Friday, August 31, 2012

Quick Takes, the Quick Edition

Let's get to…

1) Time magazine joins the Associated Press and FactCheck in confirming that Obamacare does indeed use federal dollars to fund abortions. Exactly the opposite of what was promised by Obama, and exactly what pro-lifers have been saying all along. Would it be impolite to say that Obama and his folks outright lied?

2) Speaking of Obamacare and its consequences, here's one ya gotta see to believe:

No, it's not a joke. Oregon is all set to implement. Do you even have to ask yourself which socio-political ideology brought this into effect?

3) For Christians who say that Jesus was silent on the heterosexual nature of marriage, here are some points to consider.

4) A beautiful parable of Jesus that has been popping into my head this week:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7)

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them he addressed this parable.

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."

5) I don't usually click on songs posted on facebook, but this time the story behind it compelled me.

A holy and beautiful young woman, Angela Faddis (age 32), is in her last earthly hours as I type this. Countless people have been praying for her for a year and a half, since she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on Easter Sunday 2011. She and her beloved husband, Chris, have two small children, and the grace of the Lord has carried them through this painful but sacred journey.

Yesterday, Chris posted the following words on the family's support page, along with the hauntingly beautiful song. I had never before heard of the scene at Ostia between St. Augustine and his long-suffering, loving mother, St. Monica, but now I will never forget it. This song takes on extra significance, as Augustine is the name of Chris and Angela's little son:

This song was shared with me today. It is a beautiful song called Morning at Ostia -- "which is inspired by the well-known story of St. Augustine and St. Monica -- in particular, the moment they shared in Ostia (shortly before Monica died) when they had a fleeting and glorious sense of touching something heavenly…. [V]ery much at the heart of the song is the experience of awaiting the majesty of the world to come." 
Miriam, who wrote the song, did not know our son's name was Augustine or that I was particularly asking the intercession of St. Monica and Augustine this week for our Gus.  
I can definitely see this conversation between mother and son. 

What a beautiful consolation for the Faddis family. Praise God for the saints, and for our Lord's tender mercy.

6) I had a discussion on this blog with March Hare, an atheist who believes that human abortion is acceptable until viability.

March Hare objected to my statement(s) that an embryo, by nature, belongs in the womb, and that a womb is where an embryo is supposed to be. He called that concept a fallacy, which, um, sort of floored me. When I pressed him to tell me where an embryo naturally belongs, he said: "As to where the embryo belongs - it doesn't belong anywhere. There is no 'belong'. It happens to grow better in a woman's receptive womb, but you are introducing a value judgement here from nowhere."

This meme reminds me of that exchange:

7) I just wrote a post over on my Orphan Report about sweet Brent. He has been waiting for years and years for a family, and his advocates have raised over $15,000 towards the cost of his adoption! So, don't let money hold you back from this little love muffin:

A smile worth a million bucks! Click my photo for more info!

And in this video, Brent's pure joy will keep you smiling for a long time! Remarkably, this is joy from a child who has already been transferred from the baby house to an institution. What a spirit he has!

Please read my entire post about Brent and pass it along (share on facebook, on twitter, by email, by smoke signals, whatever).


And then there is dear Brett. Brett is one of the saddest cases I've seen on Reece's Rainbow. He was abandoned by his mother and found in the field where she gave birth to him. We know very little about him to this day, and he seems all but forgotten. This picture is three years old, and there are no other children from his orphanage posted on RR. No one has been able to see him, to my knowledge, and no further information will be given until there is a serious inquiry. Brett's is a relatively low cost region from which to adopt. If you would like to go on a rescue mission that no one else will go on, this is the child to save….

I have never known a mother's love. Please click on my picture for more information.

Finally, a reminder that the auction for Andrew (which has been a HUGE success so far!) runs until 11:59pm Saturday. There are 153 items up for bid, many of which were not there at the beginning of the week, so go and see if you've missed anything! There are several items going for less than retail right now, and you Catholics (or anyone!) should especially look at Melanie's custom rosaries, made of polished stone/porcelain beads/Swarovski Pearl. Your choice from her shop! Absolutely gorgeous, and here are just two samples:

Personalized Rosary in Lavender Swarovski Pearl

US Navy Rosary (or other military)

Go here to bid on the rosary of your choice.

We've seen recent pictures of Andrew, the beneficiary of the auction, and he is sickly thin. Five years old and about 20 pounds. He needs to come home very quickly and get proper medical attention (in addition to cataract surgery to try and salvage some sight). God bless you for helping to make that happen!

And thanks to Jen, for hosting Quick Takes!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are you wiser than a 17th Century Catholic peasant?

As promised, I want to pause before my final interview with Dr. Kevin Vost and dust off a post that has been sitting around in my drafts folder for exactly one year, which touches upon some of what Dr. Vost said in Part II.

I've used the term "liberal elite" to describe the condescending attitude of certain folks towards those whom they perceive to be less enlightened than themselves. I have even jokingly referred to myself and other faithful Catholics as "the peasants" when encountering such condescension. I enjoy the irony. But the more I talk with secularists, the less funny it's become. The left actually does see a "peasant quality" to being a devout Catholic, even an educated 21st Century Catholic.

When Stacy's blog was swarmed by atheists protesting one of her posts, I spent a lot of time commenting there. At one point, I asked if any of the atheists wanted to address the difference between the modern American goal of "happiness" (i.e., pleasure-seeking) vs. the goals of "honor, dignity, truth-seeking, and virtue" of the past. A thoughtful atheist named Matt respectfully took me on, along with one or two anonymous atheists, and here are excerpted parts of our exchange (the rest can be found here; just beware that much in that thread is offensive):

Matt: [T]he common people of 17th-century and earlier Europe weren't trying to be happy. They were largely brought up to believe that life was going to be really terrible. And it often was; peasants did not really have a lot going for them. All they had, when what little food they could raise was taxed by both the state and the Church, when they saw their lords living in comparative luxury while they struggled to survive, was the constant reassurance that if they tried to live up to a set of rules (which emphasized obedience and subservience, by the way) that were spoken by priests, things might get better after they died.

Leila: [I]t almost sounds like you are saying here that the "common people" of pre-Enlightenment days were dummies. Is that really what you are saying? You are much more intelligent than they, with more understanding and common sense? It sound rather elitist, frankly. Perhaps they weren't as dumb as you give them credit?

Anonymous atheist:

Of course we're more intelligent then [sic] they were.

This is what you [Leila] sound like:

“You gosh darn elitist atheists thinking you're so much better than people who burned witches at the stake and couldn't read! Maybe you could learn a thing or two from them!”

Matt: I don't consider myself to be better than the people of pre-Enlightenment times, nor more endowed with common sense. But understanding? Yes, I think I have that in greater measure, simply because I have had the great fortune to have access to far more information. If all you know is what has been told to you by people who have a strong interest in keeping you subservient to them, its not your fault if that's what you believe; you haven't been exposed to a wider world. That we were able to rise above that, that the great minds of the Enlightenment existed, shows that people of intelligence, courage, and reason were there. I'm not so different from a peasant in the 1600s, save that I was taught to question everything, and given the chance to learn that they never had.

Leila: Matt, wisdom and knowledge are two VERY different things. I think those Catholic peasants were a lot wiser than most of us moderns.

Matt, you said: "I'm not so different from a peasant in the 1600s, save that I was taught to question everything, and given the chance to learn that they never had."

I believe the same things, theologically and morally, that those "unenlightened" peasants did. Do you think I am unquestioning and unthinking? Do you know my background, or that of any devout Catholic today? How can we hold the same faith as they did, but yet be in modern America? What must you think of us. ;)

Anonymous atheist (may or not be the same atheist as above):

Leila said: "I think those Catholic peasants were a lot wiser than most of us moderns. "

HOW? In what way?

Note the use of all caps in response to my statement. Anonymous atheist cannot fathom that a Catholic peasant way back when could have more wisdom than he does. And although Matt gives a polite nod to the idea that those peasants could have common sense or be decent folks, they could never hope to rise to an enlightened level of thought or action (such as we have today?), due to the shackles imposed by the Catholic Church.

And yet when I look at where we are today, I question how much wisdom and understanding we moderns possess that previous generations did not:

Does the average modern American commit to living a life of honor and sacrifice above pleasure-seeking and comfort? I honestly don't think so.

Does the culture encourage living up to our inherent human dignity and not degrading ourselves or objectifying others? Again, I'd have to say 'no'.

Do students understand that the point of education -- heck, the very purpose of having a mind -- is to seek truth? Frankly, people seem baffled by the concept. I had one friendly and intelligent atheist admit to me: "I have to be honest and say that the idea of 'truth' isn't something I've thought about too much in my life." She is not alone!

And as far moderns having a desire and goal of living virtuously, we've already discussed the fact that virtue has been completely replaced in our culture by "values" -- which is a different concept altogether.

Bottom line, it just would never occur to me to think that I am wiser or have more understanding than simple folks living in the distant past. Do I have more information and data and scientific knowledge at my disposal than they did? Of course. But wisdom and human understanding are not about accumulating facts. I can imagine that if some 17th, or 10th, or 1st Century Catholic peasants time-traveled to my house, I would shut my laptop, sit at their feet, and soak up their wisdom, knowing that they may well have better insight into what it means to be human than I, and they may be more integrated into the True, the Good, and the Beautiful than the rest of us sitting here surrounded by all our technology.

Human nature does not change or "evolve", and wisdom is timeless and accessible to both ancient peasant and modern king. One of the first steps to wisdom is humility, a virtue which seems in short supply today.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quick Takes, including the jarring picture that went viral

1) She was twenty weeks pregnant with twin girls when her picture was taken outside an abortion clinic last week, just moments before she went in to abort them. She already had daughters and didn't want more:

Wednesday is late term abortion day at Orlando Women’s Center 

Kelly Clinger, the young women who posted the picture and wrote about the reality of late-term abortion in America, got a massive response that she did not expect. Some folks accused her of perpetuating a hoax, others understood that actual babies were being killed and didn't care, but most told her that the picture opened their eyes to the realities of abortion in America:

Really, there are no words to describe the sorrow that we should feel as a nation when we see this. We allow this.

It's the banality of evil. Lord, have mercy on us.

2) Like so many others, I was distressed when I learned that Cardinal Dolan had invited Obama to the annual Al Smith dinner. I still wish he hadn't. However, the following picture and story, about the Cardinal's poignant 2010 encounter with Helen Gurley Brown (recently deceased) helped remind me of just who the Cardinal is, and where his heart lies.

photo credit: Cardinal Hayes High School

...Ms. Brown tried to walk forward to greet him, but she started tottering. Archbishop Dolan spotted her and jogged up the steps to help. Meanwhile, the school’s marching band burst into the Cardinal Hayes marching song, inspiring the archbishop to take Ms. Brown in his arms and twirl her around. 
The dancing lasted only for a minute or so, Mr. Meenan said, but he will not soon forget the image of the bearlike archbishop squiring Ms. Brown. He wore his black bishop’s garment and a pink cap; she wore a drop-waist dress, black fur and lace-topped stockings. 
“Everybody’s clapping, everybody’s amazed,” he said….
Read it all, here.

The warm compassion and agape love expressed in the Cardinal's actions -- for a woman who was so misguided, so lost, in so many ways an enemy of the Church, a peddler of so much evil during her own life -- speaks straight to my soul. It reminds me of Jesus' breathtaking encounter with the woman at the well (John 4:7-42; check the seventh recommendation, here), and that the Lord's mercy is without limit.

We don't know Ms. Brown's ultimate fate, nor if she repented before her last breath, but there is something so comforting about Cardinal Dolan's tender outreach to a woman who was known as one of the Architects of the Culture of Death…. It gives me hope for my own wretched soul.

Thank you, Cardinal Dolan.

3) Speaking of "enemies of the Church", I know I am not alone in my mix of emotions about Barack Obama, who is the most aggressively anti-Catholic president we've ever had, his policies endangering our charities, our private businesses, our freedoms, and our souls. It's hard to know what to do and what to think, as it's all come about so quickly. We want to fight his policies (and we must!) but we want to follow the Lord's command to love our enemies, as well. If you are looking for guidance in how to reconcile those tensions, please read this:

It helped me immeasurably.

4) Speaking of the all-important "fighting his policies", my husband and I are eager to see the movie, 2016 -- Obama's America, tonight:

I hope you all would consider seeing it as well, and make it a great opening weekend.

5) Two of the best memes I've seen this week:

I use this to justify my big fat mouth. And, I adore strong women like St. Catherine.

Jesus is the Bridegroom, the Church is His bride. We are the Church. I could drown in this picture. 

6) How's this for a brain twister? All of these guys below are ardently pro-"choice", but there's something basic and objective that they can't seem to reconcile amongst themselves.

First, we have Canadian medical professionals (yes, doctors, who presumably took biology classes!) who put ideology ahead of elementary scientific facts by declaring that babies are not human beings until after birth! Yes, I'm not kidding! How embarrassing! They are men of science and medicine and they are lying about basic biology in order to push abortion rights? Oy, vey, seriously, how are they not humiliated? Where is their integrity? Look for yourselves:

And then we have the world's premiere bioethicist Peter Singer who, although cool with infanticide and bestiality, at least seems to remember Biology 101, unlike the Canadian doctors:

Singer still approves the killing of the unborn, of course, but to his credit he doesn't deny the obvious: that the unborn are, objectively and without scientific dispute, human beings.

How do pro-"choicers" reading this reconcile the two contradictory views? And how can anyone with a basic science background not be embarrassed for the Canadian doctors?

7) Without exception, every human being's life is inviolable and precious, these orphans included…

Ivan, sweet Ivan:

Ivan is a bright child, with a favorable prognosis if he gets his surgery in time!

He is a bright-eyed three-year-old boy who is running out of time to get life-saving surgery on his skull. In America, he would have had the surgery long ago and been out of danger. But unless he gets a family soon, his condition will become dire.

Check out how adorable Ivan is in this video (that's him at around 38 seconds, and there's a little longer clip just after the two minute mark):

For my full Orphan Report blog post on Ivan, please go here.


And then there is sweet Marla, who has been overlooked her whole life, for the crime of having cerebral palsy:

Five years old and soon to be transferred to an adult mental institution. :(

Marla is a loving little girl who needs a family to help her blossom! Please read my full Orphan Report on Marla, here, to learn more about her, including ways to help this precious child of God.

Please, please, spread the word to others. I see it all the time: It only takes one person to see one photo, and just like that a life is saved.


I am so thrilled to announce that the facebook auction for Andrew (my Achilles' Heel) is on!! His new family has begun the expensive process to get to him, and our own Brenda has put the entire auction together for them! There are over 134 items so far, and it runs for a week; click here to see all the goods!

Here's just a teeny sampling of the treasures you'll find there:

Made to order! You decide the color and number of eggs in the nest!

Personalized pregnancy loss/infant loss/pro-life rosary. The beads are soft pink (dyed stone) with Swarovski pearl accents. Your choice of other designs if you prefer a different theme.

Beautiful, 3-D wooden Noah's Ark puzzle, made in Morocco!

Swarovski Crystal Covenant Cube Rainbow Bracelet

Plus, gift cards, children's clothing, crafts, home decorations, lip balms and lotions -- and a zillion other things! Go look, now!!

Well, that's all for this Quick Takes! I hope you all have a great weekend! I know I will, as my husband and I are going to a concert, courtesy of our children who got us the most awesome anniversary gift (although I think I am more excited than my hubby):

Yes, Air Supply!! Oh c'mon you ladies of a certain age! You know you're jealous!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!


Monday, August 20, 2012

An African Woman's Open Letter to Melinda Gates

**UPDATE: I am thrilled to know that the author of this piece, Obianuju Ekeocha, has been following the discussion in the comments. She sent me an email that I have reprinted in part, with her permission, at the end of this post.**

Often, a sorrowing soul cannot express that sorrow in mere words. However, Obianuju Ekeocha, a 32-year-old Nigerian woman, has done so, and beautifully.

For the past six years Ms. Ekeocha has been living and working as a biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England. Most of her family and many friends still live in Nigeria. From Catholic Online: Ekeocha "was inspired to write an open letter to Melinda Gates after learning of Gates' move to inject $4.6 billion worth of contraceptive drugs and devices into her homeland." She is hoping Gates will hear her "as the voice of the African woman." 

(Hat tip to Heidi, for posting the link)


Growing up in a remote town in Africa, I have always known that a new life is welcomed with much mirth and joy. In fact we have a special "clarion" call (or song) in our village reserved for births and another special one for marriages.

The first day of every baby's life is celebrated by the entire village with dancing (real dancing!) and clapping and singing - a sort of "Gloria in excelsis Deo."

All I can say with certainty is that we, as a society, LOVE and welcome babies.

With all the challenges and difficulties of Africa, people complain and lament their problems openly. I have grown up in this environment and I have heard women (just as much as men) complain about all sorts of things. But I have NEVER heard a woman complain about her baby (born or unborn).

Even with substandard medical care in most places, women are valiant in pregnancy. And once the baby arrives, they gracefully and heroically rise into the maternal mode.

I trained and worked for almost five years in a medical setting in Africa, yet I never heard of the clinical term "postpartum depression" until I came to live in Europe. I never heard it because I never experienced or witnessed it, even with the relatively high birth rate around me. (I would estimate that I had at least one family member or close friend give birth every single month. So I saw at least 12 babies born in my life every year.)

Amidst all our African afflictions and difficulties, amidst all the socioeconomic and political instabilities, our babies are always a firm symbol of hope, a promise of life, a reason to strive for the legacy of a bright future.

So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon the plan and promise of Melinda Gates to implant the seeds of her "legacy" in 69 of the poorest countries in the world (most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa).

Her pledge is to collect pledges for almost $5 billion in order to ensure that the African woman is less fertile, less encumbered and, yes, she says, more "liberated." With her incredible wealth she wants to replace the legacy of an African woman (which is her child) with the legacy of "child-free sex."

Many of the 69 targeted countries are Catholic countries with millions of Catholic women of child-bearing age. These Catholic women have been rightly taught by the Church that the contraceptive drug and device is inherently divisive.

Unlike what we see in the developed Western world, there is actually very high compliance with Pope Paul VI's "Humanae Vitae." For these African women, in all humility, have heard, understood and accepted the precious words of the prophetic pope. Funny how people with a much lower literacy level could clearly understand that which the average Vogue- and Cosmo-reading-high-class woman has refused to understand. I guess humility makes all the difference.

With most African women faithfully practicing and adhering to a faith (mainly Christian or in some cases Muslim), there is a high regard for sex in society, especially among the women. Sex is sacred and private.

The moment these huge amounts of contraceptive drugs and devices are injected into the roots of our society, they will undoubtedly start to erode and poison the moral sexual ethics that have been woven into our societal DNA by our faith, not unlike the erosion that befell the Western world after the 1930 Lambeth conference! In one fell swoop and one "clean" slice, the faithful could be severed from their professed faith.

Both the frontline healthcare worker dispensing Melinda's legacy gift and the women fettered and shackled by this gift, would be separated from their religious beliefs. They would be put in a precarious position to defy their faith - all for "safe sex."

Even at a glance, anyone could see that the unlimited and easy availability of contraceptives in Africa would surely increase infidelity and sexual promiscuity as sex is presented by this multi-billion dollar project as a casual pleasure sport that can indeed come with no strings - or babies - attached. Think of the exponential spread of HIV and other STDs as men and women with abundant access to contraceptives take up multiple, concurrent sex partners.

And of course there are bound to be inconsistencies and failures in the use of these drugs and devices, so health complications could result; one of which is unintended abortion. Add also other health risks such as cancer, blood clots, etc. Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.

And what about disposal of the medical waste? Despite advanced sewage disposal in the First-world countries, we hear that aquatic life there is still adversely affected by drugs in the system. In Africa, be rest assured that both in the biggest cities and smaller rural villages, sewage constitutes a real problem. So as $4.6 billion worth of drugs, IUDs and condoms get used, they will need safe disposal. Can someone please show us how and where will that be? On our farm lands where we get all our food? In our streams and rivers from whence comes our drinking water?

I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.

Please Melinda, listen to the heart-felt cry of an African woman and mercifully channel your funds to pay for what we REALLY need.

We need:

- Good healthcare systems (especially prenatal, neonatal and pediatric care).
Needless to say that postpartum and neonatal deaths are alarmingly high in many Sub-Saharan African countries. This is due to the paucity of specialized medical personnel, equipment and systems. Women are not dying because they are having "too many" babies but because they are not getting even the most basic postpartum care. A childbirth or labor complication can very easily be fatal, for both mother and baby. To alleviate this problem new, well-equipped and well-staffed birthing centers with neonatal units need to be built in easily accessible parts of the poorest communities. And if Melinda Gates really insists on reducing population, she can have highly trained Natural Family Planning (NFP) instructors strategically placed in these women's healthcare facilities.  At least then there would be a natural and holistic approach.

- Food programs for young children.
This would serve a two-fold purpose if it is incorporated into free or highly subsidized nursery school programs. It would nourish and strengthen the growth of these children, who are so, so vulnerable to malnutrition, and it would also serve to encourage parents to bring their youngsters, ages 3 or 4, to nursery school. In so many parts of Africa, children miss out on nursery school education because it is expensive and considered a luxury reserved for the rich and middle class. As a result, the children miss the first few crucial years when basic math and reading are easily learned.  By the time they are considered "ready" for school, at age 7 or 8, they struggle academically. Many of them never quite catch up and so drop out after six or seven years. This is when a lot of young girls are married off as mid- to late-teenage wives who unfortunately would become the perfect recipient of the Melinda Gates comprehensive contraceptive care!

- Good higher education opportunities
Not just new school buildings or books, but carefully laid out educational programs that work - scholarships, internships at higher levels, etc. - are needed. Despite the problems and obstacles to primary and secondary education, a significant number of young girls make it into universities, polytechnics or colleges. The problem however is that, most of the schools and resources are substandard and outdated. As such, the quality of higher education is low and cannot compare to that of more privileged countries. Even though the teachers put in their very best and the students work hard, the system is inadequate and will always produce disadvantaged graduates who are not confident enough to stand with their counterparts who have studied in other parts of the world.

- Chastity programs
Such programs in secondary schools, universities and churches would create a solid support system to form, inform and reassure our young girls and women that real love is that which is healthy and holy. Many African girls are no longer sure about moral sexual ethics thanks to the widespread influence of Western media, movies and magazines. More support should be given to programs that encourage abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. This approach would go a long way to combating the spread of HIV and other STDs through the continent. And it would certainly lead to happier marriages!

- Support for micro-business opportunities for women
The average African women is incredibly happy, hard-working and resilient. Any support both economic and through training would most probably be used well and wisely.

- Fortify already established NGOs that are aimed at protecting women from sex-trafficking, prostitution, forced marriage, child labor, domestic violence, sex crimes, etc.
Many of these NGOs do not have much success because they are not well-funded. Though most of them have good intentions, they lack professional input from those such as psychologists, logisticians or medical personnel needed to tackle various problems.

$4.6 billion dollars can indeed be your legacy to Africa and other poor parts of the world. But let it be a legacy that leads life, love and laughter into the world in need.


Please be sure to read Obianuju Ekeocha's follow-up post: "Do you intend to speak for every African Woman?"

**Here is the gracious and eloquent email that I received from Ms. Ekeocha:

Dear Leila,

My name is Obianuju Ekeocha (my friends call me Uju , so please feel free to do the same). 
I just want to thank you personally for carrying on this amazing conversation (about my article) on your blog.

I still cannot believe how my simple words from the heart became as the pebble thrown into a river to cause so many ripples in the blogosphere.

In the last week I have seen some really bitter responses (understandably so considering how integral contraceptives have become in the western world). But I have also seen so many many positive and encouraging responses (yours being one of them). I really wish I could answer the questions that I see people asking, I really wish I could get many of my cousins and sisters and friends and aunties from home (Nigeria) to speak for themselves. I mean my article only lifts a tiny edge of the curtain to our culture of life and our perception of love and life. There is so much more that I wish I could communicate. I was thinking of making a photo album next time I go home of just women and their babies. Amidst the dust and dirt ... but happy.

For now I just sort of feel powerless because of the inadequacy of my little article. 
However, you may be interested to know that I will be a guest on Teresa Tomeo's radio show (catholic connections) on Monday 27th from 9:39 Eastern time -Ave Maria radio.
We don't have any good pro-life advocacy in place in most African countries and so we really are not prepared at all for this move by Melinda to plant the seeds of the culture of death. So maybe the time has come for me to try and reach out to people (like yourself) who are clearly pro-life for your thoughts and wisdom.

Once again thank you so much for rising in defence of the dignity of the African woman.

God bless you.

Kindest regards


Follow-up post: "Do you intend to speak for every African woman?"

Related post:  No food or medicine, but plenty of contraception and coercion


Friday, August 17, 2012

Quick Takes: If I'm annoying, will they sue?

{I seriously just spent hours on this Quick Takes, and it was done except for a couple of commas. Then, just as suddenly, it went away, and left me with one of the earliest drafts. I'm about ready to throw myself out a window. So, what you will get here is a very sad skeleton of what could have -- should have -- been.}

While conversations continue on three of the past four posts (with few readers actually able to see all the comments on this one, unless they see and click the "load more" at the bottom of the comments, or subscribe to the comments via email as I do*), it's weird to keep moving on, but move on I will -- because I'm progressive that way, ha ha! 

[Quick note: Just found out that one of my old, fun posts has been reprinted today on Catholic Lane! Stacy made "my" daughter a redhead, just like in real life, ha ha! And by the way, since the article first ran here, my daughter did bring home a "virtues" man!]

1) See the thing is, I don't care what atheists do (as long as they are not killing unborn human beings or taking away my religious liberties), so I have never understood why they can't just leave religious people alone as well. Generally, we should all just tolerate each other (in the correct sense of the word). How about that? But no, apparently that can't happen. I have watched the pesty "Freedom From Religion Foundation" folks wreak their havoc lately, folks whose primary agenda seems to be insinuating themselves into situations where no one is actually being hurt, and then causing all sorts of problems like bullies are wont to do. I do appreciate it when they outright admit that they are just being bullies:

A Pennsylvania atheist filed a grievance with the state's Human Relations Commission this summer after he learned that Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia was offering a 10 percent discount on meals to people who brought their church bulletin with them. 
“I did this not out of spite, but out of a feeling against the prevailing self-righteousness that stems from religion, particularly in Lancaster County,” John Wolff, a retired electrical engineer, told the  Intelligencer Journal of his decision to go toe-to-toe with the restaurant. 
“I don’t consider it an earthshaking affair, but in this area in particular, we seem to have so many self-righteous religious people, so it just annoys me.” 
In that case, the restaurant's owner refused to halt the promotion [you go, girl!]. And the matter is still pending before the secular Pennsylvania commission.  [emphasis mine]

Did you get that? Religious people "annoy" him, so he files a complaint, and the FFRF calls in its gang of lawyers to intimidate the proprietor and potentially ruin a family's business. These are not good people, dear readers! I hope our resident atheists here will denounce their bully tactics.

2) Oh, how I love this! Simcha says it so well. Anyone with lots of little ones, plus some older ones, will relate:

3) This blog, written by a woman for a beloved, lost sister, breaks my heart:

Julie's sister is shouting for the truth to be heard, but no one is listening. The Pill is like a sacrament in this culture, and no one cares if healthy young women die along the way.

We've said it before on this blog: The Pill Was Never Designed to Improve a Woman's Health (check out the stories in the comments, too).

4) Tolerance. I don't think it means what the Gay Liberation Network thinks it means:

God bless that priest! [I had a whole thing about the Family Research Council shooting here, too, and then "poof" it was gone! Sigh.]

5)  Look at this absolutely gorgeous quote!
But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King - indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history - were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Who could have said it? Rick Santorum? Robert P. George? Cardinal Dolan? No, it was Barack Obama… in 2006. I will not comment on this irony, other than to thank JoAnna for the reference.

6) Considering my own orientation, I vote this the best t-shirt of the year:

Introvert readers will understand. ;)

7) Orphan time! Meet Payton and Penny. I don't have a Reece's Rainbow link to give you, because their files were only available to RR for a short time. However, they are still adoptable (please email Shelley at for information). What I can tell you is that they are in the Bad Place, and that is not good. I wrote an entire post on them on my Orphan Report, here.

Meantime, here are their photos and a few details….

Payton is eight years old and weighs 17 pounds. His main issues seem to be cerebral palsy and severe malnutrition. He could really use a mama and daddy, and his country is relatively easy for adoptions. This photo breaks my heart.


Penny is almost 12 years old and weighs just 21 pounds. Her main issues are internal hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, and rotted teeth. A woman who met her recently said, "There is a sweet little girl trapped in there!"

There are only two ways to save these children: 1) Please adopt one or both. 2) Please share their faces and information.

(PS: A wonderful lady who is adopting a child from the Bad Place recounts some of her experiences, here.)


There is another child who is very special to me, because he is so very special to one of the regular bloggers, Brenda, at Life As We Know It. If you know Brenda at all, you know that she loves Miles and wanted to be his mommy, but she and her husband are not in a position to adopt at this time.

Yes, I am adorable!

And I am handsome!

Click my photo for more information!

I wrote an entire post on OR called "When Brenda Saw Miles…", which will give you a little more information on this sweet, worthy boy.

In a nutshell, three-year-old Miles has HIV, which is controlled by medication. He is in every way a normal little boy, developing beautifully. If he is adopted, he will live a normal lifespan and do everything that everyone else does. That is the situation with HIV today. It is not scary like it used to be. And HIV has never been transmitted via normal, casual contact or play. Ever.

There is an adorable video of Miles and extra photos, here.

I can't thank you enough for spreading the word or considering Miles for your own family.


Also, please don't forget Oliver's matching grant which only runs for two more days! He needed $2,000 to get the full grant, and as of this posting he only needs $508.10! That is pretty darn great, but can we push him to the finish line? Donate here (tax deductible).

And finally, as Sylvia and her husband get closer to traveling to get their two little girls (it could be just six weeks from now!), they are scrambling to raise the rest of the needed funds. The facebook auction was a huge success, and now she is back to the Baby Shower/Giveaway, where any donation or sharing (facebook, twitter, blogs, email) will get you entered to win an iPad/flat screen TV/camera/Keurig or a host of other prizes. This is for real guys (I actually won an iPad in a recent giveaway… crazy!), and soon Yulia and Elaine will be orphans no more. Click here for more info!

Okay, everyone, have a fantastic weekend! And thanks to Jen, for hosting!


*This is what you should see and click to get to all the comments when they run over 200 or so:

Note the "Load more…"  and the "subscribe by email". And, yes, I hate blogger. But the thought of switching over to something else makes me want to run in a cave and hide forever.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Comparing the old and new atheists: My interview with Dr. Kevin Vost, Part II

Hooray! Back to more with Dr. Kevin Vost, as he explains some of the differences between the old atheists and the new atheists. Catch up with Dr. Vost's first question and answer, here, at Part I.

"Superman" (Nietzsche) and "The Angelic Doctor" (Aquinas)
Art by Theodore Schluenderfritz

My second question:

Q.  So, did you understand those philosophical principles back when you were a practicing atheist, or are you classifying your beliefs in retrospect, looking back as a Catholic? I ask because one of the things that struck me in your book (which squares with something I've heard Fr. Barron say) is that although the older atheists, i.e., the existentialists, had some real intellectual depth, the new atheists don't have knowledge of the great philosophers, have no real understanding of the depth of wisdom and thought throughout the ages. It's like the new atheists are not connected to anything, or somehow do not work in reason and logic in the same way the old atheists did. Do I have that right?

A. I believe you (and Fr. Barron) hit the nail on the head. I sometimes tell people I couldn't have been pulled away from the faith by the "new atheists" because 1.), I'm too old, and 2.), I knew a little philosophy. It was the older atheists who had some sense of intellectual history who lured me away from the faith. Bertrand Russell was an eminent philosopher himself. Ayn Rand, who rarely gave credit to predecessors, wrote that her philosophy was the natural development and fulfillment of Aristotle's. (Because of that influence, unlike almost all other prominent atheists who are relativists, Rand believed in objective truth. Hence, she called her system "Objectivism.")  Psychologist Albert Ellis acknowledged that his vastly successful system of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy found its origins, not in modern psychological theory and research, but in the philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics. So, the folks who pulled me toward atheism saw their connection with the great ideas of the past, but saw their role as developing them further. They also led me to read the great ancient thinkers themselves. It did not hit me fully until decades later that those great foundational pagan thinkers (e.g., Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius) were not  atheists. Though they did not know Christ, their reasoning led them toward belief in God.

So, when I left the Church, I did come to believe those four key ideas I laid out and I thought I grasped their principles. Still, it did not occur to me until the last year or so, to lay them out that way in how they relate to four key areas of philosophy.

As for the "new atheists" who are popular today, when I've read their books I've been stunned by their lack of awareness or acknowledgement of the wisdom of the past. They seem to think reason came into the world when they attained their own reasoning capacity in their own teenage years. I remember in 2010 when an atheistic group put up an anti- Christmas billboard in New York, their message included a phrase about their group being "reasonable since 1963." I thought I'd like to see a billboard from the Catholic Church stating "reasonable since 33."

I find a huge intellectual hubris or overweening arrogance among some of the new atheists.  They dismiss religion despite the slimmest acquaintance with religious history and its philosophical and theological underpinnings that have the deepest roots in human intellectual history. Ironically, at the same time, they promote the idea that truly smart and well-educated people do not believe in God. Forgive me for quoting myself, but I summed it up this way in From Atheism to Catholicism: "How grand it must be to so confidently declare that the profound questions which so taxed the greatest minds in human history are mere child's play for one's own."

This is not to say that there are not some philosophers among the new atheists, or that their ideas are not influenced by philosophy (whether or not they are aware of it.) Their ideas, however, are influenced by modern philosophy, the philosophy of the last several hundred years that neglected or misunderstood the perennial truths of Aristotle and St. Thomas. These ideas led to materialistic, mechanistic views of the universe with so many inconsistencies and problems that modern-day philosophers are rarely heard in the public square. They embrace what Blessed Pope John Paul II described as a scientism -- an impoverished view of reason that seeks truths in the material realm, ignoring the spiritual and ethical dimensions of reality. (For those who would care to look any deeper into the problems of modern philosophy, I recommend Mortimer Adler's Ten Philosophical Mistakes, and Edward Feser's Aquinas, as well as JPII's Fides et Ratio - Faith and Reason.)

Interestingly, as for as this intellectual pride or hubris among the new atheists, the greatest thinkers in the history of humanity took an opposite approach and arrived at the opposite conclusion. Pick up the writings of Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas, and without fail, you will see that whenever they address an important issue, they begin with a careful and accurate survey of what others before them believed, before they apply their reason (and Scripture for St. Thomas), weigh the pros and cons, and arrive at their conclusions. Neither believed that reason entered the world the day that he was born!

Dr. Vost's words remind me of a post that I have had in draft form for months, from an exchange I had with some "new atheists" on another blog. I think I might finally dust it off and publish it next, as it really is an illustration of what he just said.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quick Takes: Some outrages, some triumphs, including links to read over the weekend!

1) Abby Johnson (former Planned Parenthood director, now pro-life activist) posted this on her facebook a few days back, and it left me as stunned as she was:
This is ABSURD!! I just received this response from the American Cancer Society when I messaged them about their donations to Planned Parenthood. 
"The grants given to Planned Parenthood had the potential to do much good as Planned Parenthood delivers more children than any other medical practice in the U.S." 
WHAT??? Planned Parenthood "delivers" children??? REALLY??
Please let the American Cancer Society know the truth. Planned Parenthood delivers NO babies...they are only in the business of killing them.
I just can't believe that any Americans actually think that Planned Parenthood delivers babies, much less that a respected organization like the American Cancer Society would believe it! How can this be? This is the kind of ignorance we are up against.

2) But wait! There is even more insanity. I received an email on Tuesday from Here's an excerpt:
Moments ago the ACLU decided to jump into our lawsuit challenging the HHS mandate on behalf of a private Catholic business owner in St. Louis. Not surprisingly, they are defending Secretary Sebelius and her attack on religious freedom…
The ACLU is arguing that any business owner that opposes the HHS mandate is no different than a racist shop owner that refused to serve African Americans in the past! 
You read that correctly. If you refuse to provide unlimited birth control, sterilizations, and abortion drugs -- for free -- you are a modern day segregationist! 
In their brief filed with the court, the ACLU argues that providing free birth control and abortion drugs are necessary to allow women to fully participate in society. They conveniently don't mention that these drugs and medicines are already widely available at virtually every drugstore in America. But that's not enough. We must be forced to pay for them too!
Now, this shouldn't surprise me, as I've written previously about the ACLU's anti-Christian agenda, but it's still hard to take.

3) However! There is good news, and it comes in the form of JoAnna's post in response to the ACLU's news that women can't fully participate in society unless they are neutered and/or made to be like men. I think the title speaks for itself (some of us are getting a little ticked off), and the body of the post will make strong women everywhere cheer:

Now, that's what it means to hear women roar!

4) Two blog posts from Marc Barnes at Bad Catholic caught my attention recently. The first, called In Defense of Things, has some thoughts in response to a New Age group offering an "ever-evolving" religion:
What then, is an ever-evolving religion? An ever-evolving religion, taken at its word, is a series of beliefs forever changing into other beliefs. Now I may be wrong here, but I’ll nevertheless stake my claim: A belief forever changing negates itself. One cannot hold an ever-changing conviction that something is true, or else it is by definition not conviction. It is a non-Thing.
As a fan of things, I recommend the rest, here.

But one of the bests posts I've read in a long time is this one:

Why do I love it? Because it's an excellent treatment of the "Beauty" part of this "Truth, Goodness and Beauty" thing I'm always touting. I tend to put emphasis on the True and the Good, but I am not so eloquent when it comes to a discussion of the Beautiful. Marc Barnes blew it out of the water. An excerpt:
And so we arrive at an oddity. Man is a creature who — considered materially – receives everything — all experience, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, poetry and metaphor – from the natural world. Yet he gazes on a crafted piece of marble and experiences a thing which has utterly no place within the natural world. He experiences infinity. 
He experiences infinity as such an integral and obvious fact that he can turn to another human and say: “This marble is priceless” and that human will understand and agree — the marble has a quality that no number, no amount of money or transaction of goods could reach. It’s so obvious and innate that a blogger can sit here and run his mouth about the very same infinity, and his readers will understand him, despite having no natural frame of reference.  

Oh, please. Do yourself a favor and go read the rest, here.

5) Okay, I know I've given you a lot of links to read. I apologize. But there is another, and it's important. This man's voice deserves to be heard. We hear so much from those who would have us wave the white flag of surrender (via force and bullying) regarding the good of true marriage, but voices like the very courageous Robert Oscar Lopez:

Many have dismissed my story with four simple words: “But you are conservative.” Yes, I am. How did I get that way? I moved to the right wing because I lived in precisely the kind of anti-normative, marginalized, and oppressed identity environment that the left celebrates: I am a bisexual Latino intellectual, raised by a lesbian, who experienced poverty in the Bronx as a young adult. I’m perceptive enough to notice that liberal social policies don’t actually help people in those conditions.
Lopez not only tells his own sad story, but he addresses the left's outrage (and campaign of career ruination) that came upon researcher Mark Regnerus for his recent study which shows less than favorable outcomes for children raised in gay households.

6) Okay, I have run across statements that have made me scratch my head, but this one has me baffled. On a recent facebook exchange, a liberal woman and I were debating the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. I made the case that in the Founders' minds, "churches were to be protected from the state, not the other way around."

Her response:

lol. I agree, that was the idea...who knew we'd be where we are today where the state needs protecting from the churches! ;)

Okay, can anyone help me out? The state has the power to fine, tax, ruin, arrest, imprison, and even execute. It has the armed forces, the police forces, the IRS and the FBI, the HHS and Department of Homeland Security, plus a number of other agencies that can persecute, oppress and destroy churches and their ministries, believers and their businesses. The state can force compliance of any mandate on whim, and it can print as much money as it needs to keep it all going.

Churches have…. Preachers? Priests? Nuns? Sacraments? Bibles and catechisms? Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospitals, schools and universities? Online petitions? Blog posts and email alerts? Or maybe the scariest weapon of all (outside of Christ Himself!)… voters?

But seriously, folks, "the state needs protecting from the churches"??? Can someone help me make sense of that statement? I know she's not the only American to hold this view.

7) Let's find homes for some orphans!!! Two beautiful new faces to show you today, and then some fun news at the end.

First, take a look at sweet Yana, who is just one year old, and who has Down Syndrome with no medical complications! I want to eat her up!!

Click photo for more information on Baby Girl!!

And, oh my, look at Konner, an adorable three-year-old with spina bifida (who has had surgical corrections). Wouldn't he make someone a wonderful son? Look at that smile!

Click my photo for more information!
Both Yana and Konner are available to single moms, by the way! Please share their photos, and help us find their families!

Two more exciting things on the orphan front:

1) Oliver, my sweet, precious Oliver, has a $2,000 matching grant offered by an incredible family (mom, dad and baby boy) who have dwarfism, like Oliver does. They will match every single dollar donated to Oliver's adoption fund through August 19! Please check out their blog to learn more, here. Remember, a family is more likely to step up and adopt if they feel they have some financial ability to see it through, and Oliver needs out of that orphanage badly. It's not a good situation he's in….

2) Soooooooo excited about the Auction to Save Yulia and Elaine that has been running on facebook this week! Our own Meg has hosted it, and if you are lucky, you can own my childhood glass kitty set, or buy some of the cutest sealed and hand-painted Halloween gourds/ghosts you've ever seen. Over 80 quality items, most going for a steal, and it all ends on Sunday! Get going!!

This is Booy'all; one of a kind! More listed, all different

Children's mass kit!

A football rosary that you can custom make in the colors of your team, a 100% pashmina cashmere scarf going for half its value right now, and custom made (and shipped) Star Wars or Lego cookies, among many other fun items and treasures!

I'd put up all the pictures, but my typing hands are tired.

Thanks to Jen, for hosting!!