Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dawkins is no Einstein

…I'm too lazy to do a Quick Takes...

Forgive me, but this is funny. The audience's laughter confirms that this is funny. Dawkins is not a logical thinker, and I am not sure why he is held in such high esteem? After all, he not only believes that nothing is something, but he is a biologist who said that "any [human] fetus is less human than an adult pig". Uhhh, science much, Mr. D.?

Anyway, atheists should disavow this guy, seriously:


And one small follow-up to the whole Joseph Bottum controversy. Mr. Bottum (a very gracious man who wrote a terribly unfortunate article) stated that Phil Lawler's critique of his piece was worth thinking about. I agree, and here it is:

To defend marriage, the truth is enchanting enough

Amen, and thank you, Mr. Lawler.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 26, 2013

We don't need to reinvent the wheel

We are Catholic. We think with the mind of the Church. It is beautiful, and it is freedom.

I am linking the following 2003 Vatican document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by Blessed John Paul II and written by Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), which addresses all the questions that exploded around the internet in the past couple of days, sadly putting even orthodox Catholics publicly at odds. We don't need to be at odds on this issue, as the Church has spoken, and very clearly:

If you don't know what internet explosion I'm talking about, simply search "joseph bottum same-sex marriage" and dive in if you'd like. I dove in yesterday and today, and I am wiped out.

Why faithful Catholics are arguing the point is so sad and confusing to me, since our marching orders have already been given, both in the above document (please, read and digest every word of it), and in the subsequent words of Pope Benedict in a 2006 speech to European politicians:

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge[s] clearly today... 
Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role….

There is no confusion in either the document or the speech, no suggestion that Catholics may simply "give up" the political and legal battle, exit the public square on this issue, and instead work to "re-enchant" the world in other ways. If someone can show me where that approach is even hinted at, I am willing to listen. But from what I'm reading, that avenue is not even an option for a Catholic.

And by holding the principles she does, the Church is not "mean" nor lacking in compassion. The Church is a Teacher and a Mother, upholding the common good, i.e., what is good for all. As the wonderful Brandon Vogt told me today:

One thing I see often among well-meaning Catholics is that they misunderstand why the Church vigorously defends conjugal marriage. It's not just because God established marriage this way, or because we should uphold the sacramental meaning of marriage, though both are certainly true. 
The main reason Catholics defend the traditional, civil understanding of marriage is because a strong marriage culture benefits everyone -- Catholics, atheists, poor people, children, singles, senior citizens, etc. And a failing marriage culture harms everyone. 
To say it another way, a strong marriage culture benefits the common good. Whenever ideas or political movements threaten the common good, the Church must defend it, even at great cost, even when its own people don't understand why, and even when the outcome seems hopeless. 
The Church rejects the idea of "same-sex marriage" not just because it contradicts natural law, or God's divine plan for marriage, but because it's deleterious for society, children most of all.


That's all. I'm still exhausted. But before I go, I want to leave you with the link to the Church's teaching one more time, just in case you missed it up above, and just in case you decide to jump into the debates raging on every blog and site:

No need to reinvent the wheel.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Should Pope Francis "take on" birth control? A response

Hi folks, JoAnna here. I recently wrote the following post for Catholic Stand
and Leila asked if I'd mind running it on the Bubble as a guest post as well 
while she is on hiatus. 


Robert McClory recently wrote an article for the National Catholic* Reporter, opining that Pope Francis should revisit the question of the morality of birth control. As per usual for the Reporter, this dissent from Church teaching contains many problems.

Problem #1: Terminology. This is a widespread problem, so I can't really fault McClory, but his terminology is problematic. The Church does not, in fact, teach that “birth control,” when used to refer to spacing pregnancies, is intrinsically immoral. In fact, the words “birth control” do not appear in the Catechism. The closest term is “regulation of births,” about which the CCC states, “The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).”

In other words, it is not intrinsically immoral to use “birth control” to space pregnancies, provided that the method of birth control used is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. The Church teaches that there are only two such methods: periodic abstinence or complete abstinence (see CCC 2370).

Contraception, however, is a form of birth control that is intrinsically immoral and is not permitted under any circumstances. As Humanae Vitae states, contraception is “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.”

McClory is specifically speaking about the Church’s teachings regarding the intrinsic evil of contraception when he refers to birth control. He also states that the Church “forbids any form of artificial contraception” (emphasis mine), implying that moral methods of birth regulation are some sort of natural contraception, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Problem #2: Too Many of Them, Just Enough of Him. McClory begins his article citing Pope Francis’ general audience on June 5, in which the Holy Father laments the plight of children who are starving and encourages Catholics to do what they can to remedy that issue.

McClory’s solution is not to feed the children, or donate food, money, or other resources toward that end, or work toward reforming corrupt governments that hinder adequate food distribution. No, his solution is... wait for it… contraception!

Frankly speaking, this attitude is one of eugenics smothered with a thin veneer of false compassion. “We must think of the children!” is camouflage for this sentiment: “The hungry of the world are the poor, unfit, unwashed masses, so of course there should be less of them. We wouldn't those undesirables to breed, would we?”

If McClory did his research, he'd know that the World Food Programme – the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide – states that “There is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life.“ The problem is access, and throwing contraception at people who'd much prefer to have nutritious food is not going to solve that issue. (Incidentally, a search for the term “contraception” on WFP's site yields no results; obviously, unlike McClory, they don't believe it's the magical panacea for solving world hunger.)

Problem #3: The Holy Spirit Got It Wrong. McClory claims that he's “not suggesting the pope announce he is rescinding the church's position as dictated by Pope Paul VI in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae.” No, not at all! He just wants Pope Francis to re-examine Responsible Parenthood, which was issued by the Vatican's Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth in 1966. This document encouraged Paul VI to amend the Church's current position on contraception, arguing that the Pill should be an “exception” to the contraception ban since it didn't alter the physical aspects of the marital act (unlike condoms, which placed a barrier between man and wife).

Interestingly, it was Paul's VI intention that this document was for his eyes only, but unfortunately a copy was leaked to the press and its contents became available for public dissemination. The document caused many Catholics to believe that a change in teaching regarding contraception was imminent, as it was portrayed as the “majority opinion” of the Commission. The fact that, to quote Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Truth is not determined by majority vote” was a concept apparently lost to many Catholics at that time (and is a concept still lost to many Catholics today, including the entire staff of the National Catholic Reporter).

Paul VI, however, knew that the Commission was largely composed of pro-contraception advocates from its inception. According to Dr. Germain Grisez, emeritus Professor of Christian Ethics at Mount St. Mary’s University, “Paul VI was aware of the ideological leanings of those he had appointed to the Commission, and had composed the Commission in this way in order to give their argument a fair hearing.”

Their arguments did not convince Paul VI, however, and two years later he issued Humanae Vitae, restating the Church's constant, unchanging teaching on artificial birth control and making several dire predictions about the negative changes that would come to pass if contraception became accepted and widespread among the populace – predictions that have all come true.

You'd think that the fact that these predictions have come true is simply evidence that Paul VI was correct in his decision, and that his words and actions in continuing to uphold the Church's ban on contraception were inspired by the Holy Spirit, wouldn't you?

Not so, says McClory's article. He believes that the Commission was “ahead of its time,” and his implication is that Paul VI went against the "correct" teaching and instead taught error as doctrine. Moreover, using this logic, the Church has continued teaching error as doctrine – the ban on contraception is reiterated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is, according to Pope John Paul II, “a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion“), and JPII also reaffirmed the evil of contraception in his encyclical Evengelium Vitae.

In short, McClory believes that the Holy Spirit got it wrong when He inspired the Church to reaffirm the ban against contraception, which means that the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church and Jesus was a liar. Therefore, Catholicism is a false religion. Given this logic, why does McClory bother to remain in a Church that he firmly believes teaches error as doctrine and has proven itself, by his own reasoning, to be a false church? How can he trust any of the teachings of the Church if he knows that She has taught error on one important aspect of doctrine (and if he's in favor of women's ordination, as are most of the NCR staff, that's another crucial area of doctrine the Church has allegedly gotten wrong)?

Problem #4: Pope Francis is Going to Change Church Teaching. McClory “couldn't help noting how the language of the document [Responsible Parenthood] so resembled the calm, non-argumentative, pastoral style of the current pope.”

I can't think of a single papal document issued in the last forty years or so that could be described as angry, argumentative, or non-pastoral, but his implication is that Francis' style is markedly different than that of Paul VI or JPII or Benedict XVI – yet reading any of the documents issued by any of these popes shows that they were all (or are still, in Pope Benedict's case) thoughtful, reasonable, pastoral shepherds of our Church.

I think McClory is projecting his own feelings of anger and dissent on the writings of the popes with whom he disagrees, and he's hoping that Pope Francis, whom he sees as more "liberal," will change all that by also changing Church teaching – because to accept the recommendations of Responsible Parenthood would be to do just that.

So no, Mr. McClory, Pope Francis will not “take on birth control,” because the teaching that contraception is an intrinsic evil is a teaching of the magisterium and is part of the Deposit of Faith. Pope Francis has neither the authority nor the desire to change this doctrine, and his pontificate so far has only served to emphasize that fact.

Stop fantasizing about what you hope Pope Francis will say and start listening to what he has actually said, such as in Lumen Fidei:
As a service to the unity of faith and its integral transmission, the Lord gave his Church the gift of apostolic succession. Through this means, the continuity of the Church’s memory is ensured and certain access can be had to the wellspring from which faith flows. The assurance of continuity with the origins is thus given by living persons, in a way consonant with the living faith which the Church is called to transmit. She depends on the fidelity of witnesses chosen by the Lord for this task. For this reason, the magisterium always speaks in obedience to the prior word on which faith is based; it is reliable because of its trust in the word which it hears, preserves and expounds. In Saint Paul’s farewell discourse to the elders of Ephesus at Miletus, which Saint Luke recounts for us in the Acts of the Apostles, he testifies that he had carried out the task which the Lord had entrusted to him of "declaring the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Thanks to the Church’s magisterium, this counsel can come to us in its integrity, and with it the joy of being able to follow it fully.”

*While this publication still identifies itself as Catholic, they were requested to remove that identifier from their name as early as 1968 – and the current bishop, Robert W. Finn, has also identified them as a problematic media source when it comes to authentic Catholic reporting.


Monday, August 12, 2013

While I'm away...

Well, I'm really not going anywhere, but I do have to get some stuff done here -- some of which has a deadline -- and I need to stay off the blog until I get that done.

So, a couple of things in the meantime.

First, I so enjoyed the last post that I thought I would dig up a couple of the old "Just Curious" posts that also had great comments, one serious and one light:

Whether you're reading everyone's comments for the first time or have read them previously, I think you'll be edified. I just spent way too long reading them when I should have been working on that stuff I just mentioned in paragraph one!

And, I can't promise anything (since I never actually plan anything I write), but if you'd like to give me suggestions for future blog post topics, please feel free to do so in the combox.

Finally, if you can spare a moment, I'd love your prayers for a couple of special intentions, both good things (no, I'm not pregnant)!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just curious: What do you do for a living?

So many wonderful friends and readers on this blog! Intelligent, thoughtful people with varied viewpoints, from all walks of life, and even residing on several continents!

But I don't think I've ever asked you folks: What you do for a living? 

Or, if you don't work for a paycheck, what did you do before you had a family or before you retired (or were laid off)? What is your trade or area of expertise? What are your gifts?

Tell us as much or as little as you'd like, and for you private types, I will allow anonymous commenters, at least until a troll strolls in. 

I want to hear from regular commenters and lurkers alike!

As for me, I have a bachelor's in English, and I am a writer. I think I was born a writer, frankly, but I'm not a creative writer, nor a novelist, nor can I teach writing to save my life. I haven't made a living by writing (though I've been paid for it now and then), but I did work as an editor and media coordinator at a small direct marketing company for a short time in my early twenties. I chucked that for the chance to live my dream of being a wife and mom. And go figure, I still write, but not in a way I ever could have imagined!

*Added: My husband is a regulatory and government affairs consultant. He started his own one-man company a couple of years ago. He's worked in government (ran a state agency, and very efficiently I might add!) as well as in non-profit and private business. His areas of expertise are energy, taxation, and economic development. 

Okay, go! What do you do?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Quick Takes: A lot shorter than last time!

1) People have chastised me on this blog for daring to say that IVF, ART, and donor-conception amounts to manufacturing children and treats them like commodities, like chattel. I've been told that by mentioning such things, I will make those children feel terrible (I guess the idea being that they don't already know that they were conceived in artificial ways). That's why I just consider this a bombshell of an article. It should hit us like a ton of bricks right on our consciences:

"Third party reproduction corrupts the parent-child relationship 
and disrespects the humanity of donor-conceived people."

Alana Newman/facebook

Alana Newman (one of my new heroes) is a donor-conceived person who provides support for others like herself. Is she allowed to say the following (emphases mine)?
We’ve created a class of people who are manufactured, and treat them as less-than-fully human, demanding that they be grateful for whatever circumstances we give them. While fathers of traditionally conceived human beings are chased down and forced to make child support payments as a minimal standard of care, people conceived commercially are reprimanded when they question the anonymous voids that their biological fathers so “lovingly” left.
Who will chastise her? Anyone? Maybe, instead, we should listen and support her as she courageously tells a truth that no one wants to hear (people like Alana are to sit down and shut up, remember?). I pray that many of you are moved to link her article to your facebook pages and blogs. Yes, it takes some courage to do so, but the time for silence is over. The era of comfortable Christianity is really over.

2) All of the pain described by Alana in that article comes from a philosophy of adults that says "I want it, so I deserve it, so it's a right and you have to give it to me."

Exhibit A:

Wealthy gay dad, Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, says he and his civil partner Tony will go to court to force churches to host gay weddings…. 
“The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church. 
“It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us.” 
He added: “It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away. 
“As much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want.”

(Emphases mine.)

Can you believe that sh….  Oops, sorry. I really try not to cuss on this blog.

3) Moving along to the "we have to laugh or we will cry" category, I'm just laughing:

Yeah, um, so I won't even excerpt anything from that, I'll just let you go ahead and read it yourself.

4) This is so cool! I am not sure that the New York Times really understands what it actually did here, but it's so great! Take the quiz:

"Choose the pope who said each quote on seven critical issues."

[Hint: The answer to the title is, "They don't differ, and that's what we've been telling you all along."]

5)  Your daily chuckle!

6) As an introvert, I love, love, love, love, love this list of...

Introversion does not equate to being shy or socially awkward (though some introverts might be). Extroverts, when you see us introverts being perfectly friendly, gregarious, and socially adept, please don't laugh and say "Oh, you are sooo not an introvert!" as if we are lying when we say that we are. It just doesn't mean the things that you think it means, thank you very much. :)

7) Now to the most important Quick Take. This sweet little boy, Penn, is about to turn three years old… a precious baby, but blossoming into a big boy! He has been diagnosed with spina bifida, lower paraplegia, pelvic organs dysfunction, and hydrocephalus. Can you imagine the leaps and bounds he would make if he were to get medical treatment here in America? 

Click my photo for more information!

Surely there is a special family out there who could open hearts and home to this beautiful child of God and help him reach his fullest potential on this earth. Please, say a quick prayer for him now that that family will come quickly!

Have a blessed weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!