Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Looking back to get a hed

The New York Post today presents what its editors consider its best woods — front-page headlines.

I had to check to see if a certain one was in there —and, sure enough, it is, even though it's nearly three years and over 1,000 woods ago.

There's a reason the Post has to reach so far back for the height of its wit.

But it's no secret why the tabloid didn't reach back even further — and show the wood that an insistent Rupert Murdoch personally phoned in.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tiny bubbles

I am determined to make the most of YouTube's vintage treasures before the inevitable copyright crackdown.

Today, it's Tiny Tim on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," 1968, with an assist from Goldie Hawn. They don't make stars like this anymore:

Latin's making (air)waves

Holy Whapping's Matt Alderman gave an NPR reporter a glorious earful yesterday about the Tridentine Mass, shedding light on some important aspects of its appeal that are usually missed by the mainstream media. I chimed in too; listen for us this afternoon.

Jingle jangle morning

Some live Hollies for your Sunday, doing a song co-written by Chip Taylor ("Angel of the Morning," "Wild Thing") — listen for Graham Nash on the high harmony:

Gov for life

If you're in Maryland and support the right to life, Dawn Patrol commenter John Simmins is your man for governor.

Friday, October 27, 2006

'I have memories of her that can never be taken from me'

The Web site of South Dakota's Vote Yes for Life campaign features several video interviews with women who support an abortion ban because of their own experiences with abortion or with unintended or difficult pregnancies. Here is one of them, which you can also read on voteyesforlife.com.

Quote of the Day

"I know of a large HMO in Seattle that allows people to self-identify as whatever gender they choose. I wonder, will they also let a person self-identify as having perfect cholesterol, normal blood pressure and lack/presence of HIV infection? How about blood type? Perhaps one can self-identify a particlar weight and height one desires. If one can deny what the genes in every one of one's cells says, where's the harm in fudging on details like weight or clinical tests? After all, I may have "felt all my life" that I was blond haired, blue eyed, 6'2" and 180 pounds. Who is society to say I'm not? I'm just trapped in the body of a paunchy middleaged balding male.."

"Bob," responding to comments on the post "Loo-nacy"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not Going as 'Planned'

Former Planned Parenthood of South Dakota abortionist Patti Giebink appears in a commercial in favor of the the abortion ban that will be on that state's Nov. 7 ballot:

Uploaded by voteyesforlife

For more information or to donate so that this commercial will air on TV, visit voteyesforlife.com.

RELATED: NARAL co-founder Dr. Bernard Nathanson shows what Dr. Giebink used to do at Planned Parenthood:

Watch the rest of Nathanson's documentary on YouTube.

Welcome to Planned Parenthood's 'Nightmare'

A house of horrors, filled with blood and screams, where a maniacal child-killer armed with knives wreaks havoc as he targets teenagers who have sex — and it's run by Planned Parenthood and friends.

It would seem that the organizers of the ersatz hell house "Nightmare on American Street" lack a sense of irony.

An organizer of the show tells  City Paper, "'Nightmare' aims to present reproductive-rights horrors in a 'campy, palatable and fun way.'"

Yeah, I'm sure that patrons will be scared to death.

RELATED (and very graphic): The real reproductive-rights horrors — not so "campy, palatable, and fun." View at your own risk.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Always Room for Cello

Andrew Krucoff of the 92nd St. Y writes with a generous promotional offer of free concert tickets for the entire family:

We're reaching out to bloggers to give away some tickets to a Family Music concert this Sunday. Blogs, kids, classical music — you know, the stuff that makes the world go round. Want to offer them to NYC-area Dawn Patrol readers? Here's the event: "Mr. Cello Takes a Bow."

First five readers to respond through this e-mail form with "dawn" in the message box will get free tix, up to 2 parents and 4 children for each winner.

Monday, October 23, 2006

'Less' Is More

A thoughtful YouTube user posted this clip of Glen Campbell and Jackie DeShannon singing Campbell's "Less of Me," from the "Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" (1969). I'd never heard it before. Nice tune!

Medjugorje Fails 'Litmus Test'

Remember when Medjugorje's bishop offered Medjugorje's seers what at least one observer called a "litmus test" to determine whether their "visions" were authentic?

They failed the test. The "visions" are still being announced despite the bishop's call for the seers to refrain from publicizing them. I don't want to glorify them by linking to them, but they're easy enough to find on "official" Medjugorje Web sites — if one sifts through the sites' ads for officially licensed Medjugorje products.

Somehow, I think St. Bernadette would have refrained from publicizing her visions had her bishop urged her not to speak of them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Good morning! If you missed my post about answered prayer (which includes a prayer request), do check it out.

Pray for Msgr. Karl

My friend June Archer sends this request:

It was announced at Mass this a.m. that our pastor, Msgr. Ed Karl, was in the hospital with what doctors tentatively believe is pneumonia.

Msgr. Karl is 75. He submitted his retirement to the bishop in June, but asked for another year of service, having just pulled our parish (St. Mary's in Bethel, CT) out of debt ten years after the completion of a new church. He has been pastor for 14 years and is a much beloved figure. Somewhat shy, but a kind and gentle shepherd to his flock.

The family has been called and Msgr. is presently in the Intensive Care Unit at Danbury Hospital. Your prayers are appreciated for this lovely man.

Purple Strain

The northern New Jersey church I attended for Vigil Mass last night was outwardly stunning — a beautiful, towering stone structure dating from the 1830s.

Upon entering the large, incongruously modern glass doors (probably necessary to keep out the Jersey winter blasts), I saw that all the pews had been ripped out and the altar had been moved to the center of the church. The sanctuary had effectively become a theater-in-the-round. Rows of chairs faced each side of the altar, and each chair had a built-in shelf for a missal and hymnal. There were no kneelers.

Also, the entire floor of the massive structure was covered with blinding purple carpet. Well, it wasn't entirely purple; it had bright red flecks. Even the candlestick platforms on the altar were covered with the thick wooly fabric. It contrasted with the dull green cloth on the marble altar.

There were no places to kneel in the entire church, as far as I could see. While the stained glass windows remained, the walls seemed oddly bare, save for the small, tasteful Stations of the Cross and a tall, old crucifix leaning against a wall.

The tabernacle was nowhere in sight. I had the feeling I would need a metal detector to find it.

About 150 people were there, largely grandparents and grandkids — the parents presumably having a night out. No one kneeled during the entire service. I actually had trouble remembering when to kneel, because I couldn't recognize the different parts of the Eucharist service; they sounded different from what I was used to. Finally I figured out that when they were singing "Prince of Peace, you take away the sins of the world," they meant, "Lamb of God," so I kneeled when the song ended. I was in the front row, so it felt pretty weird.

And yes, I got rug burns.

Raving Goodbye

That's "goodbye" in the original sense, as in "God be with you," as our Raving friend sends the atheistic denizens of his forums off to a new Web site, separate from his own. He deserves blessings too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Being hostile to virginity is the ultimate misogyny. It means sneering at the innocence of children, and laughing at women who want sex to mean something more than just a hookup."

Wendy Shalit, quoted in Rachel Kramer Bussel's Village Voice column, "Like a Virgin: The Case Against Having Sex." Bussel, who is a senior editor for one of Penthouse's publications as well as the Voice's "Lusty Lady," has lately been displaying an interest in chastity that is unusual (if not unheard of) for a sex columnist.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Answered Prayer — and Another Prayer Request

Many thanks to everyone who prayed after I requested prayers the other day in hope of giving someone a Miraculous Medal. Your and my prayers were answered. Here's what happened:

I went last night to a charity benefit where the keynote speaker was a celebrity. I was invited to the benefit because, the charity's publicist told me, I was responsible for the celebrity's agreeing to speak at the event. The star had read an article I had assigned that detailed the good works the charity does, and it apparently made a great impression upon her — so much so that she was willing to lend her talents to help the organization.

The celebrity in question is not someone whom I would ordinarily go out of my way to meet. I used to admire her both for her talent and her views; now only her talent draws my admiration. Although she attracts anger from some quarters, and she gives her time and money to causes I abhor, I don't hate her — I just don't like her, or what she stands for. So it was a shock to me that she chose to aid an international-aid charity that I support wholeheartedly, one which would benefit greatly from her high-profile help.

The charity's publicist told me in advance of the benefit that he would be introducing me to the star, so I had some time to think about what I would say to her. What came to me, almost instantly, was that I wanted to give her a Miraculous Medal. I'd recently bought 50 of them and had them blessed by a priest, so that I could give them away as did my patron saint Maximilian Kolbe.

There were other things I could have done, like trying to tell the star what I believed to be the error of her ways. But she was used to receiving a hostile reaction from people, and I didn't think I could say anything to change her. On the other hand, receiving a Miraculous Medal might, God willing, help her open herself up to divine grace, which was the only way that I could imagine her heart might ever change. The star had already let in some of that grace in recent years, saying publicly that she had become a Christian. But she also said she resisted certain aspects of the faith's doctrine — being put off by what she called its "patriarchy."

I entered the gorgeous Cipriani 42nd St. last night and immediately saw the celebrity being photographed in a press area off to the side. Although the area was brightly illuminated, she had that classic quality of a star who seems to exude her own light. She was more beautiful in person than in the photos I had seen, which is saying quite a bit.

The publicist for the charity spotted me. As I quickly fished the medal out of my purse and clasped it in my left hand, he brought me up to the star, introducing me as the editor who had assigned the story she had read about the organization. She graciously thanked me for the story and shook my hand.

I had thought and prayed beforehand about what I would say. The message I received in prayer was that I could give the star the medal only if I could present it as a sign of God's love for her. Left to my own devices, I would not want to exhibit a loving spirit to the star. However, it seemed that if I wanted anything good to come of the interaction, I didn't have a choice.

The first thought that came out of my mouth was not anything I had practiced. I was feeling an overwhelming sense of awe at the fact that this woman, with whom I disagree on so much, could be doing such good by appearing at an event as a result of something I had done. The idea that she and I could be connected by charitable motivations was amazing to me.

So, I said, "As a Catholic, I believe in the Communion of Saints, which means that people on heaven and earth are connected to one another. I believe that you are a member of the Communion of Saints, so I would like you to have this Miraculous Medal."

She put out her right palm. That sentence should be in capital letters, lit up like a neon sign. SHE PUT OUT HER RIGHT PALM to receive the medal! Glory Be!

As I put it in her hand, I added something that I had thought beforehand of saying: "It represents God's love that transcends gender — something you've talked about."

She put the medal in her purse. I think she also nodded and said a soft "thanks," but I can't quite recall. I only remember that I smiled and said, "Thank you," and turned around to exit her presence. Mission accomplished!

Now it's up to Jesus, through Mary, to grant the graces that will determine whether the medal's recipient becomes another Ratisbonne. You can help with your prayers. Please pray for Jane Fonda.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Prayer Request

As you may know, I recently purchased a number of Miraculous Medals from Marytown's online gift shop and had them blessed so that I could give them away. (In fact, I'm afraid I still owe some medals to readers who requested them — I got caught up in other things and forgot to send them out.)

Tomorrow, I am going to see someone who is not a Catholic, yet I believe that this person in some way needs a Miraculous Medal. That is, this person needs to experience the love and graces that God allows Mary to bestow — and that this person may be more willing to open his or her heart to such love and graces if this person has a Miraculous Medal.

Please pray for the person to whom I intend to give the medal, and please pray for me — that I will know the right way to approach this person. Also, please pray that I will approach this person only if the moment is right — that I won't come across as pushy, but only kind.

Thank you! I'll let you know what happens.

An Acceptable Alternative to 'Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On'

The Village Voice recommends spending some time with my friend Kevin Walsh's book in pajamas (or less). Congratulations, Kevin, on the wonderful press!

Quote of the Day

" . . . but the universe is not intelligently designed, then you're saying the universe just naturally came into existence, continues existence, through natural laws of nature, through physics, thermodynamics, the laws of gravity and energy, produced you, eventually, and then through you produced this book that proves that it has no natural intelligent design."

— Stephen Colbert — or, as the Raving Atheist notes, "'Devout Catholic' Stephen Colbert," to Richard Dawkins, on "The Colbert Report." For the rest of the interview, read the Raving Atheist's transcript, appropriately headlined Atheist vs. Atheist."

Contest Marks 80th Anniversary of Planned Parenthood Founder's Speech at Klan Rally

The Truth About Margaret Sanger is holding its second annual contest marking an important event in the life of Planned Parenthood's founder:

It is time again for the Margaret Sanger at the Ku Klux Klan Rally Art Contest. This year's contest will highlight the 80th Anniversary of Margaret Sanger's speech to the the women's branch of the Silver Lake Ku Klux Klan. In her own 1938 autobiography, Margaret Sanger An Autobiography (1971 reprint by Dover Publications, Inc. of the 1938 original published by W.W. Norton & Company) Sanger indicates at pages 366-367 that the she got along quite well with members of a New Jersey branch of the Ku Klux Klan at her 1926 speech, eventually getting a "dozen invitations to speak to similar groups."

Participants in this year's contest are encouraged to commemorate Sanger at the Klan rally in unique artistic ways. Drawings, cartoons, historical novels, haiku, dance, plays, videos, paintings, quilts, rap, actual photos of Silver Lake, modern interpretations of Sanger speaking to the Klan, reenactments of the actual speech on YouTube, audio recordings of actual Sanger quotes she may have reused when speaking to the Klan - - there is no limit to the artistic ways this historic event can be commemorated.

The Big Abortion Industry still holds Margret Sanger out as an icon. Artwork is one more important ways to promote the truth about Margaret Sanger.
Read the full entry for details on how to enter.

RELATED: Margaret Sanger's own account of her speech to the Klan group.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

"... Humans are indeed sexual beings, but our sex lives cannot define us. Embrace that notion, and its eventual, inescapable conclusion is that humans are nothing more than highly civilized animals.

"Sex is no longer sacred. Tragically, many of us are stunned to hear anyone claim it ever was.

"Thankfully an alternate view exists, one which holds that our sexual nature speaks staggering truths about who we are, about the human capacity for relationship, intimacy and participation in the creation of new life. ..."

— Louisiana State University student Emily Byers, "PPFA Hiding from Ideas of Its Roots"

'Y' Me

Many thanks to Andrew Krucoff for posting a Q&A with me on the 92nd St. Y's blog in advance of my taking part in a panel discussion tomorrow at the Y's Makor nightclub. I'll be one of three panelists in "Cutting to the Chaste" along with sex columnist Grant Stoddard and best-selling author Ian Kerner (whose observations on oxytocin were helpful to me when I was writing my book).

My upcoming book, The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, is available for preorder on Amazon.com.

Monday, October 16, 2006


It is absolutely amazing how many people wait until the very last day of the six-month extension before paying their taxes.

The line at the James A. Farley Post Office at 10 p.m. last night looked positively purgatorial — like a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

I finally made it to the front — after waiting for more than an hour.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

No Sects, Please — We're British

Sorry, I just liked that headline. But there is indeed a story in today's Telegraph about a member of the Church of England's Synod asserting that the church has given up on its Biblical mandate to convert non-Christians, particularly Muslims. According to the article, he has some support from other Synod members. From the story:

Paul Eddy, a member of the General Synod, the Church's ruling body, said that the active recruitment of non-believers had always been a Biblical injunction on Christians.

But he claimed that the bishops were deliberately down-playing evangelisation among other faiths for fear of upsetting minority groups and their role in inter-faith talks.

Mr Eddy, from the Winchester diocese, has now tabled a private member's motion aimed at forcing the Church to clarify its position on what is potentially a highly sensitive issue. ...

... He said the Church's official statements tended to gloss over the issue of converting Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or followers of other religions. His motion calls on the bishops to report back on "their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain's multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none".

"My Muslim friends say they can't understand why we Christians don't evangelise more, especially as they have a strategy to convert Britain," said Mr Eddy.

"The Church needs to regain confidence in the God it professes to believe in, and a new confidence in the Gospel it should be proclaiming. And that starts with a clear steer from the bishops."

His motion follows growing concerns that the Government's efforts to turn Britain into a multi-faith society has eroded the influence of the majority Christian Church.
[Full story]
RELATED: British Airways has suspended a flight attendant who refused to remove her small crucifix. Rules set by the airline's "diversity team" allow Sikh employees to wear their traditional iron bangle.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Forgiveness, Grace, and Mercy

The following is a statement released yesterday by Marie Roberts, widow of Charles Roberts, the gunman who committed the Amish school shooting that left five girls dead and five more wounded:

From the Roberts family:

To our Amish friends, neighbors, and local community:

Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that you’ve extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards, and gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.

Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives.

RELATED: "Shoot Me First, Amish Girl Said to Ask"

Friday, October 13, 2006

He's a Rebel

What struck me about G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday when I first read it, as an agnostic Jewish rock journalist who thought Christians were boring and conformist, was that it presented faith as a rebellion against the world. Until then, I had assumed that Christians ran the world, and that the only way to be a rebel was to oppose them — even as I might ostensibly agree with them on things like that "do unto others" stuff.

I later discovered that the feeling I had received from Chesterton's fictional work was fully articulated by him in Orthodoxy:

"Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king."

Profound enough, but Chesterton immediately gets even deeper:

"Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point and does not break. In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologise in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay, (the matter grows too difficult for human speech,) but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist."

I am going to remember that as I pray tonight — that Jesus loves me so much that He even peered into the depths of hopelessness for my sake, so that he would be "touched with the feeling of [my] infirmities." I will also ask Him for the grace of being able to look beyond my own infirmities and show others that same empathetic love that He shows me.

Gilbert Nails It

"Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel, or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.

"Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc."

— G.K. Chesterton, "A Piece of Chalk"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


[Post removed by popular demand.]

Across the Street
By Guestblogger 
Dennis Schenkel

[The following is cross-posted from Dennis Schenkel's Vita Mea blog. Dennis is a Catholic seminarian. The prayerful, nonconfrontational approach to witnessing outside abortion clinics that he describes is practiced in many cities by Helpers of God's Precious Infants. — Dawn]

I'm interested in thoughtful opinions on something.

This past Friday, 34 seminarians fasted from lunch for women who were considering abortion so that the money that would have been spent on lunch could be sent to the Pregnancy Resource Center in Louisville, KY. Then on Saturday morning, 9 of us went to Louisville to pray the rosary at the abortion facility and be prayerful witnesses to the truth of the goodness of life.

(In case anyone is interested, here is the website for the Louisville abortuary. Reading their descriptions of the surgical "procedures" is enlightening.)

This past Saturday morning, 18 separate women entered the abortuary with the intention of ending a pregnancy, perhaps not realizing that they were ending a life, perhaps even inflicting a mortal wound upon their hearts as well.

In Louisville, there are no buffer zone ordinances, so people who oppose abortion can stand on the sidewalk right up to the door of the facility. Also, the facility fronts right onto the sidewalk, unlike many Planned Parenthood facilities with large fenced in parking lots.

On a typical Saturday morning, some 20 or so Catholics and a few other Christians will stand on either side of the sidewalk in front of the abortion facility and pray the rosary. When a woman shows up for an abortion, she parks in the lot across the street where she is surrounded by helpful abortuary escorts who help her speed quickly across the street, past the people praying, past the sidewalk counselors offering alternatives and other information, into the abortuary. The escorts make sure that the woman moves as fast as she can, because any delay could mean that a sidewalk counselor might actually get to have a conversation with the woman.

As they are rushing the woman to the front door, they pass through the midst of the pray-ers on the sidewalk, who do not hinder them. They continue praying their rosaries, taking what is in their mind a brave stance against the injustice of killing innocents.

The woman, from her perspective, sees simply a large crowd gathered near the door of the abortuary, and, already in turmoil with her own fears, and wishing this was already over with and behind her, doesn't mind being hurried in. The crowd near the door might even appear hostile, because while the Catholics are all praying the rosary, there is always a stray Protestant or two shouting things like "Don't be a Murderer! You're killing your Baby!" From the woman's perspective, there is no way to distinguish the people praying from the one or two shouting.

So we seminarians pray across the street. We think it's less scary for a woman, and so she won't feel as rushed to hurry into the "safety" of the lobby of the abortion facility. We think the escorts currently have the fantasy that they are protecting women from fanatics, but that if the people praying were on the other side of the street, in a non-threatening posture rather than "in your face," the escorts might begin to think they aren't really necessary, and they might stop showing up to volunteer on Saturday mornings. And we think if the escorts disappeared, then there would be more opportunity for the sidewalk counselor to do what she is there to do, which is help women who are scared and fearful have more knowledge about their options.

Some of the Catholics who stand to pray near the entrance of the abortuary have questioned whether we seminarians are truly willing to confront the evil. They wonder if we are actually dedicated to the cause of life, or if we have been compromised by some other agenda.

What do you think?

Strange Bedfellows

Joseph Pepper Bryars writes: "Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, announced last week that it has joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), sharing membership with such organizations as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Junior League, the Teamsters, YMCA and the National Bar Association, among others."

Read Bryars' blog for the full story, and see LCCR's Web site for a full list of its members.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Praise the Lord and Flash My Erudition
Incomplete Impressions of a Joy-Filled Junket

There's no way that I can describe even a small part of the fun and fellowship I enjoyed from Thursday through Sunday at the sixth annual Baptist Press national Collegiate Journalism Conference. These are just a few hit-and-run impressions:

My three days in Nashville got off to a lovely start Thursday night after I lugged my overstuffed overnight bag into a shuttle van at the airport, where the only other passenger was a blonde coed chatting on her cell phone. The party on the other end of the line must have asked her if she was safe, because she answered, "There's another girl here."

She couldn't see it, because she was sitting in front of me in the van, but I positively beamed at the teen's calling me a "girl."

After the coed disembarked at Vanderbilt University, I asked the driver what was the stunning, palatial old stone building with the clock tower that was coming up on our right.

"That's your hotel," he said. "It used to be a train station."

I could not believe it. So that was Union Station! I'd had no idea that the hotel was at a historic site — a landmark, no less. What's more, it was easily the most beautiful station I'd seen, Grand Central notwithstanding.

Looking up in Union Station's lobby

One of the "Angels of Commerce" on the lobby's walls

The next morning, as I walked out of the hotel toward the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Building, the first building I saw was the giant Lifeway Christian Store across the way. Something told me I wasn't in Manhattan anymore.

* * *

I grabbed some breakfast from the faculty buffet in the "parlor" (a term that sounded quaint to these Yankee ears). It was immediately apparent that I could not avoid red meat in this town. Practically every item on the buffet had red meat. Even the fruit had red meat. (Just kidding on that one.)

Over in the auditorium, singer Jaime Jamgochian, who led the musical worship before the keynote speech (and who currently has a #1 hit on inspirational radio), wore a T-shirt imprinted, "Modest Is Hottest."

* * *

Dr. Michael A. Longinow is a rock star.

Watching the Biola professor deliver his keynote speech alongside PowerPoint slides, I hoped I would be half as engaging as him when delivering my own speech the next day. He walked a perfect, fine line between warning the nearly 100 students about what to expect at a media job (e.g. colleagues who assume that devout Christians are scary) and giving them hope. On the latter count, he urged them to perform well at their jobs and thereby earn the right to confidently display their faith. (He wasn't speaking of First Amendment rights, but rather of demonstrating to one's co-workers that faith can be part of the makeup of a talented, hardworking journalist.) He held up the legendary McCandlish Phillips, formerly of The New York Times, as an example of a Christian journalist whose undeniable talent essentially forced his media colleagues to take him seriously.

More tomorrow ...

Just got back from a working weekend where I had a beautiful time — will give details late tonight. I stayed at this amazing hotel built in a turn-of-the-century railway station; it was my idea of heaven.

Many thanks to the Anonymous Guest Blogger for picking up the slack while I was gone.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Greater Need for Race-Based Abortion and Sterilization, Say Experts

A News-Based Satire by The Anonymous Guest Blogger

New York, New York, October 8, 2006
Special to The Dawn Patrol

The racial and ethnic composition of two New York neighborhoods indicates an urgent need for more abortions and sterilizations, according to reproductive rights experts [see original story below].

The comments were made in opposition to a proposal to retain Catholic medical restrictions after merging two Queens hospitals, Mary Immaculate in Jamaica and St. John's Hospital in Elmhurst.

"It's very clear to me that there is an unmet need for these reproductive services," said Lois Uttley, the director of The Merger Watch Project, a group supported by Planned Parenthood and The New York Civil Liberties Union, which monitors health care mergers involving Catholic hospitals.

Alice Berger, the vice president of Health Care Planning at Planned Parenthood, cited the diversity of Queens in reiterating Uttley's argument.

"The ethnic and racial diversity of these Queens neighborhoods, coupled with the need for comprehensive reproductive health services, indicates that these community hospitals should be made to broaden rather than restrict vital preventive services," Berger said.

Berger based her conclusion upon a comprehensive anthropological study tracking population trends among certain genetically-defined races and ethnicities. "The explosive growth in certain communities rivals that of the upstate deer population, indicating a need for the immediate implementation of reduction and weeding procedures," she said. Berger added that the researchers had conducted extensive interviews with the proposed subjects of the cleansing project, many of whom expressed concern that their numbers were out of control.

Original news article, from the Times Ledger:

Mary Immac abortion ban questioned
By Craig Giammona
As the sale of two Queens hospitals to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center winds its way through the state approval process, a provision in the deal requiring Catholic medical restrictions to remain in place at both facilities is causing consternation among reproductive health advocates.

Wyckoff is attempting to purchase Mary Immaculate in Jamaica and St. John's Hospital in Elmhurst from Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers, which filed for bankruptcy protection last summer. Health care advocates and borough politicians are hopeful that the takeover, which received the blessing of a bankruptcy judge in June, will save both hospitals.

And while a decision is expected from the state sometime in November, reproductive health advocates are lobbying the Department of Health to nix a part of the deal that would require Wyckoff to operate both facilities under Catholic medical restrictions currently prohibiting contraceptive counseling, abortions, sterilizations and other reproductive services.

"It's very clear to me that there is an unmet need for these reproductive services," said Lois Uttley, the director of The Merger Watch Project, a group supported by Planned Parenthood and The New York Civil Liberties Union, which monitors health care mergers involving Catholic hospitals.

Uttley acknowledged that is important for both hospitals to stay open, but said she would like to see "more services."

Uttley recently told the State Hospital Review and Planning Commission's Project Review Committee that the two Queens hospitals should relinquish their Catholic identity when and if they are taken over by Wyckoff, which is a public hospital.

"The two hospitals in question will no longer be Catholic hospitals," she said, adding that if the current plan is approved, it will represent "a most unfortunate missed opportunity to improve the health care of thousands of women and families who rely on these two hospitals for their health care needs."

Alice Berger, the vice president of Health Care Planning at Planned Parenthood, cited the diversity of Queens in reiterating Uttley's argument.

"The ethnic and racial diversity of these Queens neighborhoods, coupled with the need for comprehensive reproductive health services, indicates that these community hospitals should be made to broaden rather than restrict vital preventive services," Berger said.

Speaking at a community meeting in Jamaica Friday, David Hoffman, Wyckoff's general counsel, acknowledged that the accord includes a provision to "maintain the Catholic identities" of both St. John's and Mary Immaculate. He said there are people in the community on both sides of the debate and that Wyckoff included the provision in its bid because it "represented the best opportunity to save the two hospitals."

Uttley believes Wyckoff agreed to continue the Catholic restrictions because it made Wyckoff a "more attractive bidder" to Saint Vincent's. But she argued that because Wyckoff was the only bidder, the provision should be scrapped.

Hoffman downplayed this line of reasoning Friday, although he did acknowledge that the Wyckoff proposal was drafted under the assumption that other bids would be submitted for the two Queens facilities.

"We knew we couldn't come in with more money," he said. "We put together the best plan to keep these hospitals alive."

Hoffman said there was something to be gained by maintaining the status quo at Mary Immaculate and St. John's, two facilities which must be nursed back to economic health. This included keeping the Catholic restrictions in place, Hoffman said. Hoffman said Wyckoff will use its experience operating a hospital in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to bring both Queens hospitals back to economic viability.

Wyckoff's bid to purchase the two facilities includes the creation of Caritas Health Care Planning Inc., a new entity that will oversee both Mary Immaculate and St. John's. Hoffman acknowledged that two representatives designated by the Diocese of Brooklyn will sit on Caritas' seven-person board of directors.

©Times Ledger 2006
Thanks to Dan S. for retrieving the Times Ledgerarticle.

Friday, October 6, 2006

I'm too busy to post today, and likely won't be able to blog again until Sunday night. However, please stay tuned for a guest post tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Staring a 'Hard Decision' in the Face
By Guestblogger
Tragic Christian

From the AP story about Ms. Magazine's abortion petition:

Another signatory ... described her difficult decision last year to have an abortion after tests showed that she would bear a son with Down syndrome.

"I felt it was my right to make the decision, but having that right doesn't make the decision any easier," she said. "It was the hardest decision I've ever made"...
I'm a man, so I'm not supposed to have an opinion about abortion. Instead, let me tell you about the wonderful morning I had yesterday, taking my 2-year-old daughter Dot to speech therapy and physical therapy. Her major interest right now is reciting the colors (which she does in English and American Sign Language, yet) and reciting the names of her boyfriends in her early start toddler class ("Edgerrrrr! Androooo!") and informing me they wear "backpacks." She waved at everyone she saw that day with a cheery "Hello!" and smiled a gap-tooth smile under her mop of red hair. They smiled and waved back. What a cutie!

Oh, sorry — she has Down Syndrome. Reboot. Let me try again:

Bringing her to term was obviously a big mistake! What a tragedy SHE is! How inconvenient for everyone involved! We can't possibly get her into advanced placement classes, or an Ivy League college! What'll we say to our neighbors? Better off just to make the "hard decision" to get rid of her. Ignore my first paragraph. Just forget I said anything ...

Dot is one in a million — actually, about 1 in 14, because that's how many Down Syndrome children are born in this country every day. And that's only because, every day, about 126 Down Syndrome children are aborted.

Is this a sore point for me? Yes. Looking at the numbers, it's hard for me to take seriously the argument that aborting a Downs-diagnosed unborn child is a "hard decision." Since 80%-90% are swept into eternity before birth, it's apparently a very easy decision most of the time. It's us 10%-20% who determine to have them and raise them who make the hard decision, one that we live with every day.

When Dot was gestating, my wife did not have an amnio — she is an older mom, and amnio has significant risks that we didn't want to take. We didn't care what an amnio would show, anyway. While my wife is pro-choice, we wanted this baby and abortion was never an option for us. The ultrasounds were suggestive of serious problems, but we were determined to have her and love her and deal with her however we had to, with God's grace.

When Dot was born, most of the alarums that were raised by the ultrasound were baseless — but she did have Down Syndrome. And she did spend her first three weeks in the NICU, and had major surgery to resolve an intestinal blockage, which happily was successful. And we began our plunge into Disability World.

When you're in the world our family lives in, certain things rise to the surface and stick to your brain. A few months ago, I read a review of a new biography of playwright Arthur Miller. It noted that Miller and his first wife had a son with Down Syndrome who was immediately institutionalized after birth. (Nobody seems to know what happened to him, by the way.) A few weeks later, in another book review about some mid-century literary couple (unknown to anyone outside of Manhattan, I guess) it mentioned that they, too had a child with Down Syndrome who was hustled off to the institution so this couple could continue their life of celebrity unimpeded. That's what people did then.

Here's what else has risen to the surface for me this year: in New York state, Carrie Bergeron, a teacher's aide, and Sujeet Desai, a six-instrument musician, were married this summer and live independently with help from their parents and social services; Lee Jones, who recently received a college degree in recreation and fitness, leads an exercise class for the disabled near Kansas City; and we were privileged to meet actress Andrea Fay Friedman, considered for an Emmy for her work on "Law and Order: SVU." All of these young people have Down Syndrome, and have accomplished things that would never have been imagined even ten years ago.

I have a cousin in her 50s with Down Syndrome, so it's not unknown to my experience. What surprised me, once we entered Disability World, is how much has changed since my cousin was born. Thanks to early and aggressive therapeutic intervention, Downs kids are doing better than ever. Dot receives speech therapy twice a week, physical therapy twice, occupational therapy every Thursday — paid for by the state of California. The local school district offers an early-start toddler class for special needs kids, one teacher per three students — also for free. After that, she will go into a Pre-K class, and be mainstreamed into the local school.

Now, in many respects, our family is lucky. Dot is highly functioning. We have great health insurance, and my wife, as a physician, makes enough to allow me to spend my days with our three kids (two handicapped). But we also rely on the great help from public agencies, which is available to everybody, to give our daughter a running start on life.

Why do people abort Downs babies? I blame two factors: one is that physicians usually aren't up to speed as to the incredible advance in treatment and education for Downs kids. The anecdotal evidence I've heard is that most OB-GYNS are fairly ignorant of the progress made in raising kids with Downs, and rely on old information from the "institutionalize 'em" days. The other factor is that easy abortion gives people a consumer mindset with regard to their own children — it makes children fungible, to be replaced by another model if found defective.

I've never been comfortable with the pro-abortion line — even as a student in a liberal seminary, or as a Unitarian Universalist minister, where the "pro-choice" position is a given, I couldn't find pro-abortion arguments convincing. (I'm now a disgruntled Episcopal layman with Eastern Orthodox tendencies). Now, that I have two kids with serious disabilities (my son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), I find the pro-abortion line less convincing than ever.

Because (1) I ain't perfect, either, and I'm glad Mom decided to keep me despite that, and (2) these kids are still in the image of God. Every day, they display for me qualities of courage and love of life that humble me and take my breath away. They are also a living testimony to me about the value of human life in our world, and the blessing of compassion. And more — they remind me that the Incarnation was God disabling himself, in order to be able to share fully our life on Earth.

Living life with these children — bright, funny, loving, compassionate — has enriched me more that I can say, and gives me a glimpse of what it must be like in Heaven.

Is it hard? Yes it is, at times. Do I look longingly at families who don't have to deal with what we have to? Yes, I do. Would I like to go out in public sometimes and not deal with pitying looks, condescension, and "you're so brave?" Yes I would.

Because I'm not brave at all — not compared to these children. They exemplify courage every day. And as God is good, I have no doubt that they will spend their life in eternity freed from the bonds that restrict them on earth, even as you and I will be freed from our own bonds that may be less obvious. While aborting them may be characterized as a "hard decision" — let me tell you that holding them in your arms every day ends up being an easy decision, indeed!

Thanks, Dawn, for letting me vent!

Grace and peace,

Tragic Christian

Quote of the Day

"Feminism is only for old, useless hags and silly little girls."

Jill Filipovic

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

We Will Bury You, Rolling Stones

In honor of my Stones-fan friend Michael Lynch, here is a very special treat this morning: a Russian beat band doing a Brazilian beat band's ode to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Ladies and gentlemen, from behind the Iron Curtain, I present to you Poyuschie Gitary (The Singing Guitars) with "Byl Odyn Paren'" — a Russian-language version of the Brazilian group Os Incriveis' "Era Um Garoto Que Como Eu Amava Os Beatles E Rolling Stones":

Could someone who speaks Russian please tell me what these guys are actually singing? Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out whether the dude with the shades is borrowed from Freddie & The Dreamers, or if he's the son of Dr. Strangelove.

Action Alert

Associated Press writer David Crary writes about Ms. magazine's "We Had Abortions" campaign to get women who support a legal right to abortion to declare publicly that they themselves had abortions.

For balance, Crary uses a perfunctory quote from Judie Brown of American Life League — calling the Ms. project "evil" — which he simply grabbed from a previously published report. The rest of his report consists of new quotes from the Ms. staff and women who contributed to the magazine's article. Nowhere does he solicit quotes from leaders of established organizations like Operation Outcry and Silent No More who have had abortions and have attempted to give their side of the story to Ms. editors.

I cannot imagine an Associated Press reporter doing a story on a Silent No More campaign and not bothering to acquire a new, substantial rebuttal from Planned Parenthood.

If you have had an abortion and wish to enlighten Crary, showing him the perspective he failed to seek, e-mail him: dcrary@ap.org. You should copy the e-mail to his editor and AP executives; the most recent names and e-mails I have for AP higher-ups are Burl Osborne, chairman, bosborne@ap.org; Tom Curley, president and CEO, tcurley@ap.org; and Kathleen Carroll, executive editor, kcarroll@ap.org.

Cleaning House

Yes! I just found out that my local library takes old books. (They warned, "No dictionaries," but I will duly try to sneak one in.) Now I can drop off my old books and take my old clothes to the thrift store (which doesn't take books), and voila! Four square feet of new closet space, which will instantly disappear.

If you have books you don't read and can't find anyone to take them, looks like the library's the way to go.

Thank you, St. Anthony!

Monday, October 2, 2006

'Encounter' Culture

Steve Clarke just put up more delightful clips from his and Janet Hall's "Our Brief Encounter". My favorite so far is their take on the "cinema scene." There's something surprisingly touching and romantic about the interplay between the couple. Clarke puts real tenderness into his portrayal; it's not surprising that he and Hall are really a couple. And of course, you've got to love hearing that dialogue with the pair's Northern accents:

The shot of the woman at the Mighty Wurlitzer is a special bit of lagniappe for those who know the original "Brief Encounter".

Then there's the Clarke/Hall take on the "Running for the Train" scene, which is fascinating; the "subway" remains the same after 60 years:

More clips are on Clarke's YouTube page.

Just Like a Woman

Feminists for Life is currently promoting its online course "Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions. The press release for the course begins:

Since 1973, it's been the same thing. One side of the hotly contested abortion wars yells, "What about the woman?" The other side yells back, "What about the baby?"

People have been pushed into their respective corners. It's hard to talk when there is all that distance between us.

But Feminists for Life has been bridging the gap, answering the most critical questions in the most contentious places—from Capitol Hill to college campuses—with woman-centered solutions.
Feminists for Life deserves plaudits for its accomplishments, particularly its efforts to "walk the talk" by pushing for a wide range of help for college students and poor women who choose life for their babies.

Even so, all that "pro-woman" — as though it were opposed to "pro-family" — and "feminist" talk gets awfully tiresome. One could say it's merely a euphemism for "pro-women's-rights," a concept that would be admirable if there remained any basic human right that American women (those out of the womb, that is) were denied.

But there's something vulgar about reducing one's area of advocacy to a group of people who share a particular biological makeup. Martin Luther King didn't confine his movement to the reductionist tag "pro-black"; the terms "civil rights" and "equality," while they have gained various connotations over time, nonetheless embrace all humanity. By contrast, shortsighted, biology-based labeling is what racial supremacists do — and the language of feminism does bespeak supremacy. Feminists for Life's own mission statement begins, "If you believe in the strength of women" — calling up the image of warrior females locked in an adversarial struggle against males who insist upon treating them delicately.

Think of it the other way: Would you want to be locked in a room with a "masculist"? Someone who saw every issue through a "pro-man" lens?

Manly men are manly precisely because they are pro-God, pro-family, pro-community — not "pro-man." I believe the same is true of women, who may attain their fullest potential only within the context of their relationships with the Lord, with those in their home, and with people at large — not by putting themselves in a box marked "Double-X Chromosomes." (I picture that box as an ancient, 1930s-style suitcase, bearing peeling stickers marked "Steinem," "de Beauvoir," "Friedan," etc. — literally old, obsolete baggage.)

Better to be not a "feminist," not "pro-woman," but simply a member of the human race. Because women deserve better than feminism — even when it's used as a guise for attracting aged liberals and their teenage daughters.

FURTHER READING: The Sneetches and Other Stories

Greater Love
By Guestblogger 
Alan Capasso

On this past Respect for Life Sunday, I participated in our local Life Chain beginning outside the crisis pregnancy center and stretched six blocks down our main drag. I was struck by several things; the first was the chain was 25% bigger than last year; this increase was made up of high school students and young adults — a good sign. Secondly, we were not subjected to as many negative outcries as last year, (I only got “the finger” twice). And overall the mood was far less somber than years past the overall feeling was that the tide is turning.

When my family and I got home this was in my inbox:

Modern witness to self-sacrificing love brings life in Arizona

Yuma, AZ, Sep. 28, 2006 (CNA) - A Yuma family is welcoming a new baby girl this week after a two month journey that included a battle with cancer and the death of the child’s mother. Veronica Destiny Celis was born September 24th after her mother chose to forgo chemotherapy and offer her own life for that of the child.

[Please see the whole article here.]
I know those who flipped me off today will probably never hear of this story of heroism in the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged, but if they did they would probably call her an idiot. The saints and martyrs are always called idiots by those blinded to the truth.

Chesterton describes the great gift of motherhood: “It is not difficult to see why the female became the emblem of the universal… A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

Quote of the Day

"On Rosh Hashana, we endeavored to 'make it real' to ourselves — to accept psychologically, emotionally, and hopefully ethically — that God is the boss of us. That gets us ready to accept the reality of Yom Kippur, for there is no atonement (kaparah) unless one acknowledges something bigger than himself."

— Ron Coleman begins his second post on the Days of Awe. Read the first one here.