Monthly Archives: December 2006

Vatican Official: Disabled babies have the right to exist

In other news, I’m a step closer to "legitimacy"

About a month and a half ago, I discovered Holy Apostles College and Seminary, thanks to a directory of Catholic distance learning that the USCCB established recently. Holy Apostles is regionally accredited. Tuition is only $750 per class (not only far cheaper than most Catholic colleges but cheaper than most state universities). Best of all, they offer online graduate classes in philosophy and theology, leading to an MA in either subject!
The lectures are recordings from Ralph McInerny’s “International Catholic University” series. In January, I’m taking Thomas Aquinas (lecture series by McInerny) and Sexual Ethics (lecture series by Janet Smith). The rest of class is conducted through turning in assignments online and through online threaded discussions.

So, even if I can’t get into a Ph.D. program within the next 2 years, I’ll be able to garner a second and third MA, in philosophy and theology, specifically, building my “street cred” in the fields of ethics and spirituality. And from a practical professional standpoint, as soon as I hit 18 hours (already have 3 hours in graduate Religious Studies), I will be able to teach a second subject beyond English, giving me a better chance of a full-time instructorship at a teaching college.

Canadian Physicans for Life Joins the Crusade against Unethical Vaccines

So while that self-appointed Bioethics “Magisterium” in Philadelphia drags its feet (acknowledging the right of conscientious objection is a great step, but the NCBC still hasn’t taken an active stance, and it has not joined HLI and COG in the FDA push), yet another professional medical group joins the fight against unethical vaccines. Canadian Physicians for Life has now followed the precedent set by the Catholic Medical Association and, of course, the Pontifical Academy for Life.

For those who think vaccine protesting is a fringe of the pro-life movement, or not even a “pro-life issue” (as Kevin Miller has characterized it), here are some highlights of Children of God for
Life’s list of supporters, among numerous smaller organizations, local parishes, local pro-life groups and other religious organizations:

American Association of Pro-Life Pediatricians
American Life League (obviously)
Archdioceses of Chicago and San Antonio (TX)
Arizona Right to Life
Bishops Edward O’Donnell, Robert Vasa (one of my newest heroes), and Thomas
Blue Army of Nigeria
Catholic Health Association
CMA (above)
Catholic Physicians Guild of the Philippines
Center for Rights of the Terminally Ill
Center for Pro-Life Studies
Colorado Right to Life
Dioceses of Cheyenne, Lubbock, Peoria, Wichita and Jacksonville
Dr. Janet E. Smith
Florida Catholic Conference
Human Life International
Marist Fathers, Boston Province
Maine Right to Life
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Japan
Missouri Catholic Conference
National association of Catholic Nurses
Passionist Nuns
Pharmacists for Life
Priests for Life
Pro-Life Wisconsin
Pro-Life of South Africa
The Mary Foundation

"Stop. . . . What do you mean by ‘wildness’ and what grounds do you have for not expecting it?"

C. S. Lewis was fully introduced to Socratic Logic by his tutor, W. T. Kirkpatrick (aka “the Great Knock” in Surprised by Joy). When they met the first time, Lewis made a comment about the “wildness” of the scenery, to which Kirkpatrick immediately replied with the above questions.

While the emotional tone of my posts (and more importantly, my comments on some blogs) may seem otherwise, one of my primary goals is to get people to think logically (and to correct any inconsistencies, poor premises, etc., in their thought). Obviously, I’m also into morality and the pursuit of sanctity, but I believe the three go hand-in-hand. When it comes to, say, disputes with other Catholics, I usually get frustrated with their basing their Catholicism on the wrong principles.

If used properly, threaded discussions on blogs, bulletin boards and listservs would be perfect venues for Socratic discussion. However, as they are used, any attempts at Socratic logic usually break down, so it becomes the venue of buzzwords, extremely truncated arguments, and emoting.

However, the interesting thing is, when people are emoting, they usually express what they *really* think. The problem is getting them to understand the connection to what they really think.

How a person can say both, “You should never have had kids” *and* “I love your kids” is mind-boggling.

Thus, I need to learn to be more like “the Great Knock,” simply asking that question that headlines this column.

One of the criticisms Jesus levels against the Pharissees is “straining the gnat but swallowing the camel” (Mt 23:24), making a big deal about the less important aspects of the Law while ignoring what’s most important. It really gets my goat when people who say “live and let live” or “don’t force your morality on others” when it comes to objective moral issues turn around and criticize people for subjective matters like personal style.

A disagreement with someone who is roughly a peer, especially when the criticism is stated constructively, can be discussed constructively. Pride gets in the way when the person making the criticism has absolutely no grounds for making that judgement, yet that is precisely when logic should be coming in full force.

Several examples have come up this weekend, inspiring this post. A busybody old lady in line for a Christmas event started critiquing the way we had our children dressed, then proceeded to adjust their clothes. Then assuming that we must be poor, dumb hicks because a) our children weren’t dressed to her standards, b) I was in a wheelchair and c) we have three out-of-the-womb kids 4 & under, proceeded to tell us how we needed to put Gianna in Head Start.

“Do you know anything about Head Start?” She asked. I felt like saying, “Yes. I know that the only long-term studies of Head Start show that children in Head Start are far more likely to wind up juvenile delinquints than their socioeconomic and racial peers, whereas time spent with parents is the number one deciding factor in a young child’s future success in school. As it happens, we’re homeschooling, and our four-year-old is already working at kindergarten level.”

Instead, I just ignored her, turned to Allie, and started loudly quizzing her on her math, phonics and catechism for a minute or two. When the woman was out of range, we shared our infuriation with her rudeness and presumption.

But that brings up another inconsistency in the Fertility Police. On the one hand, people with big families are accused of using up too many natural resources, but on the other hand, their criticized for living too simply.

Couple/Family A has 10 kids who live in a 3 bedroom house built in 1900, eat very simple meals, operate a family farm, and all the kids wear homemade clothes. They homeschool, saving the gas that would be spent carting the kids to and from school, among other things. They dont’ go shopping regularly, except to buy necessities, and it’s usually one parent that does the shopping with one or two kids. They eat at home. They have friends they socialize with. They have one TV (with a DVD player for _Veggietales_), one computer, and that’s it. The kids read books, play muisical instruments, do art projects and play real games. They are alotted some time for computer games, but they do not have any console machines. They don’t really travel a lot, except to visit extended family, who criticize them for not visiting enough. Dad drives an old 1989 Corolla to work, and they carry the kids around in a beaten-up 15 passenger van.
They’re all happy with their lives and their relationships, and their relationships with God. A couple of the kids grow up to be priests and religious. A couple go into the military. A couple become farmers like their parents. The others get advanced degrees and become successful professionals. One or two daughters get advanced degrees just to give up their careers to be moms. Most of the kids grow up to be active in Church and in community service.

Meanwhile, Couple/Family B has two “perfectly planned” kids. They live in a 3000 square foot house in a gated community. They drive their two perfectly planned kids around in SUVs, travelling to a) school, b) sports and other activities, c) three jobs between the two parents, d) daycare, e) the Mall, f) fast food (with the wrappers that get thrown out), etc. Not to mention mom and dad’s trips to their respective therapists, because they’re both “depressed.” When they are home, the kids spend all their time watching DVDs and playing video games. They have closets full of toys they don’t play with, just as their parents have closets full of clothes, gadgets and exercise equipment they don’t use. Every week, the kids “need” new “stuff” to keep up with the latest fashions. Every year, they go on expensive vacations around the country. The son grows up to be a pothead living with his parents at 30, while the daughter grows up to carry on with a string of punks, having abortions and other trials, until she finally decides she’s a lesbian. The parents lament not having grandchildren but console themselves with their jetsetting retirement. Then they start to wonder, at 60, who will care for them.

One day, at some point when the kids are still young, the two families cross paths. Each couple regards the other with a sort of pity.

Couple A believes very strongly that contraception is intrinsically evil, and is eroding the foundation of our society. However, neither one would say such a thing to Couple B outside the context of an intellectual discussion, and without Couple B bringing it up first. They would take for granted that there are many reasons couples only have two children, and maybe the B’s became naturally infertile after the birth of their daughter.

Meanwhile, the B’s have no problem in walking up to the A’s and saying, “Haven’t you heard of birth control?” or “Are they all yours?” “Well, we only have two children because we believe in protecting the environment. Your children are all wearing such old, worn out clothes. our children have all the latest fashions!”

Kirkpatrick’s question, rephrased, becomes simply, “Who are you to judge?” “What grounds do you have for making that assessment?”

Each couple’s pity is based upon the assumption that the other family must be extremely unhappy. As it happens, Couple A are quite right in their assessment of Family B. In reality, family B are very unhappy, evinced by the parents’ being in counseling and the ultimate fates of the children.
Despite their protestations of helping the environment, the B’s waste a great deal of oil, trees and other natural resources on their pursuit of frivolous things they think will make them “happy,” because they define happiness in terms of material possessions, quick thrills and social status.

On the other hand, Couple B judge Family A according to their own superficial standards, assuming that anyone living without their kind opulence *must* be unhappy. Yet, Family A, by abandoning the quest for happiness through social status and material prosperity in favor of a living relationships with themselves, others and, most importantly, God, have actually found true happiness.

Mary and I get criticized by the “family B’s” in our extended families, as well as people who don’t even rise to Family B’s level of material prosperty, yet still live materialistic lives.

And yet, when we examine our own situations, the things we’re most displeased with are the aspects of our lives where we approximate “Family B.”

Alma Redemptoris Mater

While the “Alma Redemptoris Mater” is not exactly an Advent hymn, it is the Marian antiphon sung after the final Hour (Vespers or Compline) from Advent through to the Presentation of the Lord.

Although, like many ancient prayers, its origins are more complicated than simple authorship, it is often attributed, along with the Salve Regina and other hymns, to Bl. Herman the Cripple, a rather cool Blessed whom I discovered a few months ago.

The first entry I saw on him identified him as a saint, having me temporarily hope that he was the exception to the rule that there are no canonized saints with “birth defects,” as opposed to genetic disorders that manifiested themselves later in life, like St. Alphonsus’s osteoarthritis, contracted illnesses like St. Therese’s TB or disabilities due to injury.

I really identify with him. He was almost completely crippled-more so as he got older, and eventually lost his ability to speak. But in the meantime, he was raised by Benedictines and became one of the greatest scholars of his age, in science, mathematics, languages, poetry, music and other fields. He never left his monastery, but scholars from around Europe would come to consult with him, and he created several scientific and musical inventions.

Just shows what God intends for those whom society would discard, or those to whom, once adults, society would say, “You shouldn’t have children.”

Now, obviously, monks shouldn’t have children, but you know what I mean 🙂

I sent my comments to the FDA

The hymns series

I went to post the hymn the other night–was going to blog “The King Shall Come,” but Blogger was down. I’m not off-track by a couple days. Thankfully, this is the only one of my Advent preparations to be too far off-track.

I woke up Friday morning with the worst skeletal pain I’ve ever had. You know those “1-10” charts at the hospital? I always say they need to have more of a dimensionality to them.

For example, you may have pain that’s a “10” in intensity in one little spot. You may have pain that, in its intensity, is a “10,” but it comes and goes. On the other hand, you may have pain that’s only a “5” in intensity but just doesn’t go away.
So, really, the question should be phrased in three parts: a) how intense/sharp is the pain, b) how long does it last, and c) how far does it spread?

So, in this case, the pain was definitely on the high scale of intensity–I’d say an 8 or 9. But it literally covered every inch of my body from my hips to shoulders and down my left arm. By contrast, my right arm and legs were completely numb (partly as I’d just woken up). I literally could not move. It was definitely the worst skeletal pain I’ve ever had.

I took a prescription pain pill (every time I go to the ER for severe pain, to make sure it’s not an aneurysm, they give me pain pills; since I only take pain pills once every 3-6 months, I usually have a big supply), and even that didn’t alleviate the pain. The pill made me weak and loopy, but the pain came back after an hour, and for another hour I had tears streaming down my face because it was so intense. I finally got to where I couldnt’ take it anymore, and I fell asleep for about 3 hours.

So I didn’t go to work, and I almost missed Immaculate Conception (went to 7:30 Mass with my wife’s parents).

Blogging the response below burnt up all my intellectual energies, so I don’t know when I’ll resume my special Advent series–probably not till Sunday.