Monthly Archives: January 2014

“I should be able to love whomever I want”–Really?

I think I’ve made this observation before, but the problem is not the redefinition of “marriage”; it’s the redefinition of “love.”
The foundational argument for “same sex marriage,” the premise that makes even many otherwise pro-life Christians nod their heads in agreement, is “I should be able to love whomever I choose.”  As soon as somebody–whether it’s Phil Robertson or Rick Santorum or whomever–points out the obvious implications of that argument, people scream “bigotry!”, “Slippery slope!”  and so forth.

I’ve never understood why “slippery slope” is a logical fallacy, since it is precisely how things so often work (a friend pointed out once that it’s a deductive fallacy but not an inductive fallacy, which makes more sense).  Anthony Kennedy’s argument in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that people have the right to decide for themselves whether the unborn baby is a “blob of tissue” or a “person” was the same argument he used to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Supreme Court’s decisions about “gay marriage” in June 2013 have been quickly followed by moves to legalize polygamy (though, I would argue, Catholic ethics notwithstanding, that that would be a step in the right direction from our current situation of serial divorce and remarriage, as the author I link suggests) and efforts to normalize pedophilia have already begun.

So much for “that’s just a slippery slope argument.”  However, the slope began when we redefined “love” as “romantic feelings.”  The premise “Shouldn’t someone be able to love whomever they choose?” sounds good on the surface, but it’s quite a leap from that to “Shouldn’t someone be able to marry whomever they choose?”  In between are several presumptions.
It all goes back to the redefinition of love.

1.  “Love” does not necessitate “marry.”  That should be obvious.  We are called to “love” everyone, including our enemies.  That does not necessitate marrying them.   Marital love is supposed to be about learning how to love other people.  Ideally, marriage should be based upon a combination of attraction, friendship and practicality, but, sometimes, marriage is exactly the milieu, like the family, in which we learn to “love our enemies.”

Marie and Frank Barone, _Everybody Loves Raymond_

“Didn’t I teach you anything? You got a problem with your woman, you don’t go out and get another one. Then you got two problems.” –Frank Barone

2.  “Love” does not necessitate “have sex with.”  One of the ways the normalization of same sex attraction has effected “heterosexuals” is that it’s impossible to just be friends: look at the efforts to turn every fictional friendship into a sexual relationship.  This was already a problem a few generations ago, as C. S. Lewis discusses in _The Four Loves_.

Holmes and Watson

Like these guys

3.  As St. Gianna Molla put it so succinctly, “Love is a choice.”  You *can* love whomever you *choose*.  But the lie of “choice” in the same sex argument, like the lie of “choice” in abortion, is that they claim the right to choose somethiexng they say they have no choice about.

4.  Love is not a feeling.   People these days define love as “how someone makes me feel.”  “I love you” comes to mean the same thing as “I love spaghetti.”  Love becomes entirely about the subject, and the object of the love becomes just that, an object for use, whether it’s a food or another person (this is of course the standard Catholic argument on all these subjects, and I’ll be accused of “parroting,” I’m sure).

Karol Cardinal Woytyla, _Love and Responsibility_

When we see love in the light of those conditions, it takes way the argument that one’s choice of a marriage partner should be based primarily upon attraction.  All of the madness in our society comes from a failure to understand “love.”

“I love you” is not about how “you” make “me” feel; it’s about how “I” make “you” feel.


Is there a “Flash of Light” at Conception

Way back in 2011, and in various discussions over the years, in a post on _Roe v. Wade_ I referred to a lecture I heard ca. 2004 from Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac Clinic.  Dr. Bruchalski is a former abortionist and used to work at the “Fertility” Clinic that pioneered In Vitro Fertilization in the US.  Already a leading embryologist when he “reverted” to Catholic faith, Bruchalski became one of the top NFP-only physicians in the country, founding the aforementioned Clinic with the assistance of the Diocese of Arlington in 1994.  On a side note, we need more clinics like Tepeyac, not less, to provide real health care options for women, but if the enemies of Life in Washington get their way, we won’t have any.
The post has, over the years, received 3 separate comments, one approving, one supportive but skeptical (the individual claims to have emailed Dr. Bruchalski and been told it was not true), and a third just this past few days claiming that a Google search provided no verification of my claim.
Now, part of the problem may be the claim of some “New Age” people that there’s a “flash of light” in the “astral plane.”  This is not what I’m talking about.  Nor am I asserting that the “flash of light” is the creation of a soul, just the sign that “pregnancy has begun.”  One of the arguments for procedures like IVF, Embryonic Stem Cell Research and “Plan B contraceptives” is the euphemistic position that “abortion is the the termination of a ‘pregnancy,’ and ‘pregnancy’ begins with implantation.” This is easily morphed into “conception requires implantation,” which is of course defeated by the very fact of these procedures which involve the conception of a unique human being who may or may not be “implanted,” but may rather end up lingering in a state of “frozen animation.”
The importance of the “flash of light” is that it’s an electrical signal.  Dr. Bruchalski’s claim was that the electrical signal is neurological and tells the mother’s body “You’re pregnant,” because a signal is sent to the mother’s brain to begin the process of implantation.  This refutes the claim that “implantation” begins “pregnancy,” because “pregnancy” begins as soon as the embryo signals, “Hi, Mom, I’m here.  Prepare a place for me.”
Nevertheless, anyone who paid attention in elementary school chemistry should know that a “flash of light” is one of the signs of a chemical reaction, so it shouldn’t seaem too far-fetched for someone who “believes in science not God” to accept that there’s a “flash of light” at conception, which is fundamentally a series of complex chemical reactions.
Since the most recent commentor claimed there is no video showing this “flash of light,” I did a basic search and found a hit right off the bat which shows it:

Amazingly, for all the stuff that’s on YouTube, it’s very hard to find a an actual video of conception, even animal conception.  Most of the videos I found were CGI simulations.  Strangely, the ones that aren’t all seem to cut off right after the sperm penetrates the egg, but before the nuclei combine, and videos on “embryo” development begin when the “fertilized egg splits.”  I find it more interesting that there is no video showing the moment in between.
This non-faked video of a completely artificial fertilization (Lord, have mercy) where the sperm is injected directly into the egg shows various color changes before the sperm is even injected:

Further, since the skeptics were questioning the claim that it happens at all, and since people these days seem to care more about animal conceptions than human, here is an article about an NiH study regarding the chemical reactions that cause the “flash of light”:
<blockquote>The zinc discharge follows the egg cell’s steady accumulation of zinc atoms in the developmental stages before fertilization. The researchers documented the discharge by bathing the eggs in a solution that gives off light when exposed to zinc. They referred to the zinc discharge and accompanying light flash as zinc sparks.</blockquote>
Another side note: your great grandchildren’s tax dollars at work, “discovering” something in 2011 that was already known about.
It never ceases to amaze me how people who claim to be about “science” are woefully ignorant of even the most basic scientific facts.


A response to Adam Shaw

An email I wrote to Fox News’s Adam Shaw regarding his recent hit piece on Pope Francis

Dear Mr. Shaw,

I write to you as a brother in Christ to ask you to reconsider your attitudes towards Pope Francis.  You have made a name for yourself twice by attacking a small handful of Pope Francis’s teachings which you seem to think are inconsistent with the existing Magisterium condemning all modernist economic theories.  What troubles  me, though, is your premise that “aspiration” is a good thing for laity, and your condemnation of priestly simplicity.

All Catholics are called to practice simplicity and humility. We are called to be Saints, and that should be our only aspiration.  As a husband and father, my only “aspiration” for my family is that they be holy, and holiness includes shunning worldly “values.”  I would rather they be uncomfortable in this life and happy in Heaven then comfortable in this life and burn in Gehenna.

People make a big deal about the first seven Commandments but tend to treat 8-10 like they’re “no big deal.”  We soak in covetousness on television and advertising and think somehow that we’re not committing mortal sin just by wanting a “comfortable life” in this valley of tears.

Pax et bonum,

John Hathaway, OCDS

Examining the Conscience

My New Year’s Resolution was to get back in a better habit of daily prayer, particularly the St. Bridget Prayers, and I have been lately overcome by the repentance and awareness that comes with such efforts.  It seems like every day this past few weeks, something comes up on my Facebook feed like this article on what constitutes “serious sin,” or particular posts regarding sins I know I have or have previously had on my conscience.

One story that hit close to home, though I’m sure it’s dubious for a number of reasons (first and foremost that we are not supposed to listen to “messages from Hell”) is one a saint told of a monk who had committed some sin in his adolescence and been so prideful (his real sin) that he never confessed it (then sacrilegiously confessed and went to Communion).  He developed a reputation for piety, like Hawthorne’s Rev. Dimmesdale, and his fear for his reputation led him to repeatedly conceal this sin in the confessional.  He kept thinking “one day I will confess” until he was struck ill and could no longer do it.  When he died, the monastery was preparing his funeral and he allegedly appeared to the Abbot and said to stop praying for him because he was in Hell.  Although I know I have confessed fully on many occasions, I still felt identification with that story.

I know on the night of my aortic dissection that the demons were there to drag me into Hell, quite gleefully, because I had neglected the Confessional for over a month and had sinned that very night, committing the additional sin of presumption that I could confess the next day.  I screamed for God’s Mercy, and they left, and I confessed to the priest in the ER a few hours later.  I improved some of my behaviors over the next two years but still had some bad habits (still do).  Then, in April of 2013, while I was in the ICU, and even after making a thorough Confession, I went through a deep “ICU psychosis” that was in many ways a deeply spiritual experience, truly one of the “passive nights” described by John of the Cross.  I saw how many of my inclinations and impure thoughts, bad habits, and such were just as bad as committing the worst sins in their categories.  I came out of the experience feeling like I had been purged of a great many problems, and I was, but now I just keep plunging deeper and deeper into things.

The other night, after reading the above article, I was overwhelmed with guilt and disgust at the fundamental sin that permeates our culture. Then, Adam Shaw, FOX News’s video game reviewer turned anti-Pope Francis attack dog, wrote this piece claiming the Pope is leading a “War on Aspiration,” and I thought, “Isn’t that what every Christian should be doing?”  Aren’t we supposed to aspire to be Saints?  Aren’t we supposed to *not* aspire to worldly fame and fortune and “success”?

St. Joan of Arc was asked at her “trial” (which of course was not conducted nor sanctioned by the official Inquisiton) if she believed herself to be in a state of grace.  It was a Pharisaical trap: if she said, “no,” they’d say she was admitting to witchcraft; if she said, “yes,” they would say she was prideful.  So she replied, “If I am, may God keep me there; If I am not, may God put me there.”

We must never endanger our souls with pride and presumption.

Please make sure to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even for venial sins.  Remember: the Pope goes every week.  It breaks my heart to think of anyone suffering eternally.

“No Greater Love . . . “

8 year old boy dies saving family from fire.

The Healing of a Boy with a Demon.

14 When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him,
15and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.”
18 Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured.
19 Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 9, New American Bible)

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta on Abortion

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters

And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.”
–Blessed Mother Theresa