Friday, October 31, 2008

Pro-life legislation, not welfare, reduces abortions

My friend Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama who is currently a visiting fellow at Princeton's Witherspoon Institute, writes:

This fall a study on state abortion rates that was released by Catholic Alliance for the Common Good has received plenty of attention from Democrats and supporters of Barack Obama. They have used this study to claim that 1) pro-life laws do not work and 2) the best way to reduce abortion is to spend more money on welfare programs.

I went ahead and did my own analysis with the exact same data as these researchers used. My full report appears on the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse and an article summarizing my findings is currently available on National Review Online.

If you do not have time to read the article, here is a summary of my findings.

1) I'm right
2) They're wrong
3) Pro-life laws work!

(and in case you were wondering, welfare does not make much of a difference)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet'

The source of our hope.



The version of the tune in the above YouTube selection is the 1990s remake, in which Tom Waits echoes the original singer. Here is the backstory, from composer Gavin Bryars' Web site:

In 1971, when I lived in London, I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song - sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads - and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet". This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.

When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song - 13 bars in length - formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.

I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man's singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp's nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.
RELATED: Read more about hope from my friend Drusilla.

AND ANOTHER THING: I remember as a Protestant I was really put off by crucifixes; the only cross I wanted to see was the kind above, without a corpus. How naked it looks now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

O brother, where art thou?

Mark Shea is a friend, a brother in Christ, and also, in a very real sense, one of my spiritual fathers. His support of my pro-life writings when I was a Protestant, combined with his making himself available to answer my questions about Catholicism with patience and humility, helped lead me to the truth of the Catholic faith.

So, it is with sadness that I observe his tireless and emphatic efforts to convince Catholics to follow him in supporting a "quixotic," unelectable third-party presidential candidate. The talents of one of the foremost Catholic apologists are currently directed towards warning Catholic McCain backers that they are committing "an objective evil" and "supporting intrinsic moral evil." He casts these judgments because McCain, who is unequivocally opposed to abortion, has expressed support for embryonic stem-cell research (though with limitations, unlike Sen. Barack Obama's anything-goes stance).

Such condemnations are, to my mind, beyond the pale, particularly given what is at stake in this election. As Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, whom I know and admire, writes in "Voting with a Clear Conscience," when neither major candidate is completely pro-life, the Church teaches it is a moral good to use one's vote to limit evil:
_____________________

In this case, it is morally acceptable to vote for the candidate who will do less harm. This is not "choosing the lesser of two evils." We may never choose evil. But in the case described above, you would not be choosing evil. Why? Because in choosing to limit an evil, you are choosing a good.

... [B]y your vote, you can keep the worse person out. And trying to do that is not only legitimate, but good. Some may think it's not the best strategy. But if your question is whether it is morally permissible to vote for the better of two bad candidates, the answer -- in the case described above -- is yes.

Cardinal John O’Connor, in a special booklet on abortion, once wrote about this problem, “Suppose all candidates support ‘abortion rights’? … One could try to determine whether the position of one candidate is less supportive of abortion than that of another. Other things being equal, one might then morally vote for a less supportive position. If all candidates support "abortion rights" equally, one might vote for the candidate who seems best in regard to other issues” (1990, “Abortion: Questions and Answers”).

In this context, the question also arises as to whether one is required to vote for a third candidate who does not have a strong base of support but does have the right position. The answer is, no, you are not required to vote for this candidate. The reason is that your vote is not a canonization of a candidate. It is a transfer of power. You have to look concretely at where the power is really going to be transferred, and use your vote not to make a statement but to help bring about the most acceptable results under the circumstances.
_________________________

Catholics of good will can disagree over whether voting for a third-party candidate is a higher moral good than voting for McCain. But the United States Council of Catholic Bishops' pro-life chair Cardinal Justin Rigali and domestic justice chair Bishop William Murphy remind us that reversing Roe v. Wade is "a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life." It seems clear enough to me, based on the candidates' statements, that the only way we have a snowball's chance in heck of keeping the gains we've made on the Supreme Court is by electing McCain.

Mark's concern is that he's "tired of being played" after voting for candidates who fails to live up to their party's platforms. So, he's effectively using his vote and his online voice towards enabling the election of a candidate who, say what you will, has every intention of living up to his party's platform: unlimited abortion on demand at taxpayer expense. And worse will come if Obama has the opportunity to make good on the vow he made to Planned Parenthood, signing the Freedom of Choice Act.



Read background on the Freedom of Choice Act here.


Mark writes about not wanting to look at himself in the bathroom mirror for the next four years and "feel guilty for voting." I don't think of it that way.

I think of it as being able to look at the preborn child who is 20 weeks old right now and being able to say, "I helped save your life. With my vote."

Because that is what we are doing by voting for McCain. We are saving the lives of children who are in the womb now.

If Obama makes good on his vow to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as his first act in office, all the parental-notification laws passed by voters and legislators, as well as the partial-birth abortion ban, will be null and void. That means an underage teen girl now 20 weeks pregnant, living in a state where there is currently a parental-notification law, could walk into an abortion clinic at the end of January without telling her parents and have a legal partial-birth abortion at 30-plus weeks.

A vote for McCain is a vote to preserve the pro-life laws that have significantly reduced abortions, saving the lives of children who are growing in their mother's womb now.

I'm all for working to elect a candidate who will be 100% pro-life. We have four years to do that. But an Obama win would set back decades of work towards passing pro-life laws and building a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade. That would not merely "punish" the Republican Party, as some have suggested. That would punish children who are right now waiting to be born, as well as their mothers, who are currently protected by laws intended to help steer them towards choosing life.

Mark, in pushing readers to vote for a third-party candidate, envisions "walking out of the [voting] booth feeling clean," almost as though exercising a political right could make one ritually pure.

There is a Gospel precedent for that, to be sure. But, with due respect to Mark and other readers who wistfully imagine washing their hands of the dirty business of two-party politics, it is not one that we are called to emulate.

I hope and pray that Mark and other Catholics considering a vote for a third-party candidate, or not voting at all, will ponder his own 2002 article on that episode in Roman politics, which is coincidentally one of the writings of his that helped lead me to the Church. It asks not how we will feel about ourselves after making decisions, but, rather, what I believe is the more important question:: "How Will We Be Remembered?"


UPDATE: Thanks to Mark for his thoughtful response, and for showing his readers the above post in its entirety.

Regarding some of the other reader reactions he notes, please pray for God to bestow the grace of charity on all who are concerned about this election, pro-life bloggers and commenters very much included.

During the past couple of weeks, I was anxiously obsessing on the divisions between pro-life Catholics with regard to the election. The post above is my attempt to get it all out of my head so I can stop worrying and focus instead on asking God's blessing and His will for our country, and on praising Him for having put the dragon under the feet of Our Lady.

Friends such as Drusilla and Fallen Sparrow have helped me see that this is not about being right, but about seeing Mark and other Catholic brethren in love and communicating with them in love. It's a simple point, but one that I need to be reminded of. Some things really are more important than this or any election.

'Believe in' this

"Change" really does mean "redistributive change" after all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Please pray ...

... for Catholics who do not understand that we not only have a moral duty to oppose evil, but we also have a moral imperative to impede evil.

In this presidential election, that means not only that we have a moral duty to oppose the candidate who has vowed, as his first act as President, to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate all restrictions on abortions through all nine months of pregnancy.

It means we have a moral imperative to vote for the only candidate who can prevent Barack Obama from becoming President. That candidate is John McCain.

"Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an 'intrinsically unjust law' we are morally obliged to oppose (see Evangelium vitae, nos. 71-73). Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life."

— Joint Statement by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Bishop William Murphy, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, October 21, 2008
The only way that America has a chance of seeing Roe vs. Wade reversed is by electing McCain, who "believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned."

Planned Parenthood knows McCain is America's only chance to overturn Roe, or at least to retain current state limitations on abortion as well as the partial-birth abortion ban, which have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. NARAL knows it. The only people who don't seem to know it are Catholics who think that simply not voting, or voting for an unelectable third-party candidate, is the highest moral choice they can make as a voter in this election. It is not. The highest moral choice a Catholic can make as a voter in this election is insuring that Obama does not fulfill his vow to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. The only way to do that is to vote for McCain.

We as Catholics are called not only to avoid personally taking part in evil. We are called to combat evil. In this election, that means defeating the candidate who has vowed to eliminate all legal limitations upon abortion, force taxpayer funding of abortion, and remove all rights of conscience for health-care practitioners and providers.

Again, Catholics who do not understand this need our prayers, that they understand what Cardinal Rigali and other courageous bishops have rightly called our moral imperative. Anything less will permit evil.
"Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that 'pro-choice' candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of 'social justice.'"

— Scranton Diocese Bishop Joseph F. MartinoPastoral Letter for Respect Life Sunday, October 5, 2008.
AND ANOTHER THING Besides vowing to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, Obama has also vowed to use the presidency as a "bully pulpit" to force states to permit same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. An Obama presidency would mean severe persecution for Catholics and Catholic social agencies, who would be deprived of their freedom of conscience.

RELATED:
  • Research shows that pro-life laws work—but they can only be passed if we elect politicians who support them.
  • Rev. William Saunders and Rev. Bryan Belli of Our Lady of Hope tell what is at stake for Catholics and the world in their recent homilies. Please pray for them and all priests and bishops who are sounding the alarm in an atmosphere of increasing intimidation from Obama supporters.

Quote of the day

"Before Pope Benedict came to America to celebrate Mass in New York and Washington, it was revealed that as a young boy in Germany he had a cousin with Down Syndrome. One day a Nazi doctor came and claimed his cousin for the Third Reich. [As the boy was] taken to be 'cared for' at the 'hospital,' young Joseph Ratzinger never saw his cousin again: one of the host of 'useless eaters' marked for extermination by that brutal regime.

"My wife and I operate St. Joseph's House, a daycare and respite care home for handicapped children. As it happened one of the children we care for, a wheelchair bound young lady, was chosen along with three other handicapped folks to carry the gifts up to the altar before the consecration at the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington D.C. on April 17, 2008. One of these was James, a 30ish man who works in the Officer’s Club at Andrews AFB. James has Down Syndrome. He was chosen to carry the large host which would become the Body of Christ lifted up before the assembled. As James with great ceremony advanced toward the Pope, his native enthusi­asm overcame his reserve and he started to run. Simultaneously the Holy Father leapt from his chair and walked towards James with his arms out­stretched. We have a picture of this moment which I cannot look at without tearing up. What did he see as he gazed so lovingly at James? I believe he saw his cousin. I believe he saw the face of Jesus. And I believe that his great prayer as he elevated that host on that impossibly beautiful day was 'As long as you did these to the least of my brethren, you did it to Me.'

"The next day April 18th, a boy was born to of all people, the Gover­nor of Alaska. They named him Trig."

— Dan LaHood. Adapted from a comment to this post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Building a chaste counterculture in D.C.

I had a beautiful time speaking to the Catholic University of America's Students for Life last night and chatting with the group's members afterwards. Many thanks to the group's president, Lauren Roselli, for inviting me, and to CUA philosophy instructor Paraic Maher for recommending me to them.

Following my talk, I mentioned to Lauren that, when I spoke at Georgetown last year, the students were interested in starting up a coffeehouse-type social event or discussion group for those wishing to hang out with others who practice chastity. It would provide an opportunity to build friendships relieved of the pressures of the hook-up culture.

Lauren and others there were warm to the idea, particularly if it could encompass other local colleges. At CUA, they said, the pro-chastity contingent is already strong. What appealed most to them was the opportunity to meet and encourage like-minded students from outside schools, who are in greater need of social reinforcement and fellowship.

If anyone from a D.C.-area college would like to help form or take part in such an event, drop me a line and I will be happy to put you in touch with CUA SFL, You can also write them directly via their Web site.

Prayer requests

My friend William Newton was hit by a car Monday. Thank God he is going to be OK—only his suit was permanently damaged—but he is in pain. Please pray for his comfort and healing.

Also, please pray for my friend Father Phil Bloom's niece Tonya Lindenau, whose husband, a decorated military hero, was killed by a terrorist's rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Come hear me speak at Catholic University tomorrow [note room change]

I am delighted to be speaking in my hometown of Washington, D.C., tomorrow—Wednesday, October 22—where I will address CUA Students for Life about the role that chaste love plays in building a culture of life. The talk has been moved to Hannan Auditorium at Hannan Hall (where the Physics Library is on this map). It starts at 7 p.m., admission is free, and all are welcome.

RELATED: In "The Significance of Sexual Intimacy," an excerpt from my book The Thrill of the Chaste, I talk about how "our culture rebels against the idea that the body has a higher purpose."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quote of the day

"Right now, a typesetter is laying down the words Dewey Wins! Right now, Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democrat nominee. Right now, George Washington is refusing a crown. Right now, Barack Obama is training ACORN workers. Right now, Margaret Sanger is preaching eugenics. Right now, a Pole is made Pope. Right now, Nero is watching Rome burn. Right now, Peter, that city’s first Bishop, is being crucified and turned upside down.

"Right now, in prayer and in fasting, one may penetrate the illusions of the world and, touching eternity, impact them."

— The Anchoress, who recommends fasting and praying for discernment for the nation and for one's own vote.

Thanks to Fallen Sparrow for the tip.

RELATED: If you are in Washington, D.C., come to the Dominican Friars' open vigil service on Monday, October 27, to pray for a pro-life, pro-family U.S. Presidency.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'I saw some things I can’t get out of my head'
Med student 'incredibly freaked out' after a day at Planned Parenthood

I asked the doctor about why he does what he does and he said "I have a great job–no one else can have a patient walk in the door with a huge problem and completely fix that for them in five minutes."
The one with the "great job" is "a 66 y/o male doctor who has performed 200,000 abortions in the past almost-40 years."

The one writing about him is a first-year medical student who loves baby animals—she named her blog Pudu Overload as a tribute to the world's smallest deer. She is also a supporter of legalized abortion. [The blog is now offline—see update below. It was here.]

Yesterday afternoon, the young student came home after spending the day witnessing what goes on inside a Planned Parenthood, and wrote a blog post attempting to process the experience. Beneath the cognitive dissonance, one can see a conscience struggling to assert itself. She is proud of her "pro-choice" bonafides and wants to be on the side that she truly believes is the one that is right—yet she knows she saw death and dismemberment.

Can you imagine, the first time an abortion supporter sees the "procedure" for what it is, how much mental effort it must take to try to reconcile—or just block out—the horrific reality of legalized butchery?

Since Pudu Overload may remove or alter her post after it is highlighted here, I am reprinting it in full, adding paragraph breaks:
today I watched 10 girls younger than me have abortions at the downtown planned parenthood.

I was more nervous than I've been in a very long time taking the train down this morning and walking past the protesters and wondering what I was going to see and who I was going to talk to.

The morning was awkward–shadowing the ultrasound technician who didn't want me there and then hovering in the hallway for hours trying to get counselors to invite me into their counseling sessions. Finally I was assigned to a 66 y/o male doctor who has performed 200,000 abortions in the past almost-40 years. He had me sit behind his right shoulder and talked me through what he was doing and nothing seemed so horrible.

I went with the nurse after the first procedure to see the tissue that was evacuated and although that was the thing I was most scared to do, it was fine and just looked like blood and white fluff.

I asked the doctor about why he does what he does and he said "I have a great job–no one else can have a patient walk in the door with a huge problem and completely fix that for them in five minutes." I stayed in his operating room for most of the afternoon and was surprised by how okay things felt–he was friendly and respectful of his patients and very matter of fact about the whole thing.

The part that made me really uncomfortable came later on when I moved into the OR next door. The doctor there was a middle-aged woman with incredibly understanding, calm bedside manner. The first two cases I saw her perform were gentle and careful and not upsetting.

The third patient was a girl my little sister's age whose pregnancy was much farther along than the others I saw. Coming into the room, she was shaking and scared and the doctor took ten minutes (twice as long as the actual procedure) to make sure she was ready and sure about her decision. Once the patient calmed down and was anesthetized, the nurse hooked up ultrasound to help with the more difficult case. This time I could clearly make out a head and arms on the screen, and I sat down and had to look away during most of the procedure.

Afterwards, the nurse brought me to the back room again and I saw some things I can't get out of my head. Leaving the clinic through a waiting room full of upset pregnant teenagers, I felt respectful of and impressed by the doctors I met, both of whom have been stalked and threatened many times because of what they do. At the same time, I'm incredibly freaked out by the whole thing and don’t know how to think about it. It simultaneously seems like a small and an enormous thing.
Please pray that this young medical student and others like her who witness legalized slaughter will receive the grace to see the truth of what is going on— and flee from it.

RELATED: Jill Stanek observes that Sen. Barack Obama, with plenty of help from the media, is counting on voters to believe that accusations he voted to permit infanticide are too crazy to be true. In fact, Obama's stance, which is even more extreme than that of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is a matter of public record. Robert P. George and Yuval Levin lay it out in their article "Obama and Infanticide."

UPDATE, 11:39 a.m.: Pudu Overload did remove her post and in its place complains of receiving "hate-spam" from "the whole antiabortion crew." If she sends me any hate comments she received via readers of this blog, I will ban those readers from commenting here. However, the only comment she received that I know of is the one that reader Terry claims to have left, which is not hateful. [As of 5:23 p.m., the blog is now completely offline.]

Because I believe it is important to demonstrate what goes on in Planned Parenthood—butchery that will "[freak] out" even a pro-choicer who has not yet become inured to it—I took screenshots to preserve Pudu Overload's entry. Click on them for a larger image. And again, please pray for her, other medical students who witness abortions, and also, as for pro-lifers who fail in their charity.





TRACKBACK: Jeff Miller aka Curt Jester, Mark SheaJill StanekRod Dreher weigh in and join the call for prayers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jackie Mason takes on Obama—and Sarah Silverman

And that's probably the mildest thing the great comedian has to say about the Illinois senator who would be President.



He also has the perfect response to the hateful piece of racist, anti-Semitic tripe that Sarah "I'm only Jewish ethnically" Silverman created for a pro-Obama Web site.



Although he calls her a "sick yenta," I suspect Mason is too much the gentleman to say what he really thinks about Silverman's beyond-cynical pitch urging young Jews to use "threats" to wring Obama votes out of their Florida grandparents.

While I am a convert to Catholicism, I was raised Jewish, and I know my ancestors stood for something—the recognition that God chose His people to be a sign of holiness to the world. To see American Jewish popular culture reduced to the stream of four-letter verbal diarrhea comprising Silverman's "humorous" Obama pitch is nauseating.

It is the vogue among ironic Jewish comics of the porn-liberal school, exemplified in the likes of Silverman, certain Gawker writers and Heeb magazine (to which many observant Jews object), to claim that, through vile and offensive "humor," they are raising the public consciousness by examining what it means to identify as a "cultural Jew." Say what they will, I don't believe Jews being herded to their death in Nazi concentration camps recited "Ani Ma'amin," Maimonides' creed of belief in the coming of the Messiah so that a dead-eyed, flat-affect atheist could brag about how cool it is to threaten Holocaust survivors.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quote of the day

"Getting past the straw man of conscience as a religious artifact, the argument against medical conscientious objection is premised on the belief that the moral judgments of the individual must necessarily fall by the wayside in order to preserve the 'greater good' in the form of 'access to reproductive health services.'

"The moral problem with this position is neither a new one, nor a sectarian one. It is an argument that has been regarded as unsound going back to classical antiquity, and what Cicero called 'the first mandate of justice': that one not harm another person unless wounded by injury, and then that one use common things for the common good. Justice requires that a person is first obliged to do what is right himself, and then look to the common good. Just like any other moral agent, doctors should be allowed to adhere to this same moral standard in the application of their consciences."

— Michael Fragoso, from his excellent article on how attacks on doctors' conscientious objection are part of an international campaign to make abortion a basic human right. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ora pro me!

Habito midtermus! Yes, my Latin midterm is today. Prayers, please! Gratias.

Also, check out a news item my old friend Ron Hogan, who kindly invited me to share why I am in graduate school.

REMINDER: Come hear me speak on chaste love and the culture of life on October 22 at Catholic University of America.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sloppy Gawker maligns me, backtracks

First Gawker touted the forged "Palin SAT scoresheet" as the real thing; last night, it claimed the bad "Palin grades" were mine.

As you can see from my own SAT scoresheet published on NewsBusters, that was a lie. (For those coming in late, read the backstory.)

Here is a screenshot of the original version of Gawker's post; click on it to see it full-size:



The post includes the line, "So Eden's the one with the bad scores? How bizarre."

As I write this, Gawker weekend editor Ian Spiegelman has corrected the falsehoods in the post's text, but it still has the lying headline, "Sarah Palin's SAT Scores Actually Belong to Born-Again Virgin Dawn Eden." (That last link will take you to the current version of the article on Gawker.)

I have been told by Spiegelman that he does not have the power to change headlines. Only publisher Nick Denton and writer Sheila McCleary may do so, and they have not responded to my requests as of this writing. So, the lie remains, although the story contradicts the headline.

Given its previous reportage on me, I have a hard time believing that Gawker is displaying an "absence of malice."

UPDATE, 8:12 a.m.: McCleary writes, "Hi Dawn, I changed the copy at 6:30 pm and I changed the hed at 2: 30 am because I just got HOME FROM THE BAR, yes it's fixed!"

The new headline reads, "Sarah Palin's Fake SAT Scores Actually Belong to Born-Again Virgin Dawn Eden." I wouldn't call that a retraction, but then, as commenter Shaun G. notes, "Not many people consider Gawker a reputable publication."

'Liberal Outrage: A Pro-McCain March in Manhattan'

I don't see any plants in this crowd.



From the video's commentary:

"A bumpkin from flyover country might think that New Yorkers were booing al-Qaeda that's bent on destroying their city. FACT: Islamic radicals would be more welcome on the Upper West Side than American patriots."

Given the welcome Columbia University gave to Ahmadinejad, I would correct that "would be" to "are."

The video was made by The People's Cube, whose members I knew during the 2004 election, when they went by the satirical name Communists for Kerry. Their founding members are emigrés from the Soviet Union who remember what it was like to live under Communism.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jot and titter

"The sign read 'That Love Your Neighbor Thing. I mean't it. Signed, God.' Now, look closely at the sentence. You'll notice a misplaced apostrophe. I don't have an Oxford English Dictionary so I don't know if such a contraction could be formed. As I drove, I had to turn off the radio because I became fascinated with the error. After all, in standard English (there it is again), a contraction formed that way means 'include not.' Did the author mean to write, 'That Love Your Neighbor Thing. I mean not it'?"

— Father Shane Tharp"The Grammar of Assent." Following a long absence, Father Tharp is once again gracing the blogosphere via Catholic Ragemonkey.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

'At the Altar of My Desk' (1961)
Poem and postcard by LEONA M. LENNEMANN


A thoughtful soul at my church's office last week placed in the church's front hall a number of copies of this 1961 postcard created by longtime parishioner Leona M. Lennemann, a secretary in the State Department's office of the legal adviser. (Click on the picture to see it larger.)

The analogy of an office desk as an altar upon which one offers oneself is quite striking. Although I have never seen it made anywhere else, it calls to mind some of the sayings of St. Josemaria Escriva, who wrote, "God waits for us every day in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations and it is up to each one of you to discover it…Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find him" (Conversations, 114).

The reverse side of the postcard includes this legend:

AN ALTAR FOR SERVICE

Each sphere of life provides a symbolic altar for us to show love for God by serving mankind. Symbols and tools inspire the service. Here the flag and Capitol symbolize democracy; the three pencils - the Three Persons in One God; plants represent nature; pen and books - knowledge and wisdom.
It takes a saintly mind to look at three pencils and be reminded of the Trinity. I believe St. Francis de Sales, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, also advised using everyday objects to bring to mind God's qualities and His gifts.

Judging by the Washington Post's obituary of Lennemann, who died in 2005 at the age of 95, she was a remarkable woman; I wish I could have met her:
In 1944, she was present at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire that made plans for international economic recovery after World War II. The following year, she attended the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco that resulted in the signing of the United Nations charter. She was named secretary of the year in her office in 1971.

Miss Lennemann was a poet in her spare time and in 1969 was designated poet laureate of the State Department's office of the legal adviser. She was a member of the International Society of Poets, which gave her the International Poet of Merit award in 1994 and 1995. She won a number of other honors for her poetry over more than 40 years, including the Golden Poet award in 1988 and 1989.

She was a member of the National Society of Inventors and had three patents, for food containers, clothing and a typewriter-centering device. ...

She was [a] member of the lay Carmelite order, a Catholic service organization.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quote of the day

"But again, what about consensual sex between 'responsible' adults? Consent, frankly, has little to do with it. Let me illustrate with an example from economic development, a class I teach in which I often address the issue of sweatshops:

"Does the fact that an impoverished woman in Indonesia is willing to assemble Nike shoes for 25 cents an hour, 12 hours a day, imply that it is a socially just arrangement? The woman has given her consent in the exchange, but does that make it right? Of course not—consensuality is an insufficient condition for social justice. But many male college students today will sleep out on the steps of the Capitol protesting sweatshop labor and then sleep with their girlfriends, completely unaware of the inherent contradictions of their beliefs and lifestyle. ...

"Contrary to what some might suggest, birth control does not render all of these arguments pointless, because the sexual psychology of women and men is shaped partly by their biology. In other words, even if a woman is using birth control, she still desires love and commitment from her partner more than just sex alone. Thus at a psychological level, women still desire the emotional closeness and intimacy that comes with commitment, and birth control (to the extent that it works) does nothing to address this issue. For this reason, women will typically have feelings of extreme psychological emptiness, depression, and anxiety when sex is given without emotional closeness or commitment given in return."

— Bruce Wydick, from his highly recommended article for Prism magazine, "Sex and Social Justice"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

'The Cruise of a Soul' (1944)
British Indian Jesuit's compelling memoir of conversion from High Anglicanism

It is my joy to share this moving testimony from the golden age of Catholic apologetics. Click on the front and back cover below to download it as a PDF file (requires Flash).


Many thanks again to reader Therese Z. for sending me her cache of vintage Catholic apologetics pamphlets. I hope to share more of them in the weeks to come. Thanks also to reader TeeEll for converting Cruise of a Soul to PDF.

Quote of the day

“'My god,' wrote an atheist to me, 'is humanity.'

"Out of my heart I felt sorry for him. Atheist though he was, he admitted he had a god. But imagine any man serving and reverencing and adoring the human race, the best-known member of which is, as far as he personally is concerned, himself. ... Imagine bowing down to the race which is represented by the man whose face rather revolted me this morning as I looked at it in the shaving mirror. Fancy having as one’s god this mankind which, for all its genius and achievements, is capable of murder and lust and brutal cruelty and filthy speech and obscene thinking. ...

"The most unsatisfactory god in all of the modern pantheon is undoubtedly the god called humanity. I might be able to adore the smooth, gleaming statue of the Greek Zeus. I might conceivably worship a golden calf. I am certain I cannot find anything innately divine about the person I know and live with and find as inadequate and as thoroughly, humanly unsatisfactory as I find myself.

"Yet, scratch the most arrant atheist and you’ll find a believer in some absurd god whom he worships tirelessly, hopelessly. The more vehemently a man denies he has a god, the surer I am that he is serving, with the sacrifices and labours of a lifetime, some god of his own crude fashioning."

Daniel A. Lord S.J."Atheism Doesn't Make Sense" (1936)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Age of devotion

Click on pictures to see them larger.

Many thanks to reader Therese Z., who sent me an awesome cache of Catholic paper memorabilia from the 1930s and 1940s, including numerous pamphlets—most of them penned by Jesuits—defending Church teachings on such topics as contraception and the importance of purity.

I plan to scan every one of the pamphlets and put it up here, as long as reader interest holds up. In the meantime, be blessed by the Sacred Heart prayer card above and the news article below (actually about an Anglican church's statue—but lovingly preserved for 60 years by a Catholic family). If anyone else has pre-Vatican II Catholic paper memorabilia that they would like to part with so that it might be shared here, write me at dawneden(at)gmail.com (replacing the "at" with an atsign).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Planned Parenthood promotes debunked Palin rape-kit smear
A guest post by HENRIETTA G. TAVISH

To support the infanticide-favoring Barack Obama and protect its receipt of hundreds of millions of your taxpayer dollars, Planned Parenthood is running a television ad to promote the thoroughly discredited myth that as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin charged rape victims for their own rape kits. Refutations are available herehereherehere and here and here, and most significantly, in the contemporaneous legislative history of a 2000 Alaska bill.

Notably, the only evidence presented to the committee considering the Alaska bill, which was aimed at protecting victims from incurring such charges, was a letter from one woman in Juneau who discovered that her hospital had billed her insurance for the kit along with the other costs of her treatment -- the problem common throughout the nation, at which the bill was aimed, caused by "crossover between medical care and forensic care." For various reasons intended to help the victims (and supported by victim advocacy groups) Alaska still permits insurance coverage of the kits where minors are involved.

But there's certainly no evidence that any woman in Wasilla (1) ever paid for a rape kit (2) was ever asked to pay for a rape kit, or (3) was ever charged for one through her insurance. None whatsoever! That's why, in the lying Planned Parenthood ad, the featured victim can only assert, without substantiation, that women "like me" were charged. She herself was not a Wasilla resident; she was not raped during the relevant period; and she was not charged for a kit. Indeed, no actual Wasilla resident has ever made such a claim.