is good reason to believe that notwithstanding A's moral opposition to slavery, neither A nor anyone else will be able to achieve a legal ban on slavery. (A does not plan to start a civil war over slavery.) Assume further, however, that B's economic policies will very likely result, within a generation, in the withering away of the institution of slavery. In my judgment, a faithful Catholic could reasonably decide to vote for B, notwithstanding the fact that A is morally opposed to slavery and would try to abolish it and B is not morally opposed to slavery and would not work to abolish it, as a way of expressing "solidarity" with the victims of slavery.)

My answer: Imagine you are a slave in that situation. Whom whould you want to see elected? The one who has sworn not to change the law, or appoint anyone who would change the law, to free you from slavery, but whose economic policies might one day lead to end of slavery, or the candidate who will work to change the law to abolish slavery, but whose economic polcies may not lead to that end? For whom would a slave vote, if he could? My strong suspicion is that he'd vote for the person who would change the law to free him.

There moral value in having a president who believes slavery is wrong, and it's the government's business. Would we dream of voting for a president who favored legalized slavery today, reagardless of his inability to enact it, or whether his economic policies were subversive of slavery?

Bringing us back to the present time, how are Kerry's economin policies going to subvert abortion? Has he stated this as a policy goal? No, you know why not? Because if he did, NARAL and Planned Parenthood would freak out, and they are a big part of Kerry's coalition. Again, would we dream of supporting a presidential candidate backed by those wishing to bring slavery back?

This looks to me more like an excuse than real moral reasoning.
KERRY'S RESPONSE
Hmmm.. something tells me they didn't read my letter.

Kerry - Edwards - Stronger at Home. Respected in the World.
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Dear,

Thank you for your e-mail supporting John Kerry and John Edwards.
Thousands of people like you from across the country are committed and
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Here are John Kerry's remarks on A New Course For America:
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If you are already volunteering, thank you for your great efforts. If you
haven't please take the following steps to get involved:

1) Sign up at our VolCenter by clicking on this link:
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

THE CASE AGAINST KERRY
On the Mirror of Justice blog, Russ Hittinger states the case of why Catholics, or anyone who professes solidarity with the unborn, could not vote for Kerry. Storng, simple, and free of the personal acrimony and jealousy that has seemed to punctuate the pro-lifers vs. Kerry debate so far.
MY LETTER TO KERRY

Dear Senator Kerry,

I am writing today to tell you who will receive my vote for president and why.

I am very concerned about the President Bush’s foreign policies, his seeming eagerness to see war as the first option, his failure to plan things out fully, and the impact this has had on the United States’ reputation in the world. It is hard to be proud to be American when I turn on the news and see our soldiers abusing prisoners, and hostage after hostage being taken prisoner and executed in retaliation for our policies. I am concerned about an Administration that seems OK with using torture and setting aside international law.

So, I would welcome a change in the Oval Office. You seem to be up to the task. You take the threat of global terror seriously, but you are not so anxious to plunge us into war. You are willing to work with our traditional allies, and respect our tradition of concern for the rights of the criminally accused. You oppose the death penalty, which is a needlessly cruel practice in modern America. You were the president’s superior in all of the debates. If you were elected president, I could be prouder to be an American.

But I cannot vote for you.

Because, as you profess to agree, I believe that life begins at conception. And if there has been one thing you have been consistent on in your political career, it has been to deny the unborn any protection under the law, and to exploit them for medical research. You have pledged not to nominate Supreme Court nominees who do not see the Constitution guaranteeing a right to abortion, ensuring that legal abortion will remain the law of the land for another generation. You have the support of every radical pro-abortion group.

This is profoundly disappointing, especially since we share the Catholic faith. I do not agree with those who sought to deny you communion, but my conscience will not allow me to support a candidate with such utter disregard for the rights of the unborn. And it baffles me how someone who says he believes that life begins at conception could take very opportunity to shove the unborn aside. You say that you can’t impose this “article of faith” on those who don’t share that belief, but that strikes me as a convenient pose. If I believed that abusing my child was OK, would you hesitate to impose your moral view on me? I certainly hope not.

I understand that your political party has long standing ties to the abortion industry. But, as the Party’s nominee, you are the leader of your party, and you had the opportunity to change that. You could have sent the message that those who believe in the rights of the unborn are welcome in the party. You could have sworn off litmus tests for judicial appointees, and disentangled the party from the abortion lobby.

You did none of these things. You continued to be careful not to say anything that could conflict with the most radical pro-abortion groups. You have not only supported research that destroys embryos, you have hyped its promise unrealistically, and demagogued the president on this issue.

It is my great hope that my vote and the votes of others like me will be the reason that you are not elected president. Perhaps then, you and your party will have to honestly reconsider your tight alliance with the abortion lobby, and we can work together to work for all people both born an unborn. I look forward to that day. It is my hope that you do, too.

If you are elected, I will continue to pray for you with this awesome responsibility, and that you will change your mind and use your position to put protections in place for the unborn.

I am sorry that I cannot support you in your campaign. I will be voting for President Bush.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004

MAN, KERRY CLEANED BUSH'S CLOCK LAST NIGHT
I was only watching between innings of the Cardinals game, but it sure looked to me like Bush was getting it handed to him last night.

The first 20 minutes was like a catalog of what everybody hates about Bush -- the sneering, the chuckling, the sarcasm. Mean while Kerry was calmaly outinling his plans.

Too bad I can't vote for him.

Monday, October 11, 2004

ON THIS
I find it ironic that Katherine Hawker complained about religious leaders
other than Archbishop Burke not being heard by the media, when I don't
recall the Post-Dispatch giving Archbishop Burke or any other Catholic
leader a forum to comment on the teachings of Hawker's Evangelical United
Church or any other church.
ALL THAT BEING SAID
Friday night's debate made it quite clear to me that if I don't want to expand aortion and embryonic research, I really have no choice but to vote for Bush, so that is what I'm going to do.

Friday, October 08, 2004

ALLEN -- VATICAN POLL WOULD FAVOR KERRY 60-40
Let the Vatican bashing begin! This should be fun...
ON THE "VOTING GUIDES"
Great discussions on the voting guides over at Disputations Blog.

One of my problems with the various "voting guides for Catholics" that have been coming out is that, to me, they seem to start with the conclusions, and work backwards.

It's as if I wanted to make an argument for who is the greatest baseball player of all time. One set of criteria I could put down is that the best baseball player must be from the past 50 years, have hit 500 home runs, been a Gold Glove fielder at a critical defensive position, and won a world championship, and I end up with... Mike Schmidt!.

Buy why home runs, not hits or batting average? Well, that probably would have led to a different conclusion.

I see the same sort of dynamic in selecting the non-negotiable issues, especially with the "intrinsically evil" requirement. It seems designed to exclude issues that might not favor Republicans, which is unfortunate.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

SEE, THIS IS WHY I HAVE TROUBLE VOTING REPUBLICAN
From Rich Lowry:

I LOVED CEHENY’S…
…closing statement. Here was the end of it:

“Now we find ourselves in the midst of a conflict unlike any we've ever known, faced with the possibility that terrorists could smuggle a deadly biological agent or a nuclear weapon into the middle of one of our own cities."

See, I get the distinct feeling that these are people who love war, enjoy being at war, and can't wait for the next opportunity to wage war.

And those aren't the people I want in charge.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

PERFECT EXAMPLE
Here is a perfect example of what I'm referring to below.

Problem: In this country 1.5 million unborn children are killed each year by abortion.
Solution ???? Pound the pope and the Vatican for giving an honor to a politician form an island nation who once voted to legalize abortion in cases of rape and incest.

From here on out, my standard response when asked to be outraged about things like this will be, "and how many unborn children will this save?"

And we wonder why people think we're not really serious about ending abortion...

UPDATE: For those coming from Mark Shea's blog, I should add that while the bill Hunte voted for did only allow abortion is cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, I should add that he was also quoted as saying, "I think every woman must have a choice. I am a pro-choice man." I don't know if that means the same thing in St. Lucia as in the US, but it would be an additional reason to question the knighthood.

I've apologized to Mark, and I apologize to any I've misled.

Monday, September 27, 2004

WHERE I'LL GO ON THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT

I'll help movements that aid women with unexpected pregnancies, and give them the resources to help them choose life.
I will support pro-life legislation, including bans on research that destroys embryos.
I will make abortion the first and most important issue when choosing which candidates to support and vote for.
I will support my bishop if he judges it appropriate to deny communion to pro-choice politicians (a mine has).

I will not badger my bishop (or any other bishop) if he does not judge it appropriate to deny communion to pro-choice politicians.
I will not protest Catholic insitutions that honor pro-choice politicians or host pro-choice speakers.
I will not blast bishops for meeting with pro-choice politicians.
I will not work to drive people who support pro-choice politicians out of the Church.

Basically, if it's more than one degree removed from either preventing an actual abortion or providing justice for its victims, I'm out.

I think the problem that the pro-life movement faces right now isn't that people don't think we're not serious about it or think it's important; but they see us as self-rightous prigs, and don't really want to be associated with us.

The facts are on our side. 3-D ultrasound, and the experiences of women who have had abortion are making it more and more difficult to deny the great tragedy of abortion.

This is an opportunity for us to reach out and pull more people onto our side. But I fear that when they come to check us out, they see us spending more time making sure everyone is absolutely pure than in stopping the killing. And they're turned off. They think we're not serious about saving unborn lives. And they go away.

If you're interested in stopping abortion, I'm with you. If you're interested in taking this pro-choice politician down a peg so that you can take his spot, then you best move along.

And the same goes for marriage.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

WHAT IF THE TRIPP-LEWINSKY TAPES WERE FAKE?
What if analysis of the Linda Tripp / Monica Lewinsky tape were strongly suspected to be fakes, say, because Lewinskly referred to events she would likely have no knowledge of? And what if the conservative press had released those tapes to break the Lewinsky story, and then stood by it becuase nobody was confronting the larger truth that Clinton has a wandering eye? Do you think they'd get away with it?

That seems to be what Dan Rather and CBS are trying to do here:

Having said that, 60 Minutes feels that it's important to underscore this point: Those who have criticized aspects of our story have never criticized the major thrust of our report -- that George Bush received preferential treatment to get into the National Guard, and once accepted, failed to satisfy the requirements of his service. If we uncover any information to the contrary, that information will also be reported.


Of course, it's impossible to prove that Bush never received preferential treatment. What would be damaging in my mind would be if his family applied pressure for preferential treatment, or if he disobeyted direct orders. That's what the documents showed. Without them, CBS doesn't have much that we didn't know before.

And the "information to the contrary" would be Bush's honorable discharge forom the gurad, wouldn't it?

With this statement, CBS has pretty much declared that it's out of the news business and into the agenda business. What they're saying is it's OK (or at least not terribly bad) to use fabricated evidence so long as it is in service of a point that we all know is true.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

THOUGHT EXPIERIMENT
Given three candidates, one totally in line with the Church's teachings, one a typical liberal Democrat, pro-choice, but for a variety of social services for the poor and generally disposed against war, and a typical conservative Republican, pro-life, but more inclined to war and against social services for the poor, I wonder which one would get the most Catholic votes.

Friday, September 03, 2004

IT'S TOO BAD ANDREW SULLIVAN DOESN'T DRIVE
Becuase, if this post is a guide, you could easily sell him a used car telling him that the previous owner was a socail conservative who only dorve it to church on Sunday.

While we're here, it's intersting to see how this champion of privacy took glee in the revelation of a political adversary's semi-private sins. I think a lot of those who all of a sudden discovered detraction was sin when a poltical ally was the target are off-base, but I also don't have a record of believing that the privacy of an adulterous affair is more important than a missing person investigation.

UPDATE: Sullivan has now posted another version of every reader letter he ever posted.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

PARTY OF WAR
Watching Cheney's speech last night, and more precisely the crowd's reaction to it, I can't get past the feeling that this is a party that loves war, rejoices in the opportunity to fight war, and can't wait for the next chance to fight another war.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we already have been attacked" was delivered as an applause line. There's something sick and perverse about whooping it up over the loss of 3,000 lives, regardless of the political advantage it may give your party. Yes, the delegates would say they were applauding that Cheney recognizes that we were attacked, but it's still an odd thing to celebrate.

The big winning line seems to be that the US won't defer to the UN in determining whether to pursue war. Well, excuse me, but who was right and who was wrong about Iraq's WMD's? Yes, maybe the UN was right for the wrong reasons, but it seems odd to me that the Republicans would be bragging about eschewing the UN when the one time it did so it was proven wrong.

The message seemed to be that a vote for the Republicans is a vote for continuous war. The delegates seemed to like that. I don't.

I know this will piss off a lot of the Catholic bloggers out here, but I'm going to have a very hard time voting to keep these people in power. It seems to me that the tendency of the government to see war as an option is as important an abortion policy, and is very much in play in this election.

The worldview espoused last night is almost the antithesis of the world view espoused by the Holy Father. It's hard for me to overlook that just because they mouth some pro-life platitudes in the middle of the afternoon when nobody's listening.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

CRUEL INTENTIONS
Jayson Stark has an article about the absurdity of Barry Bonds's intentional walks, and the problems with proposed rule changes to fix it.

I still haven't found any holes in my idea of allowing a batter to decline a walk, but then being able to advance two bases if the count accumulates 8 balls, three for 12, and all the way home for 16.

This (somewhat) solves the "92 pitch at-bat" argument against the decline, and I think it'd be interesting to see how far managers would go to pitch around someone like Bonds.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

HOW DOES IT HURT ME?
Eugene Volokh provides a possible answer to this popular argument.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
Good article by Will Saletan on how supporters of embryonic stem cell research, while castigating their opponents as putting ideology over religion and claiming for themselves the title of supporters of truth, rely on lies and blind faith to make their case.

I think we Catholics should take all the energy we've been using to badger bishops to deny John Kerry communion, and channel it towards confronting these lies.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

"PROMISE" OF STEM CELLS
Reading this exchange, I can't help but wonder why, if embryonic stem cell research is such the slam-dunk sure fire cure for every disease under the sun like Ron Reagan and others say it is, it's dependent on federal funding. Seems like the private sector ought to be interested in funding a guaranteed cure for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's -- you'd think something like that could make some money.

Or could it be that embryonic stem cell research really isn't quite so promising, and those wanting to receive funding correctly determined that a story about pro-lifers preventing the cure of diseases would be eaten up by the media?

Monday, August 02, 2004

TO AMPLIFY ON BELOW
I wonder what the reaction would be if some corporate executive had used similar reasons to justify layoffs or sending jobs offshore -- "well if I kept those employees, I might have to move to Staten Island, and shop at Costco and but mayonaisse." If someone wrote that, and seemed proud of it, wouldn't we want to put controls in place to keep that from happening?

But, apparently, it's a good enough reason to stop two heartbeats.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

WHICH IS MORE EVIL?
This Instapundit post on the "selective reduction" account begs a question. If you assume the worst stereotpyes of both parties, who is more evil, the one who would not pay higher taxes to continue his lifestlye, or one who whould stop a heartbeat to do so?

It's interesting to read pro-choice commentary wishing she hadn't told this story, etc. And that's natural, the more light that gets shone on abortion, from scientific advances like 3-D ultrasounds as well as the stories of women who've has abortion, the more apparent less defensible it becomes.
FUN WITH REFERRAL LOGS
Anyone have any idea how someone got from
there to here?

Friday, July 16, 2004

HAVING SOME FUN
Rich Lowry has been having fun demonstrating how Andrew Sullivan is capable of little else besides name-calling in the same sex marriage debate, and provoking.... more name calling!

Besides feigned shock that anyone could possibly oppose same sex marriage, Sullivan's other favorite argument is that whenever someone uses an illustrative story or analogy for gay marriage, Sullivan shrieks, "They're comaparing gays to ! That's what the theocrats/Santorum wing etc. think of us!"

There's nothing behind the name-calling, and it's good that Lowry has the stomach to point it out.
SPORTS ANALOGY
Regarding below, I remember two years after the Mets-Yankees World Series, when Roger Clemens threw a piece if Mike Piazza's bat at him, the Yankees were going to play the Mets in an interleagues series. Since the series would be played in Shea Statdium, that meant that Clemens would come to bat. Scheduled to start for the Mets: Shawn Estes.

There was all sorts of discussion in the week beforehand that Estes should bean Clemens. But it seemed strange to me that Estes could be moved to attempt bodily harm against someone for an incident that happened 20 months ago when Estes wasn't even on the team.

Predictable enough, Estes's first pitch to Clemens somewhat lamely went behind him. You can read about the incident here.

I think this captures the fear that those wanting to hold onto anger have. If we're not angry when we carry out justice, then we'll be lame when we do it, as Estes was in his attmpt to "bean" Clemens.

But the unasked question is whether the beaning truly was the just punishment for the crime committed.
JUSTICE AND MERCY
Following is my post to this thread about what I think the fundamental stumbling block in these discussions is:

think Tom hit on what is an underlying assumption, in that in order to offer a just punishment we must be angry. I think the fear is that if we give up our anger, we won't be able to inflict the punishment that justice demands.

Anyone who's ever been goaded into a fight with someone he did not really want to hurt knows that it's a recipe for disaster.

So, we stoke our anger. We look at the videos of the planes crashing into the buldings over and over. We demand that the news broadcast the decapitation of Charlie Berg. When the American bishops seem to have straightened things out, or at least are getting better at hiding the bodies, we look across the ocean for more tales of episcopal wrongdoing.

And it's understandable. We've been hurt before. We assumed these were good people and got burned.

Can we be vigilant without anger?
Can we deliver justice without anger?

I think that's the fundamental question in play here. If the answer is "no," then efforts to keep our anger burning may be justified. If the answer is "yes," then they're not.

In my opinion, the Gospel points to an answer of "yes." Justice and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive.

This teaching, as Mark likes to say, is more scandalous than any of the secual teaching (or the teaching that Friday is a day of fasting and penance, which runs directly into the current of our culture.)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

WITH THE ROSARY, EVERYTHING WORKS OUT
I started praying a decade of the Rosary each night with my daughter on Saturday, beginning with the Joyful Mysteries, and noticed an interesting pattern...

  • Saturday: First Joyful Mystery (Annunciation)
  • Sunday: Second Joyful Mystery (Visitation)
  • Monday: Third Joyful Mystery (Nativity)
  • Tuesday: Fourth Joyful Mystery (Presentation)
  • Wednesday: Fifth Joyful Mystery (Finding in the Temple)
  • Thursday: First Luminous Mystery (Jesus's Baptism)
  • Friday: Second Luminous Mystery (Miracle at Canaa)
  • Saturday: Third Luminous Mystery (Proclamation of the Kingdom of God)
  • Sunday: Fourth Luminous Mystery (Transfiguration)
  • Monday: Fifth Luminous Mystery (Institution of the Eucharist
  • Tuesday: First Sorrowful Mystery (Agony in the Garden)
  • Wednesday: Second Sorrowful Mystery (Scourging at the Pillar)
  • Thursday: Third Sorrowful Mystery (Crowning with Thorns)
  • Friday: Fourth Sorrowful Mystery (Jesus carries His Cross)
  • Saturday: Fifth Sorrowful Mystery (Jesus dies on the Cross)
  • Sunday: First Glorious Mystery (Resurrection)
  • Monday: Second Glorious Mystery (Ascension)
  • Tuesday: Third Glorious Mystery (Pentecost)
  • Wednesday: Fourth Glorious Mystery (Assumption)
  • Thursday: Fifth Glorious Mystery (Coronation)


So, each set of Mysteries begins on on of "its" days, if prayed in chronological order. It breaks down after that, as Friday is a "Sorrowful" day. We'll have to figure out something else to pray on that day.

Pretty cool, huh?
MICHAEL MOORE HAS A POINT
From now on, James Lileks is disqualified from usinf the "Would you rather still have Saddam in power with the rape rooms and torture chambers?" argument against those who opposed the Iraw war after this argument in today's bleat:


Are you proud that nearly 3 billion people on this planet do not have access to clean drinking water when we have the resources and technology to remedy this immediately?

Immediately! Right now! The entire purpose of the American economy must be turned to the task of building sanitary water systems in rural Peru, old Soviet industrial sites in the Urals, and the Chinese hinterlands! Immediately! We are not only obligated to step in and help poor Robert Mugabe upgrade the pipes of urban Zimbabwe, we must issue bonds to ensure that these systems work until the sun sputters out. Because that is the first obligation of the government, as set forth in the Constitution: ensure that someone in the Sudan can drink tap water without getting the squirts.


Right after we make sure someone in Iraq can oppose the government without being thrown in jail.

I know, I know. Saddam was a huge threat. Yellowcake in Africa, etc.

But I guess I'd rather be bringing clean water to people than invading countries and taking them over.

Guess that makes me a wimp.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

ONE MORE COMMUNION THOUGHT
I think one more thing the bishops' critics do not completely understand is how antithetical denying communion is to their fundamental vocation.

Priests and seminarians I've spoken to about their vocations express an intense desire to "bring Jesus to the people." This is what they do at Mass every day, and this is what they feel called to do.

To then explicitly deny someone communion is to go against this instinct.

I'm not saying there aren't cases when this is the right thing to do, I'm saying that I don't think the critics understand how difficult it is for someone who has dedicated his life to bringing Jesus to people to not do so.
THE "TICKING TIME BOMB" SECENARIO IS NOT A "LESSER OF TWO EVILS" SCENARIO
Per this discussion, a lot of people seem to think that in the "ticking time bomb" scenario, where a know terrorist knows the code that would prevent a nuclear weapon from detonating in 24 hours, torturing the terrorist to obtain the code would be the "lesser of two evils" and thus morally licit from a Catholic perspective.

It is no such thing. The choice for me isn't btween the torture the prisoner and the desturction of Manhattan, it is between the torture of the prisoner and not torturing the prisoner. Which makes the choice for Catholics clear.

Friday, June 04, 2004

WHAT I'D LOVE TO SEE
I'd love to see a bishop "Fisk" the efforts of the carper's in the blogosphere the way they seem comfortable doing to every statement they release.

Something like, "While Mr. McGuinness is correct the the hierarchy failed to do ___, he fails to fully account for his, and the laity's failure to carry out his vocation as a layman, and how that impacts the culture. Yes, he mentions it once or twice, but nowhere near the accounting we need to see from him. Until, that comes, his words are just that, empty words."

ALSO
Hey, if we want to tell the bishops we want them to be strong leaders, why don't we start by following them? I know, it's not as intuitive or obvious as taking out full page ads attacking them, but, hey, maybe it'll work.
MARK SHEA'S SO GOOD WHEN HE'S THOUGHTFUL
Sometimes when there's a lot of left and righ bating on Mark Shea's blog, I swear I'll never read him again.

Then he delivers something like this and I thank God I haven't.

Go read it, then drop a tip in his PayPal jar.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

"POLITICIZING THE EUCHARIST"
I will say it drives me nuts that when the bishops repreat the teaching about who is eligible for the Eucharist, they are accused of "politicizing the Eucharist," but when people come to communion on one of the greatest feasts of the Church year wearing a garment advertising their opposition to Church teaching in order to force a confrontation at the sanctuary steps, that's perfectly OK, according to the secular press.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

SOMEONE GETS WHAT'S GOING ON
Via Amy Welborn an article by Tim Ruttan says what I've been trying to say for weeks now.

Has it ocurred to people that giving George Bush the Church's de facto blessing may not be the best thing to do right now? Why not make him sweat, and maybe tmeper his enthusiasm for the death penalty or for foreign war.

Yes, Catholics should end up voting for Bush anyway, but I'm not sure I'm willing to show all my cards just yet.

UPDATE: Ack! I just realized I used about my least favorite blogger tactic -- declaring someone "gets it" when they agree with me.

Oh well...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

HERE'S MY FRUSTRATION
Faced with a candidate who is pro-choice, we choose not to try to bring him into the fold, and help create an environment where both parties are amenable to pro-life arguments. No, instead we try to drive him as far to the extreme as possible, and urge our bishops to cut off any dialogue with him.

I can't help but think that something other than concern for the unborn is driving this.

Monday, May 24, 2004

WHERE I AM
I am still 100% against abortion and pro-life. I believe bishops have the right to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Those who say they don't should decide -- is abortion a moral issue that shouldn't be mixed into politics, or a political issue that shouldn't be mixed into religion? Catholic pro-choice politicians who say they need to "serve the interests of diverse constituents" ought to answer how their support for legal abortion serves their unborn constituents.

But there's something about this "deny Kerry communion" effort that really, really bugs me, as any reader can tell.

If the Republicans and Democrats were to switch positions on abortion, I'm honestly not sure how many of these critics would switch with it.

I think that for some the abortion issue is an excuse to vote for tax cuts and possibly unjust wars and pretend that we're not behaving sefishly.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

"I WANT THEM TO TEACH THE FAITH!"
There's lot of comments like this around the Catholic blogs. Usually it means the writer wants his priests or bishops to preach about abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, and not that other fluff like loving your neighbor and all.

Of course, the person making this complaint is already familiar with and has accepted the Church's teachings on these matters, so the complaint that, "I want the bishops to challenge us, not tell us how great we are," rings false to me. It seems more like these folks want the priests and bishops to tell them how great they are for being pro-life and not contracepting.

Which makes them not much different from the rest of us, except for one thing. They want to be told how good they are at the expense of others.

There's a word for that type of attitude. It has five letters and begins with a "p," and is something we're told to avoid.

Monday, May 10, 2004

TO BE WITH US YOU'VE GOT TO REALLY HATE THE ROMANS

  • It's not enough to recognize abortion as a moral evil.
  • It's not enough to favor laws that would outlaw most abortions.
  • It's not enough to favor laws that would outlaw all abortions.
  • It's not enough to oppose medical research that destroys embryos.
  • It's not enough to consider abortion the most important issue when determining to vote for.
  • It's not enough to believe that pro-choice public figures should not be invited to speak at or be honored by Catholic institutions.
  • It's not enough to think that pro-choice politicians should not present themselves for communion.
  • It's not enough to believe that denying communion to pro-choice politicians is a valid pastoral response.

No, in order to be a real pro-life Catholic, you must believe that all bishops and cardinals must deny the Eucharist to pro-choice politicians, or else they are disloyal to Rome.

And this is where I get off the bus.

It's a shame. Technology and experience are turning more and more people to the pro-life point of view. And what do they find there? Stupid internal bickering like this. We could be growing, and instead we're turning on each other.

Meanwhile, 3,000 unborn children are killed every day.

But we sure told Cardinal McCarrick, didn't we?

Ooh, yessir. He'll think twice now. I keep wondering what all this is supposed to accomplish.

"Well, we'll get McCarrick and all the bishops to stand up for the faith, and deny communion to Kerry and other 'pro-aborts' ."
"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well, the Church will be sending a clear message that the pro-choice viewpoint won't be tolerated!"

"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well, then no Catholic could believe that 'pro-choice Catholic' is a consistent position."

"And what will that accomplish?"

"Well,I'll have a good trump card in my comment war debates, and I guess I won't have to be bothered about whether the Iraq war is just or if the death penalty is OK or if we're taking care of the poor enough when I go to vote for Dubya in November, since nobody's being denied the Eucharist over those issues!"

"Oh, great, and what about the 3,000 unborn children killed everyday?"

I'm not sure it's a coincidence that this is coming to a head the same week abuses in prisons were found in the war pursued by our "pro-life" president.

I know this is the clich├Ęd "soft" Catholic Gospel reference (and I'm sure I'll hear about Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple in response), but I can't help but think of the Pharisees stoning the prostitute. Here we stand, rocks in hand saying, "Please, bishop, can we please throw them at Kerry!?" And some of the bishops, without excusing the sin, say, "Not so fast." And then we leave grumbling.

Last week there was some controversy over the bishops issuing statements opposing the Missouri legislature's cutting of Medicaid. Now, imagine there was some Catholic advocacy group for the poor. They took $500,000 and used it not to actually help poor people, not to work to pass legislation to help the poor, but to shame bishops into denying the Eucharist to legislatures who had voted to cut the funding.

Now I ask you, if an advocacy group did this, how seriously would you take their concern for the poor?

Do these people have any idea how all this bickering looks to those outside the pro-life movement?

It's all such a tremendous waste of time money and effort.

Meanwhile 3,000 babies will be killed.

But we sure told McCarrick a thing or two, didn't we?

UPDATE: I know, I know -- people fighting to deny the Eucharist to legislators who voted for Medicaid cuts would be on much shakier theological ground than those pushing to deny it to pro-choice politicians. My point is what would we think of a movement claiming to serve the poor that went about its goal by trying to shame bishops into denying the Eucharist to politicians it opposed.

Friday, May 07, 2004

ON THE KERRY THING
To my regret, I jumped back into the Catholic blogs this week, to all too predictably find, in a week when it was exposed that American soldiers were torturing Iraqi prisoners, some people still think the greatest crisis facing us is that some bishops don't think denying John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians communion is such a great idea.

I'm going to engage in some speculation, here. I simply don't think the best use of our time and effort in defending the unborn is to pester the bishops to deny politicians communion. And I'm not sure it matters to these advocates, since it doesn't seem to be what it's about, anyway.

Take this for example(via Mark Shea's blog). There's a, how do I put this?, glee there that seems a tad out of place in the service of confronting one spiritual fathers for insufficiently defending children's lives in a way similar to attitudes that contributed to the Holocaust, as in this passage:

Cardinal McCarrick Innitzer met privately with Kerry Hitler in mid-April. He said the encounter lasted nearly an hour and was "a good meeting, a meeting where we discussed many things." He declined to elaborate, saying that when he meets someone "as a priest" he does not think it appropriate to give details. "In present circumstances it is necessary to emphasise that the duty of the Church is the cure of souls— through worship, the sacraments, and preaching. She must remain aloof from all else," Innitzer said.


These advocates are fond of saying how serious an issue abortion is, and how there is no room for compromise. It seems strange that a moral failure on this would be an occasion for guffaws.

And I don't think it helps the pro-life cause at all to compare someone who favors keeping abortion legal to someone who institued the systemized exterminiation of 6 million Jews and started a bloody world war. That's how we start losing credibility.

I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but I have a real hard time believing that the "deny Kerry communion" movement is really all about defending unborn children. It seems to be a lot about power, and getting to be "right."

I wonder if all these people have considered the opportunity Kerry's candidacy presents. What if Kerry were to change his views on abortion, as the Democratic candidate for president? Wouldn't that completely change the dynamics of the debate? Wouldn't that be a flood of rain in a parched land? Isn't it possible that McCarrick and others recognize this opportunity?

You might say it's unlikely this would happen, but it's even less likely if the bishops excommunicate him or all deny him communion.

But this conversion isn't what many of these folks want. They want to be able to go into the voting booth, vote Republican, and leave the booth believing they've contributed to bringing about a Culture of Life. If the pro-choice stranglehold on the Democratic party were to be loosened, life wouldn't be quite so easy, would it? I think there's a lot of folks out there who fear, rather than welcome this development.

Plus, there's also the joy many Catholics seem to take in declaring themselves more orthodox, and better than the bishops. Take a look at this thread and see how people are willing to bend over backwards in order to translate and interpret a bishop's comments in order to criticize him.

I think I'll go back to my Easter "fast."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

THE MAIN PROBLEM
I am beginning to be convinced that one of the main sicknesses of American culture these days is that when someone raises an issue of injustice in the world, we respond by questioning where the messenger was when some other injustice was being committed by people we're less sympathetic too.

Veterans of pro-life debates are likely most familiar with this tactic. Witness for the unborn, and you'll be given all sorts of unsolicited advice about things you should do if you "really care so much about children."

Missouri bishops remind us not to negelct the poor when cutting the state budget, and are lecured about why they don't do more about life issues even though they do plenty.

And now, faced with the abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq, some are asking "where were these people when Saddam was decapitating people?"

We're all so eager to change the subject when we're actually challenged.

Monday, May 03, 2004

CRY ME A RIVER
Pro-choiceers can't stop being outraged that Karen Hughes dared to use the words "abortion" and "9/11" in the same sentence.

This shows how bereft of ideas the pro-choice movement is. Technology and experience are making it clearer that abortion is killing, and saying "killing's OK" isn't a winning argument.

So, all they have left to do is cry foul about how mean and terrible those pro-lifers are, even if they have to stretch to do it.
ATROCITIES ARE A PART OF WAR
Which is why people like me say the standard for when we pursue war ought to be pretty damn high.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I'M GIVING UP CATHOLIC BLOGS FOR EASTER
Somehow, talk about lousy liturgy, songs we don't like, wimpy bishops who won't excommunicate John Kerry, etc. detracts from my joy in celbrating the Resurrection.

I may or may not be back.

Monday, March 22, 2004

MOVE ON
I think the name of George Soros's organization provides an easy target for Bush, such as this:

Those who don't want Bush to be president have put together an orgaanization called "Move On.org." That's appropriate because that's been the Democratic response to every crisis of the past several years -- Move on, pretend it's not a big deal, let's talk about Social Security.

That's what they said when their president lied under oath. Maybe they were right, I don't know.

They're saying it again with our nation facing attacks from groups bent on destroying it.

It's tempting to bleieve that the threat isn't real, and place our attention on real, but less firghtening domestic problems.

But that is a mistake. The threat of global terror demands a greater response than "Let's move on."

I put that in quotes because I don't neccesarily agree with it, but think it could do some real damage.
MORE UNPLEASANT LILEKS STUFF
Today, James Lileks engages in my second least favorite of his tendencies -- barrellfishing

You'll notice that Lileks never engages serious opponenents to the war -- nope, it's always a silly celebrity, a college kid on a web board, or a silly protestor.

So, instead of confronting Richard Clarke's criticisms of the Administration, which is the subject of the day, Lileks picks on a protestor holding a stupid sign.

His argument for war seems to be:

  • I'm still pissed about 9/11.
  • I have a daughter
  • Them anti-war people are evil, idiots, or both, like this guy!

I have a daughter too, but that doesn't mean I think it's a good idea to piss off the world.

I think Lileks is a great writer, but I think if someone were to catalog reasons "why they hate us," he could do worse than to look at the Bleat.

Here's a guy with a wife, a daughter, a house and a dog. He's got not one job, but two. He tells of receiving shipments of DVD's he forgot he ordered, and constant shopping trips and travel. When his wife lost her job, he received all sorts of (unneeded) financial support.

Yet, he's got a chip on his shoulder. He's pissed off, and thinks you should be, too. And if you're not pissed off, he'll try to get you pissed off again. Don't you remember he has a daughter? Don't you remember how you felt in the days after 9/11?

I dunno, the self-congratulatory warbloggers just don't do much for me anymore.

UPDATE: For the strawman-hunters out there, I am not saying that Lileks's good fortune and irritability justify attacks on the US. I should also note that Lileks's donating of his donations to the Heifer Project is very laudable.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

EVERY READER LETTER ANDREW SULLIVAN EVER BLOGGED
While I'm tossing stones at the titans of the blogosphere, I figured I'd offer this:

Andrew,

I am a lifelong [Democrat/Republican]. I have voted for the [Democratic/Republican] candidate in every election I have ever voted in. Heck, I even voted for [Dukakis/Dole]!

But not this year. Every day, it becomes clearer that my party I have loved is going over the edge when it comes to [national defense/gay marriage], and I'm not going to be a part of it. It's pretty apparent that they're more interested in people like [Naom Chomsky/Pat Robertson] than people like me. Whatever happened to the party of [John Kennedy/Abraham Lincoln].

When the [Democrats/Republicans] show that they've gotten serious about [national security/gay rights], I might consider supporting them again. Until then, I will be what I always loathed -- a [Republican/Democratic] voter!


Sullivan seems to be a particular sucker for this type of message. I suppose becuase it is very flattering to Sullivan. The reader is finding himself hurtling over the edge, looks for some stronghold of reason to hold on to, and finds... Andrew Sullivan! It also allows Sullivan to make the case that even people of the opposite party agree with him.

But I suspect there's a lot fewer of these switch-overs than one would suspect by reading the letters Sullivan posts.

Friday, March 05, 2004

ARE WE AT WAR, DAMMIT?
James Lileks has one of his typical "this is war, dammit!" screeds today (scroll to the bottom). In it, he writes:

Okay. A simple quiz.

1. We should promote the rebuilding of the international community through the UN to stop tyrannical regimes through forceful nonviolent intervention.

Or:

2 "You?re either with us, or with the terrorists."

Imagine a bomb just went off in your local mall. Choose one.

This illustrates the fundamental error Lileks makes, and tries to persuade his readers into making. And I think it stinks.

A bomb did not just go off in my local mall. A horrible attack took place two and a half years ago. The government supporting it has been crushed.

Now, we have a lot of simmering people out there who might like to blow up the local mall, but have been stopped by vigilance and increased security. Or are thisclose to doing so, and some other action could put them over the edge. And these folks are spead out all over the world.

That being the case, yes, it might make more sense to cooperate with the UN, play their game, and let them help us squash them. And it might make sense not to go out of our way to piss more people off.

If the threats are coming from a specific place, then "taking the fight to them" makes sense. But if they're coming from all over the world, it might not be such a hot idea.

I guess what bugs me about entraties like Lileks's is that they're an invitation for us to turn off our brains and rely on our animal instincts. There's a gun to your head --- what do you do? Well, whatever gets that gun pointed away from my head.

But just because that's a good way to make decisions in that situation doesn't make it a good general model. But that's what Lileks wants us to do to reach his same conclusions. He wants to take us back to the days after 9/11 when we were all scared to death and clutching our loved ones, nervously turning on the news each morning, and wondering what came next. That should be the place from which we decide what actions to take.

Sorry, I don't buy it. Maybe this makes me a starry-eyed optimist who didn't comprehend the horror of 9/11, but I'm glad I don't live like that anymore. It's not a state than can be sustained for extended periods of time, nor should it be.

I'm glad the Taliban was dealt with. I'm glad al Qaida cells are being broken up. I'm glad that Saddam Hussein is out of power, although I'm not thrilled with the loss of credibility that came with it.

And that's my point. Even Lileks would have to agree that there were mistakes made in making the case to take out Saddam. That's what happens when you act as if you have a gun to your head. You make mistakes. You miss some details. You see threats where there might not be threats.

That's not the way I want to live, but it's the life James Lileks is inviting me too, though he would probably tell me it's not him, but the terrorists. I disagree.

If that's the life George W. Bush invites me to in November, I may need to decline.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

KATHERINE UPDATE
Not that anyone's asked, but Katherine is continuing to do well. She's up to 5 pounds, six ounces, and is taking all her feedings by nipple. She still has some heart rate drops, but will probably be home with us in the next week or so.

You can see the latest pictures of her here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

THE SHIFTING SAME SEX MARRIAGE ARGUMENT
There are two main thrusts to the argument for same sex marriage, and they contradict each other.

The initial thrust is that denying gays access to marriage to the partner of their choice is an affront to their dignity, makes them second class citizens, etc. Never mind that marriage is a statement about a relationship rather than people; their "feelings" are what's most important.

This usually leads to a stalemate between these feelings and the concerns by those opposed about what redefining marriage will do to the definition of it. Leading to...

The next thrust is the proponents insisting that marriage has nothing to do with children, and by extension, sex. In fact, this whole connection is an invention of social conservatives who are obsessed and hung up on sex. It's about "partnership" and "love." Sex and children have nothing to do with it, and you're some kind of pervert for thinking so.

Of course, this contradicts the initial argument that denying gays the right to marry someone of the sex they're attracted to is an affront to their dignity. If marriage isn't about sex, it shouldn't matter, should it? Gays should be free to form these loving partnerships that have nothing to do with sex or children with members of the opposite sex. It also makes one wonder what exactly they want "marriage" to mean. I'm committed to loving partnerships with lots of folks in my life, but I'm only married to one.

Well then, maybe sex and children do have something to do with marriage, and maybe we need to honestly consider what the impact of redefining marriage will have on children, don't we?

Thursday, February 05, 2004

TYPES OF DISSENT
This discussion of dissent leads me to what I think is a fundamental misunderstanding of what dissent is that I see out there. It goes like this:

Any dissent on "matters of faith" (i.e. dissent from the left) is wrong and gorunds for denial of communion.

Dissent on "prudential judgements" (i.e. dissent from the right), is always justified, and in many cases a solemn duty.

So long as the disagreement is about a "prudential judegement," all methods of argument are in bounds, and the dissenters are immune from any criticism. In fact, it's probably unfair to call them "dissenters" at all.

Thus, it is far, far worse to say, "I still don't see why women can't be ordained," or "The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary never did much for me," than it is to say, "The moving of my favorite priest is yet another example of the hierarchy's tone deafness toward the laity, and we are right not to listen to them." or "The hierarchy's opposition to the war in Iraq shows again its refusal to confront evil which was evidenced by the sexual abuse scandals."

I don't buy this line of thinking. I think the manner in which one dissents is as important, if not more important, than the matter upon which one is dissenting.

If I destroy the hierarchy's ability to teach in order to win an argument, I will not be consoled by the fact that the disagreement was over a "prudential judgement."
TRUTH Vs. REHTORIC
Interesting article in Slate about what happens when the emplty pro-choice rehtoric runs into the facts of more science revealing that embryos are life, and the expierience of women who had bought their lines and are now having trouble fulfilling their dreams of parenthood.

Who are the enemies of science again?

Thursday, January 29, 2004

WHAT MATTERS
Maybe it's having a newborn daughter in the hospital (picture of whom you can find here, but I don't care so much about what the Holy Father did or didn't say about The Passion and what folks in the Vatican did or didn't do to manage this information.

I think Mel Gibson will be OK regardless. There's other people the Church needs to worry about taking care of more than a very wealthy movie star.
RCIA
Every few weeks, there'll be a post on Mark Shea's blog like this one about how they went to RCIA and held hands and sang Kumbaya and were handed condoms on their way out the door each week along with a list of places to go to have a same sex wedding until the Church comes around on that issue.

Almost invaraibly, there will be a response like this one, along the lines of, "well, I had the same experience, and then I found this terrific orthodox preist who taught me the Real Faith in a series of one-on-one meetings, so I didn't have to put up with that nonsense."

And that sounds great, but in looking in the Catholic blogs, these seem to be the people most disillusioned by the scandals, as well as by the Church in general (though I may be colored by one prominent person with a conversion story similar to this.)

Why is this? I suspect that what RCIA is really good at is hooking people up with the horizontal aspect of being Catholic, being part of a community, and yes, this is an important part of being Catholic. The one on one instruction does a better job of getting across the instruction, but doesn't neccesarily help the catechumen to be part of a Christian community. These are generalizations -- I'm sure there's RCIA programs that do a great job on doctrine, and individual instructors who integrate the instruction with the life of the community.

Many of those who seek out the one on one instruction are in a very real sense already converted (hence their frustration with the conversion of heart based early RCIA sessions), while those showing up at an RCIA meeting aren't yet. This is why RCIA doesn't begin with the Catechism, which wasn't designed to be a text book anyway. This is also why it includes things like discussing the readings, which means getting the inquirers or catechumens in touch with the rhythm of the liturgical year. The goal is to have the catechumen accept Jesus, from which he will be disposed to accept the teachinga. The individual learner already accepts the teaching, and just needs to learn more about it.

This leaves each with unique problems.

The RCIA neophyte may be poorly equipped to handle challenges to Church teachings, either from his own deisres or the culture.

The individual instruction neophyte may be poorly equipped to handle scandals in the hierarchy, or teachings he personally disagrees with. Since the community doesn't do much for him, why stick around?

I think we need to find a method of catechesis that combines the best of these methods. The witness of many wonderful converts shows that our current methods aren't entirely failing, but there's certainly room for improvement.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

HOW I FEEL
Peter Vere nicely captures how I feel about the Democratic candidates.

I'm concerned about all the deficit spending we're doing. I'm not proud of the Iraq war or the way the Administration has represented us to the world.

But the only alternaitive is to vote for a candidate who first and foremost approves the killing of the unborn, and mocks and looks down on my concern about it.

When will the Democrats realize how many of us there are?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

FAIR WEATHER EVERYWHERE
When the partial brith abortion ban and bans on cloning were going through Congress, there was a lot of harping, from InstaPundit and others about how these bans were outside of Congress's powers, and that conservatives who favored them were "fair weather" federalists.

Well, now Barbara Boxer has introduced the "Freedom of Choice Act of 2004," which would "invalidate current restrictions on access to abortion and family planning health care services such as mandated delays and targeted and medically unnecessary regulations. "

I eagerly await the libertarian outcries about this attempted grasp of power by the federal governemt.
YOU KNOW
Seeing the timing of this article, I can't help but suspect that author's real problem with "vanity" 3-D ultrasounds isn't the safety of the child, but that it reveals that there really is a child in there, so maybe killing them isn't such an OK thing.

But that's me.

Monday, January 26, 2004

THEY'RE ALL THE SAME
Seems like all the Democaritc nominees are saying the same things.

Hmm, how could one of them distinguish himself?

How about taking on the abortion lobby, and catch on to the growing discontenet with the culture of abortion among young people? How about taking the side of women who are coerced to abortions by abusive boyfriends and people who told them it was no big deal?

Nah, then I might be able to vote for him.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

MY PROBLEM
Per this post, I didn't see it in time to post a response to the thread (been a bit busy), but I wanted to write down my thoughts.

I don't have a problem with people shedding light on the evils of the Church. I have a little bit of a problem, but not a huge problem, with people publically criticizing and disagreeing with prudential decisions of bishops.

What I do have a big problem with is using a pattern of sinfulness by bishops as a trump card in arguments when one disagrees with the bishops.

The discussion about the Arlington "Good Touch Bad Touch" program is a perfect example. Parents and others express outrage, others look at it and say there's really nothing wrong with it, and rather than detail what exactly is wrong with it, people cite it as just one more example of what's wrong with the bishops. So the choice presented is to either trust the Concerned Parents, or trust the pedophile-hiding celibate bishops who have no children of their own. You're with us or you're with the terrorists.

I'm sorry, but this is not Christian, and using this pattern of argument is an invitation to deaden the hierarchy's voice when it speaks on issues one might agree with. Just last Saturday, two different letters to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch used exactly this line of argument to oppose Bishop Burke's warnings to pro-choice politicians.

And before someone starts telling me about Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple and calling the Pharisees hypocrites, I think it's important to remember that Jesus focused on that particular behavior. He didn't say that this comes from the Pharisess, and the Pharisees are no good, thus this is no good.

This bishops are our spiritual fathers. Expose their sins if you must. Disagree with their prudential decisions if you must. But I feel very strongly that it's unwise to use their sins to destroy them personally in order to win an argument about a prudential decision.

Nobody wins that way.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

BABY BITES BLOG
I am pleased to announce the arrival of Katherine Grace McGuinness, born Tuesday morning at 8:50 AM.

Katherine came to us about two months earlier then expected, so she's still got some challenges, but, with God's help, she is off to a great start. She weighed 4 lbs., 7 oz. at birth.

Blogging, such as it is, will be even lighter.

Friday, January 16, 2004

FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Great weekend of football last weekend; let's hope this weekend continues the trend.
  • Colts at Patriots
    Man, am I looking forward to this game. Peyton Manning and his unstoppable offense against the Patriots defnese. Should be a close, fun game. And it looks like the whether will at least be tolerable.
    Pick: Colts
  • Panthers at Eagles
    I know I probably said something like this last year, but it's hard to imagine how the Eagles can lose this game. The fans won't let them/ McNabb won't let them. Last week's game, I think was a real breakthrough for him. He'll lead them to the Super Bowl.
    Pick: Eagles
SOME RIGHTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS
Regarding the AMerican Library Assosciation's decision not to support Cuban Librarirans jailed for making copies of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Nate Hentoff writes:

On December 9, one of Castro's defenders, Ann Sparanese, a member of the policy-making council of the ALA, sent a letter to her colleagues on the council, in which she wrote:

"Despite the fact that we as librarians prize them highly, political rights -- for instance, intellectual freedom -- is only one of a constellation of human rights, some of which Cuba respects in greater measure than the United States." Among those, she added, was "universal, free education."

Without "only" the intellectual freedom of conscience and speech, how can one defend any human right against a dictatorship? Or against any government, including ours?

Hentoff is right about this poppycock. But it illustrates a pro-life point.

All of the "constellation of rights" are dependent on the most fundamental right of all -- the right to life, or to put it another way, the right not to be killed.

If I can be killed for no reason, even in the womb, my right to "universal, free education" isn't worth a whole lot is it?

We've gotten to the point in rehtoric where all calims to rights are treated as equal. This case illustrates what happens when we do that.

Trading in the right to life for the right to self-determination is like trading the sun for a star in a dar away galaxy. It might be a pretty star, but the sun is our source of life. Once that's gone, we won't be around to enjoy the constellation.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

THE ARLINGTON CONTROVERSEY
Kevin Miller pretty much says what I think about it, though I'd add one more thing.

One of the criticisms of the program is that responses to the crisis should focus on preists, not children. I don't buy that.

I thought a big reason for the scandal was "clericalism" -- one form of which is the belief that if a priest says something is OK, it must be.

One of the goals of this program is to empower children to know that certain things are not OK, even when done or approved by a priest.

It seems like that would be important.

Monday, January 12, 2004

FOOTBALL THOUGHTS
Best weekend of football I can remember. Both my teams (rams and Eagles) involved in overtime playoff games. I don't think I've recovered yet...

Rams Fans And Media
After this weekend, I don't ever want to hear a Rams fans carp on about how much beter they are than the negative fans of the Northeast.

After turning on the team in the middle of the game on Saturday, they have spent the last two days criticizing an iffy decision by the coach and insisting that we need a new quarterback and all new coaching staff.

They forget a few things....

  • The Rams were 12-4 this year, despite a roster overhaul with this seemingly inept coaching staff and quarterback.

  • The Rams coaches and players didn't quit when they were behind in the game, unlike the fans who started booing them and leaving (leaving!) when the Rams got behind.

  • Andy Reid made the "aggressive" play and "trusted his quarterback" in a simialar position in last night's game. And what happened? On the first play there was almost an interception that would have cost the Eagles a chance to win the game, and there could have been an interference call that would make the field goal more difficult. On the second play, the quarterback was nearly sacked, which would have resulted in the time dripping off the clock and the Eagle not having a chance to win. And this was with Donovan McNabb, who'd been to two championship games, not second year starter Marc Bulger. Maybe it wasn't such a dumb call....

  • This wasn't the terrible indictment from Martz on Bulger the media are mkaing it out to be. Bulger had a nice year, but he's not Peyton Manning or Steve McNair at this point in his career, and I think he'd be the first to say so. Not putting the ball in his hands doesn't mean he never will.


Rams fans, excepting perhaps Yankees and Lakers fans, are the most spoiled fans in sports.

Quick hits

  • Few kickers look more pathetic when trying to make a tackle on a kick off than Mike Vanderjagt.
  • I wasn't hearing boos from the crowds in Kansas City and Philadelphia when their teams got behind....
  • 4th and 26!!???


That's it for now.

Friday, January 09, 2004

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
This is really a sucker weekend for playoff picks. Why? We've just seen all the road teams chalk up impressive victories. Meanwhile, we've forgotten how good the road teams are. It's tempting to think the road teams are coming in with "momentum" and "emotion", but they had to play a game last week, and the home teams didn't that's a big edge.
  • Panthers at Rams
    I don't really like this Rams team. They've got a good defense, but don't seem to handle the blitz well. Still, they've got offensive weapons, and the Panthers don't.
    Pick: Rams

  • Titans at Patriots
    To me, this is the easiest pick on the board. The Titans are banged up. The Patriots have won 14 straight, and have had a week to rest, and will be playing at home on a cold night against a (realitvely) warm weather team.
    Pick: Patriots

  • Colts at Chiefs
    Colts finished a lot stornger than the Chiefs did. Need a defense to win in the playoffs, though.
    Pick: Colts

  • Packers at Eagles
    Again, I'm not buying this "team of destiny" crap. The Packers needed overtime to beat the Seahawks, a terrible road team, at home. The Eagles are a better team than the Raiders, the Broncos' second team, and the Seahawks.
    Pick: Eagles

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

ROSE NOTES
Just to clarify, Pete Rose isn't kept out of the Hall of Fame because people think he's a bad guy. He's kept out because he broke a specific rule, one that is posted in every Major League Clubhouse, and one that effects the integrity of the game itself. So it's not neccesary to think Rose's bets are a morally worse offense than Babe Ruth's appetites or Ty Cobb's nastiness.

Also, betting on one's team is problematic, because as manager, Rose had the ability to influence which games the Reds won by his decisions about, for example, an ace relief pitcher. Is there specific evidence that this happened? No, but that's not the rule. The rule is you can't bet on games in which your own team is taking part.

Now, as Rob Neyer notes, maybe betting on your own team shouldn't be a hanging offense, and I have some sympathy for that argument.

What is true is that it doesn't matter if Rose is "truly sorry" or if he confesses, etc.

What's really a damn shame is that Rose is stealing the thunder from Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley, whose accomplishments we should be celebrating today.

Friday, January 02, 2004

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Back by lack of demand, my predictions for each NFL playoff game this weekend.

  • Cowboys at Panthers
    Neither team seems to be able to do much on offense, and both have good defenses. I'm thinking Parcells finds a way to push the Cowboys to vitory.
    Pick: Cowboys

  • Titans at Ravens
    Titans have a good passing game, but not much of a running game. Ravens have a good running game, but not much of a passing game. Both teams have strong defenses. I'm thinking it's easier to stop Jamal Lewis than Steve McNair.
    Pick: Titans

  • Broncos at Colts
    Don't know what to think of this game. The Broncos ran all over the Colts a couple weeks ago. I don't think the Colts will let that happen again.
    Pick: Colts

  • Seahawks at Packers
    Both teams have strong offenses. I don't buy the Packers mystique, but winning in Green Bay is a tall task for the 'Hawks. They're a year away.
    Pick: Packers