Monday, February 13, 2012

Here's the almost-L.A.Times article...

So, last week I received a friendly email from an editor at the Los Angeles Times, asking me if I would write an editorial for the paper. I wouldn't have chosen the topic given, and I hate working with word count limits, but I agreed. In the end, it wasn't what she wanted, and I was not willing or able to make the accommodations requested. C'est la vie. But I didn't want my work to be totally wasted, so here is the piece as I submitted it, for whatever it's worth.


My blog title, Little Catholic Bubble, is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I love my faithful Catholic friends, but I also enjoy engaging the left, mostly secular humanists, in cultural debates. Three main frustrations, however, make it hard to talk to liberals.

The first frustration is the tendency by many liberals to duck out early. I take a pseudo-Socratic approach to dialogue, asking a series of questions in an attempt to follow an argument to its logical conclusion, and often my opponent quits right at that threshold. It might look like this:

Me: Do you think the unborn are as human as you are?
Abortion Advocate: No, I don't.
Me: What do you think they are?
AA: They are potential humans.
Me: At what moment do they become fully human?
AA: At viability. {Other answers include: brainwaves, heartbeat, the second trimester, birth, three months after birth, sentience, etc.}
Me: Is that objectively true, or is that simply your opinion?
AA: After deep inquiry and thought, that's my conclusion.
Me: Okay, well, how do you pinpoint the exact second that humanity begins, so that we don't accidentally kill any innocent people?
AA: We can't pinpoint an exact second, but it's a good estimate.
Me: Isn't that arbitrary and subjective?
AA: Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.
Me: Why do we have to draw the line anywhere? Death is irrevocable. If we might be killing innocent people, shouldn't we always err on the side of life?

Suddenly, silence. One of numerous unanswered questions on my blog.

If a thread doesn’t end in silence, it might end in the next frustration, which is an irrational explosion of raw emotion, either offensive (“You racist, sexist, patriarchal, judgmental, pedophile-protecting, bigoted, homophobic fetus-lover! You hate the poor, you rape the earth, and you don’t care about children after they’re born!”) or defensive (“You think I’m evil! You don’t think I have any morals! You are calling me a monster!”). Not to mention myriad other choice phrases and obscenities that cannot be printed here.

The third frustration is when I encounter the “jaw droppers” -- statements that are so bizarre, illogical or disturbing that I want to confirm, “Do you actually believe that?” and then ask the heavens, “How did we get here?”

Some Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments:

Many secularists proclaim that, except for genitalia, there is no difference between men and women. At all.

I’ve been told often that mothers and fathers are "interchangeable" to a child, so having both is not needed.

A sex educator informed me that she and her husband leave out “judgmental words like ‘marriage’” when teaching underprivileged school children.

I’ve been scolded by a recent college grad who has a “big issue” with my “assumptions about women, that their bodies were made to breed and sustain other people”. (Biology, anyone?)

A science major told me that although “it’s true” she started life as a single cell, “that zygote that I started out as wasn't me”.

A college atheist couldn't say whether a fully-formed baby girl aborted in the third trimester deserved love or was literally a piece of trash. She looked at the dead girl’s photo and said she would need to know the “circumstances”.

Two undergraduates told me that torturing, raping and killing a six-year-old girl to spare the lives of fifty people “would be the only moral thing to do” (though “moral principles aren't necessarily easy to live out”).

An abortionist mocked me for imposing my "mystical, spiritual beliefs", after I presented strictly secular pro-life arguments based on biology and civil rights.

A homosexual activist and his boyfriend staged a "mock civil union" on campus to challenge traditional marriage laws, yet when I asked him to define "marriage" he admitted he'd never thought about it.

But there is another category of discussion that I can respect, even as I recoil: When a liberal is consistent, willing to push his idea all the way to its logical conclusion.

Take for example the young atheist wife and mother who admits that since love is “just a series of random chemical reactions in the brain”, she and her (currently beloved) husband should, and will, divorce should those chemicals shift.

Or the academic who conceded when pressed that adult siblings (gay or straight) should be allowed to marry: “If two siblings really, really want to get married and enjoy a happy relationship - then go right ahead.”

Or, famously, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, a supporter of both abortion and infanticide who rightly argues that the two acts are not different, and that birth is an arbitrary line drawn by abortion proponents to make themselves feel a distinction where none exists. Singer understands that “birth does not mark a morally significant dividing line” when it comes to killing infants.

Aside from those rare cogent moments, the frustration in dialogue remains. I pray my interaction with those on the left can move past the silences, the emotional outbursts, and the jaw droppers towards a mutual search for clarity and truth. Though chances of that seem slim, there is wonder and fruit in the Little Catholic Bubble nonetheless: Fence-sitters email me behind the scenes, thankful to have found their way to objective truth by watching the debates unfold. For that reason alone, I will gratefully keep talking to liberals.


There you have it! The piece I never wanted to write, with time I really didn't have, for a paper that is not known to embrace conservative ideas anyway. I have written editorials for the "mainstream media" before, with Kim Manning. There are pros and (plenty of) cons in doing so. And there's a lot to be said for being my own boss here in the Bubble. :) 



  1. I love it!! What did they want you to change? I think it was awesome, of course.

  2. That is the truth! I remember all of those debates....!!! LOL

  3. Well written. The LA times is at a loss for not printing this!

  4. I am wondering the same as Kara, what did they want you to change because I love it! And as one who has emailed (and commented here, I think) I will say thank-you again for standing on the front lines and illuminating the Truth. I say it more when I'm visiting the Bubble than any other time "why did no one ever teach me this stuff!?!?"

  5. Very well written! However, I definitely agree that you are an extremely intelligent woman who is an excellent debater.

    However, I am sure that someone on the other side has somewhat more cogent arguments than the typical person has... but I think that you hit the nail on the head in many ways. The average Pro-Choice person really deep down realizes it is essentially wrong but that we have been trained to allow wrong things to happen because there are always "extenuating circumstances."

    Somewhere along the line our society has blurred the lines so much that we assume the most outlandish extenuating circumstance you can think of should be considered the norm.

  6. Haha! I love it, too. But I can see why the L.A. Times didn't want to print it. I love what Andrew said..."we can't let THIS get out!" (burns article) haha!

  7. I think that to be fair, most people would have hard time defending their beliefs in this arena, Catholics as well as Secular humanists and the like, mostly because it is something that most people just take for granted and do not prepare to have to offer a defense of them.

    Lots of "cradle" Catholics have a really poor education in Catholicism.

    But I believe that most Secular Humanists are probably even worse off, because the premise is arbitrary. Even though our society may appear to thrive on conflict, I think that most people as individuals are conflict averse.

    Secular Humanism and things like it are trying to be moral values codes that allow for there to be no judgments, no conflicts... which is inherently impossible.

    While our society seems to thrive on conflict, we limit it to mostly superficial things - Giants vs Patriots, Coke vs Pepsi, Tastes Great vs Less Filling. But on the really meaningful conflicts... Miss Manners will tell us that religion and politics are not proper topics for polite conversation :-p

  8. I'm betting the LA Times editor knew that if she published an article so excellently pro-life, the PP Mafia would cry foul, and she didn't want to have to deal with the same backlash that caused Susan G. Komen to crumple into submission.

    Great job!

  9. Definitely see why the LA times wouldn't post it! Way too conservative and pro-life! What were you thinking Leila? ;)

  10. I find it mostly hilarious that I am now a "homosexual activist". I wonder how that is different from being a brown-haired activist. Can straight activists fight for gay rights, or does that make them a homosexual activist too?

    Yet again, you misinterpret my words. I had clearly meant that I had not thought about marriage to the extent that I would discuss it on a Catholic blog. To think that I had not thought seriously about what marriage meant is absurd. Everything thinks about that. But that's not my point.

    This blog is obviously enormously convenient for you. You can remember or snip out convenient parts of our conversations to make your point. This editorial is a textbook example of the strawman. I couldn't have done it better myself. So much so, that when my friend forwarded me this text, I almost didn't recognize the reference to me!

    But no one's called me an activist (I can't tell if it's a compliment or not), especially since our mock civil union was about bringing friends together and raising awareness--it wasn't a protest. Honestly, very little I say and do is taken purely by people--it's always filtered through the lens of "this is a gay person saying this".

    So, congrats, you've effectively been blogging long enough to have a collection of unique straw men!

  11. Zach, a homosexual activist can be gay or straight, in my mind. You are advocating for the acceptance of homosexuality. How is that misrepresenting you?

    And, I believe I asked you a few times what your definition of marriage was. It was a pretty straightforward question, and you answered, ultimately, that you had not thought about it. Not "had not thought about it for discussion on a blog".

    Raising awareness for what?

    And, the entire conversation is on the record, so it's there for everyone to see. Sometimes people I debate delete their comments. I don't think you did? I think it's all still there.


  12. So sorry they did that, Leila. There was still a reason for writing it. Your article will make a bigger difference here than the LA Times anyway. It may even get more readers. ;-)

    Hey TPOTS, if the LA Times can edit, so can Leila. At least here all the things you've written are still published for people to read.

  13. especially since our mock civil union was about bringing friends together and raising awareness--it wasn't a protest

    Sure sounds like a protest to me. You were trying to "raise awareness" about your state's pending legislation regarding same-sex marriage, weren't you?

    I don't understand your objection to "activist." I'm a pro-life activist and proud of it. So what?

  14. PS: I didn't ask you what marriage "meant to you" in some subjective way ("everyone thinks about that). I asked for an objective definition of marriage. I think you were being honest when you said you had not thought about it.

    Also, I am happy to be considered a "pro-life activist" and I do little more than blog and donate and march on occasion. Why would you be surprised that one who is active in the gay student group on campus, or one who participates in "mock civil unions" on campus to "raise awareness" (of what?) might be called an activist? Why is that a bad word?

    Also, I purposely did not use the word "protest" because you corrected me long ago that it was not a protest. I respected that and I did not use that word.


  15. Zach, Stacy has a point. I have worked as an editorialist. They distorted my words to such an extent that I ultimately resigned in protest (not a bad thing, protesting!). But as Stacy said, anyone can see the entire context here, on the record. I tried very hard to be accurate, in the limited space I had. I am sorry you think I was not, and you can feel free to cut-and-paste whatever parts of that conversation you think were distorted. I always allow you to state your side and, aside from obscenities or threats, I do not censor.

  16. Oh, I certinaly didn't say it was a misrepresentation. Just an odd one. Raising awareness for the fact that my relationship is just as normal and healthy as a heterosexual one, and deserves the same basic civil rights. It's important because we have a constitutional amendment coming up that would define marriage as only being permitted between one man and one woman. Because giving gay couples basic civil rights would be horrendous. Right?

    And if I do recall, I said I hadn't thought about it to the extent I would like for the Bubble, because commenters here are needlessly bulldogish, attacking parts of your definition of anything. Christ, if a liberal doesn't spend an hour crafting an iron-tight comment all of you wiggle into the small cracks to try and make it look like an enormous vault. Meanwhile you justify your views on "faith", which is rich. Bubble readers will take any sort of implicit meaning of a word to twist what you said into something else. So NO, I had not thought about it to the extent that I was prepared to offer a lock tight definition. Because I know if I said "Offering same-sex couples the same basic legal privileges as hetero-sex couples" would not have been "acceptable". Trust me, this blog community is not NORMAL.

    Also rich is the way you're able to take a moral highground because a few undergraduates are experimenting with talking about moral issues, as if the atheist or liberal community can be so well characterized by a few under experienced voices. Please.

  17. To be sure, I see a significant difference between a peaceful demonstration and a protest. I refuse to characterize what I did as a protest because the motivation was primarily to be with my friends and enjoy a nice day.

    I"m not trying to say you're censoring my words, but simply being selective to twist our motives or ideas to make them more polarized in comparison to your worldview.

    I apologize for coming here again with such vitriol. I cannot emphasize how tiring it is to hear people constantly commenting on your life as if the genuine existence and objectivity of your love is up for debate. I just want to be in a loving relationship without it being inspected by everyone. I'm not an gay rights activist because I spend my time advocating for students and for equal education. I have friends who are, and they spend so much time and energy in what they do. It's almost sacrilege to pretend that it can be applied to me as well.

  18. Great job Leila, keep at it. I get so frustrated with the idiocy and horror that sometimes I just can't argue anymore.

  19. Clearly I've never put forward objective ideas about marriage before you asked me about it...

    And it's almost beside the point, when you think about it. There could be a view different views of marriage, but I know objectively it doesn't involve banning same-sex couples. That's all you need to oppose a "marriage amendment".

    I'm going to nod out for the rest of the day. It seems like the Bubble has more of a "pro-life" theme these days anyways. Good day!

  20. Zach, I googled "definition of marriage" and came up with:

    The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.

    "typically" recognized by law, and nothing in the inherent nature of marriage has to do with "getting legal privileges". Marriage has been around a heck of a lot longer than that. No one got tax breaks for being married back in the day! But see, you are thinking about something totally different from marriage, which is why I asked. You are thinking about the state approving of your romantic relationship and giving you tax and other benefits. That is "so five minutes ago", in terms of the history of marriage!

    The only reason the state or any culture would have a vested interest in recognizing marriage is because of the children that would likely result (thus, the heterosexuality of marriage is a given).

    Of course, I know we like to change things up in this new, "enlightened" culture (which again is as deep as it can get for having been dreamed up five minutes ago), but the truth of things stand. I just wanted a definition of marriage, not what you think you should get from the state.

    I think you are a nice person. As a Catholic, I most definitely don't define you by your same-sex-attraction! You are a child of God, and that is from whence your dignity comes. Nowhere else. I hate that you are labeled "gay"…. You are a person and sinner like the rest of us, in need of God's mercy.

    As for the undergraduates merely "experimenting" with moral issues: First, the answers were emphatic (even in caps, some of them), and repeated. And, when I was an undergrad, no one I know (liberal or not) would have argued such a thing. At least I never heard it (and I was living a pretty godless existence).

    Off to get some kids, be back later.

  21. @Leila - I would still suggest that demonstrates two points, one you made (the strength of your position) but also that youth today are terrible debaters.

    And I mean that in a way that is not meant to be completely negative... But IMO when people debate today, especially online... Neither reasoned discourse or intellectual honesty are prized nearly as much as humor, sarcasm, and snark are. People debate with dueling Memes and humorous graphic images. It is less about being right and more about being the most entertaining.

  22. By the way, I am not attempting to argue, I consider this side commentary because I find just saying "You are correct!" to be a tad boring :-p

  23. To those who asked: All I can say about what she wanted changed was this….When I submitted this, she said she liked it, but was looking for "actual conversations" (I guess face-to-face arguments?) I'd had with liberals. But, I don't do that type of "dialogue" (all my stuff is done via the written word, but they are "actual conversations", of course). Then, she asked if I could add a paragraph explaining why I (or any of us on either side) don't really have those face-to-face conversations anymore. I couldn't do that without going way over word count (and risk getting over-edited), and it wouldn't fit the theme anyway. It deserves a post of its own, frankly. It just was not going to work with what she apparently wanted…. It was meant to be a counter-balance to an op-ed by a liberal who can't talk to conservatives. I have more thoughts about the whole thing, but I will leave it at that….

  24. That article is a thing of beauty.

  25. I enjoyed your article. I had been wondering how and why you're able to read many of the comments people make. I have difficulty reading many of those comments, and frequently I do not read them all. Some of the comments are so disturbing! And it didn't seem like anyone would change their positions anyway. Glad to hear that the discussions help some people find truth! Praise God! And keep up the good work!

  26. That was a great article. Clear, to-the-point. No wonder they rejected it. Hugs.

    Also, when I come to the blog now, the font is a script-type font that is difficult to read. But when I sign into Gmail to comment, the font becomes the normal Arial(?) font that had always been here. Am I the only one this is happening to?

  27. Girl from New York, thank you!

    And, I am so mad about whatever Blogger keeps doing!! UGH!!! I see it fleetingly as a script font, and I don't know why! Then, it comes back to normal in a second. I have no idea why Blogger keeps messing with things. I so want to change my host (or whatever it's called).

    1. Switch to Wordpress, Leila. So much easier to use, so much less likely to lose your long comments.... yeah.

  28. Yay, so it's not just me! (It usually is!)

  29. I should have added in my first response that the dialogue example that you gave was probably the real deal-killer.

    I will bet that the LA Times editor couldn't deny how logical that argument (which was truly typical here) was, and realized how dangerous it could be.

  30. I love it!!! Sorry they got you to spend all this time on the article, only to not publish it! I'm with Sew- I remember all of those debates, too! :)

  31. Walk down memory lane!
    this needs to be published somewhere!! Nice job! Keep up the good work. It is truly a gift.

  32. Leila,
    I read the LA times as I live here in LA. Land of the liberals. God help me
    i have realized the past few years just how liberal leaning it is and have already decided to cancel my subscription as soon as my high school daughter doesnt need it anymore for school. Otherwise I would have already cancelled it.
    Good article!

  33. Great article of course. Some people don't like facing the uncomfortable truth.
    Zach, it would be funny if Leila wasn't referring to you.

    One good thing about you having written conversations is that you have them on record to refer back to. Sometimes it's hard to remember verbal conversations, and you may have had to reconstruct them.

    I wonder what op-ed piece the L.A. Times will end up publishing.

    Your writing is never wasted. You never know how many hearts and minds you have opened up, but I am sure there have been quite a few.

    Keep writing.

    I noticed that script font on your blog.

  34. What did the los Angeles times want you to write about?
    as you said it is not known for being favoring the conservative side.

  35. I'm glad I'm not "NORMAL" as Zach categorized the faithful who follow your blog, Leila!


  36. Love it! How awesome would it have been for a secular paper to run this. Big bummer. But there must have been a reason for it to be written. Take comfort in knowing it will serve its purpose however the Lord intends. Xoxo.

  37. Really enjoyed this :). A good read, nice work!

  38. @Therese - Your call, but I would suggest you keep the paper. The media audience has fractured too much IMO, and even if you don't often agree with what they say, it is useful to know what they are saying and what they believe and why.

  39. @Leila - I would agree. There definitely is a huge communication gap between the sides, and the fact that each side generally has their own supporting media, which can be problematic.

    But it sounds like you were really not the right person for the piece she wanted, because she wanted to have someone who cannot or refuses to debate with the other side, to counter the liberal commentator.

  40. I'm not sure whether I'm more horrified or flattered to be referenced in two of your "categories" of frustrations talking to progressive minded people.

    Too bad you didn't include all the commentary (from you and others of your ilk) that led to the statements you posted.


  41. Leila would need a couple pages of the LA Times for that, Gwen! Luckily, it's all available on the blog for people to read.

  42. Miss G, my first year of blogging produced a pretty hefty "blog book" (I had one made) and it's only the posts, not the comments. I now have almost two years under my belt. If the comments were included, oh my gosh… the comments are a hundred times the text of the original posts! But, it's all on record, as JoAnna said. Anyone can access it at any time (and many have).

    I think you should be flattered, as I did a whole post giving kudos to you for being consistent, remember? That was the category that I at least can respect even as I believe the premises to be dead wrong.

  43. "Why do we have to draw the line anywhere? Death is irrevocable. If we might be killing innocent people, shouldn't we always err on the side of life?"

    Makes me happy to hear those words "err on the side of" :).

  44. Mary, one must use those kinds of words when talking to people who base their morality on subjectivity and ambiguity. :)

    Of course, the Church doesn't just "err on the side of life", she protects, defends and reveres it.

  45. Leila, I want to be part of "your ilk."

  46. You know, you would find engaging the other side a whole lot easier if you didn't take things we said and then parrot them like a broken record, over and over and over, using them for shock value and nothing else. Honestly, I'm surprised when you write a post or a comment that doesn't include some oversimplification of what I've said.

    Leila, I don't like to ascribe impure motives to anyone, ever. I truly do think most people mean well, and you are no different. But when you do this, when you use our comments as an easy way to set yourself (and by association Catholicism) up as superior, it makes me think much less of you. When you reduce us to the arguments that repulse you, you do exactly what you accuse the left of doing - you dehumanize us.

    Never mind that I'm doing research on a cancer treatment. Never mind that I'm going into research and medicine in an effort to make lives better. Never mind that Zach's working to become a teacher to help improve scientific literacy. Never mind that, were you to meet us in real life, we probably wouldn't strike you as any different from your own children. None of that matters, right? We're just some callous baby-killing homosexual activists, destroying society one civil union ceremony at a time.

    I decided back when you wrote your blogging "crisis" post that I wouldn't comment here again. I felt bad and didn't want to ruin blogging for you. Now, though, I don't think I've ruined anything for you - from what I've read, you've gained a lifetime of ways to feel morally superior, a lifetime of great things to say when the "liberals are so crazy!" conversations come up.

    I'll say what I've said numerous times before - you've got a good thing going here. I've had conversations here that I would likely not have had otherwise, and I've been given the opportunity to flesh out my ideas in an environment where they can be critiqued, and I do appreciate that. But like Zach said, we're undergrads debating moral issues for the first time. I don't expect you not to tear my arguments to shreds, but I do expect that, out of basic decency, I won't be held up as a bad example time and time again. That's no way to convert someone or even encourage them to change their minds. It's utterly ineffective and alienating, and though you of course have the right to do it, it's only serving to foster an us vs. them attitude that ultimately will drive us apart instead of bringing us together. And that, I hope, is something we can both agree is not what we want.


  47. Michelle, thank you for your thoughtful response. Before I go any further, I would ask you to please go back and read these two posts:

    What I could not fit in the piece I wrote for the Times, and what I would like to have, was just what you illustrated with your comment. The idea that if I dislike your ideas, that means that you are a horrible person. I have found that so often with liberals. It's as if your ideas are you. Catholics don't think like that. We know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God and are of equal dignity, all of us are sinners, all of us are redeemable.

    It seems like your comment above does not acknowledge that Catholics and conservatives can talk about ideas without saying that the person is horrible, irredeemable trash. Michelle, we dialogue with you because you are worthy and valuable, and because your ideas on things like human life and love and truth and God Himself are beneath your dignity as a human being. You were made for truth, love and goodness.

    No one is discounting you. Quite the opposite. We are hoping for you and praying for you. Just as I want others to hope and pray for me as I strive to be who I am meant to be.

    This paragraph so completely illustrates my frustration and so clearly confirms my points above:

    Never mind that I'm doing research on a cancer treatment. Never mind that I'm going into research and medicine in an effort to make lives better. Never mind that Zach's working to become a teacher to help improve scientific literacy. Never mind that, were you to meet us in real life, we probably wouldn't strike you as any different from your own children. None of that matters, right? We're just some callous baby-killing homosexual activists, destroying society one civil union ceremony at a time.

    We are debating ideas, Michelle. If looking at your ideas makes you cringe, then it's time to change those ideas, not get mad at me for showcasing them. It's all on the record. It is shocking, yes. But you are not your ideas! And you can change your ideas so that you are proud to have them stated anywhere.

    Many blessings!

  48. Gwen said:

    "Too bad you didn't include all the commentary (from you and others of your ilk) that led to the statements you posted."

    And all evening, I have been asking myself "why?" There is nothing misleading in these conversations, no tricks, people can comment at their leisure after they have formulated their opinions. My beliefs are what I believe, they are not relative to the direction of a conversation. I really could not be "led" into saying anything that I did not mean on topics as important as these.

  49. Lucky7, you make a good point. That is why I love the written dialogue as opposed to the face-to-face. In written dialogue, everyone has a chance to say what they want, and even edit it. Nothing rushed, all on the record, even a chance to correct a misstatement.

    Did the things we asked of Gwen (all the "commentary" have changed her answers from what she really wanted to say? I don't think so. Gwen, did we coerce you in any way?

  50. Wow, that should have read:

    Did the things we asked of Gwen (even the "commentary") make her change her answers from what she really wanted to say? I don't think so.

    Sorry, bad typing!!

  51. Lucky7,

    You and Leila miss my point by a long shot. Taken out of context, the quotes Leila uses to great hyperbolic effect in her "editorial" serve her purpose well; they do not by any stretch encompass the actual dialogue that took place. But, as has been already mentioned, that would have taken too much space to include (of course).

    I'm not here to bet mired in another "debate." I said my peace and I'm done. Leila will do doubt enjoy finding other progressive people to "debate" with at length.


  52. Gwen, I wrote an entire post about your statement, and you did not object to it. Remember?

    And, why did you put "editorial" in quotes? Was it not an actual editorial?

    Not sure what your complaint is, truly. Not sure what I or Lucky7 have "missed by a long shot". Not being rude, I truly don't get it. Was there a misrepresentation? And if so, why didn't you say so when I wrote the post about your response?

    Anyway, take care.

  53. You know, you would find engaging the other side a whole lot easier if you didn't take things we said and then parrot them like a broken record, over and over and over, using them for shock value and nothing else.

    Some statements are so shocking one can only parrot them while trying to come to terms that a person said such a shocking statement. Some statements are so shocking, they are memorable.

  54. Leila
    It sounds like your article wasn't the format that the columnist wanted--doesn't sound like she didn't post it because it was too conservative. I'm sure you could find other places to have it published.

  55. Johanne, perhaps. I won't release the email exchanges and I won't speculate here on what I think about it. So that leaves the rest of the folks here to speculate. :)

    I don't need it published anywhere else. It may sound weird coming from a writer, but I'm not looking to be published. I've been there, done that, for a couple of years as an editorial writer for a liberal paper. That was a learning experience. If anything falls into my lap (like this solicitation to write for the L.A. Times), I would consider it, but until then, I don't go looking. I am happy to stay right here in the Bubble. :)

  56. Hello Leila,
    I have been reading your blog for a while, I find it intriguing, I find religion fascinating I've been looking for years to see if their was a religion that worked for me that felt right there hasn't so I'll just stick with my rambling conversations with God, never commented however, today I decided to comment.
    You stated that " Why do we have to draw the line anywhere? Death is irrevocable. If we might be killing innocent people, shouldn't we always err on the side of life?" Don't you believe it is important to err on the side of the life of the cisgendered woman or trans man rather that the potentially viable human being (PVHB), yes I'm one of them, I pulled out the PVHB, (however I would like to note my entire life that is how they have been described to me as PVHB but was only after they stopped being "zygote" and "embryo").
    Do you not believe that cis women or trans man is competent enough to make a decision about what is best for them and their life after all you do not their life, or why they have made the decision.
    Would you really force a cis women or trans man to carry a pregnancy to term, risking their lives for a PVHB?
    Would you really want to create a situation where out of desperation cis women and trans men turned to back alley abortions, herbal remedies, alcohol, throwing themselves down stairs or coat hangers to try and end the pregnancy?
    The only way to rid the world the of abortion is to rid the world of unwanted pregnancies, and until there is a 100% effective contraception, no more rape, and all foetuses were viable and healthy there will always be unwanted pregnancies.
    Until then I put my trust in the competent hands of the pregnant person to make the right decision for themselves.
    I hope you respond, because I love to discuss topics with people.
    FYI If it takes a day to respond that is due to work commitments and the impending birth of my niece or nephew tomorrow is the day it all begins and I am beyond ecstatic and excited.
    Kind Regards, Copezio.

  57. Johanne - your premise is that birth control is necessary for survival.

    I have not been on the pill since 2003. I am a perfectly healthy 31-year-old woman. How am I still alive? By your logic and that of Obama, going this long without using contraception should have posed a grave risk to my health. However, that's not the case. How do you explain that?

    Copezio - When is viability, and how do you know?

    Would you really force a cis women or trans man to carry a pregnancy to term, risking their lives for a PVHB?

    I'm not familiar with those terms (cis woman, trans man). Clarify?

    In 99% of cases, pregnancy is due to consensual actions, so no one is "forced" to conceive a child. Once a child is conceived, it is unjust to kill him/her to escape the natural consequences of that consensual act. In rape/incest situations, which account for less than 1% of abortions, it's a matter of not executing an innocent person for the crimes of its bio father.

  58. @Copezio - While I have, and certainly do empathize with your positions and ideas, there is in fact a simpler way to end 99.99% of unwanted pregnancies. That would be for people to stop having sex that weren't open to the idea and married.

    Unrealistic? Yes, I will grant that... But it is a far more morally acceptable answer than doing as we are now and aborting hundreds of thousands of "PVHBs" each and every year, no?

  59. @Johanna - I believe cis woman means a regular, born biologically female person who self-identifies as feminine and a woman. Trans man most likely refers to a person born as a biological woman but identifies as male and has had a sex change but retains functining female reproductive system as can still bear children.

    There was a case a while back that was an internet sensation. Here's a followup article on that case

    Basically in the struggle to define human sexuality as a continuum rather than an either/or choice, the transgendered community doesn't refer to what many would consider "normal" people as "normal" because that would by extension classify them as abnormal. So since there is a qualified attached to transsex people, they apply a qualifier to not-trannsex people, which is cis.

  60. Nicholas
    I've read a few places that 1.5 pregnancies are the result of rape. I suspect it's higher because rape is so under reported and contraception is much less likely to be used. That's a lot of pregnancies.

    (I mean 1.5 percent of pregnancies--blogger wont let me edit )

  61. Dear Leila,

    I have been quietly reading your blog and comments for a while and know that I am praying for your family and continued blogging talents. For Nicholas, Gwen and other "ilk" (if we are ilk can you be too?) We are so glad you are here. You continue to comment and read because there are truths in the things our "ilk" comment on. Finally, please know that we all pray for you. It is important for you to know that when we all die we will stand before God and explain our lives here on earth. Will he/she be pleased with "your beliefs"? I type he/she because we believe He is bigger than mere human beings and gender, that is the primary reason for all the abnormal people here in the bubble!! Peace to all!

  62. @Guest -

    1.5 percent seemed extremely high to me, but I was also just considering the United States. If we are talking globally and including places like some parts of war-tor Africa where rape is still used as warfare tool, I suppose it may be possible. Even if that is the case, and you amend my previous statement from 99.99 percent to 98.5 percent, it doesn't lose all that much impact.

    Is rape a horrendous thing? Absolutely. Would I want to be in the shoes of any of those people? Absolutely not. And I also have no intention of passing judgment on anyone else for their choices. That is a terrible thing to deal with, and I honestly could not tell you what I would do in that circumstance, as it is completely beyond my ability to fathom.

    However, that being said, it is a fallacy to equate what is "right" with circumstances. It is wrong to murder people, even though we as human beings can be very easily provoked into doing it. I have four cats that I am very attached to. If a person came into my house and killed my cats, I would want to kill them. It would still be wrong if I did so.

  63. Copezio, welcome! And congratulations as you await the birth of your niece or nephew! What a blessing!

    You said this: "I find religion fascinating I've been looking for years to see if their was a religion that worked for me that felt right"

    First, can I suggest that religion is not so much about finding what "feels good" or what "works for me". It's about a search for what is true. Sometimes, that truth might feel very foreign or uncomfortable. Sometimes, truth costs me something. If you are looking for the Truth, it's much more than a philosophy that suits you, or a personal preference.

    With Christianity, it's about a Person. It's no more or less than that. If Jesus Christ is who he says he is (God, your creator, the one who loves and knows you more than you could ever love or know yourself, the one who made you for Heaven), then you follow him. If he was not who he said he was, then he is to be disregarded utterly.

    You need to look into Christ, His claims and His promises. If he rose from the dead, then He is God. If He is God, you follow him (not your preferences or what makes you comfortable). I wonder if you have read any C.S. Lewis or Chesterton or other Christian apologists? There is so much out there.

    But again, I really urge you to seek truth, not simply your own preference, when it comes to following God. Ask God to lead you to His truth, no matter the cost to you.

    More coming….

  64. Copezio, I understand that you think the life of a person who is big trumps the life of a person who is still very small. But in Christianity, we believe that all human beings are equally valuable, and their live inviolable. We cannot pit one innocent human life against another. Love requires that we do not kill any innocents, including (and especially!) the weakest and most vulnerable among us, the ones without power or voices. The measure of a society and a civilization is whether or not it protects its weakest members.

    Will there always be abortion? Of course, as there will always be a failure to love. But that doesn't mean we can sanction the killing.

    There is a basic moral principle that says: The end doesn't justify the means. That is, we cannot do an evil act in order to bring about a good. So, even if you think it would make one person's life better, you can't kill an innocent person to get there.

    Another iron clad moral principle is: We don't willfully take the life of innocent human beings.

    We are to serve the good, not effect (bring about) the good. In other words, we are to do right in every moment (act with virtue, avoid sin), not force an outcome we want by using sinful acts (like abortion) to reach that good end.

    We serve the good and avoid evil at every step and with every choice, and we let God take care of the outcomes. We trust that serving Him, acting virtuously, and avoiding evil is enough. This life is not all there is, after all. We must live a virtuous life and let the chips fall where they may, as it were. God is in control, and we are simply to trust him and be obedient. He really does know best.


  65. Kate, thank you so much!!

    And, Guest, that is a lot of pregnancies, which means of course that that is a lot of unborn human beings, just like us. We have readers of this very blog who are products of rape. They are valuable and real. They walk around on this earth with just as much right to be and stay alive as you and me. We don't punish children for the sins of their father. It is the father who should be punished for his sins. Justice means giving one what is due him. The rapist is due punishment, not the child.

  66. @Nicholas
    I became pregnant thru rape and I find the stance of making a fetus more important than the life and/or sanity of the raped woman to be heartless.

  67. Guest, that is terrible, and I am so sorry for your pain. Rape is a horrible, heinous and evil thing. A sin worthy of hell itself. But still, the reality is that in any pregnancy, there are two people now, not only one.

    I had a link to some resources about this issue on a Quick Takes recently (number 3)

  68. Guest

    It's not as "heartless" as it sounds, if anything it's expanding on and extending the sympathy and compassion we would give to a raped woman to the child conceived in the act, without minimizing our compassion for the woman in any way. The child of rape is a second victim of the rapist who also deserves compassion.

    Here's an analogy which might clarify our position on this. Let's say a man kills a woman and abducts her newborn child. Then, taking the baby with him, breaks into the home of a second woman, rapes her and leaves the baby behind. What should the woman do with that baby? Most of us would recommend she give the baby over to social services or to an adoption agency. She may desire and choose to care for it for a time. No one would, however, recommend that she take the baby's life. We recognize that the baby is as much of a victim as she is.

    Simply put, as pro-lifers we will not see the unborn child as anything less than a baby. We will not accept the sub-human designations that many would like to attribute to it, which would make killing it acceptable. It may seem "heartless", but even children of rape deserve love.

  69. Guest,
    I am very sorry for your experience. However, with much compassion for your suffering, I will tell you, that even as a non-Catholic, I can see that terminating the life of a fetus is not a moral thing to do.

    A. There are almost zero cases today where the actual "life" of a birth mother is threatened by carrying a child.

    B. Might it be horrid to carry the child to term for the violated woman? Yes, perhaps. But the fact remains that the baby did not do anything wrong.

    C. Many rapes are covered up because women do not carry the pregnancies to term. This further compounds the injustice and makes it likely the perpetrator will act again.

    D. There are thousands of couples looking to adopt healthy infants today who are waiting and waiting.

    Again, not trying to make you feel bad, but hoping you can see how this argument for legal abortion is fraught with ethical problems.

  70. Guest, Love doesn't have to be an either or situation. We Catholics seek to love the woman AND the baby. I'm sure rape is traumatic and finding out you are pregnant from it is sure to turn one's life upside down. God gives us hearts that expand to love more and more, so we do not see ourselves as favoring the small life over the adult life.

    Being rape meant something bad happened out of your control, so obviously you were not feeling love because there wasn't any. But a woman, raped or not, is lovable. Her child is lovable. Both parties are worthy of love.

  71. @Guest - I am very sorry that a terrible crime was inflicted upon you and that you have had to deal with the consequences of that. But I did not say one was more important than the other.

  72. I'm wandering where any person can receive support if one is raped. One that does not support abortion in case of pregnancy. Where can a person find the road to healing? Just wondering in case any of the Bubble readers find themselves in this situation. Victims need medical care, psychological care, spiritual care, and possibly help navigating the legal system. If pregnancy results, the woman will need maternity care. If the woman decides to keep the baby (I know several who have), then she will need support in caring for a baby and maybe a day care plan.

  73. Lena, great question, and I would say that any Catholic hospital, charity or crisis pregnancy center could get them started on that road to healing. So much help in the Church, with so much respect for both mother and child. Help and healing is there.

  74. would also be a great resource. Normally, pro-life OB/GYNs have connections with crisis pregnancy support and resources.

  75. Leila says: "I pray my interaction with those on the left can move past the silences, the emotional outbursts, and the jaw droppers towards a mutual search for clarity and truth."

    I have been around this blog for a while - and I have seen any number of people on the left come and go, reacting in exactly the same way as she describes. I think that after 30 people react in the same way, Leila, the problem is you and not them. (What do all of those dialogues have in common? You.) If you really want a "dialogue", be aware that a successful dialogue requires two people.

    I suspect this is what the LA Times editor was trying to ask (and if not, I'm interested myself): Do you actually try to talk to people, or merely have these pseudo-conversations (which you call "socratic") where you push people to accuse you in this manner, over and over? It has become clear to me that when you invite liberals to 'talk', you are only looking for the next in a long line of seemingly normal people who will fulfill your pre-defined notions of the left.

  76. Really, MaiZaeke? Because you know what? I encounter people from the left that behave in that manner on a regular basis and I am not the same person as Leila. I don't argue the same way, either.

    Maybe the thing they all have in common is that they're all FROM THE LEFT, and tend to go the route of insults, silence, and outbursts because of THAT, for some reason.

    I assure you, it's not a Leila problem, it's a left problem. Maybe the left should try to figure out why that is. I say it's a conscience issue.

    I also don't understand why all of you hang out here or on FB and then just flip your hair and stomp off. If you don't like someone, why do you stick around?

  77. Actually, MaiZeke, I've seen very similar behavior on other blogs and message boards over the years, not to mention on Facebook. I'm surprised your experience seems to be so limited in this regard, if you think it only happens in the Bubble.

  78. @ Leila
    This is off-topic but I have a question. Recently you said to someone (can't remember who) that one should not come to religion our of "feelings" but rather what is true. I'm curious about how ones comes to discern what is true, if not by a certain amount of emotional resonance? Is it just an intellectual exercise? How do you know what "truth" is?

    Most of the people I know who have converted to Christianity (rather than being born into it) describe it as an intensely emotional experience.


  79. MaiZaeke, how would you like to be spoken to? How should we conduct a conversation with THE LEFT? What words should we use? Hey, you can ask us questions.

  80. @MaiZeke - From the context of a previous psot in this thread, it appeared to me that the editor was seeking a Conservative take on "Why I can't talk/reason with Liberals!" essay to accompany one they already had which was "Why I can't talk/reason with Conservatives!"

    Would be interesting to see what the LA Times actually publishes.

    I believe that Leila successfully dialogues, even if the majority of the discussions with liberal people reach no conlcusion other than each thinks the other is crazy, there is still a lot of back and forth to reach that point :-p

    MANY other people don't get past a few sentences before reaching that point, because so many people on both sides already have completely closed minds, and only get their news from the sources that slant in their direction, etc.

  81. "Maybe the thing they all have in common is that they're all FROM THE LEFT, and tend to go the route of insults, silence, and outbursts because of THAT, for some reason."

    This has been my experience as well. I calmly and respectfully offer statistics, scientific research, a reasoned argument or a clarifying question. In response I get insulted and have nasty insinuations made about my lifestyle, my intelligence, or my person and the other side offers no research, reasoned argument, or answer to my question. If I am lucky, I get a subjective opinion based on their "feelings".

  82. MaiZeke, you've made those arguments before. Let's try it this way, reversing the roles: Have I left questions unanswered and then stomped away, telling you how awful you are and say that you are accusing me of being a monster, etc.? Or, do I answer the questions you pose, even if you have to remind me (since I am prone to forget to answer something on a long string)? Because if I have done that, or not answered a question, please call it to my attention, and I will rectify it.

    And how do you account for what the others just said about their experiences talking to liberals?

    Johanne, I will answer your question by sometime today! Thanks for patience, all!

  83. Well Barbara, I could say the exact same thing about trying to talk to conservative religious people here. Perhaps you could list in detail all the specific instances you feel this has happened to you on this blog?

  84. @Maizeke
    The truth is that many times the beliefs on the left do not hold up to Leila's questions because they are not based on a premise that holds up across scenarios. So a person is pro-abortion, Leila and others here try to ask questions to clarify these views. Some say it is a zygote that may turn into a human, but cannot point out a single instance where it was born anything but a human. Some say abortion is okay until the baby is viable...but can't say when that is. Some say abortion is okay up until birth...but can't say what there is about birth that makes the baby a valued life. Some say a baby born alive during a botched abortion can be killed, but can't say how they determine when they can no longer be killed. Then they become uncomfortable with their own beliefs and yell at Leila for leading them to see what their beliefs lead them to. Just look at the anger she received for writing these views in the article. She didn't make them up, she didn't coerce them out of people, she didn't trick or mislead is what THEY stated as their beliefs. The reason the left doesn't like this line of discussion is because when your beliefs are will always hit a point where your reasoning for your beliefs no longer holds up.

    Many of you want to blame Leila for making you uncomfortable, I suggest that it is your beliefs and where they lead you, and our society, that makes you uncomfortable.

  85. Well, Lucky7 I'm completely comfortable with my left leaning feminist opinions, ideas and thoughts. I won't speak for Maizeke, but I'd hazard a guess she's pretty comfortable too.
    And no one is blaming Leila for making them feel uncomfortable-my earlier post about being flattered and horrified stems directly from the sensationalized misuse of my words/ideas.

  86. And before I get reamed for leaving the blog too early, I need to get to school, put together a few creative projects, plan my lessons for tomorrow, mentor a student and attend a meeting. So you'll excuse me if I'm not here for awhile.

  87. How did Leila "misuse" your comments, Gwen? When you have time, can you clarify? I'm not seeing it.

  88. Joanna, I agree, when and where is the "misuse"?

    Leila, for the record, you may repeat/parrot my words and beliefs as much as you want. I am proud of my beliefs. I cannot foresee a situation where I could be "led" to say something that I do not truly believe or am embarrased to have repeated. However, be careful you may lead me to the sin of pride!

  89. Johanne, you said: This is off-topic but I have a question. Recently you said to someone (can't remember who) that one should not come to religion our of "feelings" but rather what is true. I'm curious about how ones comes to discern what is true, if not by a certain amount of emotional resonance? Is it just an intellectual exercise? How do you know what "truth" is?

    Most of the people I know who have converted to Christianity (rather than being born into it) describe it as an intensely emotional experience.


    Johanne, thanks for the question! This is a short, inadequate response. First, truth is not determined by feelings and emotions alone, as you can imagine. For example, an adulterer may "feel" very strongly that he and his mistress's affair is "good" (even the highest "good" he's ever known) because of how the affair makes him feel. But objectively, that affair is wrong, harmful and morally evil. So, subjectively, we may feel a rush of good emotions about something evil that we are doing. Remember back when Woody Allen had his affair with his girlfriend's daughter, whom he had watched grow up, as a daughter-figure? He said about this harmful, ugly, pseudo-incestuous affair: "The heart wants what it wants." That --those feelings -- is how he justified his evil actions. (I used theological terms here: "Evil" means "morally wrong".)

    Can good feelings accompany the truth? Of course! We often have good and blissful feelings that accompany truth and good acts. This is true of many (but not all!) people's conversion to Christ. Those moments of grace can be accompanied by great consolations and high emotion. But the good feelings are not the determiner of what is good and true. And one can have a true and lasting conversion without any of those "feelings".

    To be continued….

  90. continued…

    How do we get truth, then? Well, truth is from God, ultimately. He is the only Truth, and the only arbiter of Truth. Truth is both directly revealed by God (Christianity is a revealed religion… we believe God directly revealed His truth to the world, through the Prophets, through the Scriptures, through His Son who became incarnate, and now through the Church that Jesus founded), and it is also written on every human heart (natural law, the human conscience). It can be found by everyone who is seeking.

    We seek truth (that is what we are supposed to do in this life) and when we find it, we are to conform our lives to it (not the other way around). Sometimes truth costs us dearly. Sometimes truth is so uncomfortable that it can cost us everything, even our very lives (the martyrs). So, truth does not always "feel good" but it's always worth it.

    So, we can know truth through revelation (some truths can only be known through revelation), and through human reason. Reason and intellect are VERY important to Catholics. We don't see any conflict between faith and reason, at all. (Some Protestants do see a conflict between faith and reason.) But the intellectual patrimony/thinkers of the Church are incredibly important to us. (Augustine, Pascal, Aquinas, Chesterton, etc.) Catholics founded the university system, after all. ;)

    If you are truly interested in this subject, and how to find truth (because emotions change and fluctuate a million times a day… they, on their own, cannot lead you to anything but confusion), start with C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. I'd tell you to read Thomas Aquinas, but he goes over my head, ha ha.

    Also, please read this:

    And this:

    And to understand more about natural law (the universal moral law that is written on all of our hearts), read this:

    Of course there is a lot more, but this is a good starting point.

    Does that help to answer your question? If not, let me know and I will try again.


  91. Very interesting; thank you Leila.

  92. MaiZeke,

    The reason why Leila gets the same responses from 30 people is because there is no coherent philosophical anthropology on the left around these issues. All there are are talking points, which explains the predictability of the responses and the ultimate silence when Leila runs them off the bottom of the talking points page.

    The Socratic method is the most charitable approach taken by a pro-lifer, as it allows for the calling forth of whatever philosophical anthropology f the pro-choice individual may have.

  93. Nicholas said,

    "I believe that Leila successfully dialogues, even if the majority of the discussions with liberal people reach no conlcusion other than each thinks the other is crazy, there is still a lot of back and forth to reach that point :-p"

    I personally think the back and forth on this blog and some others is quite useful. I am a person who agrees with much of Catholic doctrine, although I am not a Catholic, and agree with some of what MaiZeke and others profess, although I am a Christian with some pretty conservative views. By listening to and participating in the dialogue, I am able to clarify my views and explore them more fully. This is helpful. I retain an open mind that I might change my views in either direction. It is also very helpful to hear from members of different generations and from different parts of the country. If you never hear counter-arguments to your own beliefs, how are you going to ever know they are Truth?

  94. In response to Leila's comments about Truth. I was thinking just this the other day, as one of my friends posted a famous quote from the Dalai Lama on Facebook:
    “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

    I hate to pick on this guy, as there is a HUGE amount to admire in how he has conducted himself on earth, and probably, if most people really did take his advice, the world would be a better place, but as I see it, it does not really reflect truth. The hard truth is that most people are weak, prone to serious error and extreme self-delusion some of the time. Many of us are narcissistic to an unbelievable degree. We are proud, envious and selfish. So I think Christianity, and even Catholicism has it right here; we need community, we need church, we need prayer, we need rules, we need confession (I miss this), we need to constantly be alert to our own failings, lest they get us into hot water.

    However, I do think the Church could do a MUCH better job of really explaining this philosophy to young people, and they could learn from the meditative habits of Buddhists to enhance their prayer experience and to become more mindful. Jesus was nothing if not fully mindful.

  95. JoAnna, I don't think "irrational, raw, emotional outburst" comes close to accurately describing the situation of a post long ago that made headlines of a comment I made about being vilified and attacked with commentary/questions.

    Barbara-could you please answer my question?

    gerardnadal-exactly what is your definition of "philosophical anthropology"? I'd like to know so I can teach my students.

  96. In response to Leila's comments about emotions and feelings steering you wrong, and the man having the affair feeling like it was so right...

    Having been a person who did something along those lines before I was married, I can tell you that I knew full well it was wrong, felt ashamed and if you had sat on me and screamed at me about how evil it was I would probably agreed with you, but I did it anyway because it felt good (selfish). Do you really think people cheating on their boyfriends/husbands/wives actually think what they are doing is "good" and "right"? I don't think so. They justify doing something wrong for whatever reasons...but they know it is wrong. The knowledge that lying and cheating are wrong is deeply ingrained within us.

    Comparing that to the romantic feelings of love that two males might feel for one another, I can easily see how it does not feel wrong at all, as they are not (presumably) deceiving anyone(with respect--the act is another thing all together, as I cannot imagine with all my heart how that could feel good to anyone at all!) I am still undecided about this, but I think your deep feelings can be a guide. Guilt has a way of surfacing (remember Lady Macbeth) on some level our feelings do not lie.

  97. Mary, I truly appreciate your thoughtful comments; we have a lot of common understandings, praise God.

    When you said this: "...and they [Catholics} could learn from the meditative habits of Buddhists to enhance their prayer experience and to become more mindful."

    You simply must read the mystics! The greatest pray-ers of all times are the mystics and in particular St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Blows me away with the profundity and transcendence of their prayer, achieving (as saints do) union with the Trinity. I recommend their works, or get a summary with Fire Within, by Thomas Dubay. I put our contemplatives up against Buddhist contemplatives any day of the week. ;)

  98. Gwen, I missed where Leila attributed an "irrational, raw, emotional outburst" specifically to you and you alone. Can you point it out, please?

  99. Mary, I am also going to say that in the conscience, men all know that putting a penis in another man's anus is wrong. They overcome this by telling themselves that the love they feel for the man justifies it. "What We Can't Not Know". Somethings we just stuff and ignore. I think after time, we truly convince ourselves that things are not wrong. And when we have a community which supports us in telling us it's all okay, we lull and then kill the conscience. Same thing with women and abortion. No woman thinks, inherently, that it's "good" to pay a man to force open her womb and dismember her child. But the more people around her tell her that she did a good thing, she will cling to that and "make it so", even to the point of being a leader in the abortion movement.

    But, I think this post address that issue, the issue of the conscience:

  100. I have read some (limited) about St. Theresa of Avila. Her advice on the mind being like a wild horse when trying to focus on prayer is very Buddhist (or I guess you could say the Buddhists are very Avilian!) Totally willing to read more...I do like Thos. Merton.

  101. Regarding abortion: I think many women really don't think it is "wrong" because they really to believe it is just a ball of cells (it is a ball of cells for a while but not merely this). Bernard Nathanson talks about how Roe v. Wade happened PRE-ultrasound. His conversion started the moment he watched what is going on inside during an abortion.

  102. Mary I have to disagree. I think, deep down, every woman knows that abortion is wrong. It goes against everything we are as women and as humans. But, the justification is very great, and very important. If one does not justify it, one would be haunted. It's very important to believe it is a good thing. However, as you said, Lady Macbeth… someday, somewhere, the conscience has to be dealt with. Sometimes, that doesn't come for many years.

    Dr. Nathanson, God love him, was a physician who knew about fetal development even pre-ultrasound. He even had to see the body parts that he pulled out of a woman (pre-ultrasound). But, the thing that finally jolted his dormant conscience was seeing the living child on ultrasound. It's like what happened to Abby Johnson. For another ex-abortionist (Dr. Macmillan? Can't remember her name…), her moment of truth came after she had performed thousands of abortions, and one day, she was putting together the pieces of a baby she had aborted at 12 weeks, which was totally routine for her. All of a sudden, for whatever reason, she looked at the severed arm's bicep. She thought: "My God, that is like my own son's bicep" and she suddenly understood and took in the horror of what she had done, and had been doing for years. She never performed another abortion and is a pro-life activist to this day.

    But you see, the conscience is there, just beneath the surface, waiting to be awakened. In some folks, is it too far gone? I don't think so… at least not in the sense that everyone (and I mean everyone) is redeemable. We have till our dying breath, in God's mercy, to repent of our sins.

  103. Thank you, Leila, for you comments on truth.

    Just want to reflect on people's revulsion toward gay male sex. Remember lesbians don't perform that act (thank god--yuck) but we are gay as well. So revulsion toward that specific act cannot be used as an excuse to disregard homosexuality altogether.

    And @ Mary & Leila--I've known so many women who had abortions and I don't think any of them thought abortion was "good." Mostly they thought it necessary given their own circumstances. We have to remember the pregnant woman needs to be considered. Sometimes the damage that would be done to a woman who continued her pregnancy needs to take precedence--that does not equal making abortion "good."

    My personal opinion is that the only "good" thing is for women not to be pregnant when they don't want to be. And lesbianism, god knows, solves that problem.

  104. JoAnna:

    "If a thread doesn’t end in silence, it might end in the next frustration, which is an irrational explosion of raw emotion, either offensive (“You racist, sexist, patriarchal, judgmental, pedophile-protecting, bigoted, homophobic fetus-lover! You hate the poor, you rape the earth, and you don’t care about children after they’re born!”) or defensive (“You think I’m evil! You don’t think I have any morals! You are calling me a monster!”)

  105. Maybe when the homosexual act is described, there could be warning. I think it's gross to read about. I certainly don't want to read about lesbian sex. I would like my needs for decency to be considered and take precedence.

  106. Sorry, Gwen, I didn't see your name in that paragraph...?

  107. Miss G, I am think you are too focused on yourself in this thread. I don't think you have suffered any injustice. I think you are imagining it.

  108. Since I did not know what philosophical anthropology is, I went looking. I found this on Villanova University's website.

    "Philosophical anthropology" is the study of human beings from the perspective that human beings are, by their very nature, "hotwired" to desire truth (or wisdom). As Aristotle noted this concept in The Metaphysics, "All [human beings] by nature desire to know" (I.1.108).
    . . . .
    When students are first introduced to this area of inquiry, it is oftentimes difficult for them to appreciate how the ancients viewed the human being. Some of the difficulty students experience is attributable to the pervasive influence of 20th-century psychology. With its emphasis upon ego, cognition, and the purported causal relationships between human growth and development and determinative power of the environment, students think about human beings as products of their environment.
    Upon reading and considering the ancients, some of the difficulty students experience is attributable to the seemingly uncompromising and unyielding view of the ancients who attribute human behavior to freely willed choices and not to one's environment. In this sense, women and men are not "victims," the ancients would argue, but free and autonomous beings who make choices and direct the power of will to achieve what they believe will bring happiness. But, sometimes, the object of desire does not bring true happiness and functions, instead, to stunt growth and development and, ultimately, to enslave human beings. In this sense, then, human beings bear responsibility for their freely willed choices and have no one else to blame for any ensuing unhappiness. Students tend not to feel comfortable with having to look at themselves as the source of their unhappiness. After all, it's much easier to point the finger of blame and responsibility elsewhere!

  109. Lena, thanks for that info! Interesting!

    And, sorry for the graphic talk. I have to be blunt and say what things are. Just the nature of this blog.

    Johanne, just a note that biologically, sexual acts and sexual drives are for purposes of procreation. That's the purpose of sex. Lesbian sexual acts are as unnatural as gay male sex acts, though not as unsanitary, it's true. Of course, Catholicism (as well as the orthodox of every major world religion) holds that both are sinful.

    As for this thoughtful paragraph:

    I've known so many women who had abortions and I don't think any of them thought abortion was "good." Mostly they thought it necessary given their own circumstances. We have to remember the pregnant woman needs to be considered. Sometimes the damage that would be done to a woman who continued her pregnancy needs to take precedence--that does not equal making abortion "good."

    What you are describing is an end-justifies-the-means morality, which is contrary to Christianity. We are never permitted to commit moral evil (sin) in order to bring about a good. Sin is never a recourse we have as moral beings. We have to choose virtue over vice, every time. Anything else is beneath the dignity of human beings. That's the Christian view. Many atrocities (and I would call the death of any innocent, or of 54 million innocents, an atrocity) have been committed with good intentions (a good end in mind).

    But sadly, although I think you are right that most women do not see the abortion as "good" in itself, there are the leaders, the true believers, the movers and shakers in the abortion industry who do sell abortion as a great good. They go so far as to call it a blessing, and they treat it almost sacramentally. "Abortion on demand, without apology" -- if you don't need to apologize, then it can't be considered bad, can it?

    Just my thoughts on what I have observed.

  110. "We have to remember the pregnant woman needs to be considered."

    The more our society sees pregnancy as the WOMAN'S choice, the LESS the pregnant woman is going to be considered. "It's her choice, it's her problem." A man and a woman make the child, but the woman decides whether or not to keep the child and raise it. Therefore, many men feel it was her choice, her doing so his role is diminished to providing only money...if even that. The more we allow the government to label pregnancy as a disease and a child as a burden, the less support either are going to receive from anybody.

    The Catholic Social Services in our diocese opened a brand new, fully furnished apartment building (which will close if the mandate succeeds) for women who are being abused because they are pregnant and won't abort. Some of them were being forced by boyfriends or husbands or their families to abort. They had nowhere to go if they were kicked out. St Gianna's gives them a loving, life-giving option. These women were given a true choice...and they chose life.

    What services does PP provide if the woman decides to keep her child? Why does PP fight any legislation that strives for women to make an informed choice? What does our government do to promote, fund or legislate services that allow the woman to safely bear a child? NOTHING. You have to ask yourself "Why?"

  111. Therefore, many men feel it was her choice, her doing so his role is diminished

    Great point. What "right" did the father have in this decision? How many men have mourned the death of their baby, a choice they didn't want, but weren't allowed to be part of because it was strictly the woman's choice? Where's his freedom of choice?

    Ben Folds Five song, "She's a Brick" is an extremely depressing song about just this kind of pain. One line of the song he sings to the aborted baby, "Can't you see it's not me you're dying for". He supported his girlfriend's choice and years later he wrote the song too express his feelings over it without any political underpinnings. The pain was real for him, years later.

  112. @Mary - Regarding your Dalai Lama comment, probably one of the major distinctions between eastern religious philosophies and Catholicism is the eastern beliefs seem to promote the idea that man can in fact perfect himself. Even if it takes many lifetimes (for those that espouse reincarnation). But that it is about overcoming those weaknesses. Catholicism holds than man has no ability at all to perfect himself, and can only hope to aspire to that state by giving himself over to God and asking forgiveness.

    So in that context, the Dalai Lama's statements are at least consistent with what he represents.

  113. Nicholas, I think you are right. Also, I believe (and someone correct me if I am wrong) that contemplation for Buddhists does not have an Object. Buddhism is a philosophy which does not ascribe to any deity. So, the "nirvana" of the Buddhist contemplative is the discovery that there is Nothing. By complete contrast, Christian contemplatives ultimately discover Someone who is Everything. Huge, huge, huge difference, obviously.

  114. JoAnna, Seriously?

    Lena, Point me to where I used the word "injustice"?

  115. Miss G, do you think this whole piece is about you? Every part of it? I've had hundreds of facebook debates as well as those on this blog and elsewhere, with countless folks on the left. I do remember you saying that we think you are a monster, but I promise you, this whole piece was not directed at you personally. In fact, if you notice, you are one with whom I had a coherent dialogue, one which made logical sense.

  116. "To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect on myself is to live on the doorstep of hell." Thomas Merton

    "When I give myself what I conceive to be freedom, I deceive myself and find that I am the prisoner of my own blindness and selfishness and insufficiency." Thomas Merton

    Thought these applied to most of our discussions here, but to abortion in particular.

    In regards to the HHS mandate and threat on our religious freedoms.
    "If there is no God, no government is logical except Tyranny. And in fact states that reject the idea of God tend either to tyranny or to open disorder." Thomas Merton

    and last but not least

    "Conscience is the soul of freedom, its eyes, its energy its life. Without conscience, freedom never knows what to do with itself." Thomas Merton


  117. Lucky7, awesome quotes!!

    I wonder if any liberal reading will answer a question I have: Where do rights come from?

  118. Thanks, Lucky7, Merton is truly one of the great contemplatives. When I'm feeling down about the implications of the HHS mandate I try to slap myself out of it with his thoughts on despair:

    "Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a person deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost...But a person who is truly humble cannot despair, because in a humble person there is no longer any such thing as self-pity."

    There is more good stuff where I placed the ellipsis, but I didn't want to take up too much space.

    In regards to abortion I'm reminded of this line by Tolkien from The Lord of the Rings:

    (Gandalf speaking to Frodo) "Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."

  119. LJP, excellent! Can you fill in the ellipsis, pleeeeease??? Pretty please?

  120. Miss G, you didn't use the word injustice, but you are acting like a girl who has been wronged. I'm moving on to Leila's newest blog post.

  121. Sure, Leila, here's the part I left out:

    "In every man there is hidden some root of despair because in every man there is pride that vegetates and springs weeds and rank flowers of self-pity as soon as our own resources fail us. But because our own resources inevitably fail us, we are all more or less subject to discouragement and to despair.

    Despair is the ultimate development of pride so great and so stiff-necked that it selects the absolute misery of damnation rather than accept happiness from the hands of God and thereby acknowledge that He is above us and that we are not capable of fulfilling our destiny by oursleves."

    Amazing, right?

  122. LJP, yes, amazing! I could meditate on that for a long time!

    Gwen, do you feel like I have wronged you in this post?

  123. Pretty sure that every paragraph, maybe every sentence of "No Man is an Island" could offer infinite contemplation. I just happened to select it today from my book shelves for the first time. Actually, I believe there was more to it than "just happened" offered great consolation amidst such uncertainty.

  124. Lucky 7 said: What does our government do to promote, fund or legislate services that allow the woman to safely bear a child? NOTHING. You have to ask yourself "Why?"

    Well, to be fair, our government has WIC, Welfare and our state has grants for clinics that primarily serve welfare mothers in Worcester and such.

    1. Also, tax breaks for single mothers with low incomes.

  125. Oh Nubby...that song just kills me. It was in fact on the air during the times when I stood by and allowed two persons close to me to have abortions when I could have at the very least offered to take them in or take in their child. (I was not physically there, but felt wrong "contradicting" what they decided to do because it would make them feel bad.)

  126. I mean services for pregnant women in crisis? Places to go if they are being abused or being forced to abort? I only point out the lack of services to reveal the disparity not in any way to indicate I want more government involvement.

  127. Sorry your editorial didn't get published, Leila!

    Re: arguing with the "left":

    If you're seriously looking for the other side's arguments, there are plenty of places to go. When I get into gay marriage debates (here and on other sites), I link to Jonathan Rauch, Rob Tisinai at, Timothy Kincaid at, and Andrew Sullivan.

    All of them argue logically, admit when they're wrong, acknowledge the strengths of their opponents' arguments and the weaknesses of their own, and even criticize their own side when it's appropriate. And, while sometimes they're not "nice" (to borrow Leila's term), they don't use personal attacks or emotional blowups.

    And, they're all VERY aware of your arguments. They know the stats and studies you're using, they know the experts you're quoting, they know the Catholic and conservative side of the debate... I've mentioned before that I've even seen Sullivan quote Jennifer Fulwiler and Tisinai link to Stacy Trasancos.

    They're smarter than me, anyway, but I try to follow their lead here.

  128. Frank, thanks! I actually gave kudos to Andrew Sullivan for making a very logical case, here:

    He is the second example in the post. :)

  129. No, I don't feel like I'm being targeted specifically or treated unjustly (thanks for the smear campaign Lena).

    But I do know that there have been plenty of nasty, rude, irrational, emotional outbursts on here coming from those of a conservative religious persuasion and I do think that this editorial sensationalizes the comments of people who don't agree with the religious right conservative agenda.

    The sad thing is I originally came here to dialogue in a civil manner but I soon realized I had to throw that intention out the window.

    So onwards, to more important projects in life.

  130. Mary,
    First of all this is not a poverty issue, women of all financial levels can have an unplanned pregnancy. And, again, I am not talking about services to help them raise the child, I am talking about services that give them the freedom to CHOOSE TO KEEP their child. I was pointing out that PP and our government's current approach toward pregnant women is to help them abort...not help them choose life.

    I am with Leila, I want to know how in a "civilized" society being a woman could mean killing your child out of fear or convenience, surgically or chemically stopping normal body systems, and allowing men unlimited sexual satisfaction without any consequences or responsibility.

  131. @ Lucky7
    You might notice that it is the conservative legislators, the "pro-life" ones that consistently vote against services for single mothers.

  132. @Leila
    "What you are describing is an end-justifies-the-means morality, which is contrary to Christianity. We are never permitted to commit moral evil (sin) in order to bring about a good. Sin is never a recourse we have as moral beings. We have to choose virtue over vice, every time. Anything else is beneath the dignity of human beings. That's the Christian view."

    First of all, I think you are talking about a minority of Catholics, not "Christians," because most Christians I know,and some Catholics, are not opposed to abortion. And in regards to "ends justify the means," That argument can just as easily be made regarding your position. You could say (and I do say) that when your goal is for the fetus to grow into a baby you are willing to use any means toward that end--even if it means having a woman put her life at risk--to risk having her other children grow up without mother--even if it destroys the emotional health of the pregnant woman, or harms her in some deep way. You deny all that just because you are attached to the "end" that YOU believe should have priority. There is no objective truth to it. I think that systems that encourage people to think that they alone know what is "true" are very dangerous.

  133. Johanne, a quick question:

    Which is the greater injustice: murder or emotional harm?

  134. The fetus IS a growing baby. A fetus inside a woman is NOT a puppy.

    What emotional harm?

    As humans we grow by working through adversities and problems and surprises. Even criminals on death row get an appeal process! Life is risky. Getting out of bed in the morning is risky. We also grow into better people by learning not to be selfish.

    Emotional harm: there are therapists all over the place and more self-help books* you can shake a pacifier at. There are plenty of women who have worked through the many adjustments and worries of pregnancy.

    Life is not easy. Things will not always go our way. I wish Life were easy and wonderful and go my way. I complain too, but I do not kill anyone. (Maybe I've killed my plants, but not on purpose.)

    Obviously, I do not have the patience of others on this blog.

  135. You deny all that just because you are attached to the "end" that YOU believe should have priority.

    False. The means and the end are equally important. One doesn't override the other.

    To say that a person may never arrive at a moral end by immoral means does not equate to saying that the end is more important. How one arrives is as morally important as the point of arrival.

    There is no objective truth to it.


    I think that systems that encourage people to think that they alone know what is "true" are very dangerous.

    Only if those systems believe or teach that evil is good and good is evil. The Catholic Church upholds and defends all that is good and true concerning human dignity, sactity, and life. No danger there. The danger comes when we stray from that.

  136. But on what do you base the premise that The Catholic
    Church alone defends "all" that is good and true. How do you know that? Or do you just feel it? I'm really curious.

  137. Johanne, I just came back from a little 24-hour getaway with the hubby, and so I'm a bit behind! I was going to answer your comment, but Nubby did a great job doing that for me.

    I will add that not only are the ends and means equally important, but if either the means or end of an act are evil, then the entire act is morally wrong.

    Here is the very consistent, never wavering moral truth about human life: You shall not directly kill an innocent human being. Period. That is a moral law (not a strictly Catholic one, but a universal one). It is written on the hearts of all men. We know this. We know that we are not permitted to willfully kill innocents.

    You said:

    First of all, I think you are talking about a minority of Catholics, not "Christians," because most Christians I know,and some Catholics, are not opposed to abortion.

    Then those Christians/Catholics have strayed from Christian truth. You see, an individual Christian does not get to decide what is true. Christian truth, which has been taught since the first moment Christ founded the Church, holds that abortion is always wrong. The Church has never taught otherwise. It does not matter how many Christians or Catholics decide to reject Christian truth. The Truth is the Truth. Even if the whole world rejects it.

    Hope that helps!

  138. But on what do you base the premise that The Catholic Church alone defends "all" that is good and true. How do you know that? Or do you just feel it? I'm really curious.

    We base it on the promise of Christ, who is Truth. He is God. He rose from the dead (see this post: ). He has kept His promise that He would lead His Church into all truth. There is no part of the moral law which has been reversed in 2,000 years of Church teaching. That alone should make you take notice, considering some of the foolish and even evil men who have been Pope throughout the millennia (many more were holy, praise God, but none touched the teachings… because they cannot). It can only be that the Church is guided supernaturally to hold steady and strong.

    You mention that Buddhism has been around longer. But Buddhism is not about God. Buddha himself never claimed to be God, as Jesus did. And Buddhism has certainly changed over the years to reflect different moralities, no? The oldest standing institution in the world is the Papacy (heading the same Catholic Church). She has outlived every empire, and she is still vibrant and real. She still has not changed her Deposit of Faith. She is the largest charity on earth and hold the very highest morality on earth as well. She has a catalogue of saints (truly holy, heroically virtuous saints) that would make our heads spin (thousands are canonized, many millions of whom are not). And the connections between members of the Body of Christ are unreal: The centuries melt away when I read the Early Church Fathers, who are writing of the same (the same Catholic Faith that we Catholics hold today. It's like we could pick up the conversation as if we were simply siblings who hadn't seen each other for a while. We share the same sacraments, the same morality, the same Church structure and hierarchy, the same Creed, the same understanding of God and man, the Fall, the Redemption, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Mary, the Saints, etc., etc., etc. And all base on the Death, Resurrection and promises of one Man: Jesus Christ, who is the center of everything human and divine. He made everything, He redeemed everything and His Cross stands in the center of all history. (Secularists can't even get away from that as every time they put a date on their checks or papers, they acknowledge the Year of Our Lord. He is all in all.

    I am sorry to go on, and I am sure that is not coherent, as I am just letting my fingers fly, but I do recommend that you start investigating Christ's claims. He came for you, too, Johanne. He made you, He loves you and He wants you back. If you read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, that's a good start to find out who this Jesus fellow is….


  139. Sorry for the myriad typos above, ugh!!!!

    Johanne, you said:

    You could say (and I do say) that when your goal is for the fetus to grow into a baby

    The "fetus" is already a baby ("fetus" means "little one"). The fetus already exists. It already has his life. Goodness, it's already a boy or a girl! So the question then is only this: Do we kill that little one, or do we allow it to stay alive?

    You would say it's okay to kill the little one. We Catholics say that no one has the right to take the life of an innocent.

    So you see it has nothing to do with a "goal". The human being is already there.

    As LJP asked of you: "Which is the greater injustice: murder or emotional harm?"

  140. @Leila

    Thank you for your thoughts about the Catholic Church.

  141. Johanne, you're welcome! But remember, they are not my thoughts or opinions. I just hand on what was handed on. It's unbroken truth, and I am just grateful to have learned it, just trying to pass it along myself. It's for everyone in every era.

    The base question that everyone must answer is the one that Jesus posed about Himself:

    "Who do you say that I am?"

  142. Just because it's topical, I'll throw this in:

    Cardinal-designate Dolan: Natural Law, Not Religious Preference, Dictates All Life Sacred, here:,6934

    (Opposition to abortion is not a religious issue, it's a natural law, human issue.)

  143. But on what do you base the premise that The Catholic Church alone defends "all" that is good and true. How do you know that? Or do you just feel it? I'm really curious.

    Leila gave you a great answer, but to reply to your question I'll just add a personal note:
    I, personally, did not arrive at Catholicism based on "feeling".
    It was my intellect that had to be fed on dry facts (remedial, actually) like Church history, salvation history, scripture, Jesus, etc., before I returned to the Church. Then the emotions followed. But the emotions didn't drive the decision.
    Emotions are part of the whole person, but if we all merely arrived at the Church doors on emotion alone, we'd all have fizzled out on feelings a long time ago. The real staying power of being Catholic requires intellectual ascent (even during the celebration of the Mass), so that one doesn't just get caught up in a consumerist attitude about anything inside the Church (ie, liking or disliking certain priests, certain choir songs, certain aspects of worship, etc.). It's just as easy to leave the Church for emotional reasons as it is to join it for emotional reasons.

    Faith and Reason - in Catholicism, these are two wings of the same bird.

  144. @Johanne - If the only abortions ever performed were ones where the life of the mother were truly in danger, I would actually be pretty darned content, because it would probably be like 10 a year rather than 800,000+ (in the US alone).

    The problem with legislation that has exceptions carved into it, is because we'd still have 800,000+ abortions each year with every single one signed off on by a doctor as being medically necessary.

    Now, also if we are talking about examinations morality in an academic sense, if the situation is something like In order to save your own life, you have to take the life of an innocent, then it is still immoral to do so.

    While academic discussion isn't the same as real world sitautions... it still applies. Yes, people do the wrong thing every day, and sometimes may feel like there is no other option... But we can't lose sight that it is still the wrong thing.

  145. Johanne,
    FYI, I am a person who struggles continuously with faith. Sometimes it is really just not there...but I have run the gamut and am in science and now am trying to live a life of faith. (Lutheran)
    But, the more I live in a faithless world, the more I am convinced of the neccesity of absolute truth, and the more I reflect on the (huge and terrible) errors I have made in my life, I realize how they went against the tenants of Christianity. I also think Christianity is correct about original sin, now that i have lived a bit.

    Try reading Kenneth Miller (leading biologist and believer) or Polkinhorne (Physicist) or Walker Percy...or try John Wright the sci-fi writer. Leila turned me on to him. (He can be a bit caustic...but I think I know someone just like him, so I forgive him for it....he does apologize often on his blog.)


PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest.