Saturday, January 26, 2013

Quick Takes: Wrapping up the (abortion) week

I might as well just start calling this Late Takes!

It's been a hopeful week for pro-lifers, even as we commemorate the horrific and illegitimate man-made law that has costs 55 million American children their very lives.






1)  Wow. Just wow. The March for Life this year in Washington, D.C., marking the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, was a blow-out success. Approximately 650,000 marchers braved the freezing cold and snow on Friday, most of them young, all of them full of love and joy and determined to end the violence of abortion in our land. There would have been more attendees, but the bad weather kept many folks from traveling.

My nephew was there (as well as several friends of mine, including bloggers!), and he was simply blown away and completely energized. Wouldn't you have been? Check it out:






This went on for hours, as far as the eye could see.

Now, the thing that makes me laugh and laugh and laugh (because it really is ridiculous) is that today the major news outlets (CBS, NBC, ABC), as well as Google and Yahoo News, all carried front page banner stories of a D.C. march, with titles screaming out that "thousands" turned out. But dontcha know, it was not the March for Life! No, this front page story was about a very small march for gun control. One of those major news outlets estimated that there were about 1,000 people in attendence. Another story described the procession as stretching for… two blocks. But this little gathering was deemed major national news, and the March for Life coverage, where it existed, was buried. I had to go searching for it. Even my readers on the left can admit to the blatant media bias here, right?

Oh, and there was another "little" march that happened today and that clearly could not compete with the tiny band of gun control demonstrators. It was the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco, where over 50,000 marchers braved a hostile city to honor and remember so many little lives lost to abortion.



I am so proud of my dear friend Karen Williams, who once again stood with several of her sisters who've lived through the nightmare of abortion, and who are Silent No More.


2) I am sure that San Francisco boasts many cars sporting the ubiquitous "Coexist" bumper sticker (you know the one), but I like this version a lot better:




3) I have always contended that pro-abortion feminists must disdain their female bodies, and this brilliant quote speaks to that:

Many feminists insist that abortion is necessary for women to participate freely and equally in society. Anyone who disagrees, they argue, has merely adopted patriarchal standards and accepted women’s ‘place’ in society. Yet this demonstrates how deeply the roots of sexism run in our culture. Its premise is a sexist one - that women are inferior to men and in order to be equal, we have to change our biology to become like men - wombless and unpregnant at will. What other oppressed group in history has had to undergo surgery in order to be equal?   -- Marilyn Dickstien Kopp

4) Another brilliant quote came this week from one of my youngest readers, 17-year-old Chris, who is a religious seeker, not a Catholic or even a Christian:
There are two sides to the pro choice movement. The first side is convinced that fetuses aren't really humans/people. The second side is convinced that it's OK to kill humans/people. The former side is factually incorrect, and the latter side is morally incorrect.
As a lover of clarity, that just really grabbed me. And where does that leave Chris, who used to think that abortion should be allowed? He's weighed the evidence and concludes:
Might does not make right; the strong should not kill the weak; no human being should have a "boss" who decides whether they live or die. 
I can't stand abortion anymore. 
Welcome to the growing and ever-more-youthful club, Chris! I'm so grateful to have a sharp mind like yours on the side of life.


5) Two articles you cannot miss.

The first is from Jen Fulwiler, and it's one of the best articles on abortion I've ever read. I am not alone in that sentiment, if postings and comments on facebook mean anything. It's long, but it's worthy of your time:


Jen begins:

When I was younger, I was always particularly shocked when I heard about societies where it was common to abandon or kill unwanted newborns. In college I once read a particularly graphic description of a family in ancient Greece "discarding" a newborn baby girl. I was shocked to the point of breathlessness. I was also horribly confused: How could normal people be okay with this, let alone participate in it? Nobody I knew would do that! Were people that different back then?! 
Because of my deep distress at hearing of things like this, I found it really irritating when pro-lifers would refer to abortion as "killing babies." Obviously, none of us pro-choice folks were in favor of killing babies; to imply otherwise, in my mind, was an insult to the babies throughout history who actually were killed by their insane societies. We weren't in favor of killing anyone. We simply felt like women had the right to stop the growth process of a fetus if she faced an unwanted pregnancy. Sure, it was unfortunate since fetuses had potential to be babies one day, and we recognized that there was something special about that. But, alas, that was a sacrifice that had to be made in the name of not making women slaves to their bodies.
Read the rest, here.


The second article that compelled me this week was from wonderful Kat (The Crescat). I warn you, it is brutal to read. It is not for everyone. If you read it, you will never, ever forget it. But Kat lived it, and I so admire her courage for putting it out there for all to see.



6) Which leads me again to "the sculpture". Oh, the sculpture!

This is the love and comfort that I see Kat's child sending to her… and the love of all the children that my friends have lost through abortion.




May God bless, heal, and redeem every wounded and aching soul that has been left empty by abortion. There is help and hope for everyone, and so many people ready to assist you. Please, never despair. God's love and mercy is so much greater than sin and death.


7) From mothers without children to children without mothers… please meet Tatiana:


Click my photo for more info and another picture!

As I wrote in a recent Orphan Report post, a family had hoped to adopt her, but when they arrived in her country and met her, Tatiana's needs were far greater than what they had expected. Reluctantly, they had to let her go (and they did go on to adopt another orphan more suited to the level of care they could give). 

So, Tatiana is sill available, and waiting for that very special family that can take on a child with FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and possibly other conditions or behavioral issues that have been exacerbated by life in an institution. She is just six years old, and I pray that by her seventh birthday, she will have a family committed to bringing her home.




Have a restful Sunday, and thanks to Jen for hosting!








Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hey, abortion advocates! Keep talking!

Gosh, yesterday I posted the most despicable, creepy video from the abortion crowd celebrating Roe v. Wade and 55 million dead babies, and then I read this doozy of an article, by an unapologetic abortion enthusiast, Mary Elizabeth Williams, who admits quite openly that the unborn most certainly are human beings, but that killing humans is often A-OK:


Yawn, yeah…so what? What's a little killing among friends? 

I encourage you to read the whole thing (and I am so incredibly grateful for her honesty), but here are some of the lowlights.

Ms. Williams first affirms the scientific fact that an unborn child is a human being:

"...I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me."

And she then affirms that some human beings are less equal than others:

"Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal." 

Is anyone else disturbed when one person declares someone else's life not as worthy as, say, her own? And, on what authority does she say that all human life is not equal?

"Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always."

According to…? Mary Elizabeth Williams? Again, not sure as to her authority on determining which human beings are worthy to retain their lives? I do see that she holds the woman as being the "boss" of the child inside her. Well, I can tell you that I am certainly the boss of my children, too, but I have no right whatsoever to execute them, do I?

"When we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs. second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person. Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than when you can suck on your thumb?"

Well at least we agree on something! She and Peter Singer have my respect for exposing the illogic of drawing arbitrary lines for degrees of humanity. 

And then later, a tender moment. Sort of:

"...I can say anecdotally that I’m a mom who loved the lives she incubated from the moment she peed on those sticks, and is also now well over 40 and in an experimental drug trial. If by some random fluke I learned today I was pregnant, you bet your ass I’d have an abortion. I’d have the World’s Greatest Abortion."

blink, blink

Uh, unfortunately you read that right. By the way, she calls the pro-life movement, which wants everyone to live, "diabolical". 

But let's get to her great finale:

"...I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing."  [emphasis mine.]

Yep. A life worth sacrificing. She said that. There are quite a few ugly movements and ideologies around the globe and in every era that could have used that slogan, too… and every one of them included human rights atrocities. In a morally ordered world, Williams' words should send a chill straight up your spine.

There have been some excellent rebuttals to this woman's shameless piece, including here and here, but the best encapsulation of it I've seen comes from JoAnna, who said succinctly: 

What her "argument" boils down to is "The strong can kill the weak."

Bingo!

Truth? Goodness? Beauty? Nah. Try, survival of the fittest; might makes right; he with the biggest guns wins. The strong can kill the weak.

The left wants low-information Americans to think that liberals are the ones who love and care for the weak, the vulnerable, the marginalized, the voiceless, but it's simply not true. I'm grateful that the honest voices in the abortion movement are getting louder and bolder. They need exposure, where the regular folks can finally hear them and be rightly horrified. 

This woman's philosophy and the depraved content of my last two posts is the lurid, dark, creepy, and ghoulish place where abortion advocates are today.

I ask, why would any decent person want to stand there with them? 





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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

O.M.G.

** UPDATE: Apparently, even the makers of the video realized its awfulness 
and have since removed it. **



I am speechless.

Unfortunately, this is not a spoof, not a parody.

Totally, utterly depraved.

55 million battered, bloodied, shredded, dismembered innocents, sacrificed on the altar of "free love" and "sexual rights", and in commemoration we get this:





I can't bring myself to do commentary, so go here if you'd like some.

I'm going to go throw up now.





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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quick Takes: The Planned Parenthood/Roe v. Wade edition

As we approach the 40th anniversary of the shameful Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationally through all nine months of pregnancy, it seems appropriate to talk about our old foe, Planned Parenthood, the entity that commits more abortions in this nation than any other.





1) It was  banner year for Planned Parenthood, both in abortions (333,964 actual human lives snuffed out [roughly a third of the national total], not counting the occasional dead mother) and in taxpayer subsidies (542 million of our dollars, which is 45% of PP's annual revenue). I guess you could say that PP made a killing, both literally and figuratively.


2) This organization that kills unborn children as its bread and butter knows that the more casual the sex, the more partners had, and the younger the client, the better it is for its fiscal bottom line. In that vein, is it any wonder that this business promotes depraved and degrading activities for Americans to become even more sexually dysfunctional? Check it out:



If you can't wrap your mind around this, just remember that in sexual matters, the secular left generally sees "consent" as the sole criterion of the good.


3) Now, this organization that receives hundreds of millions of our taxpayer dollars each year (and is beloved by and symbiotic with our president, Mr. Obama) does not only kill children, harm women, and push sadomasochistic sex as "fun", it also encourages youngsters to embrace the term "slut" and be proud of it. This video appears on Planned Parenthood's "Info for Teens" facebook page:


Makes me wonder, though. If being a slut is a "positive", and if wearing the label is to be celebrated (we are to "embrace" our inner slut!), then why was the sexual left so mad at Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a slut? I'm seriously asking. Obama called Fluke to soothe her wounds after being called the name, yet his favorite organization, PP, airs a video that teaches young girls to aspire to the name. Any thoughts?



4) Logic. Logic. Logic. We are conceived, we grow, we grow some more, then eventually we die. Some of us die before we are born, some shorty after, some many years after. We are the same person from beginning to end.





In other words:


Logic. Logic. Logic.

We don't kill innocent human beings. Period.



5) Abortion in America is based on lies, including the claim that the plaintiff "Jane Roe" (Norma McCorvey, now pro-life and a devout Catholic) was raped and impregnated. She was, in fact, not raped, so the case was built on a lie from the get-go. Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton? That was also based on a lie. Read here.

And the lies from the abortion advocates keep coming to this day: The unborn are not human beings. Abortion is safe for women (I cannot bring myself to link to the recent autopsy photos of 18-year-old Marla Cardamone, killed by abortion along with her son). Women were dying at the rate of 10,000 a year from "back alley" abortions before Roe v. Wade. Abortion clinics are "beautiful, immaculate, clean". Planned Parenthood is all about providing women's health services and screenings, not mostly about performing abortions.

Lies, lies, lies.

We know from Jesus that Satan himself is the "father of lies" and "a murderer from the beginning."  (John 8:44)


6) Forty years of violence for the unborn of America. 55 million dead babies. One-third of the people who should be here, wiped out. My eighteen-year-old daughter surprised me the other day by suddenly saying, "Hey Mom, you were born before abortion was legal!" She hadn't pondered that before, that all my peers are pretty much accounted for. "Yep," I said, "My generation missed it by just a few years." Not a lot of carnage in the womb back then, as the womb was a safe and sacred place to dwell, as it should be. And then I was sad, realizing that she has always lived in a world where a third of her peers are missing.

That realization is a big reason why the pro-life movement is made up of so many young people.


 7) All human life is sacred. All children are precious.

Simon has only until this October to be adopted, or else he loses his chance for a family.

Click my photo for more information!


From someone who met him in 2012:

Simon was so bright, he is amazing! He has great potential and has expressed his desire for a family. He loves gadgets and computers is a typical boy like that! He managed to get into my camera bag (even though it was high on a cupboard) and took my mobile phone apart!  He was truly mortified when he couldn’t get it back together and was so sorry…he came straight to me very shamefaced and repentant.

He cannot walk at all; he does not feel his legs and they are very wasted, but he gets around brilliantly in his wheel chair. He talks and is picking up English and draws and writes. 


Please spread the word about Simon's need for a family. And please, spare a prayer for him.


+++++++


Thanks to wonderful Jen for hosting. As you probably know, Jen has been suffering through a horrendous and life-threatening battle against multiple pulmonary embolisms brought about by her sixth pregnancy and her underlying blood clotting condition.

I rushed through a recent post (her birthday post!) and really liked it. However, when I went back later to read it more slowly, it hit me like a ton of bricks that this was not just a good post, but a great one, with a spiritual insight so profound it will knock your socks off if you allow it to penetrate your heart.

Please, do yourself a favor and read it -- slowly. Let it sink in. Don't just skim it like I did the first time. It's amazing:




Have a great weekend!



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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

From Radical Feminist to Devout Catholic

This is the conversion story of my friend Kim Manning, which has been on my blog forever but which has not been its own featured post until today. We took our faith journeys together, though we started in very different places. 

I find any story of a liberal feminist-turned-Catholic to be fascinating, but I had the joy of watching this one as it unfolded. Grab a cup of tea and dive into it now with me...




My Road from Gender Feminism to Catholicism
By Kimberley Manning




Kim and I during the journey, mid-1990s. We would soon go from 
secular newspaper editorial writers (while still stay-at-home mommies) 
to practicing Catholics and RCIA teachers. 



Consider the following scenario:  There was a time in human history when all was well.  People lived in harmony with the planet, all resources were shared equally, and there was no violence.  This was the great time of matriarchal cultures when women held the positions of power in their societies and wielded that power with wisdom.
Then it all came to a halt when men rose up and began to use force, rooted in misogyny, to bring women under their control.  This was not some series of isolated uprisings, but a systematic reversal of world power and a subjugation of women which has left my gender devastated.  Rape was the first method used to subdue women, followed by the development of the institution of marriage; however, as time went on, more sophisticated mechanisms were employed to rob women of their power, both earthly and spiritual.  
The coup de grace in this destruction of matriarchal utopia was the development of Christianity.  This patriarchal system, purposely dominated by men, would seek to destroy the last vestiges of the great goddess-centered religions by establishing the complete authority of males over females through its use of supposed sacred writings (the Bible) and masculine symbolism to describe God.  The great peace-loving goddess religions were no match for the brute force of a male-dominated Christendom and so were decimated.  The greatest blow was the Inquisition, in which millions of pagan women, many high priestesses, were burned at the stake, as the Catholic Church made its massive attempt finally to eradicate female power.  Then came the witch hunts in the New World, while today such constructs as gender roles continue the assaults against feminine energy on the planet.
Revisionist history at its finest?  To be sure.  However, much to my embarrassment, I must confess that not so long ago I subscribed to this gender feminist nonsense.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t raised with such notions.  To my parents’ credit, I was brought up in a strong Christian home.  Baptized in a Methodist Church, I was raised in a warm and loving Episcopalian home in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania – the heart of Amish country.  The Christian values of love they neighbor, personal morality, and strong faith were modeled constantly at home and reinforced by Anabaptist fundamentalists who set a very conservative tone for the community.  Most significantly, I was raised with the old-fashioned idea that there is objective truth – that while there may be gray areas in life, there is such a thing as definitive right and wrong.
I embraced these values, knowing that somehow they were connected to the God in whom we believed, though I was unclear as to how that was so.  Consequently, while seeds of truth were planted, they had not taken root, and by the time I left for college, I was very vulnerable to drifting away from Christianity.
As is not uncommon for young adults, I began to consider other options when I failed to see meaning in the religion of my youth.  Gender feminism would eventually become that other option, but my “conversion” was a slow and insidious process.  I use the word “conversion” purposely, because I later came to see that gender feminism is a pseudo-religion in which all of the archetypal symbols are there in a twisted manner.  “Womyn” is deified, empowerment is the mantra, unborn children are the blood sacrifices in the ritual of abortion, and men are the scapegoats for our sins.
My first brush with radical feminism was a brief discussion with the Lutheran minister at my college over the issue of inclusive language in the Bible. At the time, it struck me as absurd that the reference to God as “our Father” in any way undermined my value as a woman.  That was when my head was still screwed on straight and I was majoring in science.  Two years into my degree, I switched majors and began to study social work.  My heavy interest in the subjective philosophies of pantheism and my decision to do a volunteer internship at a domestic violence shelter had potent consequences.  I began to hear a lot of talk about “woman’s experience,” how it is the ultimate source of truth.  It began to seem like an all-out attack on women was taking place in society, in the form of domestic abuse (not such an absurd conclusion if the only new women you meet for 10 months are battered ones).  I began to read a lot about misogyny, considered by many feminists to be a deep psychological predisposition in all men.  
By the time I graduated, I was still brave enough to get married, despite my growing awareness that marriage was a legal maneuver orchestrated by men to gain control of women, both economically and physically.  With a growing concern for my oppressed sisters everywhere, I took a paying job as a domestic violence counselor in a shelter.
In my personal life, I continued to explore pantheism, branching out into the New Age movement.  I became fascinated with all things subjective.  Psychology and spirituality were my passions and the left-brained world of critical thinking was now diagnosed as anal-retentive. I became convinced of such nebulous notions as there is no evil (or good/evil/God are all the same), pain is an illusion, God is really a woman, if you don’t get it right in this life you can always come back and try again, truth is whatever we make it for we are all creating our own realities, and all views and choices are of equal value.  My highest “virtue” became tolerance, and I felt guilty if I in any way judged another’s actions.
These ideas dovetailed quite nicely with my experience at work. The staff members at the shelter were all women.  We saw ourselves as a feminist organization in which all of the women were co-equals.  On numerous occasions I found this “no one’s in charge” approach unbearable.  Sometimes we would sit around for days in staff meetings trying to make a decision about a particular case.  Those days seemed interminable, but it was all done in the name of fairness, for there should be no leaders, no hierarchy of authority – those were male constructs.  So everyone would have her say as discussion and negotiation would go on and on. The name of the game was consensus, but when consensus could not be reached our director would make the final decision.  This always struck me as contrary to our philosophy, but in the end everyone seemed willing to overlook the inconsistency out of sheer fatigue.
Ours was a safe environment in which the lesbian women could feel safe to “come out.” The banter of male-bashing was an endless stream of jokes and occasional outbursts of raging hatred.  A woman’s “right to choose” was the pivotal issue around which woman’s freedom revolved and which had to be protected at all costs.  We even had copies of videos giving instruction in “menstrual extraction” (do-it-yourself abortion) in case men ever took away our “right” to control our own bodies.  Makeup was frowned upon and dieting was seen as a total surrender to the male-dominated culture in which women are merely objects for men’s pleasure.
Sexual abuse in America was rampant, I was told.  The estimates were said to be as high as 70 percent of all girls. Some feminists I read even asserted that all acts of sex between a man and woman are, by definition, rape.  And the statistics for domestic violence were astounding; we often quoted that half of all married women were being savagely beaten every year!  Eating disorders (which we believed were caused by the male desire to keep women helpless little waifs) were killing our daughters, and all over the world the organized patriarchal religions were keeping women oppressed with such tactics as genital mutilation, whipping, stoning, death sentences, forced marriages, forbidding birth control and access to abortions, and refusal to accept same-sex marriage.
It all seemed so unjust, so horrible.  The evidence mounted in my mind: Men were simply evil, and governments and organized religion – specifically Christianity in America – were their weapons. And then one day it happened.  I had my “click” experience.  I later read that Ms. Magazine had coined this phrase to describe the exact moment of coming into full consciousness of one’s oppression. I was sitting across from a co-worker in the shelter one evening and, like a light going on, it suddenly hit me that the cultural reality of my childhood did not exist. I realized in my moment of “enlightenment” that all men were perpetrators and all women were victims. “Where have I been all these years?” I asked my friend.  “I feel like I’ve been living under a rock and for the first time now I can see clearly.  There’s a world of male oppression against women out there and we’ve got to fight back.”  My friend smiled warmly and said, “Now you’re getting it.  I had the same experience.  Now you see the truth.”
From that moment on, for the next four years, I essentially abandoned the notion of objective truth and embraced the worldview that all things are relative and truth is determined by the individual.  This was a wholly right-brained approach to life in which one’s personal experience and feelings at any given moment determine reality.  Left-brained thinking patterns, such as critical analysis and skepticism, were deemed too rigid, too limiting, too male.  I felt freed by the artistic approach to life where everything is an open possibility.  What 23-year-old wouldn’t love a doctrine of carte blanche?  Luckily, though, the tradition, objective values of my upbringing still resonated with me, and so my “experience” led me to continue to make prudent decisions in my own life.
Meanwhile, in the name of tolerance, I found myself supporting or at least not speaking out about all manner of poor decisions that friends, co-workers, and clients were making in their own lives.  They did not have the luxury of a sound foundation in the Christian ethics that I had grown up with, and consequently their lives were disasters.  I was too much of a coward to judge anyone else’s actions, but I reaped the benefits of having been reared in a worldview that correctly set high standards for me.  Consequently, I went along subscribing to this nonsensical system without getting myself into any real trouble.
During that time, I led my life with the comfort that I had found the “truth” – that it was whatever I willed it to be and was determined only by my own personal experience. But two situations came up that caused such a disruption in my feminist outlook that, looking back, I realized they were the start of my de-briefing process out of radical feminism.  
The first was when I discovered that a seriously flawed methodology was being used to gather data on the number of women that the shelter system had to turn away each year.  I saw that the numbers were being artificially inflated by a defective statistical method, and then those numbers were being presented to the public as the basis for more funding.  I told people about this, but no one seemed concerned.  I was told that the huge numbers we were getting statistically coincided with our “sense” of the number of battered women out there who were not able to get help, so therefore the numbers were valid.  I was also told that statistics were basically meaningless anyway since mathematics is just another male construct used to oppress “woman’s reality.”  This was too much for someone who had majored in science for two years.  Personal determination of lifestyle and worldview I was willing to go along with, but such a cavalier attitude toward numbers and data was intolerable.  When I began to see the outer reaches of subjective truth, I pulled back to regroup.
The second situation occurred shortly after this discovery.  It involved what I like to call my “anti-click” experience,” which would begin my return to the world of objective truth (though complete deprogramming would take years).  One day it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to base my truth solely on my own personal experience, then I could not subscribe to the gender feminist model.  After all, my experience of my father, brother, and husband was that men were wonderfully kind and had the utmost respect for women. It was statistically impossible that I alone would have found the only three decent men in the entire world.  So with that, gender feminism became a self-refuting proposition for me and began to crumble before my eyes.  That one such basic argument in logic could devastate my entire philosophy was quite an embarrassing blow – one I would suffer again when I returned to, and attempted to defend, Protestantism.
Over the next few years, I had two daughters. On the occasion of my older child’s third birthday, I realized that I had no real dominant philosophy, much less religion, in which to bring up my children.  I had originally planned to raise my girls with a knowledge of all the great religions and let them carve out some meaning to life on their own, but, as the parent of two toddlers, I was becoming acutely aware that children need structure and standards.  I and another young mother [Leila], had begun writing a political and social editorial column in the Arizona Republic in which we often lamented the effects on our society of the “whatever-works-for-you” mentality.  I had returned to the belief that there is an objective truth out there somewhere and I felt I owed it to my children to find it.  
I had looked into and dismissed Native American religions, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Shamanism, even pseudo-Christian philosophies such as the popular Course in Miracles.  The only obvious arena left was Christianity, but I was still inclined to think that while Jesus had obviously been a fine prophet, men had distorted his ideas and then used the institution of the Church and the image of a male god to alienate women from the experience of the divine.  Then one day my Catholic friend and co-writer, Leila Miller, mentioned to me that the Catholic Church held the Virgin Mary in great esteem – she was and is the Mother of God Incarnate, worthy of veneration.  (I had never heard of devotion to Mary in my Episcopal church.  In fact, aside from Christmastime references to the Virgin Birth, she was not mentioned.)  This realization of woman’s exalted status in Christianity severed the last thread which connected me to the feminist rendition of “herstory.” I was finally willing to take another look at the religion of my childhood.
In January 1995, I made a public statement to a group of friends that it was my sincere prayer that Jesus would reveal Himself to me.  I had never really understood this whole story of God made man, crucifixion, resurrection, and salvation.  If Jesus is the real source of Truth, I wanted Him to prove it.  What followed was a rapid fire conversion over the ensuing four months.  The support for my conversion was a Bible church that I chose solely on the basis that I could walk to it on the days I would not have a car.  The first sermon I heard there was excellent.  Not only did the pastor clearly instruct that the Bible is actually relevant to my life today (something I had always doubted), but he also argued that Christianity is not some nebulous religion of blind faith.  He spoke of Christianity as the source of objective truth, grounded in a real act that had occurred in a specific moment in human history.  I was intrigued and, over the following four months, I never missed a service.  I joined a Bible study group focusing on the New Testament, and after opening my heart to Christ, I had a classic moment of conversion: By His amazing grace, God gave me the gift of faith and I became a believing Christian.
Since I had such a “moment,” I figured I was a born-again Christian and it made sense that I should become a member of the Bible church.  Since this would mean renouncing my membership in the Episcopal Church, I decided that I should take the Bible church’s doctrine class to understand fully what I was joining.  This, along with a fair amount of reading on the side, left me enamored with the ideas of the Reformation.  Sola scriptura, the idea that the Bible is the only source of authority for a Christian, and sola fide, Luther’s idea that we are saved by our faith alone, became my pillars of the truth.  Looking back, I realize that those doctrines were no more than an impossible “synthesis” of subjective and objective truth:  The objective truth is in the Bible, but I, like Luther, still had the option of personally interpreting that truth.  But at the same time, I was sold on these newfound gems and ready to join the nondenominational world of the Bible church.
In the meantime, Leila saw how much fun I was having at the Bible church and considered leaving Catholicism.  Her mother very wisely advised her to know what she was leaving before she left the Catholic Church and subsequently gave her a copy of Karl Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians". This prompted what can only be described as a marathon replay of the Reformation.  For months Leila and I debated the meanings of justification, salvation, sacrifice, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and the Marian doctrines (just to name a few). Two of our phone conversations actually lasted seven hours each, and eventually the debate came down to one issue: authority.  We discovered that the core decision for a Christian is whether or not one submits to the authority of the Catholic Church (which claims to operate under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) and thus accepts the Church’s understanding of the Bible and her pronouncements on faith and morals.  If one rejects the Church’s authority, then one subscribes to the doctrine of sola scriptura and is left to find, through a personal interpretation of the Bible, the Truth that was promised by Christ.  The latter seemed the proper democratic (and more comfortable) approach to me and, imbued with an underlying subconscious prejudice against Catholicism and influenced by heretical Protestant biblical interpretations, I stuck to this position with a vengeance.
And then, in one last act toward an informed decision, I read a book called Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic, edited by Patrick Madrid. In three nights, the doctrine of sola scriptura, and much besides, came crumbling down around me.  I came to realize that if the Bible, as I held, was the sole source of truth for me as a Christian, then it would have to state as much.  But I discovered that, in fact, the Bible never makes such a claim – in fact, the opposite is true. Just as in feminism, I found myself smack dab up against a self-refuting philosophy.  I had been duped again, and this time I was devastated.  My newfound joy in Christianity evaporated, my spirit fell, and I was left in darkness. I could hardly sleep for nights as I wrestled with the terrible possibility that there was no Truth to be found.  Certainly the Catholic Church could not be the true Christianity – those people worship Mary, pray to idols, believe in salvation by works, engage in some sort of cannibalism at their Mass, and use guilt and threats of excommunication to coerce their members into serving the Church hierarchy.
Then I remembered an Anglican priest I had met while I had been a speaker at a pro-life conference (I had left the “pro-choice” camp when I left feminism).  He was from a schismatic group of Episcopalians.  In a panic, I met with him to find out just exactly where Episcopalians and/or Anglicans stand on the issues of sola fide and sola scriptura.  By that time, I had been reading Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism myself (along with some embarrassingly weak Protestant apologetics).  In subsequent meetings with this priest I sought an official Anglican/Episcopalian response to the Roman Catholic positions on such critical points of doctrine as the Petrine succession, the Immaculate Conception, and Papal Infallibility. I thought for sure that he would present grand apologetic arguments in response to these questions. Instead, I came away from these talks recognizing what I now know to be a nearly universal ignorance of the Roman Catholic doctrine.  A prime example of this was the priest’s comment that the doctrine of Infallibility gave a pope carte blanche to invent any doctrine the Church wanted to make up.  “They are at risk of becoming like Mormons with that kind of doctrine,” he said.  Luckily, I understood by that time that Infallibility is actually a highly limiting doctrine that preserves and protects the Deposit of Faith.  It was clear to me that after 20 centuries of existence, the Catholic Church had not turned into some bizarre form of Mormonism but had, instead, preserved the living Faith instituted by our Lord and handed on by His Apostles.  I chuckled to myself as I considered that Mormonism was historically a result of Protestantism!
Meanwhile, at home, my husband kept asking me when I was going to admit to myself that my thinking was Catholic.  Yet I still just couldn’t imagine converting to the Church.  So, in a series of last-ditch efforts, I went to four Episcopal priests in an attempt to find anyone who could talk me out of becoming Roman Catholic.  After all, the Episcopal Church is said to be the via media – the middle ground – between Catholicism and Protestantism.  I had earlier dismissed the Episcopal Church, primarily because of its weak position on abortion, but now I was desperate.  I was hoping the Episcopalians would be able to teach me how to stay out of the Catholic Church without being a heretic. After engaging in many hours of discussion with these fine men, I was left stunned at the similarities between the Episcopal Church and gender feminism. 
I found a serious breakdown in moral teaching reminiscent of the “tolerance” model of feminist ideology in which no one or thing should be judged lest someone be made to feel uncomfortable.  One priest, who claimed to be pro-life, told me he believed in a woman’s right to an abortion and that he would not discourage a parishioner from having an abortion if she thought it was the best option for her!  Another priest responded to the Catholic stance on artificial birth control by saying, “You simply can’t run a church like that today.”  And I discovered that ordination of noncelibate homosexual priests was a quiet but regular practice in the Episcopal Church.
I also saw that old, familiar subjective truth model raising its ugly head again.  It was explained to me, by the dean of an Episcopal seminary, that the Episcopal Church is not a “confessional” church in which one is required to concur with any particular interpretation of doctrine. An Episcopalian, he said, cannot ignore the articles of faith (found in the Book of Common Prayer) or the creeds, but at the same time he need only profess them with regard to how he personally interprets them.  Shocked, I remember clarifying, “Do you mean that one man in the pews can profess belief in a literal resurrection, and the man next to him can profess a metaphorical resurrection, and they’re both right in the eyes of the Episcopal Church?” The answer was a definite “Yes.”  I was told numerous times that Episcopalians believe that “everyone is right, both Protestants and Catholics.” But I had already learned that it is only in the world of subjective truth that two opposing doctrines can both be right.  Subjectivism is simply antithetical to the objective Truth of Christ.
Another priest, a former assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury, encouraged me to join the “Roman mission” if that was where I felt more comfortable. Making decisions based on feelings and personal experience was another tenet of feminism that I had rejected as contrary to an objective Truth. 
And I learned that Episcopalian rejection of the papacy is not based on any solid historical, scriptural, or theological reason.  It is simply a refusal to submit to Church authority, just as it was for its founder, King Henry VIII. This disdain for binding authority is classic gender feminism, where the “patriarchal model of hierarchy” is seen as an abusive male construct.
The Episcopal Church I found is not the same creedal church my father grew up in – the one that taught me to seek objective truth.  Moreover, it is schism from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, therefore schism from the assured guidance of the Holy Spirit, which creates creedal chaos and has led Anglicanism into heresy.  One Episcopal priest put it beautifully: “The Catholics are specific [about doctrine] while we Episcopalians think of ourselves as tolerant.”  Exactly!  The magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church is the unchanging and knowable Truth – rooted in a 2,000-year history. That Truth is incompatible with “tolerance” of heretical philosophies. 
Everything I had rejected and escaped in gender feminism had surrounded me once again in Protestantism:  personal interpretation, subjective reality based on emotion, moral relativism, and rejection of legitimate authority.  I had not come all this way back to Christianity only once again to subscribe to the right-brain, subjective, emotional, and morally ungrounded philosophies that I had rejected in feminism.
It was finally over – I realized that I could not remain outside of the Catholic Church.
Since my decision to be reconciled with the Catholic Church, I have been thoroughly analyzed by bewildered friends and family.  I have been accused of becoming a Catholic because my friend is Catholic, because I like liturgical services, because I am committing some long overdue rebellion, or because I have a psychological wound from my past that has me on a neurotic search for an authority figure.  But I became a Catholic at the Easter Vigil Mass 1996 because I sought objective Truth, a Truth that leaves both feminism and Protestantism in the dust.  Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so I took Him up on it. Much to my surprise, and now inestimable joy, I found His promised Truth, His objective, unchanging, divinely protected Truth, in His Holy Catholic Church.  I thank God I’m home.
Kimberley Manning 
Story first published in the New Oxford Review, 1996

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for speaking the truth so eloquently...



I don't think any of us in the pro-life movement could have said it better than you just did:




If only you really meant it.

Praying that you will one day defend the value and life of every innocent child.










Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My NFP plea: Stop giving warnings, and rejoice!

Okay, so now I write something that could start a riot in some Catholic circles, but by the end of the post, you'll see why this topic is so important to me.

Two points, then I will elaborate.

1) It is impossible to use Natural Family Planning (NFP) with a "contraceptive mentality", so please let us stop using that term.
2) Those who use NFP should be encouraged, not be scolded or have their motives questioned.

Let's start with the first point. I used to say and believe that NFP could be used with a "contraceptive mentality". I was wrong. Contraception is something very specific, and NFP is its nemesis, its antidote. Contraception is "any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means" (Humanae Vitae, 14). NFP is nothing of that, so the word "contraceptive" cannot be used in conjunction with it, period.

I believe that when well-meaning Catholics warn that "NFP can be sinful when used with a contraceptive mentality!" what they actually mean is that "NFP can be used selfishly!"

True, but both statements are regrettable. The first statement is simply erroneous, and the second statement is accurate but unhelpful.

Which brings me to my second point: Those who use NFP should be encouraged, not be scolded or have their motives questioned.

Unlike contraception, which is intrinsically evil, Natural Family Planning is not only permitted, but is promoted and taught by Mother Church, all around the world. Mother Teresa's sisters give instruction in NFP to the poorest of the poor, for example, and my own diocese requires a full course of instruction for every engaged couple.

NFP and fertility awareness (for achieving and/or postponing pregnancy) is morally licit and a positive good.

And yes, NFP can be used selfishly. But so can any good thing.

Think about it. Buying a house is licit and moral. But can a house be bought for selfish motives? Yes. Accepting a job offer is licit and moral. But can a job be taken for selfish motives? Yes. What about giving a speech, getting an education, having a child? You get the idea.

When discussing NFP, some Catholics want to jump immediately past the good of it to the dire warnings of how many ways and degrees NFP can (in their subjective opinion) be misused to our spiritual peril!

In what other area would we do this?

Let's take cohabitation, for example. If a couple living in sin for years were moved by grace to right their wrongs and get married, I pray their noble decision would never be met with, “Well, marriage is allowed by the Church of course, but if you conduct your marriage with the same ‘cohabiting mentality’ that you had when living together, then you might as well still be shacking up! Be very careful to examine your motives or you remain in grave sin!”

That response is just… wrong. Obviously. No one would say it. So, why do we say such things when it comes to NFP?

Here’s why it bothers me enough to make such a big deal out of it. I taught RCIA for about five years with my friend Kim. We laid out the case for the truth of the Christ and His Church, leading up to the “hard sayings” in the moral law, including the teaching about contraception. Among the couples we taught (usually one was Catholic and the spouse was converting) most had not previously known or followed Church teaching. As they approached the Easter sacraments, the majority wanted to do God's will but were frightened about the real-life costs of doing so. The switch from contraception to NFP felt, as one couple described it, “like jumping off a thousand-foot cliff". They believed and trusted the Church, but it was still terrifying to follow through.

So, imagine a couple, steeped in the values of a sexually confused culture, bravely doing what the Church asks of them, taking that leap of faith off a very scary cliff, only to be immediately lectured that even after giving up contraception there is every chance that they are still in the same gravely sinful place they were before, with only the tiniest sliver of hope that they are using NFP for the one or two reasons good enough to keep them out of hell!

Why do we do this to our brothers and sisters who may have just set their feet upon the path?

Why would we do it to anyone, actually? The fact that any couple is not contracepting is enough to rejoice about, and if we let grace do its work, NFP use has a funny way of changing the hearts of the fearful or the not-quite-convinced. They may start off using NFP selfishly (which is none of our business anyway, and how can we possibly know?), but they may end with wills conformed to God, souls full of grace -- and many welcomed children.

People are fragile. Let's be careful.

Thanks for hearing me out.



Related post: Natural Family Planning is not contraception!



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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Just Curious: How badly do you want to be a saint?



Watching the cultural, moral, and economic death spiral of a once-shining, exceptional America has done a lot to focus the minds of Catholics I know, including myself. The decline of the nation I love (and in which I felt comfortable) has caused me to look interiorly, and to recognize with blinding clarity that the only thing there is, the only option left to us, is the only thing we were ever called to in the first place: Sanctity.

With that urgent understanding now a part of my everyday thinking, I turn to you to ask:

How badly do you want to be a saint?

My question is directed at everyone reading this (though I expect that secularists and atheists would answer, "It's not even on my radar screen" and that's okay; I'm looking for honesty), and it might be the most important question you are ever asked, at least on a blog.

The truth that has been forgotten by some and unknown to others is that every single human being who has ever existed or will ever exist is made for one thing only: Union with God. Therefore, every single human being who has ever existed or will ever exist is called to be a saint.

There are no exceptions to this calling.

French writer Leon Bloy said that, "The only tragedy in life is not to be a saint."

He is right.

St. Thomas Aquinas told us in two words what it takes to be a saint: "Will it."

He is right.

To that end, I am "willing it" this year. Holiness cannot be achieved without discipline (the very root of "disciple"), which I lack utterly. My plan for holiness must be disciplined, but doable. It includes a daily rosary (the weapon in our spiritual arsenal that makes the demons tremble), weekly adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and a formal program of prayer and formation, with a trained spiritual director as a guide, so that I may progress through the three stages of holiness.

Can I do this? I don't know, but I am excited (giddy, even?), nervous, hopeful. I know that I can't not try, because nothing else I do in this life will be worth spit if I don't.

There is not one thing that the world needs more desperately right now -- and I mean "desperately" like a dying man in the desert who is out of his mind for a drop of water -- than saints. We needs saints more than we need politicians, attorneys, scholars, philosophers, theologians, doctors, businessmen, celebrities or activists.

We need saints, saints, saints.

I want badly to be one. And I want all of you to be one, too. We are all called, and I pray that we are willing.

I'm earnestly asking, truly wanting to know…. How badly do you want to be a saint?

Be honest….