Category Archives: straw men

On Melancholy: the Physiological aspects of depression and bi-polar

Last night, I posted a semi-defense of certain controversial comments made in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide and a general suggestion of how Matt Walsh, Rush Limbaugh, Bryan Kemper and others might have done better.

Part of Matt Walsh’s appeal is that, like the early Limbaugh, he uses sensationalistic packaging to get people’s attention to pieces that are usually very thoughtful. In this case, which backfires horribly because his piece isn’t as thoughtful as he thinks, he emphasized the notion that “Robin Williams didn’t die of a disease; he died of a choice.” At one point, he says, “First, suicide does not claim anyone against their will.”

He anticipates this response a few paragraphs above, but that is precisely the problem. Mental health issues, addiction, etc., reduce or remove culpability. Now, the mentally ill person may remain culpable for what is done while sane, but the question–which none of us can answer in this life–is whether the person who commits suicide truly has control of his or her will.

People like causes. They like to have someone or something to blame, especially if it isn’t themselves. “He was depressed because his career was in the tank” is an easy target versus “He was depressed because he had a genetic condition that made it difficult to control his emotions.” That gets into a mess of problems about free will versus determinism. Then there’s the controversial, “He was post-abortive,” which I want to discuss in a separate post, but while guilt, financial troubles, or frightening medical diagnoses may contribute to mental health issues, we cannot deny that there are physiological components. Matt Walsh is right that there are spiritual components, but wrong to dismiss “chemical imbalances” as modernist mumbo jumbo. Physiological understandings of depressive disorders are nothing new at all.

It is precisely “He was depressed because of XYZ” that is “modernist mumbo jumbo,” originating with Freud’s era.  Back in the old days, instead of “chemical imbalances,” people talked about “humors.” Melancholy is usually associated with depression, though the “melancholic temperament” would be what we now call “bipolar” and possibly include even autism. The melancholic is concerned about the troubles of the world, prone to mood swings, etc. Literature’s most notorious melancholic is perhaps Prince Hamlet from Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Three major movies made of the play within a decade demonstrate different psychological interpretations of the character:

The Zeffirelli/Gibson film (1990) depicts Hamlet as bipolar, mostly manic or “rapid cycling.”  
The Branagh/Branagh (1996) version depicts Hamlet as almost sociopathic (choleric), with the melancholy a complete facade.
The Almereyda/Hawke (2000) version depicts Hamlet as straight-up clinically depressed.  

Either way, all effective writers are natural psychologists and write their characters so well that they can be readily diagnosed (always baffles me that people insist you can’t “diagnose” fictional characters because a particular health problem or mental health issue wasn’t named: people still had problems).  Shakespeare drew from the psychology of his day and also left the character open to interpretation because he was aware of the debates that existed even then.

One of the concerns Walsh, and many others raise in critiquing a biological interpretation of mental health, is the spiritual component.  Fr. John Corapi would compare it to any physical disease: you might have a genetic predisposition to something. Then you add in the component of an actual physical trauma, poor nutrition, etc. Then bacteria come into the wound and infect it.

With mental health, you may have a genetic predisposition to bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, etc. You experience traumas that other experience but they hurt you more because of your predispositions. Things that might cause a brief situational depression for anybody are devastating (or, conversely, one thrives in a crisis). Then the demons, like bacteria in a wound, come along and whisper “You’re unworthy.” They infect the emotional wound and refuse to leave.  That certainly needs to be dealt with, and most treatment programs acknowledge it.  

“Madame has moments of melancholy,” says Max in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950).  Norma Desmond, also clearly bipolar (mania demonstrated by her literally insane, rambling “script” that she’s been working on for years), has made several attempts on her life, and Max has removed all the doorknobs in the house, as well as all knives and razors (“Madame got the razor from your room, and she cut her wrists!”)

If Robin Williams had shot himself, certain people would be calling for restricting the ability of mentally ill people to own guns. They cite statistics on gun deaths in America, more than half of which are suicides.  It is noteworthy that these same people objected to “politicization” of his death when some pro-lifers pointed to his status as a post-abortive father (post-abortion syndrome contributing to many suicides), or when Rush Limbaugh, ironically or inadvertently “politicized” his death by complaining about the media politicizing it.  Yet the same people would have readily “politicized” it if it had been a gun suicide.

That’s another easy cause, though, that  people look for.  They try to say, “It’s guns,” except when it’s not guns.  Nobody is talking about legal action to restrict ownership of ropes, or belts, or plastic bags, or knives or razors by mentally ill people.  The real issue there is why people must rely on the government for everything. 

A desperate person will find a means.

One last observation under this topic is the question of medication.  Some people will say, “See?  This proves meds don’t work!” or “This proves meds make things worse!”  One of the reasons it’s important to nail down the right diagnosis is that the wrong medicine really can be disastrous.  Someone with bipolar needs to be on bipolar meds, not necessarily anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, which can cause a horrible mania and, in turn, drastic behavior.  

Accurate diagnosis is so very important, as are accurate treatment methods.  

Why “Gay Marriage” Matters

Even many who profess faith in Christ insist that “gay marriage,” even as a civil entity, doesn’t hurt anybody.  Examples like “husband” and “wife” being changed everywhere to “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” should be enough for starters.  Then there is the increasing persecution of those who oppose the homosexualist political agenda: CEOs being fired from companies they co-founded,

Brendan Eich, who helped invent Java and Firefox, fired from Mozilla for a $1000 donation made 6 years ago.

and nuns being persecuted by the Church.

Should be speaking everywhere, not silenced

Of course, the latter was justified by “Catholics” bearing false witness against the Holy Father by saying his statements that homilists must talk about more than a few disjointed moral teachings means that none of us is supposed to talk about the specific examples, ever.

It all goes back to my old saying that we lost the Culture Wars before they began, at the 1929 Lambeth Conference.   The slippery slope that  led us to the current gay marriage debate started when the Anglicans became the first Christians to permit birth control, as Pius XI and Paul VI predicted.  Anyone who has tried to teach Catholic morality even in CCD, much less Catholic school, in the past generation or two knows how awkward it is to tell kids divorce and remarriage is a sin when their parents are divorced and remarried, that swearing is a sin when even their mothers cuss like sailors, or that birth control is a sin when everyone else uses it.  I went to high school with kids whose parents were NFP instructors, and even *they* would say things like, “It’s a sin for us but not for other people,” or “It’s better to tell teenagers to use birth control than to have them get pregnant or STDs.”

I think the persecution of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, has as much to do with her speaking about the negative consequences of divorce as anything else.  Indeed, the claim of Aquinas College that Sr. Jane is outside her academic credentials by talking of anthropology negates the traditional hierarchy of academic disciplines that a Dominican should be the first to recognize.

Soon-to-be St. John Paul II, who doesn’t mince words in Evangelium Vitae about the Conspiracy of Death, writes in Theology of the Body that the entire of Catholic anthropology is based in the Creation Account: indeed, that is the whole point of TOB.  From man being made male and female in the image of likeness of God and to be “one flesh” to the fact of Original Sin, JPII’s explication of the first three or four chapters of Genesis and Jesus’ teachings on marriage shows how everything else in theology stems from those passages.  He argues that the danger of Darwinism, and its importance to secularists, is that without a Creator, without teleology, without man being a soul/body hybrid, without Original Sin itself, then man is not a moral creature, and ultimately anything goes.

Something similar is at work in the Culture Wars in the contemporary West.  From contraception at one end to “marriage equality” at the other, advocates of “most favored sins” tend to promote each other’s cause: nobody wants to be perceived as a “hypocrite,” after all.  If some “bossy” Thomistic nun wants to start talking about sexual morality, then so much for “voices of women in the Church”!

And that’s the ultimate agenda of the Culture of Death (and, yes, Pope John Paul himself states repeatedly in Gospel of Life and elsewhere that it’s a conspiracy).    It’s even the agenda of those who, in the name of preventing child abuse, expose children to graphic “sex education.”  Obviously, Satan wants everyone in Hell, and Satan’s agents, whether they realize they are or not, need to encourage others to sin so they can feel justified in their own filth.

The 1988 Don Bosco film that used to run on EWTN before the 2004 version came out has subplots involving a brothel next door to St. John’s Oratory.  In one scene, there’s a commotion outside the brothel: two prostitutes get into a “cat fight.”  The boys stop their play and study to see what’s going on.  The Saint cuts through the crowd and pulls the two hookers apart.  “You people can drown in your sins, if you want!” he cries.  “But if a single one of my boys is lost because of you, not one of you can be saved!”

Harsh, you say?  Remember Our Lord calls for anyone who causes a child to sin to be drowned (Matthew 18:6).

That’s what’s at stake in “gay marriage.”

When I can no longer watch Wheel of Fortune with my kids because of a contestant introduction like, “So you’re getting married? . . . You found some nice young lady to marry you?” “Gentleman, actually,” that affects my family.
When we’re watching The Middle, and an ad comes on for Modern Family with two men talking about “their wedding,” and a cake topper with two men, that affects my family.
“Why?” asks the person who actively or passively supports same sex marriage.  “Are you afraid of them?  They’re nice people.”
No.
“Do you think you’re kid’s going to be gay?”
No.
Every child at some point wants to know why boys can’t marry boys or girls can’t marry girls, and “because they’re not supposed to” is usually a sufficient answer.

If society isn’t going to back that up, and if “the Church” isn’t even going to back that up, then one is left stranded explaining Natural Law.  It’s hard enough having to gloss over other issues.

They do not think parents have the right to teach their children morality or even to protect their children’s mental purity at a young age.   Then there are the increasing accounts of children at young ages becoming addicted to porn or committing sexual abuse because of things they’ve seen online.

When that stuff is literally everywhere, there comes a point when parents are forced to explain certain things to children that are not otherwise age appropriate–and that’s exactly what these demonic perverts want.

So, the Obama Administration finally “Bares All”

The Department of Health and “Human Services,” presided over by “Catholic” Kathleen Sebelius, recently completed the most extensive long-term study ever done of abstinence teaching (particularly by parents) and teen fornication. At first, the Obama Administration tried to resist publicizing the results (obviously having something to hide; that is Obama’s m.o., right?), but several appeals got the results released, and LifeSite News has a summary as well as the whole text.

As we all know, the “conventional wisdom,” pushed by the liberal establishment in the media and the educational system, is that “abstinence education” “doesn’t work,” that parents and schools alike need to teach teenagers about artificial contraception “because they’re going to have sex anyway.” I even heard these arguments in Catholic school–I heard these arguments in Catholic school from classmates whose parents were NFP instructors! (This led to my traditionalist bias against NFP). Of course, in the past couple years, Bristol Palin has been the poster girl for “abstinence doesn’t work.”

In a debate on this subject, an Internet friend of mine was responded to a comment of that sort by suggesting that the liberal in question count the number of people who are traditional minded Catholics, orthodox Jews or Evangelical Protestants whose teenagers getting pregnant compared to the number of secularist families whose teenagers are having sex and getting pregnant.

Indeed, the HHS study has shown, in summary, that abstinence education *does* work. Families with religious values or conservative attitudes are less likely to have teens who engage in sex. Teens who come from minority or less educated families are more likely to opposed sex before marriage. With the exception of African Americans, teens whose parents oppose fornication are less likely to engage in it.

You can read the full text here.

In related news, here’s a nice little blog post on the link between oxytocin and the psychology of sex and promiscuity. The importance of oxytocin (and dopamine and endorphines, which are its predecessors) to human psychological development, relationships (sexual and otherwise), addictions and morality has been a big area of interest to me for the past year and a half or so. There’s really a lot of scientific evidence that validates traditional morality, yet of course the secularists ignore the moral implications of the research, and you don’t often hear Christians talking about it, so it was nice to see this piece.

Haiti, Part 3

Been doing some blog-clicking, and found some interesting posts.  It seems that what Robertson is “quoted” as saying is not quite the same thing as what he said, but that doesn’t make what he said entirely right.

First, here are the sites:

Deacon Dana: “Pray for the People of Haiti.”
Curt Harding: “Why Robertson is Wrong”
“One Catholic’s Response to Pat Robertson.”
Fr. Longenecker

In summary, what Robertson (who I think is a complete fraud, and I don’t buy the argument that a Christian’s worth should be measured by how much money he allegedly gives to cahrity) said is that he believes Haiti’s long history of witchcraft is responsible for the country’s long history of economic turmoil.

At issue are three points:

1.  Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island, Hispaniola.  The Dominican Republic was originally a Spanish colony, while Haiti was French.  Both countries are very impoverished, though Robertson described the Dominican Republic as “prosperous”.  Now, as Haiti is the poorest nation on earth, any country is “prosperous” by comparison.  Robertson overtly makes that comparison.

My wife went to Haiti.  Her interest in Haiti got me interested in Haiti, and I wrote an article on Haiti a few years ago, and I’ve researched it.  And a major issue in Haiti today is deforestation.  There are practical reasons why Haiti is so particularly blighted as a nation.

a.  Like every third world country, Haiti’s progress is impeded by government corruption and rampant crime.  Foreign Aide is embezzled by corrupt officials, and direct charity from missionary groups is stolen by bandits.  Mary’s group came there to install solar panels, and they were told that the panels would only be up for a few weeks before they were stolen.

b.  Haiti, due to its small size, has suffered the effects of deforestation more drastically than, say, Brazil, but its situation is a warning to the world about what will happen if we don’t stop abusing God’s gifts to us.

c.  The United States and France have stripped Haiti of its resources.  Haiti is an embodiment of the Kissinger Doctrine: Manifest Destiny is over, so the US needs to turn to imperialism.  Every government in Haiti for the past several decades has been US-backed.  Reagan supported the guy before Aristide.  The American Left supported Aristide.  Aristide got elected during Bush Sr.’s administration.  Aristide got overthrown in a coup, and Bush Sr. refused to intervene.  Clinton came along and put Aristide in power.  Aristide, in his second term, proved to be the worst dictator in Haiti’s history.  Bush Jr. sent in troops in 2004 to put in the guy he wanted. Haiti has been nothing more than a tributary of the US for decades.

Those are the basic reasons for its poverty. 

2.  Is there witchcraft in Haiti?  Absolutely!  Haiti is the center of voodoo.  Some commentors jump in with “What about New Orleans and Katrina?” yet the obvious answer to that is, “Voodoo is rampant there, too.”
However, my brother used to work in Boston, where there is a large Haitian population, and where he had a number of Haitians in his employ, and he was well aware of the voodoo they practiced.  He also found a couple voodoo dolls on his doorstep.

Ignoring the earthquake, as Pat Robertson did not say the Haitians “deserved” the earthquake–this is how the mainstream media protrayed his comments.  Again, that’s just for the sake of truth here.  He didn’t say it, so it’s wrong to condemn him for saying it.  He expressed hope, as I did, that the earthquake would be taken as a warning from God both by the Haitian people *and* by the rest of the world.

Robertson *did* make a very fauly conclusion.

His conclusion is that Haiti’s national poverty is due to its practice of witchcraft and the alleged rejection of God involved in its revolution against France.

Question, Mr. Robertson: is the United States impoverished?  is the United States plagued by a history of poverty?

Because last time I checked, voodoo, wicca, New Age, occultism, “Satanism,” and daily newspaper horoscopes are practiced all over the United States.

Last time I checked, the United States was founded by a bunch of men who were mostly Deists, if nominally Christian, and most of the “Founding Fathers” were Freemasons.  One of the exceptions to both rules was Charles Carroll, whose writings laid the groundwork for the heresy of Americanism and the Kennedy Doctrine (“My faith has nothing to do with my politics”).

I don’t know if the Haitians made a pact with the devil, and I’m not sure whether the United States was founded on a pact with the Devil, but the United States was certainly not founded as a Christian nation. 

And what about France?  “First Daughter of the Church”?  (A very biased and racist term, by the way, as the true “First Daughter of the Church” is Ethiopia, which adopted Christianity as its official religion perhaps as Apostolic times).  France had its bloody revolution that enthroned Goddess Liberty, involved the destruction of Catholic Churches, relics, artworks, and sacramentals, as well as the martyrdom of thousands of devout Catholics.  France’s revolution led to official secularization, the invention of public education as we know it, etc. 

Lots of Catholics wear Miraculous Medals.  The Miraculous Medals was given to St. Catherine Laboure, a Vincentian nun, in apparitions she received in the Church of Our Lady of Victory, Rue de Bac, Paris, France.  Many Catholics probably wear Miraculous Medals without knowing that the apparition that introduced the medal condemned the American and French Revolutions, especially the latter, as paving the way for an era of decadence.

So, Rev. Robertson, if a history of Satanism and/or rejection of God results in a history poverty, then why  is the United States the most prosperous nation on earth?  Where is the rampant poverty in France?  Where is the rampant poverty in the United Kingdom? 

“Oh, there are many Christians in those countries,” he might respond, telling us how many prayerful and charitable people live in the US, France and UK.

OK, well, there are also many devout prayerful Christians in Haiti, as well. 

Try again.

“What about the women who have abortions?”

Pro-abortionists have a particular question they like to throw out at pro-lifers.  Like the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, they think this question particularly clever and creates an impossible dilemma.

My recent interlocutor, the pro-abortion terrorist and demonaic who goes by “Operation Counterstrike”, prides itself on its website for supposedly “confounding” pro-lifer bloggers with this question.  Although I answered the question on its blog, and the direct question never came up here in our lengthy exchange, this person (whom I strongly suspect has gender identity issues, given that its rhetoric sounds like NOW but seems to avoid the personal identification with abortion that radical feminists have) tried to say that I put its comments under moderation because of my inability to confront that question.

No, I put its comments under moderation because a) the arguments were getting circular and unprogressive and b) the person insisted on using language that was both rude and crude, as well as personally attacking my friends. This individual needs to learn about a modicum of civil discourse.

Anyway, the question goes like this:

“If abortion is made illegal, and you consider abortion to be murder, what should happen to the women who have abortions?”

They see this is an an “aha!” question, exposing us for either being hypocrites or for “not really thinking abortion is murder.”

The paradox, they think, goes this way:

1.  If you think they should be punished as murderers, they’ll call you “unreasonable.”

2.  If you say they shouldn’t, they say, “Then you don’t really think abortion is murder.”

Of course, these are the kinds of people, especially the CounterStrike person, who think that people like Scott Roeder, Paul Hill and John Salvi are the only consistent anti-abortionists.  According to their logic, a) if you believe abortion is murder, then b) the only way to punish a murderer is to c) kill him/her in an act of vigilantism.  Otherwise, you’re a liar and/or hypocrite in that a) you don’t “really” believe abortion is “murder” or b) you’re not “really” pro-life.

Of course, they set up the false dichotomy in that, case they set up the false dichotomy in this one, too.

Yes, the question does pose a paradox for certain kinds of Republicans and conservatives, but it shouldn’t pose a paradox for a Christian, or certainly any person with an understanding of psychology or legal responsibility.

There is a difference between the objective nature of an act and the subjective culpability of the actor.  When a teenaged girl has an abortion, is she really culpable?  Does she know abortion is murder?  Does she know the unborn child is a person?  (Not if the pro-aborts have anything to say about it; they do everything in their power to fight informed consent, waiting periods and sonogram laws–they know most women would reject abortion if shown this information).  Are they really making the “free choice” that pro-aborts allege?  Or are they pressured by family, society, money, etc.?  What is their mental state?

Is a girl who has an abortion fully morally culpable for what she does? 

Now, this is quite different from, say, some upper middle class white woman who gets an abortion to avoid the stretch marks or pursue her career or something.

Interestingly, Patrick Madrid has been involved in a parallel exchange from the other end, on his Facebook page, radio show and blog, in which a pro-life advocate apparently took a fairly hardline stance with some women who had repented of past abortions, insisting they were still “murderers”.

Of course, objectively, the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer,” but that leads to two issues: 1) her aforementioned culpability and b) her intention of repeating the crime.

A person who copies and pastes a bunch of paragraphs out of Wikipedia and Cliff’s Notes is, objectively, a plagiarist.  However, a good teacher knows how to distinguish unintentional acts of plagiarism from intentional academic theft.  Sometimes, especially in this example, the student just doesn’t know how to cite or how to write a proper research paper, and thinks the copied and pasted paragraphs constitute “research.” 

So, let’s say the teacher decides to give the student a second chance, or that a student who was expelled from one institution for plagiarism gets admitted to another.  In either case, our plagiarist has learned his or her lesson.  He or she remains a plagiarist, but the question is: will he or she *continue* to commit plagiarism?

Inspector Javert chases Jean Valjean for years because he thinks that one act of theft should mark a man for life.

Christians technically believe in repentance and forgiveness.  The pro-life movement is an embodiment of this.  Many of our leaders have themselves been directly involved in abortion in the worst ways: Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, Bernard Nathanson, John Bruchalski and so many others have come to the pro-life cause after repenting of their involvement in abortion, whether it was their own abortions, abortion practices, or political/legal work.

Yes, we want to see abortion illegal so that it is stigmatized, and society can heal from the rift in Natural Law caused by legalized abortion.  Yes, we want to save babies’ lives.  Yes, those who are consciously and deliberately involved in abortion–and unrepentant–should be punished for it. 

Those who lack full moral responsibility, however, should be given clemency and understanding.  Those who have repented and turned over a new leaf should be given the benefit of the doubt.  They remain, objectively, murderers, but the real question is whether they will murder again.

There is no better illustration of this than a conundrum presented regarding George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas, a situation that puzzled liberals to no end.  It was the case where a woman on death row in Texas had converted to Christianity, repented of her crimes and showed a complete remorse.  Pro-life Christians argued that she should not be subject to the death penalty, and even that she should be released.

“Our God is the God of second chances.”

That’s what Christianity is all about: repentance of sins:

Here’s what Sarah Palin Actually *said* about “Death Panels”

OK.  So Obama has created the talking point over the past several days that has led many, even many the right, to disparage Sarah Palin’s “death panels” comment as being over-the-top, inaccurate, etc. 

As I’ve discussed in several recent posts, the Liberals have based their claim of inaccuracy on the idea that Palin is talking about “end of life” care counseling.  I have speculated, having not read the actual speech till just now, that she wasn’t even talking about that, and she wasn’t.  Even if she *were*, as I’ve previously discussed, end of life care, as they call it, goes against Christian principles.

But Palin was not talking about that. She was talking about the standards for “triage” and health care rationing.  Here’s the text:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Where in the speech does she say anything about forced euthanasia?  She is talking about denial of services to those who are deemed unworthy, something that Rahm Emmanuel, Tom Daschle and others have all advocated.
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Here’s an article on what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, advocates in terms of health rationing.

Some blogs are suggesting that Palin’s speech was inaccurate because such “death panels” are not in the Bill.  But they *were* in the Bill and were struck down.  Either way, as I said in my last post, it’s the slippery slope.  Why do we want to open the door to these people to allow it? 

One of the things we’re told about the alleged evil of insurance companies is about denial of services to those who need them most.  Does anyone really think the government is that altruistic????  Does anyone really think the government will do better?  Does anyone really think that, when Medicare and Medicaid already have absurd rules for what services they’ll pay for, that a new government insurance plan will be any better?

I have been online since 1997.  I’ve been on message boards, listserves, blogs, Facebook, etc.  I’ve argued these issues time and again with people.  I know my view is an unpopular one with most people, including may self-styled conservatives and many self-styled Catholics.

This is why I know we need Sarah Palin in the public square . We need someone who is a voice against the attitudes about the disabled and those who have genetic disorders, etc. 

I know what it is to grow up in pain, knowing that death is always potentially around the corner.

I know what it is to be ridiculed for being different.

I know what it is to be told that I’m not worthy of being alive. 

I know that liberals and many who call themselves conservatives take it as a given that it is cruel to “knowingly” allow a child to be born with a genetic disorder.  Most people presume that people with genetic disorders should never reproduce, and that people who get in utero diagnoses of genetic defects should have abortions. 

This is how they think.  It’s not just my experience from one or two conversations.  It’s what I’ve heard from every liberal I’ve ever argued with, and from many a yuppie graduate of Franciscan University or Christendom College (though they cover up their eugenicist mentality with perpetual continence or NFP). 

They say these things.  Their “experts” say these things.  The countries that already have government-run health care do these things or are working towards them.  Then, when we call them on it, they say we’re lying!

Here’s a piece on Peter Singer’s contribution to the Death Panel debate.

Here’s a piece on Obama’s appeals to “faith based” Groups to win support for socialism and to redirect the debate on health rationing.

Here’s an article by a disabiltiy group that agrees with Sarah.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece on how rationing is central to Obamacare (HT Below the Beltway)

Here’s an article about GE’s role in promoting health rationing.

Here’s an article about how the death panel already exists: it’s the “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research,” which was part of the “stimulus” bill. 

According to George Will, the draft report on the so-called stimulus bill states the CER will identify medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs.

This is especially ironic, since one of the original purposes of the federal government getting involved in medical research was the Orphan Drug Act: federally funding research deemed to be too commercially unviable.

Here’s a blog piece from July which points to the rationing provisions in the House plan.

The Exorcism of Lila Rose?

Young Pro-Life Vigilante “Lila Rose” has gained notoriety the past several years for various “undercover ops” involving Planned Parenthood: recording conversations with donation collectors, posing as a teenaged girl pregnant through rape or incest and seeing if Planned Parenthood reported it, video taping the counseling sessions, etc.

Some of these “sting operations” have gone to a bit of an extreme in forcing the Planned Parenthood employees to say things they probably wouldn’t have said or done.  Planned Parenthood has claimed she’s illegally recorded the conversations.

In the meantime, Lila Rose has become a young hero  to pro-lifers, and she has recently converted to Catholicism, apparently.

Well, my friend Joe Hargrave has raised an interesting take on the morality of her actions, and his observations deserve some thought.  Deal Hudson has offered a rebuttal, which also deserves some thought.

Haven’t read all the comments on either discussion, but I’d like to offer several observations:

1.  I come down pretty hard on people.   Years ago, Mary suggested I should start using, when anonymity was called for, the nickname “God’s Gadfly,” after one of my favorite passages in Plato.  The Prophet Socrates, in the Apology (also one of the two places where he predicts the coming of Christ), says he is a “gadfly” sent by god (specifically Apollo, since he discerned his vocation from an oracle at Delphi) to annoy the Athenians and rouse them from their complacency and make them examine themselves.  Much like Socrates, who was always looking for a wise man, and Diogenes, who was always looking for an honest man, I’m always looking for an honest Catholic.

But that I mean not just “orthodox”–and not even necessarily 100% orthodox–but someone who’s actually committed to living the Gospel, at least in theory, 100%.  Someone who tries as best as possible not to let worldly attachments cloud his or her judgement.

From my experience reading his writings and communicating with him online, Joe Hargrave is one of those rare people.  He is seriously seeking Truth. 

Years ago, I read Bob Casey’s memoir Fighting for Life. For several reasons, I think it makes an interesting bookend to Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, because, if you define “conservative” by the definition Kirk gives in his magnum opus, then Bob Casey is definitely a liberal.

Now, deriiving from my own views of politics pre-Kirk, and definitely after reading Kirk, I came to the following delineation of the basic differences between a “conservative” and a “liberal”. While the terms originally referred to economics, or refer to customs, or whatever, I use them, as Kirk basically does, to refer to interpretation of law.

Kirk says that conservatives are, by nature, pessimistic about human nature, while liberals are optimistic. Conservatives expect people to do bad. They want government to punish wrongdoing, but they generally want government to be restricted because people run the government, and people are prone to corruption. Liberals are optimistic. They think people are fundamentally good, and they think that various social reforms are the way to solve the problem of evil.

For various reasons, the Culture Wars most obviously, but my interpretation of subsidiarity and other church teachings included, I have always been a conservative. As I noted the other day, Michael Jackson and Madonna and MTV deserve a lot of the credit for that, as I was naturally repulsed by them as a kid, and didn’t understand why other kids’ parents weren’t as strict as my parents were, why they let their kids watch that junk.

Based upon the above description, I have long believed that Catholics should be conservatives because, if nothing else, of original sin. Our belief in human concupiscence fits nicely with the conservative paradigm.

OTOH, Bob Casey’s memoir/manifesto shows what I think a true “liberal Catholic” should be like. He was equally concerned with moral issues as I was, but he had a more optimistic view of human nature, and therefore of the role of government. It would have been interesting to debate with him on that one point. In practice, I saw my views converging with many of Casey’s, but in theory ,we were polar opposites.

So, Joe Hargrave is the closest person I’ve met to a “Bob Casey”. He’s fundamentally liberal, because he’s an optimist. But on most practical political issues, we agree.

2. While I’m searching for an “honest Catholic,” I’m always willing to grow myself. I’m willing to entertain new perspectives, provided that it all fits. I have many times, over the years, completely changed my views on particular issues when I’ve found the Church taught differently than what I thought–or, more precisely, when I’ve found out the Church has a teaching on that subject (and didn’t realize it previously).

Liberal Catholics often say, “Read the Social Justice Encyclicals.” Unlike many Catholic political conservatives, I *have* read several of them, and excerpts or summaries of all, and I’ve found that, while I am no longer a laissez-faire capitalist, I am not a socialist, either. I am a Chestertonian distributivist.

While Kirk refuses to accept Chesterton as a conservative, Kirk’s view is that conservatives should shun economic ideology in favor of economic pragmatism, and he is equally critical of both capitalists and socialists.

But while I’m willing to grow, there are often issues that come up where we really haven’t given them much thought.

Torture is one such issue. I never gave it much thought, one way or the other, till the past few years.
Now, the issue of lying as an intrinsic evil has been circulating the blogosphere, and Joe has raised the question in regard to Lila Rose–and, by extension, in regard to anyone who does “undercover work”?

Can you lie in the service of undercover work?

3. Deal Hudson responds with a similar view to what he’s posited on waterboarding. Killing is intrinsically evil. So, if it’s just or justifiable to do that intrinsic evil in certain circumstances (war, death penalty, self defense), why isn’t it just to do certain other intrinsic evils in similar circumstances? Of course, this carries a dangerous slope with it: for example, that contraception is justifiable under such circumstances. I will be gettin back to that issue whenever I resume my Iraq series.

4. A story: our old OB/Gyn in VA once told us about a “crazy Iranian abortionist” he knew. He was Irish, and his narrative seemed to be missing some points. He said this abortionist showed up one time in the delivery room wielding a handgun while he was delivering the baby of one of the abortionist’s former clients. I forget why, exactly.

Anyway, he also said the guy’s clinic in Richmond was shut down after several accusations of fraud were made against him. An undercover cop went in one day. The abortionist came in and said, “You’re pregnant. Want an abortion?”
The cop said, “That was a urine sample from my male partner. I’m a cop, and you’re under arrest.”

Well, would *that* be morally justifiable?

5. The real question Joe’s post raises is whether undercover work is permissible at all. Then there’s the question of whether vigilante overcover work is justified.

6. Then there’s the Catechism’s extreme position on lying, especially given the lies that prelates themselves often engage in.

7. Another anecdote. I heard an African bishop tell this story in an EWTN homily. Two Christian men were running from some pagans who wanted to kill them. They met an old farmer and said, “Grandfather, some men want to kill us! Please hide us!” So the old farmer told them to hide under a bale of hay. The soldiers arrived. “Did you see two men?” they asked.
“Yes,” said the old man. “They’re hiding under that bale of hay.”
“Fool! How dare you mock us?!” they cried, striking him to the ground.
The soldiers left. The fugitives came out from under the hay.
“Why did you tell whem where we were?”
“I knew they wouldn’t believe I was telling the truth,” he said. “The truth will set you free.”

7.

Tom Batiuk tries to profit from Dan Brown’s publicity

by digging up historically inaccurate anti-Catholic cliches.

In the May 31 edition of Funky Winkerbean, Crazy Harry and John the comic book guy discuss how Wonder Woman was apparently, in the words of the character:

“banned by the Church’s National Organization for Decent Literature, which was a descendent of the old Index Librorum Prohibitorum that once censored Copernicus’ ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’ and Galileo’s ‘Dialogue On the Two Chief World Systems'”

OK, the “National Organization for Decent Literature” was a US based organization that promoted outright censorship.

The Index was a list of books that were not “banned” but censored: Catholics could not read them unless they had legitimate reason to do so, and did it under the proper guidance.

Living before the Index was ended, Flannery O’Connor openly praised one of the works on the Index, Madame Bovary, as her favorite novel. O’Connor also stated support for the Church’s censorship–so long as authors did not engage in self-censorship.

Many of the works often pointed to as examples of the Index‘s alleged failings (e.g., certain scientific treatises or St. Faustina’s Diary) should merely show that the purpose of the Index was to protect souls who might be badly influenced by works that needed a certain intellectual or spiritual maturity.

Pro-lifers put more faith in Obama to keep his word than the Bushes

Here’s yet another article that insists Sonia Sotomayor is definitely pro-choice on the grounds that there’s no way Obama would appoint a nominee who might vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, speaking only over her vague “far left decisions”, dismissing the three pro-life decisions, and trusting in Obama’s staff.

One of the reasons for justices turning a different way than the presidents hope is inexperience and the different world of the Supreme Court. But another reason is that presidents’ staffers lie to them. The senator who was in charge of the search committee that picked Souter admitted that he lied to George H. W. Bush about Souter’s views.

Isn’t it possible that someone is lying to Obama about Sotomayor?

Meanwhile, Bill Donohue says he will “quietly root for her.”

The Latest "Republican Shill" Bishop is None other than Donald Trautman.

We keep hearing that the 70+ bishops who have criticized the University of Notre Dame for honoring U.S. President Barack Obama are simply trying to win votes for the Republican Party. That’s the spin that liberal Catholics would you like you to take on it, even though at least one of the most liberal current-reigning bishops in the US, Robert Lynch, was one of the first to speak out.

Now, we have a statement on the subject from none other than the Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman, STD, SSL, bishop of Erie, PA.

Now, back when I didn’t know much about Trautman, he was one of my heroes. You see, in the early 1990s, he made a name for himself as being one of the most outspokenly pro-life bishops in the U.S. When it came to “Life Issues,” he was right up there with Cardinal O’Connor. In fact, Trautman was one of the bishops who pushed for an official then USCC/NCCB (now USCCB) policy forbidding pro-abortion Catholics from being honored by or speaking at Catholic institutions. Trautman also has the credit of being for the whole “consistent life ethic” thing, opposing abortion and the death penalty, war, etc. Of course, his diocese is home to Pax Christi USA.

In Trautman’s case, he very eagerly applied this policy to former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a Republican, who had until that point a tradition of speaking at Cathedral Prep and Gannon University in Erie. Since Ridge is both pro-choice and pro-death penalty, Trautman forbade him from speaking in any institution owned by the Diocese of Erie.

So, in other words, this approach to pro-choicers not speaking at Catholic institutions was originally used by liberal bishops to punish “pro-choice” Republican Catholics.

Also, renovation of St. Peter’s Cathedral was a big issue in Erie when I was growing up. Former Bishop Michael Murphy had some very radical plans for renovation, including a stage for liturgical dance. Trautman’s changes were not so drastic, but still rather gaudy and, ultimately, inconsistent. He basically spliced a bunch of modernistic elements, such as a huge wooden crucifix, over the top of the existing Gothic accoutrements. Moved the Tabernacle to a weird side thing, and didn’t take out the old High Altar completely, but put the aforementioned Crucifix in front of it. Still, it wasn’t as bad as Murphy would have done.

So on those two grounds, I thought at first Trautman was fairly conservative.

Then, as time went on, I learned of his far-left views on liturgy, and how some bishops from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments replied to an article he wrote in America by saying that Trautman was advocating a de facto schism.

He’s responsible for the horrid (and disapproved by Rome) “inclusive language” “revised Psalms” in the New American Bible. He thinks laity are too dumb to know what a “chalice” is.

He hates Mother Angelica, and has on several occasions been aligned with Mahony, Weakland and Lynch where EWTN and/or liturgical issues are concerned. For example, IIRC, Weakland, Trautman and Lynch co-authored an open letter in Roger Mahony’s support during his infamous 1997/1998 feud with Mother Angelica.

He told Fr. John Trigilio, an Erie native who serves in the Diocese of Harrisburg, that he is not allowed to exercise priestly functions when he visits the Diocese of Erie due to his contribution to Michael Rose’s Goodbye, Good Men. (Let’s refer back to Trautman’s allegiance with Mahony and Weakland in this context).

And, just to be petty, according to a friend of mine who was considering the seminary at one point, Bishop Trautman wears purple glasses, which my friend found to be kind of creepy.

This guy is no Republican shill. This guy is no right winger. He’s genuinely pro-life, and has a few other good qualities. But he’s one of the most liberal bishops in our country, heading up one of the most liberal dioceses in our country, with such luminaries as “Earth Mother” Joan Chittister and her Dancing Erie Benedictines, Pax Christi USA, and Mercyhurst College (see my post on New Ways Ministry).

So what does *that* tell you about the Notre Dame situation?

Weakland comes out of the closet: conservative Catholics say "ho hum"

Seven years ago, when Bishop Rembert Weakland was publicly of sexual assault by Paul Marcoux, people were shocked (this article discusses the accusation, the evidence, and Weakland’s career).

I wasn’t.

Back then, I tried to make the case I usually make: that sex abuse usually comes in tandem with heterodoxy, that if the hierarchy were better about making sure priests and bishops taught correct doctrine, we’d have less of a scandal about sex abuse. The Washington Times seemed to get it right, but, otherwise, most media outlets were expressing shock and horror about the situation. Even Rush Limbaugh expressed distress over the accusations against Weakland, and all these were acting with the underlying assumption that “Catholic bishop = saint.”

I tried calling the Rush Limbaugh program on “Open Line” Friday to ask why anyone would be shocked that the most liberal bishop in the United States was gay, but the screener said something nasty, and hung up on me.

That was the reponse I got from several places: that I was wrong for seeing divine Justice in this revelation, for being glad that God was using the Scandal to purge the Church of a lot of bad clerics.

Things certainly have changed in seven years.

Now, when, after trying to cover up the allegations and resigning, Rembert Weakland has officially “come out of the closet,” people are saying, “ho-hum. We knew that already.”

Let’s look at some of Weakland’s record as bishop. First, he was one of the appointees of Archbishop Jean Jadot, the Papal Delegate to the US from 1973 to 1980. From What Does the Prayer Really Say?, quoting Fr. Richard McBrien (Fr. Z’s commentary is in red):

Most of Jadot’s appointments were unusually good, some less so. A limited sample (and I stress the adjective “limited”) of those on the first list include: [Get this list…] Howard Hubbard (Albany), Francis Hurley (Anchorage), William Borders (Baltimore), Patrick Flores (El Paso and then San Antonio), Joseph Imesh (Joliet), Michael Kenny (Juneau, Alaska), John J. Sullivan (Kansas City, Missouri), Rembert Weakland (Milwaukee), Peter Gerety (Newark), Raymond Lucker (New Ulm, Minnesota), John Cummins (Oakland), Walter Sullivan (Richmond), Matthew Clark (Rochester), Francis Quinn (Sacramento), Kenneth Untener (Saginaw, Michigan), John May (St. Louis), John Roach (St. Paul and Minneapolis), John Quinn (San Francisco), Raymond Hunthausen (Seattle), Frank Harrison (Syracuse), and William Skylstad (Yakima, Washington, later bishop of Spokane). [Scary, when you see it as a list.]

One other important name he leaves out: Roger Mahony.

Here’s an outline of Weakland’s offences from AD2000 (and this was only as of 1992):
1. He allowed Dan Maguire to continue teaching at Marquette after being laicized (funny; I thought Maguire was a priest), in violation of Canon Law.
2. He supported Dignity USA.
3. He actively endorsed a number of heterodox priests, discussed in the article
4. He not only said it was possible to be pro-choice and Catholic but called abortion a “complicated” issue and said that pro-lifers had an “unwholesome” and “fundamentalist” approach.
5. He made his infamous 1988 statement on homosexual sex abuse by priests, saying that many alleged victims were the real sexual predators, tempting unsuspecting priests.
6. In 1989, he told archdiocesan schools to teach the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.
7. Allowed female altar servers before they were officially permitted by Rome, used inclusive language and called himself a “feminist.”
8. Actively promoted women’s ordination

At the time the article was written, Msgr. Fabian Bruskewitz had recently been appointed Archbishop of Lincoln: he was from the Milwaukee Diocese but was most certainly *not* endorsed by Weakland, and, at that point, no other bishop had been appointed out of that diocese in twelve years.

At one point ca. 1998/99, a Carmelite priest online told me, “You can’t just listen to people like Mother Angelica; you have to listen to people like Rembert Weakland, to get the balance.”
I took him up on the challenge.

Then there was his feud with Mother Angelica, recounted here:

In her live show on EWTN, Mother Angelica criticized a mimed Stations of the Cross performance that featured a woman playing Jesus which was viewed by Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, in 1993. Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee, Wisconsin responded in an editorial to Mother Angelica’s criticisms about the pageant and other post-Vatican II issues in the Roman Catholic Church, saying: “It was one of the most disgraceful, un-Christian, offensive, and divisive diatribes I have ever heard.” Mother Angelica’s responded to Weakland’s criticism by saying, “He didn’t think a woman playing Jesus was offensive?”, “He can go put his head in the back toilet as far as I am concerned.”

In April ’98, Weakland had published a piece in America, the liberal Catholic porn magazine,
reflecting on this ad limina visit to Rome and the state of the Church in the US, as he saw it. You can read it here, if you have the stomach.

A few highlights include his caricature of the Society of St. Pius X and other traditionalists:

The smallest group [who feel alienated from the Church] are the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who do not accept the Second Vatican Council. They feel deceived and deserted by their church. Much of the problem stems from the formation we, as church, gave them before the council. They expected that the whole world around them would change but believed — were promised, they felt — that the church would not change. It would remain as the rock, the bastion against all the social changes in the world. Since they had received no training in church history, they believed that the church they or their ancestors brought from Europe to the United States had been the same since the time of Christ. Any change, in any detail, would mean the whole edifice would collapse. They have no connection to or understanding of Lefebvre’s French royalist leanings nor of the “Action Francaise” to which he belonged. [what’s wrong with that?] He became to them the symbol of resistance to change and the vehicle for their desire to hand on to their children the kind of church they grew up in. They will die out slowly, but not without much suffering. Attempts to reconcile them are almost impossible, since even the solutions permitted by Rome they find unacceptable. There can be no both/and for them, only a mission to preserve the old.

Apparently, Pope Benedict disagrees.

Interestingly, he turns to relativists:

There is a small, insignificant group of relativists who say one church is as good as another or one religion is as good as another, and so it does not matter what church one belongs to as long as one leads a good life. Religion for most of them means only how they relate to God. It becomes privatized, with little relationship to society and no structural or institutional manifestations.

Now, two thoughts here: I don’t think “all churches are equal” relatives are as “small” a group as he says. And, secondly, “insignificant”? In both these cases, he is speaking sociologically. Whatever happened to “The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to go after the 1 lost?”

Then there’s Weakland’s description of

Ultramontane or papal maximalist Catholics. This group is the most vociferous in the United States, spurred on by Eternal Word Television Network, with Mother Angelica and Joseph Fessio, S.J., as their spokesmen. Their theology can be summed up in the phrase “loyalty to the Pope” (hence they like to call themselves “orthodox Catholics” over against the others). That loyalty, however, is selective. . . . They are aggressively combative, and now, sensing victory, ever more judgmental and vicious. They seem to observe no boundaries between truth and hearsay, fact and rumor. Some of these groups are not always clearly religious in scope but seem to have at the same time a political agenda, mostly support for conservative political candidates like Pat Buchanan. It is not easy to love them. Every parish has a few members who, with little if any theology, try to hold the whole parish and its school hostage to their views. . . .
Unfortunately, this group presents a form of Christian spirituality that is more inspired by Bible-belt fundamentalism than by the great and well-tested Catholic spiritualities of the ages. They become the exponents of a Catholic fundamentalism. This trend has been accentuated in the last decade as several leading Evangelical Protestant leaders have become Catholic and are given a constant and ready pulpit by this group.

After dealing with “both extremes,” but focusing on dissing the various factions of the Right (including also Traditionalists who are not schismatic and those who follow Marian apparitions), Weakland describes what he thinks is the “Middle Ground”:

The largest group of Catholics in my archdiocese can be found in a kind of middle ground. They tell me they find Mother Angelica arrogant and obnoxious, have never heard of The Wanderer, do not read Our Sunday Visitor, The Register or The National Catholic Reporter, have never heard of Commonweal, care nothing about the Jesus Seminar people or the Catholic Theological Society of America and its disputes. The word “magisterium” is not in their vocabulary and seems new to them, not having been a part of the pre-Vatican II or even post-Vatican II religious education instruction our people received. They are proud of the present Pope, but have read nothing he has written. They loved the sisters and regret the loss of their presence in today’s church life. They like priests and are understanding of their humanity. They want their church to be an enlightened community, but they do not expect perfection. They have
accepted Vatican Council II and are happy with the results.
They seem to ignore much of the church’s teaching on sexuality and just o not talk about it, especially about birth control. They use common sense, they say, in dealing with many of these problems, having long ago ceased believing that all acts of masturbation were mortal sins, having accepted gays as human beings to be respected and loved but having many doubts about so many aspects of the gay lifestyle, being secretly sad that their children are living with partners before marriage but not wanting to break bonds with them. They are
pro-life but stay clear of the organized pro-life movements
; they adopt
a stance that is much more related to the consistent life ethic.

So, in other words, they are *ignorant*, and choose to remain ignorant. Interestingly, this “middle ground” doesn’t seem to have many beliefs that “orthodox” Catholics would agree with, and many that “liberal” Catholics would, so Weakland crafts, as most liberals do, the illusion that “the ignorant, muddle middle agrees with us, because we tell them what they want to hear.”

Following the priest’s advice, I read this article. It left me pretty depressed and discombobulated. I started to wonder, “What if he’s right?” Particularly challenging was his claim that an active life of charitable service was the end of Christianity, and the sacraments were just the means.

Then, ironically, I turned back to my study of the Carmelite Rule, and read a quotation from St. John of the Cross, saying that vita activa is only a means of achieving perfect contemplation, and, once we’ve achieved contemplative union with God, no other action, whether it’s charity, or devotions, or whatever–is that important anymore.

No one would doubt that the 20th Century Catholic who embodied vita activa par excellence was Bl. Teresa of Calcutta. Let’s see what she had to say:
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

So, the idea that Rembert Weakland has come out of the closet should be no surprise.

However,

It should be a huge validation of the long-held claim that there has been a systematic infiltration of the priesthood by agents bent on Her destruction from within,

and

It should raise further questions about Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, with whom Weakland was often associated.

What is a "Scientist"?

What, exactly, constitutes a “scientist”? It’s a constant theme on _Bones_ that Dr. Temperance Brennan is very elite in her mentality regarding what constitutes a “scientist”–indeed, she thinks anthropology is a science but psychology isn’t, and she was recently knocked down a peg by a physicist (IIRC) who told her that anthropology wasn’t a “real science”.

Is a physicist a “scientist”?
A chemist?
A biologist?
An anthropologist?
An archaeologist?
A psychologist?
A sociologist?
An economist?
A philosopher?
A theologian?

Certainly, for most of Christian history, theology has been regarded as a “science”–it is, with philosophy and canon law–one of the three “Divine Sciences.”

Why is it that one gains some special authority by being a “Scientist”? Why is that, say, a biologist like P.Z. Myers think that his degree in biology entitles him to pontificate about theology or philosophy?

Yet if you mention Albert Einstein’s statements about theology-which were derived from his work in advanced physics, and, by extension, metaphysics, the typical atheist will reply, “Albert Einstein was a brilliant physicist, but he had no credentials to discuss theology.”

So, what constitutes a “scientist”, and why does a “scientist” have any more authority than anyone else, except in that precise area where his discipline applies?

The Bible as History: the differences between Reason, Empiricism and Scientific Method

For the past week or so, I have been engaged in an interesting, but increasingly annoying, exchange with one Chad Tonka. This fellow has the appeal of a higher level of discourse than one usually finds in the blogosphere, yet he is taking it to a rather opposite extreme.

In his efforts to avoid the question of the humanity of the embryo, Mr. Tonka, who presumes a first-name basis, has insisted we veer off into a long side trip on the merits of the scholastic philosophical approach, etc. He has raised some interesting questions, and provided some insights into the narrow minds of secularists. However, a combox discussion is not suited to the complex issues he is raising, and I have decided to create some separate posts to tackle some of these issues.

One of the things that is most disingenuous about scientific atheism is the claim of being “rational.” “Big ‘S'” Scientists have inappropriately co-opted to themselves a great deal of terminology, depriving it of its original meaning. Properly speaking, the natural sciences do not require a great deal of “reason”: perhaps “rationality” in the sense of “pertaining to ratios.” The level of reasoning applied in science does not rise much above mathematics: science is about observing and quantifying phenomena. Done properly, science only involves the most simple conclusions derived from the evidence.

The problem with “scientific” Atheism is that it claims to be “science” that which is properly philosophy. For example, Darwinism. Whether or not evolution actually occurs is a scientific question. *Why* evolution occurs is a necessarily philosophical question. Atheists claim that the scientific evidence that points to evolution somehow necessitates an interpretation of that evidence that says a) it disproves the Bible and b) it proves that the unvierse is “random.” Neither of these is a necessary conclusion from the scientific evidence. Intelligent Design proponents try to make this claim, and are dismissed as “unscientific.”

The problem Christians have with “Scientists” (again, big “S”) is not the science: it is that they engage in a great deal of conjecture and speculation, loosely based upon the scientific evidence but revealing more about their own biases than anything else. Meanwhile, they demand we offer evidence of the historical truth of the Bible, and find convenient excuses to dismiss any evidence we present. We can find a mountain that matches the description of Mt. Sinai in the Bible, both by geographic location and by certain key details, and they’ll say it’s “random” or claim that we could find any number of mountanis like that, or that doesn’t prove Moses was at that mountain. They find a dinosaur with a similar skull to a duck and tell us it’s proof of evolution, and we’re supposed to accept it because they have Ph.D.’s.

The other term that science has co-opted, somewhat rightly, is empiricism. Empiricism is the approach to epistemology that emphasizes what we can observe. The school known as “British Empiricists” ran the gamut from very scientific thinkers to George Berkeley (for whom Berkeley, CA is named), who said that everything we observe is just in our minds, and that everything is ideas.

But they all based their ideas more on what is observed than on extrapolation from their observations.

Now, science has an epistemology of its own, the scientific method. That’s great . It’s a great way to learn the kinds of truths about nature that scientists study. In some ways, the scientific method can be extrapolated to other fields. The practical form of Pascal’s Wager, as embodied in the case of Fr. Alphonse Ratisbonne, is a kind of scientific method: “Wear this miraculous medal for 30 days and see if anything happens.” Interestingly, scientists insist that claims of divine activity are not scientifically provable, because they are not subject to experimentation. This has three flaws. First, there *have* been scientific studies indicating the effectiveness of prayer (proving that patients who are being prayed for, and don’t know it, are more likely to recover than patients who are not being prayed for, and don’t know it). There are also ways to prove miracles by lack of scientific explanation–the methods the Church employs in ratifying a saint’s cause or an alleged apparition. Thirdly, miracles are precisely *not* the work of natural laws; miracles are the work of an intelligent God. God is not a vending machine. If you could set up a proper experiment and test the verifiability of a miracle, then it would not be a miracle, but a previously undiscovered scientific phenomenon (like, maybe the miracle spring is drawing from some undiscovered opiate).

God would not be an intelligent being if He merely responded to stimuli, like a Pavlovian dog.

All of that said, empricism means that which we *observe*. It does not exclusively mean “That which we observe by scientific method.” This is particularly true in the case of history.

We take most things in life on faith, not empiricism. We trust other human beings to tell us the truth, particularly if they present us with plausible reason to believe them (such as a Ph.D. or evidence or a generally truthful manner). So, for example, I have never been to China. I take it on faith that all the witnesses who tell me China exists are both honest and not mistaken.

Yes, in theory, I could travel to China myself to verify its existence, but I do not feel the need to do that. Nor do I expect I ever will do so.

However, th eatheist would still contend that China is a verifiable proposition.

But is the Ming Dynasty a verifiable proposition? Barring the invention of time travel? There is no way for me to verify that any given historical event happened.

We can read primary sources. We can accept that those primary sources are more or less accurate. We can find the very scant archaeological evidence to support what the primary sources tell us. But it is really interesting how selective atheists are regarding their “evidence.” For example, I’ve read in so many “modern” Scripture textbooks how we know Jesus exists because “Josephus” confirms it. The passage in Josephus is something like, “Christians worship a man named Christ who was crucified under Pontius Pilate.” Josephus doesn’t really talk about Christ directly; he only verifies the existence of Christians.

But that is taken, by atheists, as being a more reliable text than the Gospels themselves in terms of verifying that there really was a man named Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified in Rome. Does anyone have similar doubts about the mere existence of Socrates? I know they doubt whether Plato accurately depicted Socrates’ personality and/or views, but I don’t think anyone seriously doubts that the historical figure Socrates existed. Yet many people entertain doubts that Jesus Christ historically existed at all. If Christians engage in such doubt-for-the-sake-of-doubt, such as when they challenge the evidence for Evolution, they’re accused of being uneducated and anti-intellectual. Yet if atheists engage in it regarding the Bible, they’re “healthy skeptics”.

History is based upon people writing down the events they witness *empirically*.

They write down the events, and we decide whether we think their accounts are reliable. The Bible is just as much an historical record as the works of Thucidydes or Herodotus or Josephus or Tacitus. The Bible at least deserves that much credit. Indeed, since the Bible is actually a collectoin of historical documents, offering different accounts of the same events, events that were safely guarded in a people’s oral tradition, it should be considered a more reliable document than these other histories that were written by individuals.

Plus, modern scholars tend to be very dismissive of the ancients. We neglect how important oral traditions were to ancient societies (even while anthropologists put a great deal of emphasis on the oral traditions of contemporary oral cultures). We also ignore how meticulous they *were* about keeping historical records. Genealogy, for example, was crucial to these cultures.

So the Bible constitutes *empirical* evidence: it is a record of the events that these historians, or the witnesses they interviewed, observed. Or a record of what someone observed and passed down by careful oral tradition until it was written.

It is not *scientific* evidence, in that it does not fall under scientific method, but, then, no historical event is really capable of being evaluated by that standard.

Mike Huckabee opposes torture

Implicit in the “torture” debate among Catholic intellectuals, and sometimes explicit, is the effort of the Left to find a “non-negotiable” equivalent to abortion with which to discredit Republican votes.

It’s taken for granted that “Republicans support torture”. Now, John McCain, having been tortured himself, is of course anti-torture, though he equivocated a bit on waterboarding. If anything, had I realized the import of this issue a year ago, I might have adjusted my views a bit as per McCain (i.e., a moderately good position on two pro-life issues better than a bad positoin on one and a good position on the other).

But the question arose, in the “I Told You So” department, “What does Mike Huckabee think?”

Well, according to this interview, he is opposed to waterboarding.

Here’s some Republican blogger from December 2007 calling Mike Huckabee “too moralistic”.

Ron Paul is against waterboarding, too.

I can’t find that Sarah Palin has said anything one way or the other.

Pro-choice Libertarian candidate Bob Barr opposed torture.
Chuck Baldwin said that “subordinate military personnel should not be empowered to engage in activities which Congress defines as torture”

The main argument against McCain is that he voted against requiring the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual (which specifically condemns waterboarding), but said he still opposes waterboarding.

So, my hero in the election, Mike Huckabee, opposes torture. Ron Paul, who got the support of many pro-lifers in the primary, also opposes torture. McCain opposes torture, although most of the other Republican nomination candidates support it.

In the general election, each of the candidates supported by pro-lifers–McCain, Barr (why? I have no idea) and Baldwin–opposes torture. Can’t find anything on Palin.

While Abu Ghraib happened before the 2004 election, most of us thought it was an isolated incident. The realities of the Bush Torture Regime didn’t hit until after the 2004 election, and most of us are just now coming to terms with it. So it really shouldn’t effect questions of a vote 4 years ago.

There really is no reason a Catholic should be defending waterboarding politically, just to make a point. No matter who won the past election, there would have been action taken against waterboarding.

So, from the perspective of the Catholic vote ,it’s a non-issue.

"Not one baby will be saved . . . "

A common response to pro-life activism, particularly from the Catholic Left and self-proclaimed “center” is “Not one baby will be saved by what you’re doing.”
“Not one baby will be saved by protesting Obama at Notre Dame.”
“Not one baby will be saved by campaigning against that bill.”
“Not one baby will be saved by denying that politician Communion.”

And, sometimes, one is tempted to buy into that argument, as, often, abortion is a secondary issues. In the case of Notre Dame, it’s secondary to enforcement of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and, in the case of politicians receiving Communion, it’s secondary to protection of the Blessed Sacrament against sacrilege.

However, who knows how many babies will be saved?

I’ve even seen snide comments made against 40 Days for Life, like, “What’s next? 52 days for life?” Those who are liberal, yet claim to be “just Catholic,” constantly expose their own deception by their animosity to the pro-life movement. They seek out any issue they can get to discredit pro-lifers. Sometimes, with issues like war and the death penalty, they grasp at straws. Other times, with issues like torture, pro-lifers unfortunately hand their enemies a noose.

There is this running theme among the Catholic Left, particulary given their triumphalism after this past election, and using the rhetoric passed down by Chris Korzen and Doug Kmiec, that the pro-life movement is, by and large, a failure.

They claim that our efforts to “lobby” the bishops to deny communion to politicians (in order to “pressure” said politicians) have failed (even though this *has* become a national issue, and many bishops *have* done their job, and even though both Pope Benedict and Cardinal Arinze have said such politicians *should* refrain from communion and should be excommunicated if they persist).

They’ve called Archbishop Burke all sorts of names, and they’ve tried to call his promotion a “silencing.” Then, as more and more bishops have spoken out more vocally on the previous election, and on the Obama administration, they’ve insisted those bishops are a “right wing fringe,” even though close to 1/3 of US bishops have now condemned Notre Dame’s award to Obama, including Roberty Lynch, one of the most liberal bishops in the country.

They claim to be “against abortion, but there are other issues.” They claim to “want to reduce abortions.” They claim to dislike the pro-life movement only because it’s so tied to the GOP, yet they a) oppose *every* form of pro-life activism that doesn’t involve socialism, b) oppose *every* effort to actually reduce abortions and c) call every pro-life organization, including ALL, HLI and EWTN, a GOP front operation. (It doesn’t help, of course ,that Raymond Arroyo has been allowed to turn The World Over into a very political broadcast).

To them, Mother Angelica–who often joked that she just wrote in Jesus’ Name for every election–is nothing more than the Evil-Lyn to Karl Rove’s Skeletor.

Speaking of Mother Angelica, one of my favorite Mother Angelica stories is the one about meeting an NBC executive. “What are your ratings like?” he asked.

“I dunno,” said Mother.
“You don’t know your own ratings?” gasped the executive. “In this business, that’s our gospel!”
“No,” said Mother. “That’s your problem. If just a single soul is saved by my network, it’s worth it.”

Will any children’s lives be saved by the Notre Dame protesting? Very likely so.

Even I was a bit wary of the “ND Abortion Plane” as a waste of time and resources, but what if some girl at Notre Dame right now is scared and considering abortion? Maybe even some girl in South Bend who doesn’t go to the college. What if some girl is praying for a sign from God, and she looks out her window and sees that plane?

I’ve graded a few papers by students who wrote about their abortion experiences, and they all said it would’ve taken one voice to discourage them, especially if that one person had offered some hope.

Bill Clinton said he was taught to be pro-choice at Georgetown. Five years ago, an Internet friend asked me for help on a political message board she was frequenting. There was a liberal Catholic woman on that board who was pro-abortion, pro-contraception, and proud of it. There were non-Catholic pro-lifers on the site who genuinely believed the Catholic Church was pro-abortion because they knew so many Catholics who were “pro-choice.”

They didn’t undersetand, if the Church was pro-life, why the Church allowed pro-choice politicians to call themselves Catholic.

Do you realize what a witness it is to non-Catholics that Catholics are standing up for our faith ? Do you realize that the main thing keeping many evangelical Protestants away from the Church is the perception of Catholics as being hypocrites who don’t follow what the Church teaches?

We’re often accused of being Pharisees if we stand up for the faith, but it’s just the opposite. We’re Pharisees if we sit back and legalistically say, “That doesn’t apply to me.”

So, yes, maybe a single baby *will* be saved by any given pro-life act. Maybe only one baby will be saved. Maybe a baby won’t be saved, but maybe one person’s mind will be changed. Maybe one persno will be led a step closer to conversion to Catholicism.

We will not know till the End what effect any given action ultimately has for the good of another’s soul.

But if we have a chance to stand up for the Good, we have to do it. And, if we are able to help bring just one person closer to God at the same time, it’s all worth it.

Read this. Now.

I can’t really add any comment, and I don’t want to copy and paste the whole thing. In this piece, Fr. Zuhlsdorf tears to shreds a piece by “Fr.” Richard McBrien, the heretical University of Notre Dame professor who doesn’t even wear clerical garb but gets quoted in almost every MSM story on the Church, dissecting the progressive Catholic mindset and how they dismiss “conservative” and “traditional” Catholics as an “extremist fringe” who only have influence because we are “in control.”

Liberal Catholics sure hate Deal Hudson

Is it because Mother Angelica’s retired?

I mean, go to any of the major or fairly significant liberal sites, and it’s “Deal Hudson this” and “Deal Hudson that”. I see conservatives quote John Allen, Jr., all the time, and they do so often quite favorably.

Often, their paranoid spectre of “Deal Hudson” is raised even when Deal Hudson had nothing to do with it.

Heck, they don’t even talk about Fr. Pavone!

For example, when Deal Hudson used Sam Brownback’s name in a financial letter, which elicited a negative response from Brownback (big surprise there, sell-out).

Then, when Fr. Euteneuer called Brownback a “traitor,” the typical liberals said it was the “politicla pro-lifers” and accused Deal Hudson of turning on Brownback, when Deal Hudson actually turned on Fr. Euteneuer in favor of Deal Hudson.

I sometimes wonder if these people even know who Judie Brown and Fr. Thomas Euteneuer are. It’s like they don’t exist. Every time HLI or ALL does something–and both organizations are equally and consistently critical of both parties–the liberals, who claim to “transcend” party politics, go after “the political pro-lifers”, embodied in the spectre of “Deal Hudson.”

To hear liberal Catholics today, the “pro-life movement” is Deal Hudson and Randall Terry.

There’s an episode of Murphy Brown when Avery is a baby, and Murphy says something about “Did you see Pat Buchanan under your bed?”

It’s like liberal Catholic parents tell their kids, “Be careful, or Deal Hudson’s gonna get you!”
I mean, does the guy have that much power and influence???

Why do they hate him so passionately?

More importantly, why do they hate him, yet completely ignore/dismiss the real leaders of the pro-life movement?

Speaking as a Far-Right Extremist, please stop calling me a "Far-Right Extremist"

I am sick and tired of liberals calling themselves “moderate” and labelling everyone who has a different view a “far Right Extremist.” They’ve been doing this since at least the early Clinton years.

I mean, we have a man who, while running for president, said our Constitution is a fundamentally flawed document, then got elected and swore an oath to uphold it. He’s not an “extremist”?
I hold certain positions that are certainly on the “far right” side of the American political spectrum, especially if Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, the guys who actually say what conservatism used to mean, are considered “far Right”.

But it infuriates me when people are called “far Right Extremists” just for expressing conservative views.

On Sunday, we watched part of _Song of Bernadette_ on Netflix. There’s this scene where the police inspector is asking for St. Bernadette’s “testimony.”

He insists she answer accurately, and he will record her answers.

Cop: “What did the woman look like?”
Bernadette: “She was wearing a white dress with a blue girdle. . . .”
Cop: “Did she look like one of the statues at church?”
Bernadette: “No, not at all! She didn’t look anything like the statues. And she moved around, and she talked. . . .”
So, the cop says he’s going to read back her statement.
“Bernadette Soubirous says that the woman wore a blue dress with a white girdle.”
Bernadette: “No! It was a white dress with a blue girdle!”
Cop: “So you’re contradicting yourself!”
Bernadette: “No. That’s what I said all along! You wrote it down wrong!”
Cop (continues): “Bernadette said the statue looked exactly like one of the statues in church. . . .”

Commonweal "proposes" that someone write _The Theology of the Body_

How ignorant *are* these people???

Mollie Wilson O’Reilly (funny how all these Commonweal women have hyphenated names and O’s in their last names):
But we tend to hear far less about the potential for sex to promote and foster virtue. What expectations should we have for our sex lives, spiritually speaking? In the current issue of Commonweal, Lisa Fullam applies a virtue-ethics approach to this oft-neglected area of human development.
She quotes an article in the print rag by one Lisa Fullam (neither a double last name nor an “O'”):
The morality of sex has long been the focus of Christian teachings — and prohibitions. But we cannot have a correct notion of virtues without a vision of the goal for our activity — the violinist had to hear an excellent violinist before he knew what might be achieved with some wood, strings, and a bow. I propose a three-fold end or goal, a telos, that might be a starting point for a new conversation about sex
Has neither of these women read The Theology of the Body?? Love and Responsibility? von Hildebrand’s Man and Woman: Love & the Meaning of Intimacy? Sheen’s Three to Get Married (a book I first heard of when Protestants quoted it)? Anything by Janet Smith? Scott Hahn? Christopher West?

I don’t believe I’ve ever read an official document or scholarly book on Catholic sexual morality that does *not* frame it in the context of how sexual immorality degrades the honor of the sex act. These people are just showing how ignorant they are of Catholic sexual ethics.

Meanwhile, one David Gibson quotes an article from the New York Times (which liberal Catholics always confuse with the Catechism), saying that Pope Benedict’s “bloopers” with Muslims (calling their false religion what it is), Jews (which?), and condoms (saying they don’t prevent AIDS, which they don’t) are good because they show the Pope is human and capable of folly. In other words, Gibson is openly denying, by his aggrement with this columnist (not sure if the columnist is Catholic) papal infallibility. I believe that, unlike Vatican II’s teachings on interfaith relations, there is an anathema attached to denying Papal infallibility.

"Oops" Pregnancy?

A popular straw man argument holds that Christians, and Catholics in particular, are “anti-sex.”

The reality, of course, is that we see sexuality as something sacred and exalted. Thus, the use of the term “Oops Pregnancy,” as in the title of this article from a Phoenix FOX affiliate, embodies exactly what we think is wrong with this culture, that sexuality could be treated so casually that one can have an “oops”.

As for the article itself, it concerns some selfish materialistic family with the ironic name of Lent, and why they are turning to “permanent contraception” so they can afford to send their four children to expensive private colleges.