To understand what you are about to read, first go here and here. After Calah posted the shocking yet hopeful story of her first pregnancy, a woman named "Choice" came on to challenge her. So far so good. But it took a turn, and I have secured permission from Calah to respond here to some of Choice's comments, which I have reprinted below. Choice's words are in black, with my thoughts in blue italics:
My primary goal here is not to insult all of you [judging from what follows, might it have been your secondary goal?]; it is to provide a dissenting viewpoint that is too frequently lacking in these types of blogs. [What types of blogs are "these types of blogs"? Calah's blog is a personal blog, with her personal thoughts. She has lived both sides of the cultural divide, and she has come down on the side of Catholic wife and mom. As for dissenting viewpoints, we faithful Catholics live in a country that dissents from our viewpoints. Heck, even most American Catholics dissent from Church teaching. So, please don't worry that we are not exposed to dissenting viewpoints, as it's orthodox Catholic viewpoints that we rarely hear.]
If our deepest-held convictions go unquestioned and unchallenged, then we may as well forfeit our reasoning minds and walk this earth on autopilot. [If you are familiar with Catholic patrimony, then you know we adore questions, challenges, and reason. In fact, we believe that faith and reason are "like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth". We're the folks who founded the university system, after all. And we relish in philosophy, both pre-Christian (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) and Christian (Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Newman, Chesterton, et al.). We also love science; it was from the heart of the Christian culture that the natural sciences were nourished and then flourished. Given all this, I can only imagine that you are confusing Catholics with anti-intellectual sects.]
Leila: Either life is sacred or it is not. Your distinction between human creations of God and non-human creations of God is arbitrary. [Actually, it's not arbitrary at all. There is a definite line between humans and other creatures. It's so clear and obvious that even my four-year-old can tell the difference between a human and a pig, or a human and a dog, or a human and a mosquito, or a human and a plant. Nothing arbitrary about it. To say it's arbitrary is like saying there is an "arbitrary" distinction between a horse and a tree.]
Why would God populate the earth with creatures, and decide that one species is sacred and others can be tortured and killed? (If you don't believe that the animals you eat for food are tortured, educate yourself and your loved ones on factory farming). [First, God does not want his creatures to be "tortured"; in fact, my Church teaches that animals are to be treated humanely. But yes, animals are here in the service of man. Man is the only creature on earth made in the image and likeness of God, with an intellect, a will, and an eternal soul. By the way, do you eat fruits and vegetables? If so, what right do you have? Why is your life superior to theirs?]
I’m sure several of you will want to cite the Bible to disprove that argument, but save your breath. The Bible is not a source of evidence. It is a work of fiction [Do you have evidence of that?] written to influence the lives of religious constituents, in the pursuit of power and money. [Really? Who was pursuing the power (since most of the early Christian leaders were martyred during the time the New Testament was written and compiled; dead people don't have a lot of earthly power), and who's got the money?] I could no more sanely cite a Mother Goose tale as evidence for my arguments. [Thank goodness your primary intent is not to insult us. ;)]
In my opinion, the entire religion of Catholicism has served much more as a tool of imperialism than a guideline for moral living. [Then why does the Church have no army, and why does she still insist on teaching the highest moral code in the world, while the world mocks her for it?]
Have you ever wondered why the use of contraception is so strongly discouraged by the Catholic faith? [Why yes, I have! In fact, I've studied and taught that very subject for 15 years now, so I've gone past "wondering" about it.] It is not to respect the “sanctity of life,” or to keep intact the “holy act” of intercourse. [It's not?] Those are the feel-good reasons they have instilled in you to cover up the true and original intent of these rules. [This is new to me: A liberal claiming that Catholic sexual doctrine is couched in warm fuzzies? I thought your line about Catholic sex was that the Church is cruel and oppressive?] This stipulation of your faith was designated to increase the Catholic population. Think about it. [Because clearly I've never thought about any of this before...] A group of people [can you specify the group of people?] set out to utilize a religion to amalgamate and brainwash [!!!] their constituents.
But how to increase the likelihood that your religion and your brainwashing will be as effective and as widespread as possible? Simple. Teach them that they need to reproduce as many times as possible, and that any prevention of reproduction is a sin. Ta-da! Your numbers grow stronger and you gain more power. [Ah! The "breeding minions for the Pope" argument! Well, bummer, that's not been an effective strategy, since most Catholics use contraception happily and scoff at Church teaching (if they've ever even heard of it).]
If the Catholic church truly believed all human life to be sacred, would the Pope have sanctioned the Crusades? [To which of the eight crusades over hundreds of years are you referring, and do you know the differences among them?] Would it continue to wage war against homosexuality [Wait, "waging war"...you mean teaching that homosexual acts are sinful, but that homosexual men and women must be treated with full dignity?] when those efforts could be spent saving lives in third world countries? [Do you not realize how many Catholics are saving lives in the Third World and all over the globe? Who will fill the void if the Church goes away? Whose "efforts will be spent" running the soup kitchens, hospitals, homes for the dying, medical clinics, relief agencies, orphanages, schools, etc.? Will you and your friends give up your lives and step in if Catholic charities disappear?]
There are so many holes in the Catholic ‘sanctity of life’ argument. “Life is sacred…unless it’s a different species…or a different religion….or people who think differently than we do. Then it’s okay to torture and kill.” [Can you please cite some official Church teaching on that? I've never seen it. It seems like you have very little information about what Catholicism actually teaches, but a lot of opinions.]
The bottom line is that this earth is as we see it. [Well, except for the parts that we don't see.] There is a lot of love, there is hatred, there is pain, and there is beauty. But we shouldn’t need some imaginary man in the sky or some sexually-repressed, oddly-outfitted man in Rome to tell us to live our lives as good people. [How do you know the pope is sexually repressed? Do you publicly say the same of celibate Buddhist monks, by the way? "Oddly-dressed"? This is the level of discourse you want to bring to the blogs of those you are trying to reach? I think Papal vestments rock, by the way.] Our relationships with others, our empathy, and our nature as human beings should encourage us to do so. [And yet somehow, humans still act barbarically.] Not because we fear eternal punishment or strive for eternal reward, but because being a decent person is the right way to live. [Says who? I thought godless evolution was about survival, not virtue or decency. Sometimes to survive, we must cheat, steal, lie and kill, correct? Besides, who defines what's "right"?]
We are animals, just like any other, who reproduce because it is written in our genetic code (which there is actually proof of). [Yes, Catholics believe that God hardwired us to reproduce. With the added bonus that we can freely love, as an act of our will.] Life can be a beautiful thing, babies can grow up to be presidents or researchers or peacemakers. But life can also be painful and horrible. Babies can grow up to be criminals and rapists and serial killers. [True. Sin is a horrible thing, and we deal with the ugly effects of our own and others' sin all the time.]
What about the millions of children starving and dying of preventative diseases all over the world? Why are you not campaigning to save their lives if life is, in fact, sacred? [What evidence do you have that I and my Church are not?] Why is your primary concern to get as many children into the world as possible [umm, it's not my primary concern, nor is it the Church's], when welfare programs are already spread too thin, there are already so many children living in squalor and poverty, and there are parents who abuse their kids? [Are you saying that because poverty and sin exist, we must agree that unborn children can be killed and discarded? How does that follow?]
Why the focus on quantity, not quality? [I'm focused on "not killing innocent people" not "quantity". And sadly, "quality of life" has become a liberal buzz word for abortion, euthanasia, and eugenics in general, which deserves its own post.] How about instead of bringing more souls into the world, you adopt and care for those that are already in existence who desperately need love and assistance? [Clearly you don't know your audience. In the name of fairness, I invite you to read this recent post, which will teach you more about Catholic pro-lifers. Oh, and aside from what you will learn there, it's worth noting that conservatives are also consistently more generous than liberals in charity donations as well].
I would assert that your allowing these souls to suffer [I'm allowing it?] in order to produce children genetically related to you is just as disrespectful to the sanctity of life as a woman who chooses not to carry a pregnancy to term. [If you are equating the two, you are morally confused. You also don't realize how many of those in the "Catholic Bubble" have adopted children.]
If some superior being had wanted us to reproduce endlessly, he or she would have made the resources of this earth limitless to satisfactorily provide for all of those lives. [The resources of this world are plenty abundant to provide for all of humanity. Sin, corruption and misguided policy keeps resources from people.] But they are not, and we cannot all pop out one child after another without society and the earth at some point caving under the weight of this ceaseless breeding. [For more on the myth of "ceaseless breeding", go here for a quick primer.] This does not make me loveless; this makes my definition of love one based on reality rather than religion. [What is your definition of love? Go here for what other atheists told me about what love is for them.]
So go on living in your bubble and feeling all warm and fuzzy about the way you conduct your lives. [Actually, the lifelong struggle to live a virtuous Christian life requires great sacrifice and entails great suffering. However, the interior peace and joy is worth it.] Go on crusading [for] the thousands of unborn children who aren’t brought into this world every day [you mean, who are willfully killed by abortion], while you pay thousands of dollars every year to companies who torture and kill other of God’s “sacred” creatures for the sake of your taste buds. [First, we've covered that the Church does not sanction torture of man or beast. Second, animals are not "sacred". Third, humans are meat-eaters. I don't know if I can apologize for that?]
Keep telling yourselves that sex before marriage is okay as long as you hurry up and get married before the baby comes [I've never told myself that, and neither has the Church], that divorce is okay as long as you pay the church an adequate sum of money to pretend the marriage never existed [clearly you don't know the difference between divorce and annulment; even civil authorities make the distinction], that parts of the Bible are necessary for everyone to follow but others can be swept under the rug if they inconvenience you [Evidence? Examples? Make sure you know what you are talking about, or this could turn into a whole new post], that torturing and killing is okay as long as it’s a member of a species or a thought doctrine other than your own. [What's the obsession with torture? Sigh. Speaking of "sweeping under the rug" (or dumping in the trash) and "torturing and killing", could you go here and be the first pro-choicer on this blog with the integrity to defend what you see?]
In short, keep living in your Catholic bubble if it’s too painful for you to think outside the brainwash that comes prefabricated in the neat and tidy package of religion. [Glad you are not trying to insult anyone. By the way, are you aware that most of the people you are talking to have already lived the life you advocate, and have come to the Church after living the Planned Parenthood way? We don't actually live in a bubble, but judging from the vast ignorance of all you've said, you just might.]
But keep your brainwash to yourselves and let the rest of us live as we see fit as well [except the innocent unborn, right?]. I will never protest your right to live your life as you please [Can the unborn have that right, too?]. Stop protesting my right to do the same (and yes, 'my life' includes my decision whether or not to bear children) [translation: "my decision whether or not to kill children". And FYI, my right to protest is protected under the First Amendment. Why do you demand that I stop protesting? I don't believe you have that right.].
Choice, it is my hope that from here on in, you will speak less from ignorance and more from knowledge and truth. You claim to be "proud" of your "intolerance of intolerance", but to some of us it seems more like a convenient way of excusing your anti-Catholic bigotry (which is nothing new or enlightened) or your (willful?) ignorance about facts which are easily known if pursued.
To my fellow Catholics and others of good will, I put Choice's words out there to show you, once again, the cultural divide.
And though Choice called the following "vitriol", I will once again post the words which summarize exactly what you see going on here: